Monday, August 31, 2015

11 questions to answer to increase and sustain momentum in your business

There's greater than usual volatility in world stock markets at the moment. It's a reminder that having your life's savings only in stocks is always a gamble. (A gamble by the way that I don't personally take). It's also a reminder as I heard one commentator say, that the stock market is not the real economy.

In a conversation with a client last week (a medium sized family business in the real economy and not tied to the post of the stock market) I drew the following diagram

I then explored with my client the 11 questions people in his business need to answer with actions in order to increase and sustain momentum, regardless of what the stock market is or isn't doing or any other factors where people have no real influence.

1) How high are the levels of positive and productive energy in all the interactions and transactions of the business?

2) Is leadership leading to more people leading?

3) How can processes, policies, procedures, practices and systems mean it's more simple for people to bring their very best to their work every day?

4) What changes need to be made to ensure that leadership and management are resulting in greater effectiveness and efficiency?

5) How can the ways we lead and manage better result in people taking it on themselves to be accountable?

6) What more can we do that means we're different, better, or more unique than our competitors?

7) How well are we solving the problems of our employees and customers?

8) What more can we do that helps to solve the problems and challenges of the world?

9) How much do people feel better as a consequence of doing business with us?

10) How can we become more of whom we're capable of becoming?

11) Can we dream bigger? How much more is possible if we set our aim higher?

How would people at your place answer these questions?

Be remarkable.

Monday, August 24, 2015

So what did you achieve this week?

This weeks sparkenation.

Here and here last week I suggested you should have revolutionary goals and then take evolutionary steps towards achieving them (one quantum leap at a time).

So what did you achieve this week?

What did you hear? What did you do?

Be remarkable.

More below to help you to be accountable to yourself

Where do you stand on the accountability ladder?

"Discipline is the bridge between thought and accomplishment."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Are You Driving Your Staff to Distraction? Beat Your Office's Biggest Productivity Threat

Are You Driving Your Staff to Distraction?When do you get your best work done? Is it when you shut yourself off in a meeting room, work from home for some peace and quiet, or sit in a café for a couple of hours? If you’re lucky enough to choose your work environment, you can choose what works well for you.

But what if you’re office-bound? Whatever works for you, I bet the best work environment is not when you’re sitting in a crowded office, surrounded by people who interrupt you and e-mail that distracts you. And if that’s true for you, it’s probably true for your team members as well. And they probably have even less control over their work environment.

The traditional office has its place.

The traditional office still has many advantages: easy and fast access to colleagues, a more collaborative feel, and trust built through personal connections. However, it also tends to impose some inflexibility and rigidity, such as regular working hours, regular work days, a fixed work location, uninspiring furniture and fittings, expected work patterns, a uniform dress standard, IT policies about hardware and software, and HR policies about training and development.

Even if you can’t control every office rule and policy, consider what you can do to accommodate your team members. Some flexibility might be completely within your authority, some might simply need permission, and some – if it’s important enough – is worth fighting for.

Here are five areas where you can consider being more flexible for your team members.

1. Give them more work “places”.

Outside the traditional office, workers are finding different places to work: home, cafes, shared offices, and co-working spaces. Even if team members spend most of their time at their own desks, consider some of these options as well.

Other workspaces can increase productivity (if they find a quieter space to work on a complex task), creativity (by stepping outside their usual environment), collaboration (by engaging with others), and personal satisfaction (for example, if they work from home one day a week for family reasons).

Ask your team members to suggest workspaces that suit them. Some people work effectively in a café because the low-level buzz of human activity helps them (and the Journal of Consumer Research suggests this is especially effective for being creative). Others find that same noise too distracting, and would rather go home an hour early to spend time with their children, and then make up that time after their children go to bed.

2. Offer flexible working hours.

Flexible working hours are not a new idea, but they are more valuable than ever, because your team members have so many other demands on their time. Parents with young families are the obvious example, but other people also appreciate the flexibility – for example, for being involved in a social cause, using a gym at off-peak times, and avoiding peak-hour traffic.

Discuss this as a team and agree on the best way to accommodate this flexibility – for example: Schedule all meetings between 10am and 3pm (to allow people to start work late or leave early), ask for 24 hours’ notice of absence, or use a shared team calendar to show everybody’s planned working hours each week.

3. Let them manage their energy.

It’s unreasonable to expect anybody to be fully focussed for the entire work day. A generation ago, workers took a break by going outside for a smoke; the modern equivalent could be checking Facebook, going for a walk, or even taking a nap.

They will be more productive if they take regular breaks, and only they know what kind of break works best for them. Respect their ability to understand and manage their own energy during the day, and resist the temptation to criticise them for doing so.

4. Investigate BYOD options.

Your team members use their smartphones, tablets and personal computers at home, and might want to use them at work as well. This concept is known as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).

This is one area where you should be careful in exercising independent discretion, because there are legitimate concerns about IT security, data security, insurance, compatibility, legal requirements, and other issues . Be open to your team members’ requests, but check carefully with others in the organisation who are responsible for these areas.

5. Give them flexible learning options.

Many organisations still choose the traditional training workshop as the default learning option for their in-office staff. Although it might be the best option, there are others as well – such as online courses, mentoring, shadowing, and presenting.

Consider all of these options, and be open to the idea of looking outside the office. For example, many professional associations have mentoring programs for women, and that might be better for some of your team members than an internal mentor.

Which of these ideas can YOU use?

Despite the inflexibility, some people enjoy working in an office. They like the social interaction, discipline of fixed working hours, and mentally having a separate place where they “go to work”. However, many of them would still appreciate more flexibility if it was available.

What can you do to help them?

Want to know more about extending your workplace and teams?

There's more in the Workplace chapter of my book "There's An I in Team". In this chapter, we look at managing and facilitating the dynamics of different people in your workplace: in-office staff, telecommuters, contractors, and freelancers.

If you’re interested in tapping into the power and potential of the people in your team, this book is for you.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Have revolutionary goals, take evolutionary steps

This weeks sparkenation.

We live in a world of overwhelm. A key to being happy and successful in such a world is having revolutionary goals and taking evolutionary steps towards achieving them.

What are your 'BHAG's' (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)?

Get crystal clear on where you're going and then focus only on taking your next quantum leap to get there.

Need help?

Contact me to arrange your complimentary one quantum leap at a time momentum session. 

My number is +61 418 807 898.

Be remarkable.

More sparkenations here.

Monday, August 10, 2015

"You can't base your life on other people's expectations"

This weeks sparkenation.

We all have aspirations. The trouble often is that they are based on other people's expectations.

Be remarkable.

More sparkenations here.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Get Their Attention with the Four Why's

Why?So you have an important message to share. And you've crafted a killer story to share it. They're bound to love it, right? Wrong! Chances are they didn't even hear it.

They're not listening to you.

It's not that they don't care, it's just that they get bombarded by so many other messages that yours just doesn't appear on their radar.

Unless ...

Unless you tell them why they need to listen.

In fact, everybody is asking four "Why?" questions in their mind to decide whether to listen to you. If you don't answer those four questions right up front, they won't even bother listening.

Here are the four questions: Why Me? Why This? Why You? Why Now?

  1. Why Me? Is this a good fit for me?
  2. Why This? What are the benefits for me to keep listening?
  3. Why You? What is your authority to deliver this message?
  4. Why Now? Is there any urgency for me to do something?

For example ...

For example, suppose a major new competitor has entered the market, and you're the CEO who has to explain this to all employees. In particular, it will affect one particular team, whose project will change dramatically. It's going to mean some big changes for them, which will initially seem painful, but will actually make the project easier if everybody embraces the change. This is such a big change that the project manager has invited you, the CEO, to share the news.

You've decided to tell a story about how your parents moved house when you were young, and you were the new kid in a new school. It was a shock at first, but you quickly realised you could use this to your advantage.

Great story! But when you gather the team for a meeting, don't launch it into the story right away.

Instead, you start by answering the four Why questions - like this:

"I'm here to talk about what Accurona's product means for us as a company, (Why Me:) and particularly for you in the Prolinki development team.

(Why This:) When you walk out of here, I want you to know how we're going to respond as a company, what it means for your project team, and who to talk to if you want to know more. (Why You:) As the CEO, I can share the big picture, and we want you to be fully informed. (Why Now:) Accurona will have government approval for their product in June, so we have 90 days to prepare.

You've probably heard some rumours, and you might be worried about what this means for us. It reminds me of when I was 9, and we moved house because my Dad got transferred ..."

It takes less than a minute to cover the four Why's. But it's a very important minute, so don't ignore it! If you do ignore it, you run the risk of losing them before you even start.

Keep in mind that the four Why questions are all about them – your audience. You might even tell the same story to a different audience, but just start by answering the four Why questions differently.

For example, if you were speaking to investors and shareholders rather than the product development team, and you're calling for an additional investment of funds, you might start like this:

"I'm here to talk about the impact of Accurona's product on our company, (Why Me:) and particularly what it means for our earnings this quarter.

(Why This:) I want you to know how it will affect growth, what it means for our likely dividends, and where we expect to be come June 30. (Why You:) As CEO, I've led our discussion throughout the company, at both a strategic and operational level. (Why Now:) The next 90 days will be crucial, and I want you to know why.

You've probably seen the media announcements from Accurona, and you might be worried about what this means for us. It reminds me of when I was 9, and we moved house because my Dad got transferred ..."

Whenever you're stuck for an opening to deliver any message, start with the four Why's.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Feeling stuck or overwhelmed? Choose and take one action at a time

This weeks sparkenation.

It's easy to feel stuck and/or overwhelmed in this seemingly always on world.

Choose and take one action this week that will move you forward and then choose and act again. Embrace the science of quantum leaps.

Assuming you have products/services people want and you're well positioned in your market/s, there's really only two areas to focus on in your business in order to increase positive momentum, people and processes.

If your lacking positive momentum or want to increase it ask: How can our processes be better so that it's simpler for our people to bring their best to their work? Your processes include your policies, procedures, practices, and systems, the stuff of modern management.

Ask: How can we better inspire our people to bring their best to their work? This is the stuff of modern leadership.
Choose and take one action this week that simplifies your processes and/or inspires your people. Then choose and take action again. One quantum leap at a time is the secret to positive momentum and avoiding feeling stuck or overwhelmed.

Maybe I can help you. We all benefit from a fresh pair of eyes to help us to see what we currently can't. Our first and possibly only conversation is complimentary. Find out more here.

Be remarkable.