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Performance Booster And The Art Of Managing Talent

Melody Tomlinson and Diane Collier from the Performance Booster Programme on how to create better managers who grow your revenue, increase your profits and maximise efficiencies.

Nadine Todd

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How important is communication in the workplace?

Very important. Communication in general is a real concern in the workplace, mainly because many employees perceive that their managers don’t listen to them. We’ve found that when problems arise, only 10% of them are due to an actual issue.

The other 90% are a result of the way things are addressed, and what people hear and feel rather than what’s actually happening.

Managers who learn to communicate well become highly effective leaders with high performing teams because their people know what’s expected of them and feel their needs are addressed.

As a result of these improved relations, they focus more on the work and getting things done, and less on perceived issues.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Successful SA Entreps Share Their Most Valuable Business Advice Ever Received

How does poor communication play out in the work environment?

A daily example is when accusations are made before checking facts, resulting in very reactive behaviour.

Another is the generation gap and how this shows up, particularly in the way Gen X and Y Millennials communicate via email and converse in short ‘text’ language.

This is particularly problematic when we see younger managers interacting with their older colleagues. Other factors impacting good quality communication include stress from fear of job security, tightening legislation and economic and social complexities.

These are just some of the factors that contribute to the disconnect in communication. It’s no wonder workplaces have the potential to become toxic unless proactively managed.

How do managers affect revenue growth?

Managers should be setting goals and ensuring there’s alignment between the company’s strategy and the tasks that teams are engaged in.

Managers who are drawn into task-type work instead of managing people are not effectively managing revenue growth.We refer to this as transformational versus transactional work.

Transactional tasks are all about the details of doing things right. Transformational tasks are about leadership and doing the right things. Like most things in business, this should follow the 80/20 principle: 80% of what a manager does should be transformational, and 20% transactional. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true.

A focus on transformational activities requires a manager who has excellent delegation skills. It also requires staff to do the transactional work, and clarity in terms of what’s expected of them. Murkiness filters from the top down.

Is the manager clear on what their leadership requires? If they aren’t, they can’t prioritise for their own teams.

Is there such a thing as working too hard?

Performance-Booster

Definitely. No one can be on 24/7, and the trouble today is that with Internet access and smart devices, we’re all reachable anywhere, receiving a constant stream of information we feel compelled to reply to.

Leaders tend to want more and more, but good managers should encourage their teams to take time off to recharge, and to encourage daily down time by making a habit of going offline.

There’s also a multitude of studies proving that being ‘always-on’ negatively impacts your ability to be effective and that downtime leads to higher productivity.

How can teams use their time more effectively?

As a manager, start by understanding that many people have a ‘monkey on their back’ or an issue that is causing them stress.

You’re the manager, so naturally they’ll come to you. It’s not your role to simply solve the problem for them, particularly if you can see the solution.

Instead, take care to train and empower your team so that they don’t need you to make every decision for them. As a manager, you tie a noose around your neck by creating co-dependency.

Managers who have a fear of letting go or difficulty trusting others will also buy into the idea of being ‘on’ 24/7. It’s a poor management style – it doesn’t work, and it generally leads to a high staff turnover.

Dealing with people and creating trust is all about personal boundaries. Start by discussing issues openly. For example, if you think it’s okay to contact your team at 11pm, they’ll think it’s okay with each other too, and before you know it, no one has boundaries, everyone feels burnt out and not in control of their time or lives and productivity plummets, despite 50+ hour work weeks. What example, and ultimately what culture, are you as the manager creating?

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing

Are there any in-office tricks that help with productivity?

One of the best productivity tips is to zone your time. Focus exclusively on specific outcomes and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by tasks that appear urgent, but aren’t a priority.

We advise setting up automated email responses that outline specific times when you answer emails. This way no one thinks you’re ignoring them, and they know when they can expect a reply.

It’s important for this to become a company policy though, as it can create internal conflict if one department is expecting an answer to an urgent email and feels they are being ‘ignored’.

The world won’t end if an email remains unanswered for two hours – it just means everyone has to plan ahead and be proactive about their time, rather than reactive. With this one simple system, productivity should skyrocket.

Should leaders adapt their style to the situation?

We’re strong supporters of Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model (see sidebar), which does advise matching leadership style to the situation at hand. However, while different situations require a different response, such as taking control, or teaching and coaching, ultimately the most successful organisations encourage senior managers, middle managers and all employees to feel empowered.

To achieve this, you need to develop an organisation with a listening culture, and accountability structures.

A place that builds relationships and people with respectful boundaries, where staff are heard and acknowledged. The best thing you can do is make someone feel valuable: Hear them and allow them to exercise what they’ve brought to the table.

Can you give an example of where this goes wrong?

Something we often see in corporate situations is a manager who presents an idea that a team member came up with to the board, and then takes credit for it.

It’s a very short-sighted form of leadership, because while the manager might temporarily look good, the person who had the idea in the first place becomes discouraged and disengaged, which ultimately affects the overall creativity and productivity of the team.

Great ideas shouldn’t be conceived in isolation. They should be nurtured and developed and this can only happen in an environment of collaboration and trust.

A manager who takes credit for ideas that weren’t theirs does the exact opposite. Grow transparency around ideas so that everyone knows where they originated, and also feels comfortable adding to them.

The best cultures are built around ‘we’ thinking. They reward managers whose teams excel, instead of managers who shine independently of their teams. It’s important to get the whole team involved.

Is there a larger cultural issue at hand?

Trust, ego and a sense of autonomy can cause real stumbling blocks in organisations. Do you reward individuals or team success? Remember that what you reward is what you’ll get.

It’s a simple truth that most ideas aren’t highly sophisticated – the greatest strategies tend to centre on simple ideas of motivation and recognition, so encourage idea sharing and idea building within your team. Your people are your most valuable resource and so it’s important to find creative ways to tap into this.

Do all employees contribute to the bottom line?

Absolutely, and this is one of the single biggest mindset shifts an organisation can make. Imagine what would happen if the cleaner never came to work. Rubbish overflowing, dirty restrooms, no services for maintenance and client visits.

Once you understand the value that the cleaner adds to the organisation, you’ll start valuing everyone’s contributions to the overall whole. Encourage your managers to not only understand their own value, but encourage this thinking in their teams as well.

How important is it for teams to connect to corporate goals?

It’s incredibly important, but it’s also a double-sided issue. On the one hand, the organisation and its management are responsible for sharing the company’s goals.

You can’t expect everyone to connect to the company’s vision if they don’t fully understand what it is and how the goals contribute to attaining this.

Properly understanding and then connecting to the organisation’s goals is the difference between reactive and proactive employees, and dependant and co-dependant thinkers.

There’s a certain amount of responsibility for the employee as well. Employees need to know how they are adding value, and what the company is paying them for it. As the manager, encourage the team to find their motivators, their ‘why’ and to take ownership of their role in the organisation.

Too often we see a victim mentality where individuals see situations as happening to them, instead of how they can impact the world around them and their success within it. It’s all about an internal locus of control.

Encourage your team to engage with their own positions – make them a part of the solution. Ask them how they add value to the company, and expect an answer – get them to think about it.

A great way to foster engagement is by asking pertinent questions: What can contribute to this day? What will this day contribute to me?

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Surprising Things 5 Entrepreneurs Do in Their Lunch Breaks

Should organisations expect everyone to buy into their value systems?

Organisations need to look for value alignment. If an individual’s values are met (the ‘what’s in it for me’ factor), then by default they will buy into the business’s values. However, for this to work, each team member needs to be able to identify their own values, and evaluate how the company is helping them to achieve those values.

We only ever do things that serve us. Don’t expect buy-in on an organisational level if you don’t tap into that.

On the flip side, there will be some individuals whose values do not (and never will) align with those of the organisation. The situation won’t change, so it’s better for all parties involved if those employees move on.

In our courses, we run everything with full teams, and inevitably someone leaves after the course is complete. Invariably, the energy of the whole team and even the office changes for the better.

The organisation wins by rather utilising resources and energy on people who add value to the company as a whole.

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

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Leading

Become Your Best In Business

How can you streamline the actions you take in your business?

Dr John Demartini

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A few of the primary keys to becoming successful in business include having a clear intent or purpose, a truly inspiring vision, a grand message to share, a genuine social calling and a targeted niche to serve. From these initial basics arise the primary strategic objectives you would love to accomplish or achieve and a plan for their implementation. But before these objectives can be met, the mastery of the mind is to be initiated.

True business leaders are those who are congruent and integrated and who can organise and lead their inner parts purposefully. Once leaders govern themselves, they can govern others.

Time Is Life

When you loaf about, your mind starts thinking about all kinds of doubts, insecurities, fears, other people’s beliefs and worries about what’s happening and what isn’t happening. Such dead time can zap your energy and confidence levels and distract your mind from your purpose. Any time or space that’s not filled with high priorities often automatically becomes filled with low priorities.

Have you noticed that when you’re busy, you often accomplish and create much more? The more intensely you’re focused and active and the longer you maintain such a focus, the faster your accomplishments (time x intensity = results). Time spent on doubt, fear, or low-priority actions slows down your accomplishment process.

When you take your mind off your focus, all you see are obstacles. When your mind is focused on your dreams, you don’t have time for the many self-doubts that block them.

Raise Your Standard

Anything you do consumes time. To maximise the value of your time, prioritise your interactions. People who seem less busy and want to consume your time may think you’re being rude when you say no to their invitations, but busy people understand immediately that you’re just choosing to prioritise and wisely manage your time.

People who don’t value their own time want to take up yours with small talk, and if you keep associating with people who talk small, you could end up with a small life. You’ll find out what kind of people they are by putting a fee on your time and raising that fee regularly. If people really value your skills and time, they’ll pay for it.

“A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Efficiency and Effectiveness

Often when you perform a service for less than you feel you deserve, you lower your worth and enthusiasm and slow down your business. Even though you may be working like a ‘dog’, it’s neither efficient nor effective.

Any aspect of your work that pays less than you truly feel you deserve can become the weak link of your business. In addition to undermining your motivation, inefficiency and ineffectiveness can also reduce profit margins. When you or your employees perform effective actions in an inefficient way, ineffective actions in an efficient way or ineffective actions in an inefficient way, your business becomes undermined. Your worth can be determined by how efficient and effective you are at performing high-priority actions. Business masters are those who love what they do, do what they love, and work efficiently and effectively. They delegate everything else to those who desire to do the same.

How can you streamline the actions you take in your business? Ask yourself, “What can I delegate?” You’ll be far more productive, energised, and inspired at the end of the day when you can stick to actions you deem to be high-priority. Unless you value your time, neither will the world.

For more information on Dr Demartini’s teachings, visit www.drdemartini.com

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Leading

How To Be A Leader

Lead by example and you’ll win the respect and loyalty of your staff.

Richard Mukheibir

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Being a successful entrepreneur is not about locking yourself away in your workshop and bringing a great innovation to life. Certainly, you need a must-have product that will have customers beating a path to your door. But you also need the business skills to ensure you can scale up production – and the leadership skills to motivate the staff you have employed to help you make this happen.

It is rare to find these three key skills balanced equally in an entrepreneur. Most have more of one quality than another – but there is one of these qualities that we tend to fool ourselves about.

Most of us know whether we have creative skills that can produce great innovations or whether we need to improve our business skills. Almost all of us assume we can be leaders if circumstances mean we have to step up to the plate. However, almost all of us are wrong about that.

Leadership skills are something that you develop and hone as your career progresses. You might think that being head girl at school, rugby captain or president of your Toastmasters’ branch means that you have got leadership nailed.

You would be right that you have some leadership experience. But you are wrong because so much about leadership depends on context. Just as what works on the rugby field and what works in the debating chamber are not the same, so what works in business is different.

In part, it can depend on the size and sector of your business. That in turn is partly because your understanding of the context – your business savvy as opposed to your business skills – is as important as your credibility as a leader.

But there are some common traits in leaders that work in all business contexts. Once you have these nailed, you will find that you can reuse them in different businesses as you expand your entrepreneurial interests.

Here are three starter principles to put into practice today:

1. Be first

Get to work first and leave last. As an entrepreneur, one of the prime qualities you need is energy. You need to put mental and physical energy into knowing the detail of what is going on in your business.   Listen to the insights of your staff as to how your systems are taking strain or could be streamlined. If you are serious about growing your business, you cannot expect to achieve this as a sleeping partner who drops by the business premises at best once a week.

2. Be a team player

Make it clear that you are not giving yourself privileges just because you are the boss. If your business involves any kind of production line, whether actual or virtual, you should be able to pitch in and help out if there is a rush of demand or an unusual number of staff hit by the virus that is going round. This is also an opportunity to check personally on the effectiveness of the systems you have set up and make tweaks where you see bottlenecks or downtime occurring.

3. Be last

As well as leaving work last, you should also pay yourself last. Consider this part of your investment in your business – and also an investment that will pay dividends in consolidating staff loyalty.

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Leading

Peak Performance – How To Become A Strong And Legendary Business Leader

The starting point is to consistently and constantly build and mould an unshakeable character and add a clear strategy for your personal life and your business.

Dirk Coetsee

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‘Leadership is a potent combination of Character and strategy’

– General Norman Schwarzkopf

Leadership has long fallen into the category of the enigmatic. It is no longer the case considering the ‘deep dive’ neuroscientists, psychologists and industrial psychologists have taken into understanding the brain and human behaviour in general.

For those that have a deep and driving desire to understand themselves better volumes of highly beneficial research are available to you. How willing you are to seek for and apply the infinite amount of knowledge out there is dependent upon your priorities, your ‘grit’ and your level of desire to personally transform and be impactful in this world.

Most of all a strong belief in your own abilities to become a legendary business leader is a basic requirement for the alchemy from follower to leader to take place.

The human nature guru Robert Greene describes a strong character as follows:

“Strong character has a tensile quality like a good piece of metal – it can give and bend but still retains its overall shape and never breaks”

Character is who you really are, not what you want others to think of you. Who you truly are is especially revealed under the most challenging circumstances. How your investors, co-founders, employees and clients view you is highly dependent upon your actions during times of business crisis, failure or when you as an entrepreneur are faced with turbulent personal circumstances.

The ability to authentically and empathetically (towards yourself and others) take a stand for your beliefs, admit (to yourself most of all) to your mistakes, rectify them (the highest and truest form of an apology) within times of strife and difficulty leads to a strong and un-breakable character.

Through this writing you are strongly urged to reflect on the fact that a strong character will not fall from the sky and simply be bestowed upon you, instead a strong character, akin to steel, is moulded and shaped by fire meaning that your character is mostly shaped by challenging times.

As the late master poet Leonard Cohen said –

‘There is a crack in everything that is where the light seeps in’

Nothing is perfect and when you truly learn from failures and mistakes your wounds can become blessings, your tests can become testimonies and you can lead others to achieve the same.

Those that have a slight and very determined smile on their face and maintain belief and even dramatically increase their levels of performance the moment they recognise that they have arrived within a highly challenging space are the ones that have trained for that exact moment.

The Navy Seals say:

“You do not rise to the challenge you fall to your level of training”

All external information gathered within each moment enters the brain and is processed through the Amygdala first – that part of the brain that provides housing for the ‘fight or flight’ response. Information is first filtered through your very own doubts, fears and insecurities.

If you have not worked on your own fears diligently and instilled habitual mechanisms of effective action triggered by fear your re-actions of lack of action (procrastination) will not be optimal at all. ‘Grit’ is born at the intersection of passion and perseverance and can be trained. Bravery can be trained. Leadership can be trained. Character although influenced by genetics can be trained.

All tools to succeed at the aforementioned subjects are within us all, in a lot of cases lying dormant and anxiously awaiting your increased levels of awareness which will empower you to use the tools required effectively.

As a practical example I coach my ‘Peak Performance’ clients to train for Grit in the following way – Choose a day of the week when you are especially tired and not in the greatest of moods force yourself to the gym and train the toughest muscle group for you (usually legs) and where you normally do three sets of squats do seven and make those sets harder than before in every way.

Or again choose a day of the week again where you are very tired and instead of taking a plunge onto the couch to watch ‘Game of Thrones’ or whatever it is, go and hike, a long tough hike that will really test you.

It does sound harsh but you will thank yourself when the tough times occur and they will, that you have willingly trained yourself for grit.

On to the subject of Strategy which forms a potent combination with character and results in Leadership.

Dictionary.com defines strategy as:

A plan, method, or series of manoeuvres or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result.

For a strategy to be effective a basic requirement of many requirements is that a clear and highly specific end vision and/or goal, and/or result must be defined. Visions, goals or desired results are often vaguely defined because the often subconscious fear of clearly defining our failures by setting clear and measurable goals plagues us.

The mind struggles with finding solutions, answers and strategies when vague goals are set. It is also very hard to retain focus on anything that is very vague. As the importance of an effective plan to achieve your well defined Vision and goals cannot be overstated I strongly recommend getting expert help to facilitate a future session.

Once the desired end result, goals and vision is crystal clear we can ‘reverse engineer’ an effective plan that can actualise our dreams. We need to create a metric system that constantly, consistently and visibly measures our progress and success of our plan. The metrics will notify us of challenges and will signal a need for adjustments within our strategy.

The very good news emanating from this article is that anyone can be a legendary leader should they not only sincerely wish to be a leader but also take effective action on becoming one. The starting point is to consistently and constantly build and mould an unshakeable character and add a clear strategy for your personal life and your business.

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