This Blog features business advice, tools and strategies from one of London's leading business coaches from business coach Shweta Jhajharia. Follow us to keep up with Useful tools, tips and strategies to help your business learn, develop and expand.
There is an important communication that all business owners need to have with their teams, especially as they reflect on the year and plan for the next. You’ll be surprised how often it is overlooked…
Crucial Business Communication – London ActionCOACH Business Coaching - YouTube
Remember, the formula for success – any kind of success – is Be x Do = Have. That is, the results that you get in your business are directly dependant on the things you do and on your ability to do them.
What that means for you as the leader of your team, is that beyond managing the activities your team are doing, you also need to understand who they are and how they are growing, if you want to maximise their success.
When communicating with your team at the end of the year – or quarter – you are probably taking a close look at what strategies and activities they are focusing on. You may also be taking a look at what their behaviour has been like. But actions are only 5% of what makes them who they are – like an iceberg, there is a lot more hidden underneath the surface. The rest of who they are, and what they are ‘being’, can be uncovered by looking at skills, beliefs, values and identity.
This is the time to ask your team to reflect on how they have developed in these areas, and find out if they are growing the core parts of their being. Have they been doing training? What motivates them and drives them? Is this changing?
If you want a continuously successful team, then they must be doing better and being better with every year with you. Your company culture is key in motivating your team and while perks can do this to a degree, it is their professional and personal development that will keep your superstars committed to the excellence of their work.
Also remember though that your team is a reflection of yourself, so make sure you, too, are focusing on both doing better and being better as well.
Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:
We are currently having some internal communication with our clients as to what they need to communicate towards the end of the year to get the team ready and engaged for the next year. And I thought this might be useful for you as well, just to see how do you get the best engagement and best productivity from your talent.
What Generally Happens with Team Communication
What generally happens, first of all, is that not enough communication happens at all in many businesses. Secondly, if it does happen, then the focus is more on the goals, the targets, and the “What do we have to do?” It’s all about the new activities or the scaling up of the activities.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of that. I am a person who believes in numbers. I know that the language of the business is numbers and not something else. So I love targets, I love goals, I love action plans. But I think, personally, there’s one fundamental thing which is not emphasized enough.
The Fundamental Communication That is Often Forgotten
For me, it is the mindset that is often left out. It’s the leader who sets the mindset for the team, reminding them of the winning mindset principles, and engaging the team members with how we need to be. We are so comfortable with all the ‘doing’ – the ‘more’ things – the more prospects to chase, the more activities that need to be done in the business, that we forget the communication that needs to happen around the being.
What are the habits that one person needs to drop? What are the habits that we need to pick up? What are the new behaviours? What are the new identities, new values that one needs to really start paying attention to? What are the values which are not benefiting an individual, a team?
The way I see it these are all very mindset related. They’re very fundamental to the core of any human being. When one starts focusing on the values, the identity, the behaviours, the skills, that’s when truly the impact happens and actions and decisions and what’s visible to the outside world.
Team Communication Begins With Your Mindset First
You as a leader really need to reflect on this and say that, towards the end of the year, what communication do I need to do which actually helps my team to have that transformational shift in their identity of doing even better? Of getting even better results for themselves and obviously for the business.
So make sure that you’re not just focusing on doing more but actually focusing on being even better, you yourself and then you along with your team.
If you want to be and do better than ever next year…
Our business coaching is about helping business owners optimise their ‘being’ and leverage their ‘doing’ so they can achieve sustainable growing success.
Explore how our strategies work at a free coaching session and then decide for yourself if we could be your leg up to make next year your best ever.
Earlier this year, I was on a flight back from China and was ordering some tea on the plane. The experience inspired a thought which I had to share with you.
It all starts with a cough
You see after I had delivered my speaking engagement in China, I came down with a pretty bad cough. Travelling with a cough is terrible, especially on a plane!
So, in an effort to try and supress this horrible scratch in my throat, I had to keep asking for tea. I pressed the call button and asked for the hot drink from the air hostess. The very kind woman brought me a steaming cup of tea with a big smile on her face.
The hot water soothed my throat for a total of about 5 seconds before I had to press the call button to request another. After three rounds of this, she came to me with a Chamomile tea bag for my cup and a big flask of hot water. “Just let me know if you need it refilled. Hope you feel better soon.”
I was so incredibly grateful for her initiative as I definitely needed many more cups of tea – but would never have thought to have asked if they had a flask. (In fact, I had to even ask for that flask to be refilled!)
Reflecting on her behaviour, I really had to admire her work ethic – and I realised there was a real lesson here for business owners.
This is exemplary of “exceptional”
I would call this a very good example of what “exceptional customer service” means. Most of our clients are in service industries, and many of them work with ultra-high net worth individuals. These kinds of customers are ones for whom nothing but the best is tolerated – and better than the best is expected.
This air hostess is an example of an employee that applied herself to the situation and went above and beyond what was asked of her in order to achieve the best result. Her priority was not, “Do what is on my job description.” It was, “Do what makes these passengers as comfortable as possible.”
This kind of thinking is what should be applied across your business when working with customers and clients. And you, personally, should be holding yourself to that standard in the way you work with your team, and the way you organise yourself.
It begins with you
If you are reading this and thinking, “How do I get my team members to exhibit that kind of initiative and care?” Well the answer is probably in the mirror.
If you’re looking for your employees to exhibit exceptional customer service, then you need to provide exceptional leadership and management. Upskill the way you lead and you will increase the output of your whole business.
I’ll just leave you with one final lesson from my tea-drinking on a plane – if you’re going to drink that much tea on a plane, it’s wise to make sure you’ve got an aisle seat and aren’t seated too far from the toilets!
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In this blog, I highlight a formula that keeps your optics clear, so you can be totally aware of exactly how complex your business is becoming as it grows.
The Formula of Complexity – London ActionCOACH Business Coaching - YouTube
As you can see, even the smallest amount of growth comes with exponential increases in complexity. However, the first step in coping with this is being hyper-aware that it’s happening.
You can only tackle problems when you know the nature and magnitude of the issue. With this formula, you can become aware of the complexity you’re facing, and then we can take a look at how to ensure it doesn’t cripple your business.
Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:
What I want to talk about today is a very common misunderstanding which business owners have when they are busy growing their businesses.
The Complexity Ceiling
Generally speaking, when the business is growing there is an increase in the team’s size. And with that increase in team size the complexity increases. And what I have seen very commonly is that business owners they hit their complexity ceiling. They’re not able to go beyond a certain growth level, beyond a certain size of the team because there’s just so much to do.
So let’s just take an example. A business starts and there’s only a business owner who is trying to manage everything and do everything and then the business starts doing well.
Another team member comes on board and now there are two team members. The business keeps on doing better such that there are now 4 team members and then say 10 and then 20 and then 40. Now the business owner is thinking that the business size has been doubling in terms of the team members, right? From 2 we have gone to 4 and then obviously from 4 to 10. So more than double, then 10 to 20 and so on and so forth.
The team is just doubling, right?
In their mind, it’s just doubling. And while the team size is doubling, it is actually really important for you to truly understand the scale of complexity. The complexity is not doubling. Actually, that complexity is growing exponentially and for you to really understand that, the formula that you need to focus on is:
n x (n – 1) / 2
And what “n” stands for is the number of team members, number of employees that you have in your business, including yourself.
Two-person team = 1 relationship, 20-person team…
OK so let me show you what I mean when I say that the complexity actually increases at an exponential level.
When there is, say, one person, then as you do the calculation the number of relationships which are there in the business is zero, right? It’s just a sole business owner/operator who is managing everything.
Then the size of the team doubles. As you can see, now there is one relationship – because there are two people, so there’s one relationship.
Now let’s say the business is growing and now it has a total of 4 team members. So, 4 x 3 / 2 – you’re looking at 6 relationships. So although the business side has doubled, as you can see the complexity here has gone six times higher!
Quite a bit more than double complexity!
Now imagine the business size has actually gone up to 10, so more than doubled, and here what are we looking at? 10 x 9 / 2 = 45!
Do you see what I’m saying? All of a sudden here it is slightly more than double, but look at what’s happening here. It’s slightly more than seven times, that’s the complexity we ‘re talking about. And imagine if you have 20 team members, we’re really talking about 20 x 19 / 2 – we’re talking about 190 relationships which exist here.
Pay attention to this because it’s quite staggering as far as I’m concerned because when you’re thinking about the growth and saying, yeah, it’s another two team members, but actually the complexity is now six times. We think, “Oh yeah, it’s just another 6 team members,” but look at the number of relationships which are there and you could do this calculation for yourself and for your business.
What’s your team’s complexity?
How many team members do you have in your business, including yourself? Apply this formula and you will truly understand the level of complexity that you’re dealing with.
So, at the end of the day when you feel, “Oh my God there’s so much that I’m doing!” or, “There’s so much I’m trying to deal with,” it’s understandable.
But just understanding the level of complexity is the first step and doing something about it is the second one, which I will talk about later on in a different blog.
But my purpose today is to make you really understand the scale of complexity that you’re dealing with, because for every change to happen in your organization and your business, it has to start with the awareness of the right problem, at the right level.
Need to break through your complexity ceiling?
It is right at the point of bringing on new team members and realising this relationship complexity that business coaching has helped our clients. We can give you systems and tools that will smooth your growth to the next level and ensure you sustain that level.
Book a free sit-down with us. We will find out a bit about your business beforehand, and then at our meeting show you the kinds of strategies we use to help businesses like yours grow.
Many of my clients are premium service providers. Their expertise is unrivalled and the services they provide are truly top of their field. However, sometimes they find themselves trapped in a race of price.
How do you win the customer when your competition offers a price that is unacceptably low for the service you offer?
Here are two strategies that I give to our clients so that they can retain their premium price tag and exceptional standards.
Strategy 1: Prioritise being the best athlete, not the most attractive one
One of my clients used a very clever phrase on one of our group coaching calls: “You can have fast, brilliant, cheap. Choose 2.”
That quite succinctly summarises this first strategy: you need to get them to see that the value you are offering is worth compromising on the “cheap” part, by showing you are actually giving the best results.
The fastest runners haven’t become champions by cutting costs. They’ve trained hard, and they’ve invested in their equipment, their coaching, and their personal health. They recognise that the value of buying the best shoes is worth the monetary cost. They recognise that the value of training every day is worth the cost of spending that time becoming stronger instead of watching TV or playing a video game. They recognise that the value of eating healthy is worth the cost of not satisfying the immediate gratification that less-than-healthy food would offer.
Here’s a framework that may give some additional clarity:
Value = Benefits – Costs
The benefits here are all the services you are providing to your clients. The issues that you are pre-empting for them and solving for them.
The costs here are what they have to give you or give up to receive those benefits. This can come in the form of money but could also be other ways – time, effort, headspace etc.
When you can demonstrate clearly that you understand your customers emotionally, what they are suffering with, and that your solution will resolve it, it becomes clear to them why you are better than any cheaper competition.
A clear understanding of the costs from their point of view demonstrates understanding of the customer’s position, and then they are more willing to accept that the value of what you are offering is worth that cost.
What’s the bottom line? Demonstrate that the benefits you offer are worth the cost. Focus on value, not price.
Strategy 2: Take yourself out of the running
The 500m relay runners won’t be compared to a 100m sprinter and neither of them will be compared to a marathon runner.
So, when you think you are locked in a battle of price with your competition, then maybe it’s not about proving you are better than them, but that you are something else entirely.
Change the frame of reference – show you are not actually running the same race as the competition they are comparing you to.
Your prospect’s previous service provider – and your competition – have been working within a certain framework. They have set up certain ‘service level agreements’ (SLAs).
If you want to distinguish yourself from them, then detail out the benefits of your service and lay out an SLA that is something entirely above and beyond anything your competition offers.
This then takes your prospect away from comparing you to the competition and instead allows you to have an independent conversation with your prospect.
The decision from the customer point of view is then no longer centred on the price, but instead on what you are actually offering them. This makes it easier, really, to engage in the first strategy above – because they are focused on the “benefits”, not the “costs” part of the equation already.
What’s the bottom line? Show how different your service is so that comparing you to the ‘competition’ looks like comparing apples and oranges.
Are you ready now to strap on your running shoes and get ahead of your competition? Do you have any other ideas on how to stand out against cheaper competition? Let us know in the comments below.
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Peter Drucker has famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” However, my team taught me an interesting and quite critical nuance to this.
There is no doubt in my mind that if you fail to focus on the culture in your business, you are failing your business in a much larger sense. And if you do not set the standard within your business, you let that culture be driven by others without your input.
As I say to many of my clients – culture is what you tolerate.
But there’s another piece I need to add to that statement…
Culture Is Not What About What You Tolerate – London ActionCOACH Business Coaching - YouTube
However, what is even more important is that there needs to be a level of visibility in the standards you set and how they apply to everyone in the team. If one of your staff members is under-performing, or is not being responsible for the activities they are accountable for, then you should not tolerate that. And you need to be very clear about how you are not tolerating that.
When you create a culture that has the right frequency of meetings, where open conflict is useful and welcomed, and where everyone is on the same page, then what you have is an aligned and focused team.
And then you will find your team is working in tandem, and they are perfectly streamlined to glide into the next chapter of your business.
Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:
Hi, this is Shweta from London Coaching Group. Peter Drucker, one of the most renowned management consultants in the world, is my all-time favourite and he once said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast any day.”
Your Business is Only As Good As The Culture
Now there are a few things that when you read them, you understand how meaningful they are. However, when you encounter them in real life, they become even more impactful and meaningful. I get to see this in my clients’ businesses very often and I tell them that culture is what you tolerate and your strategy, your tactics, and your intentions, they are as good as the culture in the business. At the end of the day, it is your team, along with you, who actually takes things forward and make things happen.
However, there was a nuance, a distinction, that was made for myself, by my team, and let me share this with you.
What My Team Brought To My Attention
So yes, I totally understand that culture is what you tolerate. But then my team very recently actually taught me something very interesting. They came up to me and they talked about some other team members.
They said, “You really care about the talent that we have seen, and each one of us, and we can see that there is this one person who is absolutely exemplary and can actually do even better but recently has been not doing the best possible and we just wanted to make sure that you’re aware of that.”
I just smiled at that point and, first of all, I thanked them profusely. “I truly appreciate this culture in you and in the team and thank you for bringing it up.” I also gave them then some evidence and some more in-depth insight as to what I was doing to deal with that because this team member is absolutely precious to everyone in the team here.
Show Them What You Are (and Are Not) Tolerating
So I showed them these few interactions and conversations that I was having and then I asked them, “What do you think I should be doing more here?”
And they just felt relieved and they said, “Actually nothing. What you are doing is right. We just want to know that you are aware of it and that you’re not putting up with that kind of performance.” That’s where the distinction was there for me personally. Because at that moment I realized that culture is not what you tolerate. Culture is what seems to be getting tolerated.
The Two Important Takeaways About Culture
What’s important for you to understand here is that, first of all, don’t tolerate what you are not happy with, and what is not conducive to the culture of your business. Whether you like it or not the culture is very powerful. It does eat strategy and performance for breakfast every day.
The second thing is, if you’re dealing with some issue with a person on a one-to-one basis, make sure that the wider team is aware of it. Not about the person or about the issue, but about the general principles that you want to have in the business and how you expect the entire team to perform.
Make sure the messages are conveyed loud and clear, so the team is aware that you are not putting up with something which should not be tolerated. Show them your eyes, your ears, and your heart is absolutely aligned with the right culture in your business.
Team feeling less streamlined than you would like?
At the complimentary Mastermind session, Shweta will be discussing growth strategies in general. Team management is usually a hot topic of discussion, alongside marketing strategies, how to bring in new business, and how to efficiently manage time in your business.
Tell us a bit more about your business and find out if Mastermind makes sense as your next step towards change.
Let me tell you about how we have turned a business that was in a steady year-on-year decline to having 40% monthly growth this month – without any clever marketing strategies or an influx of sales or anything.
The key to unlocking the change was the relationship between the business owners.
What is the problem with having multiple business owners?
Many of the businesses we coach are not owned by individuals. In fact, the majority are joint-controlled by family members or friends. Should they be trying to measure their own KPIs to stimulate growth? Well, actually, it is often the relationship between the owners that is one of the biggest obstacles to the growth of their venture.
In this particular retail business that we are working with, both of the business owners would usually together be focused (or not focused) on areas within the business. Sales was one of the most concerning areas where this was happening. Each of them had a different sales style and were pushing and pulling the team in different directions, getting them nowhere. They were wasting hours every day by quibbling about misunderstandings, clarifying mixed messages delivered to the staff, and communicating and recommunicating what they wanted to happen.
There was one simple focus that triggered the turnaround.
The best tactic for resolving business partnership issues
“Alright, here’s what we are going to do,” their coach said, starting off one of our coaching sessions. He pulled over the flip chart and a few pens, “Let’s list all the functions of your business.”
We spent the next 5-10 minutes listing down all the nuts and bolts that made up the machine that was their business.
“Ok.” I said, picking up a blue pen. “By the end of this session, we are going to have one name for the person who is responsible for each function. And only one name.”
The debate that followed was so much more fruitful than any other argument they had ever engaged in.
Here’s how we allocated the functions in their business:
“Wow,” Business Owner X said. “This makes me feel way more comfortable.”
What happens when business owners get along in the business
Now that there is a clear division of labour at the highest level, each business owner is a lot clearer on what they are responsible for.
Each of our fortnightly sessions has clear actions under each heading – and now they know exactly who is accountable for the performance of those areas.
This creates greater focus and greases the wheels in their machine, and it has let their business truly start moving in the right direction. The evidence is right there with a clear 40% growth this month and a clear bottoming out of the decline.
“Things have really turned around,” one of them said to his coach at the last meeting. “And we can already see that this month is going to show even further growth. The turning point has been reached!”
Not to mention that they’re both sleeping much better as well!
Have you divided things in your business?
If you’d like to get Shweta’s eye on your business, then apply to attend her upcoming Mastermind session.
It will be a round-table discussion where she will delve into a few businesses she has never worked with before to discuss how they can best achieve growth in the coming months.