Top Management Tips

Date: August 17, 2017

9 Tips for Rebranding Your Business

9 Tips for Rebranding Your Business

What happens when things change and your brand no longer reflects the message you want it to even after starting your business with a winning strategy? Whether your target audience has changed, or your business has suffered damage to its reputation. Whatever it might be, the answer may be that your business could be in need of rebranding. But what some business owners don’t recognise is that a true rebrand is so much more than just a new name, logo or site; it’s a complicated and lengthy process which requires worker productivity to increase in order to produce a successful rebrand.

Are you ready to change the image of your business? Well here are 9 tips to help you with rebranding the correct way.

1. Make sure your focus is always on the big picture

  • It’s quite easy to get lost in the mythology of the story behind your business assets but try to not spend a lot of time thinking about it. Branding experts can be quite good at telling stories but just remember, majority of people aren’t going to pay that much attention to the meaning of a tiny element of your brand logo.

2. Be very specific

  • Always keep in mind that branding is just as much about who you are not, as it is about who you are. A large number of businesses fail to use the discipline which is required to close in on what makes them so unique and special. They all try to include all of their customers and end up getting wound up with a brand that is indistinguishable from their competitors. Robert Sprague, the President and CEO of PCI, once said “A brand that means everything is a brand that means nothing” and that has a lot of truth to it.

3. Make sure you hire an industry expert

  • When going through rebranding or just freshly starting up a business, get help from a professional and find a strategic copywriter to rewrite your copy to suit your new brand, either you or your team members can sometimes be too close to the brand to be objective. Whether you hire someone for a few hours or a few months, it’s completely up to you, but getting the unbiased opinion of an expert early on in your branding or rebranding phase is extremely valuable moving forward.

4. Think about who your target audience is

  • Make sure you take time to think about who your target audience is and who your ideal consumer is because then you have a better understanding about your product. For example, if you are a sports physiotherapist in Geelong, you will be looking at targeting people ideally in the Geelong region. You have to ask yourself if you’re looking to attract new customers or make your current customers excited again. It’s tricky when rebranding because you want to make sure that you are gaining attention for your new look and feel but also not losing the key customer that holds your bottom intact.

5. Have a good strategy in place for your announcement

  • There is always so much weight on the rebranding that it is quite easy to forget about the strategy for announcing it to the world. It is crucial to remember that people don’t pay much attention to the names or logos when developing a strategy; they care about how the rebrand is going to change their experience with your company positively. At the same time, you have to make sure you are not leaving behind certain things about your company that people love the most. You must thoroughly explain with a digital strategy why this is better and explain to your consumers that they are still getting the parts they already love plus some new and exciting benefits.

6. Make sure it’s legal

  • When branding or rebranding, make sure you have full rights to the name you have chosen before you go ahead and make branding decisions such as your website, logo, signage etc., because you don’t want to go through all of that time and effort to then find out that someone else already has the legal rights for that name. One of the most essential steps a business can take when branding/rebranding is consulting with a trademark attorney to have a search report done on your chosen name.

7. Carefully consider forms of social media

  • When rebranding, it is smart to work with an experienced branding company who has experience in naming. You must make sure that your chosen company name is an available trademark, the domain is available, and it is very clear, particularly with the advent of social media so also make sure that your priority social media addresses are available.

8. Don’t have anything outdated

  • When rebranding, you have to make sure that you rebrand absolutely everything and not leave any traces of your old logo behind because that looks very unprofessional. When your consumers see your new logo in one place and then your old logo in other places, it looks extremely unorganised and reflects negatively on your business. If just starting out and doing branding for the first time then doing an online business coaching program would be quite ideal to assist you with the process and making sure you aren’t leaving anything out of your branding process.

9. Don’t have it as a surprise for your customers

  • When rebranding, you need to let your audience and customers aware that something big is coming. Keep posting about it on social media and send out newsletters regularly keeping them updated and informed on what is happening with your rebranding so they aren’t caught off guard. Just start with saying that you are rebranding and have a special launch coming very soon. Giving customers a sneak peek of certain things from your rebranding, such as your new logo, can act as a teaser and can really gain the attention of your customers and audience and leaves them wanting to know more.

How You Can Keep the Wheels of Business Turning – Part 2

One of the best ways to keep the wheels of business turning is to team up with others to get the task done!

Keep the Wheels of Business Turning Part 2

Selling is frequently represented as a singular role– salespeople out on the road running their own areas, the lone wolf, and so on. Leading sales executives are not the lone wolf type in a crane holding themselves up, it’s a team effort. They know the value and power of partnerships both within their own organisation and out with their customers and business networks.

They:

  • Invest time building collective, customer-focused relationships inside their company
  • Keep up to speed on developments that affect customers’ place of business, arising trends and clients’ rivals
    Try to find ways to add to their clients’ earnings
    Make use of the full resources of their organization
    Excel at aligning customer/supplier strategic goals
  • Use the resources within their company in ways that are appropriate to increase the possible earnings of their individual clients
  • Introduce consumers to other suppliers and potentially important support resourcesTop sales executives see their relationship with their organisation as a collaboration: one where they collaborate in concert to capitalise on the presently available opportunities provided.

The most effective sales techniques are established through going beyond a one-two day training program on sales theory and skills. If you want to become a top performing salesperson, not only should you mirror the best salespeople in your industry, you should also adopt a holistic strategy. This is one where you combine official (organisational) and casual (your own input) elements into your daily sales practices.The best way to explore and become competent in a behaviour, skill or mindset is to apply it regularly in both your private and work life. By closely monitoring the fundamental aspects of your sales process, you will definitely begin to internalise, take responsibility for and implement what you learn. Over time, practiced sales techniques and skills will become part of your daily routine and eventually a part of you

Create your very own Creative Learning Environment

There is a lot of work to do to keep the sales wheels turning, and sometimes it feels like a slab crane – feeling like it is a slow and drawn out process, but is worth it in the long run.. That is why leading sales executives develop a schedule, which integrates a wide range of activities to keep them on track to the rhythm of their constant advancement.By organising how you’re going continually learn and pinpointing what you want to reflect upon, you can develop a personalised creative learning environment that provides insights which will keep you fresh and on your toes.Create a calendar that includes weekly, monthly and quarterly events that will help you to build an environment that fosters creative learning. If you are fortunate however to be working for a company that is progressive and takes the education of their sales executives seriously, enroll in some business courses or undertake a business diploma that will better your opportunity to be promoted within your organisation who have most likely aided you to be a success over years past.

How You Can Keep The Wheels of Business Turning

Keep The Wheels of Business Turning Part 1Gaining momentum in your executive career in sales needs a proactive and disciplined technique, similar to that of a bubble crane operator’s attention.

There are lots of things to think about and get right in order to achieve a successful selling week and sales year. However, you should understand that the onus is on you, the sales representative, to take advantage of what you have.

Nevertheless, many salesmen, unfortunately, adopt the mindset that it is their business’s obligation to train and educate them, to provide everything they need before they can genuinely work as a successful salesperson.

In direct opposition, the most valuable salespeople recognise the need to update their knowledge base, buy new materials/publications and continuously grow. This allows them to utilise what they have and dominate prospects regardless of what resources are available to them

A 5 year study of more than 1000 B2B salespersons from 40 industries looked at exactly what separates leading performing sales people from typical ones and revealed, among other aspects, that the most effective salespeople adopted a proactive continual development approach; they considered themselves personally responsible for assisting both their employer and clientele in reaching goals and achieving success. Additionally, they repeatedly looked at new methods so that they might achieve mastery in their sales careers. Reaching goals like these are not as easy as a crane lifting you straight up the ranks, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. All of this in spite of their management and resources, and without being prodded to do so.

Specifically, what do the best performing sales people teach us? To ensure the sales wheel keeps in rotation, what should we focus on?How do we develop our own continuous learning environment us to be successful?

Is Your Emergency Response Plan Up-To-Date?

Is Your Emergency Response Plan Up To DateThe crucial actions taken in the initial few minutes of an emergency are extremely important. A prompt caution to staff members to lock-down, shelter or leave can save lives. A call for help to public emergency services that offer full and precise info will help the dispatcher to send the ideal responders and materials. An employee trained to administer first aid or perform CPR can be lifesaving. Action by workers with an understanding of structure and procedure systems and knowledge of the facilities nearest emergency exit doors lit up by emergency lighting, can help manage a leak and lessen damage to the facility and the environment.

The primary step when establishing an emergency response plan is to perform a risk assessment to recognise possible emergency circumstances. An understanding of what can take place will allow you to identify resource requirements and to establish plans and procedures to prepare your company. The emergency plan must follow your performance objectives.

At the very least, every facility should establish and carry out an emergency plan for protecting employees, visitors, specialists and any individual else in the facility. This part of the emergency plan strategy is called “protective actions for life safety” and consists of structure evacuation that include protecting and providing sufficient lighting control during the event (also known as ‘’fire drills”), safeguarding from severe weather such as tornadoes, “shelter-in-place” from airborne dangers such as a chemical release and lockdown. Lockdown is a protective action when faced with an act of violence of any nature.

When an emergency situation happens, the first concern is always life safety. The following priority is the stabilization of the incident. There are numerous actions that can be taken to support an event and decrease potential damage. Emergency treatment and CPR by qualified employees can save lives. Use of fire extinguishers by skilled employees can snuff out a small fire. Containment of a small chemical spill and guidance of structure utilities and systems can decrease damage to a building and assistance avoid ecological damage.

Some serious weather condition occasions can be anticipated hours prior to they arrive, providing valuable time to protect a facility. A strategy should be developed and resources need to be on hand, or quickly, readily available to prepare the building. The strategy ought to likewise include a procedure for damage control, salvage, protection of undamaged property and clean-up following an incident. These actions to lessen additional damage and business interruption are examples of property preservation.

Guidance for the development of an emergency response strategy can be discovered in this action. Construct your emergency reaction strategy utilizing this worksheet.

Same Basic Business Rules Also Apply to Software Testing

Business Rules Do Apply to Software TestingOne of the fastest growing businesses in Australia today is software testing or known by other names such as developer testing and user testing. I am in touch with a few businesses that are in the business of creating software of all descriptions and apps for mobile devices. I have seen too many of their products flop after launch because of not enough testing. I am certainly not familiar with all of the jargon of the industry but the same fundamental business principals apply to this industry as it does to any other.

The user experience is one of the most vital aspects to the success of any technology platform. If you ignore the criticism without first exploring it or shut it down and have a counter argument or justification for every point a user makes, then your product will certainly fail!

Handling objections is for sales and the common mistake in this field is that it’s used for UX (User Experience) discussions. Unfortunately, from what I have heard recently from people in the software business it happens way too often.

I totally understand that as well. Whenever somebody says anything that does not compliment what you have worked long and hard on is kind of like saying to a new parent they have an ugly baby. There is not one person alive that likes to hear it.

You have to hear if you have an ‘ugly’ design or clunky navigation, or even a confusing overall experience. This is vital if you are to be successful with your new software or app launch. It can make or break your business, so if this stuff offends you, you need to get thicker skin and fast.

With usability testing in Australia, the obvious consideration is price point for soon to launch software or apps. There are many businesses in most countries that offer UX feedback services. You have to pick one that has a price point that you can afford and is reasonable for what you are getting, have a good UI (User Interface) that would be conducive to a start-up type business or even a long established one.

There are online spaces such as, Elance and ODesk that have enhanced the exposure given to usability testers on its platform, and this great f you are trying to test a new piece of software or a mobile app if you are on a tight budget.

The Value Of Damaged Art – From The Insurer’s Perspective

The Value Of Damaged Art - From The Insurer's PerspectiveInsurers of fine art hear lots of reasons and excuses in their kind of work. Practically as many as third-grade instructors.

A pipe broke and sprayed water all over it. The shipping crates weren’t strong enough and broke. The movers dropped it. At some point, a pet is most likely to have eaten at least one collector’s painting.

But when it comes to securing and protecting the value of one’s art, the way a piece was damaged does not matter. What does matter a thousand – perhaps a million – times more is how the owner can go about bringing back the piece’s value – or recovering it if the piece is considered a total loss.

Safeguarding art’s monetary value isn’t really as easy as it may appear. There is a “book” value to your car, which assists insurance companies to decide if the cost of repairs will be higher than the total value of the vehicle. The worth of broken art, ornamental arts and antiques is more elastic and might result in disputes between owners and insurers.

“It’s always a fragile topic of discussion,” explains president of the New York art brokerage company DeWitt Stern, Steven Pincus.

What follows is a look at exactly what every art owner ought to find out about damage and restoration in the world of personal art collecting, and how owners can secure their pieces – and wallets.

 

Examining the damage

When everything goes as planned, the insurance adjuster will inspect even the damaged artwork, then a conservator provided by the insurers will see if it can be fixed and at what cost. Assuming the expense isn’t substantially more than the piece’s value, the artwork is quickly given to the conservator to start treatment.

“You don’t want a long hold-up since that might make issues much worse or even extend the period,” Dorit Straus explains, retired global fine art manager at Chubb, a leading art insurance company.

After repairs are made, an appraiser with expert knowledge in fine art or a dealer in the kind of art will evaluate the object to figure out if the value of the now-repaired work’s value has declined and by just how much.

This is where many troubles can start.

“There is no mathematical formula,” states Chicago-based insurance adjuster, Robert O’Connell. “The artwork could have a small tear in a canvas, but it matters more if the tear is at the center of the piece or right on the corner or edge”.

A policy for fine-arts normally will cover the whole cost of remediation and, if there is, say, a 30 % loss of value because of the damage, the insurance company will pay the insurance policy holder 30 % of the insured value.

When there are arguments about values sent by an appraiser for the insurance company and another by the insurance policy holder, many fine-art-insurance policies have arbitration clauses that generate a third appraiser to examine both appraisals.

With greatly damaged older artworks, the insurance industry’s fine-art appraiser or specialist may decide not to say that an object has actually been ruined, “unless it is no longer identifiable’’, states Chubb’s Ms. Straus. “Even severely tarnished works might retain cultural significance, although determining what that works out to in actual dollars isn’t really that simple”. With such rapid advancement in technology over the past century, we have been able to offer state-of-the-art art storage solutions even for the oldest of works, in attempt to prolong the life of world famous art pieces.

Choosing if a work can be repaired and if it keeps any value can be even more complicated when the artist is still living. Some artists might offer to fix their own works or want to choose and monitor a conservator, while others might hold the view that their creations would never ever be the same, asking that their names not be connected with the artworks.

Keeping Motivated in the Film and Animation Industry

keeping motivatedNot so long ago, a friend of mine asked how he can motivate himself to keep his new career fresh and interesting. He went to great lengths to finally get his diploma in film and animation. Even though the CG field is very competitive, the idea of motivation is the same no matter what industry you want to get into.

I spoke to someone I know working in the film and game animation industry and she told me that if she waited around for inspiration to come to her, she would still be waiting. She would never have left her desk at home and enrolled in a highly regarded animation school in her hometown. She graduated about 10 years ago so she has some words of wisdom to impart to people who are following in her footsteps.

The first piece of advice she gave me was that no matter what, getting enough sleep is paramount to keeping herself motivated. It goes without saying that sleep replenishes your body but exactly how much you need; only you will know that. Keep in mind that a lot of our time these days is spent on things like social media so if your excuse is that you don’t have enough time; cut your social media activity at night.

To help you stay motivated, physical activity is another important factor. It can be walking, running, the gym, swimming or any other activity that gets you away from your normal routine. Personally I find an exercise like swimming best for me as it keeps my brain occupied. If I walk, I have a chance to think about all the stuff I haven’t done so my brain can’t unwind. Whatever works for you is the key.

The CG industry is a highly competitive one so staying updated on what’s the latest in the industry is crucial. It changes fast and every day as there are always new artists pushing the boundaries of what software can do. She suggests find CG related groups in your area or on social platforms like Facebook. You can learn a lot about 3D modeling, the latest in digital art, 3D visualization, demo reels, new works, VXF breakdowns and more related stuff. Ask as many questions as you need to in such forums as many leading experts in the field frequent these groups.

One piece of advice that I can pass on here is at the end of every day, make a list of 3 things that you are grateful for. This could be anything that made you smile, happy, laugh or just feel good. This really has nothing to do with cg animation, but it goes a long way to help you with motivation and positive thinking. If you are thinking positively, your motivation level automatically goes up.

In a highly competitive industry like the CG animation game, staying on top of your game is very important. The best way to stay on top is to be highly motivated. By following the advice of someone who has come before you and is successful, you should never have a long period where your motivation level is low.

 

Starting Your Own Business 101

business planA friend asked me the other day ‘I want to start my own beauty salon. Should I take a beauty therapy course or should I just dive right in and hope for the best”? Well, the answer is very simple. NO! Never ever just dive into a business and hope for the best and YES, take a course in some discipline if you don’t know what you are doing. These courses usually have a section on how to run and set up your new business. No matter what type of business you want to start, the basics of business should always be adhered to.

First, figure out just how much cash you require. Beginning a company can cost a great deal of cash, and the majority of business owners do not make a profit for the very first year or 2. Here’s exactly what you need to think about:

Can you still support yourself while your company gets up and running?

Calculate just how much money you will need for regular monthly costs, just how much of a cushion you have in cost savings, and just how much you definitely have to make monthly to survive.

Create an operating expense. Work out just how much money you’ll need to run your business monthly. Factor in your lease, licensing, training, payroll, products and an emergency situation fund.

Work out how much you’ll charge for services. Once you have operating expenses, you’ll understand just how much money you need to break even monthly. To make a profit, however, you’ll have to do a bit more than break even. Rough guess the number of services (such as haircuts, colors, manicures, and so on) you have to do in a week and find out just how much you would have to charge in order for you to make a profit, however, small it might be to begin with.

Find out if you need any type of licenses to operate your business.

Depending what country you are in, you may need certain types of licenses to operate a beauty therapy salon. It may surprise you when you do a bit of research into licensing that even for applying makeup to clients, you may need a permit of some sort. It’s always best to check your local states or countries laws on such matters.

Put together a comprehensive business plan.

Basic business 101 is the idea of a written business plan. We are not talking about a War and Peace type novel here for a business plan. It has to have however things like a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), what your business structure is, your 12 month goals, 5 year goals, cash flow projections, projected profit and loss for the first 12 months and 5 years and many more factors. For a full list and a template, click here. DO NOT skip this part as it does take a lot of thought and planning. I’m not saying that with or without it you will fail or succeed. What I am saying is that it gives you a good plan to look at regularly so that your path is structured and you know where you are headed and where you should be up to in your business growth.

Choose the right location for your business.

It never ceases to amaze me how many small businesses I see that are in the wrong location. The building I am in now, there are quite a few small eating places around. However, one of the best ones is a few doors down but it’s in a laneway where there is hardly any foot traffic at all. Choose a busy foot traffic area such as a shopping strip or if you can afford it, a shopping center is always a good bet. Make sure you are also near a very busy shop such as a supermarket or a greengrocer. While a little competition is good, don’t sign up for a lease where there are already a few well-established sports physiotherapy service or beauty therapy salons in the area.

Getting into any type of business needs good planning, a steady cash flow and above all else, determination to succeed. I read a quote somewhere the other day and it went something like this, 97% of the population is employed by the 3% that didn’t give up. I’m not sure who said that but it is very true. If you are not determined to succeed, no matter even if you think you are failing for a while, don’t bother getting into your own business because you will fail. Remember the old saying that Rome wasn’t built in a day and no business ever is. Be determined, focused and pay no attention to the people around you that might want to bring you down or who want to see you fail. One day you might be in that top 3% of people who employ the other 97% of the population.

Below is a simple business plan video that I found that will give you the ideas on what to include.

Office Cubicle Etiquette

office cubiclesUnless you are lucky enough to get your own office, chances are you will have your own workstation or cubicle to do your work in. Having proper office cubicle etiquette is important if this is how your office is set out. There are a few things you probably should keep in mind when working in such close quarters with everyone else.

One thing that used to drive me nuts was when someone from the next cubicle popped their head over the cubicle wall and said something dumb like “Whatcha doin?” Sometimes I’d just jump as I wasn’t expecting anyone to do that. If it annoyed me, I’m sure it annoys others too. Respect other people privacy as much as possible given the circumstances.

If someone is having a conversation in the next cubicle, don’t stick your head around to jump in and add your two cents worth unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s hard enough working in such close quarters without having someone do that all the time.

While I have nothing against people eating whatever they please, I draw the line where the smell is just so overpowering it makes you want to pewk. Cubicle etiquette dictates that you have your lunch in the office kitchen rather than at your cubicle. And if you do eat your lunch at your desk, it might be a good idea to put your lunch wastes in the office kitchen bin rather than your desk bin. The smell of onions and the like can be a bit off when left for hours after in the bin.

Have you ever sat at your desk and just couldn’t help but listen to the phone conversation in the next cubicle because the person was talking so loud? I remember all too well what that was like and it can make the office morale go down as well as create a lot of stress and tension. If you have to talk on the phone, try and keep the volume down. As well as that, noises your computer makes can be annoying too so turn down the volume of email alert sounds, screen saver sounds and any other beeps or buzzes your computer sound effects can make. At one stage a person near me had a sound effect when he received an email. The sound was a woman’s voice yelling out ‘not happy Jan’! He sent this sound effect to a lot of people and can you imaging what it was like hearing a woman’s voice yelling not happy Jan a thousand times a day? Enough to make you jump out of the window. Thankfully it was banned eventually in the office.

As a manager, you might want to consider sending out an email memo to everyone this sort of thing can affect. You will be surprised how many people will appreciate it and will tell you all these noises, loud conversations and smelly foods were driving them crazy. Having proper office cubicle etiquette can contribute a lot to your departments productivity and the morale of your staff.

Have Regular Brainstorming Sessions

regular brainstorming sessionsBrainstorming sessions are one of the best ways to create new innovations in your company or division. Entrepreneurs who have taken many diploma of  business courses have regular brainstorming sessions among their start-up partners. It has  been used by a countless number of people over the years because it allows a broad listing of issues or problems that might require analysis and it can help to identify specific causes for specific problems. After all, the role of a manager is to create new innovations within the company to streamline things and to obviously try and save the company money. By using a brainstorming session among your staff, it helps to reduce the workload on you.

Who should be present at a session? Depending on the problem or issue being discussed, anyone who is directly involved. You wouldn’t have a team of sales people for example involved in a brainstorming session about how to run the photocopier cue more efficiently. They couldn’t care less about how long someone has to wait to use the photocopier and it doesn’t affect them directly. However, you would involve them if it’s a session about how to make the process of whatever paperwork is required of them more efficient. They are the ones who have to use the order forms etc so they should be involved in that one. Typically, the ideal number of participants should be between 5 and 6 and up to about 10 to 12 or so. Any larger and it could get chaotic.

Who should run the brainstorming session? Ideally a manager or supervisor of the department concerned. Sometimes a better idea is, especially if there could be major differences of opinion, someone impartial would be a better choice. That way all managers, supervisors and staff affected are free to participate in the discussion.

Years ago a great management article I read on this subject I have kept in mind to this day. If you have never run a brainstorming session, here are a few simple key points to keep in mind:

1. Try not to go on for more than 30-35 minutes.

2. Define the objective of the session. That way everyone knows what you’re trying to  achieve.

3. Define the rules. Eg. one person speaks at a time, all ideas accepted, no insulting laughter at an idea and whatever else you may think is necessary.

4. Once all ideas are recorded, the mediator may bring in each idea one at a time and throw it open for discussion.

5. Set priorities for the conclusions reached and agree on a time frame for their implementation.

6. The mediator initiates action steps to be taken by maybe individual members of the group and a time frame for their conclusion, development, implementation and so on.

7. Then agree on follow-up meetings if needed and how you are going to measure progress on any new innovations which the group has created.

Regular brainstorming sessions are an easy way to get your whole team involved in matters that affect them. Why should you do all the thinking? The old saying goes that many heads are better than one. If your team feel their opinions are taken seriously by management, then that in turn will make them more productive. Regular brainstorming sessions are a must if you are going to create new innovations in your company.

How NOT to Brainstorm

Proper Business Phone Etiquette-Angry Callers

angry phone callerHave you ever spoken to angry callers on the phone and felt like just hanging up on them? I know I have, many times. However, that’s the worst thing you can do.

An easy way to calm the person down is to just let them vent and get it all off their chest. It’s usually not a personal attack against you so don’t take it personally. After they have done so, ask them what they want the outcome to be and then present your solution.

Even if they’re yelling at you, just bite your tongue and stay calm. Don’t tell an angry caller to calm down as they will get even angrier.

Another way to calm someone down is not to speak over them by talking louder. Not only will that make you look like a tool in the office by yelling in the phone, it will also make the caller even more upset. Speak in an even tone and if you do that, it will soothe the angry caller and hopefully resolve the situation.

If you cannot manage to follow those simple steps, then maybe you should get your employer to look at some executive career coaching for you as you just might need it in the near future.

Having Fun With Dick And Jane Is No Fun At All

fun with dick and jane
I was watching that movie Fun With Dick and Jane the other night and while it was a comedy movie, for me anyway, it hit a few raw nerves even after many years. Iím referring to the story line and not the movie itself.

Basically it’s about a guy who hangs up the men’s dress shoes and his suit after he loses his job after being promoted to Vice President of Communications (what a career change it was for him too) and then set up to take the fall for a CEO who tries to take all the companies pension and retirement funds for himself. The company then goes bankrupt and in the process, Jim Carey’s character loses everything. While the things that Carey and his wife do in the movie are quite funny, for me it brought home the fact that this sort of thing happens all the time. In most cases though, the people involved have an inkling that there is something wrong but for whatever reason, they ignore it. In my case, it was the worst thing I could have done.

I didn’t quite lose everything when a similar thing happened to me but I came very close. I worked for one particular company for many years and was quite happy doing what I was doing, I loved shopping for boots online for work. In the back of my mind I knew something wasn’t quite right but I had no reason really to be suspicious. The turning point came one day when I was promoted to take over from the sales manager who was leaving. It meant more responsibilities and more hours off course. I was also offered a partnership in the company which would have meant taking on the financial responsibilities too. I thought about that after taking a look at the companies financial records. I signed an agreement with them pending my lawyers recommendations if it was a safe venture or not. Not long after I signed, I started to get phone calls from utility suppliers and other places. As it turned out, they faked my signature on a lot of forms and put all types of bills into my name from creditors to utility companies to minor personal loans. I got a bill for over $5000 for an unpaid telephone bill. All in all, the nightmare turned into many tens of thousands of dollars of unpaid bills and money owed to creditors, I had to stop buying cheap shoes online. Needless to say, the people responsible fled the state and I never heard from them again. In the meantime, it took many months of negotiating, affidavits signed, one court appearance and many visits to my lawyer to get it all sorted out. Because they forged my signature so well and knew all my details, there were a few bills that I couldn’t get out of paying. I didn’t want to go bankrupt so I managed to pay them but the heartache and pain all of that caused to my family, was sometimes unbearable. I wanted to many times just rob a bank, buy shoes online and be done with it all, just like in the movie. But thankfully I didn’t have to resort to that.

While this really has not a lot to do with management as such, sometimes something that sounds too good to be true, usually is. Even if you are working for a reputable company, that doesn’t mean that certain individuals in a position of power are. If you are offered something and it sounds a little suspect to you, DON’T sign anything without getting advice first. It may just save you having fun with Dick and Jane like I did.

Managing Change

keeping up with change
Managing change in any company can pose serious challenges for any manager no matter what level. In all sectors of business today which includes government, museum and arts sector, private and non profit, there are huge changes taking place. As a manager, you need to stop spending the bulk of your time convincing yourself and others why these changes are happening. Times change, so you need to change with it or you will get left behind. As the once husband of Liza Minelli David Gest once said, “She got the magazine on a Wednesday morning, and on Thursday announced our marriage was over” (Find quote here).
Technology changes, demographics change, government policies change as does the financial market. When things are changing in your organisation, the last thing you want to be discussing all the time is what a winning organisations characteristics are. Give yourself and your staff a break. I think you and your staff know what they are. Instead, the bulk of your timer should be spent on managing yourself and your staff to get through whatever changes are happening.

 

People in all divisions of your company need to come to grips with planning for serious changes. So you are not alone when it happens. Everyone from frontline employees right up to CEO level, have certain challenges ahead of them. The challenge for you however is to find ways to manage the changes and keep up with what’s going on. Sometimes it’s easier said than done.

 

Many years ago I was faced with a challenge of huge changes within the company I worked for. I was responsible for about 30 or so staff members. We were changing the company who provided all our services that we offered, more specifically, we were changing the telephone company that we represented. A huge challenge was to change all our customers over form one carrier to the other. An even bigger challenge was to help the staff to transition smoothly. I could have harped on about how unhappy I was about the change but I chose to harp on about the positives of the move to my sales people. I organised information nights and training sessions with the new carrier and generally kept them as busy as possible while implementing the changes bit by bit.

 

Remember that your employees are your biggest asset. What you have to do is to somehow position capable staff members against new opportunities. Some will welcome the challenge while others wont. So it’s up to you to find ways to do this and manage the change. In years gone by, it was common practice in many companies to ‘purge’ their staff and get rid of ones that were not up to standard. Even then the challenge to managers was how to be humane to the ones that were ‘purged’. Today the focus has shifted somewhat and managers who were used to firing people regularly, had to manage this change to what we thankfully have today and that is the challenge of asking people to learn new sets of skills rather than facing the possibility of losing their jobs.

 

Change is inevitable. If you don’t keep up, you lose. As a manager, even you have to learn new skills that you previously may not have needed but because things change all the time, you have to adapt. Managing change is not easy but the answers are not in the old style of management. Rather it’s in the management principals which are specifically directed at allowing the behaviours of your staff to change while maintaining the morale at the same time. Yes, a challenge indeed.

Making Decisions In Management

Making Decisions In ManagementMore than ever before, as a manager, you will be asked to make some very tough decisions. Making decisions in management is part of the everyday routine. However, managers complain that there never seems to be enough time to make a thoughtful decision. In the world that we live in, everybody wants an answer yesterday. With the lack of time to make a decision, people in management need to understand the process which underlies every decision that needs to be made. You need the right skills to understand the underlying issues associated with each decision and if you have those, then making the right decision will be easy.

Not everybody is born with the skills to make good management decisions but most of us can actually learn them (sometimes either by bitter experience or other times by using someone like an accomplished business coach) provided we understand the basics of the process.  There are some common personality traits that all good decision makers have in common.

Good decision makers usually have an open mind. They need to have this so they can  listen to other peoples ideas and gain some needed insight from their input. Making decisions in management requires you to have information from a wide variety of sources.

Good decision makers also show a high level of tolerance. You need to have tolerance because there will be always some degree of uncertainty, difficulty and frustrations. Having tolerance means that you won’t be discouraged too easily.

Having a positive self-image is vital to good decision-making. There is seldom a perfect solution to a problem so being self-confident helps you to be positive about your decisions. You need to have confidence in your judgements. Even if you have made a bad decision, the important thing is not to worry too much about them and move on. If you worry too much, then you probably will not get much done.

Making decisions in management also requires you to have  certain analytical abilities. If you have that quality, you can break a problem into various smaller parts, identify the major issues and then make a decision based on the most important factors and envision a certain outcome.

Making decisions in management can be hard work especially if you are dealing with situations you are not familiar with or the situation is very complex. Taking shortcuts is often the easy way, however, having good decision-making tactics will benefit you in the short term, long term, in your professional life as well as in your personal life.

Corporate BS-The Cafeteria

Corporate BS-The CafeteriaOne on my favorite places to work was a company that boasted as having a cafeteria. It seems to be a thing of the past now days when a company will go to all the expense to have an in-house eating area for their workers. You might think that companies that have one are trying to keep their employees happy. That may be true of some, but not the one I worked for.

In the old days at school, the cafeteria was a place to buy breakfast lunch. In the working environment, it’s more of a place to check out your co-workers: who’s hot and who’s definitely not, who sits with whom and how they behave away from the office environment. Unfortunately, our cafeteria was a bit on the skanky side. They served up recycled tuna and chicken and their specialty was to make ‘creative soups’ from  leftovers of two days ago. It was also full of very tempting and gratifying deserts such as chocolate mud cakes and humongous chocolate chip cookies.

Not only did my coworkers brave the food there but some of the upper management did as well…for a time. When the place was new, everyone checked it out. Not long after, the upper management guys stopped coming downstairs to eat. It didn’t take me long to realize that they only put the cafeteria in to make sure we stay in the building and to be as efficient as possible, eat out of a Styrofoam box and eat in our cubicle.

The upside was that at least the cafeteria staff knew us all by name, knew what we did, what we liked on our sandwiches and unlike some in the company, these people were actually doing their jobs.

 

This lady reminds me of one of our Cafeteria ladies.

In Management-What Goes Around Comes Around

In Management-What Goes Around Comes Around
There’s an old saying that applies to all facets of our lives: what goes around comes around or like some people prefer to call it, karma. Whatever way you look at this principle, it applies to everything that we take on. Our relationships, our daily dealings with people and certainly in
our business dealings. There’s no escaping it. I thought about this morning while I was going about my daily work routine here in the office.  I see people working their way up from lower positions to higher ones with a bit more responsibility just to have it all go to their heads. They develop seemingly out of nowhere, this high and mighty attitude, prancing around thinking that they are now so much better than their colleagues since they got a promotion.  Well, their bubble usually bursts at some point or another. Let me illustrate.

About 10 years ago I was working at a large telecommunications company here in Australia called Vodafone. They decided to sell off their retail arm of the business and a British company bought all the retail stores. There was a huge shake-up within the company at the time. One of the team members a while before got a promotion to become the new store manager. He and I really didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things but I was always respectful of his authority. The new owners  asked from all the store managers an evaluation of all the team members. Naturally, mine wasn’t very favorable. He was always backstabbing every one of his team members, sexually harassing the female ones and just generally being a real jerk. We always told him that one day he is going to get his. Out of the 7 staff members in that store, I was the only one who was rehired by the new owners. They all got decent references to find a new job with. The manager however, not only didn’t get a reference but he was also served with papers for a sexual harassment suit. Talk about karma coming back and biting this guy on the bum.

The bottom line simply is this. Don’t let a new position get to your head. You are no better than the day before you got the promotion. We all live for in an office environment to get ahead in our careers. However, keep in  mind that getting ahead does not give you the licence to act like you are better than everyone else in the office. Sometimes, you only get a promotion because you were slightly better at doing something than one of your colleges. It could just as easily gone the other way. You have to ask yourself, how would I react if the shoe was on the other foot?

Corporate BS-Team

corporate bsThe definition of a team is a group of people working together in a supportive manner and to compliment each others efforts to gain optimum results.

I think this person forgot the fact the people who work in a ‘team’ are constantly engaged in self interest, one up -manship, general laziness and sometimes even sabotage due to their ambition to get ahead over their co workers. In fact, most of them are probably too busy in just getting their own jobs done and perhaps even trying to keep their jobs to give two hoots about their coworkers issues. Not to mention the fact that most people on the team probably hate each others guts. So never mind about team time management either!

One thing one of my managers always used to say to his superiors when things went right was, “well sir, it was a team effort”. Yeah right!! In our department, it was usually two or three people doing 90% of the work and the other 10 doing less than 10% while the balance was probably made up by the cleaning staff. If he was any kind of manager, he would have seen that and did something about it.

The other side of the coin is off course when things don’t go right, it’s never a team effort. Some managers pass the buck to others and blame the team members when in fact, they themselves are the problem by trying to micromanage everything from who closes the sales to who cleans the white board every morning. They don’t realize that by managing up all the time, they are the problem and it’s clear that they are not displaying leadership and communication skills that are needed to manage a group of people or a team.

If you are going to use the term team to refer to your staff members, then please, as a manager show some leadership and accept responsibility when things are going well and equally when they are not. Only then does the word team have any significance in the workplace.

On a lighter note, here’s a video about some fun team-building exercises

Does Your Company Foster Professional Parasites?

Does Your Company Foster Professional Parasites?More and more people in management now days do not believe that their job is for life. It’s not just people in management who believe this. When I was a kid, my father was a textile chemist from when he left school to the day he retired. He moved countries as well as continents and always stayed in the same field. He shared his knowledge with whomever he felt needed it or was asked to. He had nothing to lose by doing that as he knew he was invaluable to the companies that he worked for. That I think is a thing of the past.

The reason this is happening is probably because a lot of companies expect loyalty but do not return loyalty to their employees. So they start to think that knowledge is power and don’t pass on their knowledge and experience to others because they feel threatened and do not believe their companies hold them in the highest regard. In my father’s day, his companies held on to him and knew he was valuable to them. He was head hunted all the time and the companies he worked for knew that. Most looked after him very well. Until, the early 80′s came along and the corporate world changed dramatically. After 10 years of loyal service to one company, they let him go within one week of being eligible to get his long service leave.  He wasn’t the type of man to take the matter to court because in those days, it was a lot more difficult to take action against your employer if you think you have been treated unfairly. Not many years after that, he retired very disillusioned with the business world.

The problem of knowledge hoarding is undoubtedly compounded by the use of more and more temps in key roles within a company. If you have any say in that as a manager, don’t let key positions be filled by too many temps. They tend to gain the knowledge and experience by being like professional parasites as such and move on to bigger and better jobs.

If you don’t want your staff to just gain as much knowledge and experience they can from you or your company and then when something better comes along just leave, then it can start with you. Make the workplace a relaxed and friendly place for them to be in. Foster a culture of cooperation  and above all else, share your knowledge and experience with them. You can’t help the fact the some will leave when an opportunity comes their way but you can stop the feeling that a lot have that their company doesn’t care about them and that they are replaceable.  Make it a place where they can learn and gain experience and confidence in whatever it is that your company does. If you haven’t got one already, suggest setting up an intranet that is accessible from all the terminals in your workplace. That is an invaluable tool for people to go and get training and information to increase their skill set. It’s a small thing but it makes your staff feel secure and realize that the company does care about them and wants them to grow with the company.

As a manager, it starts with you. You can either have an office full of professional parasites who will suck all the knowledge and experience from you and move on to use it in another company, or you can have staff that actually want to be there and learn and grow with you. The only way to do that is create a friendly yet professional environment and encourage your staff to gain new skills so that they can grow as the company grows and hopefully have a profession for life.

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