Presentation, negotiation, working smarter and leadership.
At AVASK we can advise business owners on many aspects of running and growing a business. Here are our 12 top-tips for business managers...
Many owners and managers achieve stability and focus in their businesses by establishing set work patterns and rigid procedures. While this approach might help to achieve a degree of consistency, there is also a danger that it will conceal recurring errors and oversights. Sometimes predictable routines can stifle innovation and prevent you from identifying unrealised profit opportunities.
Bill Marriott of Marriott International saw a fine line between consistency and complacency, and so he developed a twelve-point programme to help business owners and managers stay on their toes:
- Continually challenge your team to do better. No matter how successful they are, a winning team will always be able to find room for improvement.
- Take good care of your employees and they will take good care of your customers. That way your customers will keep coming back.
- Celebrate your people's success, not your own. Drawing attention to your own successes evokes only cynicism in others, whereas acknowledgement and praise of others' successes evokes a wish to do even better.
- Know what you are good at and mind those competencies for all you are worth. Also know your weaknesses and engage others with complementary skills to work alongside you.
- Do it and do it now. Err on the side of action. Many a good profit improvement idea dies at the hands of prevarication.
- Communicate. Listen to your customers, associates, and competitors. We each have two ears and one mouth, and should use them in the same proportion.
- See and be seen. Get out of your office, walk around, make yourself visible and accessible. You are far more likely to spot potential problems and pick up fresh ideas if you walk the boards on a regular basis.
- Success is in the details. The art of successful management is being able to pay attention to detail without losing the big picture.
- It is more important to hire people with the right qualities than with specific experience. Experience is rarely replicable, but portable skills can be applied to any situation.
- Customer needs vary, but their preference for quality never does. If you always strive to exceed your customers expectations, they will keep coming back for more.
- Eliminate the cause of a mistake. Don't just clean it up. Errors have a habit of repeating themselves if you don't eliminate their causes.
- View every problem as an opportunity to grow. This is essential for a forward-thinking business.
Management identify the most important issues, and deal with them first
Staff 'diary' the important jobs, and turn to them in order of importance
The less important jobs are always delegated appropriately
Staff are able to deal with the jobs they are given
Punctuality is a company policy
Meetings are meaningful and impose a clear-cut agenda
Distractions such as personal e-mail and calls are kept to a minimum
Important tasks are tackled when people are at their most productive
Staff are given rewards and incentives to encourage productivity
Our current system allows some time for dealing with unexpected issues
How did you do?
Tally up the number of statements you agree with in our checklist above and compare with the scores below:
Well done - now you just have to make sure that you maintain your high standards of efficiency!
Use this checklist to identify and prioritise areas of weakness, and focus on improving these.
The first thing you should do with your time is review your time management! As things stand, you are at risk of damaging your bottom line through inefficiency.
The following checklist will help you assess your leadership skills...
It is sometimes said that many people may become managers but few have what it takes to become a leader.
What is the difference?
Management is about implementing, administering, and planning within predictable, controllable parameters.
Leadership is about looking beyond the predictable, identifying hidden opportunities (and dangers) - and inspiring people to reach out and meet them.
The last point is perhaps the most important. It is one thing to have vision; it is something else to persuade others to share it.
How do you score?
Do you have what it takes to be a leader? Think about the statements below and whether you agree or disagree with them:
When challenges arise, I try to look at situations from at least two perspectives, one of which is fresh and quite different from our normal ways of solving things
I am prepared to take calculated risks
I spend more time listening than I do talking
I regard threats as opportunities and always look for ways to turn weaknesses into strengths
I encourage innovation and continuous improvement
I turn words into actions and lead by example
I never expect my staff to do something I would not be willing to do myself
I use delegation to empower others, not just to offload tasks I don't want to do
When I ask someone to do something I try to ensure they understand the purpose of doing it
I reward people according to results
I encourage an atmosphere of collaboration and trust, instead of competitiveness and distrust, among my staff
I create opportunities for staff to develop their skills and broaden their experience
Check your score:
How many of the statements did you agree with?
Great leadership material - you probably do not need telling what to do about it!
Very promising, but take the time to think about how you could improve your people skills, and don't lose sight of your vision.
Less than 8
Don't give up, you can still make it. Leaders are not born, they are made!
Good presentation skills are an important business asset, yet all too often speakers fail to represent themselves, or their subject, to full advantage.
The art of a good presentation is not confined to the naturally outgoing - indeed, it involves a number of skills which need to be learned. Follow these pointers to help make the experience of giving a presentation more successful - and enjoyable.
The Dos and Don'ts of presenting
Remember the most boring of subjects can seem interesting if presented in an interesting way - and unfortunately, the opposite also applies!
- Get to the point. Decide on the key points you need to make in the course of the presentation
- Put your spin on it. Highlight what is interesting, unusual or important about your subject matter, in order to engage your audience and make an impact.
- Assume nothing. Don't make your audience fill in the gaps. Important background information should be outlined, even if only briefly.
- Clarity is everything. Try to see the presentation from your audience's perspective. Are your points clear, and does your presentation have a logical flow?
Whether we are buying a house, planning a merger, discussing wages, meeting the bank manager, or fighting over the remote control, we all negotiate on a daily basis. So naturally, we'd all like to be good at negotiating and we'd all like to be able to 'get our own way' most of the time.
However, negotiation is a two-way process and it is worth bearing in mind this observation about human nature: if you want an agreement or compromise to be sustainable, people must leave the meeting room feeling satisfied that they have really agreed something, not that they've been bulldozed into submission.
Here are some pointers towards successful negotiation:
Devise a plan
First you must ask yourself what it is that you want, and why.Listing your objectives will help you work out exactly where you are willing to concede ground and where you want to stand firm.
This will help you keep control of negotiations and offer incentives and compromises: "I'll let you have x, if I can have y". Then imagine yourself in the other party's position and anticipate their likely responses and objections.
Express yourself clearly and positively. Do your research and make sure you are familiar with the main points you want to make. This will help your confidence and there is nothing more powerful than backing up an argument with hard facts and figures.
Never be the first to lose your cool
There is nothing more unsettling or undermining than someone keeping their cool and answering calmly when you are red with rage. Even if the other party is being wilfully obstructive, count to ten and stay calm.
Show that you are listening
Don't just push your side. Always be friendly and polite and demonstrate that you are not there to talk about your needs alone. This is essential if you want the other party to feel that they have really contributed to the final compromise and 'got something out of it'.
Prepare for the unexpected
Don't be thrown off course if the other party changes direction. Be ready to think on your feet.
Make it official
Once you have secured your agreement, ask for written confirmation, signed by both parties, and prepare an action plan with clear guidelines for responsibility and follow-up.