Category Archives: Reading

Decision-making (part 1): the ‘zero’ option isn’t useless

How often do you look at the choices in front of you, and think, “What’s the point of that (option)?”

We come across ‘zero’ options – the ones that obviously nobody would choose – surprisingly often.

But, what is the point of them? If they really are ‘useless’, what are they doing to our decision-making?

Well, take a look at this subscription offer run by The Economist in 2009:

In a controlled test, 100 MIT students were asked to express a preference – see the results shown above.

So, if the print only option is a ‘zero’ option (i.e.: nobody chooses it), what is the point of including it in the list?

Or, to put it another way, what would happen if it wasn’t there?

So, the print only option was removed from the list and another 100 MIT students were asked to choose from the revised list, with the following results:

As you can see, when there were only two choices, what was originally the most popular has become the least popular, and vice versa, meaning the ‘zero’ option was actually having an influence on the choices the students were making.

In fact, it wasn’t actually a ‘zero’ option at all. Just because nobody chose it, doesn’t mean it had no influence.

What was happening was the only ‘zero’ element of that option was that nobody chose it.  When it was present, it’s influence on the choices that were made – predominantly cognitive decisions – was important.

What it was actually doing was encouraging the readers to choose the ‘best nearest’ option that was closest to the (obviously) ‘zero’ option. In other words, it helped the readers to make their minds up!

So, next time you see a ‘zero’ option, or if you decide to include one in your own proposals, remember that they’re far from useless after all! They actually help the reader make a decision.

A thank you: I’d just like to give a special mention to Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University, whose work and research has been of great inspiration in writing these articles.

To find out more about how to develop your decision-making, and the the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

Seventeen (yes, 17!) reasons introverts make great leaders

Have you noticed how often leaders rarely tend to be people who are of a quieter disposition, who appear more thoughtful, perhaps who are even considered ‘gentle’?

The convention for leadership in the western world is for them to be ‘bold’, ‘outgoing’, some might say ‘loud’.

Yet, around 55% of the adult population of the UK are at the introvert end of the personality type spectrum (note: this does not mean they’re shy!).

These introverts often miss out on leadership roles for the simple reason that convention strongly implies they don’t have what it takes.

Rubbish! Absolute rubbish!

So, here are 17 reasons (there are many more!) for more proactively considering introverts as leaders:

(To find out if you are introvert or extrovert, click here a free Jungian type test (often known as a Myers-Briggs test))

 

1: They’re prudent

Introverts are great at weighing up the pros and cons of every decision, and so tend to make decisions, and be leaders everyone respects

2: They’re brilliant listeners

Because their ‘inner voice’ tends to be quieter than an extrovert’s, introverts have an innate ability to listen. Often, brilliantly. As a result, they usually get far more out of their colleagues (including quite a few things they wouldn’t tell anyone else) than their extrovert co-workers. One of the most important skills for any leader is the ability and willingness to listen to everyone.

3: What they say is valuable.

Introverts usually listen more, think more, and speak less. As a result, when they do have something to say, it’s usually very valuable and something that earns the respect from those around them. In other words, others soon learn how important it is to listen to their introvert colleagues. All of the great leaders will have earned the ‘right’ to be listened to.

4: They know their limitations

Introverts tend to be more forthcoming in accurately understanding and acknowledging their limitations…and aren’t afraid to let others know about them. If an introvert needs help, they’ll ask for it – another great quality in a leader.

5: They embrace uncertainty

Uncertainty is something introverts tend to think of as something they can really get their teeth into. They’re also very open to new ideas and opposing views, as well as being great listeners, all of which they use to help them make better decisions. Leaders, perhaps above everything else, are there to make good decisions.

6: Working on their own is easy for them

Yes, they work happily as part of a team too, but they really excel when they have to work alone – and, let’s face it, that’s something we all have to do at some point, isn’t it? Leaders often experience needs on their responsibilities that includes things that they do alone – and introverts are quite happy about this!

7: Quiet time is good for you!

Introverts find ‘quiet time’ a great way to re-charge and refresh their batteries. Our extrovert colleagues tend to prefer being among people, perhaps in busy or noisy places too, to do the same. Having the ability to be quiet, encourages others to be more open with you, and gives you a better chance of accurately hearing what is being said without your inner voice ‘colouring’ it. Another important quality for leadership!

8: They often have a calming influence

Introverts tend to be calm people. They also tend to have tremendous inner strength. As a result, their calm demeanour has a habit of rubbing-off on those around them. Calm heads tend to work better as a team, think more clearly (remember Sir Clive Woodward’s “think clearly under pressure” (T-CUP)), and make better decisions. Any leader needs a calm head too!

9: They build more meaningful relationships

Because introverts enjoy talking on a one-to-one basis, or in small groups, and because they listen so well, and because they think before they speak, they tend to innately devote the time to building meaningful and valuable relationships. An excellent skill in the worlds of business networking and leadership.

10: They’re very well prepared

Introverts tend to be ‘detail people’ and so will almost always be very well prepared. Every leader benefits from excellent preparation.

11: They’re information junkies

Because introverts like to learn, they tend to be very knowledgeable indeed on the subjects they choose to speak or enter into discussion about. But they also like to learn from others who can expand their understanding. Both are highly desirable traits of good leaders.

12: They’re great in stressful situations

Introverts are great at keeping calm, almost no matter what. Leadership, whether you like it or not, will include a fair amount of stress. Due to their calmness, introverts usually deal very well with stressful situations and remain clear thinkers, and are able to deliver positive outcomes from them. Leaders benefits from these abilities too.

13: They often see the ‘big picture’

Introverts are excellent at being detached from the situation when needed. As a result, they are great at looking at, and understanding the ‘big picture’ and working out what is required to ensure a positive solution. The best leaders do this habitually.

14: If you want someone to study the details, find an introvert

That’s right! Introverts relish the chance to bury themselves in the details, especially if an important conclusion needs to be extracted from them. Their colleagues soon learn to give the ‘hard stuff’ to their quieter colleagues. Leaders need the ability to understand the details too.

15: They treat everyone as equals

From the newest, part-time employee, to the group chairman, the one person who will treat everyone exactly the same, and as equals, will be your quiet colleague! Great leaders earn the trust of, and get the very best out of their people by treating them equally and fairly.

16: They make excellent decisions

Introverts are usually highly rational, practical, and balanced decision-makers. They also are great at considering all of the relevant information and views, and understanding the needs of all those affected. So, they have a habit of making excellent decisions – just what is needed in leadership!

17: They have high levels of emotional intelligence

People will often think of introverts as being ‘well balanced’. They are also well known for be highly aware of their own emotional states and the emotional states of others, and how these states influence thoughts and behaviours (one of the most important building blocks of emotional intelligence). They then take these into account when making decisions, and interacting with others. Just as leaders should!

 

So, there you are – there are many, many reasons introverts make great leaders – and many of the leaders of the world’s most successful companies are introverts too. For example, Bill Gates (Microsoft), Larry Page (Google), Elon Musk (of Tesla fame), Theresa May (British Prime Minister), Warren Buffett (noted investor), to name but a few.

If you are an introvert who is in a leadership position, or looking to move into one, I can work with you to develop your skills, abilities and thinking to ensure you and your career continue to go from strength to strength.

To find out more about the benefits of professional coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

What ‘science’ knows, and what business does, are not the same thing!

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Now, this might all sound a bit illogical, but there is so much high quality and, importantly, highly relevant data freely available ‘out there’ to business people, that it seems strange, to say the least, that so much of it is completely ignored by them.

This is not a new, or recent trend, but is something that

Let me give you a few, very basic examples:

  • 80% of start-up SME owners have no experience of running a business.
  • 80% of SME business owners agree they “can run the business”.
  • 80% of business owners never, and I mean never undertake any business management or leadership skills development.
  • Yet 80% of SMEs close before they reach their 5th birthday (long-term average)*.

Spot the link?

(* = the average closure rate in the last ten years is slightly higher!)

(Sources: ONS, HMRC, The Economist)

 

On a similar theme:

  • 80% of start-up SMEs who work with a professional coach/mentor will successfully reach their fifth birthday.
  • 80% of those that don’t, won’t.

(Sources: ICF, EMCC, LSE, and others)

 

When it comes to communication:

  • At least two-thirds of business readers of SME websites just want to find the phone number.
  • If your contact number is a mobile or 08- number, two-thirds of website readers will go elsewhere before they contact you.
  • It is estimated that 30%-40% of website views will be on a mobile device by the end of 2016, and this is expected to peak at 80% by the end of 2019.
  • Approximately 40% of SME websites don’t even have their phone number on their homepage, and/or do not have it visible on ‘first view’ using a mobile device.
  • Over half of SMEs agree that their websites “don’t generate enough enquiries”.

(Sources: Google, ONS, LSE, DBIS, BT)

 

When it comes to how our decisions are influenced by the options we have:

In 2009, the eminent behavioural economist Dan Ariely conducted a study of 100 MIT students by asking them to choose one of the following newspaper subscription options:

Option 1: paper only subscription $59 (16% chose this option)

Option 2: web only subscription $125 (0%)

Option 3: print and web subscription $125 (84% chose this option)

Option 3 is most popular.

 

He then took away Option 2 and asked them to choose again. This time:

68% chose Option 1

32% chose Option 3

Note how the least popular option has become the most popular, and vice versa, simply because the list of options has changed.

How could this influence how you communicate with others?

 

He (and fellow MIT colleagues) also conducted a number of studies in the fields of motivation, including this one in 2003:

Three groups were given a selection of games that involved creativity, motor skills, and concentration.

They were each offered one of three levels of performance based rewards (low, medium, high).

The result?

When the task involved just mechanical skills, the rewards worked as expected.

However, when the task involved even rudimentary cognitive skill, a larger reward led to poorer performance. Yes, really!

However, when this same exercise was repeated in a remote village in India, people offered the medium level of reward did no better than those offered the lowest level of reward.

But, and this is a big ‘but’, those that were offered the highest level of reward….did worst of all!

In 8 of the 9 tasks in these experiments, higher incentives led to worse performance!

 

So, what science knows, and what business does are not the same thing.

The point I’m making is the same as that old adage: if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got.

  • If people want to contact you quickly and easily, make it easy for them to pick up the phone to you (remember using email takes twice as long as using the phone (source: Harvard Business Review)).
  • If one of your USPs is that you’re a local business, then make sure your phone number is identifiable as a local (not an 0845) number.
  • If you give people too many choices, one of the options may get zero responses, but it might also serve to help the reader to make a decision that is better for them and for you.
  • Take care how you incentivise your teams – higher performance doesn’t necessarily come from higher rewards.

 

To find out more about how science can help your business, and how I can help you build a better, more resilient and more profitable business, please get in touch:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2016. All rights reserved.

FACT: great leadership = business success. So, why is it so bad, so often?

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Over the last month, I have been looking, as I often do, into the relationship between leadership and success, reviewing recent research from the likes of The Economist, LSE, McKinsey, Harvard Business School, and others.

The outcome is that not only is leadership the single biggest contributor to business success (something I have been championing for years), but that far too many people in leadership positions either have no leadership skills, or no leadership experience, and rarely engage the expert assistance of a leadership coach or mentor, or all three!

In the UK, the single biggest reason for business failure, or a limitation to business success, is because those businesses are not led and run well enough.

Leadership skills and experience are rarely properly developed, and most businesses are created by people who either have a good idea, or are good at something – not by people who are good at running a business.

The result?

More than 7 out of 10 new businesses in the UK don’t survive until their fifth birthday (ONS figures). What is worse is that this statistic over the long term doesn’t seem to be improving, clearly showing that no matter how good you are at something, no matter how good a business idea you have, it’s the essential skills of leadership and management that are fundamentally the reasons for business success.

A opportunity for our education system, perhaps?

Yes, some business founders will develop these essential skills as their business grows. But, these are very much in the minority, meaning the majority struggle on with the risks that brings.

My experience tells me that most people would say they can run a business. Right up to the point where they realise they can’t! Of course, by then it’s often too late.

Also, it rarely makes sense for those with important sales- and profit-generating skills to be spending their time struggling with leadership and management issues.

I readily accept that there are many times when this is necessary. But beware! This can all too easily lull you into a false sense of security, and end up being the start of a very slippery slope.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, first of all, try to remember these three ‘golden rules’:

  • Stick to what you’re best at, and how you can benefit the business most (financially, operationally, etc). Owning the business does not mean you’re necessarily the best person to be running it!
  • Never hesitate to ask for help – a delay could be costly! There is a great deal of very high quality, great value help out there (coaches, mentors, consultants, advisers, etc). The benefits of finding one that’s a good match for you will easily outweigh the cost. Click here to check out my blog post about how to choose the best business coach for you.
  • Do or delegate! We all have a tendency to delay doing something just because it take us out of our comfort zone. So, whatever is in front of you, whatever arrives on your desk, either deal with it there and then, or delegate it to someone who will. Do not ignore it, or add it to the ‘do later’ pile!

Also, if leading and managing is not where your expertise lies, and for the time being it really is down to you, keep it simple. Simple works!

To help, here are a few key elements for you to work on, that will enhance your leadership effectiveness (and so your business success), no matter how experienced you are:

  • Always make clear decisions and let your team/colleagues know what they are, what you expect the benefits to be, who will be involved in implementing them, and the timescales
  • Keep your ‘door’ open to all, especially when there’s a problem. Part of your responsibility as a leader is to solve problems
  • Engage with everyone. Encourage them to let you know their views and concerns. You’ll become a better leader as a result
  • Make sure you don’t create obstacles, or over-complicate things. You’re there to do exactly the opposite!

To find out more about developing your business leadership and management, and the benefits of dedicated professional coaching and mentoring, please get in touch – I’m here to help.

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2016. All rights reserved.

So, just what is emotional intelligence? (part 2)

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In the first part of this article (click here), I looked at these key elements that help to assess your Ei:

Measuring the Attitudes elements

Measuring the Feelings elements

Measuring the Personal Management elements

 

In this final part, I shall look at:

Measuring the Relationship Management elements

Developing your Ei

 

The Relationship Management part of Ei assessment is built up from 5 key elements:

Trust – how inclined you are to trust others

Balanced Outlook – how you balance optimism with realism

Emotional Expression and Control – how well you balance expressing and controlling your emotions

Conflict Handling – how well you handle conflict

Interdependence – how well you manage taking yourself and taking others into account

 

In all of these Relationship Management ‘scales’ there are three core components:

The ‘target/ideal’ component where a high level of attainment is desirable

The ‘under/too little’ component where a low ‘score’ is preferable, and

The ‘over/too much’ component where a low ‘score’ is also preferable

So the ‘ideal’ outcome is to have the under/too little and the over/too much measurements with a low ‘score’, and the target/ideal measurement with a high ‘score’.

However, whilst this ‘ideal’ position is readily achievable, especially through developing your Ei, the majority of responses, at least initially, do not demonstrate this ‘ideal’ combination, but notably higher scores in either the ‘under’ and ‘over’ are more common.

Here are the different ‘scales’ measured within each of the 5 Relationship Management elements:

Trust

Under / too little: mistrusting

Target / ideal: carefully trusting

Over / too much: overtrusting

Balanced Outlook

Under / too little: pessimistic

Target / ideal: realistically optimistic

Over / too much: overly optimistic

Emotional Expression and Control

Under / too little: under controlled

Target / ideal: free and in charge

Over / too much: over controlled

Conflict Handling

Under / too little: passive

Target / ideal: assertive

Over / too much: aggressive

Interdependence

Under / too little: dependent

Target / ideal: interdependent

Over / too much: over independent

Remember, all of these elements and their component scales are associated with how you manage your relationships with others, and can be developed and changed to enhance your Ei.

Finally, a brief look at developing your Ei.

You may well have heard of ‘reflective learning’? It’s a process that is proven to help develop many of the ‘soft’ skills and qualities, particularly those that are people-to-people based, including your Ei.

To develop specifically your Ei, try these (N.B.: a professionally qualified coach will be able to help you with all of these):

  • Build a clearer picture of your strengths and development areas.
  • Actively seek feedback from those around you (including your boss and colleagues), and ask people for their views.
  • Walk the talk! Take time to develop your strengths and close important development gaps.
  • Establish clear development goals and identify what achieving success at the next level up looks like. Remember to regularly assess your progress against these goals.
  • Regularly record reflections on your week, both positives and negatives, your emotional responses to these differing situations, and what you choose to take from these experiences. Ensure you build these reflections into useable information to guide your future behaviour.

 

(based on the Ei Model developed by JCA Global Limited, and the book “Emotional Intelligence @Work” by Jolyon Maddocks)

To find out more about Ei, Ei profiling, or developing any aspect of Ei and its uses in coaching and mentoring, please get in touch – I’m here to help.

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

 

© Adrian Malpass 2016. All rights reserved.

 

So, just what is Emotional Intelligence? (part 1)

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Whilst there is a great deal of interest in Ei, there is also a great deal of confusion about exactly what it is and what its component parts are.

In much of my work, especially in the fields of coaching and mentoring, I employ the many facets and benefits of Emotional Intelligence (‘Ei’), including utilising powerful Ei profiling tools for individuals and teams in developing leadership and business performance, and in recruiting key personnel.

The good news is that after almost 100 years of research and study, Ei is now well understood to the extent that we know how to measure it (through all of the scales mentioned in this article), change it, and develop it. Ei is continuously developable – you can never have too much of it!

The benefits of developing your Ei are likely to deliver positive impacts in almost every area of your professional and personal lives. Literally!

So, just what is Emotional Intelligence?

In the first part of this article (final part next month) I shall look at the ‘core’ elements of Ei, and their key components, and those of our self management (which is a part of our ‘personal’ or ‘intra-personal’ intelligence).

Here goes…

Firstly, a simple definition of Ei:

“The awareness of how our attitudes and feelings influence our behaviour.”

The first of these, and the most fundamental ‘building block’ of Ei is our attitudes: how we balance our self regard (how well we accept and value ourselves ‘warts and all’), with our regard for others (how well we accept and value others (as distinct from approving of them)), aiming to achieve and develop high levels in both.

Self regard ‘feeds’ into how well you can develop your regard for others.

The attitudes part of Ei supports and helps us develop the ‘feelings’ part of Ei.

This ‘feelings’ part of Ei is about how aware we are of the physical influence our feelings and intuitions have on us, in balance with how aware we are of the feelings of others and, as with the regard ‘scales’, the higher our levels of both the better.

One important thing to remember is that whilst the regard scales provide the ‘building blocks’ of Ei, these awareness scales are where the ‘core’ or ‘root’ of Ei lies. i.e.: your Ei is developed from here.

The third and final element I will cover here is that of ‘self management’: a combination of ‘scales’ that collectively influence ‘how you are’ or, to put it another way, the relationship wyou have with yourself.

This self management part of Ei is made up of six elements (‘scales’):

Emotional Resilience: how effectively you ‘bounce back’ when things don’t go well for you

Personal Power: to what extent you feel you are in charge and have sole responsibility for what happens in your life

Goal Directedness: the degree to which you align your behaviour to your long-term goals

Flexibility: the degree with which you adapt what you think and how you behave to life’s changing circumstances

Connecting with Others: how well you create and develop meaningful relationships with others

Authenticity: the degree to which you invite others to trust you, through being reliable principled, consistent and ‘known’ (N.B.: this does not mean you have to tell everyone your ‘life story’)

In part 2: the relationship management scale of the Ei model

(based on the Ei Model developed by JCA Global Limited, and the book “Emotional Intelligence @Work” by Jolyon Maddocks)

To find out more about Ei, Ei profiling, or developing any aspect of Ei and its uses in coaching and mentoring, please get in touch – I’m here to help.

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2016. All rights reserved.

Choosing the best business coach for you

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Let’s face it. Choosing a good coach to work with you and your business is a potential nightmare!

After all, what makes a good coach?

How can you be sure you’re getting a genuine professional?

How can you minimise the risks in choosing one and what should you expect from them?

Whilst none of these have straightforward answers, there are a few things you can do to minimise any potential risks, and dramatically improve how you find and select not only a good coach, but a great one.

To start with,  remember this ‘golden rule’: always, always, always do your research before you choose your coach.

In doing that research here are a few simple steps to focus on:

1) Ask the ‘coach’, “What is “coaching”?”

Can they clearly and simply explain the key differences between coaching, mentoring, counselling, training, teaching and telling?

TIP: make sure you know what “coaching” actually is. If you’re not sure, click here to ask me for a definition.

If the ‘coach’ cannot give a detailed and correct answer to this simple question, move on to your next candidate straightaway.

N.B.: most so-called ‘coaches’ cannot answer this question correctly!

 

2) Are they genuinely professionally qualified in coaching?

It is estimated that over 85% of so-called ‘coaches’ are not professionally qualified in coaching.

Alarming, isn’t it?

So, beware! An unqualified ‘coach’ could do untold damage to your development and the success of your business. It also means they probably do not have professional indemnity insurance for delivering coaching services (I am yet to come across an insurance provider who wouldn’t require a professional coaching qualification).

Sadly, there are a vast number of flaky (to be diplomatic) ‘coaching courses’ out there, almost all of which are well below acceptable professional standards, let alone being robust enough to be genuine qualifications.

Establishing the credibility of any ‘coach’s’ professional qualification can be tricky, but a few simple checks can make a big difference and bring much greater peace of mind to the selection process.

In my view, the best professional coaching qualifications in the UK are obtained from UK universities and management schools. Clarify whether the qualification was classroom-based (good) or distance learning (not so good).

There are also a small number of professional bodies and dedicated coaching qualification providers who deliver good quality qualifications. e.g.: the CIPD (predominantly HR focused, for delivering coaching within an organisational development programme), the International Coaching Federation (a dedicated coaching skills qualification provider who has improved the quality of their programmes considerably in recent years), Eurocoach (again another dedicated coaching skills qualification provider who is gaining in reputation for the quality of coaches they produce), to name but a few.

Note: many ‘coaches’ have completed in-house coaching skills programmes from when they were working within large organisations. Be careful! These are rarely genuine qualifications or aimed at developing coaching skills to a professional standard (of course, there are a few exceptions). These programmes are usually designed for the ‘coach’ to be working within the organisation, rather than being independent. If your preferred ‘coach’ has been trained in this way, establish how they have adapted to being a professional independent coach before going further.

(TIP: if you’re thinking about qualifying as a coach, remember the simple ‘rule’ of coaching qualifications – on the whole, you get what you pay for!).

 

3) Check-out their specific post-qualification coaching experience.

It may sound like a contradiction, but the professional qualification does not ‘make’ the coach in the fully rounded, competent professional sense.

It is their post-qualification experience that really defines a coach’s credibility and expertise as a genuine coach.

When I qualified as a coach back in 2004, I completed around 150 hours of post-qualification coaching with a very wide range of business clients before I felt I had reached a level of professional competency and ‘rounded’ coaching ability required in a professional, independent coach.

All professional coaches will understand the need to continuously and pro-actively review and develop their skills and abilities throughout their careers, learning from every coaching session they deliver. As such, an experienced coach tends to work in specific areas of delivery that reflects their skills and experience (as this will provide greater empathy with the subject matter). In my case, for example, I concentrate on working with business clients around their leadership, business strategy and growth management requirements.

So, look for a genuinely qualified professional coach with a delivery focus in the areas you are seeking to change or develop.

Remember, it is not unusual to enlist the expertise of more than one coach in order to make sure their collective expertise is aligned with all of your requirements.

 

So, that’s it!

Three, hopefully, simple steps to help you find the best coach for you.

Just remember to do your research first.

If you’re unsure about anything here, or if you have any questions about coaching, please get in touch – I’m here to help.

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2015-17. All rights reserved.

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Business growth: how to overcome slowing growth

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Whether you like it or not, a growing business will, at some point, experience a time when growth slows down significantly, or even stalls completely.

Most business owners – the vast majority in my experience – fail to see this coming (mainly through ineffective planning and analysis) and so, potentially critically, don’t know what to do about it when it does arrive (note I say “when” not “if”).

The result?

Business owners tend to take one of two actions. They either:

Do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Bury their head in the ‘sand’. Assume (usually sub-consciously) that the ‘crisis’ (for that’s what it will quickly become if not dealt with effectively) does not ‘apply’ to them, and that it will soon go away, or rectify itself, and growth will return….as if by magic!

Or

They panic. Rush around like the proverbial headless chickens. Turn everything upside down. Create chaos and unsettle everyone in the business, and end up right back where they started – with growth going nowhere!

Unsurprisingly, the lack of planning and strategic thinking to deal with the situation is potentially disastrous for the business.

So, what do you do when growth slows/stalls?

First, and this is important, do not panic!

Second, as you work through this challenging time, always remember to think strategically – how everything you do ‘fits’ into the ‘big picture’ for your business.

Then, you need a clear plan and process for working through this business risk to truly understand and deal with it. For example…

Step 1: get everyone, especially those with the relevant skills and experience, involved who needs to be involved.

Having a team who can ‘access all areas’ is essential to success, and is vital in getting a complete insight into the causes, effects and solutions for their issue.

Step 2: ensure there is plenty of energy in the team and the process at all times.

Any solution needs to be achieved in a timely manner, no matter how challenging it is.

Step 3: the solutions is reality….not magic!

Take a practical, subjective, ‘here and now’ approach to getting growth going again.

Step 4: give finding a solution your complete focus.

Finding the causes of slowing/stalling growth, and a solution for it has to be your absolute priority.

If it isn’t, by the time you fully understand the causes and have worked out how to move forward, it may well be too late!

Step 5: search, search, and search again.

The only way you will design and implement a genuinely good solution is from fully understanding the causes of this slowing/stalling growth.

So do everything you can to find every cause, no matter how small, no matter how large.

Only then can you be sure of building an effective solution for the whole business.

Remember to search systematically – leave no stone unturned. It is essential you root out and analyse every cause.

Step 6: take responsibility.

Unless you have conclusive proof to the contrary, take full responsibility for the causes of the slowing/stalling growth.

Step 7: remember to have a back-up too.

Just in case the steps above don’t provide the solution(s) you need, remember there is always the ‘plan B’ option – what else can you do for the good of the business that delivers a step forward?

 

Remember, the best leaders take immediate ownership and full responsibility for every challenge, and tackle them all head-on. No excuses.

Make sure you do too.

As always, if you would like to discuss building a successful plan, or how to improve your personal development in the fields of business growth, please get in touch.

To find out how my clients also achieve a 35% year-on-year increase in profits, please get in touch:

T: 01242-672440

E: click here

Business growth: making sure you get from here to there

Going LI post pic 071015 2

What does it take to grow a business and, especially, keep it growing?

What causes so many to stumble just when it seems they’re on the right track?

What makes business growth so difficult, when it doesn’t have to be?

It might surprise you, but the answers to all three questions are the same:

  • Planning
  • Reflective learning
  • Regularly reviewing both

So, let’s take these in order.

Planning

The main observation I have about planning is that business owners, executives and managers all too often fail to get their planning right.

Typically, they usually don’t have enough detail in their plans and, importantly, they frequently don’t plan far enough ahead:

It’s always easier to take something out later on than it is to add something new in

Your plan needs to look at least 3 years, and preferably 5 years ahead

Your plan needs to include everything that happens in your business, and I really do mean everything: including market analysis and trends, business structure, analysis of your competitors, product analysis and development, cashflow, profit and loss, and full financial analysis and forecasting, as well as conventional S.W.O.T. analysis and what you are learning.

Business planning is also like  planning a journey using a map – you need to know exactly where you are now and exactly where you want to get to. The route you take is up to you!

Remember: ONS figures show that over 80% of businesses who plan properly will successfully make it through the next 5 years. Over 80% of those who don’t, won’t!

 

Reflective learning

In psychological terms, reflective learning is recognised as one of the most successful, flexible, yet simplest to implement, forms of personal development in whichever parts of your life you choose to apply it.

It is particularly recognised as the key in developing one’s emotional intelligence, for example.

In fact, it is something that many of us already do without necessarily realising it.

Here’s how it works:

  • Spend a little time each day making notes of that day’s experiences. Some people choose to do this in a journal, or a pocket book, or in a mind map, or record it, or just write a list of key words – basically, do it in a way that makes it memorable, and enjoyable for you
  • Reflect on the key events, however small, making note of what impact they had on you, what went well, what you could/should have done differently, and so on
  • If you can, try to take the emotional attachment (which we all have) out of your reflections and just note down the ‘hard facts’
  • Then regularly, for example once per week, review your notes adding anything else that comes to mind.
  • So, over a period of time you will build a ‘library’ of your own unique learning experiences which you can refer to at any time.

There’s even probably an app for that! J

 

Finally, review and update you plan every month or two, perhaps applying what you have learned  too?

 

As always, if you would like to discuss building a successful plan, or how to improve your personal development in the fields of business growth, please get in touch.

To find out how my clients also achieve a 35% year-on-year increase in profits, please get in touch:

T: 01242-672440

E: click here

Drop your obsession with ‘being in busYness’!

Busy Busy Busy image 110815 1

Have you noticed there’s something of an obsession among ‘business people’ to be seen as constantly, and dare I say chaotically busy?

There seems to be an almost unwritten ‘law’ that telling everyone you meet how excessively busy you are is somehow good for their business.

But what does it actually do for their business? What messages does it send out? Is it really what current and potential customers want to hear?

Most importantly, are these people just busy being busy, or are they actually busy being productive? There is a huge difference!

I’ve made a study of over 100 micro businesses over the last 2 years, and here are the conclusions.

Unsurprisingly, the people who are busy being productive are very much in the minority – typically just 1 in 10 at best.

The remainder are, quite literally, busying themselves with what they consider is ‘being busy’, yet have very little output to show for their efforts.

In many of these cases, they have a firm belief that filling their time with what they consider to be “essential” or “important” tasks is good for their businesses, sends out a positive message, and as a result they are “too busy” to do other things (which would improve their productivity).

But what are the causes of this obsession with busyness?

Well, from the businesses I have looked at, it’s fundamentally about being disorganised – poor diary/time management, not prioritising the necessary tasks, not thinking clearly about being productive instead of just being busy, and consistently not understanding the full requirements of each task (including what they would deliver, how long they would take to complete, what the whole task requires, and so on).

So, how can you improve your productivity and free-up more of your time in the process?

Try these 3 steps:

  1. Make a list of your essential tasks first. Then note down everything you need to complete each task (and I do mean everything): whose help/input you will need, what materials and other resources you need, deadlines, etc, then work out how long it will take to complete fully.
  2. Prioritise these tasks – simply compare each task with all the others, and decide which task in each comparison is most important. The number of ‘wins’ from each comparison that each task gets, gives you your prioritised list – the more ‘wins’, the higher the priority.
  3. Give yourself feedback on how successfully you increase your productivity – do you estimate enough time, do you remember everything that each task requires, how is it benefiting your customers and your business, and so on?

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2015-17. All rights reserved.