"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Mahatma Ghandi
I was talking to a client recently and we got onto that topic that continues to exercise many business minds – Brexit. After the normal ranting and raving about how we find ourselves in the current position and concluding ‘the only certainty is uncertainty’ we agreed we need to focus on what we can control.
What are your main priorities?
This time of the year is often a period for reflection, both personally and professionally. What are your priorities? Hopefully you and your team might have reflected together on what went well and not so well in 2018. An open and honest ‘lessons learnt’ session can be cathartic and enables continuous improvement. What are you going to do differently?
Having been an avid planner for years and made plenty of mistakes I feel well placed to give some advice:
Challenge the length of the list of priorities
Watch out for perfection – it doesn’t exist in the commercial world
Make it agile – remember David Brailsford and British cycling – it’s all about marginal gains (what small changes can you make today that will impact your results?)
Ensure you have effective measures and start measuring now
Plan for the unexpected
Build in reflection time – time spent ‘on’ the business rather than ‘in’
Ensure that day to day activities reflect your business goals and vision.
How will you be the change you want to see?
In all our business planning and objective setting we often forget that change starts with you. We are habitual animals and it is easy to operate in our own comfort zones. When was the last time someone told you something you really didn’t want to hear? If it is a long time you may want to get your head out of the sand!
Do you have a mentor, a critical friend, someone who you trust, who knows your journey? The 2018 ScaleUp institute report highlights having a mentor as one of the top requirements for business leaders involved in scaling their business.
What will you stop, start and continue?
Having conducted appraisals for years I have always believed that it was as much about reviewing my ability as a manager/leader as reviewing the performance of the appraisee. Ask them what can you stop, start or continue to help them perform. You might just be a blockage to improved performance. Remember motivation is personal and our job as managers is to create the right environment and flex our leadership style based on the situation and individuals.
Do your ways of working and behaviours support your culture?
Simon Sinek talks about ‘starting with why.’ Your why is your purpose. It is what makes you unique. Build your values and culture round it. But don’t stop there. Do your ways of working and behaviours support your why? Be prepared to evidence your values by what you do and ensure they are reflected in how things get done.
Commit to having honest dialogue With your team, your business partners and most of all yourself but remember trust is essential. You earn the right to give someone direct feedback but your view is still only an opinion.
Successful businesses have a culture of performance management and are unafraid to have difficult conversations because it comes from the right place.
Why does all this matter?
It’s the basis for long term sustainable growth and profitability. Good people want to work for great companies. Having two millennial sons has taught me the needs of the next generation are very different. Expectations are higher, tolerance is lower and they know that alternatives are just a click away.
‘If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.’ Mahatma Gandhi