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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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Are You Spending Too Much Time Working In Your Business?

Are You Spending Too Much Time Working In Your Business?

I have a client – I’ll call him John – who has a manufacturing business. He considered himself fairly successful, but he wasn’t very happy or excited about his success. He was feeling stuck, and he was mentally and physically exhausted in his business. Stay tuned to hear how we were able to get John some relief. When I first met John, he was spending crazy hours at work, and really felt like he was on a hamster wheel – just running like crazy to keep the business moving forward. He was involved in every aspect of his business and either doing or supervising everything himself.  When I asked him what his vision for the company was, and what specific goals he had targeted for this year, he kind of gave me a deer in the headlights sort of stare. Then he shrugged and said that he didn’t have time to worry about strategy – he was doing everything he could just to keep the company on track. He was working completely IN his business and hadn’t taken the opportunity to take a step back and work ON his business at a higher level. He had created a strategic plan

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Engaging Your Employees for Success

Engaging Your Employees for Success

You’ve probably heard the term “Employee Engagement” used to describe a best practice within an organization. But what does it look like, and how do we know when our employees are engaged? In a somewhat simplistic sense, employee engagement is a focused approach in the workplace that results in happy employees, committed to the organization, who are giving their best each and every day. These employees believe in the company, are proud to work there, and are committed to the success of the organization. It is up to employers to set the stage for a culture of employee engagement – by creating the right conditions so employees will strive to reach their individual potential, and create successful outcomes for the organization. There are several ways to tell if your employees are fully engaged in their work and in the company culture. How is their attitude? Engaged employees are generally very positive and upbeat. They look forward to coming to work each day, and actively seek out opportunities for contribution. They are eager to discuss ideas and work to inspire those around them. Engaged employees are great to have on a team, because of their positive attitude and the fact that

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Growing Profits in 2018

Growing Profits in 2018

Growing profits does not necessarily mean you have to work harder.  Sometimes, we just have to work smarter. Look at how your salespeople are earning new business – are they actively communicating with potential customers or have they settled into being “order-takers”? What is your sales model? Do your salespeople all work from a process or a selling system, or are they each left to fly by the seat of their pants? Are you confident that your salespeople are communicating the unique value proposition your products or services offer? Do the research, and create a list of “Top-10” prospective customers – what would it take to earn their business? Find out who currently serves these customers and determine if and how you could better serve their needs. Reach out to lost customers. Find out why they left you if you don’t already know, then ask straight out what it would take to earn back their business. Express an honest and sincere desire to understand how you can best serve them. The key is being sincere. People will see right through a fake attempt to appear concerned, and that breeds mistrust. Take some time to actually have conversations with some of

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