Tag Archives: business

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Are you ‘success-oriented’?

What does it take to be successful in business?

Research published by The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute surveyed the attitudes of 1100 small business owners (2-99 employs) in the US in May 2009.

What they found, according to the Institute’s director, Mark D. Wolf, was that “Success-oriented small business owners are a special breed of highly motivated, caring and curious individuals.  They effectively balance their personal and business goals, take advantage of others’ expertise and continually see to learn the best practices exhibited by peer companies.”

Here’s a summary, from the report, of the six dimensions that characterise success-oriented small businesses (emphasis added):

1. Collaborative

Success-oriented small business owners understand how to delegate effectively to
others within their business as well as build strong personal relationships with their
management team, employees, consultants, vendors and customers. They are more
committed “to creating opportunities for others.”

2. Self-fulfilled

Success-oriented small business owners place a high value on the personal fulfillment
and gratification that their companies provide them, relishing the self-determination and
respect that comes from being their own boss and being in control of their personal
income and long-term net worth. They are more desirous of “doing something for a
living that I love to do,” “being able to decide how much money I make” and “being able
to have the satisfaction of creating something of value.”

3. Future-focused

Planning for both the short- and long-term future are key traits that characterize
success-oriented small business owners. They are more focused on cash flow and more
likely to have “a well thought out plan to run our business for years into the future” as
well as “a well thought out plan to run our business day to day.”

4. Curious

Success-oriented small business owners are more open to learning how others run
their businesses. They actively seek best practice insights regarding management, business
innovation, prospecting and finding/motivating/retaining employees.

5. Tech-savvy

Technology is a key point of leverage for success-oriented small business owners. They
more intensely value their company’s website and are significantly more likely to “rely a
great deal on technology to help make our business more effective and more efficient.”

6. Action oriented

Finally, success-oriented small business owners are more proactive in taking initiative
to build their businesses. They are more committed to “taking the business to the next
level,” “differentiating ourselves from our competitors” and “having something to sell
when I’m ready to retire.” They also see adversity as “a kick in the rear to help move
you forward.” Not surprisingly, they are less concerned than other small business
owners about the overall state of the economy.

Success Tips:

1.  Most of these factors can be quantified using an objective measurement (eg.  Harrison Assessments), allowing you to clearly see your own – or a team member’s or successor’s – success orientation.

2.  Coaching is the most effective way for business owners to gain best practice insights through tapping into others’ expertise and experience.

3.  We have a copy of the full report for you to download here:  SME Success Orientation

Tell us what you think!

Leave a comment below or contact us .

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Online coaching now available for small business owners

Have you noticed what I’ve noticed about small business owners?

In coaching small business owners since 2003, two things stand out for me…

1)  The most challenging issue they face is balancing their work with the other things they want to do in their lives

and

2)  They nearly all recognise the benefits of having a business coach but are often reluctant to commit resources to engaging one.

My desire to help as many people as possible achieve ‘balance at work’ led me to create a new way of delivering the benefits of coaching to anyone willing to commit some time each week to achieving their goals.

Click here to review our NEW ONLINE COACHING PROGRAM.

As always, I value your feedback.

And I also appreciate your help in letting others know about the program!

PS. IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

The program runs for 10 weeks and can be started at any time.

Online small business coaching is just $220 for the full program.

Most of us will probably spend that much on coffee in the next 10 weeks – I promise this is much better value for money!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

How’s your balance?

A recent conversation with Thea Foster of Added Value Corporation prompted this article. Thanks for the inspiration, Thea!

We all know that to run a successful business, department or team requires consistent achievement across several disciplines.  Typically we need to perform well across finance, marketing, sales, service delivery, planning, technology and people.  And it’s quite common to see one or more areas get more attention, while others are neglected.  Thea calls this ‘playing favourites’ and most of us do it.

To find out if you play favourites, make a list of the outstanding issues in each aspect of your work (use the list above as headings if you like).  If you have a good balance across your scope of management, you will have roughly the same number of outstanding issues under each heading.

Perhaps you found one or two areas with a longer list of outstanding issues?

My prediction is that those are the areas of management you feel least comfortable handling.  It’s human nature to tackle the easy stuff first.  What comes easily to us will naturally be attended to first.  Unfortunately, that often means a log-jam of other issues that build up and stop us from moving forward.

You are not alone.

‘John’ is just great at finding new prospects (marketing), converting them to clients (sales) and providing them with all they could ever expect (service delivery).  You could say these activities are his favourites.  What John enjoys less is budgeting (finances, planning), dealing with IT (technology) and involving his staff in the business (people).  John knows these things are all important, but for him it’s more fun to be out there talking with clients.

Have I just described someone you know?

Or you might know ‘Jenny’.  Jenny has elegant systems in place to keep track of every action (technology, service delivery, people, planning) and every dollar (finances).  What she doesn’t like to do is tell the world about the amazing services she can offer (marketing, sales).

Both John and Jenny are not realising their full potential because the unaddressed issues are holding them back.

Here are the steps for improving your balance

1. Identify your ‘favourites’ – the tasks that you find easier than others activities.

2. Decide whether you are prepared to spend less time on your favourites so you can spend more time getting on top of issues in other areas.

3. If yes, identify your priorities, allocate the time and start taking some action now.

4. If you prefer to continue working on your favourite activities – which is where you will be happiest and most productive, take the time to identify what you should get someone else to do for you and how.

What are you avoiding right now?  What’s it costing you?

Once you’ve been through the exercise above, change will only happen if you make it happen.  Finding a coach or mentor to guide, support and keep you accountable will certainly help you to reach a better balance – sooner.

Remember to let me know how you intend to improve your balance.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Critical skill shortage 3: Strategic thinking

This is the fourth of six articles based on data about skills shortages in the banking and finance sector, collected in the Kelly Skills at Work 2010 study.  See our blog for previous articles in this series.

In the Kelly study, strategic thinking was identified by study participants as a key skill that is in critical shortage among managers in the financial services industry.  It has been argued that this skill gap contributed to the GFC.

According to the survey results, an ‘aptitude’ for strategic thinking is important, as well as the capacity to:

  • identify and assess multiple external factors,
  • evaluate options and risks, and
  • solve complex financial challenges, both on behalf of clients and for the business.

Thinking strategically is a valuable skill in any position.  For those in charge of setting direction, strategic thinking is essential.

Strategy, strategic and related terms are among the most over-used and abused words in business.  Researchers have spent years dissecting and defining what is and isn’t strategic.  For a fascinating discussion of the differences between strategic thinking and strategic planning,  see this brief Wikipedia entry.

Interestingly, in a business dictionary dating from the 1970’s, none of the terms above were included!

What do we expect from strategic thinkers?

Despite the difficulties of defining the characteristics of strategic thinking, there is general concensus that the outcome is to bring the organisation’s vision to reality.

Whether we believe strategic thinkers are born or made, it is possible for us to identify people who have the potential to think strategically.

However, strategic judgement is a complex set of competencies as this definition and list of relevant traits from Harrison Assessments demonstrates:

Strategic Judgement = the tendency to have a balance of traits necessary to discern pertinent information and formulate an effective strategy.

This competency is made up of essential traits: Analytical, Analyses Pitfalls, Research/Learning, Intuitive, Collaborative, Self-Improvement, Systematic; desirable traits: Experimenting, Persistent, Certain, Pressure Tolerance, Optimistic, Planning, Self-Acceptance, Relaxed, Open/Reflective; and traits to avoid: Blindly Optimistic, Impulsive, Skeptical, Defensive, Dogmatic, Easily Influenced, Fast but Imprecise, Precise but Slow.

Although we think we know what we mean when we talk about strategic thinking or judgement, we should be careful about jumping to conclusions about someone’s ability until we have seen the evidence!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Your easy performance management checklist

Viewers of last Wednesday’s webinar were suprised to learn that most performance management processes are a big waste of time.

How do you assess the value of your process?

Here’s an easy checklist:

1. Do you have all the information you need to set meaningful goals ?

2. Do all your employees get to have a high-quality conversation about their performance at least twice a year ?

3. Does your employee survey show that your performance management process is effective ? (If you don’t currently survey staff, consider using our Team Health Check.)

4. Does it take you more that twenty minutes to comlete the performance appraisal form ?

5. Do you have a maximum of 3-5 goals for each review ?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all five questions, congratulations!

If you didn’t, it might be time to view the webinar recording and/or get some help.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Why rewards (often) don’t work

Many managers try very hard to find new and more effective ways to motivate their staff through rewards. Are you one of them?

Could seeking to motivate people with monetary rewards ultimately be a waste of time, effort and money?

Take a look at this video animation (just 11 minutes long) of a talk given by Daniel Pink and please share your thoughts below.

 

For more on Performance + Rewards, please click here to register for our next webinar on Wednesday 10 November.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Workplace Flexibility and the Recovery – Risks and Opportunities

By Kerry Fallon Horgan, Keeping Good Companies Journal, Chartered Secretaries Aust

The global financial crisis and the introduction of flexibility requirements in the Australian National Employment Standards have focused renewed attention on workplace flexibility.

Harry Stout, ING Australia CEO, says “As a result of the GFC we have had to find creative ways of best deploying our resources from declining business areas to those who have growing and requiring greater resources needs. INGA has prided itself on retaining employment wherever possible, while our competitors reduced headcount from 5-20%. To achieve this we worked with our employees in finding ways we could reduce our employment costs while maintaining headcount. Through further encouraging flexible work practices, we were able to ride through the markets turbulence and are now positioned to leverage new opportunities.”

A similar response happened at AMP Ltd. “The challenging environment of the financial crisis encouraged us to look at creative ways to retain our employees and increase engagement and productivity in challenging times. Creative workforce planning strategies that continually reinforce flexibility as a work option ensure AMP has the workforce it needs, without compromising our optimistic and positive brand and culture,” explains Katriina Tahka, AMP Head of Talent & Diversity.

Workplaces that have introduced or reinvigorated their flexible work practices over the past year have not only significantly reduced costs but are now in a position to comply with the flexible work provisions of the new National Employment Standards(NES), which came into effect on 1 January 2010. This particular NES will significantly increase employees’ requests for flexibility and yet the majority of organisations do not have the knowledge base to comply.

Organisations such as ING Australia, IBM, AMP, Stockland and Carnival Australia are using the introduction of this National Employment Standard to update existing flexible workplace policies and guidelines and/or provide training on the legislation and how to make flexible work practices work. The legislation is providing an opportunity to reinforce their commitment to flexibility through awareness and education programs.

The full article is available at http://www.flexibility.com.au

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Why I Dropped Kathy and Picked Up Dan*

This article was prompted by questions from readers…

Many people within financial services are familiar with the Kolbe system of measuring ‘Action Modes’.  An individual’s Kolbe profile is a good tool for coaching and team development and I’ve used it in these ways, before I started using Harrison Assessments (HA).

There are similarities between the two approaches (online, accessible to any sized organisation, multiple uses) and I won’t explore the theory behind them in this article.  There are three differences that prompted my decision:

1. Level of detail

If I tell you my Kolbe is 8652 (Strategic Planner), experienced Kolbe users will know quite a lot about me.  It will be a generalisation, of course, as each number is a score out of 10 for each of the four different modes (Fact Find, Follow Through, Quick Start and Implementor).

I admit I can’t give you a quick summary, in numbers or words, of my HA profile, although you’ll find some of the details on our website.  This is because HA measures 156 different traits on a 1-10 scale, resulting in reports that are unique to the individual, rather than classifying them as an ‘Innovator’ or ‘Mediator’ for example.  The 156 traits are made up of personality, task preferences, interests, work environment preferences and motivations.

The reports themselves provide detailed interpretation for the end user.  For example, for a job candidate who has a low score on ‘Analyses Pitfalls’:  “Joe usually does not enjoy analysing the potential difficulties of plans or strategies and may sometimes neglect to do so.  Therefore, it would be best if he were to receive other input before making important strategic decisions.  Joe’s lack of enjoyment of analysing potential problems will probably have a somewhat negative impact on job satisfaction and/or performance.”  How good would it be to know this information before you appoint a new manager?

This is focussed, practical information you can use right away, either in a second interview or to coach the new employee.

2. Data utilisation

One set of data from one 20-30 minute online questionnaire is used to produce all the reports below, listed by application: 

  • Candidate Screening – Job Success Analysis, Group Screening Report
  • Candidate Interviewing and Selection – Interview Guide, How to Attract this Candidate, Paradox Graph and Narrative, Traits and Definitions Report, Summary and Keywords Report
  • Retention and Development – How to Manage, Develop and Retain, Development for Position, Development by Trait, Paradox Graph and Narrative
  • Team Development – Team Paradox Graph, Trait Export
  • Career Guidance and Development – Career Options, Career Development, Career Comparison

To see samples of these reports, please visit our website.

3. Customisability

Because HA is based on work performance research, there is the facility to compare employees and/or candidates to job templates for a specific role.  There are over 200 generic templates in the system and each one can be customised to the requirements of the job and the employer.  We’ve even adjusted templates to check for a good match with the manager.

For our clients in financial services, we have developed a set of templates which we then modify to their specific business requirements.  For example, it they’re hiring a paraplannner and want them to have significant client contact, we would ensure traits such as ‘Outgoing’ and ‘Diplomatic’ are included in the template.

This flexibility can also be applied to staff and team development.  If, for example, a broker is just not brining in the new business they were hire to achieve, we could assess their scores on a range of relevant traits, including traits such as ‘Persistent’ and ‘Optimistic’ and coach them to better performance by building on their areas of strength.  Of course – ideally – you would have known these scores before you hired them!

The detailed reports, as you can imagine, are invaluable for both team and individual coaching.  For teams, we are also able to plot all team members on the same chart, to give an easy to read overview of the team’s strengths and challenges.

The reason I chose to train and gain certification with Harrison Assessments:  So I can provide my clients with the best available information for people management decisions and coaching.

*Kathy Kolbe and Dan Harrison

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Top Business Ideas in the Aftermath of the GFC

This is a guest post from The Quinn Group:

The Global Finance Crisis was a trying time in the lifecycle of any business.

The good news is that we are seeing some softening effects from the GFC and there are certainly things that you are able to do to help your business run smoothly:

Turn negatives in to positives:

  • If your business suffers a lack of profitability, increase prices, shop around for cheaper suppliers, increase value-adds to your customers, develop loyalty programs and encourage referrals
  • Meet with your staff and assess whether they are being managed correctly, ask for their opinions and act accordingly
  • Review the gross profit margin of each product or service separately and eliminate underperforming offerings and replace with higher performing, higher turnover offerings.
  • Review the sources and reasons behind any customer complaints and alter your processes accordingly e.g. service, manufacturing, supply, quality control etc
  • As a manager you need to learn how to stop working and start managing. It is impossible to do everything yourself so ensure that you delegate tasks to the right people and free up some of your time for more important things
  • Plan your capital purchases to capitalise on any tax breaks before the end of the financial year

Capitalise on your assets:

  • Increase marketing to raise awareness for your business
  • Create systems to ensure that your quality is consistent
  • If you have great staff, review incentive packages to ensure you retain them and decrease your staff turnover rate
  • Plan for growth – if there is room for expansion find out the amount of funding needed to fund this growth and secure appropriate finance if necessary. Perhaps you may be able to franchise?
  • You may have a great product or service – protect it by attending to patenting or trademarking.
  • Outsource anything you do not have the expertise to do yourself. There can be great benefits in drawing upon the training and experience of others

The team of accountants, lawyers and financial planners at The Quinn Group are able to assist you in all your business planning needs and provide advice on the best strategies to undertake in the wake of the GFC. Click here to make an online enquiry or contact us on 1300 QUINNS (784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9166 to book an appointment.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

What I learnt about business in two days in Hong Kong

Last week I attended expert level training on Harrison Assessments, delivered by the founder, Dr Dan Harrison.  It was wonderful to have the opportunity to learn from Dan himself, as well as the many experienced users from around Asia.

It was also my first visit to Hong Kong and led me to reflect on what we could learn from the locals about doing business better.  Here’s my summary:

  1. Welcome clients like old friends, with respect and hospitality.
  2. Do your best to anticipate their needs so you make it as easy as possible for them to do business with you.
  3. Have a clear structure and processes so they know what will happen next and why – and who is responsible.

If you did just these three things, why would your clients ever want to go anywhere else?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

The rules of employment have changed…

Use this checklist – provided by Steve Champion of ER Strategies – to update yourself on the Fair Work changes that came into effect on 1 January 2010.  Steve has included links to more information on each item.

Commencement of the operation of NES (National Employment Standards)

Modern Awards commence operation

State System Employers enter Federal System

Need to know more? Call ER Strategies on 1300 55 66 37.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

"The last couple of years at batyr has seen incredible growth and the Balance at Work team has supported us along the way. They have helped us improve leadership skills across the team by helping us source and manage mentors, and even engaging as mentors themselves. As a young and fresh CEO Susan has also supported me personally with genuine feedback and fearless advice to achieve great things. "
By Sam Refshauge, CEO, batyr
"We used the Harrison Assessment tools followed by a debrief with Susan, for career development with staff, which then allowed us to work with Susan to create a customised 360 degree review process. Susan has a wealth of knowledge and is able to offer suggestions and solutions for our company. She is always ready to get involved and takes the time to show her clients the capability of Harrison Assessments. "
By Jessica Hill, Head of People and Culture, Choice
"Balance at Work are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we are trying achieve in the People and Culture space. Their flexibility and responsiveness to our needs has seen the entire 360 approach being a complete success. The online tool and the follow up coaching sessions have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organisation is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such a great support crew on this key project."
By Chris Bulmer, National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia
"We use Harrison Assessments with our clients to support their recruitment processes. We especially value the comprehensive customisable features that allow us to ensure the best possible fit within a company, team and position. Balance at Work is always one phone call away. We appreciate their valuable input and their coaching solutions have also given great support to our clients."
By Benoit Ribe, HR Solutions Manager, Polyglot Group
"The leadership team at Insurance Advisernet engaged Susan from Balance at Work to run our leadership development survey and learning sessions. Susan was very professional in delivering the team and individual strengths and opportunities for growth. Susan's approach was very "non corporate" in style which was refreshing to see. I can't recommend Balance at Work more highly to lead, employee and team development sessions."
By Shaun Stanfield, Managing Director, Insurance Advisernet

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