Tag Archives: motivation

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Experience is a great teacher

But only when we open our minds to the lessons it gives.

The difference between knowledge and wisdom is experience, either our own or the experiences of others that can also teach us.

Whether you’re at the beginning, middle or end of your career, understanding this distinction can make all the difference.

You can know a tomato is a fruit, but wisdom lies in not using it in a fruit salad.

The opposite of learning from experience is either ignoring its lessons or using experience to confirm what we already believe instead of keeping an open mind.

We always have more to learn.

Did you know there are certain careers where experience is a definite advantage?

Here’s a list of jobs where experience is a benefit because it clients need to feel comfortable that they can trust your judgement because of the wisdom you have gained*:

  1. Health care professional
  2. Financial adviser
  3. Career counsellor
  4. Brand manager
  5. Consultant

This list shows that age may be an advantage when advising others in many areas of their lives, provided you also have the necessary expertise.

Of course, there will be other advantages for someone with a fresh attitude, up-to-date knowledge and excellent people skills. Combined with experience, these traits produce remarkable benefits for individuals and those who employ them.

*Source: msn.careerbuilder.com

What has experience taught you?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Get it done!

Despite being a coach myself and understanding the value of accountability, I am also probably as bad as anyone else at keeping myself accountable.

Despite every tool available to me, sometimes the keeping track just seems to take up too much time – time I want to spend moving on to the next week, project, client…

If this sounds like you, too, here’s a quick checklist to use to keep yourself aligned to your goals. Fill it in every Friday afternoon to keep you focused.

  1. Top 3 tasks to be completed next week to bring me closer to my goals.
  2. Top 3 tasks I completed this week (including the goal(s) they relate to)
  3. Who I met this week (include current, prospective and past clients; centres of influence; staff; alliance partners)

Use a quick ‘check in’ like this and I guarantee you will make progress. Read it and don’t act on it, I guarantee you will find it hard to keep yourself – or anyone else – accountable.

Let me know how you go!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

How well do you know your team?

At Balance at Work, we often get involved in helping our clients hire the best people. We also care about how they retain the best.

To keep key people, you need to know them and their needs.

As an exercise, imagine I’ve asked you to tell me the following about each of your top performers:

  1. Why do they work for you?
  2. What are their highest values?
  3. What could they earn elsewhere?
  4. What frustrates them about their job?
  5. What do they want to do in their career?
  6. How would they most like to be rewarded?
  7. Do they like the culture of your workplace?
  8. What worries them the most in their life right now?
  9. What are they most excited about in their life right now?
  10. How easy would it be for them to get another job if they wanted to?

How would you go?  Would you have all the answers?

If you found some gaps, it might be time to do some research – by which I mean having some conversations. Your interest in the answers to these questions demonstrates your interests in your team as people, not just ‘human resources’.  If you would like some help in retaining your team, please click here for more information.

Don’t you think they’ll feel like sticking around longer if they believe you care?

As always, have your say below…

 

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

Even your best friend won’t tell you…

collaboration

Complain to a colleague about an empoyee and they might tell you to just get rid of the person. You’re less likely to hear that you might get better performance by your staff if you give them more coaching, recognition or opportunities.

In traditional ‘command and control’ management, the assumption was that a staff member should do as they’re told and just get on with the job. If they couldn’t do that, they should be moved on.

The workplace has changed but remnants of this thinking remain.

With a more highly educated, skilled and mobile workforce, old styles of management are no longer viable, no matter how much we might believe life was simpler back then.

Using fear to motivate staff is not sustainable.

Those who continue to apply this model are short-changing their business and their staff. Here’s why:

  • Companies that build a great culture by promoting well-being, treating staff with respect, providing coaching and modelling honesty and integrity have high sustainable staff engagement. These companies had an average operating margin of 27.4%.*
  • Those that rely on traditional motivation, such as bonuses, had an operating margin of 14.3%.*
  • Where staff were not engaged or motivated, the operating margin averaged 9.9%.*
  • Companies with high levels of staff engagement posted returns 22% higher than the stock market average.^
  • Companies with disengaged employees had returns 28% below average.^
  • The top three drivers of engagement were career opportunities, recognition at work and brand alignment.^
  • With only one third of employees, out of 32,000 surveyed, saying they are highly engaged,* finding a way to treat staff better is a huge, hidden source of competitive advantage.

What can you do to increase employee engagement, motivation and retention?

Your friends might not tell you, but we will! Or you could ask your staff…

*Towers Watson 2012, ^AON Hewitt 2010

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Where’s all this leadership leading us?

We had leadership programs running constantly, but when a decision had to be made everyone stepped back and waited for someone else to make a move.

Evidence of crises of leadership fill our news feeds daily. Yet leadership development, coaching, books and seminars are a growth industry.

With all this education, why aren’t we getting better decision making from our leaders?

The opening comment was made to me by a former executive of a major bank. I have no doubt the situation is the same in most big institutions.

This is what I think is happening:

  1. Lack of personal direction   Instead of being guided by an internal compass aligned to corporate goals, quasi-leaders’ values are conflicted.
  2. Lack of personal consequences   Apart from a few noticeable exceptions, quasi-leaders get away with bad decisions, or no decisions, many walking away richer.
  3. Fear   When the going gets tough, quasi-leaders look to the past instead of the future.

Instead, we should expect the following from our leaders – and be selecting, training and supporting them accordingly:

  1. Values   – that produce decisions that serve the company and the community.
  2. Accountability   – acceptance of the responsibilities of being a leader.
  3. Courage   – to make the difficult choices.

What do you think?  What would you change?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

What’s wrong with politics?

In a recent conversation with a candidate for the next election, she told me she thought politics as a career is a lot less ‘political’ than working in the corporate world.

Her reasoning was that you already know what people stand for if they’re politicians. Their parties, policies and platforms tell you what they believe to be important.

In contrast, individuals in organisations often have hidden agendas. We may not know what their beliefs or real goals are, or what’s important to them.

As a result, political games are more subtle and insidious at work than in the political sphere.

I’d like to know what do you think.

Could there be more politics in your workplace than in parliament? And if so, why do you think that is?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Want better customer service?

Qantas is planning to give financial bonuses to cabin crew and other staff based on customer satisfaction (Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 2012). Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told the Herald “Incentivising people for doing a good job is absolutely the way to go. The Apple guys do it and it’s very powerful.”

What’s wrong with Alan Joyce’s  approach?

1. If you have to pay bonuses to get good customer service, you’re employing the wrong people

The people you want working with your customers are people who give great service because, to them, it’s the right thing to do. They don’t have to fake it for a bonus because they genuinely care about people.

Select staff who are naturally helpful, friendly, tactful and enjoy meeting new people from all walks of life. They love serving your customers and it shows.

If you want to stop them feeling good about what they do, you could try:

a) implying they will give better service if they get a bonus and/or

b) surround them with other staff who believe it’s only worth providing excellent customer service if you’re going to get paid more if you do.

2. If you are sure you have hired the right people but you’re still not getting good customer service, look at your systems

There are a number of ways businesses prevent staff from giving excellent customer service:

a) Constant restructuring and job losses causing stress and impacting on individual motivation;

b) Treating customer service as an inferior function instead of critical to business success;

c) Lack of authority at the frontline to make on-the-spot customer service decisions;

d) Policies and procedures that are counter-customer satisfaction; and

e) Inadequate training and development.

3. Believing that if a strategy works for Apple it should work for Qantas (or any other organisation)

There are just so many obvious reasons why this thinking is flawed, there’s really no need for me to list them here.

So how do you provide your customers with an excellent experience, every time?

1. Create a culture that always put the customer first

2. Hire staff with natural talents for customer service

3. Support them with systems and processes that help them give their best

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Please comment below.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Not everyone wants to learn, you know…

Have you ever tried training someone and felt like you were getting nowhere?

This was one of my early HR lessons: We can’t assume everyone wants to learn and develop their skills.

In some workplaces and some roles, you will find people who just want to get on with the job they were employed to do. They may even see training as an added imposition from the employer, rather than an opportunity to grow their skill set.

Sometimes, they will be learning in another area of life, perhaps a hobby, that is more fulfilling to them. Work is just the means to earn the money to fund what really matters. For them, work is not a way to grow. Work provides for their basic needs so they can grow in other areas.

If you value life-long learning it can be a challenge to see this perspective. Even more challenging if you are the manager of someone with this attitude – especially if you’ve hired a person for their cultural fit, confident that through training they will acquire the skills they need.

How does it happen?

Part of the difficulty is that this lack of motivation to learn is not always apparent or articulated. Imagine the salesperson who is not meeting budget but continues to believe they are doing all they can to bring in the business. When their manager suggests making changes, the salesperson pushes back, blaming the market, lack of support and other causes rather than reflecting on what they could learn that would improve their performance.

The salesperson above is likely to be quite self-accepting, feeling good about themselves. This is how we want a salesperson to be. On the other hand, the self-acceptance needs to be balanced with a recognition that they can still improve but developing further. If the desire to become better at what they do is absent, the result is a tendency to respond defensively to constructive feedback.

Have you tried to manage someone like this? 

Would it be useful for you to know why they act in this way?

We can help you find out – even before you hire someone – and prevent the frustration you feel. Contact us for more information.

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Giving feedback? Remember the other F-words

Feedback is one area some people struggle with when managing staff.  Remembering some other f-words could make it easier!

Here are some quick tips to giving feedback that will be well received and acted upon:

1. Always give feedback face-to-face.

2. Giving feedback on a frequent basis makes it normal and expected.

3. Be fair and consistent.  Take the time to recognise good performance, not just problems.

4. The feedback conversation requires you to focus on the person with you, without distractions.

5. Stick to the facts and don’t let emotions influence how you deliver feedback.  If you are feeling angry or upset, wait until you’re in a better frame of mind.

6. Have a plan to follow-up on your feedback to see if it’s been effective.  If you were expecting change and it hasn’t happened, try again.

You will have other tips you can add to this list.  Please add your comments below.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Three situations when coaching is a waste of time

Have you ever looked at someone you’re coaching – either a team member or a client – and  felt you just weren’t getting anywhere?

What is it that gives us that uncomfortable feeling?  Looking back over my experiences, there seem to be three main factors at play when coaching just isn’t going to work:

1.  They really don’t want to be coached

Even when a client has committed cash to being coached, there is sometimes a resistance to accepting there are things that can change and they have the power to change them.  For employees who have had coaching ‘thrust upon them’ this resisitance is even stronger.

2.  They actually hate what they’re doing

Many managers will try to coach/coax better performance out of staff when it’s clear that no matter what you do there’s one thing only the staff member can change:  How they feel about their job.  If it’s not a good fit, no amount of coaching will improve the situation.

3.  They expect you to tell them what to do

Much as we would like to be, coaches are not knights in shining armour arriving just in time on our white charger!  The ‘Prince Charming’ expectation applies equally with men and women.  Anyone who is waiting to be rescued from their situation by a coach is probably not going to make much progress with coaching.

For all these reasons, getting to know the person you will be coaching before any intervention is essential.

Even with good preparation and planning, the manager/coach can find themselves with the sinking feeling you get when you know you’re wasting your time.  You’re not going to get anywhere so why keep trying?

You have more productive things to do with your time.  The sooner you give up on your lost coaching cause, the sooner you’ll get to do them!

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.