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It is reflection time! 10 steps on how to get off the hamster wheel!

John Nelligan


Summer is a time for holidays, relaxing with family and friends and recuperating from your hard efforts. However successful your business is, holidays bring a chance to step back, to recharge and reset both personal and business goals. 

It’s easy to bounce back from a holiday with enthusiastic good intentions. But, these good intentions in themselves won’t answer a mountain of emails, all the follow up with customers and suppliers, or tend to the problems of your staff. Without a plan, simple good intentions for change can easily be forgotten. Therefore without doing anything differently, before you know it you’re working reactively, trapped by your business and market demands once again and ploughing through until the next holiday.

So, grasp the opportunity presented by any break and make a start towards a change in your behaviours and approach to your role.

Change starts with you.

To make a difference, you need to improve your way of working and your surrounding environment, then make time to reflect and take reward for what you have achieved:

Here are my ten tips on how to create a plan for a change.

1. Reflect

Move to clearly understand your own capabilities. Accept that for a change process to be effective, you will need to change your way of working and behaviour through a result of a better understanding of you! This first step is crucial and it is important to get it right. A good and easy way to obtain a clear understanding of your capabilities, strengths and weaknesses, is to ask for feedback from others – from your staff, your peers, your line manager and your key customers. At Business Doctors, we call this a 360° review and we have a service that can help you to carry this out which is simple and effective. 

2. Set targets

Write yourself clear and achievable short term goals. Be realistic and play to your strengths. For example, if the goal is ‘We will secure 6 new customer accounts by the end of 2017’, and your strength is in communicating with customers and building strong relationships, you might take ownership of this goal yourself: a good tip is to write it down and share with your team. So against the action ‘secure 6 new customer accounts by the end of 2017’ put your name and the agreed time frame. But if business development is not your strength, don’t take on the task yourself. Your responsibility is now to decide who you could allocate this goal to: it’s about passing on accountability by saying ‘We agree that your target is to secure 6 new customer accounts by the end of 2017’. Again document this. Or would there an opportunity to develop someone with potential in the existing team? If not, to deliver this goal for future growth and success you will need to recruit, thereby agree as a team to set as an action and agree a time frame. 

3. Choose staff wisely

Surround yourself with the best people you can afford. Recently, an existing client with a well-established business chose to undergo a strategic review process because sales had plateaued for 3 years. In the process they came to realise that they were only scratching the surface of their market sector, leaving a lot of potential for growth. The M.D. identified and accepted that neither he nor his existing team had the resources or capabilities to develop the sales further to realise the potential for growth identified through the strategic review. Their clear decision was to recruit a Business Development Manager to fill this resource and capability gap in their organisation.

If this example fits your situation and you also decide to recruit, ensure you employ the best person not only with the capabilities that you need, but – and this is key – they match your values and understand the core purpose of why your business exists. A fundamental part of the recruitment process is to invest properly in the time it takes to search widely and to meet many candidates, and to be patient until you get the right person fit.

4. Share

Share your goals, achievements and challenges. Update employees regularly on business goals, results, successes and any organisational changes. Meet challenges by bringing together work teams to help discuss and come up with solutions. Ultimately you can’t do it all on your own, it’s through sharing your business challenges with your people and working collectively that you will succeed in delivering your business goals and personal aspirations.

5. Stand up

Lead from the front and be seen. Employees like to see the boss, so ensure you regularly walk the shop floor, staff offices and yard. Twice daily if you are on a single site. If responsible for a multi-site operations, ensure you visit at least once per month. Be open to questions and allow staff to interact and engage with you.

6. Stay positive and consistent

Remain positive at all times, even in times of change or difficulty. Be consistent with the message, objectives and overall goals. Never get drawn into sharing negative opinions with employees, customers or suppliers. Remember that whatever challenges your business is going through the chances are your competitors are going through exactly the same. Many challenges are market and hence customer driven. Therefore stay focused and adapting to changes will keep you one step ahead. If your competitors have their heads in the sand there will naturally be opportunities for your business to prosper and get through these periods in a stronger position. 

7. Be strong

Be willing to make those difficult decisions. When there are tough decisions to make, make them from the head and not the heart. Do so by utilising and respecting your core team’s input. Review available data both hard (quantitative) and soft (qualitative) to justify and back up any decision. Stand by your decision, however it’s seen by your staff. Once your decision is made, help your staff to understand why, actively listen to them but ensure you help them to look forward and ultimately this will help everyone move on. As “what’s done, is done”

8. Know your limitations

Remain open to seeking help. If you find you are out of your depth, or don’t find the expertise within your business, don’t be afraid of calling in a reputable specialist company or trusted expert. You are paying for their knowledge and experience and will end up obtaining “peace of mind”. The advice of experts will be cheaper than learning the slow way, making costly mistakes, or doing nothing at all! Any change will be quicker to implement too. You will also sleep better at night knowing you have that trusted support network and expertise standing by or just a phone call away.

9. See the goal

Always stay focused on the end result. Creating momentum and staying focused on the key business goals are two of the key success factors within great organisations. So stay on track, review, follow actions through and then share the results. If you do fail in some areas, take it on the chin, treat it as learning, be prepared to adapt and you will bounce back with renewed energy and focus. Treat as a marathon not a sprint!

10. Rewards

Make sure you reward yourself and your team upon success no matter how small. When things go well, ensure you stop to reflect and enjoy the moment yourself and with your team. Simply have cakes brought into the office on a Friday for delivering a project outcome early. Finish early one Friday or even hand out a few tickets to a show, sports event or organise an employee social. Even consider sharing the financial success through giving staff bonuses as a reward for hitting business quarterly targets, but do make sure that everyone benefits – as team work is stronger than any individual on their own… 

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Zig Ziglar

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