What is a KPI?

Key Performance indicator

What is a KPI?

‘The most important performance information that enables organisations or their stakeholders to understand whether the organisation is on track or not.’

Bernard Marr – author and futurist

What is a KPI?

A KPI (Key Performance Indicator) is used to measure the process towards an organisation’s goals.

Most managers and business owners know what KPIs are, based on the concept that ‘what gets measured gets done’. However, in many instances, organisations do not know what to measure and this results in poor management, mixed messages and focusing on the wrong things. One mistake is to confuse KPIs with goals. The goal of a business may be to increase sales to $20 million – however, it is not a KPI.

One of our first customers in our logistics business was a major Australian retailer who built a new store in a major shopping centre. Retailers normally have a KPI which measures sales per metre of their retail area. The ‘whiz kids’ at the retailer’s head office decided to minimise the ‘in-store’ storage areas to increase the total sales area. Within weeks of opening the new store, sales were suffering. The stock could not be replenished from the back of the store because not enough stock could be stored there. This resulted in reduced staff morale and new requirement to operate an off-site warehouse to replenish the store daily, which increased costs considerably. This is an example of a poor implementation of a KPI. The challenge is to select the right KPIs.

Why are KPIs important?

KPIs, if structured correctly and measuring activities towards a business’s goals, can have a positive impact on performance at all levels of a business. For example, KPIs can empower staff by showing how they can make a difference to the business, as well as holding them accountable.

In our logistics business, we designed a system that collected productivity data by customer, job and product category. The warehouses were divided into sections, each headed by a supervisor responsible for the customers and staff in their section. Each week, we produced productivity data by job and customer – which we called ‘the marking rate’. This information was shared with the supervisor, empowering them to make a difference to the business, holding them accountable, involving their team and demonstrating how important their team was in the business. They were empowered, which increased their levels of job satisfaction immeasurably. The marking rate was a measure which drove the business’s profits.

Not only do some organisations have the wrong KPIs, they often too many KPIs. In my experience, the number of KPIs should be restricted to between three and five, otherwise they can become too hard to measure and manage. I have seen large companies with literally dozens of KPIs, which rarely relate to the company’s goals. The challenge is to identify the key indicators that help the business succeed.

What are the three main considerations in setting KPIs?

  1. Ensure they are simple and are easily measurable and understood.

For example, in long-distance road transport, KPIs could be revenue per kilometre, kilometre per vehicle and fuel cost per kilometre. These performance indicators are easily understood and measurable.

  1. The measures must be key indicators of performance and directly linked to strategy.

Using road transport, the strategy is to maximise both kilometres travelled and revenue – so measuring revenue per kilometre is sensible.

  1. Minimise the number of KPIs, thereby making them relevant to all.

KPIs can be more precisely developed by using Key Performance Questions (KPQ), which assist in objectively developing activity measures that lead towards meeting the business’s goals. Here are some examples:

  • What are the activities we should measure that lead to high customer retention?
  • What should we measure that indicates profitability by customer?
  • Are the current productivity measures linked to the business’s goals?


Is a code of conduct important?

Code of Conduct

Is a code of conduct important?

‘Don’t violate your own code of values and ethics, but don’t waste energy trying to make other people violate theirs.’

Melody Beattie – American self-help author

What is a code of conduct and is it important for a business?

A code of conduct is a set of rules or standards that capture the beliefs and ethics on behavioural expectations in the organisation. There are many types of business codes ranging from financial reporting, conflicts of interest, health and safety, and communication to employment discrimination. A code of conduct sets out a common standard of performance for employees, while respecting the rights of employees and providing a framework for acceptable behaviour.

One of the best examples of a code of conduct is Rotary International’s Four-Way Test for use in professional and personal relationships:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Codes of conduct are linked to corporate or organisational values and the mission statement. A good demonstration of the use of corporate values as a guide for decision-making is this example from one of the transport companies I worked for:

‘If you ask yourself the following five questions and you can answer ‘yes’ to all of them confidently, you should go ahead and make the decision:

  • Will the decision help me exceed customer expectations?
  • Is it respectful to all individuals – customers, suppliers, employees and community residents?
  • Does it further our goal of continuous improvement?
  • Is it in the long-term best financial interests of the company?
  • Can I do it safely and ethically?’

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, then the decision you are about to make is unacceptable.

The values, in the form of a card that could fit into a wallet, were given to all staff so that the values could be referred to when required.

In our logistics business, we had a values statement which was as follows:

‘Customers and employees are our greatest assets. The company is committed to providing the highest level of service by working with its customers in an environment of continuous improvement through the introduction of new technology, superior systems, staff training and development.

Work performance and service quality is enhanced by giving responsibility to supervisors on the shop floor. The flat management structure drives the efficiency and effectiveness of the business. It has enabled the company to react quickly to opportunities and requests from current and potential customers.’

However, the statement did not set out specific values driving organisational behaviour – such as work standards, accountability, being open and fair, or personal interactions and behaviour. It did not summarise what needed to be done – for example, ‘we will celebrate success and encourage initiative’ – and what will not be done – for example, ‘we will not tolerate poor performance or rude and condescending behaviour towards others’.

Why was this important?

Because we did not have these values clearly defined, we could not use it as a basis for managing interpersonal conflict when the business was struggling in one area. The failure to accept responsibility for continuing unacceptable performance by a senior manager  who was in denial, and not having a clear values statement, resulted in an acrimonious and deteriorating situation.  Unfortunately, I did not manage the situation constructively at the time and, out of sheer frustration, I allowed my emotions to override a common sense approach to resolving the situation satisfactorily for the business.

Conflicts within organisations are inevitable. The challenge is to manage conflicts when they arise in a constructive way.

Does your business have a code of conduct?

Does it clearly set out the acceptable standards of behaviour as well as a framework to manage conflict?

For example, does it say ‘we will respect and support each other as individuals and members of the team’ and ‘we will recognise both group and individual results’ and ‘we will not ignore achievements or tolerate poor performance’?


The power of a vision

The power of a vision

“I believe that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth”

John F Kennedy – USA President

This quote delivered in 1961 by President Kennedy is one of the best examples of a vision statement as within the decade, man had landed on the moon and returned safely. On 20th July 1969, astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon and returned safely to earth fulfilling Kennedy’s vision.  However, it is important to remember that the moon landing was the result of decades of work by hundreds of thousands of people working across the disciplines of science, technology, and engineering, peaking at a cost of 4.41% of the Federal US budget in 1966.

How important is it for an organisation to have a vision?

A vision is a picture or an idea. It helps focus us on the future, provides inspiration and assists in overcoming the obstacles that inevitably appear along the way. A vision is a target. It should be  aspirational, perhaps like the concept of a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) as descibed in Jim Collins’ book; Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies and be successfully communicated throughout the organisation.

An example of the power of an aspirational vision is Rotary International’s PolioPlus program. In 1979 Clem Renouf, the Australian President of Rotary International read in the Readers Digest how small pox had been eradicated. After discussing this with a medical expert, he had a vision that the world could be polio free. At the time, more than 350,000 people were infected by polio in 125 countries each year. Later that year Rotary’s Board of Directors passed a resolution for a program for “the eradication of poliomyelitis and the alleviation of its consequences” throughout the world. Subsequently, in 1985 the PolioPlus program was adopted with the aim of eradicating polio worldwide. With so many countries where polio was still endemic this was a challenging vision.

Rotary initiated the program and together with the support of UNICEF, WHO and other organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have almost achieved Clem Renouf’s original vision. By 2017 only 22 cases of polio were reported in just three countries, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. At times there were difficulties in overcoming cultural suspicion, low levels of education, training staff to manage and administer the program, political insurgencies and geographical remoteness. However, despite these obstacles, the original vision ensured the program continued. It is now almost complete.

There are many websites and other sources who provide a methodology on how to create a vision statement for your organisation. As can be demonstrated from the above two examples, strong and clear visions are powerful tools and have the ability to provide a framework for the future. Visions should be compiled into a vision statement in a suitable form to communicate to staff, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. Vision statements define goals and assist in creating a path for the future.

Does your organisation have a vision statement?

If not, do you think that the organisation would benefit from having a vision statement?

President Kennedy and Rotary’s Clem Renouf’s vision are great examples of the impact of having a vision statement.

Are you a smart manager?


Are you a smart manager?

“If you are the smartest person in the room then you’re in the wrong room”


Michael Dell founder of Dell Computers has a similar quote “Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people……..or find a different room”

As managers, what does this mean?

Logically the smartest person in the room should be the manager. After all, who will provide the direction and manage the organisation?

Quite clearly this is wrong.


The people who think they are the smartest person in the room tend to have the last say and rarely listen to or acknowledge different ideas or opinions. Many show their distain or disinterest by interrupting others in mid-sentence or displaying negative non-verbal traits such as rolling their eyes, looking away or checking their phone. I can remember organising a leadership training program for our Rotary Club for local businesses and organisations. A local council put up several candidates and one refused to attend stating “I have an MBA so I don’t need leadership training”

It would have been a waste of time and money for them to attend, not because of their MBA but because of their attitude.

However, learning should continue throughout your life, both at work and outside work. Learning does not stop with finishing school or a degree. People only learn and grow when being challenged. Being the smartest person in the room often means that you will not be challenged. Great managers surround themselves with people who challenge them as they realise that to continue to be relevant and innovative, you must be open to new ideas and concepts. By valuing other’s opinions and accepting that you are not always the smartest person in the room, healthy, constructive and sometimes heated debates will help your organisation and help you.

A business owner I know, who would be very smart and is well qualified academically, has failed to grow his business as profitably and quickly as planned. While he is a pleasant, polite and intelligent, he is rarely challenged and appears to not listen to others.  He claims he has little time or interest to read books. It would seem that these circumstances had adversely affected his staff turnover and business. Staff initiatives and ideas appear to be stifled. Being in charge does not mean you have all the answers. I have found that some of the smartest people can be found anywhere in an organisation, you just need to find and develop them. Many years ago, while working for a transport business I found a driver who had the attributes and energy to become a qualified driver trainer. Despite initially being hostile to management. he turned his experience into a new position, where he greatly added to the business by training drivers, thereby reducing accidents, injuries and fuel consumption. Furthermore and probably more importantly this improved his motivation and morale, and his own self image.

As managers we probably all have the tendency to act as the smartest person in the room.

The challenge is to resist this temptation without of course, abdicating your responsibility as a manager.

Here are 3 suggested to being a smart manager approaches:

  1. Ask more questions and listen for the answers. Questions are powerful leadership toolResist telling people what to do and respond to ideas with questions to help you and others better develop their ideas. Seek first to understand before offering your own perspective.
  2. Have the courage to remain silent and help others decide. This does not mean that you cannot veto an idea or approach. Through using open questioning techniques ideas can be modified or adapted in a constructive way to get the best outcome.
  3. View ideas as a ‘glass half full’ not ‘half empty’ as it is a positive approach. People respond to the positive rather than the negative. Negative discussions should only centre around risks.

As a manager can you resist the temptation and follow these approaches?

These approaches often challenge us as managers, although they highly likely to engage and motivate our subordinates, make them feel part of a team and allow new ideas and approaches to surface. You will be challenged.

Why don’t you ‘give it a go’?...

Using visual symbols to communicate…

82 Overcrowded Bus.

Using visual symbols to communicate…

“The best leaders… almost without exception and at every level, are master users of stories and symbols”

Tom Peters – Business Author

I have just arrived back today from travelling in Africa …..

We often hear business leaders and politicians trying to communicate messages unsuccessfully. Why?

Are they using too many words, the wrong words or just words? Communication is not just verbal. It is estimated that over 65% of all communication is non-verbal. Eye contact, facial expressions, appearance and gestures influence how you interpret the message.

This is where the use of symbols become important in communicating. This can be used in the workplace.

Recently I was confronted with trying to express the importance and urgency of cultural change to an organisation that was underperforming. Presenting to the Board I realised that the use of symbols or visual imagery would help communicate the issues and how to manage the change.

The visual imagery I decided to use was taken directly out of Jim Collins’ management book, “From Good to Great – why some companies make the leap and others don’t”.

I used the symbol of a bus. The symbolism was very easy to understand and is very clear.

From a PowerPoint slide showing a red bus presented to the Board, the concept developed to using a model of a toy bus. The bus had the company’s logos on the side, and on the roof was an arrow pointing forwards indicating progress and moving ahead with the Jim Collin’s quote:

“Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats”

The toy bus sat on the meeting room table for all to see. Later we added Lego people getting on and off the bus – normal people getting on, and pirates, wizards and clowns getting off the bus. The toy bus was regularly referred to when explaining a person’s performance or suitability and became a clear way of communicating.

Staff were often asked: “Are you on the bus?” and ‘Are they on the bus?”

It became a powerful visual symbol. When management spoke about what needed to happen it was described in terms of being on the bus. It was a clear message and was understood from the managing director to the staff on the shop floor.

We implemented daily ‘toolbox’ meetings with staff. We called the location ‘the bus stop’ further reinforcing the message.

Using symbols in business as a tool is a very important part of communicating, both with your current and prospective customers and staff. If the symbol is compelling enough it will become part of the organisation’s culture.

Can you think of a symbol used by an organisation that is easily recognisable and understood?

What about your organisation?

Business Storytelling

storytelling-18642-3-1940x1293 (1)

Business Storytelling

“Storytelling is about two things; it’s about character and plot”

George Lucas

I have just been trekking in the McDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs in Central Australia in the great Australian Outback! What an amazing scenery ranging from spinifex and mulga covered hills to gorges of ferns and white river gums…

Well might you ask what has a quote from a famous movie director got to do with business story telling?

Using stories in business as a communication tool is a very important part of communicating with your current and prospective customers. If the story is compelling enough or inspiring enough it will become part of the culture of the business demonstrating your values and where the company came from. More importantly it helps sell your products and services.

Everybody likes a good story and like what George Lucas says the plot and character are vital. I find stories about how businesses start as the most compelling and fascinating. Hewlett-Packard was started in a garage by Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett in 1938 and the garage is now part of company culture. What an inspiring story!

I once worked for a company where the owner in his mid-50s lost his business his father and uncle had established after fleeing the Nazis in Europe. He and his daughter commenced a new business in their rented flat on their kitchen table – it later became the largest supplier of sleeping bags in Australia. What a compelling story for staff and customers…..

People whether staff or customers warm to stories of success from hardship – a plot and character just as George Lucas suggests. It’s emotional and uplifting. However the story must be authentic – if you are not authentic it damages you and your business or brand.

I visited Nepal just over 2 years ago with an Associate to assist a locally owned and managed travel company to improve their business. It was a both an exciting and rewarding experience and hearing how the business commenced was inspiring and a great story.

As a young boy, the founder watched groups trekking through his village in northern Nepal. He had a vision and decided to create his own future. Whilst in his early teens he went to Kathmandu to high school without his family (in Nepal high schools are only in the largest cities). From there he worked in a hotel as a porter, before moving into hotel reception. To gain practical experience in trekking he became a guide, completed his university studies before establishing his own tour company. All this was less than 15 years ago. It is now one of the largest trekking companies in Nepal. As well as offering employment and training in a comparatively poor country, he also has a mission to give back something to the people of Nepal. He instigated school building projects in poor and remote areas as well as making significant financial donations are to schools in these areas.

Both are good examples of stories that can inspire staff because they explain where they came from and help embody the values and provide the foundation of the culture and vision for the company.

Do you have some great stories you can tell your customers and staff?

……………it will help give colour to your communication.

Is marriage like running a business?

Leonard (Linky) Jensen I (1887-1979) at the wedding of Daisy Jensen (1892-1986) and Francis (Frank) Joseph Woods (1891-1972) in 1918 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.

Is marriage like running a business?

“A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day”
Andre Maurois – French author

Today is a very important day for me. It is my 30th wedding anniversary – a time for great celebration and reflection. I am truly blessed having shared the past 30 years with my wonderful wife in a great marriage with all its joys and challenges.

Can lessons can be learned from a great marriage that can be applied to managing a successful business?

Yes, there are many………

Here are just three lessons from a successful marriage that can be applied to business.

Lesson 1: Communication

Continuous two way frank and honest communication is the hallmark of a successful marriage. Problems can be aired, solved constructively and the future discussed. It is the same in business – communication with staff, between departments and with customers provide the mechanics of a successful business. Goals and successes can be shared and problems solved. Communication is about caring and sharing. Customers and staff do not want to be left ‘in the dark’. Two-way continuous communication helps ensure staff and customers feel valued and are committed to you and the organisation. Too often we become complacent and fail to communicate regularly. I can remember some years ago a situation where I increased the rates to a customer without communicating the reasons. They immediately sought competitive proposals and then advised us they wanted to leave. Luckily our Operations Manager was able to remedy the situation by discussing the reasons for the increase only to find that the order and customer profile had changed significantly and the rate schedule was now no longer suitable. Frank two way communication had not occurred, we did not know the profile had changed and we had not advised the reasons for the increase. It was a lesson learned.

Lesson 2: Commitment

Any relationship or partnership is not all smooth sailing, whether it is managing a business or a marriage. For example, challenges are thrown up on the marriage journey that must be faced. Many are outside our control. Reflecting on the past 30 years of our marriage we had to face the challenges along the way. Whether the challenges were family issues or geographic isolation from family and friends, we were committed to making it a success. The same can be said for businesses. If you are committed in managing a business effectively or growing a business you need to meet the challenges as they emerge. Often in business we face crises that could destroy the business. I can remember a situation when a customer owed us over $350,000 and claimed they could not pay. If they failed to pay, our business would probably have been destroyed. Luckily through commitment in enforcing a payment plan we were able to get the money owed and save the business.

Lesson 3: Celebration

Too often we do not celebrate what is important, whether in business or in a marriage. Celebrating our marriage success such as anniversaries or milestones.

Business is no different. Looking back in our business we rarely celebrated successes such as winning a new contract. Later we found out that staff wanted to know our success and suggested we should celebrate with a BBQ or luncheon. However we did recognise staff service and made a big deal about its importance. Our business had staff that had been with us from the beginning and were still there 15 years later. We celebrated this by presenting awards and a gift at our annual management conference.

As the quote from Andre Maurois suggests success in marriage is about continuously rebuilding. The same goes for managing a successful business.

Communication, Commitment and Celebration is a good start. Complacency leads to stagnation and more often than not, failure.

What are your plans to continuing improve your organisation and business?

Customer Service – how much do you care?

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
Damon Richards

Customer service is about showing how much you care – actions speak louder than words. How often have you been annoyed or angry about being shown indifference by people in customer service roles? There are 10 customer service actions – note the words ‘service’ and ‘action’ that I think all people in custom service roles should use. I will use an example that was the subject of and earlier blog.

Many years ago I was managing a vehicle transport company in regional Australia. A transport manifest arrived by fax at 4.00 pm and upon reading it I learnt that there was a car arriving within the next 2 hours that was due in Brisbane that night. Brisbane was 1,200 kms up the road (14 hours drive away). To make matters more complicated the car was needed by the customer in Cairns in 2 days time (a further 1,700 km away or 20 hours drive away). The vehicle was for a customer to use on his tropical beach holiday a further hour’s drive north. There was no way of physically getting the vehicle to Cairns for the customer.

1. Calling back when promised

The customer was called back. After initially alerting him to the problem the customer was called back within the 24 hour period as promised.

2. Explaining what caused the problem…………..in simple language

I explained that it was our fault and we would have a solution for him not having his car on holidays.

3. Letting customers know who and what numbers to call

He was given my phone number and the Brisbane branch manager’s phone number.

4. Contacting customers promptly when a problem is solved

As soon as the hire car in Cairns had been arranged he was advised.

5. Giving customers full access to speak to management

I stated that if he was not happy with our solution he could contact my General Manager.

6. Telling how long it will take to solve a problem

He was assured that we should be able to solve the problem before he left for Cairns within next 48 hours.

7. Offering useful alternatives if a problem can’t be solved

As we could not physically get his car to Cairns on time, we offered him a hire car at no cost.

8. Treating customers like people, not account numbers

Self explanatory.

9. Advising customers on how to avoid a future problem

It was suggested that he advise the depot next time he required his vehicle to be transported that it was “IMPORTANT” and needed priority.

10. Giving progress reports if a problem cannot be resolved

Whilst we solved his problem by offering him a hire car, he was contacted at every transport leg where the car was delivered to Cairns.

A seemingly impossible situation was solved using these 10 customer service actions. The customer was happy and continued to be a client for many years. As the quote implies, I could have told him it was impossible to get his car to Cairns in the time frame required (“how much you know”) Instead, customer service was demonstrated (“how much you care”) and he was happy.

These 10 actions are so fundamental to good customer service that in our logistics business I had them framed and placed in every office.

Managing Customer Complaints

Managing Customer Complaints

“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it”

Peter Drucker

As business owners, managers or supervisors some of the worst moments in your working experience can involve managing customer complaints (note the word ‘manage’ rather than ‘handle’?)

The experience is often stressful, uncomfortable and unpleasant isn’t it?

Customer complaints have serious ramifications for your business and if not managed well can seriously damage the business. Customer complaints do however provide an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive and enable you to retain the business.

Remember it is estimated that less than 10% of customers complain about customer service, they just go elsewhere and we rarely know why. Don’t dread customer complaints, but instead view them as an opportunity to create a long term customer. A complaint gives your business a second chance!

There are 6 steps in managing a customer complaint:

  1. Let the customer vent their anger

Remain calm, try and keep personalities out of the situation and allow the customer to vent their anger and listen attentively.

  1. Make ‘I’ statements and apologise

Build rapport and build empathy by using ‘I’ statements: “I can understand………..I would be angry” show that you are taking sides WITH the customer. The anger is addressed at the problem and not you.

  1. ‘So what you are saying is…’

Try and understand what the problem is by using effective listening techniques – paraphrase what the customer is saying and ask clarifying questions so that you have a clear understanding of the issue.

  1. ‘This is what we can do….’

Take responsibility for solving their problem and let them know what you can do. It is important to use positive language and offer solutions, options or a course of action. Make sure you gain agreement from them.

  1. End positively

Thank the customer and explain what you intend to do, when and how.

  1. Just ‘do it’

Just like the Nike advertisement ‘just do it’ means providing updates, following up within the agreed time frame and communicating with them (personally is best) when that action has been completed.

This is an example from a few years again when I was managing a vehicle transport company. A transport manifest arrived by fax (yes many years ago) at 4.00 pm and upon reading it I learnt that there was a car arriving within the next 2 hours that was due in Brisbane that night. We were in Wagga Wagga in country New South Wales Australia 1,200 kms (14 hours away) from Brisbane. The car then had to be loaded onto a truck north for Cairns (a further 1,700 km away or 20 hours away).The car was needed by the customer in Cairns in 2 days time for him to pick it up from the airport and drive to his tropical beach holiday destination a further hour’s drive north.

This was Mission Impossible!

It was a physical impossibility to have a car in Cairns nearly 3,000 km away in 2 days even if it was driven there.

Flying a car was not an option!

Should I be like Corporal Jones in the BBC TV series “Dad’s Army” and start panicking?

What happened?

I called the customer (with extreme dread) and explained the situation 3 hours before he was due to board a direct flight from Melbourne to Cairns.

His reaction (Step 1) was dismay although not overt anger – how was he going to get to his holiday house?

I apologised (Step 2) and asked him again (Step 3) what his requirements for transport for his holiday were. He needed to have a car to travel to and around his holiday destination.

I then gave him several options, one being that we would provide a hire car at no cost for his holiday or until his car eventually arrived (Step 4).

He agreed, I thanked him for his understanding (Step 5) and said I would arrange this and get back to him.

A hire car was organised, using my personal credit card to be available at the local Cairns airport lounge for his arrival (Step 6). I then phoned him back just before he boarded the plane. He was very happy with the outcome. He continued to be a client for many years.

Even the most difficult situations can be solved using common sense and the 6 Step approach to managing customer complaints……………

Compare this approach that described in one of my earlier blogs.

It is quite a contrast isn’t it?

Never Never Say These Things…

Never Never Say These Things…

 “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first”

Mark Twain

Too often, unfortunately when service providers, managers and staff fail to manage in a pro-active way, and things fail or do not go the way they expected, they come up with excuses.

What are differences between reasons and excuses?

The measurement for success in business today is performance. Whether you are a pleasant person, honest or related to the boss or is not, is irrelevant if you are not contributing to the business’s performance in a positive way.  Too often we hear about employees being unfairly treated when a business folds or lays off staff, however perhaps rather than blaming ‘someone else’ whether it is the owner, managers, the market or customers the employees could have taken effective action that may have prevented the current situation.

I call this ‘discretionary effort’; the difference in the level of effort one is capable of bringing to an activity or a task, and the effort required only to get by or make do. In other words “going the extra mile”…

Here is a list of phrases to avoid which are excuses, not reasons:

“They didn’t get back to me” – so you did not follow up?

“I thought someone else was taking care of it” – so you don’t take responsibility in your job”?

“No one ever told me” – so you don’t communicate with those around you?

“I didn’t have time” – did you have time to talk around the water cooler or photocopier?

“I didn’t think to ask about that” – so you don’t  think about your job?

If there are roadblocks in the business whose job is it to remove them?

Yours or ‘someone else’s?

Sometimes in business , there are too many people  talking  about their rights (what they think they are entitled to) rather than their responsibilities (taking initiative and being pro-active).

Good business owners and managers love employees who remove road blocks and are positive and pro-active.

My observations over 30 years in business is that if you use excuses like those above then you are the road block! Everybody learns from experience and learning is a ‘state of mind’ – so don’t be a roadblock…