Common struggles of a business leader and how you can overcome them.

There are a bunch of business owners and leaders out there who are constantly struggling to focus on what matters. Their attention gets diverted and they lose momentum to get achievements on the board.

At Best Practice, I’m certainly looking internally all the time about what we can improve and improving what we look at. It is imperative we remain focused to avoid common mistakes within our organization.

Pain points of a CEO

It’s important for a business owner to understand some of the areas of concern and where red flags may lie throughout the organization; whether it be with your management team, your systems managers or your staff. Next Practice has been helping people with challenges similar to those I face at Best Practice. They have allowed us to gauge areas of concern by using their free specialized test, that anyone can take. This test allowed us to see exactly where I benchmarked our business, like a 'fitness test', and also where our management team and employees saw our business.

What is a Next Practice workshop?

A Next Practice workshop looks at the results of the test and facilitates a conversation within that group. This session starts to identify issues that become a work in progress for the organization to improve on, which can often be the nub of the issue. This is a trusted environment, which for us, allowed for conversations about planning for the future and planning for success to occur. Nick uncovered that the why of the business is the thing that leads you to the outcome that you are wanting to achieve.

How do you know if you're supporting your management team?

Asking these questions will give you an insight into their understanding of the direction of the business and if they’re confident with what they’re doing day-in-day-out to support the outcomes for the business.

  • What is it you want?

  • What do you feel?

  • What does your ideal scene look like?

  • Do you feel supported?

  • Do you feel you have the processes or systems to know if you’re on track?

  • Has the business owner clearly conveyed their mission, vision and values of the business to the management team? Do you understand you’re tied to this mission?

KPI targets & how they affect the business

For every company, there are a set of numbers that need to be achieved for that company to be profitable.

What are those numbers and is your team supported to that outcome? If you cascade that for a second, think about the message that your staff have been told. Does the management team have enough time to be taking care of the people in their charge?

Let’s say the team is all on track, they've agreed to a plan, and are going to come back quarterly to check their progress. Nick will give your team the tools to monitor your progress through that quarter, to ensure that you're on track and delivering on the business plan. What we've discovered is that if you leave that checking to a full quarter by yourself, without the tools Nick gives you, often things go off track.

Benefits of Next Practice

To assist organizations in avoiding going off track the Next Practice business model has built-in checkpoints every fortnight. This may be just a simple phone call or an email to address potential issues: how are you going with everything? and are there are blockages or issues that we would need to address that might derail the plan for the quarter? This checkpoint was built with the end in mind, for business freedom, supported staff and to ensure that what matters is being measured.

The benefits of these sessions is that you'll have an aligned management team tied to the mission, vision, and values of the organization. You'll have a team around that management team and staff that understand what it is they're doing day-in-day-out with no confusion. Similarly, you can have someone in an assistant manager's role trained to check on the things that matter to give you the assurance that the business is as it should be.

Common struggles

As a business leader, it's important to have all of my teams hitting their intended numbers or KPI's. However, sometimes the numbers will be lower than expected and it's at this point in time that I need my team to understand why their KPI's are important. I'm looking for an understanding that not hitting your intended numbers will require redesigning the system, organizational structure and in some extreme instances the number of staff. An understanding from the people that they affect the market, the other parts of the business and that they don't sit isolated within the business. There needs to be an emphasis on the knock-on effect to the rest of the business if they don’t achieve their results.

The value of the workshops, and here at Best Practice we have had over 20 workshops, is that we get everybody together to understand that the numbers that are discussed are based on a design. If you increase the numbers for the teams to hit and the consensus go ‘oh it's okay, it doesn't matter if I don't achieve my number’ this will have a massive knock-on effect on the business and these workshops help to make our staff understand. Having these workshops creates the conversation that it is okay to say the numbers are not achievable. However, we need acknowledgment that the system has to be redesigned in this case. We all know that change is a constant, the solutions essentially that we have created a forum to facilitate these conversations but in a trusted environment, allowing people to be brought into alignment and at a pace where we hold people accountable so that your business doesn't go broke in the process.

Common goals

Next Practice has allowed for a process to free people up to work on the business rather than in the business. You work twice as hard to try and protect other parts of the business when an area isn't getting their numbers. That's reality, so what ends up happening is that instead of working on the business to solve the problem you hide in the business and you put band-aids on things. If you've never done this before then this can be a stressful process. It is important to note that it is imperative to empower your people with the skills to actually contribute to the discussion rather than people feeling like they don't want to be involved. This also begins to impact whether people should sit in a management seat or an alternate non-managerial position.

Allow room for growth

You’ve got to be able to control your emotions, as I have needed to learn to sit in a lot of these workshops and not say a word because it's the team working out how they're going to play the game. This is what Next Practice is doing, facilitating a forum where the team works out how they're going to play the game, not the leader dictating how they are going to play. That needs to be the game plan because ultimately, they're the people passing the ball and what gives me freedom is when the team can play the game by themselves.

Nick - Think about it, how much joy do you get as a business owner watching that on those days when everything seems to work it's wonderful. Here you are as the coach effectively looking at that and saying, fantastic guys, great work, tweak here tweak there.

Why wholesale change doesn’t work

Nick - As opposed to wholesale change, you want to aim for small improvements. These workshops are an opportunity to come together and have that discussion because you can just step away from the game for a moment. You know that group of people in there making those decisions which you're trying to empower? That's fantastic but you're still there guiding them, tweaking, coaching or whatever it might be in the game of business.

It is really important to understand that at the quarterly catch-up you still need to have your coach come in and talk to you intimately. That's the critical part.

Think of the small improvements like going to the gym. You can choose to go for one day, all day but afterwards you won't be able to walk the next day. That's the wholesale change. If you do this, you make the wholesale change in the business and the business won't walk after. Rather, just make small incremental changes.

The role of a manager

As managers our true job is not to be stuck in the detail but purely to support the people in your charge by giving trust, loyalty, and support.

My job isn't the project, it's the people that I need to be managing. As a business working with clients, the management team needs the freedom to work with the people on their team to support them to do what they do. Otherwise, you'll be tied up and focus goes elsewhere.

A solution to get a message through

Nick explains one particular situation; a series of workshops were run for a client because from the owner’s perspective, he wasn't getting what he wanted out of the business. This was because he could see that his vision, values, and the things that mattered weren't being effectively conveyed. In the absence of having that message, we had to work with them from the outset, creating a business plan, to get what the CEO wanted into the management team and buy into the business plan. This way they understand what the message is from the owner and founder.

Setting out the key metrics and the things that matter gave the CEO some confidence that they are on track with their planning. The ideal situation for him was to discharge the duty and let go because as an owner it's dear to your heart. How do you give confidence to the team around you? Nick has suggested a big thing that's seen from client to client is that they set out in their given divisions. The things that matter, whether it be numbers, dollars, processor or the outcomes for client satisfaction, these key metrics are put in place, allowing everyone to have that number. This information allows them to build substance to that and discharge the duties to set up processes and systems for their staff to follow as a winning formula to deliver on that number.

This process gave staff the confidence that they were tied into a bigger picture. They understood that by following this winning formula, it would lead to an outcome of getting their numbers, which is tied to the greater vision of the organization. It's a very powerful segue and it all started with the test. The test gave them a feel for exactly how each of them interpreted the business.

Why Next Practice?

If you’re thinking what you want is business freedom, then I would suggest that there's an opportunity with Next Practice to benchmark your thoughts against your management teams’ thoughts to make sure that they're aligned, as I have done.

If you're a business leader looking to have your team focused, achieving the numbers, looking at and working on the right things that matter. If you're a Systems Manager, in a management team or you're leading a smaller team and you want to have those guys focused on communication, consulting with each other, focused on achieving and achieving the numbers. If you're part of a team that you would like to see performing and achieving amazing numbers with good quality communication, good quality guidance, and planning around your direction then Next Practice is for you.

Next Practice workshops will facilitate a process to unpack the things that really matter and look at, measure and monitor the things in the business that really matter. At Best Practice the Next Practice process has been amazing it starts with a diagnostic tool that will give you a report, which is a great process to continue to revisit and give you continual benchmarks of how you're improving. The ultimate goal that we're looking for is to create a picture of where you see yourself in 12 or 24 months’ time with the great team that you're leading. Also, you can actually see the results, the numbers on our graph today are very much improved from the numbers from 12 months ago and in fact we are looking at different things, things that matter.

If you want to know more about Next Practice please contact Nick Fagan or I on LinkedIn @kobisimmat, direct message me and I can put you in touch with Nick to answer any further questions.

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