Proactive vs. Reactive

I have always said that in small business, especially sole proprietorships where you are a ‘one-man band’, so to speak, if you are out there seriously marketing you have little time to work in the business and if you are working hard in the business you have little time for marketing.

This is just one example of why any business or organization needs to recognize when they are being reactive rather than proactive.  I don’t mean those one-day panics which will occur when you least expect it or want it.  I’m talking about when you get to the point where putting out fires becomes the norm in the operation of the business.

Being reactive takes you away from interacting with your customers or clients to find out their changing needs.  If you have employees, it may take you away from maintaining good human resource practices in the organization.  You will not have time to assess the changing business landscape in your community and you may start to miss valuable details.

In addition, a constant state of being reactive will eventually lead to a breakdown of health.  Stress sets in and the mental fatigue will deteriorate even the strongest.  Sole proprietors especially need to be careful as they are the business.  If they have to take time off, the business generally does not get done.

Ensure good planning in the beginning, pay attention to the records, know why you did not match your business plan, and learn how to read the business financials.

 

Try to be ahead of the curve, not stuck on the hill!

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Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Business Planning, Clients, Coaching, Customers, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Entrepreneurs, Human resources, Life coaching, Managing stress, Marketing, self-employment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Appearance of Professionalism

You can have all the skills in the world, but you need to look the part as well.

Realtors will tell you that an attractive entranceway to a home will determine how the prospective buyer views the rest of the home.  In the same way the first impression a customer or client has of you will determine how they view your qualifications.

I am going to pick on the moving industry.  Recently I hired a franchise moving firm to do a small move for me.  The two employees arrived looking like they had both just returned moments ago from a three-week camping trip in the bush.  In the end I was satisfied that they were knowledgeable in their trade, but I wondered what an elderly widow would have thought when they arrived at her door to do a move.

When I talk to people, this is a common complaint on that industry.  I know that not all are like this, but if you are trying to grow a business you really need to try harder.  Why doesn’t the franchise insist on neat grooming and corporate clothing, such as a jacket or shirt?

Some say I’m older than dirt, but when I went to school male teachers wore suits and female teachers wore business attire and you were never allowed to refer to them by their first name.  It was called respect and acknowledged them as a professional.  Now you can’t tell them from the students.

The way you appear when representing the business plays a significant role in your future success.  If it is your business, pay attention as it can affect the bottom line!

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Meant for Each Other

I see advertisements and articles online that try to educate those who have taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® as to which type is your best partner.  I know that curiosity plays a part in people wanting to know if their partner or potential partner is the ‘right’ one.

Having taken the Myers-Briggs® from a certified practitioner and had it properly debriefed, you will know that it is about how you communicate knowing that each of the sixteen personality types take in and respond to information in their own unique way.  If knowing these differences in type you choose to not accept them, then your relationship is not going to run smoothly.  The beauty of knowing personality type is that it gives you the tools to communicate effectively with others.

The beauty of life is that we are all unique, with our own gifts.  Even with the same letters describing our personality type, we will not be exactly the same or react the same way in times of stress.  Type is not perfect, but it is a starting point in understanding ourselves and those close to us, whether it be in the home or workplace.

There are no bad types.  Each brings their own strengths and weaknesses to their environment.  Any type can do any job although some may be more comfortable in the job than others.  Time and time again I have seen the value in Boards or management teams with a diversity of type.  You can’t choose team members by type but by understanding type, you can make the most of communication and decision-making.

This works with partners as well.  By understanding type and having a willingness to acknowledge your differences, you can be ‘meant for each other’.

Enjoy the journey!

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Posted in Assessments, Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Business Planning, Coaching, Communication, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Empowering people, Learning styles, Life coaching, Lifestyle, MBTI, Myers-Briggs, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Relationships, Team development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

When we hear someone talk about entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial spirit we often think of this brave individual charging off in the world of ideas, ready to venture out on his/her own.  What we don’t think of is the employee with all kinds of ideas on how to do the job better or create new direction.  This employee doesn’t want the risk of venturing out on their own.  They like the comfort of being employed and there are lots of them.

As an employer, you should be embracing the spirit of these individuals for they may be the ones to keep your business in the forefront in this ever-changing world.  They won’t however, if you constrain them in their everyday work and don’t engage them in conversation to get their thoughts on the work they are doing.

An employee needs to feel the environment that they work in allows them to contribute and doesn’t punish for making mistakes.  There is an old saying, “If you aren’t making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.”  There should be opportunities for employees to present a change in the way things are done and, if it seems reasonable, be allowed to try.  Sometimes it doesn’t work but, by trying, something else does.

A local Nanaimo firm had a large whiteboard on a wall.  If an employee had an idea, the name of the employee and the idea went on the board.  A team put the idea through its paces, recording each on the board, until there was a decision to use it, or not.  They were rewarded for the idea in either case.

If you do not include your employees in how your business functions, you are missing out on keeping processes simple and current.  The person doing the job usually has the information on how to do it more efficiently, if you ask them and include them.

A side benefit is you will have less turnover.

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Posted in Business Coaching, Business Planning, Coaching, Communication, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employees, Employment, Empowering people, Entrepreneurs, Human resources, Leadership, Life coaching, Listening, Team development, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Power of a Smile

I was at the gas pumps this morning a little frustrated by the inability of the machine to read my card.  A lady at one of the other pumps came by and as she passed, she gave me a smile and said, ‘good morning’.  That smile and cheerfulness changed my outlook and interestingly, that of the pumps as well for my card now worked!

How many times has a smile made your day?  A simple gesture given freely can and does make a difference in people’s lives.  You don’t know the burden anyone you meet or pass by is carrying.

Smiles convey a happy workplace.  Seeing clerks in a store who smile and honestly look like the enjoy working in that environment encourage customers to return.  It is a place you want to give your business.  No-one likes going to a store or business where everyone looks like they lost their best friend.

People are genuinely more attractive when they smile.  The wrinkles you get around the mouth and eyes as we age show that we have had a lot to smile about in our lives.  Studies have shown that people are treated differently when they smile, it encourages positive interactions.

In Buffer, Leo Widrich’s blog ‘The Science of Smiling…’, he says, “Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that chocolate, a well-recorded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.

And, unlike chocolate, a smile does not cost anything!  So smile, and see the power it unleashes!

“The expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back.”  Dale Carnegie

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An Anxious, Excited, Introvert

As I write this I’m thinking of tomorrow, when I get up at 5 a.m. and drive to Victoria for the SOHO event at the conference centre.  This is an opportunity to hear talks from 8 dynamic speakers offering advice and insights for small business.  There are also workshops and networking opportunities. While this is an amazing opportunity, my personality type kicks into high gear at the thought of an event such as this.

My ISFJ Myers-Briggs® personality type starts to twitch when reading about it.  My ‘I’ is going, “There will be lots of people there, what if I don’t know anyone, who will I talk to, what will I say?”  “Are there places at the venue where I can go and not be disturbed (besides the washroom)?”  “Thank goodness I will be alone driving back so I can wind down for two hours.”  We are expected to network!  What can I prepare ahead to avoid small talk?

Meanwhile my ‘S’ is searching the caverns of my mind for similar situations in the past and how I made it through them.  After I registered, I read and re-read the agenda to see what I would like to attend in the program.  Over time it becomes clearer, but with more information, it may change.  The sequence is important.

How will I know I am not communicating with a ‘T’?  They will not necessarily value what my ‘F’ sees in the presentation making conversations awkward.  I will lead with the generic, “What did you like about the presentation?” and see the response before putting my foot in my mouth.

Of course, thanks to my ‘J’, my desk is covered in post-it notes for; what to wear, what to take with me, charge the phone, gas up the vehicle, check the agenda (again), set the alarm, reminder to take the phone, take the ticket, take note paper, lay out the clothes the night before, water for the vehicle, restaurants near the conference centre, check the weather forecast, and more.

Then, in spite of my ‘I’ questioning why I want to be with all those people, I went, and the event was fantastic.  I met a half-dozen really interesting people but escaped to have lunch alone and go for a walk.  The afternoon sessions were even better, and I got caught up in the excitement with those around me.

And, the quiet and the reflections on the two-hour drive home, made the day complete!

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People Skills

The ‘soft skills’ within an organization can be the difference between success and failure.  Many times, soft skills are only thought of in sales situations in which employees are engaging with current or potential customers.  What is sometimes forgotten is the interaction of employees within the company.

How well your staff communicates is extremely important.  Do they have the ability to listen to the needs of others without judgement, or are they forming a response in their head while ‘listening’ to the other person?  When communicating with others there is also the need to give them the information they are looking for before launching into what they might consider side benefits.

Poor communication can interrupt the flow of information and procedures.  One task cannot be performed until another is completed.  Is the person receiving what they need in order for them to do their part in the process?  If not, it can result in wasted time and productivity, and perhaps disgruntled customers.

Think of a symphony orchestra.  The leader (conductor) communicates how the score is to come together.  Percussion, woodwinds, brass, and strings (employees) all have their parts and need to provide the right notes at the right time or it will interrupt the flow of the music as intended.  The result for the musicians and conductor could be frustration, and the customer (audience) will not be satisfied.

Whether it is a Board, management team or a couple of employees who work closely together, understanding the way we communicate, both as a team and individually, can make a huge difference to our decision-making and reducing conflict by adding clarity to the conversations.

One way of achieving better communication is through a team-building workshop using the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory®.  If there is frustration with communication in your organization or one you are involved in, consider improving it.  For more information visit www.lrassess.com

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Posted in Assessments, Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Business Planning, Coaching, Communication, Customers, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employees, Empowering people, Life coaching, Listening, MBTI, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Relationships, Team development, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment