Staying relevant in a disrupted industry: Lessons from Eckersley Group

Businesses need to move with the times, something that Tom Eckersley quickly realised when he took over his father’s company, Eckersley Group, with his brother in 1991. Providing a broad range of printed materials to businesses across Australia, the introduction of the digital age has meant Tom’s had to update his product and service offering frequently in order to remain relevant.

Keeping pace with digital transformation

“The advent of digital technology has completely changed the way both our customers and we as a business look at printed products,” explains Tom. “Marketing has undergone huge transformations – our clients are connecting with their customers in completely different ways, everyone is trying to decide on the best medium to communicate through, and there’s now a far greater range of products to choose from.”

Rather than seeing the digital transformation as a challenge to overcome, Eckersley Group chose to work directly with new technology to provide a range of innovative, highly relevant products. These mainly focus around targeting printed media to increase engagement. “Instead of printing a generic brochure that goes out to 100,000 people, we’ll now produce 1,000 but they’ll be aimed at a specific sector or group. We’ll use data to individually personalise content, and through this we’ll increase engagement.”

From the business end, the technology Eckersley Group uses to produce material has changed dramatically over the years. Tom’s invested in a range of new technologies to keep up with this, particularly digital production equipment. “We decided it was best to concentrate on a few core activities rather than a broad range of service offerings. This has meant we’ve been able to carve out a niche slice of the market without over-stretching ourselves.”

A dynamic duo

The print industry is one where, as Tom explains, dynamism is key. “We need to be incredibly responsive to the market, we can’t work on one model from yesteryear, we need to change our business model constantly in order to keep up with the pace of technological transformation.”

Tom and his brother realised that, in recent years, there’s a clear need for an end-to-end supply solution in the print industry. Eckersley Group responded to this by focusing on logistics. “We’re no longer just providing the product. Instead, we’re looking at end-to-end solutions, including supply, warehousing and distribution into our offering,” says Tom.

It’s this dynamism that’s gotten Eckersley Group to where it is today – a highly successful business that’s developed and grown over the years, taking on a number of other printing companies and adding them into the core. This has enabled Tom and his brother to receive acclaim from the print community, winning Craftsman Awards consistently for the quality of work they produce.

An outside perspective

In a family business like Eckersley Group, where meetings can take place around the dining room table as much as in the office, it’s essential to get an outside perspective. For Tom, TEC was able to provide that objectivity. “I met someone many years ago who was having a similar experience to me in terms of running a family business. He mentioned TEC and suggested that I go along to one of the meetings. From there, I never looked back. TEC’s given us that broader range of input and objectivity that we needed. When you’re in a family business, you’re so involved with everything and you have been all your life, so it’s important to get some perspective.”

As well as talking over issues around the table, Tom also enjoys hearing from the public speakers that TEC brings in. “The speakers bring a different dimension, they bring a lot of expertise to a particular topic, whereas with the group we can get that broader advice. Both have worked really well in improving my decision making at Eckersley Group.”

Fast Facts:

Established in: 1971 (Tom and his brother took over in 1991)

Industry: Printing

Size: 30 staff and around 1,000 clients

Markets: Australian SMEs, corporates, governments, some individuals especially book publishers

Product range: 1,000s of productions over 100 different categories, covering all marketing materials, printed matter and business stationery, both from a digital production and a traditional offset production point of view

The art of defining a market for business: Lessons from Norwest Recruitment

60% of Australian small businesses will fail within the first three years. When polled, 44% of failed Australian businesses suffered from ‘poor strategic management’ and 40% ‘fell victim to inadequate cash flow.’ Many of these businesses failed not because of a lack of opportunity but because they were not able to properly define their market and execute related strategies. In fact, small businesses have been opening m­­ore often throughout Australia due to favourable economic conditions; though all the components for success may be there, the focus and the market research is not.

Since 2002, Norwest Recruitment has operated with a simple goal: connecting businesses to the talent they need to grow and thrive. With over 20 business awards — and a ranking of 47th on the BRW Fast 100 — Norwest Recruitment has been a clear success in the competitive market of permanent and temporary employee recruitment. Erica Westbury, CEO of Norwest Recruitment, has achieved this success not only by identifying the commercial and residential growth within the North West but by also committing fully to the opportunities it represented.

Embrace the challenge

In Australia, recruitment services is not a growing industry. In fact, it experienced a downsizing of -0.4% between 2012 and 2017. This is significant, as nearly all sectors experienced growth. Since 2002, the unemployment rate in Australia has been generally falling, with a peak in 2009 and again in 2015. With this information in hand, it might be easy to think that a recruitment agency wouldn’t be able to succeed.

But it was a thorough understanding of the local market that led Erica to her conclusions. Erica realised that the recruitment agencies that already existed in Norwest Business Park weren’t offering premium-level professional services. Recruitment services were being ignored because they offered both poor customer service and a substandard talent pool. Recruitment services had developed a bad reputation.

By understanding the challenges facing the recruitment industry — one of poor reputation and a flooded workforce — Erica was able to position Norwest Recruitment in an area of the market that was not yet filled. By offering premium temporary and professional talent, she was able to sidestep issues related to low unemployment rates and a stagnant market. Norwest Recruitment became a resource through which HR departments could find the best professional talent. And this was something businesses would always need, even when the market was flooded.

Do it better

When asked about competition tech entrepreneur, Elon Musk, once said, ‘If other people are putting in 40-hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100-hour work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing, you know that you will achieve in four months what takes them a year to achieve.’

Businesses need to view their competition as a benchmark and should always be attempting to improve upon their work product. For Norwest Recruitment, it wasn’t just about providing a better talent pool. It was also about providing a better experience, refining processes, and reducing overhead. Businesses today need to be able to stay ahead of their technology, pivot when the market changes, and understand their customer’s needs. Often, a business will even be called upon to anticipate market and customer changes long before the change occurs.

Erica knew that in order to break into the market of recruitment and employment, she had to be able to do it better. There are hundreds of options available for companies that simply want access to a talent pool, but it was better customer service that many HR departments were looking for. By improving upon customer service and putting clients first, Erica was already a step ahead in the game.

The risk in decision-making

As a CEO, you’re faced with difficult decisions every day. Making challenging decisions can be the difference between success or failure, it could even change the entire course of your business. It is easy to fall into the habit of choosing the safest decision to achieve expected results and avoid the risk of being wrong. This may decrease risk but it does not improve results.

It is essential, as a business owner, to remain committed to your choice and be aware that no matter what option you choose, your efforts to support the success is far more important than the cost of being ‘wrong’. Erica’s decision to build a business in a saturated market was associated with great risk. The focus was not on whether this was the right decision to make – rather Erica did everything she could to ensure that her decision turned out right. The success of this is reflected in the 15 business awards won by Norwest Recruitment, including the 2014 Hills Local Business Awards, the 2011 Fairfield City Local Business Award, and the NPAWorldwide Australia/New Zealand Top Revenue Achieved Award.

Learn from other business owners

Business owners must never stop learning. Not only is there a wealth of knowledge out there available from other business owners, but the market itself may change with the times. Business owners need to stay on top of new technology, need to refine their leadership skills and learn new management techniques. They must understand modern accounting standards and have the strategy skills necessary to grow and expand in often challenging marketplaces.

Through TEC, Erica was able to reach out to other business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals. She was able to listen to experienced and accomplished TEC speakers and connect to a like-minded community that could offer her support and resources. Through this professional community connection, Erica was further able to build her knowledge and confidence as a leader. It’s time you belong to a peer network and learn from the best. Get in touch with TEC today.

How to build a foundation for exponential business growth

Growth is a balancing act. Grow too quickly, and you run the risk of over-extending your organisation. Grow too slowly, and you may be eclipsed by the competition.

Growth is critical for an organisation to survive, yet two-thirds of the fastest-growing companies will fail. This is because growth operates as an accelerator: all the positives and negatives of a business are amplified during a growth phase, and businesses that are not prepared for rapid growth will quickly find themselves falling apart.

Limited resources, exhausted employees, and a disruptive work environment can all eventually take its toll, even on a business that appeared to have strong fundamentals.

In order to handle growth, a business needs to start with a firm foundation.

Training and retaining your employees during growth

Employee retention is the top concern for employers in 2017 — and rapid expansion only compounds this problem. Not only are human assets the foundation of any business, but losing human assets during the process of expansion can be exceptionally disruptive. The cost of training a new employee can be many times that employee’s monthly salary, and cycling through employees during a growth cycle is a fast track towards business disruption.

During expansion, employees may find themselves having their day-to-day tasks interrupted with a continuous flow of challenges. They may not feel as though a structure is in place to adequately reward them for meeting these challenges — and ultimately they may find themselves fatigued. During aggressive expansion, employees may also wonder what their position will be once the structure of the organisation changes, and they may feel uncertain regarding their future with the business.

To counter this, employees need to be trained specifically to handle growth phases. Management must be clear and transparent regarding the changes that the employee will experience — and management should further go out of its way to identify and reward its star employees.

Constantly foster innovation

Regardless of industry, innovation is considered to be the key driver of business growth. It may not always be possible for a business to have superior resources than its competition, but it is always possible for a business to find a way to do something better.

Businesses can only gain an edge during rapid expansion by fostering innovation and looking towards improving upon their operations, processes, products, and services.

Innovation can be best fostered in a business by encouraging employees to explore new ideas. Creating a company culture of openness and creativity can naturally lead to innovation, even during times of aggressive expansion and growth. A culture of innovation will additionally keep employees engaged and constantly improving, thereby also improving upon employee retention.

New business processes, new products or services, and new ways to service clients all fall under the banner of innovation, which is critical for business survival today. An innovative business is an agile business and a business that will be able to evolve with its growth.

Streamline business processes

Everyone knows that small businesses have a tendency to fail during expansion due to a lack of capital. But what is less explored is why large successful enterprises fail. This is usually a matter of a lack of innovation and optimisation. As businesses become larger, they become set in their ways and processes become entrenched — even if they may not necessarily be the most ideal.

Businesses need to be open about identifying bottlenecks, finding solutions, and validating their own assumptions. Well-designed business processes must be documented and analysed, and a business process should be available for every task. Otherwise, a business can quickly fall apart as it grows, as employees will not be able to follow direct strategies for handling customer complaints, processing orders, servicing clients, creating products, and more. As growth rates accelerate, these processes become even more important.

Identify the value in technology

Technology is a major asset to any organisation poised for growth. Through technology, businesses are better able to leverage their existing infrastructure, competing with businesses larger than themselves, and increasing their own stability. Businesses that do not invest in technology run the risk of being left behind; a decade ago, the cloud was virtually unheard of, yet as of 2015, over 90% of businesses had invested in some form of cloud-based infrastructure.

Enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, and logistics and shipping platforms are all designed to optimise and improve upon business operations. Ultimately, this also improves upon a company’s ROI, which is absolutely critical during the intense stages of business growth. Businesses need to start implementing these suites now rather than later, so that their organisation has already integrated them fully into their business practices as they grow.

When it comes to growth, firm business foundations are what make the difference between success and failure. As a leader, your primary goal is to make your business foundation stronger to sustain it throughout these periods of aggressive growth and expansion. If you want to learn more about reviewing and improving upon your business systems and foundations, contact TEC today. TEC can give you complete access to experienced professionals with invaluable insights into business growth and management.

How to successfully manage business mergers: Lessons from PwC

Between 70% to 90% of mergers and acquisitions will ultimately fail. Managing a business merger requires a delicate and experienced hand. Not only do you need to consider the direction and fundamentals of both organisations, but you also need to consider culture, strategy, and vision. Mergers tend to be particularly hard on staff members, both because it is a tumultuous time and because the future may feel uncertain — and this is where true leadership becomes essential.

Here’s how Rob Ashley, advisory principal with PricewaterhouseCoopers and a member of TEC, has been able to counter these challenges and achieve tremendous success.

Understand the importance of decision-making

A business, at its core, is really just a series of decisions. Not every decision must be perfect — what is important is that the decision is made. It’s estimated that the average adult makes approximately 35,000 decisions per day, and each of these decisions carry with them consequences and direction.

Business owners will be called upon to make a tremendous number of decisions throughout the business acquisitions process. These range from the dissolution of certain corporate assets to the retention of human resources. Each of these decisions impact the business itself, its employees, and its clientele. And with thousands upon thousands of decisions occurring, it’s important that a leader not get bogged down.

Rob Ashley was able to create a comprehensive planning process, which covered both an internal focus on the organisation and an external client engagement strategy. Through this planning process, Ashley was able to control all elements of the merger and facilitate decision-making processes. Though not every decision may have been perfect, they were made quickly and competently, running like a well-oiled machine.

Alignment of strategy

Why do mergers so frequently fail? If it was just about financial due diligence, one would expect most business mergers to be a success. But businesses are more than just what they appear to be on paper: they are a collection of strategies and goals. A business has its own direction and culture, and compatibility is very important. When polled, 33% to 50% of respondents cited cultural differences as the leading issue with a merger.

When businesses are aligned in terms of strategies, goals, and culture, they can readily work towards a singular destination. When businesses are not aligned, they begin to pull apart at the seams — and it is the human element that is lost. Companies need to be prepared to align their goals in terms of their values and their client base if they are to work together.

Recognising this, Rob Ashley placed a premium on communication and collaboration. He understood the need to engage staff members of both teams, alongside their client base, and to ensure that everyone involved was working together towards the same goals.

Maintain a consistency of service

Most mergers will lead to an increase in services. But though this may sound like a benefit, it can actually be detrimental. Ultimately, it will lead to the dilution of the company’s branding. In order to support a company culture and the comfort of both employees and clientele, it’s important to maintain consistency of service. That means that as services are added, they also need to be folded into the new company mission that both businesses now share.

In order to improve upon employee alignment, maintain happiness, and motivate employees, it is necessary to ensure that as much of the business as possible remain consistent. But it’s also important not to overestimate the value of synergies; 70% of business mergers overestimate the amount of revenue synergy they can expect.

Rob Ashley found that the increase in services was not only a benefit to the company’s clientele, but also the company’s own access to their now expanded talent pool. At the same time, conscientious work had to be done to ensure that the company’s offerings remained consistent with its mission statement and that the value of these benefits was not overestimated.

Enhance your personal life

As exciting as a merger may be, it is equally mentally and emotionally taxing. As a leader, it’s easy to become absorbed by your work and lose touch with the outside world. Though you may not feel it, those around you do; everything you do affects your end work product. Diet, sleep, and exercise can all have an adverse impact on your decision-making skills. You are the foundation of your brand — and because of this, you need to take care of yourself first.

Harvard Business Review explored why good leaders can sometimes make bad decisions. HBR found that bad judgments often occur due to red flag conditions, such as ‘the presence of inappropriate self-interest’, ‘the presence of distorting attachments’, and the ‘presence of misleading memories’. All of these are emotionally influenced conditions that can occur when mood is not properly managed.

As an experienced business professional, Rob Ashley realised that his personal health and mood could impact the way that he handled his merger. So Rob Ashley sought TEC. Since joining TEC, Rob Ashley was able to find a community of like-minded people that he could connect with.

Managing mergers successfully

Mergers and acquisitions involve a lot of moving parts. Decision-making, strategies, services, and even your personal health all need to be combined into a sum that is greater than each part. When anything is out of sync, things can fall apart — and they often do. But your business doesn’t have to be one of the 90% of businesses that fail through a merger; it can be one of the 10% that ascends to far greater heights. All you need to do is be able to properly manage those four key aspects of the transition.

Managing mergers is not a skill that you can develop overnight. It’s something that requires experience, expertise, and guidance. If you want to learn more about how businesses such as PricewaterhouseCoopers (and experts such as Rob Ashley) have been able to build their vision and grow, get in touch with TEC today.

 

 

Planning your business strategy? Here are 4 tips for success

 strategy planning
A good strategy for your business is nothing without the people to put it into action. From yourself as a leader through your direct reports and onto the rest of an organisation, everyone contributes to the execution of strategy.

Often, recruitment and human resources demands will inform an integral part of a company’s strategy, so it’s important for leaders to understand where their talent gaps may be and how they can remain attractive for future employees.

  1. Understand your recruiting demands in advance

Ideally, you’ll be able to look at the strategy that’s guiding your business and know which positions you’ll need to start lining up candidates for. You need consider how your business might look in one, two and three years time and compare it with your current staff. Especially consider who has the potential to grow.

Building a succession plan to fill prospective gaps doesn’t just mean focusing on who you’ll have to hire. Take a look at which employees in your current staff can be developed to fill future roles as well. This will give you a better idea of which talent will come from internal sources and which you’ll need to recruit.

  1. Build a bench of possible candidates

Just like sports teams have a bench of substitutes ready to enter the fray if someone drops out, businesses can also benefit from having a list of possible candidates or other people in the industry they can tap on the shoulder when a vacancy opens up.

You can create a list yourself. Remember to also pick the brains of your team. But this is where a recruitment company can also be valuable, helping you to tap into a network of passive candidates and nurture them before you’re even exactly sure when you might have space for them. You will probably go broke if you use a recruiter to fill every position in your company, but recruiters see people you don’t and have good industry connections and candidate networks.

  1. Make your business attractive to candidates

Every part of your business has to be attractive to the talent you’re trying to appeal to. If you’re searching for people in areas with known skills shortages, any weak links will have an even greater impact.

It’s especially important to boost your digital presence, as the growth in online job advertisements means that people will be Googling you whilst applying for jobs. If your site looks out-of-date or is hard to navigate, it will send a strong message – and not a positive one.

You can also be active on social media to give a stronger impression of your role in the market. Many of the larger tech companies are masters of this. For example, a quick scroll through SAP’s Twitter feed makes it clear they’re an industry leader. This doesn’t mean you have to post about job opportunities all the time, simply communicating about your actions and achievements in your chosen industry can have a significant effect on how you’re perceived.

  1. Find out what current and future staff think about the business

You need varied and honest feedback to truly understand how other people – whether they’re former, current or potential employees – perceive your business. When people leave your business, it’s essential to use an “exit interview” to understand why. However, to get a more truthful answer, you may need to follow up a few months after they’ve departed, as this is generally when they’re more honest and open about their real motivations.

I also suggest that you get feedback on your current recruitment efforts. Ask people what they think about your website, your social media presence and anything else that could impact the way people think about your organisation.


Graham JenkinsBy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Graham Jenkins

 

The first steps you need to take for change management

Change management tips
Strategic planning objectives have to be about much more than the financial impacts and considerations. Often they depend as much on an organisation’s culture and leader as the amount of money they can put forward, an issue that becomes clear when we look at success rates for strategic initiatives.

According to The Katzenbach Center, just 54 per cent of change management initiatives are successful, a significant warning to those who approach the process with any degree of complacency. This is why I always reinforce to leaders that strategic initiatives are actually part of a much wider change management process.

  1. Prioritise the real issues

The top reason that these strategic initiatives fail can simply be put down to change fatigue. There are too many issues – all of which are considered important – and no obvious level of prioritisation for people to follow.

This is not just an issue for the CEO to keep on top of either, as simply dictating orders isn’t going to be enough to overcome the fatigue some people feel when they’re forced to continually evolve in the workplace.

  1. Communication doesn’t guarantee engagement

The value of communication to strategic initiatives can’t be overstated. Most people know that leaders communicate plans and objectives to foster engagement, but not all realise how far they’ve actually got to go to ensure their employees have a genuine connection to these messages.

It’s not enough to just think of communication initiatives and related rewards as the keys to engagement – it’s the culture that’s the most important. If leaders are embedded in the organisation’s culture and understand what it means to employees, they can make messages much stronger, and much more relatable. It’s a connection that’s essential to ensure everyone throughout an organisation buys into what a leader wants to achieve.

  1. Consider a change management team

For major projects, it might even be worth employing a change management team. That’s something that needs to happen at multiple levels of an organisation, and before anything actually begins to happen. Again, they have to be much more than just talk to ensure they actually make a difference for other members of the organisation.

Senior people, especially those in the change management team, need to very visibly act out the sort of change they want to see in an organisation. That has to flow down through an organisation too. While it can start with a CEO, middle managers also have to exhibit the same enthusiasm for these new initiatives. This links to the idea above of going a step further to ensure people are engaged. It’s not what leaders tell employees that makes a difference, but what they show them through their actions and behaviours.

  1. Don’t forget about human beings

It’s easy to get too caught up in the structural elements and implications of a strategic initiative and forget how important people and their emotional connection to the organisation are. It’s something I’ve seen in an organisation I work with that relies on the services of around 3,000 volunteers.

Volunteers show up because of their emotional connection to an organisation’s cause, so leaders need to buy into that to connect with the workforce and enact change. It’s a lesson that applies to paid staff as well, as their emotional connection to their role is just as important when leaders are trying to make major changes.


BRichard-Applebyy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Richard Appleby

4 ways to communicate your strategy more effectively

communicating strategy
Bringing people, strategy and finances together creates maximum value and momentum for any enterprise. However, it’s easy to get caught up in ‘business as usual’- fighting todays battles and focusing too much on the now, and not enough on the future. So what to do different and make that difference in trajectory?

  1. Business as usual- the quicksand of change

What I often find when a CEO presents a new strategy is that there are always new activities that staff have to undertake. Whether that’s new product updates or different ways to engage with clients, the result of a strategic planning exercise usually leads to people needing to do more work to take the business forward in a deeper or different direction – many of which fail as organisations do not have extra people, and nobody has extra time to dedicate to additional causes or tasks.

Avoiding falling into this hole is very difficult. The best way I know is to set up a limited number of initiatives with short deliverable times (like 90 days) and really break them down into chewable chunks which are then part of the ongoing weekly review

  1. Put it on the agenda- and follow up rigorously

You have to really hone your ability to bring all parts of an organisation and its workforce together. This might mean explicitly putting it on your agenda for weekly or monthly catch-ups with your team. Or, it could mean giving people tasks that will help them work towards these uniting goals. Get them to report back regularly so they can’t get lost under the excuses of ‘business as usual’.

This ongoing loop of meetings and feedback is the only way to actually get people and strategy to come to life and engage with each other. Once they’re engaged and invested in the process, it’s more likely to happen and harder for people to ignore.

  1. Be aware of the financial implications

A strategic initiative, no matter how much buy-in it has from other people in the business, isn’t effective without an understanding of the financial implications surrounding it. What will it cost? What are the budgets? What kind of return on investment can you expect from it?

Ultimately, everything we do within our businesses will be measured financially. In that respect, creating a strategic initiative that isn’t backed up by numbers or directed at a financial goal is all a bit meaningless.

  1. Work out how your strategy will cascade from employee to employee

Getting buy-in from a senior leadership team isn’t the difficult part of communicating a strategy; it’s ensuring you can get it to trickle down through the rest of the organisation that can be the real challenge.

Everyone involved in the creation of the strategy has to go back to their department and ensure their team is just as engaged and enthusiastic as they are about the plan and what they have to do. It’s about them replicating the same steps you put in place, such as scheduling updates and creating that feedback loop that keeps people accountable and reinforces just how important it is to work towards strategic goals.

Emotional intelligence and its role in strategic planning

Emotional intelligence
Strategic planning is planning to succeed. If you want to make success a reality for your business, it’s all down to how you implement the strategic initiatives. The true measure of a strategic plan’s strength is in how people engage with it and put it into practice.  Herein lies the biggest challenge of all and where I have seen so many leaders struggle.  It’s fact that’s led me to a certain maxim I live by in these cases: ‘the task is easy, it’s people who complicate things’.

You can never underestimate the ways people will complicate even the best laid plans, whether they mean to or not, which is why emotional intelligence (or EQ) is so important during the time of year when leaders are forming and implementing their strategies.

  1. You ignore the human factor at your absolute peril

As a coach, one of the queries I most get from other leaders is ‘how has my perfect plan gone so wrong?’. It’s often a case of simply not realising just how the human factors in an organisation can shape and evolve what people expected to happen in theory.

My favourite book on leadership explores this subject. The second chapter of Leadership on the Line by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky notes that people – whether consciously or subconsciously – often resist change initiatives, which is why conversations around the importance of getting buy-in are so common.

  1. Understand how people resist change

The ways people can resist change within an organisation manifest in four different ways, so understanding what they are and how to detect them is essential when implementing a new strategy. The first three are:

  • Marginalisation
  • Diversion
  • Attacking

However, the one I feel is the most dangerous is referred to by Heifetz and Linksy as ‘the seduction of leadership’, where people give the appearance they’ve bought into the initiative and are happy to contribute but really couldn’t be more disconnected. Again, this can be subconscious behaviour, but unless you are sure you’ve got complete buy-in, your team could intentionally or unintentionally lead you down a blind alley and undermine what you’re trying to achieve.

  1. Don’t get stuck in one leadership style

Every leader has a particular style that most suits them, a default mode of operation that’s effective most of the time. Despite this, getting stuck in one style and not being able to adapt can reduce your ability to connect with all members in an organisation.

The leadership style that’s most effective during strategic planning is the one that best fits the team member you’re trying to influence. This is where emotional intelligence makes a difference, because if you’re trying to influence someone who’s an important gatekeeper, you have to understand their personality, their motivations and their context surrounding your goal.

Again, the most important element of all this is what they aren’t telling you. What’s beneath the surface that’s going to affect their motivations and potentially change the way they act with regard to upcoming changes?

  1. EQ tool for influencing change

Broadly speaking, the types of people you’ll be looking to influence will be split across four main groups. These aren’t hard and fast rules as such, but a quick and useful toolkit nonetheless that can help you decide how best to influence those on whom success of the strategic plan depends They are:

  • Results oriented – Their mantra will be ‘when do we start and get this done?’ – they’re the fast-paced, action-oriented doer in the organisation
  • Detail-focused – These people care about the ‘how‘ and want to make sure everything is covered and accounted for before moving forward
  • The big-picture strategist – They’re all about the ’why‘, and often think more about the higher level rather than getting stuck in the details.
  • The people-oriented person – Finally, these professionals are all about the “who”. They want to know how decisions might make them and the team feel.

It’s this level of awareness that can help you better apply emotional intelligence traits to your strategic planning process. Knowing your leadership style, and how that will resonate with those around you, is essential to keeping on top of the (very) human elements of this process.


BHelen-Wisemany: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Helen Wiseman

 

10 tips on goal setting to make you a better leader

Top 10 tips on goal setting

We recently interviewed some of our business mentors and coaches for their best approach to goal setting, staying motivated and striking the right balance between your personal and business life.

If you are ready to step straight into action, then these top tips will give you a head start on goal setting.

1. Clarify your purpose

One integral question we need to start off with when setting goals and achievement is why. This could be answered by your organisation’s mission statement or by clarifying your own role.

An important motivator for goals and achievement is to define your purpose. Capturing the entrepreneurial spirit in:

‘Reasons come first, results come second.’ – Peter Voogd

Some of the questions to ask yourself include:

  • Why is this goal important to me to achieve?
  • Why am I willing to make the necessary sacrifices?
  • Why am I able to keep going in the face of adversity?

Answering these questions will begin to craft your why, which becomes your purpose, and helps to give you clarity.

Tip from Trent Bartlett, you can read his full list here

2. Be organised

The first step to ensure you’re able to remain accountable is to be organised. This means being well aware of what you want to achieve, and creating a method to list and track your progress towards the eventual goal.

This is the perfect opportunity to investigate the many technological solutions that can make tracking goals easier. Many of the people I mentor use an app called Trello which tracks all the various “projects” they have on at any point in time. You can tick them off as you complete them and set target dates for completion to ensure you’re on track.

Tip from Graham Jenkins, you can read his full list here.

3. Know your business cycle

Your business cycle will offer a logical window for the best time to set your goals.  Find the most suitable time for yourself, your team and your customers to set goals.

Drawing up the goals and visions for your business is an activity based on passion, rather than process.  Think about your objectives in the context of upcoming opportunities, current market conditions or the changing circumstances of your business. This can bring breakthrough moments of setting goals in context.

Tip from Allyn Wasley, you can read his full list here.

4. Be resilient

Like everything in life, meeting goals involves sticking it out and dealing with the challenges that will inevitably arise along the way. Ideally, to stay resilient you’ll want to try and keep your emotions in check and avoid getting flustered if things don’t go exactly to plan.

How flexible you are able to be with your goals will also affect how easy it is to stay resilient. Be prepared to put some goals aside, add new steps or refocus altogether, as long as they continue to align with a key purpose or vision, you will keep heading in the right direction.

Tip from Richard Appleyby, you can read his full list here.

5. Don’t forget to set your personal goals for effective goal setting

The goals you have for your business aren’t the only directives that should shape the months ahead. All too often, senior executives make a plan for the new year that doesn’t account for their own personal goals.

Most leaders spend the majority of their time working tirelessly on the company, to ensure it achieves greater value for shareholders or competes better in its particular market. It’s easy to neglect your personal investment in these goals, the impact on your life as well as that of the company. Answering the question of why, will help you to find a balance.

Tip from Ian Neal, you can read his full list here.

6. Ensure your bank understands you

It always surprised me when businesses, small or medium-sized, don’t have a relationship with their bank that involves regular meetings and strong understanding about their current status, and expectations for the future.

Everyone needs a bank for a loan from time to time. Either things are going very well and businesses have consumed a bit of their cash with rapid growth or there’s been a hiccup and they need a safety net. If there’s a relationship in place, the bank is much more likely to come through.

If the people at the bank understand a business and its goals and trust the leader, they’re a valuable ally if you need extra financial help. The key is for leaders to have built this relationship far before they need assistance – and that means keeping in touch even when everything is just ticking over as per normal.

Tip from Jerry Kleeman, you can read his full list here.

7. Find someone to hold you accountable

Depending on the type of goal you’re focusing on, there are a number of people who can hold you to account and ask you for regular updates. A board of directors will have one set of expectations to meet, which may differ from those of your financial controller.

You may be looking for someone more impartial like a business coach or mentor who is aware of what you are trying to achieve but doesn’t have the same attachment to your business. They can hold you to account in a non-judgmental way while still ensuring you’re being pushed in the right direction.

Alternatively, get your family involved, as this is a way to have a positive balance of personal and professional goals, while focusing on objectives that won’t harm your relationships. Again, they offer a valuable perspective on your goals that’s separate from people based within the business.

Tip from Graham Jenkins, you can read his full list here.

8. Find opportunities for disruption

Keeping an eye on the future of innovation and disruption is imperative. This is a key business trend at the moment for good reason.

Be sure that someone in the company has time to look at the future with disruption in mind. Either within the leadership team or appoint someone to focus on the future.

Not only do they need to keep an eye out for what may disrupt them, but also ask “What could I disrupt?”. There’s always a chance, no matter how well a business is doing, for an incumbent company to wipe the rule book clear and set new standards for an industry. Then, it doesn’t matter how good a business is compared to its traditional competitors because the goalposts have moved.

Tip from Jerry Kleeman, you can read his full list here.

9. Give the year a theme

For me, every year is based around a theme that my various goals and objectives are nested under. This mean that when I write goals out, I already have a prompt and direction.

Theming also frames this process but it also does something I find just as powerful: As the year goes along and we all get busy, sometimes we lose track of our specific goals, so I find having an overarching theme in mind provides a constant level of focus.

It could be one word, phrase or sentence.

I normally stick to one or two words. For example, my most recent theme for last year was simply ‘business’, as I had been doing a lot of leadership and not-for-profit work and wanted to reorient more towards the business side of my career.

Tip from Helen Wiseman, you can read his full list here.

10. Find motivation

A bit of extra pressure is good for keeping you on track, that’s part of the reason why it’s so important to enlist other people who are invested in your progress. I found there’s a way to take this motivation to the next step with an app called Crew Mojo, which enables other people to follow your various goals and tasks with regards to upcoming deadlines.

Knowing other people are keeping an eye on your promised deadlines helps you take the process a bit more seriously while also creating a channel where you can update invested parties ahead of time if you think a certain timeframe is going to be particularly tough to meet.

Using traditional goal setting along with apps to keep track of your progress is an excellent way to keep momentum in your business and personal life. With the right balance, you can stay accountable and achieve your goals.

Tip from Graham Jenkins, you can read his full list here.

Coming up to the next fork in your career road

Coming up to the next fork in your career road
There you were – engaged, challenged and fulfilled in your work that made the most of your innate talents and spoke to your passions and beliefs. You might have spent years developing a fully committed relationship with one of your closest friends – your job! Continue reading

How to beat the odds and succeed with your plan…What’s Expected Gets Inspected

By Phil Kerrigan, TEC Chair The cost to businesses for such a high failure rate is enormous and at times fatal. I believe ‘leadership’ is a problem. In Peter Drucker’s seminal work Management, he said that management consisted of 4 elements – Planning, Organising, Control and Leadership. ‘Leadership’ is not an end unto itself. […] more

Culture Vs Strategy? Why not Culture+ Strategy?

By Ian Neal, TEC Chair Every business leader wants to lead a winning organisation, so how come so many fail? A great line is “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. The point being that a poor culture will kill stone dead the very best strategy. A Bain and Company survey has shown that 68% of leaders believe their culture is a source of competitive advantage, 81% believe that an organization that lacks a high performance culture is doomed to mediocrity – yet fewer than 10% actually succeed in building a winning culture. […] more