Each year the pressure grows on all areas of a business including its people, cash-flow, leadership, innovation, business models, technologies and ability to implementation strategies successfully. This pressure can lead to issues arising across the business that ultimately impact its overall growth and profit potential.
Standing back from all the specific issues stemming from this 'high pace' of doing business most can quickly be related back to the in-ability to implement 'change' successfully.
So what does a business leader or owner do? What are the strategies that should be implemented to 'adjust' the business and its people to this NEW normal environment for doing business?
Here are three strategies that can assist businesses and teams cope with the high pace of doing business:
Strategy 1 - Focus on Micro tasks
Think back to the last planning session you had or project team you were involved in. What was the nature of the strategies and actions that were set? Were they quite broad or were they very specific outlining the steps that need to be taken. Too often planning sessions lead to broad statements such as: 'Do a marketing plan', 'Refine our sales process' or 'Fix that problem' but rarely outline HOW to achieve those outcomes or the micro steps / tasks required. This leads to teams either heading down the wrong paths or not starting to change at all. The simple solution when you see this occurring is to keep breaking down the broad task into micro tasks that highlight the HOW and the steps required to reach the desired outcome. Try this simple strategy in your next planning session and you instantly see the benefits.
Strategy 2 - Provide just-in-time learning
Sending teams to two-day residential training sessions to learn new skills are slowly becoming a thing of the past. There is certainly still a need to hold those types of events in specific situation but 5-7 years ago every training event was a two-day off-site with little accountability to the new learning acquired or how it would be implemented. The retention of new learning was thus very low and too often forgotten (until a need arose and the learning had to be acquired again!).
To obtain the skills to address specific issues in this fast paced business world you need to shift the thinking of your people to 'just-in-time' learning. This means that as a need arises to address a specific issue (such as understanding the strengths and weaknesses’ of your competitors as part of a marketing strategy) the focus should be on putting time in your schedule to learn that skill in 30-60 minutes via an online learning platform or quick internal training session and then applying it in the field quickly. The retained learning is much higher with this approach as there is immediately application of the learning. Best of all a solution to the issue is provided straight away to allow momentum to continue with the desired 'change' or 'new strategy'.
Strategy 3 - Capture and track your strategies and actions using innovative technologies
How often have you gone to reflect on a strategy you development months ago and then had to spend hours searching through your emails, journals, files or go and follow-up a team member to get yourself up to speed again with the discussions that occurred and actions that were confirmed. Even if you have a good discipline of having 'One Page Plans' operating in your business (and even pasted to your office wall) it can still waste many hours in your day searching for the detailed plans you have developed or putting yourself back in the same 'head-space' you were in to reflect on the next steps you should take.
To assist this process and speed up your pace of implementing strategies it’s critical in any modern business to be using the latest cloud technologies / applications to help you track projects and tasks. What are you currently using in your business? Nothing? There are a lot of great, cost-effective options available. The time savings and productivity gains will be felt immediately and free you up to be focusing on the growth and profit of your business.
While these three strategies are not a magic bullet they do help you adapt both you and your teams approach to allow you to implement change much more effectively in this fast-paced business environment.
To assist this process I provide all my clients with access to Mindshop Online. Mindshop Online allows you to capture and track in one location all your strategies, actions and professional development that are only visible by you and me as your advisor. I can then provide confidential support and solutions drawn from hundreds of tools, courses and resources within Mindshop Online.
Mindshop Online is a fantastic way to help leaders speed up their pace of implementation to give them back valuable time to focus on the growth and profit of their business.
“Success in Business is all about people, people, people. Whatever industry a company is in, its employees are its biggest competitive advantage”. Richard Branson
We often focus on the What we do – great products, great strategy, and pay too little attention to the Why and the How. The Why being our belief in our role and the How being the way in which we conduct ourselves. I had a boss earlier in my career who was very fond of sound bites and one or her favourites was ‘If you can’t do people, you can’t do business’. I have never forgotten this easy to say, but hard to do lesson. But is it so hard? Some context around culture and a definition of Emotional Intelligence may help.
What Emotional Intelligence is and why it matters
A pretty good definition is from Peter Salovey & John D Mayer as far back as 1960. “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions".
To my mind it’s the effect you have on your self and on others – the impact of behaviour. As we know, good, indifferent or bad behaviours significantly affect those around us. Workplaces are communities of people – these people need to feel good about each other and whom they work for.
According to Salovey & Mayer there are 4 key components of emotional intelligence:
Perception: The ability to read other people’s non-verbal cues. Body language, facial expressions, reading the room. How many times have we all blasted ahead with what we are doing and failed to read subtle changes in how people are reacting?
Reasoning: Knowing yourself. What triggers your behaviour? What motivates you and grabs your attention. Knowing yourself is vital – because that has an impact on how you operate.
Understanding: The ability to see things from somebody else’s point of view. For example if somebody is angry, aggressive, unreasonable – Understanding gives us the ability to think about what’s driving that person to behave in this way, increasing likelihood for a better outcome.
Managing: Regulating your own behaviour to create the best impact and outcome for others.
Emotional Intelligence = Behaviour = Culture
Booz and Allen Change Management survey suggests that 84% of senior and middle managers say culture is critical to their organisation’s success. In addition, 60% see it as a bigger success factor than either their strategy or their operating model. So it’s big for business.
Culture, I believe is the culmination of people’s behaviour, essentially, how things are done around here. The trouble with culture being that it is a hard thing to control, develop and change. I hear people talk about the culture of an organisation or team in very reactive terms, as if ‘it is what it is’. Where culture and behaviour sets are deliberately thought through, strategically set up and managed by leaders, they become key tools for individual and organisational success.
Barriers to changing emotional intelligence
Changing behaviour is challenging. The biggest single barrier is that we are dealing with the core of who we are, what has been learned subconsciously over many years. Many of us lack the tools and insight to effectively change what we have learned since we were very young. It’s not surprising when we resist somebody looking to change who we are!
The good news is that it can change – but it needs time, thought and focus. Within an organisation, the strength of the Why or purpose of the organisation helps set the guidelines.
Value of values
Values are critical tools for the business. They help to create belief in why things are done this way – i.e. the culture. Leaders who use the values to set standards for their own behaviour will be setting expectations for others around them. If it feels right, we generally conform – we want to fit in, to be part of the tribe. Over time using value sets to support clear business strategy and vision, leaders can create the boundaries for effective and collective behaviour.
5 ways to driving business growth through Emotional Intelligence