Archive for February, 2010

The challenge of under performing staff

Got team members not pulling their weight?

Imagine you are a member of a tug-o-war team who has an important match-up against a formidable opponent. At the starter’s gun, everyone pulls on the rope with all the strength they can muster – at least this is how it appears to the team coach. However, from your perspective you know that the person in front of you is merely holding onto the rope. They are not putting in much effort at all and accordingly, your team is slowing being dragged towards defeat.

How do you feel?

This issocial loafing (or slacking off in a group). Social loafing is common; however, it becomes dangerous when it goes unaddressed and this can have several consequences.

  1. Some team members will address the loafer directly, or tell their manager
  2. Some will begin to loosen their own grip on the rope out of frustration and belief that under-performance is tolerated.
  3. Many who are intrinsically motivated to perform well will not be able to tolerate this ‘authorised slacking’ and will leave to join another team. – Ouch!

I see an alarming amount of unaddressed social loafing in business. Sometimes, due to a lack of measurement systems, managers are not aware of the under performance, and this (perceived) inability to measure performance is a key catalyst for the social loafer to loaf.   More often than ineffective measurement however, loafing remains unaddressed due to managers not knowing how to deal with it. But like any job, fixing social loafing is simplified when you have the right tools. (We may be able to help)

A final and important note on this ‘phenomenon’. The overwhelming majority of social loafing that I’ve helped address, has not been due to an exclusive lack of commitment on the part of the loafer. The root has stemmed from systemic gaps in the organisations’ recruiting – inducting – role clarity – performance management etc.

So if you have team members holding, but not pulling on the rope – here’s that old chestnut again. “Be hard on the problem, not on the person” and sort social loafing before it infects others.

Recruit Smarter with Caliper Employment & Development Profiles

Yours in prosperity & fun

Jeff Austin

Business Coach, Bunbury WA

Better Business Relationships in Bunbury

Build a bridge and build a strong & trusted business relationship!

A simple social experiment. Drop in on your closest friend and ask if they would lend you $100. Their response would likely be one of concern and perhaps even to question if $100 would be enough? Now approach a stranger on the street and ask them for the same…! Their response would be entertaining at the least!

Now try it with a business bent. Call your most loyal and happy client/customer. Ask them if they would have 30 minutes for you to discuss your new product range. Then cold-call an unknown proprietor and do the same…

Obviously, the disparity in responses will be directly linked to the disparity in the relationships you hold between those you have relationships with and those you don’t.. Here’s a clear analogy.

A Relationship is much like a bridge between 2 islands.

Consider this bridge. How long would it take to build? How much load would it hold before it collapsed? Asking a stranger for time or money is like trying to drive a bulldozer over this bridge.

Alternatively, consider this example of bridge building mastery. It would certainly take 10 times longer to build, however it would easily hold whatever you asked of it.

The point?

Time and money are the 2 things that we are most reluctant to part with. If you are trying to build business by contacting prospects, (top marks for doing so) and you are asking these prospects for their time or money; first consider ‘how strong is the bridge?’

It’s almost a science (I said almost) in that you can measure the amount of resistance you get from a prospect directly back to how much you are asking of them. If you think that spending 2 minutes in idle chat will build the kind of bridge that will hold up under a ‘time or money’ load, then you best put on your hardhat!

Yours in prosperity and fun

Jeff Austin
Business Coach, Bunbury WA

Debtor Control in Bunbury

The Counterfeit Customer

When is a customer not a customer? Correct! When they don’t pay! And as I have been known to do, I am going to potentially pick another fight!

Firstly, if you have old debtors and plenty of them, I maintain this will be your fault, not theirs! Consider if you had $100 and you owed 15 people $10 each, who would you pay first?

Here are 6 debt management basics (that all happen to start with ‘C’) that are all within your control

  1. Communication – and lots of it, especially when the order is placed. Openly discuss your terms of payment and payment methods. Ask which payment method they will be using.
  2. COD – If they do not have credit facilities (completed and checked credit application) why extend credit?
  3. Complete the order – and do it exceptionally. Whatever it is you sell or supply do it so there can be little dispute that you didn’t deliver. This isn’t a bad repeat business strategy either!
  4. Check for satisfaction – After delivery, ask if they are delighted. Don’t assume that you got it right. Fix any concerns quickly
  5. Consistency – If your terms are 30 days, why wait 60 before sending a friendly reminder? Send it at 33 days with a date for payment within 3 more. No payment 4 days later? Pick up the phone, ask questions and note their answers.
  6. Consequence – there has to be some. If you have done everything above and there is still no money, then you have an obligation to take necessary (lawful) steps towards recovery

Your customers deserve your very best. You deserve payment from them for delivering your best. If either party is not getting their bit, then I contend that ‘business’ hasn’t really been conducted.

Yours in prosperity and fun

Jeff Austin

Business Coach, Bunbury WA

Work ON the Business to Build the Business

Ten ways to ‘find 30’

No, this hasn’t become a health and fitness blog. This blatantly plagiarised quote is aimed at encouraging you to find 30 minutes each day to work on your business.

Every business owner knows (and often expresses) that they need to spend more time working on their business, but ‘I haven’t got time’ is the common cry. Therefore, these 10 business-building activities are created with 30-minute bites in mind.

  1. Run an inactive client list and call 5 or visit 2 of these customers to see if you can help them again.
  2. Subscribe to websites that offer information relevant to your customers’ industries. Mail relevant information to 3 customers.
  3. Meet with staff and ask 2 questions. a) What went well this past week and why did it go well?  b) What didn’t go well and how would we fix it next time?
  4. Dust of your business plan and read it! Note what is and what isn’t still relevant. Draft some changes.
  5. Read 20 pages of a business/self improvement book you’ve been meaning to read.
  6. Organise and meet with a key client to buy them a coffee.
  7. Review your expense budgets and compare to the actual expenses for the YTD and previous year.
  8. Check the accuracy and relevance of your website. Note 3 areas to update.
  9. Meet with staff and run through 1 section of your company standards. Ask staff if they feel the standards are being achieved and if not, why not.
  10. Draft a media ad for a sale/promotion that is still months away.

You could repeat these 10 activities over 2 week periods or alternatively complete the 11th activity.

11. Create 10 more ways to find 30!

Obviously, most of these building business activities would require further action after completing them, but at least you now have momentum! So go on – Find 30!

Yours in prosperity and fun

Jeff Austin
Business Coach, Bunbury WA