Category Archives: Managing

Listening is paramount for business growth

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Do you have employees who are smart and engaged and that you suspect have great ideas but don’t seem willing to contribute? Do they trust you to acknowledge their contribution? Do they think you will even listen to their ideas?

Most employees have ideas and while not every one is a gem, some of those ideas will inevitably be good ones. But if the right environment isn’t present, most won’t step forward.

SpyingListen, encourage and acknowledge. Not every idea is a breakthrough but don’t be afraid to say so, while creating a listening environment. It’s an indicator of the health of your business. Talk to  your employees individually on a regular basis. Encourage them to contribute. Build trust.

Over time they will know you value their ideas and it will encourage them .

Good companies don’t have people working in silos. Build a culture that requires interactive listening where people contribute in a meaningful way and are acknowledged for their contribution.

Listening affects how you learn and grow.  Talk to everyone involved in your company and ask for their ideas. The results may surprise you.

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Filed under Communications, Human Resources, Managing, Uncategorized

Save your business – don’t hire a snooty waiter

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Jan van der Hoop, a blogger at the Mississauga Board of Trade writes – your people – and not you or your product – will ultimately determine the fate of your business.

Jan writes about the rude treatment he received from a waiter at a French restaurant and wonders if owner of the restaurant is aware.

rude waiterHe had clearly invested heavily in his restaurant – the building, the kitchen, the team, promoting and building his business… only to have one guy’s indifference sully his hard-built reputation.

It is your employees’ standards, attitudes and values that ultimately determine how your customer will feel during and after they have done business with you.

And too often business owners don’t know the damage that is being done. Hire right. Spend time on their training so they fully understand that they are an ambassador for your business and your reputation.

As Jan points out, anything less amounts to “management malpractice”

Read Jan’s full post here

 

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Filed under Branding, Human Resources, Managing, Uncategorized

Insanity is a root cause of business failures

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

A friend of mine reminded me recently that Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. Yet we often  think that doing what we always do will yield better results. If you feel yourself descending into the abyss consider these few suggestions.

1.Is what you are doing to market and promote your business really working? Measure the return on your marketing investment. What works and what doesn’t? Don’t be afraid to change approaches, even midstream.

insanity2.  Survey, measure results What? Was number one a challenge because you don’t measure the success of your marketing  program.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you need to understand what is working and what isn’t, so track sales related to a specific campaign and compare those results to the cost of running the campaign. If it costs more to run the campaign than …I think you get the idea.

3. Talk with your customers Don’t be afraid to talk with your customers, that would be face to face or even on a telephone.  Or use Social Media to create dialogue. Consider a blog. Share your expertise.  Talking to your customers is a good thing.

4. Find other experts in your industry You are not alone. There are experts everywhere online and you can subscribe to any number of blogs that could be useful to your business. Go to Google blog search (http://blogsearch.google.com/ ) and search for your areas of interest.

5. Check the pulse regularly Don’t wait until it is too late to discover your business is under-performing. Set out a plan and check monthly to ensure you are on target.  If you have three months of under-performance, you need to make a change. Be nimble, monitor your business and adjust accordingly.

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Filed under Managing, Marketing, social media, Uncategorized

Orienteering through Your Business.

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

“Unless we progress, we regress” said Dwight D. Eisenhower back in 1959. All our business strategies when combined should be leading us in a progressive pattern. Yes, times have been difficult over the last several years, however that doesn’t mean a business can’t be moving forward, planning ahead, and planting the seeds for future expansion and growth. After the first six months of the year it is time to settle in and review some of the key things that might affect your strategic plan.

I tend to focus on three key areas of a business when looking at where we have come from and the future direction we need to take.  We don’t have a Business GPS that will pinpoint our final destination and tell us step by step which turns  to take.  We do however have our experiential compass that can show us the general direction, based on our past movements and the trails we have marked to get to the current position. At times when we feel a little lost however there are many tools at hand that we can utilize to get back on course. A strong business strategy serves as the basis for all future actions, and from time to time these might need to be tweaked or altered a little, a few degrees here and there.

Consider the following three “influencers” to determine if it is the plan that needs some alterations or is it tools and support you have in place to get you where you want to be. First, what if any landscape changes are you encountering on your journey? Has competition changed?  Has the marketplace grown or retracted? Depending on what your product or service is, has consumer attitude changed?  Is your brand more or less recognized?  What is being said about you in social media circles? These all have an impact on your business, just the same as the landscape would if you were hiking through dense forest, thick marsh, inclement weather conditions etc. We always plan for these events, however it is the smart business person that recognizes theses changes and adapts. Clipboard01

Second, is everyone on your team paddling in the same direction? It may be time to review your goals and objectives with the entire team.  Explain your progress, and ask for feedback on possible alternatives to past actions that did not get you the results you were hoping for.

Finally, has the leader in the group demonstrated the skills and competencies that make them a good leader? Flexibility, positive thinking, the ability to manage internal conflict, foresight and most importantly do they delegate authority? When the business is doing well, everyone is happy, however throw a few missed objectives, a string of poor revenue performing months or some other distraction into the mix and the added pressures can have ill effects on the employees and the leaders of the organization. Most of us have seen in our business lives the type of leader who owns the successes but positions the failures on others.

Progress needs to be monitored to ensure that we are advancing and not just going in circles.  The six month mark is an excellent time to see exactly what your coordinates are!

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Filed under Jeff Bowman, Managing, Sales, Strategic Planning, Training and Development

The Joy of Six – Creative Tips for Idea Generation

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Without creativity, small businesses lose their competitive advantage in a tight marketplace.  The ability to review, quickly analyze, gather feedback and make creative decisions that impact the way you do business is critical for smaller businesses.

The problem is that those of us who consider ourselves creative are often stifled by others around us, or our managers, who feel that the only good idea is their own. In a previous blog, I wrote about Bad Bosses, and their tendency to limit the amount of free thinking that their employees can do, which in turn limits the potential growth and development of great business concepts.

In the Creativity workshops I facilitate, it is quite surprising that most people don’t think of themselves as creative at all.  In fact they believe they may possess an infertile mind when it comes to the weird and wonderful. It only takes one or two questions before they realize just how creative they can be, when they are “allowed” and in fact encouraged.

Here are 6 quick tips that will assist you in performing mental origami.jb gami

  1. Do not accept a single answer to any problem, there are always alternatives.
  2. Do not accept what has always been accepted as correct.  Sacred cows make great steaks!
  3. Always ask yourself “What if” instead of “Why can’t …”
  4. Don’t be afraid to play. Be silly. Bring out the child within.  Kids can play for hours with the simplest of toys because they make it up as they go along. Don’t you wish someone would tell you to “just go out and play”
  5. If it ain’t broke …. You aren’t trying hard enough to break it!
  6. Don’t take negative comments about your ideas to heart.  Those naysayers didn’t go through the same creative process you did, so they can’t possibly see all the great positive aspects.  I call it the “you’ll fall off the edge of the world” syndrome

All of us are creative in some way.  You can’t tell me that you don’t have a creative thought every single day! The true nature of the creative person is shown by what they do with the idea, not just letting it die on the vine. Using the six tips above every day will allow your fertile mind to be bountiful.  The most important tip is #6. The Joy of Six!  As I was once told “premature evaluation prevents conception”!

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Filed under Communications, Innovation, Jeff Bowman, Managing, Training and Development