‘Team’ Category

“No Cost” Productivity Strategies

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

How often have you looked up and realized that you missed lunch? Maybe even missed dinner? Today’s “work…work…work” mentality has taken a toll on employees performance, job satisfaction and health.

Today’s 24/7/365 world of technology and instant gratification has transformed every aspect of modern life – most dramatically how we work. While technology and automation has made many tasks easier, it has also bred a whole host of issues in the workplace.

We need to dispel the myth that more hours spent at work leads to more productivity. I am going to make a case for taking physical and mental breaks throughout the day, and how these breaks will transform teams from upper management to support staff.

The average American worker spends 9.2 hours per day at work – and approximately 30% are skipping lunch or eating at their desk. The vast majority of workers can access their email and desktops on their smartphones. This has now become “normal”. Furthermore, it has become expected in many companies that key team members make themselves available anytime, anywhere. This change in work structure and expectations are linked to increased stress and employee dissatisfaction. This then snowballs into increased absenteeism, increased health insurance costs, loss of productivity, and staff turnover. Not exactly the direction leading to higher productivity and performance.

There are some simple changes that can be made to reverse what ails the modern workplace. The easiest solution is to take breaks throughout the day. Here is a breakdown on how breaks can increase productivity, performance and decrease healthcare costs:

• 15 seconds – decrease mental fatigue and preserve eyesight by looking away from the computer for 15 seconds every ten minutes.
• 30 seconds to 5 minutes – can increase mental acuity by 13%, increase focus and productivity.
• 2 minutes – stand up and stretch for 2 minutes every hour to increase circulation, decrease muscle tension and overall fatigue.
• 5 minutes – away from typing on a keyboard or clicking a mouse can combat hand, wrist and forearm pain.
• 6 minutes – the optimal amount of time spent every 80 minutes, taking a break from all types of work to increase productivity and mental acuity.
• 20 minutes – while not always an option, a 20 minute walk can help to mentally recharge and decrease physically fatigue.

The average manager spends 2 days per week in meetings, many longer than they need to be. In addition to taking breaks, the structure of meetings can also be changed to increase productivity, participation and efficiency. Conducting standing meetings – physically standing – will increase focus on the agenda, garner full attention of the attendees, and perhaps allow for less time in the boardroom, more time implementing what was discussed.

When weather permits, having outdoor meetings with one or two staff members can increase not only focus, but can have benefits that are realized throughout the day. Fresh air and change of surroundings will increase mental acuity and mood. Employee satisfaction and retention can also be positively impacted by taking business outdoors.

The BIG takeaway: take little breaks throughout the day and changing how you conduct meetings to get a dramatic effect on your, as well as your team’s, mental acuity, efficiency, and thus productivity. Lead by example, take a break from the computer and phone, get up and take a walk around the office. While you are stretching, encourage your staff to do the same.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Top Strategies for Developing Your Team – Part 3

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Great businesses, great staff and great teams don’t just “happen” any more than an 100-storey sky-scraper just “happens” – there is vision, planning and skill in achieving either.

Last week we covered Points 7-10, so this week we will outline the remaining strategies for developing your staff:

11. Create An Investment Plan With All Staff

If you’re going to set yourself apart from the crowd and establish a truly brilliant business, you are going to need one essential ingredient, and that is a truly brilliant team!

Truly brilliant teams don’t happen by accident, and they don’t come cheap! Not that they have to cost a lot of money, but they will require a significant investment of time and planning – mixed with a passion for excellence – if they are to form in the first place, and grow thereafter!

You’ll need to give some thought as to what you will need to invest in each of your team members to bring them to a level of competence and commitment that will make them your strongest and most valuable asset. The obvious candidates are “training” and “positive work experience”, but the less obvious candidates can be even more important: “inclusion”, “security”, “recognition”, “belonging”, “personal and professional growth” and more.

Then you’ll need to develop a process for delivering both the invitation to growth and personal investment, and then the actual experiences, agreements, understandings, and culture that will make that growth a highly likely outcome.

You could always start this process with a briefing on your desire for and interest in their personal and professional growth. This would be followed by an outline of the knowledge and skill training that you will provide, support or require them to complete, but it won’t stop there. In fact, the picture won’t be finished until you have created a culture where people learn and grow and support each other as a matter of course.

So, how would you do that?

12. Find Out What Makes Them Tick

We’d hope that you had a fair idea of what makes your new (and old) team members tick before you selected them. This point re-iterates the fact that it’s nearly useless trying to motivate people with your “external goals” – i.e., goals or rewards that you provide as opposed to their own internal, private or personal goals.

Much smarter to align the rewards you place on the behavior you want, to a team member’s achieving their own, personal goals. For example, rather than talking about their hitting a sales or other performance target to qualify for a bonus, you might ask them what they feel they need to be doing to hit the performance goal that is going to put the deposit on their new car/house/boat/toy.

Ask yourself, which one of these approaches is likely to gain the most buy-in from John:
• “Come on John, how can I help you hit your sales goal for the month, and qualify for your bonus?”; or
• “Come on John, how can I help you get that deposit for your new sport car?”

The second point in this step is to be aware that “people’s motives change over time.” You need a process for staying in touch with those changes as they occur in each member of your team. That process could be as simple as a weekly lunch or game of pool, with plenty of opportunity for relaxed chatter about life and goals outside of work; or it could be a formal and dedicated day during which each team member gets to share their personal and professional goals with their team.

Whatever your process, just ask yourself whether by knowing what really matters to each member of your staff, you would be in a better position to help them to achieve their goals, and to grow them personally and professionally.

13. Rate Your Performance as Their Mentor, Coach & Guide

It has been said that “feedback is the breakfast of champions” so does it make sense, if you are really aspiring to have and to lead an excellent team of people, that you seek and welcome feedback on a regular basis?

Give some thought as to how you would measure your own success in your chosen role. A rather scary suggestion: Your score will be equal to the average of the performance of each of your team members!

You could also seek feedback through a “mutual performance review” during which you provide each team member with an assessment of their performance, after which they provide you with their assessment of yours. That is even more scary.

And so we come to the $64,000 question: What would your business look like, function like, perform like, the year after you implemented your own version of these 13 steps? And how big would the suitcase need to be to carry all those extra profits to the bank?

If you know what to do, but are short on how to do it; or, if you know what and how, but also know that you will have a challenge committing to apply your knowledge, it’s probably time to talk to me about how I can get you to where you want to be, more quickly, more surely and more safely than you can get there on your own.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Top Strategies for Developing Your Team – Part 2

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Last week we covered Points 1 – 6, so this week we will outline a few more strategies for developing your staff:

7. Assess Their Commitment To Your Business’ Goals

This is an “imprecise measure,” but what you are looking for at this stage in the assessment process is an indication as to whether this person is a “committed” or a “renegade”.

The committed are “joiners”; they like other people; they like working with others, collaborating and teaming to build projects larger than they can handle alone. They look for causes to join, visions to buy into, and goals to meet.

Renegades are “users”; they intend to use the business, its resources and the position almost solely for their own ends. Sure, they will “do the work” – they may even be highly productive – but they tend to view their work as the product of their efforts alone (or at least see themselves alone as deserving of credit for any results to which they contribute). The often have a poor opinion of the others in their crew, and seldom step out to lift, grow or assist others – unless there is a clear pay-off involved.

A simple test for this factor is to ask questions that explore about how they feel or felt about their last or previous positions. renegades tend to give the game away with comments that display arrogance, ego, negativity and lack of respect for others. Committed generally convey a positive account of their experience.

8. Clearly Convey Your Core Concepts

If you want someone to give more than their physical presence and base labor to your business, you are going to have to sell them your Vision for the business (the “picture of perfection” towards which you are striving; your Mission (the path you are following to achieve that Vision); your Values (the boundaries of behavior along that path); your Goals (the milestones on the path; dated measures of performance); and your Code of Conduct (the way we treat each other, our Customers, and the assets of the business).

When it comes to your Core Concepts, don’t make the mistake that many larger corporations make in spending huge resources on having a expert in semantics design great sounding concepts; having an artist render them under glass and hang them in the boardroom and reception area; and then never looking at or talking about them again – except to quote them in their Annual Report.

Your Vision, Mission, Values, Goals and Code of Conduct should be wound into the daily fabric of your business and the lives of those who make it work.

When you go out into the labor market seeking new team members, you need to carry these Core Concepts with you both as a beacon (to attract those who resonate to them) and as a touchstone (against which to test each candidate’s personal core concepts for alignment with your own).

It’s going to be a lot easier and less costly to incorporate someone into the team whose core concepts already resonate with your own.

9. Craft A Powerful Investment Process

When you bring any new team member on board, you are faced with an inevitable investment of time and resources so as to enable them to come up to speed and meet your performance requirements as quickly as possible. So why not convey this process – explicitly – as the beginnings of your on-going “Investment in Them”?

Their first month or so on the job will set a tone that is likely to persist, so invest the time and thought required to design an excellent process – a system – that provides each new team member with:
• A clear understanding of our “Investing in You” philosophy.
• A detailed Job Description and/or Contract that is framed around results and outcomes, rather than activities and tasks, detailing all performance requirements, assessment processes, and any rewards associated with those.
• A clear statement of your termination process.
• An Organization Chart that clearly depicts the formal lines of communication, support and command and their position, responsibilities and authority within that structure.
• An introduction to and (actual, verbal) discussion about your Vision, Mission, Values, Goals and Code of Conduct – and a written copy to which to refer thereafter.
• A Team Member Guide introducing each member with a self-written thumbnail sketch, to speed the development of relationships and integration into the team.
• Statutory materials – OH&S guidelines, employment matters, etc.
• Position-related information (i.e., for a salesperson, this would include background on key account clients)
• A duplicated sign-off receipt that verifies that all of this material has been received by, and explained to, your new recruit.
Consider your responsibility for, and the benefits of, creating and managing a social process that quickly folds new recruits into the team and promotes the relationship building essential to high productivity and staff longevity.

10. Design A Performance Assessment & Recognition Process

When staff are asked, “Is your boss happy with your performance?”, too often the reply is, “He must be; he hasn’t fired me yet!”

Is this level of feedback likely to promote top performance among team members? Or could it be done better?

There are two key points to any assessment and recognition process: The period of assessment should be agreed and honored (how many bosses do you know who keep putting off periodic performance reviews?); and the assessment criteria must be transparent, mutually-agreed between the parties (at the outset! – no point trying to change the rules mid-game) and as objective as possible.

The best way to achieve transparency is to agree on one or more objective measures of performance; for a sales person, that may be sales revenue or gross profit per period; for administration staff it may be a maximum turn around time for quotations, or the timely filing of tax or other regulatory returns. Whatever the measure, it should be directly related to the results required of the position, and progress towards it should be regularly discernible by all parties (that is, the assessed person should not find out the result during the assessment, but should have been progressively aware of their performance throughout the period of assessment).

One important factor in creating an effective review process is the frame of mind in which it is administered! If, in the understanding of the parties, the assessment is to determine “whether they have failed or not”, the process will be cast in a negative light – and will probably be avoided by all parties as well!

If, on the other hand, the assessment process is seen as part of the team member’s personal and professional development (a sort of periodic look from which their next course of support and development will be planned) it will more likely be viewed in a much more positive light – and be carried out!

So how are you doing so far? Hopefully, you see the merit of the approach. More next time.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Top Strategies for Developing Your Team – Part 1

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Great businesses and great teams don’t just “happen” any more than a 110-story sky-scraper just “happens” – there is vision, planning and skill in achieving either.

Here’s a little help on the planning side:
1. Build Better Specs
Always start with the end in mind! List the outcomes, the results that you want from anyone filling a position in your team.

Be specific; use numbers and dates where applicable. Specify the periods over which performance will be measured. Wherever possible, work out the value of this level of performance to the business so that you can apply some perspective to the salary package you may have to craft to acquire a person capable of delivering those results.

Use the 3:1 Rule as a test of your final cost/benefit assessment: The new team member should generate around three times their grossed up cost to the business, in gross profits. Their grossed up cost will be something like their pre-tax salary, plus 30% (to cover overhead, holidays, sick leave, etc).

2. Align Personality, Skill and Character with the Role
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that certain personality types are better suited to certain tasks than others. For example, if we simply divide people into “big-picture” and “detail oriented”, which of those two types might be better suited to sales, strategy and marketing? And which would you like doing your bookkeeping or accounting?

There are a number of tried and tested profiling tools that may help you to identify characteristics that will align with the results that you are looking for from your new team member. With a DiSC Analysis, you can save yourself a huge amount of time, money and angst that picking the wrong person can cost you.

3. Write Your Advertisement to Your Ideal Candidate
If you write an average ad, you’ll get an average unemployed (or about-to-be-unemployed) person replying to it. Is that what you want?

Given that, if you attract the wrong people to your position and make a poor selection, you could be weeks or months of salary and hair-pulling down the track before you terminate them and start again. So is it worth spending time (maybe hours) and resources (maybe hundreds of dollars for a skilled copywriter) to end up with an ad powerful enough to pull the perfect candidate for your position, away from their current employment and straight to your door? It would appear so.

Tips for an excellent advertisement for a position:
• Start by writing a rambling letter to the ideal candidate about what you want and what you are offering them. Start with money if you must, but then go all the way through “security”, “belonging”, “recognition and rewards”, and into “autonomy, responsibility, and opportunity for personal growth and expression” territory. The right person is going to join the dream that you so persuasively sell them, rather than selling their soul for the money you offer.
• Boil your rambling personal letter down to an elegant letter and put it on a page of your website, and link to it from your ad.
• Boil your elegant letter down into an ad that describes the ideal person in such a way as they would recognize themselves; and describes the job in terms of what they will gain from owning it.
• Rack your brains, take advice – do whatever it takes – to come up with a headline that will call out to your ideal candidate (and which will probably frighten, or put off any less-than-ideal candidates) by being a challenge to growth and adventure.
• Do your research and find out where your ideal candidate is likely to read this.
• Think about leaving the ad running even after you find your ideal candidate. After all, what’s harder to find: An ideal team member, or work for them to perform?

4. Sell Your Vision For Your Business
Do you want people who work (just) for money? Or do you want people who want to contribute to something fabulous, that’s bigger than themselves, into which they can put a piece of themselves and of which they can feel proud?

If you’re after the second lot, then you had better be very good at selling a crystal-clear vision of your dream for your business to them – otherwise you’re likely to attract drones!

What is your Vision? How will you share this in a way that will cause the right candidate to go, “Wow!”, and walk out of their current job to join you?

Yes, you can save yourself the brain drain and skip this step, but what type of candidate are you then likely to end up with?

5. Tailor A Quick Assessment Process
Sometimes it’s just smart to sit down with a professional recruiter at this point (and not before this point!) and have them take charge of the pre-selection process for you.

It can be a time-consuming task sifting through a number of candidates, and it is likely that a good professional will be able to grade a field of candidates against a clear selection criteria quicker and more efficiently than you can. Besides, it puts someone between you and the candidates until you are ready for that one-on-one meeting.

If you are one of those “hands-on” people who wants to run the selection process from end to end, it may still be a smart move to consult a recruitment specialist to develop a set of questions specific to your needs, that will sort the candidates into “As” (appear to have everything we want, right now); “Bs” (could qualify with a bit of development work on our part); and “Cs” – not for this position.

To these “standard” questions, you’ll then add others to determine any objective or professional qualifications, background, experience, etc, that you require or desire in a candidate, by which time you will then have the basis for a quick, preliminary grading system that should avoid you wasting time on the “Cs”.

6. Discover Their Goals And Aspirations First
Give someone enough rope and they are likely to hang themselves – so turn the traditional job interview process around by letting the candidate do the talking.

Use purposeful, open questions (ie, questions that can’t be answered with a single word); ask follow on questions based on their answers to explore some depth to better understand your candidate; occasionally use extending questions (“Tell me a bit more”) or friendly silence to encourage them to go on.

Ask questions to find out what they know about you and your business. If they are worth their salt they will have researched you before their interview (whether on the web, by walk in, or by talking to people who already work for you, know your business, etc).

Set out to discover what makes them tick, and why they would want to work for and with you. Discover what talents, experience, knowledge and ideas they bring to the table, and explore those a little. It is entirely possible that you could start out interviewing a candidate for one job, but end up targeting them for another particularly suited to their talents or background.

Then invite them to ask questions of you. Form your opinions based on the quality of those questions, and the background knowledge from which they are asked.

Listen for the assumptions in their speech to gain a feel for how well their values and expectations align with your own, even at this very early point in your relationship.

Bottom line: You’ll learn much more by listening to them talk and having them ask questions about the job, than you ever will by telling them about the position.

Will cover more in the next blog – so stay tuned.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Is Your Ego Stalling Your Growth?

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

While ego can be a good thing, one of the biggest problems many Leaders have is their ego. It’s very easy to get a high opinion of yourself when your company is doing well or you’re in a position of authority. While it’s great to believe in yourself and have confidence, there’s something to be said for having humility. This is especially true as to how you relate to your staff, employees and customers.

Do you have to really think about how humility plays a role in your effectiveness as a leader? You may not think so, but it’s important that you do. This is because employees already see people in positions of authority many times as ego driven, power-hungry people. Sometimes the word “Jerk” or other interesting description is used. The last thing you want to have happen is for your employees to feel resentful of you as their boss.

Let’s talk about some ways that you can cut your ego back and show humility to your employees, and let us also remember your customers.

The first thing you have to remember is that you don’t know everything. That might come as a shock to you and to many people who feel like they know their businesses inside and out. However, you have to be humble by knowing what you don’t know. Sometimes referred to as blind spots. For instance, if you are the Boss, then you generally know things about your business. However, it’s unlikely that you know every facet of every job in the business. That’s where your Leadership Team and your employees come in. They are deep in the business and on the edges, out in the market. They know what to do day in and day out for their particular job. This just shows you one area where you may not know something that your employees do.

Secondly, you should never underestimate your competitors. Although you might think your business is the greatest thing since sliced bread, your competitors are always nipping at your heels ready to take over your business in the marketplace. Because of this, it’s important to stay humble and always be forging ahead, learning new things. And it pays to do your homework on your competitors. Not only will you gain a level of respect, but also open your eyes to what may be missing in your business or what new strategies you need to employ going forward. This goes along with not thinking that you know everything.

Listening is a third way that you can show humility in your business. Be willing to not only listen to your employees and really hear what they have to say, but also listen to your customers. They will give you a lot of feedback, that you may or may not like, but it’s helpful for your business in the long run. They can help you define what is and what is not working in your business, what you can leverage and what you need to do next. Too often Leaders fail to harvest the diamonds that lie right in front of them.

Finally, don’t buy into your own fame and fortune. Both are fleeting and quickly disappear if you are not careful. You may get a lot of publicity about who you are or what you’ve done in your business. That’s great and should be something that you take pride in, but it definitely should not swell your head. No one is too famous to go under if they don’t take care of their business and have a humble attitude.

The thing with humility is that when you push it to the side and allow your ego to drive your business, that’s exactly when you’ll start to fail. When the business becomes more about you and what you think of yourself, than about the tasks at hand, you will find yourself going under as your competitors overtake you.

Ego and pride can be helpful to a point, but check it at the door. You’ll be glad you did.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Begin here to accelerate your success: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.