Archive - May 2015

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1
Starting a business involves sacrifices – what might they be?
2
Asking the right question is the first step in effective communication
3
The difference between Leadership and Management
4
Communicating Organisational Change
5
Be SMART in planning processes

Starting a business involves sacrifices – what might they be?

Well, the title says it all. Starting your own business involves making sacrifices. I’m sure you have been thinking of some of them already but I think it’s useful to be prepared for what might come.

Starting your own business can be incredibly rewarding. It’s usually about following a dream. Some of you are perhaps a little more down to earth. “Oh no'” you say, “it’s not a dream, I just want to work for myself!”

Well, that’s a dream isn’t it? Whatever the form, you have decided to start your own business to achieve something – your independence, a lifestyle, to make a difference, to be recognised, to create.

However the reality for most of us is that the startup phase is long and hard. Your dream is not going to be achieved in that first few months or even year. In that time you have to work hard, work smart, spend a lot of time on it, choose to invest in it instead of something else. This is when the sacrifices start to be asked of you.

So, it’s better to recognise that some of these sacrifices will have to be met now rather than be surprised by them. But remember your dream – that’s why you are making these sacrifices.

I’d love to hear about your journey. Get over to the website and leave a comment about what you have sacrificed and was it worth it.

At https://teikoh.com you will find more tools and resources to create strategies to grow your business. Sign up with your email and name and I’ll make sure you don’t miss a thing!

Asking the right question is the first step in effective communication

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I was talking to an auditor one day. He asked me “When your client bought these widgets, were they on sale-or-return basis?

No.
Well then, where’s the statement that shows how much is owing to the supplier?
Oh,” I said, “so your first question really should have been ‘can you show me the statements from the widget supplier?’
That’s what I asked,” he said.
Now you know why I’ve stopped dealing with auditors.
We talk about the need for effective communication (and I have a great tool for you, but I’ll tell you later) and yet we listen badly and many of us ask poor questions. More often than not, our conversations with people are conducted partly in our heads before they are conducted with other people.
I think the conversation in that auditor’s head went something like this:-
– That’s funny, I can’t find a supplier statement for those widgets.
– I can see payments being made, and income from selling them but there doesn’t seem to be a pattern.
– Maybe there’s a non-standard contract for them.
– I wonder what that non-standard contract could be?
– Perhaps it’s on consignment or sale-or-return?
– I need a supplier statement but if they’re on sale-or-return maybe there’s no statement?
– I’ll ask him: “So are the widgets on a sale-or-return basis?”
Huh? I’m sorry but I’m not telepathic. Ask the right question and that could be the start of a beautiful friendship (sorry Humphrey Bogart).
Effective communication is about ensuring that you are understood, but first ensuring that you understand. So, lay out the premises and assumptions first, or else ask very precise questions about what you want. Use closed questions (“Do you have a statement?”) that requires a yes or no answer to define what is possible, then use open questions (“What is the process around those purchases?”) that allows exploration of the circumstances.
Ultimately though, if in order to be understood you must first understand, you need to listen effectively in order to communicate effectively.
Here is a great tool to help with effective communication that starts with listening, and it’s called LACE.
It’s an acronym for Listen effectively, Acknowledge what you hear, Check and confirm your understanding, and Explore the idea.
First, listen effectively.
You can only listen effectively if your mind is focused on the speaker. How many of us attempt to multi-task while talking on the phone? Perhaps you are typing out an email as you converse, or you’re gesturing to someone in the room. Even face to face, how much of you is actually listening to what is being said rather than preparing to answer?
So the first step is to pay attention as someone else is speaking. Do not try to work out what your reply is – just listen!
Second, acknowledge what you hear. This is related to the first principle.
Have you ever spoke to someone who either looks out the window while you are speaking, or just looks at you with a blank stare? It’s hard to know if they are actually listening isn’t it? When you are listening, listen actively by nodding, acknowledging by saying “yes” or “uh-huh”. Doing this will not only create an interactive experience for the speaker assuring them that they are being heard, but also tune your mind ands body to understand what it is they are actually saying. You focus.
Third, check for confirmation.
At the appropriate pause, ask “So when you said ‘statement’ did you mean a monthly statement or any statement?” Or confirm facts, premises and opinions – get to know what they actually mean and where they are coming from in terms of a starting point.
This can remove confusion, ensure you both are on the same page, and it readies you to formulate a reply that is actually appropriate and…yup, focused.
Finally, explore the idea. It is only once you have heard exactly what it is they are saying, understood their premises and assumptions, can you decide to explore if there are other possibilities. Many people listen while composing a reply and in doing so ask and answer a lot of “what-if” questions in their mind. Leave the exploration until you know where you stand.
It’s actually important to take the steps in order – Listen, then/and Acknowledge what is being said, then Check for understanding, then and only then Explore. Don’t be tempted to jump the sequence!
When I talk to that auditor again – and let it be a long time before I do – whatever he asks I’ll remember to say “What is it you actually need?”
Indeed the right question is the first step in effective communication, but it needn’t be the first question!
Now, it’s time for you to ask the right question.
Get over to https://teikoh.com and leave me a question or a comment. While you’re there, leave your name and email and I’ll make sure you get new tips, tools and resources to grow your business sent directly to your inbox.

The difference between Leadership and Management

Your business needs both leaders and managers.

At different times, you need leadership that says “up and at ’em, follow me!” and you need management that says “let’s make sure we have enough resources”. The best situation is that both leadership and management come from the same people but they bring out what is required for any given situation.

Neither are characteristics you are born with – both leadership and management can be developed.

But, what is the difference between leadership and management?

How can you develop both leadership qualities and management qualities in your people?

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Communicating Organisational Change

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Open and honest communication is essential in your business in order to keep staff engaged. When your business is about to implement some substantial change such as significant expansion, changing procedures, building a new team, changing business models like going from bricks and mortar to online, communication becomes even more critical.

When you want to open communications channels about organisational change, you need to send the right message to the right people at the right time. These messages need to be custom-built to the audience and the stage of progress, they need to address fear, they need to deal with natural resistance to change, and they need to use different media.
The key is – what is appropriate to the specific stakeholder?
The importance of communication in organisational change cannot be over-stated. Handled badly and you could end up with a vision that is misunderstood, as against all stakeholders involved attaining a common understanding of the goals and direction of change. It can be the difference between fear and resistance versus motivation and co-ordination.
However, the enormity of the task cannot be under-stated.
A management school study found that the total amount of information given to an employee in three months averaged 2.3 million words and numbers. A typical communication about change within those three months involved a 30 minute speech plus a one-hour meeting plus one memo and one internal news article that included 13,400 words and numbers. So the typical communication about change consisted of 0.58% of total communication!

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Be SMART in planning processes

When you are preparing your plan, whether it is a Strategic Plan, Business Plan, Marketing Plan, Operational Plan, or any other plan, you will end up listing your Goals and Objectives, and probably your strategies or actions of one kind or other.

However, have you been in a position where, some time later, people who are implementing the plan disagree about how far you have got and how much you have achieved? Some will say you’ve got there, others will say that you are only partially successful – and yet they are reading off the same planing document! Have you come to re-read your document say a year later, and then wondered exactly what you meant when you wrote “open up new markets”? Did you mean in different towns, or with different products?

Perhaps you re-read your plan later and thought “how did we agree to do that? It was never achievable!”

SMART is a model that you should use whenever you are writing goals, objectives, strategies and actions. This video explains what is SMART and how to use it.

SMART means:-

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