managing your business on a daily basis

random thoughts

“What is the difference between a great business owner and someone that could only be classed as being average? Some people would suggest that the former would offer inspiration to staff members, while the latter might be a rather less impressive figure.

I would certainly agree that one of the key ingredients to being a successful business owner is that ability to communication, to inspire and to interact with people on an individual basis. This is certainly true when considering employees, but you’ll find that such skills are also useful when dealing with suppliers and clients.

But this isn’t the only element that’s important to consider if you want to be really successful. Being able to communicate will certainly be useful, but my own experience suggests that many of the best people in any industry are also incredibly organised. Some of them obviously find that this comes naturally to them.

It should also be said that it’s clear that others have to work hard in order to stay on track. Many end up employing someone to specifically help with this area of the role. If you’re operating a small business, then you may not feel that you’re in a suitable financial position to take on a new employee to assist in this area. In this case, it’s really up to you to improve the situation.

Think about your average working day and what it might typically involve. Do you find that you spend a lot of your time jumping from one task to the next? You may actually struggle to concentrate on a single area of work. Although it can be good to multi-task, it’s important that every step that you take should be about helping your business to grow.

The reality, however, may be somewhat different. It’s so easy to get drawn in to dealing with a continuous stream of emergencies. In some senses, this could be said to be typical of the way in which many small businesses operate. There’s no plan or direction in place. If that’s how you’re approaching each day, then it’s fair to assume that your employees may also have a similar lack of direction. This is unlikely to be producing positive results.

So how can you deal with this situation? At the present time, you may feel that this is the only way for you to approach things, although the reality is that there are likely to be a number of approaches available to you. Firstly, it’s important to remember that you’re unlikely to be the only person who can get things done.

It’s often said that the ability to delegate is critical to any business owner and I certainly believe this to be true. If you are trying to deal with areas where you have a lack of knowledge, then think about outsourcing some tasks. You don’t need to fight this battle on your own.”

Jonas Swain (reading-place.com)

Anuncis

don’t be a robot

improve yourself

“Personalized and thoughtful professional habits seem to have fallen by the wayside since the digital technology takeover. The fast-paced nature of our workplaces requires instantaneous communication that’s starting to leave us stiff. So drop your robotic ways and save your professional image with these thoughtful tips:

1. Use your phone
Email and instant messaging seem to have taken precedence over the traditional phone call. Sure, it may seem more efficient to shoot someone a quick email, but you run the risk of engaging in a long and unproductive email chain. Instead, pick up the phone and give your customer, client, or coworker a call. Not only will you be able to get to the bottom of things in a more timely manner, you’ll also initiate a more engaging and personalized approach to your communication.

2. Send thank you notes (a thank you email doesn’t count)
Break away from the robotic monotony of sending off less-than-thoughtful emails and start using thank you notes as a part of your professional routine. You’ll leave a more personalized and thoughtful impression on whomever receives them.

3. Personalize your networking endeavors
The point of networking is to build valuable professional relationships, but this can be a challenge if your approach lacks personalization. Find time to meet in person on a more regular basis, whether you catch up over coffee or take a half hour to discuss projects in the office. Facetime is far more personal than regular email and social media correspondence.

4. Lend a hand
Sometimes we end up getting too focused on managing our own work and forget to reach out to our coworkers. Boost the thoughtfulness around your office by lending a hand whenever you have a moment of downtime. Even if someone needs help with something that isn’t directly applicable to your role, you may save them a great deal of time — and learn something for yourself — in the process. They will also be more likely to return the favor in the future.

5. Listen
Tuning out your work environment has become a rule for reaching productivity on a daily basis. But you may actually be missing out on more than you think. Listening to what’s going on with your managers, coworkers, and your company will help you to be a more thoughtful employee and leader. For example, spending more time listening may help you to recognize someone for their work on a particular project.

6. Don’t forget to keep in touch
When the pace picks up at work, keeping in touch often falls to the wayside. Break this thoughtless habit by scheduling a time each week to touch base with the important people in your professional life. This may mean sending a note to valued customers, calling your clients to see how they’re doing, or even taking a coworker out to lunch.

7. Be courteous
Leave your mark on everyone you interact with professionally by increasing your level of courtesy. Picking up the tab, creating a calendar invite before your coworker, or offering to meet at your client’s office rather than having them travel to your own will never go out of style. It’s the little things that will send a more thoughtful and courteous message.

8. Give credit where credit is due
Have we lost the ability to give compliments? Today it seems that we’re so focused on perfecting and promoting our personal brand online that we rarely give credit to others. Step away from promoting your personal work on your social media platforms and give some credit to friends, coworkers, and even your potential competitors. For example, share an article you love and praise the author directly.

Having a professional image doesn’t mean going overboard on the stiff formalities. It’s never too late to make your professional interactions more personalized and thoughtful.”

Ilya Pozin founder of Ciplex and Open Me

how to delegate

work smarter

“To make sure that your investment in an intern, contractor, or employee pays off, follow these strategies:

1) Block out specific tasks and timelines before you hire
Prior to bringing someone on, clarify exactly what you want him or her to do. “Help with administrative tasks” isn’t specific enough. Think of specific job responsibilities and outcomes such as “write monthly newsletter,” “follow up with clients,” or “organize events.” Then estimate about how much time you think these activities will take. (Make sure to plan for more time than they would take you, since you’re the pro.)
Once you’ve define the specific activities, you should start to get a sense of how many hours a week you need someone to work for you or if you only need help around certain times, such as the holidays or a big conference. This clarity on what exactly you expect others to do for you will help you look for the right skill set and hourly commitment (and give you something to measure against after you hire).

2) For the first few weeks: you’re the teacher
If you’ve found someone who is smart and eager to learn, you can expect that in time she will have the capacity to act on her own. But at the beginning, you need to slow down and explain the action steps required for each assignment. This means not making assumptions about what she knows or doesn’t know, providing both good and bad examples, and offering to review work when it’s still in the initial stages.
This keeps the person you manage from heading down a divergent path or producing work that you need to redo. Your new hire can be the most entrepreneurial self-starter in the world, but if you don’t take the time to teach her the ropes, you put her in a position to fail. Remember: delegate, but don’t abdicate.

3) Establish a communication rhythm
Constant interruptions with questions throughout your day have a huge negative impact on productivity. Conversely, never knowing the status of projects can leave you on edge. From the beginning, set expectations for when you both should communicate with each other. It’s likely the work will determine the frequency of status updates. For example, weekly one-on-ones work with some individuals, while others will need check-ins daily or multiple times a day. Clarify how frequently you want communication and the mode that will work best, such as e-mail, instant message, phone, or in-person meetings. This puts your mind at ease and helps set expectations for your new hire.

4) Track the tasks
It’s very easy for to-do items to get lost or forgotten in the swirl of activities. One of the best ways to ensure that what you delegate gets done is to set up a tracking system. This could look like a shared document, task list, or project management program. The tool isn’t as important as the purpose of both you and the person you hired having a clear understanding of what needs to get done and if it has been accomplished.

5) Give feedback, early and often
Not telling someone that something she’s doing or not doing is driving you crazy until you’re ready to fire her is not helpful to you or to her. Give feedback early and often about what’s going right and about areas where you would like to see improvement. Set up monthly lunches or quarterly meetings where you can each focus on the big picture of what is working and what isn’t. When you give ideas for growth, keep your focus on specific enhancements that can be made to the work instead of giving blanket judgments of the work, and even more confidence-busting, criticisms of the person’s character.”

Elisabeth Grace Saunders founder of Real Life & Time Coaching & Training

3 things that empower your team

work smarter

“It’s not about motivational posters, productivity seminars or catchy slogans. It’s more about a culture that encourages open communication, provides plenty of context and requires accountability.”

Dan Sanker president & CEO at CaseStack inc.