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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Getting the most from Generation Y's in your business

Thanks again to Growing Business (www.growingbusiness.co.uk) who once again have published an article that stimulates another of my areas of interest; managing Generation Yers.
In essence they say that Generation Yers represent more reward than risk if managed well and properly understood, and they provide a good summary of their behaviour and expectations  (http://www.growingbusiness.co.uk/why-gen-y-is-good-for-your-business.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter).  However, they don't provide much in the way of guidance into how you can manage them to higher levels of performance and results.  So , in brief, let me fill the gap.
Three headlines to remember:
Focus delivery
- Make sure that your organisational purpose has the context that has real meaning for them so that they can connect and engage with it
- Inspire and energise them ( a challenge for some managers)
- Become their performance coach and partner, rather than manager
- Win and maintain their respect (and that does come from some naff attempt to be cool)
Create the right context for performance
- Genuinely put people at the heart of your performance 
- Be consistent.  if you claim to be ethical ( a hit with Gen Yers) make sure that you are truly ethical (inside and out).  If words and actions don't match up they will leave (mentally or physically)
- Provide opportunity and variety
- Stimulate and challenge them and provide a society in which they can operate and feel at home
Maximise capability
- Understand their individual aspirations and motivations
- Help them to achieve personal mastery of their roles
- Review their performance very regularly and give immediate feedback
- Give them responsibility and autonomy.
So, there you have it, a simple recipe for success in managing and leading Generation Yers based on how they have led their lives and the world in which they have grown up.  
But, funnily enough, is seems remarkably close to what we should do for any of our staff, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Y or Z.  Perhaps they are a little more demanding, but good for them and perhaps this blog is just a reminder of the good practice that you should be adopting anyway; what's your excuse?

Small business bosses turn to spouses for ‘straight-talking advice’

My thanks to Growing Business (www.growingbusiness.co.uk) for reporting that a survey by TMobile shows Britain’s small business leaders are more likely to trust their spouses over accountants or bank managers to give open business advice.  How warming, but how sad.
Warming to know that family relationships remain so strong despite what we are led to believe by the press, and especially so in the pressure cooker of entrepreneurial businesses fighting the effects of a recession.
Sad though that they are struggling to find the necessary advice and that they are having to rely on their spouses.  Why? Because it is unlikely that their spouse is as objective as required nor is it likely that they have the skills or experience to provide the quality of advice required.
Yes, I know the survey reports that 80% of the small businesses polled stated they take advice from people who will give them the truth and will tell it to them straight, but straight doesn't necessarily mean valuable advice or result in improved performance.
And for me, this where a non exec can rally add value to a growing business.  The attributes of the best non execs for SME's are: 
- straight talking, challenging and yet constructive
- because they have previous entrepreneurial experience, and 
- they can take an objective view, complemented by
- commercial nous
I don't know about you, but not many spouses can bring those qualities to the business.
But this doesn't solve the core problem that the survey highlights; that SME's are having trouble finding the support they need and are having to turn to their spouses to fill the gap.  And this points to the need much greater availability for NED's for SME's.  
- There aren't enough NED's readily available with the special skills or experience required for the SME environment (it's very different from the corporate world) 
- There isn't the support through training and development for potential NED's in order to address the supply and skill shortage problem
- There isn't the marriage-broking service (to use a pun suitable for this piece) to bring businesses and NED's together.  
- And there is the need to ensure that businesses know how to best use their NED for maximum results
Deal with these issues and entrepreneurial businesses can be helped to growth faster, and perhaps husbands and wives can go back to caring about each other on a personal basis and simply enjoying the fruits of their endeavours.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The 3 C's - what and why

Anyone who has worked with me for any time will know that I continually bang on about the Three C’s - Clarity, Commitment, Capability.  Why?
Because every success and failure I have experienced in business seems to have revolved around these three big issues.  And the biggest one is Clarity.
Clarity is about getting everyone (and I mean everyone) understanding what you are trying to achieve.  And not at some easily achieved superficial level.  Deep, very deep understanding is required otherwise people wander off doing their own thing, because they fancy it, or because they just want to carry on doing what they have always done; it’s easier after all.
Call it purpose, vision or mission or whatever you like; I really don’t care The harsh reality is that you have to give your business a laser like focus on something really valuable: valuable to your customers so that they want to buy it, and valuable to you so that you make money out of it.
Clarity focuses resources, mindset, energy, skills, behaviour, people, suppliers …. Clarity focuses everything.  
Clarity removes waste more than any smart assed accountant can ever achieve, however much they cut and chop bits out of budgets.
Clarity provides a decision making filter  for everyone in the business to use.  That means you make better decisions at board level, but more importantly it means that your teams can make decisions on their own, without continual reference to you.  And that means they can do things quicker; they  become more capable; they are more motivated; they look after your customers better and your business becomes more reliable and effective 
Clarity means that your customers understand what you are about and what you offer them.  If makes them confident to come back and buy more because they know how you will behave and what you will do.  They also feel confident to recommend you to their friends.
Indeed you know you really have clarity when your customers relay the same picture about what you do as you do. 
And if you haven’t got it?  Often you will see conflict and hear flatulence.  Neither are much use.  Conflict arises out out competing agendas rather than shared beliefs and distracts from delivery and execution.  Flatulence shows up as wind and is evident to staff and customers alike and normally is experienced by way of unreliability, false promises and a failure to deliver.
So, love clarity with a passion.
I will come back to how you achieve this depth of clarity in the next few editions.  Equally, I will come back to Commitment and Capability in later editions and for now will just provide a brief overview.  
Once you are clear where you are going, you have a chance of winning the commitment that is necessary to execute your plans in a sustainable way.
Commitment shows itself in an unswerving determination and perseverance to deliver.  It is a passion to perform amongst all your staff and a passion to buy repeatedly amongst your customers.  It is motivation and pride and energy.  It is about people being innovative;  innovative in how they do they job, how they find solutions, how they manage and lead, as well as being innovative in delivering new products and services.
It is all these things because it is about lots of people doing something together that they believe in and want to see succeed.  
But that success is shared; it is an aspiration for success for the business and for themselves personally. Therefore to win commitment you must ensure that you focus on the reward for the organisation and for your staff.  And in this regard, I mean reward in the widest sense; motivation, growth, opportunity, recognition, personal development as well as pay.
And finally, when the wheels hit the road, your business and your staff have to have the capability to perform and deliver your aspirations. That will mean you have the skills, culture, knowledge, resources, know-how, controls, experience, connections, distribution, technology, processes, products, cash, brand and leadership to succeed.
The next article in this series will cover, Getting Clarity - how far and how deep?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

The buzz? More interims working for SME's

I see that Interim Partners (www.interimpartners.com) are reporting that more interim managers are looking for work in fast growing SME's despite the lower pay rate.  No wonder. The energy you get from a high growth company is electrifying and if you have been working in a major corporate with all the politics, bureaucracy and turgid project delivery, you will welcome the buzz.  
But, be warned ...
Interims from majors can't just think they can get away with operating in the same way they do in larger businesses.  They will need: 
- much greater flexibility and a broader range of skills
- to pick up their own pace to match the environment
- to be much more entrepreneurial, and 
- they need to recognise that they will have to deliver with fewer assets and resources behind them than they are used to drawing on.
So do it as a career choice, not just as a reaction to a job advert.  The entrepreneurial world is different and for many the adjustment is just too great.  For others though, it is the only place to be.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Push, Pull Friction - building a book a piece at a time and watching it grow.

Addiction.  The trouble with writing one book is that you want to write another, just because you have seen more and learnt more.

So here goes.  In this series of occasional blogs I am going give you my views on how to energise people to do things that make an impact in your business; both inside and out.
Each piece will be a short summary of the key issues as I see them so that you can access and use them easily to deliver results that see your business grow.
Each piece will be kept purposefully short so that you can jump in and out; don’t get swamped; and so that you can easily see the key principles.  That way you can apply them as you see fit for your business.
As I set off on this journey, I expect the chapters to be:
Getting it right indoors

Getting Clarity
- why?
- how far, how deep?
- the ways to do it
- hearts and minds
- have they been listening?
- doing it again
- why?
- aspirations and dreams
- getting people to believe
- a deep and lasting passion
- what else could I be doing
- cynics, cowboys and idiots
- what do you really need?
- why haven't you got it now?
- how are you going to get it?
- managers and people, people and managers
- performance leaders
- making it stick
Going out into the world

- I love you
- who are you?
- making it exciting
- a lasting relationship
- winning more friends
- reducing infidelity
- size 12 boots
- raising awareness
- winning interest
- stimulating desire
- closing the deal
- upping the price
- hurdles, barriers and idiots
- more idiots
- process, process, process
- perseverance, perseverance, perseverance
But I am sure it will change as we go along.
Why Push, Pull, Friction?  These are the wise words of a 12 year old boy on learning that his sister is about to do Business Studies.  “That stuff is simple” he says,  “it’s just Push, Pull and Friction”.  Perhaps he is right and we just complicate things.