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Scoring a Hat-Trick

Transferring skills in the workplace for a better business takes employees, managers and business leaders working together.

Deidre Elphick-Moore

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In my article How to use skills development as a platform for success, I introduced the idea that an employee’s environment plays a critical role in the degree to which new skills will be applied and practiced to make them sustained behaviours.

This environment is fostered by the employee himself, the skills development team (especially the firm’s Skills Development Facilitator and the training/ classroom facilitator), his manager (and the management team above him) and his colleagues.

In this article, I explore the top three things that employees, managers and business leaders can do to help facilitate the effective transfer of learning from the classroom to the workplace.

The employee

  • Have a ‘game plan’; goals in life to work towards. If you know you want to be a senior project manager for a large multi-national company one day, you need to have a good idea of the skills that you will need to perform that job well. Seek out learning opportunities that will take you closer to the ultimate goal; don’t focus only on what you need in your current role
  • Be open to both formal and informal learning opportunities. Look for an informal mentor or coach from whom you can learn business and life skills. The advantage of this kind of learning is that it can be tailored to your specific needs at any time. Engage in formal learning opportunities that will enable your “game plan”; don’t just blindly attend training because you have been told to go.
  • Understand that you are dispensable; you cannot afford to be complacent at work. By proactively developing yourself, you can make yourself more valuable to your organisation. The latest (3rd quarter 2012) unemployment statistics on http://www.statssa.gov.za quote South Africa’s unemployment rate as being 25,5%. By being genuinely skilled and embracing lifelong learning and development, you can avoid being part of that number.

The manager

  • Understand what your employer is trying to achieve; start by knowing the vision and mission of the business. Use this as a baseline for how your team is expected to think and behave every day. Encourage the behaviours that support the company’s vision and actively manage out any delinquent behaviours
  • Be an active participant in the formulation of your company’s Skills Development Plan; identify the skills gaps and future leaders in your team and proactively look for ways to develop those areas
  • Foster a learning environment, for example, by showing your employees that there are career paths that they can work towards. You can also create opportunities for them to influence how they work (e.g. by empowering them to make suggestions for improvement or solutions to problems). The list goes on…
  • Communicate the investment that your company is making in people through skills development; it is not just an opportunity for a free lunch and a day out of the office. If your company invests in a member of your team, s/he has a responsibility to pay back that investment through improved performance after the training. How about making this a key performance indicator that they are measured against at year end?

The business leader

  • Look beyond skills development as a way to score B-BBEE points and claim back skills levies paid. There is an opportunity cost in having employees out of the office; make this additional investment count by encouraging employees to take skills development seriously and hold them accountable to improved performance following training
  • Think carefully about how you measure the success of learning and development interventions; a 100% pass rate on a learnership is only meaningful if the learners have genuinely learnt skills and shown application in the workplace. It benefits nobody to fast track a learnership or spoon feed answers in order to achieve a high pass rate.
  • Provide visible opportunities for upward mobility within your organisation; many individuals are motivated by the prospect of growth. They need to see that learning and skills development can lead to improvements in job status, salary and responsibility.

Deirdre Elphick-Moore, has an Honours Degree in Psychology and over ten years of international experience in human capital management at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Co-founding The Office Coach in 2009, she now focuses on personal and workplace effectiveness training and development. Her relaxed, engaging style encourages people to learn more, remember more and apply more in their workplaces, as well as inspiring to consistently better themselves in the work place.

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4 Tips To Become A Team Whisperer (And Improve Your Employee Engagement)

Engaged employees are motivated, innovative and willing to take on more responsibility.

Pieter Scholtz

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Your team needs to be nurtured on an ongoing basis if you want to attract and retain the best employees. You can hire people, you can fire people, and you can tell them what to do. But you can’t make them like what they do. Some business leaders are content with having an unhappy team; as long as they do what they are paid to do then the state of their mental health is seen as superfluous.

This line of thinking is not only wrong, but it is entirely counterproductive to the continued survival of a business. Gallup has run some excellent pieces that demonstrate the difference between engaged and disengaged employees. In particular, they list several additional things that engaged employees bring to the table: Motivation, innovation, and a willingness to take on more responsibility within the company. So how can you keep your team engaged?

That level of motivation contrasts greatly with employees who don’t even want to be there. They do their jobs, but they never put in more than the bare minimum of effort. Don’t expect them to ever go beyond what their job description requires, and if there is a chance for them to duck out of work without getting fired, they’ll take it. Obviously, you don’t want to have a team that consists of these people. But without the right knowledge of how to motivate a team, you’ll find yourself unable to inspire your employees to go above and beyond what is required of them.

Related: How You Can Make Leadership Excellence An Effortless Effort

A great company cannot exist without great employees, and there are steps you can take to mould them into the people you want to have working for you. These tips are proven methods of getting your employees to be engaged in what they do, and anybody can learn to apply them.

1. Be a team, not a dictatorship

Every ship needs a strong captain, but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend every second reminding your employees who’s the boss. Your employees look to you for guidance, but they also want to feel as though you are in tune with everything that is going on. Some managers come off as though they are giving mandates from heaven, or worse, they rattle off long lists of orders because they don’t want to do the work themselves.

If you give the directive and then pitch in to reach the goal, you’ll show your employees that they are all part of a team, and they sink or swim together.

2. Give them a chance to shine

It’s true that some people are placidly content with being a cog in the wheel. I’m sure you know of at least one person who is sitting in a job they are relatively indifferent to just so they can collect a pension in twenty years. Those that fit that mould will gravitate towards jobs that give few chances to stand out and plenty of job security. For those who want to achieve more, they will never settle for a job pushing pencils all day.

Related: Effective leadership – Serving Your Team To Serve Your Clients

These restless employees are always looking for a way to prove to you that they are capable of so much more than low-level work. Denying them this opportunity will either push them to greener pastures, or if they can’t/won’t quit, cause them to become disillusioned with what they do.

If you find somebody who wants to prove themselves, let them. An employee who shows the initiative and drive to better themselves is a person who will bring your business an incredible amount of value. Don’t waste this potential.

3. Don’t take them for granted — show your gratitude

This goes beyond a simple “thank you,” although those two words can have quite a bit of power in themselves. If your employees feel like their contributions are not recognised or rewarded, they will feel little incentive to go above and beyond in what they do. How you show this gratitude is as important as the action itself, because a perceived token gesture is even more insulting than a lack of a reward. Put another way, if somebody comes up with a million-dollar idea and you give them a monogrammed lanyard as a gift, don’t expect that person to stick around. Rewarding achievement is the flip side to punishing failure, and a balance between both is necessary to craft the ideal team.

As intuitive as these three traits seem, you probably know from personal experience that a lot of managers don’t quite know how to implement these strategies effectively.

Related: Leadership Hustle: A Modern View On Leadership

4. Share the bigger picture with them

A really important element of keeping your team engaged is to share the bigger picture with them. This involves amongst others:

  • Constantly communicate the Vision and Mission of your business to your team. If your team can buy into why the business was started, where it is headed and why you exist as a business, they will be able to be as passionate as you are.
  • Provide a monthly update on how the business is tracking against its plan and this will empower them to focus on the areas that matter most to the business at that time. This includes sharing financials with the team — here one needs to take into account any legislation that might be applicable — but the more you share, the more you show your team that they are trusted with the information as well as being able to make better decisions that affect the business.
  • Keeping your team engaged, excited and energised is a pre-requisite to developing a high performing team that is able to take the business to the next level. It takes a team of dedicated people to build a successful business. Without this team, your ability to expand at the rate you had planned to will be severely hampered.

IN YOUR TOOLKIT

Become a leader that inspires greatness

multipliers-how-the-best-leaders-make-everyone-smarter-by-liz-wisemanREAD THIS: Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, By Liz Wiseman.

Multipliers is profound. It’s been lifechanging for me and everyone that works with me. Leadership is not about having the best answers. You need to ask the best questions, and what happens is that you are turning people into productive engines. Micro-managing stops people from thinking for themselves as they wait for answers from you. The principle is that micro-management on that level means you are paying people 100% salary for 50% productivity. The multipliers effect allows you to pay 100% salary for 200% productivity.” — Robin Olivier, co-founder and MD of Digicape, a R240-million business based in Cape Town. Go to multipliersbooks.com for additional tips, tricks and surveys.

 


WATCH THIS

Radical Candor means challenging employees directly and showing you care personally at the same time. It will help you and your team do the best work of your lives.

Developed by Kim Scott — who led AdSense, YouTube, and Doubleclick Online Sales and Operations at Google and then joined Apple to develop and teach a leadership seminar — Radical Candor is all about becoming a leader who is both respected and followed, without being falsely ‘nice’.

There are two great YouTube videos that will give you her tips and lessons in under 20 minutes:

And if you’re interested in really unpacking the lessons behind radical candor, read the book: Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity.

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5 Signs A Business Is Being Poorly Managed

Are you considering investing in a new company? Evaluate its leadership with these five factors first.

Phil Town

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Ideally, every business’s success would be so simple that anyone could run it – even an untalented person. Unfortunately, though, many businesses cannot withstand the leadership of an unqualified or untalented person, and, if a business is lucky enough to achieve longevity, odds are that someone unqualified or untalented will run it eventually.

But, how can you, as an investor, identify when a business is being run by one of those untalented people? More importantly, how can you spot when a business is being run by an untrustworthy person?

In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Phil Town breaks down five signs of bad leadership you need to consider before investing in a new company.

Click play to learn more.

Related: How To Help Your Team Shift Their Mindset To Embracing Technology For Business Management

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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4 Essential Steps To Take To Successfully Sell Your Business

Here are 4 essential steps that will help you avoid potential setbacks and increase the chances of a fair and satisfying transaction while you are selling your business.

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Successfully Sell Your Business

Many startup founders and small businesses dream of receiving an offer to becoming the next billion dollar business. Whether its because they are ready to move onto another project, or they are ready to expand and are looking to leverage the financial power of a bigger partner, selling a business is a big move for any business. For many business owners, getting an offer from a buyer is certainly exciting, but before you jump into anything, remember that are important steps to take before you sign the paperwork that will move a successful transaction forward.

From making sure you have a functioning and potentially lucrative business model, to working with an expert to establish goals and expectations on both ends to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Here are 4 essential steps that will help you avoid potential setbacks and increase the chances of a fair and satisfying transaction while you are selling your business.

1. Preparation is everything

Since you’re already a business owner, you most likely already know the importance of preparation. When it comes to selling your business it’s always wise to conjure up all that you have learned along the way and apply that to the process of making a sale.

Related: The 6 Most Common Questions Business Owners Ask Before Selling Their Business

Some of the key documents that buyers expect to see are:

  • Corporate records
  • Records of any important contracts
  • Information concerning stocks and investments that would affect the relationship with the buyer.

Preparation also entails that you are forward about any setbacks or issues you had in the past that currently affect company operations. Being open about what failed in your business model will help buyers feel confident in their decision working with you, in addition to understanding what to potentially avoid in the future.

2. Setting up the right environment for buyers

Your business may have received endless praise from the press and has made the “most up and coming list” time and time again that doesn’t mean you are ready to sell. Good press will very likely attract buyers, but if you haven’t created the right environment to continue along with a merger and acquisition, those investors and businesses that were one so eager to scoop you up may not stick around that long. To ensure a productive environment for selling your business  it pays to be open to new ideas, while also maintaining a professional setting from which trust can build.

3. Make sure your finances are in order

Financial records are vital when making a sale. Not only to they provide a clear outline of your businesses progress in numbers, they are also key to making sure you get what you want out of the final sale in the end; investments and any and all financial commitments. Ensuring that both parties are satisfied.

4. Hire a merger and acquisitions advisor

Even the most experienced business owners can benefit from the expertise of a mergers and acquisitions advisor. Trained specifically to help owners assess their the value of the business by reviewing it’s strengths and weaknesses on both a macro and micro economic level.

Some of the key ways that an M&A consultant can help you streamline the selling process are as follows:

  • Professional who specialise in mergers and acquisitions are highly skilled at preparing for due diligence, helping you to navigate and organise the necessary documents and information that is needed by all prospective buyers
  • If you are in the unique situation that you have more than one buyer interested in acquiring your business, an M&A consultant can help you assess which one will be the right relationship for you, especially if you will still be activity participating in daily business operations.

Related: How to Position your Business Now So You Can Sell It Later

Again, experienced business owners may know everything there is to know about running a company, but that doesn’t mean they know how to appeal to buyers. Not only do you have to be in tune with your own company’s needs, but it’s essential that you understand what buyers and investors expect from a sale.

At the end of the day, even if you think you’ve found the perfect buyer, taking a few extra steps to ensure that a potential buyout will meet both parties needs and is overall good for the business can be done by being fully prepared and and working alongside an expert that will help to point you in the right direction. Successfully taking your business won’t happen overnight, in fact most transactions take about six to twelve months to complete, so it pays to be prepared every step of the way.

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