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.
Almost every successful business owner will have nurtured a particular skill to the point of it becoming a superpower: negotiation.
Negotiation happens at every level in your business and is most important when dealing with your suppliers. You may be the receiver or executor of the negotiation but either way, you need to learn how to master power negotiation. That is the art of getting what you require, while also leaving the other person with the win.
This game is all about the mindset. Perhaps you walk into a meeting with someone from a large corporation, and you feel like you aren’t going to be able to hold a candle to them. If so, you’ve already lost your power. Never forget, you are dealing with an individual, not the whole company. You and the person you are negotiating with are locked in a 1-on-1 game – you just need to be the best athlete.
Like any sport, negotiating has rules and plays. To win, you’ve got to practice the plays and watch the other player closely to choose the right one to execute at the right time. Learn how to predict the reactions of the other party, and you can steer the outcome to your favour.
Most games are all but decided in the first moments. Just think about a Formula 1 race. Everyone wants to see the first round because it is those first moments that result in accidents big and small that will shape the rest of the championship – and then you can pretty much predict who will end up on the podium with the champagne and the trophy.
Pay attention to how you begin your negotiations, and you will likely find your success rate change dramatically. (I hope you’re testing and measuring it!)
Here are 3 opening gambits of negotiation in business that I have seen make the most difference to business owners’ negotiation game:
1. Don’t start first and open with less
This is a technique called “bracketing” and is one of the most commonly used and most effective negotiation strategies. The idea is that you get the other party to establish their position first – ask them to state their price. Then you can offer less than you are willing to pay, bracketing your target price between the price they suggested and your opening offer.
With this technique, even if you are facing a master negotiator, you will still come closer to your target price than when you open with your own offer first – or start with your target price!
2. Always flinch at proposal
It doesn’t matter how good that proposal is, the first thing they say must always at least seem like it hurts you. Flinch openly and it naturally motivates the other party to compromise downwards to make you feel better.
It’s not always easy displaying emotions, especially in a culture like that of the UK where we don’t often express things openly. However, if you learn to show how that price hurts, you’ll probably start playing with someone who is much more cooperative in helping you both get over that finish line.
3. Silence is golden
This is such a simple technique, it often surprises and delights my clients at how well it works.
When the other party presents you with a proposal that doesn’t meet your requirements, you just say, “You’ll have to do better than that.” Then you stay quiet.
The silence motivates your other player to come back to you with a better offer. If you happen to be dealing with a veteran player in the game of negotiation, they might then respond with, “Exactly how much better than that do I have to do?” This is an attempt to get you to make an offer first – going back to that first technique above. The game is now afoot!
This whole thing really is a game. Sometimes it is one of chance, but often if you know the plays well and predict the movements of the other player just enough, you will ensure a win for yourself – and for them.
The best negotiators don’t just get what they want; they manage to work out a compromise that leaves both parties satisfied. Reaching that perfect equilibrium is where the skill and the fun happens.
And you don’t need to just apply this to your suppliers – it is for your potential or existing employees, your friends and your family as well. Negotiation is happening in every element of your life at varying degrees.
The final skill to keep in your bag of negotiation tricks is to remember not to take “no” so seriously – that’s just an opening negotiation position! Enjoy the game!
Think your game could use polishing?
You are an athlete of sorts. Power negotiation is one sport in the Olympic games that is running a business. The best players, the Olympians of the sports world, have someone watching their plays and helping sharpen their game.
Think those tools of yours could use a finer edge to help you punch above the rest? Let’s find out if our tools could be your winning tool.
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.
Imagine a child walks into his house and he’s obviously upset. His mum tries to step forward to help and starts suggesting things he should do to feel better.
The child rejects her. She gets upset. Her partner comes home. There’s more tension. Everything starts to unravel.
A similar situation happens in your business – your team members may often react in ways you don’t respond well to and it becomes a bigger drama than it should be.
However, there’s an easy way to escape this…
How to Escape the Drama Triangle – London ActionCOACH Business Coaching - YouTube
You can see that the Karpman Drama Triangle is such an easy trap to fall into – but it is also actually an easy one to escape.
Drama is different from conflict. Conflict in your team can actually be great, and useful when directed well.
However, when you get drawn into a toxic cycle around this triangle, it doesn’t help your business grow and it will contribute to an overall negative culture in your business.
Master the art of this triangle in every aspect of your life and not only does it become easier to manage your relationships with people, but you and the people you interact with will all get much more out of your relationships.
Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:
What happened there?
Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to help the other person and you had the best intentions in your mind and heart and something triggered? And the entire conversation went in the wrong direction and you just wondered what happened there? Then emotions start flying and people start feeling in a certain way and you’re kind of lost and overwhelmed.
As to what did you do wrong… well, it’s bound to happen because when you’re dealing with human beings, all kinds of biochemical reactions and emotions come into play.
The Karpman Drama Triangle
I wanted to share with you a very simple yet very powerful framework which exists in behavioural science and it’s called Karpman Drama Triangle. Once you understand this drama triangle, you can see it happening around you and how you being a part of it. This whole emotional vortex that exists is unnecessary and is purely draining, energy-wise and emotions wise.
Now how Karpman Drama Triangle looks like is something like this:
You’ve got three main positions: Persecutor, Rescuer and Victim. And as it says, Persecutor is the one who gets upset, who thinks that things should be handled in a certain way. Rescuer obviously wants to save people, wants to help people, and in fact loves the recognition or the attention they get for doing that. And Victim is a person who feels that things are happening to this person and is helpless, and is just suffering. That’s how, at least, the person is thinking.
Now I’ll give you an example so that it just becomes a little clearer to you.
So imagine a child walks into the house and has got something playing on his mind. Mum (or any parent, I’m just using mum as I’m a mother myself) comes forward as a Rescuer and says, what happened? And tries to help. As you can imagine.
The child doesn’t want the help at that time so acts a little rudely.
Mum is doing so much for the child already. She feels that she’s being Victimized and she’s trying to help. So from being a Rescuer mum moves to being a Victim and the child is being a Persecutor.
Mum, obviously being the authority figure, gets upset with the child and shouts or kind of shows those stern feelings, and starts Persecuting.
The child all of a sudden from Persecutor becomes the Victim.
Mum is now sitting here in the evening. The spouse walks in and obviously, there’s a discussion.
The spouse tries to be the Rescuer. Again the Victim mum is sitting there and saying I do so much, what’s gone wrong?
And as you can imagine the whole family environment has gone out of the window and there is a big drama happening within the household with no positive outcome nearby.
And Business Drama
Similarly, in the business situation, as you can imagine; you’re in the best mindset, you try to give some feedback to your team member, your team member feels you have not really understood where he or she was coming from, and so is a Victim.
They ignore your advice and what you asked him or her to do. You obviously get upset, you start Persecuting.
The team member maybe responds back or shows some kind of a body language. You all of a sudden start feeling like a Victim.
You go back home, share with your spouse saying, “Look I tried to do so much and my team doesn’t pay attention or respect me.” And again, as you can see, the whole thing is going on and on.
Sometimes I’ve seen business owners giving some very strong feedback to their team member but then they get so conscious of the team member feeling bad, so they all of a sudden move to being a Rescuer. They’re trying to help the team member, the team member then starts Persecuting in his or her own style. The business owner starts feeling like the Victim and so on and so forth. You get the point right?
You see how draining and how wasteful this whole interaction is just because people are stuck in this triangle, moving from one position to the other without even being aware of how they’re coming across. But everyone is right and has his or her own capacity in their own mind.
Escape the Drama
The reason I’m sharing with you this particular framework is because I want you to be very observant, to be very attentive when this is happening or has the potential of happening, and as soon as you can see that one might be getting sucked into this whole Karpman Triangle. The best way to get out of it, whether you’re dealing with your loved one or you’re dealing with your team members, or with anyone, is to try not to be the Rescuer. Try not to be the Victim or be that Persecutor.
Do this by asking the other person one question: How can I help you?
Remember that mum? What if she had asked the child, “How can I help you?”
“Leave me alone Mum.”
“All right that’s fine. Then whenever you’re ready we’ll talk.”
Right, so there is a nice, at parity kind of relationship.
And your team member – yeah you’re giving feedback, but at least ask people or tell them, give them the context and tell them how you’re trying to help them.
Or even before you do that, ask them what they think about it and then say, “How can I help you?” Or, “Is it OK if I help you?”
When people give you permission to help them you’ll be surprised at how they stop feeling like a Victim. Then there is parity, the word is “parity”. They feel that they have autonomy and equality in that status, so they’re more willing to receive that feedback that you’re trying to give.
And they’d be thankful, they’ll do something about it.
But first, take permission before you start being the Rescuer or Persecutor and therefore end up feeling like a Victim if people are not paying attention to what you’re saying. So the best way to get out of your Karpman Drama Triangle is to ask the question.
How can I help you?
Need more frameworks for productivity?
These are the kinds of frameworks and strategies we will pull out of the bag as and when our clients need them.
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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.
It’s a proud moment when you do a Google search for your industry term and see your website at the top of the search results. However, what do you do when you are seeing that, but it’s not resulting in actual leads?
During one of our group coaching calls, one of our clients asked us that very question, “We at the top of Google for our industry, but we don’t seem to be getting leads. What am I doing wrong?” It was a great question, and I feel like the initial answer to this issue is important for all business owners to think about.
You see, the initial answer to this is not the answer to, “How do I get more leads from SEO and my google ranking.” Instead, this answer is a process you should follow whenever you are attempting to tackle just about any issue in your business…
First, Step Back And Identify The Problem
In the 10 years that I have been coaching businesses, I have found that it is very common that business owners want to straight-away deep-dive into the issue at hand. “How do I deal with this? What process or template can I use to fix this problem?”
I, therefore, remind them to stop, step back and first and make sure you are actually solving the right problem. Diagnose the real issue, and then you can fix it with much greater precision and in a much more timely fashion.
To do this, ask yourself questions that will dig deeper into the issue and get to the core of the problem. Then separate out the symptom from the problem so that the solution then becomes clearer.
In this particular issue, there were a few questions to clarify:
Question 1: What are you actually on “top of Google” for?
Talking about being on the “top of Google” actually cannot be accurate – or, at least, it’s incomplete. You don’t just win Google – you get the top of Google for particular keywords.
So before going any further, what keywords are you actually on top of Google for?
Because this informs the next question….
Question 2: Are you actually getting any traffic from your Google listings?
You need to look at your Google Analytics to see exactly how much of your traffic to the website has come from Google. It’s called “Organic Traffic” in analytics.
If you find that your organic traffic is giving you around 300 sessions per month, then the problem you have is a lead problem – you aren’t getting the leads you need. And that’s probably because your keywords aren’t that great!
Symptom: You are ranking high for a few keywords, but the organic traffic to your website is low.
Problem: The keywords you are ranking for are not actually good keywords to rank for.
Solution: Go back to the Search Engine Optimisation drawing board. You need to have more robust keyword research to identify a good balance of keywords to target that have good traffic but are not too difficult to rank for. The least you should be doing is using Google’s free keyword planner to identify good, high-volume top-level keywords to target.
If upon researching the keywords, you find that you actually are, indeed, ranking highly on good keywords then there’s a secondary problem that may result in the lack of traffic…
Symptom: You are ranking highly on good keywords, but no one is clicking on your website.
Problem: Your listings on the website are not attracting people to click.
Solution: Just because the algorithm believes that you match the keywords, doesn’t mean the users do. If your meta title tags and meta description tags are not optimised to “sell the click” (these two things are what makes up your listing in the search engine results) then despite your rankings, your audience won’t pick it up. Optimise these to encourage people to click through and find out more about you. This issue is pretty rare since the algorithm actually takes user behaviour into some account when ranking your pages – so if they aren’t clicking, then your top rank is going to drop pretty fast.
However, if you find that your Google Analytics shows that your website is actually getting a lot of traffic to your website, then the next important question will guide your decision making…
Question 3: What happens after they click and come to your website?
You see, if you are getting the clicks to your website, but no one is continuing down your marketing and sales funnels, then you have a different problem – a conversion problem.
In Google Analytics, you can segment the organic traffic out and find out exactly how they behave on your website. So not only will you get hard numbers on how much traffic you have gotten, but you will be able to find out useful information about that traffic.
There are two main factors that you can look at to work out what your best solution is. The first is that people are bouncing off from your website.
Symptom: You have traffic, but the bounce rate of the organic traffic is very high.
Problem: The page is either not relevant to what you are being ranked for, or your users don’t know what to do when they land on your page.
Solution: You need to take a harder look at the pages where you are seeing these high bounce rates and consider factors that might be sending people way. Is the page too long? Is there enough enticing information above the fold? Is there a good video? Does the page communicate the benefits/pain points/proof properly? Edit the page with more calls to action and make it more engaging.
The other issue you might encounter is that while you’re getting that initial traffic, no one is coming back to you.
Symptom: You have lots of organic traffic, and not very much returning traffic overall.
Problem: People are visiting your site, but your offering isn’t strong enough to get them to buy or come back.
Solution: You need to get them to come back to you, and you need to see what you are competing with. Getting them to come back to you could involve using remarketing to remind them that you exist, or it could involve ensuring you have a way of capturing details so you can message them about it again later (remember to get permission to send them mail!)
To see what you are competing with, you should look at who else is ranking for your top keywords, and see what they are doing on their websites. You can also use tools like SpyFu, SEM Rush and KeywordSpy to get some idea of what your competitors are doing on Google.
So you can see here that rather than just plunging in head-first into what looked like the big problem, taking a step back and reviewing exactly what the problem is could save a lot of time, and ensure that you are working on the right things.
Most of the time, in business, it’s not about finding the right answer but finding the right questions.
Before looking for the answer, find the right problem.
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In 2016, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos wrote in his letter to shareholders something that has really stuck with me. He talked about resisting proxies – about not letting the system or process become a proxy for the actual results.
You start doing things just because it is a step in the system, not because it is the thing that will take you to the outcomes required for the business.
During one of our team meetings, I noticed such behaviour in my team…
Don’t Fall Into Tick Box Culture – London ActionCOACH Business Coaching - YouTube
Whether you’re the leader of a massive corporation with hundreds of employees or trying to manage the culture within your tight team of superstars – you are still the driver of culture in your business.
You get what you tolerate in your business, and culture is not something that is ever just ‘set’. It is always in motion, and every single day is a new moment to lead the culture, earn success and teach best practice in your business.
As Jeff Bezos said – it is always day 1.
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. I want you to share something with you, something very interesting that happened in our Monday morning team meeting. So we have a new hire and she’s the head of the finance division. We were going through the top focus and the top achievement from the last week and what needs to be done this week.
And I happened to check with her just one simple thing, “Did you manage to get that particular job done?” It was that she had to follow up with our outsourced bookkeeper.
She said, “Yeah, I sent an email to her.”
So my question to my finance person was, “Is the job done?”
And she said, “No, I’ve sent an e-mail to her.”
I simply listened and observed and said, “Alright, fine, we’ll talk about it later on.”
Then I moved on and interestingly, pretty much in the same meeting, there was another person, and again we were just having a quick discussion.
He said, “Yeah, my top goal for the last week was XYZ. But then I couldn’t really complete it because, actually, it’s sitting with another director for approval.”
So just listening and observing, I had to share this with my team and I thought this would be of interest to you as well.
What I told my team, was our culture is not a culture of making systems a proxy. It is not about ticking boxes and I’ve seen many times, subconsciously, consciously, team members do that. Sometimes you and I do that and it’s something to be aware of, that we’re not here to tick boxes. We’re here to focus on the outcomes, the deliverables, the progress, the movement forward.
Many times I’ve seen people saying, “Oh, I gave it to you to check, but it didn’t really happen.” Or, “I sent an email, but I’ve not heard back.” And this is a different mindset compared to a mindset where one totally owns that particular job, that task, that outcome and therefore even if your team member has to follow up with you two or three times, which is what I said to my team members, if that means you have to pick up the phone and follow up with your director, please do that because you are the owner of that particular task. Whatever is required, you do it, because it’s possible that for the other director, it is not on his top priority list. But it is for you, so you have to own it and prioritize it for yourself and the same for the finance person.
It’s not about sending an email and saying I’ve ticked that box, but it is actually about picking up the phone, chasing, following up, because business is a contact sport. And if you and your team member and especially sometimes it’s more of the team members, I have seen that if they think that they are doing their role by actually ticking boxes and doing the next step and the next step, which is good, because it will take them closer to the outcome. But the distinction, the fine distinction that you have to make and help your team members make, is that it is the total ownership of that task that’s required and not just ticking the boxes because that’s not what helps you achieve the outcome.
Obviously, I take a huge amount of our pride in my team members. Once I gave this constructive feedback to them, within a few minutes I would say, after the meeting, my team members sent me an email confirming that they have picked up the phone and they have talked to the person and things are actually moving forward in the right direction.
So, look, we all need reminders. We all need to kind of help each other stay accountable. Just make sure that your business and your culture is not about ticking boxes. Even if you’re ticking boxes we’re totally owning the task and we’re actually making sure that the outcome is being achieved.
Culture is easier observed from the outside
When you’re too close to something, it’s always a little difficult to really see the big picture. Having a trained, outside eye review and observe your business can help you make the smartest plays for your business.
If you’re unsure whether you are seeing the whole picture, why not request a complimentary review from our team? The worst case scenario is that you realise you’ve already got that perspective and you reaffirm you’re on the right track!
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.