Leadership, Team Building

Creating the right team is a vital step in growing a successful business.  You hear business owners all the time bemoaning the fact that they can’t recruit, train and retain the right employees.  What are the secrets to creating a great team?  Great leaders build a great team around them.  To be successful in business, you must find the right people, give them the training they need and build a great team.

There are 6 key areas necessary to build a winning team – how many of them are you doing successfully and which do you need to work on?  Learn these keys and develop a plan to implement them and you will have a great team around you that can take you to new heights.

The 6 Keys are:

1. Strong Leadership – it starts at the top

2. Common Goal – everyone needs to be working toward the same end

3. Rules of the Game – make the expectations clear

4. Action Plan – what is everyone supposed to be doing?

5. Support Risk Taking – empower people to come up with new ideas

6. 100% Involvement/Inclusion – make sure everyone is on board

Strong leadership is about you.  A leader empowers and inspires the team.  It is their job to enroll others in the vision for the company.  They must also lead the business by making the right decisions to move things ahead.  Sometimes these are tough choices, but a strong leader will make them objectively and with compassion.

Does everyone on your team know about the goals for the company and your progress toward those goals?  You can’t expect your team to help you achieve your goals if they don’t know what they are.  Be sure to include them in the big picture goals and be sure they understand their role in achieving those goals.  Everyone perform better when they know what they are reaching for.

Have you set the rules of the game?  Be sure everyone knows what behaviors and actions are OK and not OK in your company.  What is the dress code, the hours of work, the expectations for behaviors?  Be sure they are clear and given to everyone.  You can’t expect your team to follow the rules if they are unsure of exactly what they are.

Does everyone on your team have an Action Plan?  Do they know what has to be done every week to insure success at the end?  Be sure everyone is the aware of what they need to be doing on a week by week basis.  Determine deadlines and plan out workflow progress on long projects.  Repetitive actions should be routinized and put on a regular calendar.  Review and update these action plans on a regular basis.

Supporting risk taking means empowering your employees to make decisions and allowing them to solve problems.  We cannot anticipate every situation in advance your team members should be taught to make decisions that solve problems.  Encourage them to present ideas and reward them when they find ways to improve productivity or earn more money for the company.

Finally, be sure you have 100% involvement and inclusion amongst all members of your team.  They need to be working together and supporting the business.  If you leave a few on the sidelines, they will not create the environment needed for success.

 

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Goals, Leadership, Marketing, Personal Growth, Team Building

Are you an effective communicator – with your employees, co-workers, clients, leads and prospects?  Do you sometimes feel that people aren’t listening to you when you have clearly communicated ideas, instructions, value, etc.?  What can you to get people to understand what you are trying to communicate?

At Action we have a saying “Communication is the response you get.”

What, exactly, does that mean?  Well, if people don’t seem to be listening to you and reacting the way you desire, it is you, not them, that are the issue.  You wonder why they can’t seem to hear you, but the reality is they don’t understand the language you are speaking.  In other words, it’s all Greek to them.

When communicating with people, make sure they understand what you are trying to say.  We don’t all think and process information in the same way.  What may be clear to one person may not be clear to another.  Be sure that you are clear and concise in your communication.  Make sure you listen to the responses and look for signs that they don’t understand what you are trying to say.  Talk to people in language they understand and then ask them questions to see if they are interpreting what you are saying the way you intended.

This is easy to do if you pay attention to the different ways that people process information.   Most people learn either visually, auditorally or kinesthetically.  You can learn which way people learn best by paying attention to a few factors.

Visual learners need to see the information.  They learn best when they are show information.  They like to see material that backs up the instruction.  You may notice that a visual learner looks up when listening as they are trying to visualize the information.  Be sure that you use visual language with them.  Do you see what I mean?

Auditory learners need to hear the information.  They learn best when they are presented information via sound.  They learn well from tapes and CD’s and prefers that to reading a book.  You may notice that a visual learner turns their ear slightly toward you or looks toward their ear when listening.  Be sure to use auditory language when communicating with them.  How does that sound to you?

Kinesthetic learners learn by determining how things feel.  They like to feel and touch things and things on to learn best.  They learn well from interactive activities.  It matters greatly the feeling they get when learning information and will question things when they don’t feel right.  Be sure to use kinesthic language with communicating with them.  How does that feel to you?

When its seems that no one is paying attention and your instructions are not being followed, you need to accept the problem is with you not the listener.  Try rephrasing what you are communicating or find other ways to present the information.  When you view the issue in this light in gives you the ability to make it work instead if repeating the same misunderstood information.

 

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Leadership, Personal Growth, Systems, Time Management

Time is the one resource we cannot get more of.  Thank you for taking the time to read this book, I do hope it is a valuable use of your time.  If we lose money, we can always make more, but if we waste time we cannot get it back.  The lesson being; spend your time more wisely than you spend your money.

Targeting our time effectively is the key to maximizing our productivity.  Most of our time is broken down into 4 zones – one of which is where we want to be:

Distraction – doing things that are not urgent and not important.  How much time do you spend here?  Cleaning your desk, surfing the net, watching TV, etc.

Delusion – doing things that we think are urgent and not important.  What time are you spending answering email that could wait, answering the phone in the middle of more urgent tasks?

Demand – doing things that are urgent and important.  On April 14 taxes that haven’t been done are urgent and important, when did you file yours?

The Zone – doing things that are not urgent and important.  This is where planning and time management comes in.  If you had done those taxes on March 1 they would have been important and not urgent.

How much time are you spending intentionally or unintentionally in distraction?  Often when we need to do a task we aren’t thrilled about doing we will purposefully distract ourselves.  It is an easy way to avoid the tough challenges.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like are currently the biggest distractions out there.  How much time are you spending with these distractions?

Delusion is often less obvious than distraction but no less insidious.  We think these things are important and need to be done, but they are actually just distracting us from the important task.  Responding to every email immediately is a good example, but there are many other tasks that fall into this category as well.

Demand is often the most difficult place to move from.  These tasks need to be done.  They are urgent, have deadlines and due.  They have reached this level because we didn’t manage our time effectively but now we have no choice but to get them done.  The key here is to put in the time to get caught up and then work to balance your tasks more effectively in the future.

When you reach the zone everything works well.  You are spending your time doing the important tasks before they become urgent and you are truly the master of your time.  You don’t get thrown off track due to unexpected circumstances because you have plenty of time to stay on track.  If you can spend the majority of your time in the zone you will find that everything works more easily.

Challenge yourselves to manage your time and spend as much time in The Zone as you can.

 

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Goals, Leadership, Personal Growth, Sales, Systems

“Faith is the refusal to panic.” D. martyn Lloyd-Jones

One of my clients shared this quote with me and I think it really sums up the way you should be running your business.

How much time are you spending in panic mode vs. time spend working the plan that you have for your business?

If you had faith in your plan and your business, you really would not be spending very much time in panic mode.  The occasional miscue, unexpected event or bump in the road would not send you panicing because you would have a plan for what to do when those things occur.

How do you have faith and avoid panic?

  1. Have faith – believe in your product, service and business overall.  You cannot be effective if you don’t feel you have the right concept at the right time.  If you can’t find faith here, you better seriously consider what you are doing in business.
  2. Have faith in your plan – develop a strong, implementable plan.  I am not talking about the business plan you wrote for the bank loan, although that’s a start.  I am referring your overall business strategy that you are writing each year and refining each quarter.  This should include production, marketing, sales, operations and growth projections as well as contingency plans for emergencies.  A well written plan inspires a lot of faith.
  3. Have faith in your people – if you don’t believe they can do their jobs well, why are you surrounded by them.  Hire the right people, train them properly and then let them do their jobs.
  4. Have faith in yourself – I left this one for last, because it is most important.  Stop the self-sabbotaging and believe you can do whatever it is you have set out today.

When you are operating in panic mode you continually make bad decisions.  Nobody wants to business with someone who doesn’t believe in the viability of their business and is operating from a place of panic.  Would you?  You must have faith in what you are doing in order to be successful and sell it to others.  Believe in your business, your plan, your people and, most importantly, yourself.

I learned a long time ago that no matter what you think you are selling – goods, services, solutions, etc, – what you are actually selling is faith.  It is the faith that the product will work and the services will solve their problems.  Faith is at the heart of all commerce.  So find your own faith first and then you can sell it to others.  You will only panic when you have lost the faith.

In closing, have a great week and stay out of panic mode.  It is a waste of your time and energy.

 

 

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Leadership, Marketing, Networking, Personal Growth, Sales

One of the keys to great sales, and great leadership, is the quality of the relationships you build with others – prospective clients, co-workers, partners, employees.  How do you build these relationships?  What if you only have a few minutes to make an impression?

Listening to people when they speak goes a long way in forging a bond.   I know we all think we are listening when we are having a conversation, but are you really?

Here are some tips for being an effective listener

  • Pay attention – don’t be formulating a response or thinking about what you will say next.
  • Get rid of “I know” – I know shuts down a conversation
  • Don’t use the words “no”, “but”, or “however” – these are terms of disagreement
  • Ask intelligent questions that let the other person know you have been paying attention and give them the opportunity to talk more while you listen.
  • Don’t be distracted – you should be looking at them, not around the room.

Active listening is a learned art and one that would be well worth your time to practice.  It can be exhausting to pay close attention all day and most of us are not paying as much attention as we think we are.

Here is an easy example that you can try right away.  One of my current talents is my ability to remember people’s names.  People ask me all the time to share my secret for remembering names.  The truth is when I first got into coaching, I knew that I was not very good at remembering names and thought this was something I should develop.  I looked within myself to find the answer and concluded that I wasn’t really paying attention when people introduced themselves.  I decided I would pay attention when people were being introduced or introducing themselves.  From that day forward, I became very good at remembering names.

Try this yourself.  The next time you are out, decide to pay attention and then watch how many new names you remember.

Be open to what people are saying and don’t block them out just because you don’t agree with what they are saying.  You might learn something.

Ask questions and let the other person know you are listening to them.  Ask to clarify points you are not clear about.  Restate facts you want to confirm.  These are all keys to clear communication.  You may be surprised by what you hear when you really listen.

This is one of the greatest secrets to successful leadership and successful sales.  The best listeners have the best results.  When you pay attention to others, you will be able to present the best solution for them and be way ahead of your competition.

 

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Goals, Leadership, Personal Growth, Time Management

“You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

Are your habits (the things you repeatedly do) holding you back or pushing you forward?  In order to reach our goals in business, and in life, we must become the person it takes to do the things we need to do in order to reach our goals.  This means creating good habits.

To create a habit of excellence you must first ask yourself these questions:

1. What things are you doing, that you should do LESS of?

2. What things are you doing, that you should STOP?

3. What things are you doing, that you should do MORE of?

4. What things are you NOT doing, that you need to start?

If you can look at all four of these questions, and answer them honestly, it’s easy to create good habits.  You don’t need more time, you just need to stop, or do less of, the things that are creating bad habits.  I am sure all of us have a few and this will create time to start some new habits.  Those that will define us in the way we want to be seen.

What are the habits of the type of person you would like to be?  Ask a few highly productive people and you will find some consistency in their answers.  These are the types of habits you need to develop.  Things like planning their time, focusing on the positive, seizing opportunities and not wasting time are habits of the highly effective.

You need to rid yourself of the bad habits that have inadvertently made their way into to your routine over time.  Wasting time watching television, surfing online and other distractions are not leading to on a path of excellence.  Many of these habits need to be replaced with more effective habits.

The best way I have found to instill a new habit is to commit to doing something every day for 30 days.  Want to get in better shape?  Go to the gym every day for 30 days.  Want to expand your mind?  Read a book every day for 30 days.  Want to start a journal?  Write down your thoughts every day for 30 days.  Once you have done something for 30 straight days, it will become a habit.  You will have found the time to fit it into your routine and will find it easy to keep going.

 

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Leadership, Personal Growth, Systems, Time Management

Time Management is something I am frequently asked about.  How can I get more done with less time?  How can I get everything done I know I need to do?  How can I possibly squeeze more hours into the day?  These are questions I hear all the time.  It sometimes seems everyone is looking for the secret to time management.  Here are some secrets, tips and ideas I would like to share with you.

Secret #1 – You can’t manage time.  Time marches on no matter what you do and, try as you might, you can’t manage it.  Changing your thinking here can have a dramatic result.   Accept that there is no such thing as time management, only SELF management.  You can’t manage time, but you can manage yourself.

Secret #2 – There is no magic bullet and what works for one person, does not always work for another.  There are many books out there offering systems and advice.  Read them, try them, modify them, find what works for you and stick to it. A system only works if it is followed religiously.

New Idea – Many people have heard about the concept of a default calendar.  That is where you set up a schedule that includes all the activities that you need to do and then fill the slots with the appropriate appointments and activities.  Great idea, problem is I have found very few people who can actually make this work.  Here is a compromise.  When you do your quarterly planning, (you do plan quarterly right?), set up a weekly default calendar.  Use it as a guide not your actual calendar.  Print it out, keep it handy and then, when you start to schedule appointments and activities you can check off what you have actually scheduled.  This way you control calendar instead of it controlling you.

Once you begin to understand that time is nothing more than a measure and it really your ability to manage yourself that is holding you back, it’s a whole new ballgame.  Take a good hard, honest look at how you are spending your time.  Ask yourself a few questions to get to the heart of the matter.  What are you doing that is not effective?  What are you doing that you should not be doing?  What should you be paying someone else to do?  How much time could be saved by planning ahead or organizing your desk?

Now try to work in the pre-vacation mode for the majority of your time.  Have you noticed how much you get done the day or two before you go on vacation?  That is the pre-vacation mode.  The difference between that time and regular time is an attitude change.  You accept that you must get everything done so you can go on vacation.  You avoid distractions and maintain focus and work at a very high level.  Try and do that every day and watch time multiply!

 

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Goals, Leadership, Personal Growth

Ready or not, the New Year is here – are you ready?  Well, that line applies to you if you bought this book at the beginning of the year.  However, I feel it applies to everyone.  Whenever you have opened this book for the first time, it is intended to be the beginning of a new year for you.  If you are ready, start the year today and this first chapter deals with the first week of your upcoming year.  The secrets to success in the upcoming year are not really secrets, they just take discipline.

Secret #1 – Set Goals and write them down.  It’s the beginning of the year so now is the time to reflect and choose some FIVE year goals.  What does your business and your life look like in 5 years?  Once, you’ve set your FIVE year goals, set some THREE year goals.  Now, take those THREE year goals and determine your ONE year goals.  These should be related to your longer term goals.  Write them down and put them someplace where you will see them every day.  Put them in more than one place if that insures you will see them every day.

Secret #2 – Break your ONE year goals down into quarterly objectives.  What do you need to achieve each quarter to reach your goals?  A quarter is thirteen weeks and I will remind you every thirteen weeks to update your goals and objectives for the upcoming quarter.  You need to review your progress every quarter.  This will keep you on track throughout the year.  If you wait until the end of the year to measure your progress you may find it is too late to achieve those goals.

Secret #3 – Create an action plan.  What are the activities you need to do each week to accomplish your objectives?  The most important activities on your action plan are those that lead to an improved bottom line.  Don’t fill your action plan with busy work.  Fill it instead with your top productivity tasks.  If you wait until the end of the quarter to take action it will be quite difficult to reach your goals.  But, if you take action every week, reaching your goals is a snap.

Secret #4 – Schedule the action items in your calendar.  If you treat your activities like appointments, they are far more likely to actually get done.  Check them off as you complete them.  Reschedule any that didn’t get done into the next week.  You must be committed to completing these actions.  Being too busy to get them done will not keep you moving forward toward your goals.

Secret #5 – Have some accountability.  Share your goals and action plan with someone and ask them to hold you accountable. Don’t keep your goals to yourself, tell someone important to you so they can help keep you on track. It’s much easier to let yourself off the hook than explain to someone else why you aren’t working your plan.

That’s five simple secrets to success.  This book is full of helpful tips for you to use every week, but thirteen weeks from now, I will be checking in and reminding you to set your 2nd quarter goals.  The first week has already begun so get cracking on those goals and plans.

 

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Leadership, Marketing, Profits, Sales

Are you attracting the customers you want?  Do you enjoy the customers you have?  Are they your best customers or have you settled for whoever you could get?  A successful, profitable business relies on a steady stream of the right customers.

How do you get the customers you want, and deserve?  Are you randomly stabbing at the marketplace or do you have a method and a plan for getting the type of customer you want to work with?  If you want to attract the ideal client you need to develop a specific plan to achieve that.

Here are some tips for attracting the ideal client:

  • First, decide who your ideal client is and write it down.  What sizes are they, where do they operate, what do they look like, etc?  Don’t be afraid to be too specific.  The more detailed you are, the easier it is to market to them.
  • Next, make sure everyone in your sphere of influence knows exactly who you are looking to meet.  The easiest way to do this is to tell them.  One way to find out if you have been specific enough is to ask your partners and alliances who they think a good client for you is.
  • Find out where you can interact with people who fit your description of the ideal client and attend those functions as well.  Determine what they read and listen to and find out how you can use that medium to market to them.
  • Finally, look at yourself and your business and make sure you present yourself and your business in a fashion that would attract those people.

Clarity is a key element in finding the clients you want.  Once you are clear on whom you are trying to meet, and your actions are in line with that, it’s easy to find the ideal customer.  Many business owners are hesitant to narrowly define their market for fear that they will miss potential clients.  Don’t let FEAR (False Expectations Appearing Real) get in the way.  The reality is that you will always attract some customers outside of your target.

Having unprofitable customers does not lead to a profitable business.  In 2007 Sprint dropped 1000 customers because it determined they were unable to meet their wireless needs.  They realized that these customers called frequently to complain and they were unable to satisfy them.  Rather than continue to expend time and resources to work with customers they could not satisfy, they chose to let them move on.  How many of your customers are actually profitable?

To attract profitable clients you must first understand who they are.  Look through your current database of clients and find the common denominator.  Use that to develop your customer profile and create marketing campaigns to attract those customers.

 

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Marketing, Profits, Sales, Systems

Is your business the only one of its kind?  Do you have no competition in the marketplace?  If so, good for you!  You must be a true innovator.  If not, you are like the rest of us.

Let’s face it; most people are selling a good product at a fair price.  Many times our competition is selling the same product we are selling at a price that is as good, if not better, than ours.  Why should clients buy from you and not Joe down the street?  Very few of us can say we have no competition in our marketplace.  But that doesn’t mean we are not unique.

How can you define your uniqueness and become attractive to your potential customers.  You don’t really want to have to compete on price.  In that arena, the price will eventually become low enough to put you out of business.

I give great service isn’t that answer either.  Trust me, everyone says that. When the last time someone told you their service is was not so good?

But every business has something that is their own.  Or something no one else has claimed as their own yet.  FedEx wasn’t the first company to deliver packages overnight, but they were the first to guarantee it.  The FedEx USP that put them on the map was “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” and it made them millions of dollars.

What is your Unique Selling Proposition? What can you promise to the marketplace that will make you stand out from the competition?

Here are some tips to a strong USP:

  • It should be truly unique
  • It is exciting to your target market
  • It will get people talking
  • It can’t be easily copied, or people will recognize that is has been copied.

Look at your business from the outside and ask yourself what makes you stand out from the competition.  Ask your best customers why they choose to do business with you.  Ask your employees what makes them proud to work for your company.  Then, turn that into a great marketing tool that entice clients to start knocking on your door.

Once you have determined your USP, use it to create a strong guarantee.  People like to know what they can expect and a guarantee is a great way to entice people to buy.  It is very important when creating your guarantee that you do so on something you know can deliver the majority of the time.  When FedEx guaranteed overnight delivery, they knew they were already delivering over 95% of their packages on time.  Make sure it is something the customer cares about.  Guaranteeing and immediate invoice might not be the best idea.  Don’t forget to include a remedy if the guarantee is not met.  Who can forget Domino Pizza’s “30 minutes or less or it’s free”?

If you can’t come up with a guarantee, I strongly suggest you look at your business model for improvement because something is not right.

 

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