3 Ways to Meet the Faster Pace of Business

It.is not how fast business goes that matters, it is how and if you can keep up!

The pace of doing business is speeding up not slowing down.

Each year the pressure grows on all areas of a business including its people, cash-flow, leadership, innovation, business models, technologies and ability to implementation strategies successfully. This pressure can lead to issues arising across the business that ultimately impact its overall growth and profit potential.

Standing back from all the specific issues stemming from this ‘high pace’ of doing business most can quickly be related back to the in-ability to implement ‘change’ successfully.

So what does a business leader or owner do? What are the strategies that should be implemented to ‘adjust’ the business and its people to this NEW normal environment for doing business?

Here are three strategies that can assist businesses and teams cope with the high pace of doing business:

Strategy 1 – Focus on Micro tasks
Think back to the last planning session you had or project team you were involved in. What was the nature of the strategies / actions that were set? Were they quite broad or were they very specific outlining the steps that need to be taken. Too often planning sessions lead to broad statements such as: ‘Do a marketing plan’, ‘Refine our sales process’ or ‘Fix that problem’ but rarely outline HOW to achieve those outcomes or the micro steps / tasks required. This leads to teams either heading down the wrong paths or not starting to change at all.

The simple solution when you see this occurring is to keep breaking down the broad task into micro tasks that highlight the HOW and the steps required to reach the desired outcome. Try this simple strategy in your next planning session and you instantly see the benefits.

Strategy 2 – Provide just-in-time learning
Sending teams to two day residential training sessions to learn new skills are slowly becoming a thing of the past. There is certainly still a need to hold those types of events in specific situation but 5-7 years ago every training event was a two day off-site with little accountability to the new learning acquired or how it would be implemented. The retention of new learning was thus very low and too often forgotten (until a need arose and the learning had to be acquired again!).

To obtain the skills to address specific issues in this fast paced business world you need to shift the thinking of your people to ‘just-in-time’ learning. This means that as a need arises to address a specific issue (such as understanding the strengths / weakness’ of your competitors as part of a marketing strategy) the focus should be on putting time in your schedule to learn that skill in 30-60 minutes via an online learning platform or quick internal training session and then applying it in the field quickly. The retained learning is much higher with this approach as there is immediately application of the learning. Best of all a solution to the issue is provided straight away to allow momentum to continue with the desired ‘change’ or ‘new strategy’.

Strategy 3 – Capture and track your strategies / actions using innovative technologies
How often have you gone to reflect on a strategy you development months ago and then had to spend hours searching through your emails, journals, files or go and follow-up a team member to get yourself up to speed again with the discussions that occurred and actions that were confirmed. Even if you have a good discipline of having ‘One Page Plans’ operating in your business (and even pasted to your office wall) it can still waste many hours in your day searching for the detailed plans you have developed or putting yourself back in the same ‘head-space’ you were in to reflect on the next steps you should take.

To assist this process and speed up your pace of implementing strategies it’s critical in any modern business to be using the latest cloud technologies / applications to help you track projects and tasks. What are you currently using in your business? Nothing? There are a lot of great, cost-effective options available. The time savings and productivity gains will be felt immediately and free you up to be focusing on the growth and profit of your business.

While these three strategies are not a magic bullet they do help you adapt both you and your teams approach to allow you to implement change much more effectively in this fast-paced business environment.

To assist this process we provide all our clients’ access to GPS-Mindshop Online. GPS-Mindshop Online allows you to capture and track in one location all your strategies, actions and professional development which are only visible by you and your advisor. Your advisor can then provide confidential support and solutions drawn from hundreds of tools, courses and resources within GPS-Mindshop Online.

GPS-Mindshop Online is a fantastic way to help leaders speed up their pace of implementation to give them back valuable time to focus on the growth and profit of their business.

If you would like to discuss how we can assist you implement change more effectively in your business please email us to arrange a call or meeting. In the meantime, check out the overview videos for GPS-Mindshop Online at http://www.business-gps.com.au/gps_videos.

 

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

How to Change Challenges into Questions to Find Solutions

The power of changing your challenges into questions

Tell me:  “What challenges do you face currently?”

Challenges AheadThis is not a rhetorical question, think about it and spend 5-10 minutes writing them down.  Do this with your colleagues.  As a group defines what your top 3 challenges. Only then read on. It will be worth it.

You now have a list of key challenges.  Look at them.  My money is on that most, if not all, of your challenges, are “out there” and not “in here”.  For example, we have challenges to do with the market, with senior management, our reports, our suppliers, our customer’s etcetera.

Funny that – have you noticed that we are never part of the problem?  If this is not ringing alarm bells for you then it should.  If we see our challenges as external to us then we are admitting two things:

  1. We lack ownership of the challenge and we are prepared to abrogate our responsibility in taking on the challenge, and secondly,
  2. We are adopting a fixed mindset in that it is the external factor that needs to be changed, not us.  As such, it reduces our opportunity to learn and develop from the situation, and to realize the associated benefits.

So how can we turn this around?

Using Questions

Take your top three challenge statements and change them into questions.  This has two powerful and helpful effects:

  1. Asking questions elicits answers – and within those answers are strategies for actually carrying out the work.
  2. Questions inspire thoughts about our intrinsic motivations for successfully meeting the challenge.  As such, intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic incentives in moving people and driving results or outcomes.

To do this is not as easy as it sounds, and it often takes longer to do than expected as there is a much sharper focus on the issue at hand. It also makes us responsible for the challenge and to identify, develop and implement the solution.

Question-Goals – Identifying Solutions, Not the Problems

Challenge Statement Challenge Question
Difficulty in retaining key skilled staff How can we use the skills of our key people so that they are engaged, challenged and contribute to our business goals?
We have too much to do, and too little to do it with What are our customers’ key needs and how does that affect our priorities?
Difficult to plan in such an uncertain business environment What are our core skills and competencies and how can we employ them effectively in a variety of alternative scenarios?

So, start the year, and continue to review during the year, by looking at your challenges and turning them into questions.  Cascade this approach throughout the business and you may be surprised at the impact!

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Overcoming the Voice in Your Head

What to do when you become your own worst enemy, and how to win over yourself.

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

On average you speak sixteen thousand words, a day or nearly six millionemotional agility words a year.  That is a lot. What we forget is that this is a fraction of what we think – our inner stream of consciousness, your “inner chatter” that provides a running commentary whether you want it or not.

We are influenced by what we people say, how they say it, when it is said and the context. But we forget the first rule of influence – influence starts with you. As such we influence ourselves and we inform our own behaviour – primarily through our beliefs and attitudes which become apparent to us through our “inner chatter”.

How we behave, and the consequences we incur, occurs when we put a “story” around an event or experience we have just gone through.  We tend to behave in accordance with how we feel about this and then incur the consequences.  The flow looks like this:

SeeTellFeelAct

 

 

 

How many times have you had thoughts and feelings which have led to behaviour which has caused you problems? We see someone do something, or ourselves, and we create a story about.  For example, “He always takes credit for what was done, yet I did most of the work…” or “The same thing happened in my last job, I obviously can’t do this type of work…

What happens here is we get hooked by our thoughts in that we either treat these thoughts as facts and therefore true or, with help, we challenge them and rationalize them away which can lead us into situations where we act against what we feel are our values and best interests.

So how can we mitigate our “inner chatter”? How can we avoid either buying into it or suppressing it? How can we approach our “inner chatter” in a mindful, constructive way?

Four Steps for Building Emotional Agility

To do this we need to build emotional agility. This is the ability to free yourself from patterns of negative thoughts and feelings and move forward positively.  In doing this for yourself you:

1. Recognize Your Pattern

Notice when you are hooked by your thoughts and feelings – for example, your thinking becomes rigid and repetitive.  You are re-running past experiences, or seeing the same attitudes surface again.  Only when you realize you are stuck in a pattern can you break out of it.

2. Label Your Thoughts & Emotions

“Name them and shame them”.  By naming or labeling your thoughts or emotions you are able to see your thoughts and feelings for what they are.  They are transient and may or may not be helpful.  Doing this helps you to free up your thinking and begins to break the pattern.

3. Accept Them

Once you have labeled them then just accept them without judging them.  You experience your thoughts and feelings and take the time to see what is happening in the moment.  What is really happening in the situation and what do you need to do to take productive action?

4. Act on Your Values

You can now consider more choices, rather than going along with your “inner chatter” and you can choose to act in a way that is consistent with your values.

By providing yourself with emotional agility you have the opportunity to change the story you tell yourself which, in turn, allows you to choose to behave in a different way and obtain consequences which are both beneficial and less adverse.  Simple and effective.  Try it, use it and practice it and build your emotional agility muscle.

This article is partly based on the article, “Emotional Agility” by Susan David and Christina Congleton, HBR November 2013.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

The Coaching Matrix – How to Manage Delegated Work

How to Manage Those Delegated To

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

This looks at how to assess what are the best ways to manage those doing delegated work.

delegate effectivelyThis follows on from a previous article – The Art of Effective Delegation – which provides a 5-step process for effectively delegating work.

Now you have delegated the work, how can you best manage those to whom you have delegated the work? Different people have different requirements and need to be managed in different ways.

Although the content of the work will vary, there are two key factors which can be assessed for each individual – their enthusiasm to do the work, and their level of skills.  This can be seen in the Coaching Matrix below.

Coaching Matrix for Delegated Work

Coaching Matrix

Assessing each individual for each delegated piece of work allows you to do two things: firstly, to identify the coaching method that will work best for each individual in doing the delegated work and; secondly, to identify what needs to be developed with each individual in order to move them to a position of trust.

The 4 Coaching Methods                               

1.      Supervise – Low Enthusiasm/Low Skill.

Here the individual has low levels of enthusiasm and skills in doing the delegated work.  Here you need to regularly review the work they are done and whether it is up to standard, and find out what motivates them.

2.      Motivate – Low Enthusiasm/High Skill.

The individual has low levels of enthusiasm and a high level of skills in doing the delegated work.  They are able to do the work, but are rather complacent or lazy about doing this.  You need to help them motivate themselves by enabling them to understand how they can benefit from doing so, or by creating peer pressure (e.g. ‘everyone at your level does this’), or having a suitable blend of carrot and stick.

3.      Instruct – High Enthusiasm/Low Skill.

Here the individual has high levels of enthusiasm and low skills in doing the delegated work.  They need to be instructed on how to do the work, this may include pairing them with someone who is skilled in doing this, or taking them through the task into separate stages and reviewing the work with them at each stage and checking their understanding.

4.      Trust – High Enthusiasm/High Skill.

Here the individual has high levels of enthusiasm and high skills in doing the delegated work.  This is the ideal place for a person to do the delegated work to be.  You can leave them to do the job and review once it has been completed, or just have them tell you when the work is done.

The Coaching Matrix for Delegated Work allows you to assess how you can best assist those to whom you have delegated the work, based on their levels of enthusiasm and skills for the work.  People, dependent on the work, will often be in different quadrants – so this helps you customise your approach to help them develop as necessary to get the work done effectively.

Use the worksheet below to help you determine what is needed for whom.

Delegated Work Worksheet

Delegation Worksheet

Remember, delegating effectively allows managers and leaders to free up time; ensure the work is down to the right person at the right level and on-time; helps to develop people and their capabilities, and allows the managers and leaders to focus on what is important – not just what is urgent.

So what are you going to delegate, to whom and how will you coach them to do the work effectively and to grow personally?

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Why People Fail to Achieve Their Goals

The four reasons why and what you need to do

Most people and I assume that you are one of them, know the importance of having goals and goal- setting. Setting goals gives you something to strive towards and boosts your self-confidence when you achieve them.

But do you set goals and pursue them? Research suggests that 80% of all people never set goals for themselves; furthermore, of the 20% that do set goals for themselves about 70% fail to achieve them. In short, only six people in every hundred set and achieve goals for themselves!

So why do people fail to achieve their goals?

There are four key reasons that underpin this. These include:

1. Setting goals that are too low – people tend to set goals that are easier for them to achieve rather than harder goals which are more demanding or which will take them outside their comfort zone. As a result, they are not motivated sufficiently to achieve the goals and them under-invest in what they need to do and how they do it. As a result, people set themselves low goals which they fail to achieve – hardly an inspiring level of performance!

2.The planning fallacy – this is when people underestimate the amount of effort, time, resources and energy that is required in order to achieve the goals. So they find that what they have to hand and with which to achieve the plan is insufficient. In these situations, people lack persistence and often give up or make excuses for themselves.

3.Optimism bias – people tend to be too optimistic in terms of how easy it will be achieved; this, in conjunction with the planning fallacy, results in people developing plans on an overly hopeful basis. These plans then quickly fall over when an unexpected event occurs, or progress does not occur as expected; this puts people on the back foot and they become reactive focusing on trying to catch up on an unrealistic plan.

4. People look to compete, not dominate – your goals are in place to help you achieve your strategy. The strategy is not about competing against your competition, it is about winning – and to win you must dominate your market. If you just compete you are looking to beat your competition, not dominate them.

Four Steps for Achieving Goals

  • Set Your Goals – it may seem obvious, but you can’t achieve goals unless you know what they are.
  • Make your goals significant – don’t go for 10% over what you achieved last year that is just an incremental improvement. Go for something really significant; improve by a factor or two, three, four or more. At worst if you underachieve on a much larger goal you will have achieved much more than on an incrementally larger goal, at best you will be on a much higher level.
  • Take non-stop action continuously in your efforts to dominate.
  • Once you start to achieve your goals then step up your level and intensity of effort.

Once you have your goals in place then pursue them. Don’t make excuses for failing to achieve your goal that just wastes time, effort and energy. It may be easier and safer to do nothing, but if you want a life that is worth living then challenge yourself and go beyond your comfort zone; set yourself challenging goals and pursue them with single-minded determination and effort that outpaces those around you.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here. 

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Why Is Coaching Becoming More Popular?

Why Is Coaching Becoming More Popular?

What is driving the uptake of coaching, and what are its benefits?

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Organizations are increasingly using coaching as a means by which to grow and growthandsupportdevelop their people and businesses. What is driving this growth?

For one thing, the ever-increasing pace of change requires organizational leaders to develop quickly, and in the context of their current jobs. Traditional training programs are often set up to train or educate large numbers of people, but not to focus on a specific individual’s development needs. Coaching offers an individualized development option without removing leaders from their work.

Second, the war continues for leadership talent. As the hunt to find and retain talent intensifies, many companies have viewed coaching as a way to compete in the marketplace to attract and retain that talent.

Third, organizations find that the feedback gained through coaching seems to stick better, and leaders liked the opportunity to work with an unbiased external professional. More leaders, as well as many intact teams, have found the coaching process helpful for their development—and as leaders grew as executives, they look to develop their reports and cascade the coaching process to them in turn.  This creates leverage and synergies over and above those realized from just coaching the leaders.

Coaching is used to assist high-potential or high- performing leaders, rather than those experiencing performance problems. Today, name-brand organizations such as Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart, and Unilever have large managed coaching programs serving countless executives and use pools of highly-screened coaches, in all parts of the world.

Coaching is also moving internally, with many organizations using external coaches to train internal practitioners to coach their leaders. This approach is especially useful for companies who view their organizational culture as highly unique, and are looking to build this into their culture and develop the necessary in-house capabilities.  Internal coaching is most frequently being implemented at the mid-manager and first-line supervisor level.  External coaches remain the most popular solution for executives.

Organizations are also increasingly looking to create a coaching culture. Companies are training their leaders to better coach others in work-related situations. As more organizations understand the results of coaching, they are offering leader-as-coach training.

The benefits include one-on-one focused development, specialized personal learning, confidentiality, and personal accountability for improvement. In addition, coaching provides leaders the opportunity to develop individual capabilities faster than most instructional programs can, and in areas where training programs do not exist.

So, coaching is becoming more important and intrinsic to developing a successful organization.  External coaches are increasingly used to assist in the development and retention of senior executives and leaders, whilst working with their reports to develop leaders-as-coaches and assist in the creation of a coaching culture.  This builds the capabilities and bandwidth to grow and develop their people and businesses, and helps organizational leaders to develop quickly against a backdrop of an ever-accelerating rate of change.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

The Three “A’s” for Dealing with Conflict

Attacking. Abdicating. Accountability. 

When dealing with conflict there are only three ways in which you, or your reports, can respond. These are attacking, abdicating and being accountable.

  • Attacking – this is the first part of the “fight or flight” syndrome which we experience when we come across an uncomfortable situation. For example, we are in a meeting where someone has a differing opinion or idea.  We respond by becoming verbally violent and adopt an aggressive behavioral style.  Although this is a form of attack it is, in its essence, a defensive mechanism.  Hear our emotions control us, our ability to think objectively, to listen, to be creative and to consider alternatives is greatly reduced. This not only can lead to sub-optimal decisions, but we can alienate people and jeopardize relationships.
  • Abdicating – this is the “flight” aspect of the “fight or flight” syndrome.  Here we either withdraw from the discussion – this can be physical, mentally or emotionally – and we go to silence.  We don’t add our input or perspective to the general discussion and the collective pool of meaning and insights that the group can draw on is reduced.  Typically you will see passive-aggressive behavior being exhibited, where people only pay lip-service to what has been discussed or even actively sabotages what has been agreed in the meeting. Again, these results in sub-optimal decisions and the individual(s) who abdicate responsibility for the work or making a contribution will effectively undermine the team and his or her relationships with them.
  • Accountability – here the individual stands up and takes ownership of what is happening and the results and implications. To do this you must be open and willing to learn from others and to adapt a better solution no matter where it comes from. Accountability is about engaging yourself and others in a common purpose to achieve shared goals and outcomes. It requires you to let go of ego and to communicate and share ideas and insights, to collaborate, and to learn from each other.

There are only three responses available to you and your team – attack, abdicate or be accountable.  Most people know the first two and ignore the implications, but fail to adopt accountability as the default in order to realize the benefits.  Consider all the situations you are dealing with, at work and home, and ask yourself this: “What response I am currently adopting for this situation, and what response will provide the greatest benefits?  What three actions do I need to take to bridge the gap?” Ask yourself this, and then ask your team. Just exposing the third option of accountability will help people change how they respond to situations.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.