Assessing Employees

Performance reviews are not new, and at the end of a probation period employees are often given vague reasons as to why they are kept on by the company or ditched… Sometimes non management staff have been perplexed by these moves and the reasons given can be as vague as the decision itself.


Steve Gray's assessment tool


To ensure an effective decision is made effort needs to be put into assessing the person and their efforts in the role. So I scoured the web for ideas, and coupled that with my own thoughts and came up with this checklist to assist in making decisions as well s being able to pinpoint areas for development which might go under the radar.

A contemporary business might give the list to the employee early in the probation period (probably not on day one…) and let them know what sorts of things you are looking for at the end of the process. Of course  you would do your own research and fact gathering from their peers and supervisors to ensure an effective mix of facts can be utilised.


Check it out it’s three pages I feel sure  you will want to use often to ensure your staff are doing more of the right things by your organisation.



Steve Gray

Steve Gray - Steve is a business educator - Trainer - Speaker (Steve You can get his Leadership E Book from The info provided in these articles is for educational purposes only and is intended as a starting point for you to build your business from, not as specific advice.
Visit Steve's Website

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Stress and the New Employee

Starting a new job is challenging at the best of times, but if the supervisor, buddy and boss don’t recognise or bother to take notice of what might make the first few days or even weeks stressful then what hope has the person got. Here are some pointers for the ‘newbie’ and those who have to work with wanted

Stressors at work for a new employee

  1. Not enough product knowledge
  2. Unsure if they will fit in
  3. Unsure of the expectations they will have to work to
  4. Customers…
  5. Being understood
  6. Fitting in with Co-workers
  7. Where things are
  8. How things work
  9. Where do I put things
  10. Will I be paid… When?
  11. Working conditions – Hours – Equipment – Facilities – Tools
  12. Safety – Mine – yours – ours.
  13. Producing quality outcomes
  14. Working fast enough or not?

The list goes on… :)

So dear ‘Newbie’, breathe a little

Take it easy, take a deep breath, and relax a little. The company wants you to succeed, they want you to be happy, they want you to feel at ease and know that “masterpieces take time”. There is plenty to learn and lots of things to figure out. If the company is doing things right they will train you in  how they do things, where things are and set  you on a path to success.

Some keys to new employee success.

  • Ask lot’s of questions – Even a few weeks in, the more questions you ask, the more answers we can give you, the more confident and assured you can become. There are no silly or stupid questions.
  • If you are not sure – Paraphrase a question, ask the question in another way, to get greater clarity,
  • Investigate and explore – Find out where things are and explore, within reason of course… To find out where things get kept and become familiar with where things might be found.
  • Research – Show you are interested in the role by doing your own research, check the internet for information and ideas, not to become a ‘smarty pants’ but to ensure you pick up the language, relevant techniques etc.
  • Be at ease – We know that might be hard for the first few days or even a week or two. Remember, breathe in, breathe out and repeat :) They want you to be happy. There is no need to rush to learn or ‘get up to speed’ that will happen, so don’t concern yourself about it.
  • Think SAFETY – Always, for yourself and others around you. See something, do something…
  • Mistakes, we all make them – Mistakes are learning opportunities, however it is important that you let someone know that you made a mistake, perhaps they can fix it, show you a better way to do the task.

I hope your new job works out fine and that the Company people reading this jumps into action and makes sure you have a fantastic start, after all they know that a replacement always costs money and time…



Steve Gray

Steve Gray - Steve is a business educator - Trainer - Speaker (Steve You can get his Leadership E Book from The info provided in these articles is for educational purposes only and is intended as a starting point for you to build your business from, not as specific advice.
Visit Steve's Website

Juggle that business

That’s right juggling…

Juggling business resources

Juggling your business resources

When you know that the business has so many elements it’s almost impossible to juggle them all, you start to realise there must be an answer to being able to juggle at least SOME of the elements.

For those with a big enough business or the resources to do it, you might simply delegate those things that require more time to make sure things are done right. Not all of us are that lucky.

For those who are starting out, or those who want to keep the business alive and happening even though you have a small crew, this planning document is for you.

Download the free PDF file, it’s at the end of the article… It’s just two pages of planning material that you can copy to your heart’s content, then USE IT to get your planning act together. You know what they say… “Work on the business not just in it.” When you realise that’s a truism you want to aspire to, then drag this out and make it happen.

Ok, so it’s a planning calendar with a sheet of questions and query points to get you started. The aim is to get you thinking about the three key areas that make your business tick, then plan to work on each area. If you get stuck you can refer to the questions on the list, then develop  some starting points to go from.

Enjoy and drop me a line to let me know if it works for you or could be altered to make it better!

Planning guide


Steve Gray

Steve Gray - Steve is a business educator - Trainer - Speaker (Steve You can get his Leadership E Book from The info provided in these articles is for educational purposes only and is intended as a starting point for you to build your business from, not as specific advice.
Visit Steve's Website

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Make Your Marketing Work

You want more people to notice your business and take positive action, but what form of advertising or marketing should you use? Here are a few pointers to get you started.Two types of marketing

Passive MarketingTwo types of marketing

Passive marketing reaches the customer through effective positioning of your details. For example, a customer uses a search engine to locate the business and find the phone number. The marketing was done before their need arose, to encourage the customer into the business. Effective passive marketing is thoughtful and enticing. It takes planning and strategic implementation

  • Website
  • Signage – Vehicle, Building, Billboards
  • Print adverts & articles – newspapers, magazines, catalogues etc.
  • Fliers
  • Business Cards
  • Blog articles
  • Social Media – Facebook posts – You tube Videos etc.
  • Image based – Uniforms and promotional items
  • Broadcast media – T.V. or radio
  • Direct mail – Postal – email

Active Marketing

Active marketing requires interaction. It may mean networking with other businesses. It also includes selectively advertising to drive in new business. This type of marketing is deliberate and purposeful. It takes effort. Active marketing often includes meeting prospects face to face and making direct calls to introduce yourself and what you have to offer to prospects. This kind of marketing requires skill and persistence. Having someone doing this for you is called a big bonus, usually it’s a happy customer that likes what you do and tells others.

  • Networking – Face to face interaction with prospects at trade shows, community and business events
  • Direct meetings – Define a prospect, make a list, call and introduce yourself, meet and discuss, the aim is tto research and work an angle to cause them to say “Yeah, send me more info” or “Yeah drop in and talk to me about it.”
  • Word of mouth – Someone likes what you did and tells someone else, now you have a hot prospect

Making it measureable

All of these marketing types are useful, but you could spend a fortune and not know what ones are working the best for you, that’s when the notion of making them measureable comes into play.

If someone drops in to your business or gives you a call, you need to have some way of asking how they found out about your business, then you can start to quantify what’s working for you.

The best way is to find a point in your interaction with them to find the most natural way of saying “Oh and by the way, how did you find out about us?” then recording it. If 90% of your prospects say they saw an advert on social media, then you know you have something working for you.

One other way to measure results is if you have a radio advert that hits your prospects at a time when they need you and they call you. An example is a radio advert, for school stationery supplies that comes on the radio as your prospect pulls up to pick up their children. If the next hour or so sees a rise in the number of people dropping in with children, chances are your radio advert had some effect.

Taking it further

Having the above information can be a way to get started, but in reality you will need to consider a range of things, the business ‘brand image’, who you want as prospects, how many prospects you want and figuring out the best ways to influence those prospects with the words and images you use in the adverts.


Steve Gray

Steve Gray - Steve is a business educator - Trainer - Speaker (Steve You can get his Leadership E Book from The info provided in these articles is for educational purposes only and is intended as a starting point for you to build your business from, not as specific advice.
Visit Steve's Website

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Remember when your business was small and fast, not big and awkward?

eye for work

Image is courtesy of 2nix

Your business has grown and so too has the culture of focusing on being a ‘big’ business.

You now have procedures for everything, policies to deal with all the things that could be a risk to your business and in the process your team have become ‘big’ in their thinking.

On reflection you might just think that you would like to have some of the small business culture you used to have. The sort of thinking that was more ‘seat of the pants’ faster to adapt, faster to decide and that degree of ‘nimbility’ was what got you going, the late nights, the furious work pace made sure your small team were fed with work. Now it just seems big and awkward.

You like so many aspects of that small business approach you want to now use that in your bigger business. You want your people to think faster, be more creative and problem solve like you used to, on the run. You want them to be more flexible and not bogged down by lengthy processes.

Here’s your chance to do just that, think of it as taking a mirror to your business and looking back to see just how these qualities can be achieved again.

Think fresh

When you started out you probably asked your customers lots of questions to figure out their needs, send your teams out to do the same and make it a random thing you instigate throughout the year. If they already do that look at other aspects of the business thinking that could be freshened up. If you hold meetings in the same in house room day in day out, find a new room, in another building, a park, a training venue… Wherever you can have fresh stimulus.

Stimulate learning

In the early days when your business was small, you learnt a lot about many things quickly and you coveted people that could do the same. This ‘learning on the fly’ approach solved many challenges for you, everything seemed like a prototype and I bet your team jumped in to help find solutions. Take a look at the processes involved, perhaps you now need a team when one person was given the job in the early days. Consider doing the same and create a ‘maverick’ a lead person who can jump in and learn, plough though as if there was no hold ups and pass on their findings to the team to develop.

Create what customers want

Go and ask them what they want, and or test a new product or service early in the development process to see if it has ‘legs’. no legs no development. There, you just save the business a lot of money and time… now get on with developing what people want or need.

Provide solutions

Top sales people will soon tell you they sell solutions, so give your people the ability to problem solve and find ways to see what they have is a solution to a customers need, then they will have tangible ways to engage the customers and be seen as a source of comfort in their time of need.

Success is working towards any worthwhile goal, in this simple list of starting points I feel sure you can get back some of that small startup magic and reinvigorate the team to get better results.


Steve Gray

Steve Gray - Steve is a business educator - Trainer - Speaker (Steve You can get his Leadership E Book from The info provided in these articles is for educational purposes only and is intended as a starting point for you to build your business from, not as specific advice.
Visit Steve's Website

Is Your Business a Destination?

If you read the heading and thought of a holiday destination you love, even briefly… then I have done the right thing.IMG_2871

Now imagine if your customers thought of your business as a fabulous destination, a place they love to hang out even if it is breifly to get some suplies and head off again. Think about that, you business as a fabulous place to hang out.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

One of my Sisters in law has a fantastic quirky gift/art store and in the front they have a cafe. It’s a fabulous destination, they hold events, have pop up food stores out the front from time to time and people love the place… It’s a bit out of the way for some, but people come from far and wide. I know why they do, because they love it.

I like to brag about the place to others and let them know if they are in that area they can drop in and might just be delighted by what’s on offer.

People seem to readily sign up for their email newsletter, like them on social media and follow their events and antics, their Christmas window display will be the buzz around town each year if the first year is anything to go by and they manage to get rave reviews in weekend magazines, newspapers and the like.

But what about your business?

I want you to now think about your business, even if it’s an online one, is it a destination people really want to go to? Perhaps they will get to the business and be excited by what you have to offer, what you have planned, and or the way you treat them so they feel special.

Many years ago my wife and I went to a shop that have created a wonderful atmosphere by creating a rainforest to wander through, with lots of soft toys and quirky items that hikers, environmentalists and wanderers would purchase. I loved it, each turn revealed another wonderful array of gifts to surprise and delight.

Okay, so you can imagine people being drawn to this magical place, and figure that somehow you would like to entice your customers in some way, by creating a positive destination. So what do you need to consider?

First off, ask yourself why do you want your business to be a destination, is it… More customers, better customer satisfaction, boost turnover, create a promotional buzz, get more Public Relations exposure, to put more pep into the business you love. Whatever the reason you have to appreciate that this reason is the motivation or driver for the idea of creating a better destination.

The key is, enticing people to buy from you more often, by providing an environment conducive to  connecting with them emotionally so they want to be part of what you offer. This is where some key points come in, let’s explore:

Be the best – People will seek you out if you are the best at what you do, your business is the destination, due to the fact no other business can match your quality

You want to be the best – Maybe you need to tweak a few things to get to this point, go on start making a list of the changes you need to make

You want to create an atmosphere people will love – Perhaps your business is the best at what it does but people don’t know it yet. Like the examples given, you can imagine making your business more exciting and enticing to do business with

You want people to sense you are authentic in what you offer – You want to show you can think outside of the square and come up with ideas to keep customers coming back for more.

You want to add spice to the way your business does things – Add events or program promotional activities to make your business a special place to be even if it is for just a short time

So how do you do it?

Evaluate what you have, if you fit into one of the specific categories outlined earlier then you have a starting point to go from. Now make a list of the changes that want to make in each of those areas, Maybe you want to break things down further. Here are some exploration points to consider.

Perhaps it is a marketing thing – You already have a rgreat business, with wonderful things on offer and good quality service, so if it’s a marketing thing to let more people know how wonderful your business destination is then pull out the felt markers gather the team and brainstorm ways to tweak the marketing and then get out the calendar and pick suitable dates for things to happen that will miss the public holidays, festivals etc. Now make a list of the types of things you can program in to make the most of what you have to offer.

Perhaps it’s a strategic management issue – You wanted to do more of the right things, but have not planned a strategy to support the good things that are already happening, what strategies do you have in place to explore and promote excellence which will create a culture to underpin your fabulous destination?

Perhaps it’s the decor that works – The store layout, the training of staff on how to create and maintain the right decor,

Perhaps its the quality outcomes you produce – the way you promote (is it creative, interesting or just a list of what you offer?)

Perhaps it’s some form of event – an in store demonstration, an exhibition,  a meet and greet with a local specialist in your field or a famous personality. Try and consider ways to make the event fun and engaging so people want to come back for more.

You could have

  • VIP events for your top customers and clients
  • Educational events
  • Games and contests
  • Cultural events

Start the ball rolling in some practical way to show your team you want to have a business destination which is a fantastic place to be. Then you can start to measure the effect of the things  you implement.

Remember all of the above points are about getting people in the door, calling to find out more or trolling your website for more information, going the next step is about how you will convert their action into sales. Let’s save that for another time.


Steve Gray

Steve Gray - Steve is a business educator - Trainer - Speaker (Steve You can get his Leadership E Book from The info provided in these articles is for educational purposes only and is intended as a starting point for you to build your business from, not as specific advice.
Visit Steve's Website

Customers have needs too!

Customers, they have the cash in their hot little hands and if your business offering is worthy, they will spend it with you… IF you are not worthy they may go elsewhere.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

Figuring out what they want is a matter of understanding they are generally not consciously aware of what they want in terms of how they want the experience to be. Thankfully there have been enough studies and research to help point the way. Here are a range of pointers to consider and work on so you can keep up with their needs and wants.

They want a solution to a challenge they face

If they are hungry they want food, if they have a car low on fuel they want to fill it, if they have any form of desire for an item or service they want a solution, if your business is in the right place at the right time they might choose  your business to provide that solution.

They want to feel good

After all who wants to feel bad when buying something. Make the buying experience personable, warm and welcoming so they can feel at ease early in the transaction. An emotionally rewarding experience will ensure the customer is enticed to purchase rather than pushed into a discount or other offer they may not connect with. If they can feel special at a range of stages in the sales process then you may just have a customer for life.

They want to be attracted, not pushed

They want to buy, not get sold to… The difference is a person motivated to do business rather than feeling uneasy about what’s taking place. By offering options and possibilities which you can readily support, explain etc will be a more positive stance for them to feel comfortable with.

People like destinations and journeys

Is the sales environment welcoming? Is the sales process a positive journey of discovery or a negative hassle? The more you can create a welcoming destination the more chances you have of getting positive results. Imagine arriving at a stunning oasis in a desert and then being wooed by a person who can readily show them around, taking them on a journey of discovery, now the destination just got better!

Champagne tastes on a beer budget

This statement applies to many customers but not all. They want the best but are only willing to pay the minimum to get it. Challenging I know, so what can you offer to make this possible? Big chain stores often entice prospects with a cheap option in their promotions, then show you options up from that lower cost enticement. People often want better and will ‘stretch the budget’ to make it fit to their wants and needs.

Inspire, intrigue, motivate

In a world where many things are standard packages, same old same old repetitive offerings, consider ways to alter that, aim to intrigue, inspire and motivate the prospect to think more about what they want and can readily get.

Make the purchasing options easy

Do you take cash, credit card, paypal or any one of a range of ways to take payment. are your terms fair and reasonable and set up to make it easy for the customer to say yes more often? If not, it’s time for a change.

Customers will know more

The information age has done that, now what are you going to do to work with this situation to be part of the customers ‘psyche’ and provide a platform to work from? Perhaps it’s a sign that points out key things to know about what you offer, but your word it to say “You already know about these things, but just in case you don’t…” You could also word up and test your sales team that customers can be “know it alls” and work with this to add more information, or work with the information to keep the customer on side.

They want it now

People have become used to getting things fast, if you don’t have what they want, now your competitor might well have it… you may have been the business they stopped at on the way to your competitor, simply because your were closer. In a customised product sale, make sure you point to that what you offer has to take time, set them at ease and clarify that you have to order items in, and deal with other work before their custom work can be attended to.

People want to know

When will it be ready? What the progress is… if there are any holdups… If there are any issues, challenges or differences. They want this so they can feel they are being dealt with honestly, ethically and openly. Even on a small scale fast transaction, let’s say serving fast food… “Thanks you order has now been placed and will be put together shortly… I’ll just wrap that for you now… I have put the napkins in the bag…” etc… All this adds up to an informed customer that can feel good about the process.

This list should provide you with a range of starting points to improve your service offerings. Take an honest look at what you currently do, any chances you, your team or the customer interaction space is letting the sales process down. Now make changes and watch out for the positive results.


Steve Gray

Steve Gray - Steve is a business educator - Trainer - Speaker (Steve You can get his Leadership E Book from The info provided in these articles is for educational purposes only and is intended as a starting point for you to build your business from, not as specific advice.
Visit Steve's Website
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