Tag Archives: goals

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

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.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

A (very) simple guide to business productivity

We’re all busy, so here’s some quick advice on how to get the most from your staff!  Of the millions of words written about productivity, there are really just three things you need to remember.

For your employees to work the way you’d like them to, they need:

1.  Something to believe in

  • What are your core values, vision, mission and goals?
  • How have you communicated these to your team?
  • Can they see a connection between your plan and their future?

Your strategic plan describes the game.

2.  Best job fitness
In my experience, productivity and performance issues are often the result of ‘square pegs in round holes’.  This is a perfect time to reassess the fit of key people within their teams.  If you have identified individual strengths, you’ll be able to make the most of them.

Sometimes, this may result in more training or restructuring, or it may simply lead to the shifting of some tasks between people.
With the right people in the right positions, you can be confident you have built a winning team.

3.  Knowledge of what they’re supposed to be doing
Your organisational chart, policies, procedures, job descriptions and employment contracts are the rules of the game.  As with any successful team, training and coaching are ongoing.

Also let employees know how their role fits into the wider picture of the work that is done in your organisation.  Are they fully aware of the consequences for the business of their excellent (or poor) performance?

By putting in a little extra effort on people management, you can make huge productivity gains. If you would like some help with this, please click here.

What have you tried to improve productivity in your business?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Recruitment’s biggest myth

It amazes me how many people still believe:

The more candidates you have to choose from, the better your chance of finding the right person.

This is a fallacy that gives people comfort – while also ensuring they waste time in reading too many resumes, then sorting, ranking, interviewing and notifying too many applicants.

Imagine an alternative reality:

When you advertise a vacancy every applicant is so switched on by what you say that they are already screened to fit your core values.

And they personally deliver their application to your office!

You would receive far fewer applicants but every one of them has already passed through a filter before you even see their resume.

This is not a fantasy.  It actually happened to our accountant, Accounting and Taxation Advantage, when they advertised with these words:

At Accounting & Taxation Advantage our

philosophy is simple. We want to impact our

client’s lives, their families and their communities.

We are looking for a

FULL-TIME ACCOUNTANT

(experience not necessary) that wants to join our

proactive, innovative, award winning accounting

firm. Beware though – we are not normal

accountants.

So if you dream of a workplace where you are

encouraged to share your ideas to grow the

business, are provided professional and on the

job training, where you want to see your clients

succeed, where everyone is rewarded for their

efforts but importantly where you work hard and

are a committed part of a team then we may be

what you are looking for.

Inspired? Then drop your resume in person to

our Glenbrook office by May 31.

How does this compare with your most recent job ad?

If you want to stop wasting time on inappropriate applicants, you need to know:

1.  Why you do what you do;

2.  What makes your organisation or department special;

3.  Where you’re headed and how you plan to get there.

Once you’re clear on those three points  it will be easy to ignore the biggest recruitment myth!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Career advice for parents now available

(Source http://www.deewr.gov.au/Employment/Programs/CareerAdviceforParents)

The Career Advice for Parents service commenced 1 January 2012 and is part of the Building Australia’s Future Workforce (BAFW) package.

Career Advice for Parents is a free telephone service which provides professional, informed career advice by qualified Career Advisers to assist eligible parents in identifying transferrable skills, explore career options and develop a plan of action to help them achieve their employment goals.

The Career Advice service is only available via telephone. It does not include a face to face option.

Eligibility

An employment service provider can determine eligibility for the service. A parent is to be registered with an employment service provider, if they are not registered already they can find a provider by using the search tool:

Career Advisers offer two distinct but related streams of service, Career Planning and Résumé Appraisal.

Career Planning

A Career Adviser can help with a range of activities such as:

  • identifying  transferable skills
  • researching industries and occupations
  • improve understanding of job search strategies in today’s labour market
  • identify education and training options
  • developing a plan to achieve employment goals.

To get the most out of a Career Planning session, eligible parents should do some of the activities in My Guide before speaking to a Career Adviser. My Guide is a personalised career exploration service that records interests, skills and experience, and assists in developing a career profile. My Guide includes My Career Plan which helps set and achieve career goals.

To access My Guide, go to My Guide and sign up to My Guide. My Career Plan can be emailed to the Career Adviser ahead of a career advice session to CareerAdvice@deewr.gov.au.

Résumé Appraisal

During a Résumé Appraisal session, a Career Adviser will review résumés and will provide detailed feedback and suggestions for improvement, including:

  • advice on preparation and presentation
  • matching skills, experience and qualifications to employment goals
  • managing career gaps
  • relating skills, experience and achievements to the needs of the employer and the requirements of the job.

You cannot have a Résumé Appraisal session without a résumé.  An employment service provider can help to develop one or alternatively the myfuture website contains tools and resources to assist in developing a résumé.

myfuture

Looking for a change in career direction or returning to the workforce?

myfuture is a free service to help you to explore jobs, find training and education courses and  help identify your interests, skills and experience when considering your next career move.

myfuture includes My Guide – an interactive quiz that allows you to record your interests, skills and experience, and develop a career profile. My Guide includes My Career Plan which can help you to set and achieve your career goals.

The Career Guide has step-by-step instructions on getting the most out of the myfuture website.

Career Guide

This guide has been developed to help parents make an informed decision about the next stage of their careers.

Further Information

For more information and details, email CareerAdviceForParents@deewr.gov.au.

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

The results are in! Thank you for your feedback

A few weeks ago, we asked for reader feedback on our weekly e-newsletter.  Here is a summary of what our readers had to say:

1. How often do you read the updates?

60% read the newsletter frequently or always and 32% read it sometimes.

  • As a small (one man) business I welcome any opportunity to interact with new ideas and curent thinking in my area of operation.
  • Time available determines if I read it immediately and then interest in topic. I know whatever you write will be good stuff  Susan.
  • It is fun to read and you never know what you are going to get from them – generally I can take a little bit of something from each newsletter.
  • I try to read most of them, however, get very busy. I always have a quick glance. I save most copies so I can retrieve when needed.
  • Unfortunately, work load means that I sometimes do not read the newsletters in detail., I do keep them as I see them very useful not only for me but also staff training.
  • Enjoy it

2. How relevant do you find the information in the newsletter?

18% found the content very relevant and 68% thought it was somewhat relevant.

  • Obviously there will never be 100% correlation between my current projects and the information in the newsletter but it always provides some stimulus for my thinking.
  • They are mostly relevant and can be adapted to my circumstances.

3. What is your overall satisfaction with the newsletter?

Very satisfied – 39%, somewhat satisfied – 43% and neutral 18%.

  • Very happy to receive these newsletters.
  • Interesting and relevant information that is in just the right length to read.

4. What can we do to improve?

  • Nothing, and love the way you’ve used this survey.
  • That’s a good question!
  • Keep it to monthly frequency and focus on time and money saving advice.
  • Give me more time in the day.
  • More input from other people.
  • I find most of them very relevant.
  • Send it by snail mail.
  • Would be good to pick on some national themes- dealing with disasters or families week or awards and recognitions, etc.

5. What would you like to see in future newsletters?

  • Some experiences from other small business sources as per the invite in Q.5 above.
  • Real life Stories – and especially about the way your services have benefitted a client.
  • Business tips including marketing, sales and admin as well as time and money saving advice.
  • Successful marketing ideas.
  • Much of the same for now.
  • Overcoming toxic people.
  • What do you do when you’ve appointed the wrong person?
  • More real life stories from people in business. (I know that is a little hypocritical as I don’t have time to provide any content.)

In addition to the above responses, a total of 15 generous people said they would definitely or maybe like to provide content for future newsletters.  Thank you, if this was you! We will be in touch with each of you individually to see what we can arrange.

We appreciate everyone who took the time to respond to our survey.  It is reassuring to know we are doing some things right and we can now act on your input to make the weekly updates even more relevant and useful to you.  If you missed the survey, don’t let that stop you from giving us feedback anytime!

Not a subscriber yet?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Time for some weeding and pruning?

Doing some gardening yesterday afternoon, I was reflecting on the many similarities between creating and growing a garden and how we live our lives.

There are the obvious steps of planning, sowing and harvesting. Once your garden’s established, most of the activity comes down to what to keep and what has to go.

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking or lose weight? These are two examples of powerful changes that can occur based on letting something go – assuming you stick to your resolution, of course.

The same potential for positive change exists in your business life when you take a critical look at those practices, people and work habits that don’t serve you by contributing to your ongoing and sustainable success.

What should you be getting rid of in 2011?

Here’s a short list of suggestions.  If you have others, let me know below.

1. Any project or task where the pain of doing it is not well balanced with the ultimate rewards.

2. Clients who don’t like to pay.  Or whose company you don’t enjoy.  Or who take up more than a fair proportion of your time.

3. Unproductive and time-consuming work habits, like constantly checking your emails.  Remember to ask your team to help you identify what’s wasting their time, too.

4. Fixing work that should have been done ‘right’ the first time by someone else.  Either learn to accept their version, or find someone who can and will do it ‘your way’.

5. Lack of clarity about what you should be doing and why.  Take some time to review where you are, where you’re headed and plan how you’ll get there.

Let me know how your garden grows!

Remember our next webinar is on 2 February – ‘Your Flying Start to 2011’ – for tips and tools to keep you on track this year.  Just click here to register.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

How will 2011 be different for you?

In the previous update, I encouraged you to take a look at what you’d achieved in 2010.  Many readers were pleasantly surprised!

It can be very empowering to put aside the everyday demands on your time and reflect on what’s going well – and not so well.  As you prepare to have a brilliant 2011, this is a good time to take stock of what you would like to change in the new year.

One of the simplest ways to do this is to grab a notebook and write down your regular tasks, performance standards and behaviours under the following categories:

  1. Should be doing less
  2. Could be doing more
  3. Want to stop doing
  4. Would like to start doing

With this list, you now have a starting point for planning 2011.  Already, you have guide to what your goals for the year might be.

To help you refine your goals for maximum business impact and to keep you on track to achieving them, consider engaging a coach.  I find having someone to listen, guide and keep me accountable is invaluable.

You will be more successful working with a coach you know, like and trust.

Here are some questions to ask prospective coaches:

  • What experience to they have? Length of time coaching, industries, types of organisations, specific issues.
  • How is the coaching structured? What tools and methods do they use?  How do they measure progress? Are there alternative programs to meet your individual needs?
  • Is the coaching CPD accredited? Coaching could contribute to your annual CPD point requirements.
  • Who else have you worked with? Ask for the contact details of previous clients.

If all the boxes are ticked and you feel positive about working with the coach, 2011 could be your best year yet!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

December? Already? Really? Really!

It’s common at this time of year for us to wonder where the year has gone…

Perhaps you’re also wondering what you’ve actually achieved this year, especially if you didn’t start 2010 with some clear goals in mind.

As we reflect on the past year and prepare for the next, consider starting a ‘done’ list as well as your ‘to do’ list.  You’ve been working hard all year and it’s a good time for you to pause and enjoy some sense of achievement before you dive into another year.

To start you thinking about your own ‘done’  list, I’ve put together a quick sample of things my clients have achieved in the last year.  I hope it will also be a reminder to them to feel proud of their accomplishments.  (You know who you are!)

Have you done any of the following 2010?

1. Raised money for a favourite charity;

2. Successfully implemented new processes;

3. Discovered new ways to approach work and life;

4. Dealt with challenges that were holding them back;

5. Grew in understanding of themselves and their team;

6. Developed strategic and realistic plans for the future of their business;

7. Mastered regulatory compliance and prepared for future changes in their industry;

8. Recruited and retained staff who are integral to effectively running and growing their business.

What are you most proud of doing in 2010?

Why don’t you take a minute now to write down you ‘Top 3’ achievement for the year?  I’d love to know, so please share your success below.

Feeling good about 2010 now?

Great!  Next week’s article will start you thinking about how you can be in an even better position this time next year, when you’re looking back over 2011.

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

Taken any shortcuts lately?

Preparing for the ‘Recruitment and Selection Essentials’ workshop later this week started me thinking about the shortcuts we sometimes take when recruiting new staff. 

Often this is because we’re in such a desperate hurry to get somebody (anybody?) onboard that we are willing to take a risk or two.  

Here are some suggestions for minimising the risks: 

Do have a systematic way to compare candidates in terms of the essential and desirable criteria for the role.  This will save you having to plough through each resume to find vital information in the early stages and make it easier to pick your top candidate(s).

Don’t brief a recruitment agency or write an advertisement until you know exactly what you’re looking for.  Clarity on this one point will save you time and money – every time.

Do conduct phone interviews in the first instance.  This is becoming more common and can save both you and your candidates a lot of time.  By having a few ‘make or break’ questions, you may find you have reduced the number of people to be interviewed face-to-face.

Don’t employ anyone without first checking their credentials.  You may be aware of a case before the NSW Supreme Court.  The investment manager for Astarra Funds Management, Shawn Richards, claimed to have both a degree and experience when he had neither.  If you don’t check, will your reputation survive a fraudulent employee?

Do always check the references given to you by candidates, even if it takes some time and trouble.

Don’t feel you have to stick to checking just the referees you have been given.  Recent supervisors and peers may be able to provide you with more information.  

Do spread your net to other people in the industry who might know the candidate and ask them for their feedback.  Your industry contacts can also save you time in identifying likely candidates.

Do find out as much as you can about the potential employee through pre-employment assessments and checks.

Taking shortcuts can result in getting lost! 

Implementing these simple guidelines will save you time (and money) in the long run.  More importantly, they will reduce the substantial risks to your business and reputation of employing an unsuitable, unqualified or unreliable staff member.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

What do you want?

Last week, our single question survey asked readers “What is the one people management issue that is causing you the most pain right now?”

The response was fantastic!  Thanks for all your contributions.

Didn’t see it?  It’s not too late to give us your answer and have it added to our list of topics for future webinars and articles. 

The first webinar is scheduled for 12 noon on Wednesday, 7 July 2010.  Topic and registration details will be posted in the next couple of weeks.

Here is a summary of the suggestions so far:

Team

  • establishing teamwork – working together on to meet organisational goals
  • culture
  • understanding what each person does and how roles work together

Motivation

  • rewards –  ideas on non-monetary rewards
  • getting staff to work in new ways in an industry that has been more reactive than proactive in the past

Delegation

  • effectively communicating what needs to be done
  • having tasks completed to your requirements
  • ensuring staff are productive when you’re not there

Training

  • developing teams to meet future needs
  • helping staff indentify skill gaps
  • making time for training

Recruitment

  • attracting the people with the right attitude
  • matching the right people to the role
  • having the right people in the right seats

Performance

  • meaningful annual reviews
  • addressing weaknesses without causing offence
  • managing underperformance

Why not take a minute to add your own or support one of these suggestions?

Click here to have your say or leave a comment below.

"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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