Saturday, 24 April 2010

What's troubling your staff right now?

Clive Pugh and Nick Forgham have just carried out a telephone survey of the main staff issues that business owners and business professionals were experiencing in the current economic climate.

They talked to 20 individuals, making a note of the words and phrases they used and then scoring the frequency. Although this is only a small sample the results make interesting reading.

From the responses a Top 10 of staff issues was compiled as below. Some grouping of issues under a single word heading was carried out. For example “focus” was interpreted as an alternative word used for “motivation”, and “commitment” and “buy-in” were taken to be part of the broader word “engagement”.

Many of the issues would appear to overlap in particular the categories of overwork and stress; though the latter was only scored when the exact word was used.

The balance of frequency of staff issues put forward by business owners and professionals was very heavily weighted to the ones at top of the list with 83% of responses covered by the top 6 and 33% by the top two alone.

The list is open to a great deal of interpretation as it only shows the words or phrases actually expressed. The respondents were not prompted in anyway, so although issues such as Wellbeing/Health and Absenteeism had a low score those issues may well be present though perhaps less evident and not so immediately impactful.

The Top 10 issues are:

1. Motivation
2. Engagement
3. Job Security
4. Overwork
5. Performance
6. Communication
7. Stress
8. Wellbeing/Health
9. Staff Retention
10. Absenteeism

Clive Pugh of Clive Pugh Career Coaching 0118 966 2530 or 07967 309568

Nick Forgham of Have a Healthy Life 0118 966 0274 or 07776 258366

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Small business innovation

Innovation may not be critical in your industry (yet). And it's not just something you can "do".  But – you should be looking at your business to see how you can make it more likely that innovation happens...

• Innovative ideas are not born in a moment of inspiration; they are the result of lots of thinking, trial and error over a long period. You need to put the necessary environment in place. If you can, hire people who are bright and challenge convention. If staff demonstrate that they are thinking of different ways of doing things – encourage and praise them. Recognise and reward ideas (even if they aren’t useful);

• Most innovations are the result of errors, failed experiments, crises and copy errors – in short, evolution. Show your staff that learning from crisis or failure is valuable when it is used to improve the way things are done. Don’t punish failure which results from appropriate risk-taking. Make post-event evaluation and learning second-nature to your staff;

• There is a time and a place to innovate. This probably isn’t when backing up your main servers or running your payroll. Separate and tightly control high risk, high importance activities;

• You can’t set up a system to guarantee innovative ideas. But you can demonstrate what innovative behaviour looks like and how it will be rewarded;

• Almost everyone in your organisation will resist new ways. Make it easy for new ideas to reach you;

• The best ideas come from groups – people build on and encourage each other’s insights. Encourage open discussion of issues and communication across teams – don’t pigeon-hole people;

• There will be loads of ideas in your organisation. You just need to talk to people. Ask them what they would do differently, or what customers would really like;

• You don’t know best. Make sure you don’t reject ideas without discussion or make people afraid to suggest new ways. Don’t let your fear stifle your employees’ imagination;

• A better mousetrap doesn’t always win. There are loads of examples of inferior products succeeding –how about Windows for a start? Don’t let the search for perfection kill a flawed but pretty neat idea that you can sell today;

• Innovation has to serve a need. Despite all the points above, just being new is not sufficient. There has to be a problem which the innovation addresses (even if, like fear of BO and deodorant, you have to create the problem through marketing first);

• An innovation may be a Bad Thing. Just look at Big Brother, shell suits and speed cameras.

Based on ‘The Myths of Innovation’ by Scott Berkun as interpreted by Yann Gourvanec

More stuff:

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

How much is your business worth?

As a business owner, you should be starting with the end in mind, and the end must be maximizing the value of your business when you pass the reins on.  Whatever your goals (and if you have them clear in your mind and written down you're in the minority), understanding how you make your business more valuable will be key to achieving them.

I'm not talking about selling up right now.  In any case, unless you are an exceptional owner running an exceptional business, you need to aim off by at least three years to get things into a state where you can sell and get value.  I'm not even talking about selling ever - you might want to hand it on to the next generation.  I'm talking about understanding what increases the value of your business to others - and then managing those things.  The reason is simple; the things that make your business valuable to someone else make it manageable, resilient, growing and profitable for you.

The factors you need to consider are not just financial (although those are pretty important, of course).  You'll also need to understand and address the vision, market positioning, processes, quality of revenue - and your own role now and in the future.

If you are a business owner and you want to learn a bit more about these things then you might like to come along to this free seminar - you'll learn something and you'll get a free breakfast as well.