Posts Tagged business

A Sense of Belonging

Which would you rather have, a team that turns up because they have to or because they want to? The latter right… Why? Because they don’t have to be there, their mindset is different, they might shy away from a challenge if they think their mortgage is on the line, but they will put in for the greater good of the team simply for one reason, a strong sense of belonging. 

Image courtesy of Stuart miles from freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from freedigitalphotos.net

Not just any sense of belonging, no no, as I eluded to in the opening paragraph, there are more reasons to want to do something, than if you have to do something.

Sounds easy, if I was talking about a club or group people belong to, people would soon get that stronger connection. However I am talking about a business, an organisation that people mainly get paid to work for, an organisation where the numbers often seem to be king, no profit no go…

So how do you as the business owner/manager cause this sense of belonging to go beyond the basics of need and get to a top class “one in, all in” situation where you know the people want to be there?

Connect, find ways to cause people to be part of a greater cause, ways to be aligned with the heart and soul of the business. Ways to communicate that they will benefit, just as deeply as you do by doing more, being more they will in return get more.

Perhaps the more they ‘get’ will be satisfaction, a warm sense of “I am part of something worthwhile”, the concept that the money is there but there is more to the equation.

Sounds far fetched perhaps, but in reality there are organisations where people willingly put in, willingly go the extra mile and hang in there to do it all again. Why? A sense of belonging, belonging in such a way they realise that the sum of the parts is greater than the value of the individual parts. As a team they can do more, as a connected and active team with a shared sense of belonging they can evolve to do MUCH more.

How then do we connect these ‘disparate parts’ to become cohesive, to join as one and be a truly mighty force?  Language… It’s what sets humans apart from other animals, it’s what ensures we can, discuss, plan, explore, find answers and ensure a higher sense of belonging can take place.

If you have ever noticed that people who use casual language, slang and the like to get through their daily routines, you will have probably noted their position in life is not one which often inspires. These people often seem to lead lives of deep desperation, working on minimum wages and struggling at every turn. While others with more developed language find ways to forge forward, to explore better options in life, to find depth and more profitable outcomes, and I don’t just mean financially.

Language

  • It helps us express the values we want our teams to align to
  • It gives us the chance to influence people to do great things
  • It assists us to lead
  • It provides opportunities to learn more, explore and pursue our dreams

How are you using language to better your teams, lead, influence and explore better ways to live and be a positive part of this world? Hopefully you will start with the positive values your organisation stands for and ensure your people are with you every step of your value motivated life. Without language we have little to commend us.

Regards

Steve Gray

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The service conundrum

Your team were doing poorly in the service stakes, you got someone in to fix it, and viola! All good, it took a while, some people fought it but you got their lazy butts moving, They started to acknowledge the customers by saying hello and provided good service with a smile.

Image courtesy of Satvva from freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Satvva from freedigitalphotos.net

Things were going swimmingly and people were praised left right and centre. This felt good, now some 18 months down the track the whole thing is starting to slide… What the?

You haven’t noticed it too much, but one of your stalwart customers has. You think they are just picky, yes they are, but in your best interests. They have noted the lack of acknowledgement, the lack of interaction, the staff walking past people pondering which item to buy who might need some assistance and the list of nasty pointers starts to build.

Did the system fail? Are your people slackening off? Did something change to cause this? Perhaps all of these pointers have kicked in and slowly over time the service culture has not cemented itself into the psyche of your team.

Think of it this way, if your people did bad service for five years, can they change the long term service to a more positive culture in eighteen months? Yes, but… It needs to done in a way to make that happen, a way that shows them there is a clear benefit to doing better service, a way that alters their thinking about how they used to do service and how good it feels to make the new change. They also need to lead each other, holding each person up to the fresh set of standards. New people that come in to the business also need to be trained in these new ways.

It wasn’t you who caused the team to slide, nor was it any one team member, but collectively if one factor moves off course by even one degree, then before long the destination can’t be reached because things are too far off course.

What may be needed are refreshers, service surveys, focus groups of live customers. In short feedback on what’s working, how people (customers) perceive the service.

Perception on the customers behalf is their reality. To keep the customers happy over the long term you need to make service a high priority and you need to massage it well in to place.

Happy customers spend more, they are content and feel the ‘love’ your people share. So ask yourself and your team, are we loving the customers enough to have them buy from us or not? Now take action to support better service reactions from the team.

Regards

Steve Gray

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We can’t do that here…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from www.freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from www.freedigitalphotos.net

Many enterprises have challenges trying to keep up with what’s happening in the world, technology changes, practicalities in the workplace, better processes and procedures so how do you keep up? If like other organisations you find yourself saying “We can’t do that” there will be reasons for it. Let’s pull out a few ideas and possibilities and take a look at what might be preventing us from achieveing the results we want.

Key imporovement areas

  • Best practice in all areas of the business
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Training
  • Innovation
  • Intrapreneuring/Entrepreneuring
  • Better induction and probation processes and procedures
  • Living Values

All of these things, and more, are some of the things that are making organisations ’employers of the year’. They have higher productivity, less staff turnover than others in their industry. They are also making organisations more profitable with stronger foundations to weather challenging times.

Yet all too often organisations don’t implement these things because of a few simple things. Want to know what they are?

Ignorance — The staff in control of an area don’t know what “best practice is’ or if they do they don’t want to do it because of a perception it will create more work for them. They think it may be better to bury their heads in the sand unless they have a solid directive from the boss to do

Loss of power or control — They are the boss, or the supervisor, they currently have a measure of control, you better believe it, anything that threatens this they will eliminate as fast as they can. Either by deriding it, trying it but making sure it fails or seeing it as a fad and dismissing it.

Fear of failure — Fear of success — Yes fear of… both of these are valid and are problematic. “We can’t try new things, what if we fail, it will  have cost us dearly and what’s wrong with how we are doing things now?” and for success… “We are a small business and want to stay that way there is no need for us to ‘go for the big time’ and try new fangled things…” SIGH… each of these loops around and devour each other, the more I don’t want to fail the more I probably will… These two areas are key points of business psychology and require careful handling. If you have team members who fit into these categories, are they the best people to assist your business to be all it can be?

We don’t know how — Things like Best Practice, Coaching/Mentoring, training and exploring business values. You may not know how to do these now, but what if you were to learn about them and slowly build your skills in these areas, or at least get some of your team trained in these areas. The aim is to build skills which can add to the flexibility of the organisation rather than being too rigid and unable to move.

We don’t know why — Why you should do something… Let’s see if your industry has developed  new technology and you have not kept up to these then you could be going backwards fast. Consider printing industries when computers started to make an impact on layout and design, effectively cutting out many people from the process. Things got easier and more cost effective for the client. Again it’s about ignorance, know what is cutting edge in your industry and business in general and aim to do it.

We don’t have the money — People said that when computers came in, they managed, some fought to the bitter end but one way or another computers made a huge difference. What else will cost money now but probably save the business in the future? LOTS of things, if yo have looked into each of the initial areas I mentioned you will know they can be highly beneficial to  your bottom line and profitability, while making the staff happier in the long run.

We don’t do change — Many people fear change, what if it goes bad, what if it costs us, what if… but what if it makes the business more effective, more profitable and have a better bottom line… Then that’s got to be useful right? Some see the glass half empty, some half full, others drink it and order the next drink. We all have choices, if your people won’t change they are probably  stuck in  some form of fear loop, seeing the worst rather than entertaining the possibility things might be better.

It’s up to you how you handle your business and develop that ‘can do’ attitude to make the most of what you have. Move to the can do approach to add depth and value to  your business, keep your staff happy and make more money in the process. The flexibility and strength this can add can be very useful in a highly competitive marketplace.

Regards

Steve Gray

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Did You ‘Value’ Your Business?

In the past set of nine articles I have outlined some ways to look at the values your business operates with. Now it’s up to you to take each and develop some guidelines around each for how you want your team to operate. May I suggest you hand the list to your top people, give them a head start, tell them to develop some ideas and options and email them to you (compile the details in a  group meeting). Then develop an organisation wide set of values, possible scenarios and situations around them.

Compile the guidelines into your master operating procedural documents, begin to live it, refer to it and explore all it has to offer.

Any future steps the organisation takes should be done in light of these core values, then over time these can be ‘tweaked’ to suit.

Now you are fired up to tackle this as a project (even you small business operator…) then here is a link you can email to your team to work with.

Adaptable

Quality

Passion

Accountability

Integrity

Collaboration

Tolerance

Respect

Leadership

And another article on values to tie it all together

 

Now look at how you bring the various aspects of this together to create great results for your business by taking positive action.

Oh and while you are at it, get your team to explore any other values they think would be useful for your business, drop me a line to let me know via the comments for this post and I will take a look and consider adding them in.

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The ideal business

Sounds like a great title huh, you probably thought, oh is it one that makes great $$ (yeah) and does it have incredible profits (well YEAH!) and does it mean I have to hardly run it… and don’t have to have many skills???? umm probably not.

What I’m thinking of here is the structural side of the business idea, rather than the sort of business it might be. So no it’s not the far out super freaky pizza business that serves east west Tex-Mex surprises with a Thai influence.

Imagine a business, where you have made things tick over nicely the staff are stable (and happy), your customers like what you provide and the way forward looks good. Income and profitability tick over nicely and you wonder about the bigger picture now you have more time to, you replaced yourself multiple times with great people and can sit back and “enjoy the view”. Now it’s time to look that bit further, or perhaps differently to cause your business to do more of what you want it to.

You know when to put on new staff, knowing when the rest of the team are pushing the limits, and you can handle the ‘lag time’ until they are ‘up to speed’ in the role. You have great measurement tools in place to know what’s working and what’s not. You know what the profit margin is and where it goes to.

What next? Is this it, is this the holy grail of your business goal/s? Are  your challenges at an end? Do you simply sell it off and retire (early?) or do you go for the thrill of the chase… the adrenaline injecting process of doing more, and creating anew to push yourself that bit further.

Let’s go for the latter… Lets explore how you can replicate the process to explore success in business and do more, be more have more. After all we live in a world of abundance and by the sound of things if you have read this far you have probably said to yourself yes I do all these things and I am in that lovely lofty position to be able to do more.

You have created an ‘organism’ which grows, it’s more than just sustainable and you can stand back and enjoy the benefits of it’s growth. Now take out a pen and pad and jot down the mechanics of the business, what makes it tick, what makes it profitable? What sets it apart from your competition to the point where you don’t have to even be there anymore to enjoy it.

Take that list and ask, Can I develop a formula from our current successes to be able to reproduce that in other businesses… short answer will probably be yes.

I suggest at this stage  you take a look at the list in a way which deals with the essence of the success and not just trying to think about other businesses you might like to try out or test. Look at the structure, how information flows, the team and culture, the values and beliefs, all the things which can cause the internal structures to remain steadfast and provide the right sort of support for growth.

Now you know what makes your current business tick and the building blocks for ANY new business, it’s up to you to act on the information.

If you create a new business or five, hold this thought in your mind… “in war success has never come to those who fought on more than three fronts” (go on prove me wrong…) it’s said this was Hitlers downfall in the end. So how will you as a business owner develop more businesses without this happening.

Firstly you will be mindful of it, secondly you will probably recognise that each business will not be run by you, you simply provide the ‘right structure and resources’ then step back and advise on ways to tweak the enterprise to generate greater success.

Go on, give it a go, if things go well through great planning you will end up with a site of businesses making good profits you will be able to share around with others, therefore creating more positive abundance in the world.

 

 

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Your Brilliant Business

Your brilliant business is caused by people doing more of the right things – Thinking – Adding value – Loving what they do – Taking initiative – Exploring options and providing great service to name a few.

Well that’s my view.

Image courtesy of Stock Images http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image courtesy of Stock Images http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

We could spend ages debating the issue, what a brilliant business is, how it’s measured and the results it provides. But I want to focus on the ethereal things which caused it to be a brilliant business. The initial points I put up are a big part of that.

Let’s go back to the start, your business started with an idea, you could see what you wanted, probably saw yourself running it, and could proabaly see how things would turn out. In your minds eye you saw a plan of action coming to reality and all the key pointers I started this article with are what bought the dream to reality.

It was you in the beginning who put in the effort, you did the thinking, the planning, took initiative, explored options and provided great service to ensure prospects and customers would come back for more.

The next step in your business was a big one, you took on staff, partners and or associates who could see what you saw, felt what you felt and heard the positive accolades for the products and service you provided for customers. You managed to  encourage your ‘team’, they got motivated, excited and became driven to follow in your footsteps.

The results spoke for themselves, happy customers, great products and services and the bottom line reflects the top level positive work everyone puts in.

There it is, your brilliant business, brilliantly utilising your ‘soft resources’ to ensure the ‘hard resources’, products and services, are in the right place at the right time for your ideal prospects and customers.

Sadly all of this is not a common occurrence, in fact it’s a rare situation, in a world where hope, excitement and the ‘thrill of the chase’ has been eclipsed by businesses which start up and fade, some fast, some slow.

All of the main points mentioned and so much more information is available to those who want to ensure their ‘business idea’ is given the best chance of survival in the ‘formative part of the business process’ and thriving in the maturing part of the process, yet too many fail fast.

All that was required was the right sort of research, a solid plan of action and the ability to cause people to follow your brilliant lead. Alas too many businesses do not have that and what could be a great start soon becomes millstone.

Let’s ask then, what sort of business do you want to have? One with brilliant prospects and outcomes or one doomed to failing fast? Now ask what will you do to make sure it’s not the latter!

Regards

Steve Gray

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The Open Plan Office Failure

Open plan offices offer a lot if your team communicates openly with each other share conversations with customers and offering information or advice between a small group of staff. The challenge comes when you expect the team to work without distractions (planning – on the phone with customers etc.)

Ok so what was the big deal with going for open plan in the first place? Cost? Having the chance to break down barriers? More open communication? Other…

Let’s go the other way, what’s the deal with a ‘closed’ office? Greater privacy – Easier to concentrate – Cut down on noise – More wall space (for planning charts and so on…) – Your computer can be oriented so only you see what’s on the screen (ok not the best reason but surely quiet important!)

Perhaps the best way is to go halfway (is that possible?) creating spaces which offer users the ability to have privacy, a sense of security, still have some degree of communication openness, not have the cost of a full office, and provide the user with that sense of ownership or personalisation without having everyone look at your personal items etc

Maybe we could go for the cocoon, or pod, I seem to recollect back in the 70’s the Illustrator Roger Dean (Did lots of futuristic and fantasy album covers) created a whole bunch of futuristic spacey spaces and one of them included a ‘Learning Pod’ and individual cocoon shaped like a giant seed pod. Is that a way to go…

I believe the answer probably lies in clearly looking at what the business, your business, is all about and exploring the ideal way to make what needs to happen, happen, in the most effective way possible.

If your team really work as a team, then maybe a team space is required with separate areas to compile info for the team.

If your team are working directly with customers, then perhaps they just need a space where they can do that with minimal fuss.

If your team are a bunch of slackers and serve no real purpose to your amazingly big conglomerate then perhaps a bunch of hotel rooms with Wi Fi connectivity might be the go…

I guess what I am really saying is to ‘go deep’ and look at the specific reasons your team need the space they need and how they will interact (or not). I guess I am also thinking make the space adaptable so things can be altered when the need arises.

Oh and let’s not forget the concept of status, where the ‘boss’ gets the ‘closed office and privacy’ and the others get ‘open space and prying eyes’ surely we can think beyond that and come up with spaces which cause people to believe they are highly valued contributors without any loss of status.

Perhaps open plan failure is just a starting point to creating office space success.

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