Business Challenge of the Week – How well are you and your business protected from risk?

 

How would your business fare if you got sued by an employee or customer?What would happen if a key employee or group of key employees left your organization unexpectedly?  What impact would having all your computer files stolen and destroyed have on your business?

 

These are very serious issues that need to be addressed.  Most companies don’t plan for risks and threats until they happen.  This can ruin a company or at the very least severely disrupt your business and leave you vulnerable to competitors.

 

Your challenge this week is to develop a risk management plan for your company.  It can be a simple and even quick process if done proactively. assure you it WILL NOT be simple if you wait to address until a crisis arrives. This is definitely a case where PROPER PLANNING PAYS!  If necessary, hire an expert to help guide you through the process to ensure it gets completed. Do not go into 2012 without a risk management plan.

 

Here are some tips to help you start the process:

  1. Gather your management team, get a whiteboard and identify all of the potential threats and risks that could impact your buiness.
  2. Prioritize them in order of severity or significance.
  3. Imagine that each has occured.  What would happen?  What would you do?  Write it down and put a process together of every step you would take to handle or avoid all together.
  4. Test a couple scenarios.  Do they work? Can they work? Why or why not? Where are the pitfalls? What steps are missing? Would you benefit from having certain outside experts review your strategies?
  5. Share the plan with your key management team.  Make sure everyone knows how to access.
  6. Review annually.  Modify and add to as needed
  7. Sleep better at night.

Revisions to the plan may occur annually, as situations arise and your organization lives one or two of the strategies firsthand. Hindsight is often wiser. Don’t be afraid to toss some plan content when you know for a fact that this is what you must do. Remember: the plan needs to be current. On a day you least expect it, someone has to grab that document, refer to a particular section in it, and act upon it–fast.

 

If you need any help or would like to discuss this further, please contact me.  It would be my pleasure to help motivate and guide you to develop a plan that protects your company from unforseen risks and threats.

 

Sincerely,

 

Bruce Rector

The Rector Group

Tel: 954-356-0439

brector@therectorgroup.com

 

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Business Challenge of the Week – How to get more from your sales team

If you are like most organizations, one of your goals is most likely to increase sales.  But how do you make that a reality?  

 

Your challenge this week is to establish some specific actions you will take to get more out of your sales team.  Here are some tips to get started:

 

  • Document your current sales process.  Not what you think it is, but what really happens. This is the series of events that must occur to move a prospect from beginning to closure.  While everyone may have slightly different steps, you should be able to identify what works consistently for your organization.
  • Determine key actions that must be taken in order to close business.  These become your measurements that you want to closely track. For a team you might ask: how many prospecting calls per day / week?   How many emails?  How many events did they attend?.  How many meetings with authentic prospects per period?  What gets measured gets done.  It is imperative that these actions become habits for your team.
  • Set goals that challenge the team.  Make sure they are crystal clear.  Huddle every morning – in person or via phone – to review goals, get specific feedback on actions being taken by each team member plus find out if anyone needs any support.  This communication will transform your sales process over time.
  • Focus on your winning sales people.  So many times, organizations spend time with their poor performers and ignore the ones that are succeeding.  Do the opposite.  Focus on your winners.
  • Celebrate victories.  Sales people love to be recognized so spend time each week celebrating your wins.  Even small ones.
  • Have fun!  Create contests or other incentives that motivate the team.  You might be surprised at how motivated people get when there is a trip to Hawaii on the line!

These are a few core things that will help you get more out of your current sales team.  I know if you take this challenge on, you will uncover some dramatic results for your organization.  Good luck!

 

 

Business Challenge of the Week – How strong is your organic growth strategy?

This Business Challenge of the Week is focused on how well you are managing and planning for organic growth. 

Organic Growth can be described as using existing products and processes to drive sales through acquiring new customers and getting current customers to buy more, more often. That’s organic growth as opposed to buying growth through buying a competitor (ex. HP buying Compaq) or buying into a new market (ex.  Coca-Cola buying Odwalla).

Edward Hess, author of “The Road to Organic Growth”, identified 6 key traits that high organic growth companies possessed.

Your challenge is to rate your company from 1 – 5 based on how well your company exemplifies each trait (1 being poor, 3 being average, 5 being exellent).

  1. An Elevator Pitch Model: High growth companies have a simple, understandable business model that their employees can understand and execute—none has a complex or sophisticated strategy
  2. Instill a Small Company Soul into a Big Company Body: High organic growth performers have a small-company soul housed in a big-company body. A small company soul is entrepreneurial, with employees having ownership of the customer, being held accountable for results, and sharing in the rewards of those results.
  3. Measure Everything: One of the six keys to building a consistent high organic growth company is measurement—of everything. The 22 companies on the organic growth index (OGI) list track a variety of metrics—financial, operational, behavioral—to understand which areas of their business are not performing as efficiently as possible, and then they take action to shore up those numbers.
  4. Build a People Pipeline: All the high-growth companies have a high management and employee retention, high employee loyalty, and high employee productivity as compared with their competition. Employees in these companies ‘own’ their results and their careers, and most even own part of the company. These companies’ management teams are frequently home grown, with long company tenures.
  5. Leaders: Humble, Passionate, Focused Operators: Rather than being overly confident about their success, at high organic growth companies, leaders are frequently paranoid about complacency, arrogance, and hubris. Although many leaders are very wealthy, for the most part, you would not know this from their dress, their office, their demeanor, their attitude, or any outward appearance. Few of the leaders, if any, take credit themselves. There is a sincere respect for line workers, where many had begun their careers.
  6. Be an Execution and Technology Champion: The high-organic companies generally do not have unique strategies, products, or services, nor are they market-leading innovators. But they are execution champions—day after day, they have figured out how to get consistent high-quality performance from their people. These companies use technology to drive efficiencies across their value chain. To them, technology is not a service function; it is an operational function.

How did you do?  Did you uncover some things you were doing really well?  Did you identify some areas for improvement?  My request to you is to discuss this in your next management meeting and identify 3 – 5 action steps you can take over the next 90 days that you will track and measure.

 

This week’s challenge: Are you the leader you think you are? Seeing yourself how others see you.

We all like to believe we are amazing leaders that are clearly communicating our vision of where we want to go and empowering our team with the tools they need to make it happen.

 

Most of us operate under the mistaken assumption that other people see things the same way we do.  What if you were wrong?  If you don’t know how your words and actions are perceived and understood, if you don’t know if others trust you (and if they don’t, why not), if you don’t know what others want and expect from you, how can you exert the influence you want?

 

Your challenge for the week is to become more self aware.  Here are some tips by Harvard Business Review that every leader should ask themselves to determine if your perceptions about yourself are in alignment with the world around you:
  1. Is there an easy give-and-take between you and your employees? Are you able to carry on a real conversation about a variety of topics, business and personal? Can you disagree and respectfully discuss your differences? – Without such connections, which require time to establish, little else you do is likely to uncover others’ thoughts and feelings, especially about you as a boss.
  2. When you disagree, do you seek clarification, pose thoughtful questions, and ask for examples? Or do you respond angrily and deny defensively what you’re hearing?  – If you want to know what people think, you cannot deny the reality of their perceptions, even when you disagree. Only as people test your tolerance will you slowly build a reputation for a willingness to hear and accept candid comments.
  3. Do you seek out people’s perceptions and perspectives in the context of a specific task, project, or program? Asking broad, general questions can feel threatening to those you’re asking, particularly if they work for you. Develop a practice of “checking in” with people at the beginning and end of a piece of work (and in the middle if it’s a lengthy project). At the start, ask what people hope and expect to get from you, the boss, through the course of the work. At the end, ask if people got what they needed. Use the specific piece of work as a setting for a candid discussion of what worked and what didn’t, where you might have done less or more, and what you should do differently next time. That discussion can sometimes serve as a springboard to a more general discussion about you as a manager and wh at people need from you.         mmmmmmmm
  4. Do you have a developmental network of people who will give you candid feedback? These should obviously be people you trust and with whom you have strong, ongoing relationships. These people can give you reactions to what they see and hear from you and can communicate to you what they hear about you from others in the organization. They are most likely to be peers and colleagues and may include an older and more senior mentor.
Sometimes as leaders we are so focused on helping our employees become better that it may get lost on us that maybe WE need to become better.  The truth might hurt a bit but, if you are committed to being your best, it’s important to understand how your behaviors are perceived by others, even if you ultimately decide not to change them.  Seeing yourself how others see you is an invaluable tool for increasing self-awareness and stimulating self-growth.

 

 

How to hire “A” Players

This week I wanted to challenge you to make sure you have a hiring process focused on hiring “A” Players. An “A” Player is a candidate who has at least a 90 percent chance of achieving a set of outcomes that only 10 percent of possible candidates could achieve. “A” Players are worth more than a couple “good” employees.

When hiring a new employee, you are looking for a candidate that will do whatever it takes to beat company goals, constantly keep their skills in shape, pay attention to their surroundings, contribute in any way they can to keep the group moving forward making progress.

So how do you implement a hiring process to hire only A Players?

  1. Determine what qualities define an A Player for your organization. – Once you have determined these qualities, develop a job description.
  2. Look for a candidate with the right attitude. – Pay attention to the little details of how they interact with everyone in your company.
  3. Align your interview techniques with the qualities and attitude you are looking for. Consider using testing tools and techniques like Predictive Index, TopGrading, etc. to apply some science to your process.
  4. Check professional and personal references. Not just the ones your candidate gives you either.
  5. Don’t play games. Let the candidate know where you stand and what you are planning to do. Keep them abreast of the timeline and then don’t deviate from that.

Remember, a bad hire costs your business valuable time and money. By choosing the right person the first time, you will help your company grow and succeed. But in order to accomplish this you must have a process that you consistently follow, tweak and refine.

Business Challenge of the Week – Do You Have a Culture of Trust?

Do your employees trust you?

If the answer is no, and it probably is whether you want to hear it or not, than I guarantee the performance of your organization is suffering.

Why is trust so pivotal? It’s a matter of human nature: When employees don’t trust their leaders, they don’t feel safe. And when they don’t feel safe, they don’t take risks—and where there is no risk taken, there is less innovation, less “going the extra mile,” and therefore, very little unexpected upside.

Feeling safe is a primal human need. Without trust, people respond with distraction, fear, and, at the extreme, paralysis. And that response is hidden inside “business” behaviors—sandbagging quotas, hedging on stretch goals, and avoiding accountability or commitment.

Your challenge for the week is to determine if you have created a CULTURE OF TRUST within your organization.

Here are the three questions you need to ask to find out:

  1. Does it matter to you whether your employees trust you? This should be an easy one to answer. YES, it matters very much. The two biggest reasons why it matters are related – PERFORMANCE and PROFITS.
  2. Do they trust you? I’m going to answer that one for you. Probably not. But here are some ways to find out for sure. Ask them. The problem with this approach is that if they don’t trust you, they won’t tell you the truth. So you have to ask someone who you have a good relationship with what they think the group thinks. But don’t just stop there, be less informal with your team. Walk around, ask them questions. And then really listen. See how open they are with you about answering. If they feel nervous or try to give you canned answers, you know you don’t have a culture of trust. Keep doing this and your employees will begin to see you as a person, and not just the boss, and you will begin to gain their trust.
  3. Do you trust them? Ernest Hemingway famously said, “the best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them”. Micromanaging, whether it’s by you or your direct reports, is a clear message to your team that you don’t trust them. And that is costing your organization precious dollars. Start to loosen the reigns and believe that your employees are going to do what’s right for the company. Help them understand what that means and then let them go to work. Don’t punish “good failures” and don’t squelch the flow of “bad” news.

Trustworthiness is the most noble and powerful of all the attributes of leadership. Leaders become trustworthy by building a track record of honesty, fairness, and integrity. Cultivating this trust isn’t just a moral issue; it’s a practical one.

Here are some action steps you can take today to begin creating a culture of trust within your organization:

  1. Choose – Understand that corporate culture is a deliberate choice; it flows from the CEO to senior management, and on down through the company. It’s up to you set the standard.
  2. Focus – When problems arise, focus on the problem, not the person. This is a learned behaviour, but if you can shift the focus from the person to the problem you will find problems get solved faster, with less drama. You will also find that problems are brought forward more quickly. The results? More productive workers, and a happier workplace.
  3. Open Up – Create an atmosphere of openness by being open yourself. As a leader you can start to move towards transparency by supporting openness, enabling free flow of information and rewarding actions that build and sustain trust. And this doesn’t just apply internally with employees, the concept is also critical with any relationships from partners to customers.

A culture of trust creates a working environment where teams stay focused, give their utmost effort, and in the end do their best work. It’s a place where we can trust ourselves, trust others, trust our surroundings, or—best of all—trust all three.
Trust me. I’ve seen the difference.

Continue the Conversation: Participate in our weekly Lunch and Lead Webinar every Wednesday at noon to talk more about this week’s topic and get valuable feedback from your peers. Register Now and Reserve Your Spot.

To view past webinars, click here.

Here is a Preview of Upcoming Business Challenge of the Week Topics:
Week of 10/17 -Team Building Challenge – Hiring “A” Players
Week of 10/24 – Leadership Challenge – Seeing Yourself as Others See You
Week of 10/31 – Growth Challenge – Organic growth may be your biggest opportunity
Week of 11/7 – Sales Challenge – How to get more out of your sales team

90 minutes a day that will change your life

This week’s challenge: The 90-Minute Plan

When you are the leader of a company, you have a lot of people pulling you in different directions. Everyone always needs something from you and as the leader, it’s important to be accessible right? The more success you have, more opportunities become availabe and the harder it seems you have to work. You find yourself going a million miles an hour in all kinds of exciting directions. In fact you could work 24/7 if you could get by without sleep – and I know you’ve tried.

Well this week’s challenge is to spend at least 90 minutes a day, preferrably the first 90 minutes of your day, completely focused on one thing.

Here’s how you do it:
Choose – Determine the night before what work you want to give your complete attention to. It should be what you consider most important – that is, what will add the most enduring value if you get it done. Important but not urgent.
Start – Start at a very specific time and hold yourself to that time. Don’t let yourself answer that one email or make that one phone call. Finding an excuse to avoid hard work isn’t hard to do. Turn off your email, close all the windows on your computer, let the phone go to voicemail. Then focus, uninterrupted on the task at hand.
Stop – Set your timer for 90 minutes and stop no matter what point you are at. You will train yourself after a couple sessions to get what you need to get done during that time period.

Choose, Start, Stop. Build this practice into your daily ritual and you will achieve staggering results. You will get more done in less time. Train your team to do it too.

Implement your strategy by focusing on 1 thing 90 minutes at a time. Do more by doing less. Take it on.

Continue the Conversation: Participate in our weekly Lunch and Lead Webinar every Wednesday at noon to talk more about this week’s topic and get valuable feedback from your peers. Register Now and Reserve Your Spot.

Here is a Preview of Upcoming Business Challenge of the Week Topics:
Week of 10/3 – Company Culture Challenge – Do you have culture of trust?
Week of 10/17 -Team Building Challenge – Hiring “A” Players
Week of 10/24 – Leadership Challenge – Seeing Yourself as Others See You
Week of 10/31 – Growth Challenge – Organic growth may be your biggest opportunity
Week of 11/07 – Sales Challenge – How to get more out of your sales team

Review Time

This week’s challenge:  Get caught up

Sometimes the best challenge you can take on is no challenge.  Take this week to review past challenges and pick the one that you need to work on most.  Or pass them on to others on your management team.  This week’s webinar is READER’s CHOICE so email me with your topic or if you are having a particular challenge you would like to address, we can cover that.  Talk to you on Wednesday!  Reserve your spot now.

Here is a recap with a link to the post or video.

  1. The Strategy Challenge: Are you and your team headed in the same direction?Take the strategy challenge and find out.
  2. Working Your Strategic Plan:  Are you actively moving the ball down the field or are you up in the stands “coaching”?    Find out.
  3. KPI Challenge: Are you measuring your key performance indicators regularly? Learn how to make it part of your culture.
  4. Completion Challenge:  Do You Finish What You Start?  Get clear about which projects need to be completed vs. which ones need to be cancelled.
  5. Focus Challenge:  Are you busy or productive?  Find out.
  6. Managing Cash Flow Challenge:  Get clear on your cash needs with this simple exercise.
  7. Corporate Document Challenge:  Are your corporate documents ready if you need them to take advantage of new opportunities? Find out.
  8. The Exit Strategy Challenge:  Get ready even if you aren’t.
  9. Mid Year Checkup:  How healthy is your organization?
  10. Accountability Challenge:  The buck stops here.  Find out the weak links in your execution strategy.
  11. Competition Challenge:  Do you know your competition?  Here’s an easy way to get up to speed. – View Webinar
  12. Advisory Board Challenge:  Do you have a group of peers that tell you the truth?  Learn about the advantages of an advisory board. – View Webinar
  13. Website Challenge:  Is your website is helping or hurting you?  Find out. – View Webinar
  14. Investor Challenge:  Could you company raise growth capital if it needed to?  Learn how to get “investor ready”. – View Webinar
  15. Manage and Improve Cash Flow Challenge:  Do you have enough money to deal with your business TODAY? – View Webinar
  16. Business Plan Challenge:  Are you successfully executing your business plan?View Webinar
  17. Forecast Challenge:  Do you know where you are at and where you are going? – View Webinar
  18. Process Challenge:  Do you have your critical processes clearly documented? View Webinar

Continue the Conversation: Participate in our weekly Lunch and Lead Webinar every Wednesday at noon to talk more about this week’s topic and get valuable feedback from your peers. Register Now and Reserve Your Spot.

Here is a Preview of Upcoming Business Challenge of the Week Topics:

  • Week Of 9/26 – Strategy Challenge – Do More by Doing less
  • Week of 10/3 – Company Culture Challenge – Do you have  culture of trust?
  • Week of 10/17 -Team Building Challenge – Hiring “A” Players
  • Week of 10/24 – Leadership Challenge – Seeing Yourself as Others See You
  • Week of 10/31 – Growth Challenge – Organic growth may be your biggest opportunity
  • Week of 11/07 – Sales Challenge – How to get more out of your sales team

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The Process Challenge

Often over time, companies will develop a substantial number of key processes around delivering the goods and services that it provides, or around critical internal administrative activities.  As time goes on, these processes are documented more by “oral tradition” than by paper.  This can be a very critical matter – what could happen should the person responsible for that activity no longer be available for any reason?  Given the issues involved this can be a significant operating risk to the company.

This weeks challenge is two-fold:

  1. Identify critical processes that should be properly documented.
  2. Put a plan in place to ensure that they are committed to paper.

The plan MUST have specific completion dates for each process to be documented.  WIthout that level of accountability the project could fall between the cracks.  By doing this you will significantly reduce risk of operating disruptions.  This is also a great way to achieve process improvement within your organization which could have a substantial impact on decreasing costs or improving revenue.

Continue the Conversation: Participate in our weekly Lunch and Lead Webinar every Wednesday at noon to talk more about this week’s topic and get valuable feedback from your peers. Register Now and Reserve Your Spot.

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Forecasting Your Business Plan

“There are only two things you need to know to achieve a goal:  1. Where are you going? and 2.  Where are You At?”

Last week we spoke about identifying three major goals or targets for execution in the near term.  The follow-up challenge this week is to take your strategic plan and either attach financial numbers to it – if it doesn’t have any – or update your projections for the balance of this year as well as the next three years.

The intent is to look at management’s intentions over the time period under consideration, and refresh or create financial projections for that time period.  That means you must take into consideration not only the particulars of the business plan such as when created, but any changes in the interim in the usual areas of the business, such as:

  1. Sales
  2. Marketing
  3. Operations
  4. Finance
  5. Infrastructure changes
  6. Expansion plans

There may be additional areas that you need to focus on.  By going through this exercise management should be able to get a good idea for what revenues and expenses should be for the remainder of the year as well as begin to look forward at the next few years, and have a sense for if the company’s growth plans are realistic and on track.

Continue the Conversation: Participate in our weekly Lunch and Lead Webinar every Wednesday at noon to talk more about this week’s topic and get valuable feedback from your peers. Register Now and Reserve Your Spot.

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