All small businesses are affected by change. It could be something as simple as implementing a new payroll system or as monumental as switching to a new operating system or moving the office to a new location. Even if the change is warranted and the results are promising, change is rarely easy and a large percentage of change efforts fail. So how can leaders set themselves and their teams up for success when it comes to implementing change? It truly all begins with effective change leadership.
When you look at the Clifton StrengthsFinder personality types, effective change leaders can emerge from
any of the four strength domains: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building or Strategic Thinking and any combination thereof. When you know your StrengthsFinder strengths and where they fall in these four areas, you can dig into ways to improve your effectiveness in implementing change. Some common personality types of effective change leaders include:
Gallup’s book, Strengths-Based Leadership, covers the four attributes that people look for in their leaders as well as how leaders can develop their natural talents to deepen their leadership skills.
Working with their natural wiring, leaders can successfully enact change in many ways. Here are some important components of effective change leadership:
When a leader comes in like a bulldozer and starts implementing change without notice, they take employees off-guard and can trigger a host of negative reactions. However, when a leader communicates clearly from day one and involves employees in pre-change discussion, even in situations where employees are hesitant, they feel respected and often embrace the change as the process moves forward. When proposing a change, here are some key questions you as a leader can address:
The why: Why is this change necessary? Addressing this can be particularly challenging in an environment where employees perceive operations to be humming along just fine as is. When presenting your “why,” it may be necessary to debunk some myths and shed light on ways company operations could stand to improve.
The where: Where will the proposed change take your employees and the company as a whole? Cast a vision for a bright future and all the benefits that await everyone on the other side of this change.
The how: How are you going to move your company from Point A to Point B? Delineate a roadmap with manageable steps that helps your company move into this new, beneficial place.
If you want to be an effective change leader, it’s necessary to involve employees and key stakeholders early on in the decision-making process. Creating a sense of unity around the proposed change will help strengthen employees’ dedication to implementing it. Unify your team for a successful collaborative experience.
Instead of approaching the situation as if you have all the answers, ask questions of and solicit formal and informal feedback from your employees. This will allow you to make effective adjustments and course corrections before and during the implementation phase. It can help open your mind to perspectives and possibilities that only people with their boots on the ground can contribute, unify employees and management and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.
Want help managing change for success within your organization? Sign up for a complimentary strategic coaching session on our website!
10+ years after the Great Recession of 2006-2007, the U.S. economy is healthy. For the majority of small business owners, taking out loans to fund growth is relatively easy through conventional banking as well as alternative funding sources. Many small businesses sales are strong. But how long will this trend last? History teaches us that the economy ebbs and flows and on the heels of every boom there is an eventual downturn. Currently, there is a sense of uncertainty due to the political and economic climate here in the States and around the world. Additionally, as we come up on an election year in 2020, many people will sit tight and withhold spending. Let’s take a look at how an eventual economic downturn will affect small businesses and what small businesses can do to prepare.
Trends in the small business sector show that of recent, fewer and fewer small businesses are borrowing capital to grow and expand their businesses. More small businesses are focusing on maintaining their operations and profitability. Small businesses sense a shift in the economy earlier than large businesses and currently 43% of small and medium-sized businesses say that an economic downturn is on their radar and they are taking steps to prepare.
Lending comes to a halt: Traditional institutions stop lending to small businesses so credit and capital are restricted. This can spell disaster for unprepared small businesses.
Sales decline: Depending on your industry, your sales can suffer greatly. In an economic downturn, consumers reduce discretionary spending and move into a maintenance mentality. For example, if your business sells recreational vehicles or remodels homes, you will notice a sharp decrease in demand as consumers reduce spending on “extras” in order to focus on necessities.
Suppliers can’t be depended on: Supply chain disruptions are to be expected in tighter financial times. Some suppliers go out of business while others are spread thin and have a difficult time delivering on customer demands. Smaller suppliers are small businesses of their own and will be impacted more than large suppliers.
Even in our current economic boom, according to the PCA Index Survey Responses Trend Analysis by Pepperdine Graziadio Business School and Dun & Bradstreet, 60% of minority-owned businesses are reporting financing difficulties and as a result, a squeeze on business growth. 66% of minority-owned businesses say this squeeze will have a negative impact on hiring in 2019. When an economic downturn does come, minority-owned business who are already experiencing financing challenges will be at even greater risk.
There are a handful of ways small businesses can prepare for a recession.
Diversify your client base: Because a downturn in the economy affects industries differently, make sure if at all possible, that your clients represent a wide range of industries. Avoid putting all your eggs in one basket.
Exercise financial discretion: Operate your business finances in such a way that you’re prepared if revenue gets tight. Think twice before making long-term financial commitments such as signing a lease or hiring new employees.
Secure your financing now: Take that line of credit now when money is easier to come by. Even if you don’t need it at the moment you will have it when you do, and you should only be charged interest on the amount you use.
Consider hiring freelancers and contractors: There’s nothing more painful during tight financial times than instituting layoffs. While layoffs are often necessary to help small businesses stay afloat, consider hiring freelancers or contractors to minimize this possibility. Layoffs affect company morale and can have a devastating effect on hard-working employees and their families.
Is your small business prepared for a recession? Visit our website and sign up for a complimentary strategic coaching session. We’re here to help!
21st century leadership is moving away from the traditional leadership hierarchy of the past and embracing a more approachable leadership style. Leaders are climbing down from their lofty positions of power and forging a more human-to-human connection with their team(s). This shift in leadership styles is largely fueled by research from thought leaders such as Pat Lencioni and Brené Brown who acknowledge the value of empathy in leadership and is driven by employees who, in this age of social media, equate transparency with trustworthiness.
Vulnerability – the precursor to empathy
Our ability to be daring leaders will never be greater than our capacity for vulnerability. – Brené Brown
Empathy is putting ourselves in the shoes of another in order to truly understand their experience. This simply cannot be done without being willing to be vulnerable. When you’re empathetic, you’re taking a risk; you risk feeling something that may be uncomfortable or even painful. The benefit for those willing to be empathetic is connection and fulfillment. Leaders who are willing to be vulnerable and extend empathy forge a connection with their team members that cannot be created any other way.
Employees want transparent leadership
Why is transparent leadership so important? According to “5 Powerful Things Happen When A Leader Is Transparent,” a September 10, 2012 article in Forbes;
“Being transparent is a powerful thing, if you can trust yourself and be trusted by others. The reason most leaders are not transparent is because they believe they will be viewed as less authoritative; that the credentials they worked so hard to attain will lose their power, leverage and gravitas. This is the problem with most leaders, they are not aware of the reality that exists around them. People want to relate to [their] leaders. People want to know that their leaders have experienced the same problems and/or how they have overcome personal hardships.”
“We are all living during a time when people want and expect their leaders to be more human, less perfect and at times a bit vulnerable – regardless of hierarchy or rank.”
Transparency unifies teams, increases trust between team members and their leaders and increases workplace productivity. When a leader exhibits transparency, they allow others to see them without pretense. This creates an environment that fosters vulnerability – which occurs in the context of relationship – and opens up the doors for empathy.
Empathetic leaders foster healthier workplaces
“To scale daring leadership and build courage in teams and organizations, we have to cultivate a culture in which brave work, tough conversations, and whole hearts are the expectation, and armor is not necessary or rewarded. We have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.’
Conversely, ‘the greatest barrier to courageous leadership is not fear—it’s how we respond to our fear. Our armor—the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that we use to protect ourselves when we aren’t willing and able to rumble with vulnerability—move us out of alignment with our values, corrode trust with our colleagues and teams, and prevent us from being our most courageous selves.” – Brené Brown
When leaders show up as their true selves and relate to their teams with vulnerability and empathy, a bridge of trust is built. Employees know that they are accepted for who they are, that they are indeed part of a team and that what they contribute matters. When they know that they are valued and can trust their leaders, team members are motivated to do their best and make a difference in their workplace by applying themselves more fully to their work.
How can leaders develop and increase empathy?
Regardless of the size of your business, fostering empathetic leadership will have a positive impact on morale and productivity. Here are some great ways to do this:
Would you like to foster more empathy and engagement in your workplace? Get in touch with us, we have tools and programs specifically designed to help you create this in your workplace!
We’ve acknowledged the employee engagement crisis and established the importance of engaging your employees. But how does an employer go about this? Would adding a soda machine and a ping pong table to your breakroom engage your employees and turn a bigger profit for your company? Most certainly not. Increasing employee engagement requires a clear employee engagement strategy. Here are some important components of an effective strategy:
Be transparent: In order to engage employees, it’s crucial to gain their trust and be relatable. As opposed to the temptation to appear larger than life, foster open and honest communication with those you lead. Tell the truth, admit when you make a mistake and ask for input from employees when it’s appropriate. Your employees will respect your authenticity and repay you with their hard work and dedication.
Clearly communicate expectations: This goes beyond clarifying job descriptions. Alarmingly, according to recent Gallup statistics, only 50% of employees know what is expected of them at work. Make sure your team knows what you expect of them in every aspect of their jobs. Also, set performance goals so they know what they’re working towards. This will keep them from floundering and will fuel their motivation.
Encourage teamwork: Employees who feel disconnected from their co-workers often disengage at work. Combat this by fostering an environment where collaboration and strategic thinking are encouraged and watch your employees thrive.
Encourage growth and development: Do your employees have the tools they need to do their jobs well? Do they have the resources to grow personally and professionally? Is there additional training you could provide for your employees that would spur them on to the next level? Stagnant employees easily become disengaged employees. Equip them with the tools and vision to develop and refine their skills and encourage them to move beyond their current roles in your company.
Allow flexibility: If the nature of the work your team members do allows them to work remotely or set their own schedules, consider offering them this flexibility, even one or two days a week. Also encourage them to step away from their desks frequently throughout the workday to recalibrate. The New York Times reports that employees who take a break every 90 minutes claim a 30% increase in focus and a 50% increase in creativity. Giving employees some control over their time will help combat burnout and create more of a sense of work-life balance.
Empower your employees: Show them that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves and give them a platform to voice their opinions on happenings within the company. When possible, allow them to weigh in on important decisions. When employees have a voice and a sense of mission, they will go above and beyond their minimum responsibilities, work with passion and experience greater job fulfillment.
Recognize employee achievements: Take every opportunity to recognize employees for their contributions, accomplishments and for meeting performance goals. This will motivate your team to continue to strive for excellence and produce quality work.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into employee engagement and learning some effective ways you can engage your team, I will be speaking at the South Florida Business Excellence Forum and Awards in Coral Gables, Florida on January 14, 2019 and we would love to have you join us! Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.sfbefa.com/#tile_tickets_anchor.
If employee engagement increases business profitability, why, according to 2016 Gallup statistics, is employee disengagement at an all-time high? In fact, 53% of U.S. workers are not engaged at their jobs and 17% of workers are actively disengaged. Employers must take the time to invest in formal employee engagement strategies to engage and retain their employees. Gallup also reports that, without an engagement strategy in place, teams are 21% less profitable, 17% less productive, have 10% lower customer ratings and increased employee turnover.
So what’s the goal? An engaged employee is energized by their work, passionate about their work and fulfilled in their work. They are driven by a desire to achieve excellence in all their tasks and are motivated by contributing to something greater than themselves. Engaged employees are committed to their work both cognitively and emotionally, consistently going above and beyond their basic responsibilities while maintaining a sense of loyalty to their employer.
An employee that is not engaged or is actively disengaged has a negative impact on company profit, productivity and customer satisfaction and they hamper overall business success. They only do the minimum that is required of them and they lack the motivation to pursue excellence. If a “better” job comes along they will surely take it.
Many employers operate with a one-size-fits-all strategy and are out of touch with the unique needs and values of their employees. When employers take the time to get to know their employees individually and learn what they need from their managers and work environment and then respond accordingly, employees feel valued and employee engagement increases. Studies such as the Employee Engagement Survey by Customer Insight, indicates the importance of a healthy relationship between an employee and their manager in helping maintain engaged employees. Employees who feel like a face in the crowd are much less motivated to give their best on the job.
Another factor contributing to employee disengagement is burnout. Employees are often overloaded with tasks, particularly if they’ve proven they’re dependable. They also often find themselves uninspired by their work. This combination is the perfect recipe for employee burnout. A 2017 study by Future Workplace recognizes employee burnout as the largest threat to employee engagement.
When employers recognize the benefit to discovering and addressing their employees’ unique needs and values, they observe a pattern. Although their specific core needs look differently, they fall into four basic categories: physical needs, emotional needs, mental needs and spiritual needs. Supporting needs in each of these categories yields a more engaged team.
Depending on the size of your company, regularly meeting one-on-one with employees or issuing regular employee engagement surveys are two great ways to solicit feedback. While you may not find it feasible to address every single issue that is flagged, commit to addressing the ones you can by implementing thoughtful and effective measures. This might look like increasing the number of breaks your employees are allowed each day, delivering more consistent recognition for employee accomplishments, allowing your employees to determine when and where their work gets done or allowing them to dedicate a portion of their workweek to projects that truly inspire them. Keep in mind that when employees are engaged, everything runs more smoothly, and morale, productivity and profit naturally increase.
Stay tuned for our next post where we will discuss some effective ways to increase employee engagement!
In an all-too-familiar scenario, a well-known family business in our area recently suffered a significant breakdown in family dynamics and consequently, business operations. I often say and have lived it myself, “When the family dynamics are strained, it puts the lid on a business’s ability to grow,” not to mention the negative impact on family relationships.
Sometimes children come straight into the family business from high school. Other times, they go off and pursue their own careers and dreams and come into the family business later in life. Owning and operating a family business requires a special kind of attention to detail. It also requires an immense amount of planning and strategizing to successfully integrate new family members into an existing set of family members within the business framework. While this can be an exciting time, it can also be unsettling and leave you scrambling for solutions. How does one find a role for and integrate a banker, a manager or a therapist into the business? What about those who have outgrown their roles? Worse yet, what about when the role has outgrown the adult child? Roles and functions can get confusing and seeds of discord can be sown.
In this two-part series, I’ll be sharing ideas to support you in discovering ways to proceed both in your business and with your family.
Part One – Key Strategies for Business Success
One of the tools we use extensively with our clients in order to identify a person’s natural wiring is a profile assessment. This is distinct, although natural wiring is often confused with skills. Skills are defined and developed as things we learn through our experience. Natural wiring is the propensity to natural ways of thinking and being. These profile assessments point to certain roles in which a person will naturally do well. People still require training to develop in their role. However, they will easily grasp the concepts.
Clearly defined, accurate positional agreements, or job descriptions, are critical. When presented properly, the responsibilities and duties along with the key performance indicators of effectiveness in those tasks create clarity and the ability to objectively review one’s performance.
A current and future organizational chart outlines who reports to who and where the company is headed in terms of the human resource requirements and opportunities.
The “onboarding” process of integrating new team members into the business is best thought of as unfolding over weeks and months rather than over the course of days. This is part of well-structured human resource practices, policies and procedures.
Sometimes family business owners feel torn between the business and the family when issues arise. Understanding that challenges are to be expected, it’s best to think through criteria to manage them before they arise. This can lead to even greater workability and maturity within the family and can serve to develop a successful multi-generational family business.
In Part Two, I’ll go over the concept of the family business house and moving from a one-room house to a four-room house in order to operate a thriving family business.
A Family-Owned, Generational Business Challenge – Part Two
As your business grows in size and scope there are some unique roles that, when filled thoughtfully, will make a world of difference to the workability of your business, your family and your team.
Shortly after I met Leslie Marenco, she decided to dissolve her law firm and start Trust Counsel. Leslie, a Miami estate and trust attorney, knew she needed a total realignment of every aspect of her new firm, Trust Counsel, and asked ActionCOACH Business Coaching Team Sage to help facilitate this process. She expressed frustration over problems on every front – the workflow, the people on her team and the systems she had in place. Things weren’t working as well as she needed them to in order to operate a successful firm and Leslie knew the firm couldn’t continue on as it was.
We knew what we had to address to help Leslie’s firm get back on track. We cleaned house, got the right people on board, put specific systems and procedures in place and got the workflow straightened out. We nailed down precise job descriptions so Leslie could focus on her job and not feel obligated to take on her teammates’ responsibilities. Through all of our efforts, we built a strong foundation and made Trust Counsel viable.
When we asked Leslie what she would say to someone who is considering business coaching, she responded:
I’m a huge believer in business coaching. As a business owner, you only know your limited experience. You need someone to show you other ways to see your business and to help you succeed beyond what you know. Otherwise, you’ll create the same things over and over again. I believe in business coaching because it worked for me.
After working with Leslie at Trust Counsel, she shared with us that our coaching helped her gain more focus. She’s no longer staying at the office until midnight and, with the big picture in mind, she’s keeping on track:
You need someone to help you get out of the weeds and that’s what the coach does.
Are you finding yourself stuck in the office till all hours of the night? If you’re ready to get out of the weeds and start enjoying life and the business you created, we can help. Call us today to schedule an exploratory call, 305-285-9264 x302!