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Developing Leaders from Within

Developing Leaders from Within

One mistake that we’re probably all familiar with is the scenario around promoting your best worker in any given discipline to a management position. Many times, the promotion doesn’t end up working out – either the new manager gets frustrated and leaves, or the company is disappointed in the performance of the new manager. Sometimes it works, and that is fabulous! However, there are some common themes at play here in the situations where it doesn’t quite work. Being a technical expert doesn’t necessarily mean that the person will have the skills to manage people. There are different competencies required for managing people. Sometimes, while a management position might seem attractive to a skilled worker, when they realize the amount of time they need to spend on people issues, managing projects and supervising other peoples work, they sometimes realize they miss the work they used to do. They enjoyed being a technical expert and miss that part of their new job. So, what is the best way to develop that internal leadership pool? Have ongoing conversations with employees to find out what their goals are. Let them know what leadership entails – be honest with the types of knowledge, skills

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Branding for Employee Attraction

Branding for Employee Attraction

We all know the importance of branding ourselves in the marketplace. It is critical to have a decent level of brand awareness, so that our customers and clients have a sense of who we are and are attracted to us. But – what about branding ourselves to attract employees? Currently, the United States is experiencing its lowest unemployment rate in decades. Great news for our economy – somewhat troubling news for employers. A low unemployment rate means that the competition for qualified candidates is really tough. There are a lot of very good companies out there vying for the same talent pool.  How can you stand out to be an employer of choice? Put yourself in your potential or current employee’s shoes. With multiple opportunities out there, why should they choose your company? What is it about a career with your company that will be different from another company? How you articulate what you have available could make a big difference to an employee making a decision to either come to your company, or to stay with your company. What does your brand say about your company? Often it is the intangibles that make a difference. Poll your current employees

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Business Planning Can be Simple!

Business Planning Can be Simple!

Do you have a business plan? When I ask that question to business owners, I get a variety of responses, most of which are accompanied by an eye roll or two. The reason for the eye rolls? Many people believe that creating a business plan is a long, drawn out affair that compiles a ton of data and research into a document that at the end of the day doesn’t do much for helping people actually run their business. This type of document is great for demonstrating to bankers or investors that you have a handle on your business, the competitive environment in which you are operating, and your overall plans. BUT… a huge business plan doesn’t really help you run your business on a day to day basis. For that – you need something simple, that at the same time, gives you enough direction and focus to meet your overall goals. Enter the One Page Business Plan. This is a proven system that will allow you to laser focus on your most important goals for the year. You determine your vision for the next several years, then set strategies and specific action plans to create a roadmap to guide

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The Performance Review Dilemma

The Performance Review Dilemma

I had a very interesting conversation with a client recently. She mentioned that her small company hadn’t done performance reviews in several years. The reason…? The company wasn’t in a strong enough financial position to offer raises.  This particular company had several years of tough times. Financially, they weren’t in a position to offer raises or bonuses to their employees as they had done in years past. Because they couldn’t offer raises, they believed that they shouldn’t do performance reviews. They believed that the only purpose of the performance review is to determine a new compensation structure. I was disheartened when I heard that line of thinking from this executive. Many times, a raise or a bonus is just one of several potential outcomes following an appraisal. Believe it or not, your employees have a vested interest in their progression as an employee. The performance appraisal time is an opportunity to share information with the employee, and more importantly, an opportunity to LISTEN to how the employee feels they have done over the past year. How have they improved this year? What is it that they are doing right? What new directions could this person pursue within the company? How

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Are You Stuck?

Are You Stuck?

I speak with many business owners who feel frustrated that they are experiencing a plateau. They aren’t growing, in fact, some of them are actually in a declining mode. What happens when companies get stuck in a rut, or feel themselves plateauing? How do you know if your company is in a rut? Some companies never realize it, they just don’t know how to recognize it, and believe it or not, many of them eventually die off. Those who can recognize what is happening, those that understand they have plateaued, and those that are willing to work to change their trajectory are the ones who will succeed. If you suspect you are stuck, the first thing to do is to take a look at your numbers. What story do your numbers tell over the last several years? Following the numbers will give you a solid picture of where your company has been and where you are likely to head with no significant changes. This may sound like a crazy question, but the first question I ask a “stuck” business owner is: “Do you want to grow?” I ask it in all seriousness, because there are a surprising number of people

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Accountability Drives Results

Accountability Drives Results

In my work with clients, one of the major themes that I come across is the issue of accountability. So many people work hard on their business planning activities, set goals, have wonderful intentions…but something happens. Or, rather, something DOESN’T happen! All the planning in the world won’t move your business forward unless you are committed to taking the action steps you outlined for yourself. So often, especially at the beginning of a new year or new quarter or new business cycle, we spend lots of time planning. It is easy to get stuck in too much input and not enough output! The magic is in the implementation. That is easier said than done and many of us think we just need to be focused, or be disciplined in order to “do” the work we said we would do to move our business forward. It is REALLY hard to do it yourself! Small and mid-sized business owners often lack the infrastructure that is present in larger companies. One of the downsides of a lack of infrastructure is a lack of accountability. If a business owner is the only executive on their team, they don’t have a peer group with whom

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Find and Hold Your Focus

Find and Hold Your Focus

There are a lot of things that compete for your time and attention as a business owner. So much so, that it is easy to lose focus on the growth goals that keep a company going strong. So how do we first find, then hold onto a focus that will move us forward? When we try and focus on a multitude of things at one time, we often fall into the trap of not being able to really focus on anything at all. There are a lot of distractions that go on in any company, and it is easy to spend all of your time putting out fires, chasing orders or dealing with production issues. Before you know it, much of the year has passed! So how do you find focus? Ask yourself – what is the ONE major thing you need to do in order to see success this year? Is it a certain revenue number? Landing a specific customer? Adding a product or service line? Once you have that vision in mind, write it down. Share it with your team. Determine what has to happen to get to that point. What are the things you’ll need to be

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Managing for Results

Managing for Results

Most of the business owners I work with start out with one huge complaint – they spend much of their time putting out fires, managing people issues, and feeling out of control. They are generally pretty frustrated with the fact that they aren’t getting the results they think they should be getting in their company. Imagine their surprise when I tell them that they likely aren’t managing for results. Managing for results involved focusing all of the efforts of the company on a select, specific, set of targets. The CEO and the executive team determine what key indicators they want to measure in a given year. The chosen targets are goals that if achieved, will move the company forward. Once the key indicators are identified, they are shared with the entire team, so that everyone knows what they are trying to achieve in the coming year. Now, while this might sound simplistic, in reality, not many companies actually take the time to set targets and then cascade those down to the people who are responsible for hitting those goals. When everyone in the company knows exactly what measures they need to achieve, and more importantly, the part that each individual

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Build Strategic Thinking into your Routine

Build Strategic Thinking into your Routine

I’m sure you’ve seen them – those business owners who always seem to know where they are going and are solidly on a path to achieve their goals. They are confident and sure of their plans. Then, there are others who always seem to be fighting fires, catching up on yesterday’s tasks and are completely consumed by living in the moment. How do we move from too much time in the here and now to a little more in the pre-planned path? Would it surprise you to know that strategic thinkers are more effective leaders, and are more inspiring to their people? So how do we become a strategic thinker? How do we develop strategic thinking in our organizations? Strategic thinking is not just limited to the executive suite. You want to encourage strategic thinking among all levels of the organization. This is a skill that can be developed if nurtured and given time to grow. Here are a couple of tips to develop a strategic mindset. Look around you. What is happening in your company? Are there issues that arise over and over? Are your people complaining of the same things time and time again? What is going on

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Developing the Emerging Leaders In Your Organization

Developing the Emerging Leaders In Your Organization

One of the critical jobs of a leader is to make sure they are developing the people that come behind them. You are running a company. No matter how your business is going, one thing is certain. You won’t be running it forever. At some point, you will begin to slow down, and perhaps even retire. At that point, you need to have someone you trust take the reins from you. Have you identified that person, or several potentials? If you have, that’s great – you are ahead of the crowd! If not, don’t despair – having a focus on developing the next generation of leadership will serve you well. I have seen companies where an heir apparent (or several potentials) have been identified, and groomed for positions of increasing responsibility throughout their careers. These individuals are then well positioned to take over the day to day running of the company when the leader decides to take a step back. I applaud these companies – and think that more need to follow this example! But it doesn’t just happen organically! Many larger companies have solid management training programs that will lead a promising individual through all areas of the company,

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