Do people work for you or the business?

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“People join companies. They leave managers.”

Vern Harnish– Management author

This is a great quote from Verne Harnish author of Scaling Up: How Few Companies Make it…..and Most Don’t. I was talking to a former work colleague who was lamenting on the number of experienced long-term employees leaving his current employer. The managing director said it was because they did not like the new business owners. However, my former work colleague thought it was due to poor management.

As managers of people, we need to be conscious how our behaviour and performance affects our subordinates. In my working life, I have never left a job because of the company; it was always because of my manager. Testament to this statement is that I got so sick of working for bad managers, that I eventually went into business for myself so I could have more control over my working life.

As a young graduate I was thrown into being a Personnel Officer in a Steelworks Department. I’d been forced onto the Mill Superintendent because of his poor record of industrial conflict and poor relationships with his subordinates. His first words to me were;

“I don’t want you here, I could spend your salary in better ways”

So, you can imagine the atmosphere in the department. His managers, supervisors and staff hated him as he was rude, uncommunicative, moody and difficult. I witnessed him causing a labour strike by abusing staff.

Another manager I worked for spent his time checking that his subordinates’ petty cash and phone bills were correct. This was more important than visiting customers, developing his managers or building the business. The final straw came when the business was in the process of attempting to purchase a competitor. As always, he was too busy to discuss the negotiation strategy and as a sign of complete incompetence he did not even bring a pen to the final negotiations. Years later he was dismissed; however I had long left the business.

So, what causes good employees to quit?

The problem is generally with managers. It is seldom the employee or the quality of the workforce that causes employees to quit.

Do managers deliberately set out to be poor people managers?

The answer in most cases is ‘no’.

Many managers have never been taught the art of developing people and being a leader. Often, they know no better and surviving in some organisations means mimicking your old boss or their superiors.

What are the warning signs?

Is your company experiencing high turnover?

Some labour turnover is healthy as it provides opportunities for other people and new ideas and skills to come to the organisation.

Perhaps you should examine how you interact with your team, and also determine whether there are disruptive or unproductive employees  in the team.

Here are what I consider the 3 main reasons why people leave organisations.

  1. An employee’s contributions are not recognised. As a manager you should never under-estimate the power of praise and recognising a job well done. In particular, top performers are normally self-motivated. Don’t take their drive for granted.
  2. A manager does not care about their subordinates, and this normally manifests itself in poor bosses. Research has shown that more than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss.
  3. A manager does not honour their commitments. This highlights two traits required by managers, honesty and integrity. If you say you will do something – do it. Keeping your word and your commitments tells the employee everything they need to know about you and the type of person you are and if they can trust you.

There are other reasons for leaving an organisation such as failing to develop employees, not challenging them and not acting on poor performance. Good employees know who the poor performers are, and when they leave morale improves.

Surprisingly, salaries and conditions are not top of the list.

If all else fails, simply remember this:

“People work for people – they do not work for businesses” – Donn Carr

The question is, do you have high or unacceptable levels of employee turnover?

Is so, could it be your management of your staff or other managers are the cause?

As managers, we need to recognise and act on this.

What’s the difference between disruptive and unpredictable leadership?

Donald_Trump_2015_BigHead“We have to be unpredictable.”

Donald Trump – USA President

Often in the media we hear about disruptive technology changing our lives and the workplace. For example, Uber disrupting the cosy taxi industry in Australia, or Amazon shaking up the retail industry. Disruptive technology is not new. Motor cars and the railways disrupted horse drawn transport.

Recently I was speaking to a good friend about his current work situation. Having known him for over 20 years I was disturbed to hear his normally positive and enthusiastic voice very subdued and hesitant. It was not a pleasant conversation. However, my friend’s story was different. The disrupter was not technology, but his unpredictable boss.

Unpredictable managers are not organisational psychopaths.  They are more easily identified. Although they may engage in manipulative behaviour behind the scenes, a large proportion of their behaviour is clearly visible to their work colleagues and subordinates.

Whilst some companies need to have disruptive leaders to provide positive direction and leadership to break out of their inertia or poor performance, unpredictable leadership is a different story.

The boss’s behaviour was unpredictable and disruptive in a negative way. Meetings were arranged that had no planned agenda, team members were ridiculed in meetings and the goal posts were often unclear and seemed to keep changing. This unpredictability created a lot of “noise” in the workplace. None of this was helpful as much time was wasted by team members as they struggled to work out how to navigate his leadership, whilst trying to predict what he wanted. It became clear that this was a strategy to hide his lack of understanding of the business or industry, lack or emotional intelligence, empathy and maturity under the guise of ‘keeping people on their toes’.

He was quoted as saying: “I like to keep my subordinates on their toes because just when they think they have got me figured out they realise they haven’t.”

Time was wasted as the team spent unnecessary hours dealing with the fallout of working in an unstable and unpredictable environment. The environment was one of uncertainty, fear and mistrust. This created a culture of unhelpful and destructive game playing. The best staff began leaving the company, profitability dropped and customer service suffered. His behaviour was both unpredictable and disruptive in a negative way. The opposite to this behaviour is having a consistent style and track record which people can learn to trust. In other words being authentic. This blog is worth reading. Authentic Leadership

The current US President, although a political disrupter to the established order, displays the characteristics of an unpredictable leader. His tweets and outbursts are unpredictable and often abusive whilst appearing to play games and gamble with the fates of others.

Dealing with an unpredictable manager is certainly a challenge as its exhausting both physically and mentally. This was how my friend was feeling. The previous feelings of safety and being part of a team under the previous management were now lost.

So how do you deal with unpredictable managers?

Here are some suggestions.

  1. Try and ignite empathy

This is a challenge when being faced daily with unreasonable behaviours. However, if you try to think about why the person is acting this way, it can be beneficial for you both. People bring all sorts of baggage from their past.  Whilst having empathy does not condone unreasonable behaviour, it can help in trying to manage the situation. I can remember being confronted with unacceptable behaviour from a manager. However, when I took into account that the person had suffered a recent family tragedy, it helped me deal with situation better by depersonalising the behaviour.

  1. Making a decision

The decision is whether you are able to remain in, or continue to tolerate the difficult situation.  Ask yourself some questions to clarify your options:

  1. Is it impacting adversely on my life?
  2. If so, how much?
  3. What can I control and what is outside of my control?
  4. Is there someone I can ask to help me?

For example, if the situation is affecting your health or personal relationships and you cannot control the situation you may decide to leave the organisation and/or seek professional assistance.

  1. What are your professional or personal boundaries?

Good employees and managers have clear boundaries, both personally and professionally. The recent issue regarding sexual harassment in the entertainment industry is a good example. Certain behaviour is unacceptable and if your professional and personal boundaries are breached then you probably should consider a plan to exit.

  1. Seek perspective

Often, we get emotionally involved in such situations so seeking an outside perspective can be an important step. When I was faced with unacceptable behaviour I sought out an outside advisor or mentor to try and take the emotion out of the situation. It however, took me some time to undertake this course of action. This was after much emotional anguish which was impacting on my family. I eventually left the organisation. It was liberating.

In concluding, it is essential that you seek out some clear thinking time.

Some suggestions include, take a walk around the block, visit the gym or make notes in a journal so you can reflect. Such actions help you from becoming overwhelmed and you can go through the suggested steps in dealing with your unpredictable and therefore disruptive manager.

As leaders, we all have all witnessed disruptive behaviour by others in managing people and organisations. The challenge is to recognise such behaviour and use them for positive outcomes that benefit others, rather through being unpredictable and derailing and decimating people and the organisation.

The decision is as always, how can I manage the current unsatisfactory situation to make it positive?

 

A title does not mean you are a leader!

MT 2

“Power is like being a lady. If you tell people you are, you aren’t.”

Margaret Thatcher: British Prime Minister

What makes a leader, how do they act and how do you recognise a leader?

Leadership is always a topical subject. Not everyone in a leadership position is a ‘natural’ leader.

Here are some questions that are often asked:

  1. Can we improve our image by managing perceptions?

Perceptions can become reality if managed well.

Few people could argue that Margaret Thatcher was not a leader. You may not agree with her, however there was no doubt that she was in charge. She never used her gender as a prop, although she was the only female in her first cabinet. Unfortunately, today we too often see managers use their title to impress and claim that they are in charge, yet intuitively you know, that in reality, they are poor and ineffective leaders.

  1. Is the use of titles an excuse to tell people who they are or who they think they are thereby hiding their personal inadequacies?

Maybe they are intellectually dishonest, or living in a fantasy world or are not authentic leaders? Inauthentic Leadership

  1. Who are they reassuring?

Politicians are notorious for using props to explain away their failings. They are just excuses for poor performance.

We have all had experiences where we have witnessed or worked for managers who are protected by a title. I can remember working with a person who always let slip in the first two sentences of a conversation that he was the managing director. Whilst there may be good reasons for mentioning the fact that you are the managing director early in the conversation, most people will probably identify it as a prop and not a sign of ‘being in charge’. Interestingly in this example, he was considered by staff and many customers as ‘a bit of a joke’ with little or no self-awareness. Props such as your position, background, perceived social position, or using race or gender as excuses can be signals that tell others that you are inauthentic and not really in charge.

How often to you go into an organisation and recognise that the real leader in charge is not the one protected by their title?

Whether it is in a meeting or simply walking the floor of a warehouse it is often quite easy to spot who is really in charge. The clues are normally in how they conduct themselves, whether it is how they walk, their demeanour, their gestures and postures or just quite confidence. They appear in control and look the part. On the other extreme, I know a business owner who is often dressed in jeans, scruffy track shoes and a t-shirt. He does not look the part. This is the first step in managing perception. I know he has failed to obtain business through his appearance. Perception became reality.

Genuine leaders can manage perception and do not need to use a title as a prop.  There is a significant business risk if the person with the managerial title is not seen as really being the leader in charge.

As leaders within or in an organisation, it is critical that this be recognised. Initially ask yourself some questions:

  1. Do I look and act the part?
  2. If not, how do I give the perception of being in charge and a leader?

The ball is in your court………..

A humorous example of poor leadership and using titles as a prop is found in the BBC TV series episode of Faulty Towers “A Touch of Class”. It’s worth watching. Basil Fawlty the hotel proprietor, who is in reality, not in charge of the hotel fawns over a guest with a title only to find that the titled guest is actually a fraudster wanted by the police. A Touch of Class

As managers, what can we learn from the downfall of Robert Gabriel Mugabe?

 “Only God who appointed me will remove me”

Robert Mugabe – President of Zimbabwe

Ironically, it was not God who removed Mugabe but his own army.

Normally I send my monthly blog on 21st of the month – this forces me to have the blog ready. A self-imposed discipline that now has become a habit. However, each December I send it out early so it does not get lost in the clutter and busyness before Christmas.

With the fall of the despotic dictator Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe last month, it would be a pity to waste the opportunity to discuss issues of leadership.

Dictators, even when putting their humanitarian and moral crimes aside, are usually poor managers. Most dictators run their countries in such a way, that if they were companies, they would have failed long ago. Despite the lessons of history, it does not stop many managers today from doing their best to emulate the world’s worst management techniques. Most of us have worked for such people during our working life.

Mugabe is a great example. In 37 years of corrupt, bloody, incompetent and chaotic rule, Mugabe managed to reduce the size of the economy to a third of its size in 1980, turning the country from a net food exporter to a country where three quarters of the population now rely on food aid to survive.

Successfully leading a team isn’t easy, however it takes a special skill to lead as incompetently as Mugabe. Without trivialising the effects of brutal regimes on citizens where many “national shareholders” pay with their lives, there are some undesirable management characteristics that managers and leaders frequently exhibit that are displayed by dictators such as Mugabe.

What three lessons can we learn from Mugabe’s leadership?

  1. Inauthentic leadership is not sustainable. Whilst it might appear that 37 years in power implies sustainable leadership, Mugabe’s leadership was only sustained by military force, violence and vote rigging. Even his own political party, ZANU-PF turned on him very quickly indicating that his leadership was inauthentic. Without military support his leadership ceased to exist. His departure brought the population out dancing in the streets.

I can remember working for a general manager who people did not trust, always managed upwards and ignored his subordinates and peers. When he eventually headed the company, there was a rush to the exits of senior managers. The business struggled and was taken over 2 years later.

  1. Surround yourself by people who are not afraid to say ‘YES’. Mugabe ensured that any potential leadership rivals and political rivals were silenced, often in suspicious vehicle accidents and mysterious house fires, thereby surrounding himself with sycophants who would play to his ego (Egos Destroy Businesses) and enrich themselves through his corrupt patronage. Promoting his wife to Vice President, and firing Vice President was probably the last straw. Ironically the ‘fired’ Vice President has since replaced Mugabe as president.

The downfall of many great organisations can be traced to the hubris and arrogance of its leaders. Mugabe fits this picture. Having a fixed mindset, he closed himself off from feedback, and saw himself as the smartest person in the room, was unwilling to listen to others whilst surrounding himself with sycophants who praised him as a ‘revolutionary hero’.

Surrounding yourself with “yes” people may make life easier in the short-term, however it does not create long-term, sustainable outcomes, whether in business or politics.

I once witnessed a senior manager surround himself with ‘yes men’ who were sycophantic to his requirements, while he failed to develop them as professional managers. It was a smokescreen so that he could corruptly enrich himself through the business. Like most dictators he kept his team weak and did not plan for succession. His corrupt activities were eventually found out, was dismissed and left his division in a perilously unprofitable state.

  1. Blame others to divert attention from your own failings whilst never admitting that you make mistakes. Mugabe was a past master at this strategy, whether it was blaming the British government for his own incompetent economic management, the white commercial farmers for not wanting to support his government or his political opposition for civil unrest, he always diverted the blame.

On a visit to Zimbabwe several years ago, a local friend, who was not born when Mugabe came to power privately expressed cynicism about the government by stating:

“Why does the government blame the previous rulers when they have been in power for over 35 years? The Vietnamese are still not blaming the Americans for the war they have just got on with it”

We see this behavior by many managers today. They blame the market, their employees, the government or even their customers for their own management failings. I think we have all worked for managers who have displayed this characteristic.  Instead of being accountable for the performance of the organisation, they blame external factors and ignore the cause of the problems. For example, a good employee who leaves under a dictatorial manager is never given an exit interview and their performance or contribution is normally denigrated.

As a boss are you displaying dictatorial management behavior?

In recognising dictatorial management behavioral traits such as those displayed by Mugabe, it allows us to ensure firstly, that we do not act in this manner and secondly to take action if we see it in others. This is the role of a good leader.

Good team leaders display authentic leadership because it is sustainable and best for the team. They surround themselves with competent people, often brighter than themselves and are inclusive of all team members. Furthermore, they develop a succession plan and focus on the issues that drive the business and hold themselves accountable for both successes and failures.

If you would like to test your knowledge of dictators, try this quiz – I got 50/60.

Goodluck (Dictator Quiz)

The Art of Leadership?

 

 

“Leadership is an action, not a position.”

Donald McGannon – USA television broadcasting pioneer

Last month there was a horrific fire that killed over 80 people in a high-rise building in London. The British Prime Minister Theresa May took 3 days for her to visit the survivors. Her handling of the situation drew a storm of criticism.

Why?

She could not have influenced the management of the crisis.

Surely visiting the site of the fire was an empty gesture as she could not influence the outcome. Perhaps she should be spending her valuable time running the country?

However, her actions or lack of action, depending on your view, raises the important question of leadership.
Should Mrs May have visited the site and met with the survivors earlier?

The answer is ‘YES” because that’s what prime ministers do. Gestures are important and her responsibility as a leader is to convey to the country her appreciation of the gravity of the event, how the nation feels and how everyone respects the sorrow the survivors and those who have lost loved ones.

Leaders are not bureaucrats. Mrs May is not the head bureaucrat. She is a political leader and is expected to display leadership in both the good times and times of adversity. Policy is easy, but leadership is hard. It requires judgement.

By comparison one of her predecessors, Sir Winston Churchill was a leader. During World War II, against what seemed insurmountable odds, he gave strength and purpose to the stand against the evils of Nazi Germany. He painted a picture. This evil had to be destroyed and despite the odds, Britain survived. Furthermore, this was reinforced by his actions in visiting bombed sites in London, speaking to survivors, and visiting troops as far away as North Africa.

Remember the BP Horizon Deepwater oil spill in 2010 where 11 workers were killed in a horrific explosion?

The spill was the worst oil spill in USA history, disrupting commerce, peoples’ livelihoods as well as causing massive environmental damage. The CEO of BP, Tony Haywood stated during the disaster “we’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused to their lives. There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I’d like my life back.” He even participated in a boat race in a boat he co-owned whilst the oil spill continued. Haywood was replaced as CEO within 6 months of the tragedy. This would seem to be punishment for his appalling judgement and leadership.

The former Victorian Chief Police Commissioner, Christine Nixon who in Black Saturday Bushfires where 173 people died, left the operations centre and went to dinner with friends after she was told of the likelihood of bushfire deaths.

She stated “Whether or not me being there or not would have made any difference to the fires is a whole other issue.”

This statement, like Tony Hayward’s misses the essence of being a good leader.

A leader understands what is necessary. Churchill was seen to be leading. May, Hayward and Nixon’s leadership showed through their actions they did not understand “what is necessary”. Leadership is an art and although many gestures politicians make may be insincere, gestures such as being seen at disasters are what is expected. This is no different to leaders at work or in community organisations.

Gestures are as important as the leadership characteristics of leading by example (https://5-dimensionz.com.au/2013/05/28/leadership-v-management/), communicating your vision to others and having a sense of direction. The wrong gestures can destroy the standing of a leader in the eyes of their team or the public.

As a leader, do you understand that gestures and to be seen doing the right thing is a vital trait of being a successful leader?Meerkat Manager

Lessons from a master Rugby Coach

Eddie jones

“There are people who lead and lead inspirationally, and those who don’t”
Eddie Jones – English Rugby Coach

At the time of writing, the English Rugby team had won 18 Test Rugby Matches without a loss, having won the 2016 Six Nations Championship and a 3 nil win against the Wallabies on last year’s tour of Australia. Previously England had only won 3 Tests in 100 years. (Post Script: England lost to Ireland last weekend 13-9 denying them a world record).

What has brought about this amazing run of wins?

The English team is coached by a former coach of the Wallabies, Eddie Jones. In 2015 as the coach of the Japanese side he orchestrated one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport with Japan defeating the mighty South African Springboks in the Rugby World Cup.  The Japanese culture is very different to that of England. Jones has been able to adjust his style of coaching to match the culture. In Japan as head coach everyone does as you say.  With the old ‘command and control’ style of management there was no room for initiative and self-reliance.

It however was different when Jones took up the position of English Rugby coach. Described by former Wallaby coach, Bob Dwyer:

“He calls a spade a shovel, Eddie. I consider myself a very direct Australian, but Eddie is more so than I am. He takes no prisoners at all.”

Whilst being a strict disciplinarian and setting clear expectations of performance, he adopted a different approach to the one he used when coaching Japan. He created an environment where players were allowed to make decisions.

“You can’t develop leadership qualities if you don’t allow players to make decisions. You can’t develop leadership qualities if you don’t allow people to make mistakes. It is a very difficult balance, but you have to allow it,” says Jones

“You need players who have leadership qualities to make decisions for themselves”

Jones is a former teacher and head master. Perhaps his experience here helped in his coaching.

Jones has demonstrated some of the real characteristics of a leader – developing people, generating enthusiasm, inspiring trust, motivating, challenging the status quo ( https://5-dimensionz.com.au/2013/05/28/leadership-v-management/) and modifying your leadership approach to match the circumstances.

Can you think of circumstances where you have developed as a leader or developed others while allowing or being allowed to make decisions thereby becoming better leaders?Rugby and leadership

Reading is not just for Christmas…..

gates

“not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”
Harry S Truman – US President

Several years ago I was assisting with managing a 3 day residential leadership program called “The Challenge to Lead” for my Rotary Club. The program was run by professional facilitators who had donated their time to conduct the program. One of the facilitators asked the question:

“Who here has read a management or leadership book in the last 12 months?”

Of the 28 people in the room only 2 put up their hands. I was horrified. I personally try to read a book a month on leadership and management, whether they are biographies on famous people or management books. I also read novels and books on history.

The facilitator’s comment was:

“Readers are leaders”

It was interesting that people attending a leadership course had not seen the need to increase their knowledge and seek out new ideas by reading. Warren Buffett the billionaire investor reads 500 pages a day, Bill Gates reads 50 books per year and Mark Zuckerburg reads 2 books per month. Successful people do not just read anything, they are selective preferring to be educated rather than entertained.

Why is reading books, particularly management and leadership books important?

Here are some suggestions as to why:

• We can learn from the experience of smart people – Management by Peter Drucker
• It opens up your mind to new ideas – Good to Great by Jim Collins
• It can be inspirational, particularly biographies – Not for Turning. The Life of Margaret Thatcher by Robin Harris
• Show you how to do things – The One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
• Stimulate the mind and get you thinking – How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
• Provide a framework for leadership – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Reading is not just for Christmas…..

“not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”
Harry S Truman – US President

Furthermore, reading elevates you above the daily grind of work and can inspire you and give you new ideas. Reading is a form of learning and can stimulate your thinking processes, providing ideas from a different viewpoint.

If you do not have time for reading than another alternative is listening to audio books. I listen to audio books whilst driving. Instead of listening to trivial talkback radio shows I use the time to increase my knowledge.

In 2016 the 5 best selling management books for Dymocks an Australian national book retailer were:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.
Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.
The One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.
Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

Good to Great by Jim Collins.

With the traditional holiday period coming up in the southern hemisphere it is now an opportunity to think about how can you enjoy the period and start reading. Reading is not just for Christmas, however it is a good time to begin. Take the time to select some books to read and make a start. The 5 books mentioned above are a good reads.

With some planning it can become a life time habit and make you a better leader.

Wishing you and your families a Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2017 and thank you for following my blog in 2016.

Business continuity …….. do you have a plan?

elephant in room - 2

What would happen if you did not turn up to work today?

This is a very important question for business owners.

Would your business continue to operate?

Can it continue to grow and can you sell it?

In a recent bog, I wrote about my friend Tim Boyle, Australia’s first kidney lower intestine transplant recipient and his positive attitude in the face of a seemingly impossible situation (https://5-dimensionz.com.au/2016/01/21/a-new-beginning/). This helped him get through a complex and lengthy surgical operation and be out of hospital in five weeks. At the time of writing this blog Tim is recovering well.

As a finance broker, he was passionate about providing people with opportunities to own their own home. Over the long years while he was waiting for a suitable donor, Tim continued to build his business and put in place contingencies for the business to operate without him. Whilst recovering in hospital he talked to staff at all levels explaining how important it is own your own home. I witnessed nurses coming up to him and thanking him for giving them hope. His business continued to operate.

However the real message was that his business continued to operate whilst ‘not being there’. His staff of two continued to work without him being there.

Why?

Because there was a business continuity plan – it could operate without Tim, the owner being present.

This is one of the biggest issues for small to medium sized (SMEs) owners – the elephant in the room. Would your business survive without you coming into work?

If your business cannot operate without you, then your business is vulnerable. This goes to the next step. Should you wish to sell your business in the future, and the business is dependent on you on a daily basis then the value to a potential buyer is significantly lower.

The following link summarises how it is important to be a ‘leader’ rather than a ‘doer’, otherwise your business cannot operate (or grow) without you.

http://www.thegrowthcoachhouston.com/strategic-business-owners-leverage-their-leadership/

Putting it bluntly, the first step is to put your ego aside and plan to have your business operate without you……………you can go on holidays, be absent, protect your wealth, family relationships and your health.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain………….

Nothing is easy……

Donald Trump

As much as I object to Trump’s mindless self- promotion and gigantic ego, his statement above rings true for those of us who strive to improve our businesses and careers. Unfortunately today with instant electronic communication, we hear stories of “overnight success” that implies it’s easy to be successful. Poor research (may be its no research) light weight and lazy journalism and the perceived need for ‘instant’ gratification or success spread this expectation. Most of these overnight success stories are the result of hard work and sacrifice. Think of JK Rowling the writer of the Harry Potter books who as a single mother on social security benefits, spent years writing, often in an Edinburgh café before her first novel was accepted.

The only example of instant success, apart from winning a massive lottery draw I can think of is the story set in 1960s about Sir Frank Packer, millionaire media owner and father of Kerry Packer (https://5-dimensionz.com.au/2015/11/21/exit-strategy/) The story goes that Sir Frank, in finding himself in an elevator of his Sydney office building along with a shabbily-dressed man, is outraged. Packer tells the man he’s a disgrace to his firm, fires him, and hands him $1,000 to buy a new suit. The ‘fired’ man just grins — he’s actually a freelance photographer who stopped by to visit a friend who worked in the building. 

Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers: The Story of Success (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outliers_(book) introduces the idea practice (or hardwork) which he calls the 10,000 hour rule, makes perfect, and success is not due to the random distribution of genetic gifts or luck. He uses examples of The Beatles and Bill Gates whose success he attributes to the 10,000 hour rule of music and computer practice combined to a much lesser extent with opportunity.

Think of successful people around you, whether in business or in society. Almost always their success is the result of hard work and focus over many years.

I can remember doing post-graduate studies, working a 12 hour day in a demanding job with a 3 children under 5 years old and wondering whether it was worth the sacrifice for my wife and I. It was. It led onto lecturing at university, being head hunted for a job and ultimately into our own successful business.

As Donald Trump said “who wants nothing”…………….

As I tell my children………….the only place where reward comes before work is in the dictionary.


			

A New Beginning

 

Tim

‘To say it is life changing is an understatement — it is a new life, not life changing’

Tim Boyle (Australia’s first kidney and lower intestine transplant recipient)

This is a quote from colleague and friend Tim Boyle, who became Australia’s first kidney and lower intestine transplant recipient in October, 2015.

Twelve years ago Tim received the news that his lower intestine was no longer working and had it removed. Although he could eat, he could only process 10% of his intake as nutrition and had to be fed via an intravenous drip. Less than 2 years ago his kidneys failed which meant each week he spent up to 50 hours attached to medical machines.

You can read his story in the links below:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3323623/Father-spent-50-000-hours-hooked-intravenous-drip-Australian-small-bowel-kidney-transplant-vows-daughter-dinner.html

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/11/18/first-australian-receive-bowel-and-kidney-transplant-gets-new-lease-life

Despite these setbacks, Tim remained optimistic for the future and was committed to his young family and continued to build his business. Although he had time to catch up for coffee, produce a monthly newsletter and write a book we noticed a slow decline in his health and in the last few months this became a rapid decline. Although he acknowledged this decline we ‘outsiders’ noticed a more rapid decline and feared for his future.

Tim’s journey and his quote got me thinking. How does this relate to business?

Many businesses are like Tim’s health. Slow decline not noticed by those in the business, whether it be the owners or employees but noticed by those outside. Complacency and accepting the current situation in business can be fatal. This can catch up on you without realising the true situation and can result in business failure.

It’s now January and the start of a new calendar year and it is time as Tim stated “it is a new life”. In Australia, January is the summer holiday period where staff are either on holidays or tend to be more relaxed. For business owners and managers it is time for reflection on the previous year and to plan for the next. Time for a new beginning…………

So what should you be doing?

What you should not be doing is relaxing and allowing the status quo to continue……it could be fatal to your business.

Here are some 5  suggestions to get you thinking (and acting!)……….

  1. Learn lessons from last year – write down what you have learned, good and bad and act on them for the next year
  2. Set goals for the next 12 months – write them down, be positive and ensure they are realistic and will make you look back in 12 months with a sense of achievement
  3. What bad habits should you eliminate? – we all have bad habits that if we change will make us, our staff and customers more productive, engaged and motivated
  4. Thank your staff and customers – in particular those who helped you and the business in the past year. Hopefully you would have done this before Christmas
  5. Clean up anything left over from the previous year – there is nothing better than starting the new year with a ‘clean slate’. Leftover tasks stop you moving forward with energy and enthusiasm for the new year deserves.

So let January be a period to commence the new year with a positive plan and outlook for the next 12 months, leaving the old year behind…………..

And think of Tim and remember this year is an opportunity for ‘a new life’………..

Post Note:

If you haven’t done so, why not consider becoming an organ donor? It is really easy to do but unfortunately most people don’t only because they haven’t thought about it. In Australia we have long waiting lists due to lack of donors and it truly saves lives. Tim waited 4 years and was unlikely to see Easter. Luckily ground breaking surgery with a different donor blood was successful.

Go to www.donatelife.gov.au for all details.