Tag Archives: success

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

We’re all in this together

collaboration

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

3 steps to building a better business case

Are you required to apply for money for initiatives you wish to implement or purchases you wish to make?

When you are putting forward a case for funding for a project, it’s easy to slip into thinking the numbers are all that matter. Yes, the price is important, but it never tells the full story.

You can easily improve your chances of gaining support for your project by demonstrating you can answer some fundamental questions.  Here are the questions we suggest our prospective Career Navigator clients need to be able to answer before they even start talking about the money:

1. What are you hoping to gain by using this product or service, or completing this project?

How will this purchase or project benefit your organisation and/or your clients? For example, you may expect it to help you supply higher quality client services, or to serve your clients more efficiently. Can you clearly and precisely articulate the benefits so they can be easily understood by people who are not experts in your field?

2. How will you know when that outcome has been achieved?

Detail exactly how you will measure if your project has been a success. For example, suitable metrics may be the number of new clients served, time spent with clients, client feedback ratings, time saved and costs cut. Of course to be able to make a comparison, you will need data for your current situation, before the purchase and/or implementation.

3. Is there anything else you need to know?

You need to feel confident you are making the right choice so if there’s anything at all that is unclear, seek more clarification and/or evidence as to why this proposal should be supported. Examples of further information may be white papers, case studies, benchmark or validity data, or opportunities to speak to existing users.

Being prepared in this way – while also paying attention to the financial viability of all options – supercharges your credibility as a business-minded partner in the decision-making process.

Then it’s time to talk about how to make your dream a reality.

What do you think?  Would you follow these steps for better results?

Share your thoughts, suggestions and feedback below.

[Thanks, Rachel Bourke, for providing the inspiration for this article!]

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

Universities Australia deal to get students ‘work ready’

By Alexandra Hansen, 26 February 2014    The Conversation logo

Universities Australia has announced an agreement with business groups to collaborate on vocational training to improve the employability of graduates.

Universities Australia chair Sandra Harding made the announcement in Canberra today. The agreement will assist students in undertaking Work Integrated Learning. This includes work placements accredited for university course work, mentoring and shadowing programs, and internships.

Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson pointed to the closure of manufacturing plants in Victoria as evidence that university graduates need to be equipped with on-the-job skills in an increasingly competitive job market.

The signatories to the agreement include Universities Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Business Council of Australia, among others.

One of Australia’s leading voices on education policy, Dr Gavin Moodie of RMIT, described the announcement as a positive but only preliminary step to increase understanding and cooperation in expanding work-integrated learning.

“Much more will be needed to convert this statement of goodwill into increased and improved work-integration learning,” Dr Moodie told The Conversation today.

He said Australian universities have long incorporated work experience in some of their programs, such as medicine, law, and nursing. Over the past decade, they have sought to offer Work Integrated Learning in more programs to all students who wish to participate.

“Universities are expanding Work Integrated Learning because they believe it enriches students’ learning, it makes graduates more employable, and it responds to employers’ wishes.”

One of the challenges, he said, is finding enough work experience opportunities for students.

“This is particularly ironic in view of employers increasingly seeking graduates who are ‘work ready’.

“As the Australian Workforce Productivity Agency responds, some employers don’t seem to be ‘graduate ready’,” Dr Moodie said.

For vocational training to become a permanent and successful aspect of university degrees across the board, Dr Moodie suggested it cannot be orchestrated purely by peak university and employer bodies. Individual employers, including small to medium-sized employers, will need to work with universities.


Update: Professor of International Education Simon Marginson said work and education are qualitatively different social sites, and should remain so.

“Education provides skills and knowledge useful both short term and long term, but can only provide broad or generic training for work, even in specific professional courses like engineering or law, “ he said.

“If education is tailored too closely to particular jobs or workplaces it becomes inflexible – the skills are not readily moved to other places,” he said.

Marginson said good quality generic training produces mobile, flexible graduates. While they still have much “on-the-job” learning to do, they can only learn to be specific job-ready in the particular job they undertake after study.

He says the vocational training provided by universities should be generic training, such as how to search for opportunities, how to write a resume, and how to succeed in a job interview.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

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

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

Seven key questions to ask about your team

 

Do you have your ‘dream team’ working happily and productively in your business or your department?  Perhaps you feel there’s still room for improvement.  Below are seven questions to help you identify the gaps in your team’s effectiveness, with ‘best practice tips’ for your consideration.

1.       Do we know what we’re trying to achieve?

Does everyone on your team understand the strategic plan and how the team’s successes (and failures) impact the achievement of the organisation’s goals?  How involved were they in setting the goals of your team?  Could they explain the goals to others?

Include the team in planning and clearly communicate how the team’s performance will contribute to the organisational goals.

2.       Is every team member committed to our joint goals?

You will know the answer to this question through observation and questioning.  Having a common goal is not enough in itself to ensure success, commitment is also required.  Sometimes lack of commitment can be due to a clash between the goal and the individual’s expectations.

Check in with your team members that the goals are consistent with their personal values and aspirations.

3.       How likely are we to achieve our goals?

Do you have the best combination of competencies for what you’re trying to achieve?  If not, how will you add these resources – through training, outsourcing or hiring?  Have you set clear expectations for both work performance and behaviour within the team?

Build teams for future as well as current needs.

4.       Do we understand and value our individual strengths?

Do you know in detail the experience, skills and talents of each team member? Are they respected for their specialist knowledge? Do they get an opportunity to use their strengths?

Delegate tasks and responsibilities to individuals in their field of expertise to give them a chance to shine.

5.       Do we communicate well?

Does the team leader effectively and appropriately share relevant information in a timely manner.  Does every team member get to express their opinion in an environment of respect and openness?

Introduce practices, such as meeting agendas, that allow all members of the team to contribute without feeling threatened.

6.       Are we all willing to lend a helping hand?

Is there a spirit of cooperation, with team members going out of their way (and outside their designated roles) to get the work done to achieve your team objectives?  Are team members happy to collaborate and share information and resources?

As with communication, a good team leader will model the behaviour that is expected from the rest of the team.

7.       Are we having fun?

Work is work and it can’t always be a party, but if people genuinely enjoy the work they do and the company of their team, you will achieve a lot more.

Celebrate your successes and when things go wrong, avoid blaming others.

What do you think?

Reflecting on these questions may have prompted some thoughts about how to improve your team.  Don’t let them be lost! 

Your next step is to decide on what actions you can take and plan how you will implement those actions.  Write it down, share your ideas and ask for help from both inside and outside your team.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Three steps to successful collaborations

collaboration

This post is part of a series on collaboration. See this previous post for more on how working together can work for you.

A recent article on the dangers of collaboration started me thinking of the proactive steps we can take to avoid the risks inherent in a collaborative effort.

Like many people, my experiences range from significant disaster to sucessful win-win relationships. You can learn from my mistakes.

Here are the ‘success factors’ that I believe can make all the difference:

1. Identify in advance what the pay-offs will be for each party from the relationship

Unless both parties stand to gain equally from a joint venture, there will always be an unequal distribution of effort and interest to make it work. This is one factor you can’t neglect and which needs to be monitored, evaluated and renegotiated as you go along.

2. Know who you’re working with

This seems obvious but how well do you really know the other person? In particular, do you know how they will react to stress?

As we court potential joint venture partners, we are usually at our politest and most agreeable. You also need to know what might happen if it all goes ‘pear-shaped.

Also get to know the personnel of your potential joint venture partner. Who will be responsible for what? Who will you be working with closely?

3. Set clear expectations – for everything!

You need to consider everything – from the time you expect it to take to respond to an email to how profits will be shared.

Business collaboration is a unique relationship. You are both client and supplier to each other. This requires you to observe the same professional standards you follow with your other clients and suppliers.

Collaboration in any venture can add diversity, interest, personal development and contributes to the overall stock and sharing of human knowledge. For me, working with a co-author on a current project has been challenging at times. However I know the result will be of much higher quality and originality than if either of us worked alone.

Could you create successful collaborations using these steps? What benefits could be awaiting you?

As usual, I’d love to hear your story. Please share your experiences (good, bad and ugly) with collaboration, so we can learn from you!

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

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

More places to find our articles

As well as writing this blog, did you know I also write for other websites, e-zines and blogs?

You will find my writing on the Leading Minds Academy, Dot Com Women, Planner Lounge and HR Daily Community websites, with different and relevant articles.

Here are links to recent articles on those sites:

Are you an expert yet? on leadingmindsacademy.com

Are you a creature of habit?  on dotcomwomen.com.au

Ideal traits of paraplanners and financial advisers on plannerlounge.com.au

Top 5 critical skills in shortfall on community.hrdaily.com.au

It’s possible your clients, managers or members could also use this information.

Please get in touch if you’d like to add this sort of content to your own publications, online or in print.

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 .