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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?