Category Archives: Coaching

Building an agile culture

You’ve probably seen all sorts of things about the benefits of building an agile culture – but wanting one and building one are two very different things.

When the agile manifesto and 12 agile principles emerged in 2001, they related to project management for software development, but their appeal has widened since then.

An organisation with an agile culture would be a place where:

  • Individuals and interactions are valued over processes
  • A functional, positive working culture is more important than documentation
  • Activity is centred on customer outcomes
  • Change is welcomed

If culture is ‘the way we do things around here’ then changing what we do – becoming more agile – will usually mean changing the culture.

Whether that happens by accident or design is up to leadership.

Culture is the key to success in becoming agile

Whenever there’s a mismatch between new initiatives and the existing culture, the culture usually wins.

What needs to change will depend on both your organisation’s interpretations of agile and on your existing culture.

The more clarity you have on these concepts, the better chance you have of succeeding.

It’s about clearly articulating what agile is and how it will benefit the organisation.

To ignore this communication will create friction and misunderstanding that takes the focus off the customer outcomes you hoped to achieve through introducing agile.

READ: Why Culture Day is my favourite day of the year

Just undertaking ‘agile’ activities such as stand-up meetings, sprints and retrospectives won’t magically turn your culture into an agile one.

Those are simply tools which are symptoms of an agile culture rather than the cause of an agile culture.

As such, there’s no set roadmap to agile culture. It’s about building a culture and a mindset which results in behaviours — the tools and processes will follow.

To start your organisation’s agile journey, ask the following questions:

  • Is our main focus on values that serve our customers, or shareholder value?
  • Do we operate from a fixed mindset or growth mindset?
  • Are we more ready to allocate blame when things go wrong or to learn without blaming?
  • Do we value both speed and stability equally or are we stuck because we value one over the other?
  • How can we communicate the reasons for the change?

3 steps to building an agile culture

While agile works within looser structures, there should still be structure in the way you approach culture implementation.

1. Start with the end in mind

The perfectly agile culture – like perfection – probably doesn’t exist.

Instead, aim for a culture where the right thing happens most of the time and for the right reasons.

Be prepared to experiment.

If something you try doesn’t work, admit it and move on.

It’s up to leadership to set the tone and direction. In doing so, be careful with the language you use. Your goal is to create a shared understanding, not to confuse.

2. Design your desired culture

When we work with clients to define and design culture, we use the culture map process.

This tool helps organisations identify the behaviours and levers (enablers and blockers) that influence the outcomes they get.

To design your new agile culture, look first at the outcomes you want, then the behaviours that will support them.

Once this context is defined, the challenge is to acknowledge and deal with the blockers that currently exist, be they values, attitudes or processes.

READ: Why culture just became Uber-necessary

3. Apply agile principles to culture change

If you were to use the 12 agile principles as the basis for building an agile culture, you would

  • Focus on customer requirements
  • Welcome changes to requirements
  • Adjust quickly to change
  • Value collaboration between business units
  • Support and trust employees to do their job
  • Facilitate effective communication
  • Promote sustainability of projects
  • Focus on excellence
  • Keep it simple
  • Establish self-organising teams
  • Reflect on successes and failures and fine-tune behaviours

Applying the agile principles to culture change results in an iterative process of continuous improvement and learning.

This approach requires transparency and accountability. It also relies on a willingness to admit when something isn’t working and move on.

Culture is a mysterious and constantly evolving creature.

You can analyse, poke and prod it but ultimately – as with everything else in business and life – your success comes down to the people involved.

Culture change is not easy.

If being more agile is your aim, then as a leader it’s up to you to make choices about what needs to be done, then to clearly communicate why.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

3 reasons your clients lose trust in you

All professionals depend on the trust of their clients, and unfortunately when clients lose trust it takes a long time to get it back. So how do you avoid losing the faith of your clients in the first place?

Trust is the thing which makes a client want your advice, pay for it and follow it.

It’s a fundamental bedrock of a business relationship, but much like termites eating a structure from within you may not know you’re losing trust with your clients until it’s too late.

Many of the things we do to lose trust with clients, we do unwittingly. We’re only human, after all.

But there are things you can do to recognise and, more importantly, rectify faltering trust before it’s too late.

Here are some warning signs to look for in your business if you want to avoid losing clients or gaining a bad reputation.

READ: Building a business on trust

1. Your own house is not in order

You’re probably familiar with the expression ‘the plumber with a leaky tap’. It’s up to you to make sure it doesn’t apply to your business – even if you aren’t a plumber.

Is there anything your clients pay you to do for them that you don’t get right in your own business?

If you’re an accountant, are the invoices and statements you send your clients 100 percent accurate?

If you’re a graphic designer, is your branding constantly updated and appealing? If you’re an HR consultant are your internal staff management processes best practice?

None of us is perfect, and mistakes happen, but your attitude to your core business activities will reflect the quality your clients expect in the work you do for them.

Would you be happy to put your accounts in the hands of the accountant who sends you inaccurate bills?

2. Your clients see style over substance

A recent survey found the following occupations were rated as ‘very high’ or ‘high’ for ethics and honesty by just 25 percent or less of the Australian population: Car Sales; Advertising; Real Estate; Insurance Broking; Stockbroking; Politics; Journalism; Financial Planning.

They’re all seen as jobs that can be lacking in substance – where style and profile is put ahead of providing value to clients.

Are you someone who puts a lot of effort into presentation, branding and profile?

On their own, there’s nothing wrong with putting effort into those areas – but if it’s not matched by a commitment to deliver value for clients then you risk eroding the trust of your clients.

How you present yourself and your business will have less impact than how you behave when it comes to clients’ trust levels.

READ: Forget sales. Focus on trust.

3. You’ve forgotten who number one is

Without clients, your business doesn’t exist.

There’s no value in what you sell – products or services – unless you have a paying customer.

That’s why the customer is always the most important part of your business.

You may believe this, but do you and all your team act according to your belief?

Look at your business from a client’s perspective.

If you were a client of your business, would you know you were more important than anyone else? Or, would you feel the business has other priorities more important than your own?

Some banks, telcos and retailers are notorious for ignoring the importance of customers and putting their own interests first. You can no doubt think of your own examples.

How far would you trust them to look after you? Be careful you’re not going down the same path.

Is it time to do a ‘trust audit’ of your business?

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

Get SMART to measure your business goals

Business goals

Many businesses set goals, but don’t know how to measure their progress against them – and that’s a problem.

Goal setting is generally important, but in too many instances business goals are made vague – such as ‘I want to improve my revenue’.

If you improve your revenue by $1, does that mean your goal is hit?

Instead, I’ve advised clients to use SMART goals.

These are goals that are:

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Resourced and Time-framed.

Take this SMART goal from US President John F Kennedy:

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

I should note that this speech was a plea to Congress to fund the project, so while it didn’t qualify as ‘resourced’ the goal was ultimately achieved with the moon landing in July 1969.

Such is the power of a SMART goal.

Our business goals may not be as ambitious as JFK’s goal above, but they have an equal chance of achievement if we know how to convert them to action.

1. Break it down

What needs to be done to move you closer to this goal? Here are some of the possible options:

  • Increase prices
  • Make more sales
  • Introduce new products or services

Then break each option you choose into tasks you and your team can start to work on right away.

For example, to “make more sales” you may:

  • Improve your marketing
  • Find different sales channels
  • Make more sales calls
  • Meet more prospects
  • Outsource any of the above

2. Look for the links

Following the process above, you will have a list of tasks under multiple headings that may seem overwhelming.

As you look at your list, natural links between tasks will become obvious.

For example, it seems reasonable that making more sales calls and having more meetings would be ongoing tasks and can be started right away.

Developing new products, changing your marketing strategy or outsourcing may take longer.

Anyone who has been in business for a while will know that these types of tasks are never-ending and always evolving as you grow your business.

Having a SMART goal to keep you on track is what ensures the tasks are all leading to something and not happening for their own sake.

3. Allocate responsibility

Once you’ve decided what needs to be done, then it’s time to answer the ‘by whom’ part of the equation.

Focus on your goal and what needs to happen to get you there; don’t cherry-pick tasks in isolation because they are easy.

If you miss the step of allocation for every single task on your list, I guarantee if you do achieve your goal it will be more through good luck than good management.

4. Keep track

A natural progression will, hopefully, have become obvious for most of the tasks, where you can see that for B to happen, A has to be complete and you can schedule them accordingly.

Other tasks will be daily, weekly or monthly.

Consider a desire to increase revenue by 25 percent in the next financial year.

This is a project which can made of up several sub-projects. Underneath that is a series of tasks, each with a due date.

We keep track of our tasks and projects with Asana, one of the many simple online tools available.

For client-based sales tasks, we keep track in OnePageCRM, again one of many options available now.

5. When all else fails, work backwards!

If you’re not sure where to start, try imagining that you’ve already reach the end.

Imagine what the last action you could have taken before you got there, and then write that down.

Don’t overthink or even believe that these steps are possible — you are simply working your way back to where you are today.

It’s worth trying a new way of thinking when you feel stuck because while you’re stuck, you’re not taking action.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

Why, when and how business owners should ask for help

Most entrepreneurs share a natural optimism with a belief that things will turn out for the best – but this can seriously hold them back when it comes to asking for help.

Have you fallen into the trap of feeling you have to ‘cope’, ‘just do it’, ‘go it alone’ or any of the other phrases we associate with the heroic business person prevailing despite all obstacles?

Could it be time for a reality check?

Unfortunately, our business culture and narrative is full of hero stories that make it seem as if all successful people somehow achieved what they accomplished with little or no help.

Is it possible a result of this hero myth is that you could be comparing yourself to an impossible benchmark and judging yourself as somehow deficient if you have to get help?

Why ask for help?

The most obvious answer is because you will at some point need it.

However, it also has the added benefit of building a good business relationship. If done right, seeking out and asking for help can demonstrate humility and show that you’re human.

It also allows others to connect with you on a different level, and they feel good about themselves if they can end up helping you.

When should you ask for help?

The time to ask for help is after you have tried to go it alone, but before you feel so overwhelmed, you give up.

The tricky part is knowing when you’ve reached that point and not persisting too far down the ‘overwhelmed’ path.

You’re not looking for someone to rescue you. You’re looking for a partner for this part of your business journey.

If you’re working alone on your business, it can be a very lonely journey.

Surrounding yourself with trusted advisers, like your accountant, can be a great source of help and support.

My accountant has brought me back from the brink a few times over the years. Sometimes all I needed was someone to listen and ask the right questions while I worked out myself what I should do next.

How to ask for help

Do you know someone who seems to be trapped in helplessness and wants the world to make it all better for them?

If you’re reading this, you probably don’t want to be like them.

Here are some ideas about how to ask for help, now we’ve identified why and when.

Things to consider before you ask someone to help you:

  • Do you already have a healthy established relationship with this person?
  • Are they more than likely able to provide the help you need?
  • Will they feel comfortable to say no if they can’t help you?

If you can answer yes to all three questions, then asking for help is easy.

You’re approaching a friend who will not be overburdened by your request, so adjust your language accordingly.

You don’t need to plead for their assistance or to demand it.

Instead, start from a mindset of building a stronger relationship based on mutual help and reciprocity. How you ask will follow naturally.

One final tip: If you don’t feel comfortable asking for help for yourself, start by asking for help for others.

There’s no better way to be convinced that most people are delighted to be asked and will do what they can to assist.

I’ve been reminded of this lately as I put together a mentoring program for the young staff of a not-for-profit organisation.

So far, I have approached ten experienced (and busy) business people to act as mentors, and all but one have jumped at the chance to be involved.

Never be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

By being conscious of your capacity and needs — and the needs of others — asking for help will grow your business in unexpected ways.

You won’t get this experience until you take a chance and ask.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

Tolerating structure v ‘You don’t own me’

career help

The video below really puts a smile on my face. Could it be because I know – from my Harrison Assessments results, at least – that I have a very low tolerance for structure? I’ve learnt from experience that not everyone thinks like this and that there are benefits to having rules and regulations. For one, you wouldn’t want to go out on the road if you weren’t confident that most people follow most of the rules most of the time!

If you’re like me and want to do things your own way, read on for the tips I share below for living in a world full of structure. But first, enjoy the video! Apologies to those who think work comes before fun – you probably don’t need to read any further.

Tips for when structure matters more to others than it does to you

Firstly, I can’t claim to do all these things all of the time. They are just ideas designed to make us feel better about structure.

  • Realise that just because it doesn’t make sense to you, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. It’s fine to question the status quo but at some point in the past what you are questioning was important to someone.
  • Ask questions. As Stephen Covey famously said: “Seek first to understand then to be understood.” Practice empathy.
  • Listen – don’t interrupt. When you think you know a better way, your enthusiasm drives you to share it at the earliest opportunity. Keep your ideas to yourself for now.
  • Influence gently. Once you’ve fully listened that is! Show don’t tell. You can demonstrate what needs to change and why.
  • Don’t kerb your enthusiasm. Any change – especially to the ‘tried and true’ – takes time. It’s your desire to make things better for everyone and the persistence that breeds will make the difference.
  • Be patient. Not everyone will want the speed of change and variety you seek, even after you have convinced them that the change is a good thing.
  • Pick your battles. You might not like doing things a certain way, but if it helps to make it easier for others to work with you then sometimes it’s best to keep your ideas to yourself. On the other hand, as the video shows, sometimes it can be harmless to break a few rules when no-one’s looking. But choose them very carefully!

[Tweet “Tolerating structure – it’s all about respect and empathy

You might not follow all these tips all of the time either. The first step is awareness and the second step is practice. Remember, if no-one questioned the way things are done, we’d all still be sitting in caves chewing raw meat. One change in the way things are done that definitely relied on demonstrating a newer, better structure.

We’re all in this together

new employees

Some new business owners struggle with how to treat their ‘competition’.  Do you research what they’re doing? Do you try to beat them on price? Do you even try to undermine their integrity? What if collaboration is a better option?

It can be difficult when you’re in start-up mode not to have a negative view of your competitors. They are already established, they already have the clients you would like to have and they may the staff and infrastructure you can only dream of at this stage.

Here’s why:

  1. They already know the market and they’re talking to your potential clients;
  2. They’ve made mistakes you can avoid if you know about them; and
  3. Most people want to help you because it makes them feel good.

Learning from what your competitors do well, and tapping into what and who they know, can be a real short-cut to getting your business off the ground.

Getting to know your competitors (and I don’t mean spying on them!) will be one of the best steps you can take towards having a successful business. Ask yourself: How can I help them? What expertise, tools and experience can I offer that will support their success?

A friend of mine calls this ‘coopetition’. I’ve built my business on close relationships with other businesses that outsiders would see as my competition.

If you are still hesitating about picking up the phone and having that first conversation, give us a call first. We are always open to opportunities for collaboration and happy to help with tips to start you on your ‘coopetition’ journey.

Is your career missing the talent stack?

We can’t all be good at everything, but we’re all good at something. You can build a career on knowing how to combine average levels of ability.

This is true even if you’re not brilliant at any one thing. Take Donald Trump for example…

The talent stack is a concept I first encountered through Scott Adams (the Dilbert cartoonist). In this post from January 2016, he predicts the rise of Donald Trump based on his unique combination of talents.

We all have some talent, skill or characteristic we already possess or can develop if we are willing to put in the time, work and energy.

This combination will give you the advantage over anyone who believes a unique talent, or passion, in just one area is enough as a base for a successful career. Look at Scott Adams’ talent stack as an example:

1. Artistic talent (mediocre)

2. Writing talent (simple and persuasive, but not Pulitzer-worthy)

3. Business skills (Good, not amazing)

4. Marketing and PR (good, not great)

5. Social media skills (mediocre)

6. Persuasion skills (above average, but not Trump-like)

Any one of those skills alone would be enough for an average career. Recognising that combining them systematically to make him more valuable is what has made Scott Adams above average. It was also the key to building a satisfying and successful career.

What do you think of this idea? How could you create a talent stack that works for you in your career?

We can help you work out your unique talent stack and how to build on it. Find out more here.

Or you could use Scott Adams’ list above as a guide. What talents have made you successful so far? What talents are you willing to develop further?

 

Advice your client is waiting to hear

ask for help

As a trusted adviser you may find yourself helping your client in areas other than your field of expertise. How you deal with that situation could make or break your reputation.

By recognising the need for your client to connect with another professional – and then connecting them with the appropriate expertise – you can retain and strengthen your role as a central adviser.

The important thing is to know when to use others’ expertise and how it can help deliver your client value that you can’t promise.

However, many advisers don’t consider referring a client to another party for a variety of reasons – and that harms both the client and the adviser in the long run.

These reasons include:

Assuming you know all about all businesses because you run one yourself

This is like parents thinking they know how a school should run because they spent a lot of time there when they were kids.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know all about business because everyone is different.

Remedy: As an experienced professional, you know each client has different challenges, and their experience won’t be the same as yours. Keep this in mind and assume nothing.

Limited business networks

You will enhance your reputation as a trusted adviser by the company you keep. Unless you have built relationships and a deep understanding of how other professionals can help your clients, it will be hard to refer them to the best people.

Remedy: Network – and keep in mind the purpose of this networking is not to sell your services or to get referrals. A pile of business cards from the latest business networking function is not a network. It’s about identifying the people you’d like to work with to deliver to your clients the advice they need.

Fear of your client getting advice that conflicts with your advice

What if you send your client to another professional and they receive advice you think is wrong?

Remedy: Do your research! Take the time to get to know potential advice partners, their services and how they work with clients. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a poor match – remember you are doing this research on behalf of your clients.

So when would you need to refer a client to another party?

When you may need to refer a client to somebody else

When they need proactive strategies to minimise tax

While you understand and can advise on ways to minimise tax, your client may need to be referred to other professionals as part of the implementation of strategies.

When clients need to seek legal advice

Help the client recognise when the stakes are high and a situation or concern calls for legal advice from a professional. Then provide recommendations of lawyers with the right expertise to help them.

When they need a business coach or strategic partner

Your knowledge of a client’s financial situation gives you a unique insight into any areas where they may lack specific skills, such as business planning or marketing.

When they need financial planning advice

As you know, there are limitations on the advice you can give if you do not have the legal right to do so.

Your clients will value a referral to a professional, independent financial planner when they need to manage their superannuation, life insurance and related affairs.

When they need to prepare for succession, retirement, or sale of a business

Many consultants specialise in these areas but lack the financial expertise you can offer.

When you identify the need for these next steps in a business, it’s time to call on the professionals in your network who can fill in the gaps such as people management, business broking and legal.

The result

Your clients trust you for your values and ethics, and they will get the best results with other advisers who also share those values.

Focus on finding the best possible source of advice for your clients, and you will minimise any risk in referring them outside your business.

Your good advice — in sending them someone who works with them as well as you do — will be rewarded by strengthening your position as an adviser who gives their clients the advice they’ve been waiting to hear.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

Harrison Assessments and the Entrepreneur

Harrison Assessments Paradox Theory enables organisations to identify how team members’ behaviours can contribute to or hamper team objectives.

In this video Adam Goldenberg, founder and CEO of justfab,com, describes the critical role that building the right leadership team plays in entrepreneurial success.

Team building with Harrison Assessments

The key success factor in recruitment of his leadership team is their suitability for the role. Assessment of other factors, such as eligibility and interview performance, is relatively straightforward. However, he believes it is a mistake to rely on ‘gut feeling’ to judge a person’s suitability.

To assess suitability, Adam Goldenberg relies on data provided by Harrison Assessments Paradox Reports. More than a simple personality test, Paradox Reports reveal and individual’s strengths and weaknesses associated with many traits. Collectively, a team’s Paradox Reports can also identify gaps in skills and give insights into team dynamics.

Adam also reveals how, after witnessing the results, he became convinced of the value in management coaching. Again, Harrison Assessments provides his company with the information and tools necessary to tailor coaching for maximum effectiveness.

The first step to success

His main message on the first key to entrepreneurial success is:
Hire the right people – then invest in them.

There is something worse than rejection. It’s uncertainty.

When was the last time you experienced rejection? Was it following a job application? Perhaps you put forward a brilliant idea that was ignored or discounted by someone else.

Rejection feels dreadful and most people will do whatever they can to avoid it.

You know the feeling. You are so demoralised and discouraged you don’t want to do anything. Remember? Could anything be worse?

As humans, we are programmed to avoid rejection at all costs. Rejection from the family or the tribe meant almost certain death to our distant ancestors. We have evolved to avoid rejection as a very natural survival mechanism.

How does rejection feel for you?

When we fear public speaking, we fear rejection. When we don’t want to make a sales call, it’s because we are afraid the answer will be ‘no’. Rejection again.  As are the times when we don’t follow up on a job application because while we don’t know the answer, we can convince ourselves it might be ‘yes’.

When was the last time you stopped yourself from putting forward your ideas in a meeting because you weren’t sure they’d be welcome? A classic and typical business example of avoiding the discomfort of rejection.

What could be worse than rejection?

We all know how rejection feels. We don’t want to experience it. We also – usually – don’t want others to experience it. In fact, sometimes we go to the extent of lying so we don’t impose rejection on others.

We want the world to see us as friendly, kind people. Within that hope lies fear of rejection. So instead of telling the truth, we choose to generate some uncertainty.

Here’s a scenario familiar to many of us: You apply for a job, you are interviewed and it goes well. The people seem friendly and they say they’ll let you know. You really want that job and you are feeling good about it. There are other jobs you could be applying for but there was something about this one that makes you hold off on going for the others.

A couple of weeks later, you still haven’t heard, so you call. Only then do you find out that the job has gone to an internal candidate. Your application and interview were great, they say, but you just didn’t have the level of experience of the other person.

What would be your preference now? Would you rather have had a clear ‘no’ immediately, or hear it now? What could you have achieved in the meantime, instead of hanging on thinking the job just might be yours?

This post is a plea for us all to be more honest. With those close to us, with team members, with anyone trying to sell us something.

How to handle rejection

When you have to give an answer to the question of employing someone, buying their product or trying their ideas, there are only three possible responses:

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Later

By being honest about your intentions, early, everyone can move on. The first two options are fairly clear. Use option three only if you mean it. In that case, give the other person a set date when you will be ready to provide a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

From dealing with the latest telemarketer to management to parenting, this principle will save time and pain all round.

What do you think?

Do you agree we could all be more happy and productive if we were a little more honest with each other? Next time someone tries to sell you an idea, product or service, will you be able to override your fear rejection and give them an honest answer?

Need some help? Dealing with rejection – from both sides – is a key leadership skill. Click here to see how we can help you understand and develop your leadership strengths.

Hiring for customer relationship success

Relate to your boss

Customer relationships are so important — no matter what the role or organisation. 

When selecting staff, we may think that the technical skills they possess, their experience and their qualifications are most important in our decision-making process. We may pay less attention to the so-called ‘soft’ skills, and often this is where we see it all fall apart further down the track.

What should we look for when we’re hiring?

‘Nice’ is the enemy of excellence when it comes to choosing staff with the right traits to deliver the highest expected standards of service to your customers and their own peers and managers.

Excellent customer service in any role requires:

  • Empathy
    The ability to identify with another person and to express that empathy when dealing with customers and co-workers.
  • Optimism
    A positive outlook and an expectation that there can be a favourable outcome to any customer interaction, including complaints.
  • Self-motivation
    A natural tendency to take the initiative to help a client and to be enthusiastic about helping them — and a willingness to take on new challenges.
  • Helpfulness
    A natural inclination to put others’ needs first, so that the customer will always feel that they and their needs are important.
  • Diplomacy
    The ability to be tactful and communicate effectively in even the most stressful situations.
  • Outgoing
    Happy and comfortable to meet new people. Even a naturally reserved person may be able to be outgoing when required, provided this is not their main job.
  • Learning
    A willingness to learn from mistakes will lead to continuous improvement with benefits for your organisation.

How do we identify employees with these traits? 

At every stage of the recruitment and selection process, you can be on the lookout for signs of the characteristics above.

  • Application letter
    Do they demonstrate an enthusiasm for the role and the challenges it represents? Have they shown that they understand the role and your requirements?
  • Resume
    Does their work and study history show that they have a customer service orientation? Even if they haven’t worked in customer service, there will be indicators in the way they describe previous roles and in other aspects of their resume, such as voluntary work.
  • Interview
    While enthusiasm, politeness and a positive attitude are easily noticed, they are also sometimes easily faked. Make sure you dig deeper to get real examples of how the candidate has acted in the past to provide excellent customer service. When you do, be listening for evidence that they possess the traits we have listed above.
  • Work preference testing
    There are multiple psychometric assessments that are available which will give you detailed information about a person’s natural tendencies with regard to customer service success. Some will also flag any unhelpful behaviours that may appear when the person is feeling stressed.
  • Reference checking
    Make sure you ask about how the prospective employee usually interacted with customers and other staff. Have there been any instances where they have failed to provide the best service? What was the situation and how did they handle it? Did they learn from the experience?

It will never be possible to predict customer service success with 100 percent accuracy, but taking the steps above can help you identify and hire staff who have the best chances of delivering the levels of customer service you and your customers expect.

Remember, these steps are important for any person in any role that interacts with others.

What will you change next time you’re hiring?

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

5 steps to crafting a business

If you have started a business, chances are part of what got you started and keeps you going is the joy of creating something new — something the world wouldn’t have without your inspiration and hard work.

It’s not only the traditionally titled ‘creatives’ who create, and starting a successful business has much in common with more artistic pursuits. The critical, practical, steps you need to follow are the same, whether you’re building something handmade or crafting a business.

1. Inspiration

You know what you want to create, and the clearer you are about your finished product or business, the easier it will be to proceed.

On the other hand, a creative mind is an open mind, so it’s important always to be aware of information that will impact your project or business. By doing so, you may find a better way to achieve your desired goal.

Tip: Give yourself space and time to dream and to capture new ideas.

2. Design

Once your vision is clear, map out how you’ll achieve it.

In business, this is your strategic plan. The more detailed the plan, the easier it will be to follow – for you and others — and to know what comes next.

Tip: Translate what’s in your head into a format that makes it easy to check progress and share with others.

3. Tools

Now that you have your design mapped out, what skills, materials and tools do you need to bring it to life?

In the excitement of starting a new project, it can be easy to discount the importance of this step. It can be tempting to dive right in and get started, only to find out later that you’ve missed something essential to the project’s successful completion.

Avoid this frustration by identifying any gaps before you begin.

Tip: Find what’s missing and do what you can to be prepared before you start so your project (or business) can run smoothly.

4. Implement – and adapt

Nothing gets created until you take action to implement your plan. Without this step, you are just daydreaming. Time for imagination and reflection is vital, but constantly putting off starting something until you find the perfect way to create something can stop you from doing anything.

Tip: Make a start! If it turns out your plan isn’t working, change course. In the process, you’ve just learnt one method that won’t work to achieve your desired outcome.

5. Celebrate

Whether you’ve created a piece of furniture, a work of art, or achieved a business goal, it’s a wonderful feeling to sit back and admire your handiwork. Most business people don’t do this enough. All too often, we move quickly on to the next project and forget this step completely.

Tip: You made it! Enjoy the moment and appreciate what you’ve done. And remember to thank all those who helped you with your wonderful creation.

Starting and running a business is one of the most creative activities you can engage in. By applying the same simple steps you would follow in your leisure time to create a handmade piece, make a special dish, or build a garage or a garden, you can also create structure, process and discipline in your business.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

 

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