Are you an intelligent boss?

Are you an intelligent boss?

‘In a high-IQ job pool, soft skills like discipline, drive, and empathy mark those who emerge as outstanding.

Daniel Goleman – author of Emotional Intelligence

It is often assumed that good managers are intelligent, and this is what makes them successful. Is this what really occurs in the world of work? This depends on how intelligence is defined.

Do you consider yourself an intelligent manager?

What is IQ?

IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient, a common measurement of human intelligence. The IQ test was originally developed in France by two psychologists, Binet and Simon, in the early 1900s – and their work still provides the basis of the tests used today. IQ tests were further developed throughout the 20th century and have been used in many psychological studies as well as in business, education, the military and government.

What is EQ?

EQ stands for Emotional Intelligence and the concept emerged in 1995 with the publishing of a book called Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. It sold over five million copies. Goleman claimed that EQ discounted IQ in determining success.

Why is EQ now considered more important than IQ for success in business today?

Have you met or worked with people who are highly intelligent but have a low EQ? They frequently display a lack of empathy and initiative, are arrogant, refuse to listen to other points of view, are insensitive and argumentative, blame others, never hold themselves accountable and are unable to control their emotions.

I certainly have, and there is nothing more demoralising and frustrating than working for such people. Low EQ people often suffer from ‘I’ strain – ‘I did this’, ‘I did that’ and ‘I am very important just listen to me’. One of the main impediments to achieving better outcomes is allowing egos to override common sense. An important aspect of high EQ is being able to manage your ego.

People are considered intelligent if they can reel off facts, retain information or have high technical skills. However, this does not necessarily make them, or the organisation they work for, successful.

While we may, as managers, pride ourselves on our technical skills, industry expertise, and innovation, this does not make us successful managers or leaders. Being the smartest person in the room does not necessarily equate to success.In successfully managing organisations today, we are increasingly dependent on ‘soft skills’ that build relationships inside and outside the organisation. It is essential to be able to negotiate, collaborate and compromise by listening, communicating, being flexible, and being able to work with others. Management by walking around is a good example of using EQ skills. Poor levels of EQ can make or break customer relationships, create and perpetuate poor work environments and reduce constructive communication with managers, colleagues, peers and subordinates. Michael Gerber, in The e-Myth Revisited, .

According to Harvard Business Review, EQ is ‘the key attribute that distinguishes outstanding performers’ and is the leading differentiator between employees whose IQ and technical skills are approximately the same. People with high EQs tend to be happier and have more fulfilling personal lives – as they are more self and socially aware, manage their emotions and tend to be more engaged with other people and events.

The good news is that EQ can be taught. However, it depends on your mental outlook and willingness to change. It can be improved through coaching, training and good mentoring.

Here are three questions that you can ask yourself to gauge your level of EQ:

  1. How would your employees describe your leadership style?

Ask this to gauge self-awareness. Does it sound realistic when you answer this question? Do you mention any shortcomings you are trying to address?

  1. Could you do a SWOT analysis on yourself?

Would your colleagues or subordinates agree with your self-assessment profile?

  1. Do you know the interests and family circumstances of your work colleagues?

This is asked to gauge your level of empathy with others.

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How do you improve your business processes?

Process improvement…

‘Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning

 Benjamin Franklin – one of the Founding Fathers of the USA

Against a background of continual distractions, including increasing regulations and competition, one of the greatest challenges for businesses is to continue improve their performance and profitability. Improved processes lead to better efficiencies, improved productivity, greater employee satisfaction and, ultimately, profits.

At its most basic level, there are four ways to improve productivity: 

  1. Drive better practices
  2. Innovate new practices
  3. Utilise potential practices
  4. Enhance current practices

Four Ways to Improve

In Japan, following the devastation of World War II, the concept of ‘quality management’ was developed and implemented by an American – W. Edward Deming. He became known as the ‘father of quality management’ and his work led to the amazing success of Japanese companies such as Toyota, Sony and Mitsubishi. The ‘Deming management method’ became known as the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle, which imbedded learning into a cycle of continous improvement.

Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Cycle

The aims of this section are:

  1. Describe how important process improvement is to a business
  2. Introduce a methodology we used to improve productivity in our logistics business.

Our third-party logistics business’s specific niche was retail logistics. When the business was first set up, it provided floor-ready merchandising services (FRM©) to retail suppliers. At that stage, the business was not a traditional warehousing and transport business – instead, stock was processed in the warehouse in a way that enabled it to be placed in each individual retail store in a ‘floor-ready’ condition, underpinned by an electronic commerce system. Items were price and security labelled, placed on hangers if required and scan-packed to store level.

This required a more varied skill set than traditional warehousing. The production process depended on the type of merchandise – whether apparel, shoes, cosmetics or electronics. This required a flexible approach and a standard methodology. Each supervisor would organise and ‘set up’ the job, and plan and manage the FRM© process. The productivity of each job and section was measured and reviewed individually with the supervisors on a weekly basis.

The methodology was called ‘the W5H Check’ because it asked why, what, where, when, how and who. Before each job was set up, the supervisor used this checklist to maximise productivity – answering the questions on the checklist. This approach improved productivity by  reducing the number of times the goods were handled, minimising lifting and walking, questioning who was doing the work,  eliminating unnecessary tasks and simplifying the process. 

W5H Check©

We found that this process improved productivity over time as it was decentralised, empowered the supervisors to make decisions, and measured performance. The supervisors were encouraged to seek input from their staff on how best to improve productivity and were authorised to communicate directly with the customers. It was similar to the PDSA cycle used in the Deming method and included specific questions that required thought. The W5H Check© sparked a process of continous improvement that was driven by ‘hands-on’ supervisors who were given the authority to make decisions that were the best for the customer and for the business.

The benefits of this system included very low staff and supervisor turnover, long-term customer retention and high levels of employee satisfaction. When the business was sold, the majority of supervisors had been with the company for over 10 years.

What are the areas in your business that you could improve using the simple Four Ways to Improve test?

Do you think that the W5H Check© system would be useful in improving productivity in your business?

Are there lessons to be learnt from the example above, relating to pushing responsibility down to supervisor level?

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What are the foundations of a good business?

What are the foundations of a good business?

“You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation. You must have a solid foundation if you’re going to have a strong superstructure”

Gordon B. Hinckley – American religious leader

Deciding to go into business is the first step. The second step is to ensure that from the beginning the business has solid foundations. This is critical and is relevant whether your business is a start-up, or you are purchasing an existing business. Like a building constructed on solid rock, a business with a solid foundation will have a better chance of surviving the inevitable challenges, than one built on unstable foundations. Cracks will inevitably appear in a business over time, as they do in a building. By solid foundations I don’t mean a market niche, systems and processes, skilled employees and loyal customers which can be easily found in ‘how to’ management books, and on the internet.

When my partners and I were going into business, it involved a management buyout of an unprofitable business. We were eager to ‘have a go’ on our own and prove we could build a successful business. This leap of faith meant mortgaging our houses to raise the capital, not an unusual practice for funding new businesses. This certainly focussed our attention. Failure could mean losing the family home and all the implications associated with family life.

As with an elephant’s legs supporting the world’s largest land animal, having a solid foundation on which to build and support a business is essential. Luckily the previous owner had an excellent financial director who provided us, with some practical and useful advice;

”Protect your assets and limit your risks and liabilities”.

We also sought advice from external experts. As owners and managers, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. Seeking external expertise is essential. From our experience in setting up in business, the disciplines where external assistance is required in the following disciplines:

  1. Legal advice in setting up the business’ legal entities, including each owner’s private company which were shareholders in the business, establishing corporate structures that reduce the exposure to legal claims from avaricious ambulance chasing lawyers, completing shareholder’s, agreements, terms and conditions and suppliers’ agreement.

One of the lessons learnt was whilst the structure of the founding team set out the entitlements of each founder, we did not clearly outline our roles and responsibilities which lead to. performance and accountability becoming issues and was complicated by two family tragedies. This could have been managed more effectively if roles and responsibilities had been more clearly set out and a company board that held the executive team and founders to account had been established.

  1. Financial advice from a chartered accountant on business related finance issues, including insurance, taxation, banking and recommended corporate structure in combination with legal advice .

The main lesson learnt was to separate the business entity from personal affairs is essential. Unfortunately, I have witnessed some businesses getting into financial difficulty by not separating private and business affairs as well as a lack of discipline and  no clear understanding of the importance of keeping this separate. This is particularly relevant to family businesses.

  1. Strategic business advice from an advisor with business owner experience. There are two issues here;
    • seeking external advice
    • ensuring it comes from a consultant or advisor who has practical experience in managing and owning a business.

Too often there are consultants who do not have this experience and do not understand what it is like to have their money and house on the line.

In retrospect we should have sought in our logistics business external assistance in strategic planning.  Our annual budgets were built from the ground up and served as our business plan. The weakness became apparent in the vital areas of values, vision and a mission statement which underpin the budgets and business plan. These were missing. We did not recognise their importance. Values, vision and mission statement were only created when we established a webpage. We would have benefited immensely from engaging an external advisor earlier in the piece. The business although profitable would have been more profitable and would have developed more strategically. Professional external advice would have opened up opportunities through identifying strategic long-term customers, obtaining government grants and developing new networks.

In conclusion, the message is seek advice from those with expertise so the business has solid foundations, so when inevitably the storm comes the business has a greater chance of survival. Seeking external advice is not a sign of weaknesses. Elite athletes and sporting teams all have coaches. A business is no different. Also as a manager and business owner, on-going education is essential for continual success.

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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?

 

Are you chasing field mice or antelopes?

Lion anetlope

Are you chasing field mice or antelopes?

“A lion is fully capable of capturing, killing, and eating a field mouse. But it turns out that the energy required to do so exceeds the caloric content of the mouse itself. So a lion that spent its day hunting and eating field mice would slowly starve to death. A lion can’t live on field mice. A lion needs antelope. Antelope are big animals. They take more speed and strength to capture and kill, and once killed, they provide a feast for the lion and her pride. … So ask yourself at the end of the day, ‘Did I spend today chasing mice or hunting antelope?’”

Newt Gingrich – speaker of US House of Representatives

What is Gingrich’s underlying message?

Certainly, the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule is implied in this quotation . However, there is another message for managers and business owners here, that is to focus with discipline on the issues that provide the best return for your resources of time, money and expertise. The danger is business failure, as explained by Michael E Gerber in The e-Myth Revisited – Why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it. This is where a business owner and manager who understands the technical nature of the business but does not understand the business is likely to fail. In summary, they do what they are comfortable in doing and what they know, not what they should be doing.

Jim Collins in his book Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t, describes how a ‘culture of discipline’ is evident in successful companies. This begins with disciplined leaders who display empathy, personal humility and intense focus. They do not suffer from ‘I’ strain and rarely appear in the media seeking celebrity. Before purchasing our logistics business, I worked for a privately-owned transport company. In an industry that was known for its larger than life personalities who courted the media, the owner was virtually unknown. He ran a highly successful business which was far more profitable than many of the publicly listed companies in the industry. He was extremely disciplined in strictly adhering to his market niche which enabled higher profits and greater customer service.

In another example of discipline, I managed a large division of a transport business in a large regional centre where the managing director was passionate about truck safety. This involved vehicle journey’s being monitored by on-board computers to prevent speeding, exceeding mandated driving hours and excessive idling as it wastes fuel. If drivers exceeded the speed limit by 5% in a week they were disciplined and if this occurred three times within 12 months the driver was terminated. Like the lion it was targeting the areas that significantly affected the successful operation of the business. Each week the performance of the trucks and drivers was given to me to action. I decided against the advice of my peers to post the results on the drivers‘ notice board.

Did the drivers react negatively to being compared to others as I had been warned would occur?

No.

Instead each week many of the drivers would compare their performance of their vehicles and themselves. Some drivers would personally seek me out to ask if there were problems with their vehicle and why for example their vehicle had appeared to be idling excessively. They became self-disciplined team members who were more accountable and didn’t need to be micro-managed. Fuel economy improved and more importantly our accident record was the best in the business despite having drivers’ company-wide who travelled the most kilometres each week. Within the ‘safety framework’ a culture of freedom and responsibility had developed.

For a business to grow or change in a positive way, the discipline required must be where consistent behaviours align with achieving the organisation’s goals. Note the words – “discipline” and “consistent”. The aim is for consistent productive goal-oriented behaviours to become habits. Habits once formed become entrenched, however they must be right habits and they must align with the organisation’s vision and goals. In the drivers’ example, safety and performance became a habit. With the niche transport company, the discipline was only remaining in its narrow market niche. Both examples required disciplined people acting in a disciplined manner, demonstrating that discipline must start at the top.

Here is another example. I was engaged to undertake a business review by a niche logistics business which had suddenly begun losing money. Determining the prime reason was relatively easy; the business had lost a major customer who had contributed the majority of their previous profits. This was only a symptom of what was wrong. A walk through their numerous warehouses provided some answers. The warehouses were dirty, stock was not in the correct locations and staff were inadequately supervised. Management was focussed on managing day to day crises, were not enforcing operational disciplines, rates had not increased in several years and customer service was inconsistent. Classic chasing field mouse behaviour.

The business review formed the basis of a new business plan. New benchmarks for performance were established and a renewed commitment to improving customer service was implemented. This was underpinned by imposing operational disciplines in the warehouse following consultative meetings with staff. Several managers and supervisors exited the business and a new general manager and senior management team were appointed. In the first year the company made a modest profit. In the second year, profits exceeded expectations, revenue grew through targeted strategic sales in the business’ market niche, prices increased, unprofitable customers were forced from the businesses, a warehouse was closed and new leases with more favourable terms were negotiated. This was a good practical example of what Jim Collins describes in his book, Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t; disciplined people – first who; then what, disciplined thought; confronting the brutal facts, and disciplined action; a culture of discipline.

Being a successful business owner, leader and manager requires discipline. Lack of discipline manifests itself physically in examples such as untidy and dirty warehouses, poor telephone manners and uninspiring first impressions.

What are the antelopes you should be hunting in your organisation?

Have you identified the field mice?

Is it clear to others in the business?

Do the antelopes align to your vision, values and goals?

Discipline in the areas of accountability, teamwork, and attention to detail are required. Disciplined leadership is defined by is defined by sound habits, rigour, consistency and routines. A disciplined environment assists in putting both management and employees on their best behaviour leading to improving productivity and profits.

3 Major mistakes business owners make with financial reporting

3 Major mistakes business owners make with financial reporting

“Stay on top of your finances. Don’t leave that up to others”

Leif Garrett – USA singer and TV personality

Many business owners I meet tell me that their external accountants do their monthly accounts. In fact, one owner had his external accountant and his book keeper on site each week, and another waited 3 months to get his monthly profit and loss statement (P&L) which he didn’t look at anyway.

Did they provide financial reports that helped these owners manage their businesses?

This depends on the type of reports being created.

However, the answer is almost always………NO

What is usually provided is a service to input financial data and/or accounting services required for taxation purposes, that is to meet compliance requirements. The owners would then be given a profit and loss (P&L) statement, showing consolidated revenue less total costs to determine the profit.

Why is this a problem?

This is a problem because these P&Ls are not an operational P&Ls. This brings me to one of my favourite issues with managing businesses. The financial results that are being currently reported do not help in operating the business.

In my experience, there are 3 mistakes business owners make in financial reporting:

  1. Incorrectly categorised costs

Many businesses do not understand the difference between fixed, variable and overhead costs. Furthermore, external accountants generally do not categorise those costs as this is not required for compliance or taxation purposes. For example, it is important to know what your direct or variable costs are which vary with output or sales revenue. By not categorising costs correctly and having them in the correct section of the accounts, you cannot determine your gross margin, sometimes called your cost of goods sold (COGS) and net margin …….which leads to the next mistake…..

  1. Reports do not reflect operational needs

When costs and revenue are not placed in correct place, they will not help operationally. By consolidating costs rather than categorising them, a manager or business owner cannot easily determine which costs increase and decrease with changes in sales, or what their overheads are for operating the business.  It is essential to understand and identify each of the different costs and how they vary with activity. Often a single business has various components or different activities that make up the total business. In one of the examples above, the business was actually three different businesses, second hand vehicle sales, vehicle servicing and second-hand motor vehicle parts sales. This business owner’s revenues were consolidated and he did not know which activity was profitable and which was not…………..which leads to the next mistake…..

  1. Not knowing which parts of the business are profitable

So, did the business owner know if selling second had cars was profitable or whether it was worthwhile to continue to provide motor vehicle servicing?

No.

Therefore, the first step is to identify the different business activities. Once this is done, divide the revenue by activity and then assign to the different business units. For example, second hand car sales, spare parts sales and motor vehicle servicing.

The next step is to categorise the costs by type, variable or direct costs, indirect costs and overheads. Then assign these costs into business units. Overheads will be assigned to the consolidated business, with the P&L looking like this:

By reviewing the P&L, the business owner can see that Spare Parts is losing money and vehicle servicing has a Gross Margin of 63% and is the most profitable with a Net Margin of 48%. Furthermore, Overheads are 18% of Revenue, which would seem high and may warrant further investigation. As Spare Parts is losing $25,000 per year, possible managerial actions could be to increase prices or cease selling Spare Parts as a business activity which would result in an additional $25,000 in profit.

These are examples of what a good management or operations P&L looks like and how managers and business owners can make informed decisions.

Remember there are 3 mistakes in financial reporting:

  • Costs are incorrectly categorised
  • Reports do not reflect operational needs
  • Not knowing which parts of the business are profitable

As a manager or business owner is your operational P&L provided in a format you can use to improve your business’ performance?

5 Ways to Invest in Yourself

Guest Blog by Kym Wallis

5 Ways to Invest in Yourself

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.

New Year’s Resolutions for you and our business…..

New Year’s Resolutions for you and our business…..

“We adopted a strategy that required our being smart and not too smart at that, only a very few times. Indeed, we now settle for one good idea a year”

Warren Buffett – business magnate, investor, and philanthropist.

It’s the new year and the festive season is over.

The start of the calendar year is a time for reflection, recharging your batteries and planing for the year ahead.

Was last year a challenging year for you?

Did you achieve your professional or business goals?

If not, why not?

Many of us make long lists of New Year’s resolutions that are unfortunately never fulfilled. Maybe we had too many resolutions, or they were too difficult or we were just plain lazy. One study found that less than 10% of New Year’s resolutions are never completed or considered successful.

However, as business owners or managers we are obliged do better and are expected to do better!

For example, as a manager or business owner, you will probably have a couple of new year’s resolutions about being more productive, expanding or improving your business.

Are they the right goals?

Will they make a REAL difference and become habits and a mindset so that you succeed now, and not just for the next 365 days?

As Warren Buffet suggests in the quote above, making a few significant right decisions will make a real difference. With New Year’s resolutions, set the right resolutions, limit the number and keep them simple – the KISS principle: keep it simple stupid. Using this principle, they are more likely to be effective and result in changing your habits.

Here are three resolutions you could consider for next year with three aims of being positive and habit forming, changing your mindset and having a positive impact on you, your business and your team.

Resolution 1: Ask More Questions

How often do you meet people and find they rarely ask questions?

Asking questions is not a sign of weakness. Questions are a tool to drastically improve your knowledge, resources, and even your network. Put your ego aside and ask questions. You will be surprised at what you will learn. I recently attended a training course and met some new professional consultants. By asking questions I found some surprising links with people we knew and experiences they had that could be useful in the future.

Asking questions is one of the most valuable skills a manager can have, whether it’s asking for advice, asking for feedback, or simply asking for help. It also demonstrates empathy and builds understanding. Great leaders do not have all the answers, however they usually ask the right questions.

Resolution 2: Work On My Business, Not Just In It

Most businesses start with a technician wanting to work for themselves because they have technical skills. However, as the business grows there is a tendency to work on the activities you know and enjoy doing, that is working in the business not on the business.

To build a successful team or business, you need to learn how to create an entity that can exist without you. Leading rather than doing. Simply working harder, or working longer hours is unlikely to improve your business as significantly as required or desired. Whilst you may know your business better than anyone else, or are the most efficient person in the business, the time you spend doing jobs that other people could be doing is time not spent running and improving your business.

I learnt this the hard way in my former logistics business. I was spending too much time calculating the productivity of the different sections of the business by employee and customer – working in the business. It dawned on me that someone else could prepare the productivity reports for me. With the completed reports, I could then concentrate on the areas that needed action plus of course highlight and praise good performance – working on the business.

So, force yourself to look at your organisation objectively and determine what needs to occur so you can achieve your goals.

Resolution 3: Do more Networking

Networking is one of the most valuable tools you can have in your manager’s tool box. Knowing the right person provides opportunities to grow your business, from new markets or products to finding yourself a mentor.  Those managers or business owners who surround themselves with a diverse, dynamic, long standing and large network increase their likelihood of success.

I was able to successfully find a prospective buyer for our logistics business through a networking contact that went back over 25 years. However, networking needs to be approached with the mindset of maintaining a relationship and helping others. You are likely to have contacts, skills and experience that can assist others and in turn, they are more likely to help you. Remember, people do not like being used.

You are far more likely to develop relationships when you are not selling or asking for something. Networks are support systems. You are more likely to gain assistance through your network when you require assistance.

So, force yourself to make phone calls, catch up for coffee or join an organisation, whether professional or a service club. You will be surprised how rewarding it will be.

It’s not long to the New Year…………

Have you started thinking about your New Year’s resolutions?

Will these New Year’s resolutions meet the KISS principle?

Will they be habit forming, change your mindset and have a positive impact on your team or business?

………….and finally good planning and action for the coming year.

Above the Line and Below the Line Thinking…

Above the Line and Below the Line Thinking…

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
― Abraham Lincoln

Continuing on from a previous blog highlighting the difference between excuses and reasons and making sure you are not the road block, we have the concept of above and below the line thinking.

This is a very powerful concept – “The Line” is the parallel that divides our character and represents responsibility. Responsibility is a very important word. It is a powerful life skill that puts into practice the act of ownership; taking responsibility and being accountable for your actions.

Acting below the line our lives become circumstance-driven and include the characteristics of laying blame; denial and making excuses.

Are you a victor or victim?

Laying blame is far too common in organisations and businesses; whether it is the CEO or others. It shows that they are not willing to be accountable or responsible for their actions. Excuses don’t solve the issues either, nor promote responsibility. They usually cause frustration.

With denial we are committing yet another below the line action “I didn’t do it.” This obviously ineffective response can create certain frustration in others and make us appear unreliable and dishonest.

Yes, victims let things happen to them; do not take control; are pessimistic; find reasons why not and always appear tired and stressed.

By choosing to act above the line  we are using response-ability (that is taking responsibility for your performance and showing you have the ability to be responsible). It is a powerful skill. This can be defined as having the ability to respond (that is be pro-active). With response-ability comes increasing choices and freedoms that we may have never had before.

By living above the line, you take responsibility for your own life, business or career. You begin to have greater control because you stop blaming things outside yourself for your current situation. I can remember being in a business where a manager always came up with excuses about poor business performance whilst continuing to deny there was a problem. This was extremely frustrating for me. It began to affect my work performance and emotional state. I was blaming him rather than taking ownership for my performance. I decided to take responsibility for my performance and the business performance and this filtered down the organisation to others, making them take responsibility for their sections……..and unsurprising performance improved and so did workplace morale.

Responsibility is the ability to respond to the events that happen in our lives. When you sit back and accept things that happen to you, you are allowing the circumstances of life to control you rather than taking control of what circumstances come in and out of your life. When you take action, you make life happen for you…………not to you!

Measuring

Measuring

“What gets measured gets done” – Peter Drucker

This is a great quote for business or life, if you want to achieve your objectives or improve performance. As the saying goes “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.

In business this means all areas from people, processes to performance. However in business it is important to identify the main ‘things’ that will ensure your business’ success. These are often called Key Performance Indicators – KPIs for those that wish to use 3 letter acronyms. I shy away from using so called management jargon as it is often pretentious, arrogant and only serves to complicate simple processes, ideas and concepts.

The identification of KPIs that drive the success of your business should not exceed 3 to 5 measures or benchmarks otherwise it becomes too complicated and difficult to maintain. KPIs need to be SMART :

  1. SPECIFIC – must be clear and concise so that everybody understands it
  2. MEASURABLE – must be based on performance or behaviour that can be measured objectively
  3. ACHEIVABLE – must be attainable and what is required
  4. REALISTIC – must be a goal that can be realistically achieved and should represent significant progress from the status quo
  5. TIMELY – a goal must have time line to be achieved (e.g. by a certain date)

If we use a transport business for example, a KPI could be the number of kilometres travelled per truck per week to ensure an acceptable return on investment. It could look something like this :

By 30th June, the average kilometres travelled per week must be 8,000 kilometres per week. Currently the average is 5,000 kilometres per week.

  1. SPECIFIC – 8,000 kilometres per week
  2. MEASURABLE – kilometres per week is measurable objectively on a weekly basis
  3. ACHEIVABLE – 8,000 kilometres per week is achievable if the truck works 2 shifts per day and/or 6 days per week
  4. REALISTIC – it is realistic and is greater than the status quo of 5,000 kilometres per week
  5. TIMELY – must be achieved by 30th June

By implementing this KPI, performance can be measured on a weekly basis and compared week by week. The weekly KPI can be used to implement a plan of action to achieve the required objectives.

In conclusion, using SMART indicators your business objectives can be achieved providing you act on the KPIs to ensure you meet the required objectives. With no objective measurement system in place and no management then the status quo will remain and more than likely performance will deteriorate. So determine the key drivers of your business, start measuring them so you can improve your business’ performance.