Archive for category Risk Management

Beyond Values


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

Regular readers will know I love talking about values. It came to mind recently that I should provide some more depth on the subject.

For the uninitiated, the values an organisation stands by are the foundation of its culture (the pattern of behaviours it follows).

So take a look at this list I have put together:

Values outline

The aim being to develop a starting point of areas to explore under each heading, in this example Respect and Quality

Your business can readily do a similar thing and build its own set of values and guidelines to ensure each area of the buisness is given suitable scrutiny, over time the details can be added to as issues come to light. In the end the result is a organisational device your people can use to ensure each value has been given due consideration, they feel they have input into it, they can see it as a positive force to live by and should be able to raise concerns at any stage with management to better the company.

Take a look, explore it and make sure your team get into the process of making it happen. Trust me… you will love the results.

Does Your Business Squeak?


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from

Recently  a person I know was offered what looked like a great deal which involved some vouchers, and what seemed like an easy to use system to redeem the vouchers. So far so good. “Oh and there’s a ten day cooling off period IF FOR ANY REASON you want a refund.”

The person went ahead.

Then the vouchers arrived in the mail, along with forms to fill in and lots of information about terms and conditions… Sure that’s fine. After reading the details and doing some internet searching the person found things were not easy, and there were some grumbles about the process from others who had also bought, in short the thing ‘squeaked’ in a way the person did not like.

Refund time. Not so fast…  one call to the number listed, lots of questions why? why WHY? they asked, but it’s such a good deal… two more phone calls to catch the “Customer Service Manager” only to be told, oh we don’t normally refund, are  you sure you want to. By now the person wants to get the refund so strongly they are ‘over’ the whole process and are becoming more angst ridden by the minute. Return the vouchers and the forms all intact, came the reply, “When we get all that we will definitely refund this for you, yes  you are within the cooliong off period.” said the Service Manager.

Two weeks go by, Ring ring… “I just wanted to ask about why you wanted a refund?” said a new person on the phone. “But the refund is due to come any day?” said our intrepid shopper. “Oh no that has not been finalised… we want to figure out if there’s anything we can do?” – “Um no just give me the refund please.” CLUNK goes the phone.

By this stage our shopper has been run through the mill and wants nothing to do with this company. Jumps straight on to the “interweb thingy” and writes a bad review on this organisation. Still awaiting a refund…

The upshot of all this is making sure your organisation is squeaky clean in its dealings, and makes sure that they are not aggravating people in any way or form. If people say no, they mean it, push things too far and you will be wondering why the reviews slam your business left right and centre. Oh and no this is not a threat, it’s how things are today, get used to it OH and know that most reviews on the web are there for the long haul, you can’t get most of them removed.

What will you do to make sure your business squeaks! Regards Steve Gray

Helping a new recruit start right


Image courtesy of Ambro

Image courtesy of Ambro

You hired a new recruit, you want them to do well, simply because the process so far has cost you money and you don’t want the whole thing to mess up. You want to reap the reward of having a person in the job helping to create more income for the buisness. You also like the fact that it should reduce your stress and work levels! 

Try these guidelines to help make the most of having this person on your team. These easy to implement steps might seem innovative to some of you while others will have seen these ideas in action before.

  1. Buddy up – Give the new person a buddy, someone who can train them in the tasks they have to do, someone who really knows the business systems you have and does things the right way. Give that person and the new recruit the time and space to get them going and stay that way.
  2. Introductions count – Let the team know who they will be working with BEFORE the person starts, an outline of their resume, their strengths and what the team can do to make them feel welcome. Now introduce the recruit and and watch things flourish from there. Far too often the wider team does not know much about the new person.
  3. Communicate –  Talk to the new person daily, ask how they are going and if everything is suitable. Respond fast to their ‘fair and reasonable’ needs they will remember this level of kindness and support.
  4. Job description – Getting the details right on paper is one thing, making sure others in the team know what the new person will be doing is useful too, sometimes the new person does not know they have been given extra tasks assigned to someone else. Make it easy all round and get clear about what the role entails.
  5. Walk first, run later – A new person may well have done the tasks you are asking of them in previous roles, but subtle differences in operating systems, software, where things are physically can trip up a fast running new guy. Make it easy for them to succeed by getting them used to things gradually.
  6. Great place, prove it – You love the business, the environment and the way people work together. It’s all in your companies mantra, mission, vision etc. But for the new person it might seem like a waste of time and paper. It’s up to you and the team to show them how all the foundations like the mission and vision really do work, by showing them practical examples. Actions speak much louder than words.
  7. You did what when? – By the end of the probation period it’s far too easy to forget what the new person has achieved. Keep track of it with their work Buddy, get the facts on where they are up to and know that at the end of the probation period you will have solid evidence of their success or failure in the role.

Use these seven easy strategies to ensure you do the right thing by the new recruit and not end up with an expensive and time consuming mistake on your hands.

Cultural fit, it’s what makes your business successful

You have a new idea for the business, you try it it doesn’t work… oops you try something else, oops. You start to get wary of trying new things (understandable). Others come up with ideas, you are reluctant to try them out. It all comes down to cultural fit. Let’s try an example.

You run a bike store selling Harley Davidsons and related regalia and have a successful business, your clientele is rough and tough (just ask them) or they want to be rough and tough (or at least look that way). The shop next door closes down and you have the chance to knock a hole in the wall and expand, sounds great yeah… But you realise there is so much room in there you can’t fill it.

A suggestion happens “Open a coffee shop” (you think a bar would be better but hey your previous ideas have tanked remember…) your partner agrees and puts in some nice tables, sets up a coffee machine, adds some cupcakes etc and vroom (like the topical touch?) you have a cafe.

Question, is it a good cultural fit?

That all depends on how business goes after that. Is there a decline in sales, people through the door and the length of times they stay? Is it on the positive side or not… If not why not?

Let’s say things take a slide, who or what are you going to blame? simple the Cafe, especially if the cafe is decked out to look like Grandma did the decor.

Now take a look at your business, how well do things fit for the staff, the clients and prospects?

Example, in your marketing, did you create and run an advert that failed to create any results? Many of us have done that. But what was it that caused it to fail? You looked at where it would be seen, you checked out the target audience, you compared prices with similar advertising, you did your research and found that other advertisers benefitted from the adverts they ran. You look at the advert and it reads okay, it looks okay but it died. Look at the target market what did they see? did it inspire them to take action? or did it miss the mark.

Perhaps you went for a way out creative angle and no one noticed or cared, when your target market is conservative and simply wanted to know the benefits of what you have to offer. Perhaps it was the other way around.

Cultural fit is vital if you want to connect with your target audience.

Lets say you develop a factory to make Wobbly Widgets, things go okay and you find the staff work ok for a while and then productivity starts to fade, you call a consultant they give you a few tips, one you can afford is to add piped music into the restroom facilities, nice touch, but pick music that has a wrong cultural fit and you could find the staff get annoyed rather than inspired.

Take a look at and think very carefully about how all aspects of your business fit culturally for the intended audience, you may just find a few things are out of alignment, adjusting these might make the world of difference.


Does Your Business Kick?

Perhaps it doesn’t kick in the way you want it to. Perhaps it kicks you, hard, in ways that hurt. When what you really want is a business that kicks goals and provides enough interest so you want to keep turning up and making the whole enterprise work better.

With lots of causes for it to kick badly let’s look at some ways for it to work better.  I could discuss having an inspiring vision, using brilliant innovation, outstanding leadership the creation of a stunning work environment and finish off with building a solid foundation of values, all good points but do they make your business kick?

What If I then said work on the management side of the business to develop policies and procedures to make the business more effective, or the marketing or the procedures… all of which are good things. Yet your business does not run right.

You then turn to what you have on offer, are you trying to sell things which people don’t want, or perhaps, your service causes customers to kick you!

Maybe it’s a new business you are trying to kick start and you find getting investors or any form of interest in the project from prospective partners is difficult.

Then you start to consider what could be left on the list and figure that possibly the only thing left is you. Could it be that your personality, communication style, or attitude could be having an effect on your business? Yes.

Out of all of the options provided clearly your business has a number of ways it might not be kicking in the way you want it to. Your challenge then becomes finding which one/s are to blame and then ensuring you take action to cause good results, rather than bad results kicking you.

Using a Facebook Page for Business

Facebook pages for business are about conversations and sharing, so there are some things that need to be considered, avoided etc.

  • Be SQUEAKY clean – No swearing, no denigrating anyone or anything be neutral in what is said, directly or in response to others comments.
  • Keep branding minimal on the page – Keep it so people can like what they see, not lots of logo’s everywhere.
  • Keep in touch with what’s happening – Monitor the page for any issues, bad posts, comments, offensive material etc.
  • Respond fast to any comments – If they are too bad, remove them and /or ban the user
  • Keep cover photos clear of offers or link options – FB Guidelines don’t allow it, mention an offer in a conversation or post
  • Avoid mentioning links and events unrelated to your brand – You can pay a cursory glance to some events etc, but avoid making a heap of posts about an unrelated event.
  • Ask questions to get responses but only if it’s relevant to the brand – Asking about a political issue for instance probably will be ignored or seen as strange and cause people to stay away rather than connect
  • Don’t post adverts as comments – People want a conversation or interesting info, an advert should be more of a sideline they can ignore or check out. It’s their choice you could put that on your webpage but not on FB.
  • Respond to comments, but not with a generic “email us” response – People want to engage there and then in public.
  • Talk about what your fans want to hear – Explore what they want and give it to them, make the points interesting and relevant, ask them what they want as well.
  • Respect the privacy of people – If you post pictures of your team and or customers avoid tagging them unless they clearly say it’s okay to do so. Presume nothing
  • Invite your team to connect with your page, but don’t make it compulsory – Then encourage them to invite people to friend the page, the more connections the wider the reach. Therefore the more potential customers you can reach

Meditation in Business

I recently saw some information on Mediation being used in schools. Where it’s been trialled they suggest the outcomes are very favourable, lower anxiety, less stress and calmer students. They go on to say the students have become more respectful, communicate better and have ‘less issues’ in the playground. I then took a look on heh web, it seems there are a bunch of businesses doing it “in the boardroom”.

Anyone who has done some meditation and have experienced the benefits will soon tell you this is nothing new. For me what could be new is using its benefits to enhance your business, less stress, less anxiety, less hassles, that can only mean less staff absenteeism, and therefore greater productivity. Couple that with “less issues in the play ground” and you could be on to a big winner!

The challenges would be to cause your business culture to alter enough to accept it, followed by which method to use, when it would be used and if the whole team started the day with a meditative session or not.

Once the initial questions have been pondered you might start out by offering an in house learning session with a mediation teacher who would give some simple short sharp options people could practice readily. Add a few links to articles on the web and perhaps a handout as a reminder they can pin up at their desk could be useful.

For those who think there could be issues with certain religious types not taking to a ‘new form of prayer’, set them straight by letting them know that very little meditation is related to religion and more to do with the science of holistic relaxation and better health.

Google have done meditation or at least offered it as a course to their emloyees to learn since 2007 take a look.

Do a quick search on the net and find some simple strategies on how to do this, then follow up with your team every few weeks and discuss the benefits, issues etc to see how it works for your business. You might just get a pleasant surprise!

I get a picture of whole office spaces filled with cubicles of staff starting the day with 10 mins of chill time, following some basic steps to ‘Breathe in, breathe out and repeat…” all to aid the health and well being of all concerned. Perhaps all of this might add to the teams sense of belonging, connectedness, sense of achievement, a feeling of having a unified purpose and a sense of organisational integrity, all due to one simple process repeated daily… nice.



Steve Gray Free Business Tips

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