5 Ways to Invest in Yourself

Guest Blog by Kym Wallis

An investment in yourself is the best thing you can do to advance personally and professionally. Whether your goal is to climb up the corporate ladder or build a successful startup, you need to develop certain skills first.

Make no mistake though: Working on yourself isn’t easy. There will be numerous challenges standing in your way. But when you take the steps to improve your performance and consistently put in the effort, new opportunities will open up to you.

Here we’ll look at some of the best ways to invest in yourself.

1. Set Goals

Many people work hard but still seem to be stuck at the same level either personally or professionally. A key reason is simply because they haven’t set goals.

Why is setting goals so important?

Because a goal gives you focus. It helps you better organise your time and resources to accomplish a worthy objective. Goals let you see clear progress in what may have been thought of as unattainable. Even if you have no idea how to accomplish a certain goal, just the act of putting it down on paper gives you a focal point to start brainstorming the first steps.

Set personal and business goals for yourself. Your goals should be SMART which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Writing your goals down in this manner provides a strong foundation for seeing things through.

2. Read More Books

What do some of the most successful entrepreneurs have in common?

They’re voracious readers.

Successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates read 50 books a year. “Every book teaches me something new or helps me see things differently,” says Gates. “Reading fuels a sense of curiosity about the world, which I think helped drive me forward in my career.”

He’s not alone either. Other entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have made reading a daily habit for several reasons. It provides mental stimulation and exposes you to new ideas. Everything you read also builds up like compound interest.

Books like ‘Good to Great’ and ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ are great starting points. But don’t ignore fiction books either. Elon Musk credits the Lord of the Rings with shaping his vision of his future self.

Making reading a daily habit is one of the best ways to invest in yourself.

3. Take Care of Your Health

Data from the World Health Organization estimates that 80% of the deaths arising from non-communicable diseases include cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes – most of which are preventable with a healthy lifestyle and diet. By taking better care of your health you greatly reduce the risk of being diagnosed with such diseases.

Make regular exercise part of your daily routine and focus on eating healthier. Replace sugary sodas with water and incorporate more vegetables into your diet. Just these two alone will get you on the right track towards a healthier lifestyle, resulting in fewer health problems later on.

Although there are exceptions, you can’t hope to achieve anything meaningful if you’re constantly sick or bedridden. Make the choice to invest in yourself by making better decisions about your health.

4. Invest in a Personal Coach

Even the most successful CEOs work with coaches to bring more insight and new perspectives for the visions and goals of their organisation. If you own a business or are thinking of starting one, a personal coach can assist with setting up your business and bringing to light any common pitfalls people face. And even if you don’t have a business, a personal coach can help you focus on your career goals and show you how to be more effective at work.

You don’t have to necessarily get a coach to improve yourself and work on your ambitions. If one of your goals is to be more financially stable, you can hire a financial advisor to look over your finances. Just remember that a coach is there to help you create and implement an action plan. Their success depends on your success.

Coaches can be expensive but it’s an investment that aims to pay for itself.

5. Learn a New Skill

More employers are now looking for employees with a diverse set of skills. Learning a new skill not only pushes your career prospects further but shows that you are a valuable asset willing to invest in yourself.

You don’t need to enroll in classes or spend a lot of money either. There are plenty of free resources online such as YouTube and Khan Academy that teach valuable skills you can implement in your job. Talent doesn’t just magically appear overnight. You have to actively put in the time to build your skills to overcome hurdles and accomplish your goals. Set aside time in your schedule and make a commitment to learn a new skill.

References

  1. https://www.inc.com/carmine-gallo/bill-gates-other-billionaires-say-this-1-habit-is-secret-to-their-sucess.html
  2. https://5-dimensionz.com.au/2018/05/21/are-you-a-smart-manager/
  3. https://5-dimensionz.com.au/2016/12/19/reading-is-not-just-for-christmas/
  4. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/noncommunicable-diseases
  5. https://5-dimensionz.com.au/2014/01/23/networking/

Author’s Bio

Kym Wallis, the founding director of Higher Ranking has over 15 years of advertising sales, digital strategy, and business development experience. He is currently working as Digital Adviser for Konnect Salon Software. Kym has several other blogs on this website.

 

Management lessons from the Battle of the Somme

“Lions led by donkeys”

Eric Ludendorff – German World War I General

This quote is attributed to World War I General Eric Ludendorff. Although he didn’t actually say this, he was describing the British tactics in the Battle of the Somme in France. The battle lasted for over 4 months in 1916, and resulted in just under 624,000 casualties

146,431 British Commonwealth and French Allies deaths

164,907 German deaths

It became a potent symbol of the futility of war, where the ‘flower of British manhood’ was lost and a byword for incompetent leadership.

The plan in World War I was to the break the German trenches through a week long arterial bombardment. The aim was to destroy the German trench system including the barbed wire protecting the German trenches, its occupants and neutralise the German artillery. The Allied infantry would then advance in waves through ‘no man’s land’ with little or no resistance and take the German positions.

However, the plan failed in its main objectives.

Why?

The German troops were too well dug in and low-level cloud prevented aerial artillery spotting. It had also been confidently assumed that the shells would destroy the German barbed wire in front of their trenches. Unfortunately, it was only partially successful and left ‘no man’s land’ a tangle of barbed wire and craters that made it difficult for the advancing infantry to negotiate. After the bombardment the Germans emerged from there bunkers and met the advancing infantry with well-placed machine guns.

Were there other reasons?

Yes, more importantly many of the artillery rounds were duds. An estimated 30% failed to explode or were the wrong type of projectile. This lead to the barbed wire remaining largely intact. Furthermore, much of the bombardment had been of shrapnel, not high explosive, and it failed to make sufficient impact on blowing away the wire or damaging the deep enemy dugouts.

What caused the high level of dud artillery shells?

World War I was an industrial war. Massive amounts of materiel were required – shells, ammunition, ships, railways and aircraft as well as kitting out millions of combatants. In 1916, after 2 years of war Britain was running short of artillery shells. In order to meet the demand many companies who had no experience in manufacturing munitions began production. While manufacturing shells may not be difficult, it was a different story with fuses. Fuses were technically difficult to manufacture, and quality suffered. Quality controls in the expanded munitions industry were poor. It is also difficult to expand production capability rapidly without quality issues. This was exacerbated by worn gun barrels (1.5m shells were fired in the first week) which contributed to shells not landing fuse first and exploding. The majority of the faulty fuses were tracked to a single manufacturer. Remedial action was quickly taken, and progressively, after the Battle of Somme, the problem was resolved.

What were some of the other reasons?

Although technology was a major factor, it was further exacerbated by incompetent leadership and strict adherence to a flawed and untested strategy. General Haig, the British commander had never visited the front and saw the effects of the bombardment and later the massive loss of life.  A patrol into ‘no man’s land’ the night before the Allied infantry were to advance reported that the barbed wire had not been destroyed. This report was ignored.  Also, low-level cloud prevented aircraft from spotting this problem. Other patrols into ‘no man’s land’ reported hearing the Germans singing in their trenches, indicating the barrage had failed in its objectives, and were also ignored. Other factors were the inexperience and immature state of training of the officers and artillery gunners.

Should Haig and his staff have done something different, once they knew the bombardment had been only partially effective?

Could they have avoided the tens of thousands of casualties of the opening attack?

It is easy in retrospect to believe that they could have.

However, the Commonwealth forces faced an impossible situation. Their major ally the French, were pushing hard for the British to launch an attack to reduce the German forces pitted against them in the Battle of Verdun and prevent the destruction of the French Army. There had also been no opportunity for surprise and with the artillery barrage the Germans knew full well the attack was coming.

What could they have done?

Cancel or delay the attack?

Yes, this was possible.

Fire an even longer bombardment?

This was not practical due to shortage of shells, and dud or incorrect shells. The die was cast.

It is easy to be wise in hindsight.

So, what are the management lessons from the Battle of the Somme?

  1. Do NOT overly rely on technology – – technology is an enabler and not the answer
  2. Quality control and competent supervision is essential in organisations, as demonstrated by poor management in the factories
  3. Incompetent leadership severely impacts on organisations. Over 150,000 Allied deaths could have been prevented if the facts had not been ignored. This was further complicated by not having a Plan B, using an unproven strategy, not having enough equipment and not doing their homework

There are valuable lessons for managers in learning from military blunders.

Can you think of examples in your work life or in your organisation where the over reliance on technology, poor supervision and quality control severely impacted an organisation?

How profits leak in family businesses

 

 

‘‘Forget “blood is thicker than water.” That kind of mentality will send you straight into a financial hole you may never climb out of. Believing that your relatives feel they have as much at stake in the business as you, is a fallacy”

George Cloutier, Author, Profits Aren’t Everything

What are the dangers for profitability with family businesses?

Company profits can be likened to a bucket of water. As a manager or owner, you are responsible for keeping as much water (i.e. profits) in the bucket as possible and plugging the holes where profits are leaking out of the business. Plugging the ‘profit leakage’ is more difficult to eradicate if the business has poor systems of management and governance.

As a former business co-owner, with 3 other partners that employed over 100 people, I was clear about the potential issues with employing family members. Having worked for several family businesses beforehand, you need very clear rules if you decide to employ family members. I had witnessed the corrosive effect on profits of ‘profit leakage’ when family members held significant positions in a business. From the managing director’s brother who was totally incompetent, to a wife who held a significant position and had low people skills which all lead to lower profits.

Here are 5 circumstances where profits leak from family businesses:

  1. Family members have different rules to other employees. I have seen situations where rules are bent or even ignored for family members. Having more than one standard can adversely impact profitability. However, this is rarely acknowledged, particularly the impact these have on employee morale as it effects motivation and productivity. For example, family member who are employed in the business may decide they have different time keeping rules to other employees.
  2. Family members having a sense of entitlement. We constantly hear stories of relatives employed in family businesses having neither the skills, training nor temperament for their roles. It is essential to have clear roles and responsibilities, and everybody including family members must be held accountable for performance, otherwise profits leak through poor sub-optimal performance. Having worked in a business where the owner employed his son, I witnessed the corrosive effect that the son’s poor work ethic and his sense of entitlement had on the business through poor morale and lack of respect for both the owner and the son.
  3. Maintaining the Status Quo. As family members age they often become resistant to change, stifling innovation and new ideas. Furthermore, they can become complacent and often have other agendas. The one certainty about business is change and anything that impedes change will lead to opportunities being missed and profits adversely effected. Business founders and leaders who stay too long in the business, often stifle change where egos rather than sound judgement, can be the basis of their decisions.
  4. High employee turnover, particularly high performing staff. There is no better indication of poor business health than top performing staff leaving. In family businesses, when high performing non-family members are passed over for promotion they leave when they see positions reserved for relatives. There are hidden costs in employee turnover. Profits leak as time and money is spent on recruiting, training, and settling in employees into their new positions whilst non-performing relatives remain in their positions continuing to negatively affect morale. I left a senior managerial position many years ago when I was twice passed over for a promotion, when the position was given to the brother of the managing director who was incompetent and lazy and generated little respect from staff.
  5. Family tensions. Tensions arise in most families and even if they do not have anything to do with the work environment they have a habit of affecting the work situation. This can negatively affect morale and the efficient and effective operation of the business and ‘leak profits’. For example, I have witnessed situations where spouses who worked together were having domestic troubles. This severely impacted the running of the business.

What is the solution?

First of all, recognise that it could be a problem. Put your egos aside and recognise the problems and deal with the issues in a rational and organised way.

Secondly, ensure that there are good systems of management and governance. Clear rules on performance, accountability and behavior are essential.

Finally, make sure that you implement and enforce these rules and management systems are followed. Outside advice using a mentor or advisor, their guidance and assistance can be useful tools to improve company performance.

Family businesses have significant advantages over large bureaucratic organisations, so don’t allow the weaknesses to over-ride the strengths as family businesses can be more nimble, effective and profitable.

So, will you prevent ‘profit leakage’ in your family business?

10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Productivity

This is the third blog by an external guest contributor, this time the blog is provided by Integral Media (https://www.integralmedia.com.au/) We hope you enjoy it and find it useful. It’s a great time of the year to give due consideration to increasing your productivity. Happy New Year and all the best for 2019.

Boosting productivity can be difficult for many of us but there are ways and means. There is an art to it, however. The key is working smarter rather than harder and longer. It’s how you use the hours you have at your disposal that increases your productivity. For instance, it’s a good idea to take regular breaks, which helps your concentration. So don’t slog away for hours on end, it will only cause fatigue and lack of focus. Try these simple tips instead:

  1.  Say No to Notifications

Notifications are a major reason people fall behind in their productivity. The beeps and jangles will take your focus off your task, so the advice is switch notifications off, permanently if possible. If you can bear to do it, remove Facebook, Twitter and all the other social media apps from your phone. You’ll feel a sense of freedom and see the difference in your productivity levels. Also, if you’re on a deadline and must concentrate, close your emails and put the phone in Aircraft or ‘do not disturb’ mode. You probably won’t miss anything vital by going off-grid for an hour or so.

  1. Get Your Thoughts on Paper

It isn’t easy to get your thoughts organised, especially when you’re busy, but the more ideas you have banging around in your head the more difficult it is to concentrate on what’s happening now. If you don’t write your thoughts or ideas down, it blocks your creativity. Get into the habit of writing it down, even though you might toss an idea out later. No matter what program you use, or if you simply have a ‘to-do’ list, (which you need as well) getting your ideas on paper means your next great idea won’t get lost in the maelstrom in your brain. Knowing your ideas are safe means you can deal with what’s in front of you and you won’t make the mistake of trying to multitask. Research (1) shows multitasking lessens productivity by up to 40 per cent.

  1. Hydrate

If you’re even slightly dehydrated you won’t be able to concentrate properly, and if you’re very dehydrated you might feel dizzy or nauseated, or have a headache which doesn’t help with your productivity. How much water you need in a day will depend on your age, any medications (especially diuretics) your diet, daily environment and level of activity. Some need more than the recommended eight drinks of water a day and some need less.

  1. Eat Healthily

Don’t race out at lunchtime and get greasy takeaway, or eat cakes and sweets at morning tea. It’s hard, but you should think about the fuel you’re putting into your body every day if you want to feel good and be productive. Make your own work lunches. You’ll feel so much better and save money.

  1. Get Regular Exercise

Your mind and body are a double act; they work together, and if your body is not functioning at an optimal level, it will affect your brain and the stress will, in turn, affect your body. It’s a vicious cycle. The answer is exercise. The latest findings suggest that exercise rather than painkillers are better for treating chronic back pain, for instance, but it takes time and you must start slowly. A few stretches during your break may ease painful joints.

  1. Be a Reader

Most of those who inhabit the lofty realms of business success have one thing in common: they read, and they read avidly. Reading provides you with further education, relaxation and increased creativity. Reading also exercises your brain muscle, helps you create new images and teaches you new words to increase your vocabulary and it all boils down to better productivity.

  1. Do Something Different

If you become deeply involved in your work and exclude everything else it will become stultifying. You’ll stagnate for lack of variety, relaxation and fun. Spending day after day on the same treadmill will make your work a bore, even if the task is one that you love. You need space, a work-life balance, a change of pace and a break from your major goal. Being balanced means you’ll avoid tunnel vision, and your brain will have space and time to come up with new ideas. Some ways to relax and take a break include:

  • Walking the dog
  • Doing some yoga
  • Baking a meal
  • Lazing in an Epsom salts and lavender oil bath
  • Going to a Zumba class
  • Having a manicure
  • Gaming
  1. Habits: Make Minor Changes

Nobody is really sure how long it takes to form a habit, and it’s probably different for each of us. But forming good habits is important, even Aristotle thought so (2). Habits and routines are fundamental to consistency, which is fundamental to achieving goals. Making small changes rather than dramatic ones cements an action or reaction into an automatic response or habit. So start small and add to your goal gradually.

  1. Keep Track of Progress

It’s so easy to forget where you’re headed, especially if your project is a long-term one. By tracking your progress you can appreciate how the smaller tasks add up. The truth is, talent doesn’t get you far in life. It’s what you do with it. It’s the hard slog, showing up for work every day, even if things look grim in other areas of your life and you just want to give up. Tackle the smaller tasks first, then you’ll feel as if you’re getting things done, which you will be. Be tenacious and determined, follow all the above tips and always tackle the harder tasks first thing in the morning. The longer you keep at it in a healthy way to sooner your productivity will grow.

  1. Healthy Sleep

Try some sleep hygiene – it involves more than just cleaning your teeth – it’s a routine that can begin an hour before you actually hop into bed. You could turn your phone off, read a book or take a hot shower. Your routine should include things that don’t stimulate so no alcohol or coffee. The more you follow your routine the sooner your body will become accustomed to knowing it’s a lead-up to sleep. Sleep hygiene helps you get a good night’s sleep so you can wake up energised and enthusiastic, and it will show in your productivity.

 

5-Dimensionz is a Melbourne-based company working with business owners and company directors to improve their performance and profits. Contact us for a free no-obligation confidential business review. We will discuss your vision and concerns and identify opportunities to lift the performance of your business.  Call us on 0488 480 402 or email david@5-dimensionz.com.au.

 

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References:

 

  1. http://routineexcellence.com/psychology-of-habits-form-habits-m
  1. https://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask.aspx

Before you move forward take a look back……..

‘’We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience’’

John Dewey – philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer

Each December instead of releasing my monthly blog on 21st of the month, I release it early in the month giving readers time to reflect before the Christmas ‘rush’. As it is coming up to the traditional Christmas and New Year holiday period in Australia where employees head off for holidays, it is a good time for managers and business owners to reflect on the previous year.

While it is normally considered a good time to plan for the year ahead, by setting goals and targets ready for the resumption of work after the holiday period, being well-rested, with batteries recharged ready for the challenge of the new year, it is also a good time to “look back”, that is to reflect on the previous year.

Is looking back bad?

No.

If you are not reviewing the previous 12 months you often lose perspective on what has been achieved and what has not worked out as planned. Here are three questions you should ask yourself and your team in looking back over the previous year.

  1. WHAT did we do well last year and WHY?

While it is important to recognise and celebrate wins, it is just as important to ask the questions

–  ‘How did we have these wins?’

– ‘What were the actions that we as a team took to get this great result?’

Note the reasons down, share these with the team and have a goal to continue this strategy.

  1. WHAT did we do badly this year and WHY?

Sadly, many of us blame others, and make excuses as to why things fail. It’s time to put our egos aside and be honest as to the causes of the failures.

– Where did we fail?’

– ‘Where did we not strive hard enough?

– ‘Where did we not act like a team?

– ‘When was the customer not put ahead of ourselves?

– ‘What happened and what did YOU do to contribute to that result?

Make a note of the answers to the above questions and ensure that we do not do that again. After all, as managers we are accountable!

  1. WHAT goals did we set this time last year that we did not achieve and WHY?

As Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results”, so establishing the same goals and associated actions as last year will most likely give you the same result.

– ‘Why did we set them?

– ‘Why didn’t we achieve them?’

‘- Did these goals really matter?

– ‘Is it different this time?’

Discuss with your team as to whether the goals are still a priority, and should they be the same goals again for this year?

Having answered these questions, honestly and openly you and your team are ready to set goals and plans for the next calendar year.

Does your team have the skills, capabilities, work ethic and behavioural characteristics to be a ‘winning’ team for next year?

To my blog readers, best wishes for Christmas and 2019

Why is Having a Digital Presence Vital for Your Business?

This is our second blog by an external guest contributor, Kym Wallis that should be of  interest to our subscribers. Kym’s bio is at the end of this blog. Our aim is to publish a business or management blog on the first day of each month.

Why is Having a Digital Presence Vital for Your Business?

Today we live in a digital society and having an online presence is easier than ever before. A couple of decades ago, business websites were only employed by large companies with huge budgets.

Thanks to the proliferation of affordable development technologies, search engines, and social media platforms, companies of all sizes can now take advantage of the internet.

Below, we’ll go over some of the major benefits that come with having a strong digital presence for your company.

Migrating to a Predictable Model

Before delving into the importance of having online representation, let’s look at the value of moving to a predictable marketing model. Besides lacking granular targeting capacities, traditional marketing methods are characterised for being unpredictable and expensive.

It’s extremely hard to calculate their profitability, therefore you never really know if your investment is worthwhile.

Digital platforms allow intricate tracking and provide a large amount of data you can use to turn your marketing campaign into a predictable source of revenue. You’ll be able to see the number of visitors you have and how they behave. What’s more, you’ll get an idea of the return on investment and make sure your funds are actually being used to improve your company.

6 Reasons You Need to Have a Digital Presence

Although it’s extremely important, there is no exact definition of a “good” online presence. This will vary according to your location, the industry you’re in, and the niche you serve. Some companies can get away with setting up a good site, while others need to deploy social media accounts and other digital channels simultaneously.

Here are some of the benefits of having good representation on digital platforms.

1. Showcase Your Products and Services

Showcasing your products is extremely important, regardless of the marketing channel you’re using. For instance, most business owners would choose to put their best selling products in the storefront in order to attract attention.

Online platforms work exactly the same, except that you have unlimited storefront space. You can create a page dedicated to your products and services to give potential customers information about the different offers you have available.

2. Open Communication Lines

More and more people turn to the internet as the first point of reference when looking for products and services. Opening online channels will help improve communication with your audience as they’ll be able to reach you without going out of their way.

3. Invest Into Trackable Marketing

There are dozens of different online marketing strategies out there, but all of them provide the ability to track your campaigns. Not only this, but the vast majority of digital platforms also allow you to adjust your ads or promotions after they have been launched in order to get the best results.

4. Build Trust with Your Audience

Creating a strong online presence through reviews and testimonials can help build trust with your audience. This works exceptionally well for small companies that serve a local community, even if they don’t offer online services!

5. It’s More Affordable Than Ever

As mentioned before, the cost of developing websites has significantly decreased since the early 2000s. This, plus the development of free social media platforms make it more affordable than ever before for any company to have a strong digital presence.

6. Reach Potential Customers Through Their Preferred Channel

There are more than 3.5 billion active internet users that browse the web on desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, gaming consoles, and other devices. Even if you don’t sell products or provide services over the internet, simply having your information online can help your potential customers find you easily through their preferred channels.

Find a Reliable Business Performance Firm

Building a strong online presence requires a significant amount of work. Besides identifying the best platform, you also have to develop attractive content that entices your audience. You’ll also have to find a reliable firm to help you achieve your vision through actionable plans.

At 5-Dimensionz, our team of business performance builders will be happy to assist you in building your online presence. Learn more about our services by contacting us and we’ll be glad to help find your keys to success.

Author’s Bio

Kym Wallis, the founding director of Higher Ranking has over 15 years of advertising sales, digital strategy, and business development experience. He is currently working as Digital Adviser for Catalyst Computers.

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.

Starting a new business?

This is first blog that will be of interest to our subscribers from an external contributor, Kym Wallis. His bio is at the end of this blog. Our aim is to publish a business or management blog on the first day of each month. We hope you enjoy this initial blog.

  

Starting a New Business?

Here Are 10 Things You Need to Prepare!

So, you’ve decided to go into business for yourself but have never built a company from the ground up. Whether you are going to work as a sole trader or are planning to operate a small business with multiple employees working under you, there are things you need to get ready before you can actually open those proverbial doors to business. Here are 10 of the most important things you’ll need to prepare.

1. The Mindset of an Entrepreneur

Remember, you are not going to be working for a boss because now you will be the boss! Everything is going to fall squarely on your shoulders, from finding a sound investment loan to hiring top talent to work with you. Begin with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn from mistakes. If you understand what you need to do and any pitfalls you may encounter, you can make a successful go of it.

2. Business Structure & Type

Before you can do anything, you will need to decide between your options in business structures. Each type carries different taxation and legal requirements, so it pays to understand the differences between registering as a sole trader, a partnership, a company or a trust. As for the type of business you are going to operate, here is where you will need to decide whether you are going to work from your own home or you will need a separate base of operations. These are extremely important preliminary considerations to decide upon before you can go any further in starting your new business.

3. Registering with Proper Authorities

There are several steps involved in registering your business with the proper authorities. You must register a business name, your company, and then get all the requisite permits and licences. If you will be running an online endeavour, here is where you’ll need to register a domain name as well. You can check out the business.gov.au website for information on just how to go about registering your company to do business in Australia.

3. Write Your Business Plan

What new business owners may not understand is the importance of a business plan. This is where you lay out your business model and how you plan to do everything from day to day operations to marketing. If you are going to begin buying investment properties, for example, you would need a sound business plan long before seeking investment property loan information. No lender will even consider underwriting a loan for a new business unless they can see a solid business plan that will result in a strong likelihood of profitability. Without a strong business plan, everything else along the way is probably doomed to failure.

4. Develop a Marketing Strategy

Drawing on the business model of an investment property entrepreneur, one of the most important types of investment property tips in learning how to plan and execute a marketing strategy. Whether you are going to invest in commercial or residential properties unless you can attract renters, how can you expect a good return on your investment (ROI)? Marketing is going to be a key component of any business, but especially when beginning a new venture.

6. A Sound Understanding of Taxes

Ignoring taxation laws in Australia, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, has been the downfall of many a business old and new. From day one, you need to understand how to keep accurate records, which taxes you will need to register, and how to lodge taxes when the time comes. In fact, you’ll even need to when businesses are required to lodge taxes. This is where you might want to consult with a licenced accounting firm.

7. Learn Which Laws Apply to You

If you don’t understand business laws in Australia, you could be in jeopardy of being fined high dollar amounts or, worst case scenario, being closed down by the government for breaking one or more laws. From fair trading laws to complying with the Privacy Act, ignorance is no excuse. Just as you might wish to consult with an accountant for all things financial, you may wish to get legal counsel to help you with legal compliance.

8. Financing and All Things Financial

A majority of new businesses will need financing not only at the very beginning but from time to time throughout the life of the company. Your business’ borrowing power will depend on a number of things, and here is where you will probably want to find a good borrowing power calculator. Along with almost every other startup, you will probably wonder, “How much can I borrow?” That calculator will give you a good idea of how much you may qualify for when seeking a startup business loan.

9. Insurance and Emergency Preparedness

Not only are businesses required to carry such things as liability insurance but there are other types of cover you may wish to consider to protect your investment. Your accountant or lawyer can help you understand which types of insurance you are legally required to carry so that you can begin searching for a provider with reasonable rates. If you are going to be employing staff, an emergency preparedness plan is also going to be required. Such things as evacuation routes and authorities to contact should be posted in highly visible areas.

10. Your Base of Operations

Speaking of highly visible areas, this is the last step in starting a new business before you can plan a launch date. Whether working from home or in an outside base of operations, everything necessary should be on site and ready to go. Besides stock and operational equipment, you’ll need to have key players in place as well. In order for a smooth and profitable launch, make sure you are really ready before announcing your ‘grand opening.’

Once everything is in place and you’ve covered all your bases, don’t forget to work closely with your marketing team.

Kym Wallis1  Author’s Bio

Kym Wallis, the founding director of Higher Ranking has over 15 years of advertising sales, digital strategy, and business development experience. He is currently working as Digital Adviser for Integr8IT.

What were the management lessons from the Battle of Britain?

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”

Winston Churchill

In the Battle of Britain, the history books champion the heroics of the fighter squadrons of the RAF in defeating the German Luftwaffe. Churchill seeks to reinforce this view through his famous quote about ‘the few’, being the fighter pilots of the RAF Fighter Command. In reality, the reasons for the British victory were far more complex.

The Battle of Britain is considered to have occurred between 10th July 1940 to 31st October 1940, commencing soon after the fall of France on 25th June, 1940. The German strategy was to obtain air superiority over Britain before Operation Sealion, Hitler’s invasion of Britain. The Luftwaffe had over 2,600 attacking aircraft, bombers and fighters whilst Fighter Command had only 640 fighter aircraft, although there were over 1300 other non-fighter aircraft such as bombers, transport and reconnaissance aircraft. When the Battle ended, the Luftwaffe had lost nearly 2,000 aircraft and over 2,600 airmen, compared to the RAF, who lost over 1,000 aircraft and just over 530 airmen.

So how did the RAF succeed against such odds?

There were a number of inter-related reasons, including German fighters flying at the end of their range, the use of radar by the British, poor German intelligence, the bravery and skill of the RAF pilots, higher attrition of German pilots compared to the British, the weather, and confused and changing German strategy. The German strategy for example, changed from attacking the ports and Channel convoys, to destroying the RAF, either on the ground or in the air, and then later bombing the cities and industrial sites in southern England. Furthermore, the German Luftwaffe headed by Goring, was both autocratic and bureaucratic.

However, the prime reason is considered to have been the tactics initiated by Air Marshall Hugh Dowding. Through the use of new technology, radar and a flexible command structure called the Dowding System, which moulded together technology, ground defences and fighter aircraft,  the RAF eventually repulsed the Luffwaffe. Interestingly, Blitzkreig’s initial success can be attributed to using technology and a flexible command structure. Britain was divided into four geographical areas called ‘Groups’ and then ‘Sectors’. Each ‘Sector’ had a fighter airfield with an Operations Room from where the fighters could be directed. As radar tracked the incoming Luftwaffe raids, information was sent to Group headquarters, then to the ‘Sectors’ where fighters would be scrambled and air defence stations notified, all in a short period of time. This strategy allowed the RAF to engage the enemy selectively and in a timely way. The RAF fighters did not engage German fighters unless they were escorting bombers, with Hurricane fighters attacking the German bombers and the Spitfire fighters waiting for the bombers to turn for France before attacking both fighters and bombers when they had little fuel or ammunition. It is a common misconception that the Spitfires and Hurricanes were offensive weapons. They weren’t. They were defensive interceptors, with the sole purpose to intercept bombers on the way in, and prevent them from carrying out their mission and hunting them down when they turned back to France. In reality, the bombers were the attack weapons, to attacking industrial centres, cities, shipping and ports.

What are the management lessons from the Battle of Britain?

There are potentially 3 management lessons from the Battle of Britain.

  1. Flexible management systems are better than authoritarian and bureaucratic systems

For example, I was able to contribute the success of our logistics business by empowering supervisors to communicate directly with their assigned customers. This not only improved customer service but developed the supervisory and management skills of the supervisor.

  1. Technology is only an enabler

As an example, our logistics business was created from an opportunity when a major Australian retailer changed their supply chain systems, forcing suppliers to prepare their products in a store-floor ready condition. The enabler was technology (EDI), as it allowed for a more efficient management of the supply chain.

  1. Engage on your own terms

Too often, business owners try to be all things to all people and do not focus on their strengths and niche and end up competing against larger and better resourced competitors. For example, in our logistics business, we targeted to great success, smaller owner operated companies who did not want to deal with large impersonal organisations.

In conclusion, as managers and business owners we can learn some valuable lessons from the Battle of Britain. Technology is only an enabler. For example, AirBnB’s software has ‘enabled’ a new source of cheaper accommodation for travelers through the letting of private rooms and apartments that were not previously considered available. Flexible management systems that are agile will beat bureaucratic organisations everytime. Kodak, who initially invented the digital camera, failed to commercialise it successfully. And finally, engaging on your own terms where you have a competitive advantage and not go head to head with your competitors is a sensible strategy. A good example of this strategy is the success of Yellowtail Wines where a small Australian family owned wine company created a new market for wine in USA and avoided head-to-head confrontation with the major industry players.

There are valuable lessons for managers in studying history……

 

How do you eat an elephant?

“There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”

Desmond Tutu – Noble Prize laureate, anti-apartheid campaigner

In using this old African proverb, what did Desmond Tutu mean?

How often are we confronted with tasks or challenges that seem insurmountable?

The first action in confronting a major project is to set the goal…………that is, eating the elephant.

However, in order to reach the goal of eating an elephant you need to plan and set incremental time bounded goals. In this case, it’s eating the elephant one bite at a time. Setting goals is an important discipline for business owners and managers. Furthermore, setting goals also helps in creating a meaningful, satisfying, and successful life.

What has eating an elephant got to do with business?

Small goals have several advantages in giving you:

  1. something that is tangible and achievable on which you can focus
  2. the satisfaction of achieving the small goals
  3. the way to achieving your major goal

A junior IT employee I once employed was daunted by the number of tasks he had to complete. He said he felt helpless and was not enjoying his role as he ‘was not getting anywhere’. We devised a simple plan that visibly showed progress. Using a simple exercise book, he listed the jobs to be done, both large and small. When he completed a task, it was crossed off the list and dated. He immediately had a visible and simple method of tracking his progress. This resulted in a significant improvement in his job satisfaction and productivity.

Job satisfaction, like life satisfaction, is higher if you see life or your job as a series of small milestones or goals along the way. Remember life, and this includes your working life is not a destination but a journey.

Whilst the practice of goal setting is important, there are certain ways to set goals that will increase the chance of success, including using the acronym, SMART for setting goals:

Specific – be very clear on what you wish to achieve. It also helps to visualise your goals. Using the elephant analogy, an African elephant weighs around, 5,000 kilograms.

Measurable – set a goal where you can measure your progress toward achieving it. Record the kilograms of the elephant you eat each week. As Peter Drucker, the famous management thinker said, “what gets measured gets done.”

Attainable – your goals need to be reasonable and realistic. You then have a better chance of success. With the elephant example, eating 100 kilograms per week would be unrealistic whereas 10 kilograms is achievable. This moves you towards your final goal, which is eating the elephant. However, at 10 kilograms per week it would take you nearly 10 years to eat the elephant by yourself. This brings us to the next consideration.

Relevant – set a goal that has meaning, whether personal or for your career or business. There is little point in having goals that have no meaning as you are wasting both time and resources. Also, you are unlikely to be motivated when the going gets tough. Due to the time involved in eating the elephant by yourself, it is not relevant or practical, even if you like elephant meat!

Time-Bound by setting a timeline or deadline you are forced to commit. This includes the small goals along the way that lead up the major goal. In meeting both the relevance and time criteria, to eat the elephant before it becomes rotten, you could enlist 100 of your fellow villagers and it would be completed in only 5 weeks!

Note: 10 kgs per person per day multiplied by 100 villagers and 5 weeks equals 5,000 kgs

Often when I sit in front of a client, they are daunted by the task to improve their business’ performance.

How do we solve the apparently daunting task?

By using the ‘eating the elephant, one bite at a time’ approach. We break down the business plan into initially, 3 year goals, then 1 year goals and more importantly 90 day ‘bite size’ goals with actions that add up to complete the business plan.

Goals are dreams with realistic and achievable deadlines.

Motivational coach Zig Ziglar stated that “a goal properly set is halfway reached.” If we remember, setting a goal is just like eating an elephant, bite by bite, and bit by bit, we can reach firstly, our smaller goals before the final goal.

What is going to be your approach when you are confronted with a daunting task?