8 Steps to Giving Feedback Like a Pro

Feedback

Do you find it tough giving feedback?

Many business leaders shy away from giving feedback.  I guess they think that it could be a tricky conversation, or that the person won’t want to hear it.  But it’s a myth that feedback is a negative conversation.  Giving feedback on something which has gone really well is a great way to re-enforce what’s worked, so that it can be repeated.

Giving and receiving feedback is a very powerful tool in the workplace.  And employees can come away from the conversation feeling more empowered and enthused than ever, to do a great job for you and your business.  And if truth be known, most people just want to hear the truth.  They want their boss or colleagues to be 100% honest with them.  Let’s face it, hearing the truth is so much better than feeling like you’re being talked about in the board room, or that HR have your name written down on a naughty list somewhere.

Nobody comes to work to do a bad job.

Nobody comes to work to do a bad job – I’ve always believed this to be true.  And I’ve always believed most (a very high percentage) people’s intentions are good.  So knowing that staff want to hear the truth, and that they really do want to do the best job they can, means we just need to get really good at having conversations where quality feedback is given.

Your team will thank you for being good at giving feedback.

So here’s my checklist to help you plan your next ‘honest conversation’:-

  1. Make sure you are having the feedback conversation in an appropriate place.  This will depend on a few factors but getting the venue right, can make or break it.
  2. Be timely.  Don’t wait weeks to have the conversation.  Same day is best.
  3. Be factual.  Only base your feedback on your own observations (not those of others – that would be considered ‘hearsay’)
  4. Give examples.  Be precise about what you’ve observed.
  5. Explain the impact.  “I felt this way” “The customer found you to be..”
  6. It’s a two way conversation.  Ask for comments and discuss it openly.
  7. Make a plan for avoidance.  “Next time, I’d like you to…”
  8. Show appreciation (if applicable) for their professional approach to hearing something that they weren’t hoping to hear.

I hope this helps you on your way to being awesome at giving feedback.

I’d love to hear how it goes….

Maybe you could give me some feedback…. I’m always happy to listen to ideas on how I can improve.

Find out more about Momentum South West here.

Top 10 Ways to Achieve Your Goals

We’ve all got goals.  They may be huge life-changing goals or just mini-milestones.  But we create them to help us reach our ambitions and fulfil our potential.  Or to lose a few pounds (or stone!).  Or give up smoking, or drinking or other vices.

Well it’s over a month past the date when you made your New Year resolutions.  How are you getting on with achieving those?  Struggling?  Oh dear, don’t get disheartened.

I’m here to help.  I thought it would be a good idea to share some tried and tested techniques for keeping motivation levels up!!

  1. Set yourself rewards – each milestone you reach deserves a little prize.  You could make a monthly reward schedule, even build an advent-calendar-esque type chart.
  2. Create a mood board – visualise the achievement in pictures as well as words.
  3. Go public – organise a little get-together with your chums where you all share your goals and dreams for the year ahead (no wine of course – you’re trying to give that up…or is that just me?)
  4. Create an Urgent and Important matrix and plot where each item fits – this will sort your priorities and kick your butt a little
  5. Write to yourself – pop your goals onto paper and into an envelope.  Make sure you clearly outline what you wanted to have achieved and how you’ll feel when you’re successful.  Then put the date on the envelope that you’d like to receive the letter and ask a trusted friend to post it to you.
  6. Book a day in a spa (I do this a lot anyway) – Instead of reading a book by the pool, review your success and any outstanding goals.  Be honest with yourself though, if you’ve done a rubbish job, then give yourself your best disappointed face and do something about it.
  7. Talk to yourself on the treadmill.  Grab your mobile and hands free set and start walking (not too fast!) and start leaving yourself a voice note.  Tell yourself details about the goals – why they’re important etc.  Trust me, when you listen back to it, it’ll really jolt you into action and being on the treadmill keeps the energy high.
  8. Set alerts in your online calendar – make it random so you can’t start taking them for granted and then ignore them.
  9. Do the classic ‘wheel of life’ exercise with yourself.  It helps you focus on what’s really important.  Or call me and I can help you with it.
  10. If the above aren’t successful for you and your goals haven’t become achievements in the next few months, then you need a coach.  Call me.  I will get you there.  My mobile is 07980 910316 or email me at rachaelhowourth@icloud.com.  I’d love to help you out.

GOOD LUCK!! 

Strategy Made Simple in 4 Steps

Sales Strategy is essential for your business growth.

I often find the word ‘strategy’ is used to make something which is essentially straightforward, seem anything but.  In fact, some of the businesses I work with, refer to strategy as being something which bigger businesses do and that somehow they don’t need to it.  Building a strategy is thought of as complicated or only for intellectuals.  But the reality is, it’s your route to success, so I’m going to help you make light work of it.
If success happened by accident, you wouldn’t need a strategy – right?  Wrong.  One of the most important elements of building an effective strategy is the review – why did ‘X’ happen?  Can we repeat ‘X’ or was it really an accident that we achieved our ambition by such a great margin? It’s rarely an accident.

Definition of Strategy: a plan of action designed to achieve an overall aim.

Of course, huge corporations have very detailed strategies which go through multiple rounds of refinement and critique.  But it doesn’t have to be this way…  It can be a really simple 4 step process that keeps you and your business at the forefront of your marketplace and keeps the all important pounds rolling in.

STEP 1 – DISCOVERY

To be successful, you need to discover all you can about your Marketplace and how your products and services fit within it.  Who are your competitors? Are there complimentary services out there?  Are your products the right fit and sold at the right price?  Most importantly, you need to discover who your customers are.  What do they want, why do they want it and will you be able to fulfil their needs and solve their problems with what you are offering?

Discovery should be an ongoing activity that you invest time in doing regularly.

STEP 2 – PLAN

You will have learned enough in your discovery phase to build a robust plan.  First build the ‘ideal state’ from a high level.  Don’t get too detailed.  You should be aiming to cover off these key areas:-

What does my business do?  How does it do it? Keep it high level, not too much detail.

What problems does my business solve? What purpose does it serve?

Who are my customers?  How will they know my business exists?

What is my competitive edge?  What are my USPs?

Plan the financials and get help if you need to.

Identify some trackable metrics which will indicate progress being made.

STEP 3 – ACTION

This speaks for itself – put your plan into action.
This is where you walk the talk.

STEP 4 – REVIEW

As part of your plan, you identified some trackable metrics that will indicate progress.  And of course you have your financials to review.  The numbers will tell you a story and I’d urge you to stick to facts in your review process.  It’s too easy to add peripheral noise.

So you need to reflect on what’s going well or not so well.  Learn from any mistakes, spot opportunities to optimise your systems and processes.  One of the most important things you should do is speak to your customers – get their feedback on what they like or don’t like.  Also speak to your employees – they see things from a different perspective so you’ll get some diversity in your review material.

An ever-revolving wheel….

Strategy is not something which we do once as an activity and then do not go back to for a while.  It’s a cycle.  A winning strategy is an ever-revolving wheel which keeps turning to keep your business running smoothly and successfully.  Just because I’ve talked about 4 steps, doesn’t mean each step happens in isolation.  But of course you do need to give your plan the time it needs to be implemented and effective.

So, don’t get put off by people who imply building strategic plans is a labour intensive and complicated process.  Keep it simple.

Here’s to your success!

here.

11 ways to get to know your B2B customer

Customer growth is critical for every business

The key to success when selling any product or service is how well you know your customer.   

Customer-Growth

You may be the greatest salesperson to walk into the boardroom (and I’m sure that you are), but even the most polished sales process, negotiation training and presentation wizardry is not going to mean a thing if you don’t understand (and I mean really understand) who your customer is.

To achieve outstanding customer growth, you must first focus on really getting to know your customer.

Try answering these questions to help you define it more clearly….

  1. Can you describe your customer?  Have you given them an identity?
  2. Where does your customer hangout? Online – but where and at what times?
  3. What does your customer value when seeking a service provider? Why?
  4. What are you customers’ biggest challenges? And how are they solved currently?
  5. Does your customer know that they are facing these challenges?
  6. Can you talk knowledgeably about their market place?  (as well as yours)
  7. Can you share insights about what the future looks like in their marketplace?
  8. Do you understand the buying/procurement process in their business?
  9. Have you considered all of the stakeholders who may be involved in selecting a new service provider?
  10. Do you know how your customer measures success and ROI?
  11. When you link all of this together, can you position yourself in a place where you are trusted, valued, given permission to challenge their thinking and can demonstrate your competitive advantage beyond any doubt at all?

If you’ve got to this point and you’re still nodding, you’re doing amazingly well.

If you’re head has fallen into your hands somewhat, don’t worry.  None of this is too tricky, it just takes a bit of time to brainstorm.  My best advice would be to pull it all together and then ask a selection of your valued, long standing customers if you are right.  They’ll probably be happy to help.

You may be wondering why I haven’t included the question about “does your customer hold the budget and decision to buy”.  Good spot.  But I’ve left it out for a very good reason.  If you’ve got questions 1 to 11 covered, trust me, they will find the budget.

Good Luck 🙂

I work with businesses to build tailor-made strategies for customer growth.

Call Rachael on 07980 910316 to chat through how I may be able to help your sales team grow their results.

Top Tips to convert your Social Media followers into paying customers

Convert-your-social-media

It used to be that if you want to sell a product or service, you simply needed to carry out high volumes of prospecting, have a fairly decent conversion rate and the rest was down to your charm and powers of persuasion.  Oh no… not any more….

There’s so much more to consider now, and I’m sorry to say that there’s no silver bullet. I’ve spent some time recently with some head in hands

businesses talking about how to convert online engagement on social media channels into real life sales.

Most people know how to grow their Followers on Twitter or encourage Likes of their Facebook page, but once you’ve done that, you’re no closer to actually making a sale.  If your product offering requires a sit down conversation (a consultative sale) then you need to entice your social media prospect, into the hot seat.

Twitter followers are 3 times more likely to mention or advocate a brand online – in fact, 80% of Tweeters mention brands in any one month.

Here’s 4 simple things to get you started with your overall sales strategy…

  1. How well do you understand your target customer?  Build an Avatar of your ideal customer – who are they, where do they hang out online, what are their problems, are they facing any challenges, do you sell something which solves their problem?  Really identify who they are.
  2. Do you have a product staircase?  Which one of your products is your entry-level product?  And once you’ve sold that one, which product does your customer buy into next?  Of course this is only relevant if you have multiple offerings.  When you have your staircase built, think about how you map your customers’ problems to each product and how you might introduce these concepts to your customer.
  3. What is your ideal customer lifecycle?  How long do you intend to keep your customers?  The longer the better I’d imagine.  Their CLV (customer lifetime value) will grow as you move them up the staircase and through your portfolio of services.  Once you know what the lifecycle looks like, you need a top-notch communication and service plan to help you build an unrivalled relationship.
  4. Data, data, data.  You need to be able to measure what’s happening in your sales funnel. Using KPIs to help track performance will allow you to spot trends, pick up gaps in performance more quickly and celebrate when things are working well.

So, now let’s consider the Social Media aspect… social engagement is all online, but your goal is to move from online to offline as soon as you can (so that you can have a valuable conversation with a real life human being, soon to be your newest customer).  You will need a sales process to follow, I train my clients to use ASPIRE, but there are lots out there.

  1. Talk to your Avatar – your social media posts, blogs and news articles should talk to your customer.  Use their language.
  2. Show your customer you understand their business.  You need to build credibility in your customers’ eyes.  Your posts should demonstrate that you truly understand the market and ‘know your stuff’.
  3. Exude empathy with your customers’ problems, challenges and
    buy-my-stuff
    Don’t oversell…

    obstacles.  Make sure you include case studies online of experience you have of providing solutions to their problems.  Prove that you can solve their problems.

  4. Post videos to demonstrate your product (if you can).  Or video yourself sharing valuable insights that your customer will benefit from.  You could offer a free trial if you wish.
  5. Respond positively to any engagement you get with your social media posts.  Don’t ignore the fact that the same person is liking your blogs, or sharing your news articles.  That’s quite a big sign they like what you’re doing – so say Thank You.
  6. Build a great relationship online as it will be a great foundation for the relationship you’ll have offline.  Remember, look for opportunities to move the conversation offline.  But be subtle.  Nobody wants to be bombarded with heavy handed sales tactics.

There’s so much more that we could debate on this – it’s a chunky topic – but I hope this was a helpful start.

Wishing you lots of success….

6 ways to boost staff engagement…

Staff Engagement

Retaining staff who you’ve spent years training and investing in, is vital if you want to keep your recruitment costs down, as well as develop a business full of talented staff. Here’s a very brief run through of 6 ways to boost staff engagement, that every leader can achieve.


A recent Forbes survey suggests that only 30% of staff on average are truly engaged, meaning that 70% are not.  Those who are not engaged are undoubtedly the most likely to flap their wings and take off to pastures new, leaving you to cover the workload, interview, induct, pay recruitment costs, induct, train…. 


Here’s 6 ways to make sure your staff feel engaged, enthused and invested in:-

1. Transparent leadership

Be as open and honest as you can.  Share your vision and values.  Have well aligned messages across your management team, backed up with purposeful action.  Share progress.  Share success and give praise along the way. Tell your team ‘why’ you are so committed to the business and in turn they will engage with your dream.


2. Promote collaboration

Invite your employees to take part in activities that make them feel involved.  Run a workshop to build future plans.  Encourage talking rather than emailing.  Have a lunchtime discussion group and give the group important topics to feed back to you on.  Showcase the ideas that you take forward and use, so that motivation and participation remains high.


3. Give trust and ownership

Let go whenever possible.  After all, you’ve built a team of talented people, so let them use their talents.  Once you’ve given direction and knowledge, allow your people the freedom to shine.  Nobody comes to work to do a bad job.  If a mistake only happens once, it’s not really a mistake.

 

Coaching builds trust and staff engagement
Coaching builds trust and engagement


4. Make sure every staff member has coaching time

All business leaders are time poor, meaning that spending quality time with the troops is often pushed to the bottom of the list.  Even when a monthly 1:1 manages to stay in the diary, the agenda is often task focussed and not dedicated to helping the team member overcome their work challenges or achieve a particular goal they have.  A great coaching session results in solid action plans being built, as well as the right level of urgency and commitment to making things happen.


5. Ask for feedback

Whether it be a large-scale formal employee survey or just asking over a cup of coffee, your staff will really feel valued if you ask them how they think things are going, and what more could be done to improve things.  It shows you care and value their views.


6. Say Thank You

I don’t need to explain this one.  Say it.  Not too often, and not flippantly, but with sincerity. 

Thanks for reading.

Momentum South West support businesses in boosting staff engagement through various manager:staff touchpoints and through workshop facilitation to devise visions, values and strategies.

Get in touch at enquiries@momentumsouthwest.co.uk

Formula for handling Under-Performance (works every time)

under performance

Does your team have a person who delivers repeat under performance?

If you manage people, you’ll know how exciting it is to hire great talent, but you’ve probably also experienced the awful feeling when a member of the team isn’t performing.  It costs you time, money and is a reflection on you as a leader.  

But how long do you continue to invest your time and money into someone who’s letting the team down?  Firing someone is never nice.  And should be a last resort.  It’s quite normal to just live in hope for a while that performance levels will return and the problem will go away.  But what if it doesn’t? And how much does waiting cost you?

My advice is to keep things simple.  Answer this question….

Is the under-performance because the staff member CAN’T or WON’T perform?

In my 20 years of people leadership experience, it’s never anything else.  I urge you to challenge me on that too.  In the past, I’ve tried to make every excuse in the book for staff that I’ve truly liked as people, and desperately didn’t want to exit from the business.  

But it always comes back to can’t or won’t.
So, how do you fix it?  Firing should be the last step.  Try these things first…

  • Spend time with the person and observe them doing their role (or the thing they’re under performing at)
  • Give them timely and honest feedback
  • Be open to being given feedback from them (what if your training style isn’t great?)
  • Complete a training needs analysis
  • Make sure you understand their preferred learning style
  • Agree an action plan with specific learning milestones and dates for achievement
  • Give them the necessary training (or a refresher) in a classroom or on the job
  • Allocate them a more experienced team member to act as a buddy
  • Encourage self- development so that they can learn outside of the day job
  • Share some book titles that they might benefit from reading
  • Hold regular review meetings and side-by-side coaching sessions to measure success
  • Give credit and praise where it’s due

If these things don’t fix the gap in performance, then your under-peformer is most likely a WON’T. The issue is with their attitude or motivation, or both.

You need to test out the strength and depth of the ‘won’t’

A won’t person, is usually just cruising along.  Are they wasting time?  Do they avoid particular tasks?  Are they already job hunting?  Or are they just plain lazy?

  • Talk to them and ask why they think they’re under-performing.  They may try and bluff their way out if things – blaming a lack of training or coaching (but you’ll have already dealt with that in the above steps)
  • Make sure you know what motivates this person – money, praise, job satisfaction? 
  • Agree an action plan with very clear, time bound objectives
  • Make sure there isn’t something personal going on (don’t pry or delve too deep but you need to be sure that the person isn’t really suffering from stress, depression, bereavement or similar)
  • If this person can’t find the motivation, they probably need to leave the business.  Quickly.  But be sure to follow employment law practises.

You are not alone in having to deal with under performance.  All teams have variations in performance.  The key to your success as a leader is to always manage everyone appropriately and according to their individual needs.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Rachael

We support HR in businesses across the South West.

Plymouth | Exeter | Torbay | Newton Abbot | Somerset | Cornwall

Are you putting your parenting skills to good use in Business?

Let’s face it, there’s an abundance of books written on both parenting and business – there’s certainly lots to learn.  But just think for a minute about how the skills are inter-changeable.  


I’ve started considering which primary school my little boy is going to attend in 2018 (yes I’m a bit premature but I like to be prepared) and it got me thinking about the significant similarities in skill set  between great parents and great business leaders.  


It’s certainly not uncommon to see parents out with their little ones, using ingenious new ways of getting good ‘performance outputs’ and running pavement coaching sessions to avoid the explosive toddler meltdown.  Encouraging your toddler to decide which order to eat the carrots and broccoli in is the same coaching skill as helping a team member at work decide the best way to tackle his sales target next month.  Giving clear, timely communication is critical at work and home.  And so on…. think about it.  Here’s just a few synergies…

  • Shared goals and values – families plan for their home/holidays, and aim for strong morals
  • Communication skills – clear explanations, providing clarity and the chance to ask questions 
  • Defined KPIs – reward charts and marble jars spring to mind
  • Managing under performance – our children need a fair and consistent disciplinary framework
  • Great coaching and skills training – lifelong lessons shared, inspired action
  • Give praise and thanks – we all like to be appreciated 

So next time you’re attempting to avoid the tantrum for turning the TV off when Peppa is about to start, bring in a few boardroom skills 🙂

Could you coach an astronaut?

Coaching is a very rewarding activity. Whether it’s life coaching on weight loss or finding love, or executive coaching to secure the next C-level seat in the boardroom, inspiring and helping other people achieve their ambitions is very rewarding.  I’m sure most would agree.

But how good at it would you have to be to coach an astronaut? A small minority can boast travelling in to outer space, so how many coaches could partner an astronaut, helping them to truly overcome their challenges?  All the issues with learning how to breathe, coping with zero gravity, take-off procedure, decompression…. it’d be a minefield wouldn’t it?

No, I don’t think so.  I believe a great coach doesn’t have to share the same area of expertise as the coachee. In fact, it may help matters if they know very little.

Coaching to me is about asking previously unasked, thought-provoking questions.  It’s about encouraging the coachee to think beyond the most obvious and draw from their own knowledge and experience, yet stretching the mind to go to places that are to-date, untapped.  It’s about a safe, confidential environment, where time is focussed purely on the coachee and what’s important to their success.  That, to me, is how extraordinary, life-changing goals and action plans are drawn up.  Your coach keeps you honest.  And keeps you on the road to achieving great, great things.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  It’s such an interesting debate.  Do you agree?  Or do you think a great coach needs to be an expert in the coachee’s field?  

Top Tips on how to be a great coachee

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to have experienced great coaching, you’ll know that the results can be staggering.  And even life-changing.

But I want to let you know, there’s a few secrets to it being successful….

The coach plays (or should play) a very minimal part in the whole process.  It’s all about what YOU, the coachee, bring to the party.  Yes, the coach will ask you lots of questions and encourage you to open up about your ambitions, challenges and obstacles, but there’s so much about the whole experience that rides on what YOU bring. You.
Right at the start of my leadership career, I’d set my heart on a promotion.  I really thought it was in the bag….sadly it wasn’t.  I still had so much to learn, and secretly I knew that, but it didn’t stop me from being ultra-disappointed when I heard those dreadful words “sorry, but you didn’t get the job”.  It was a bad day.  I even wrote my resignation.  But luckily I only emailed it to myself (a little tip given to me by the best mentor I’ve ever had – but I’ll tell you about him in a future blog).  Instead of resigning, I decided to run towards personal development and to cut a long story short, my boss invested in an external coach for me.  I was very lucky.  Working with that coach was a pinnacle moment for me.

He stretched my thinking, challenged me and made me see things totally differently.  I opened up about what I really wanted to achieve and built a plan to get it.  Bear in mind this was over 10 years ago and I still use some of the techniques he taught me, even today.  But now that I reflect on the process I went through back then, it was actually me who was driving it all.  My determination to overcome the defeat of that (gggrrr) promotion was so strong, that I threw my energy into being a great coachee.  I dug deep and worked really hard to make progress in between each session, practising what he’d taught me in real life situations with my team.

To be a great coachee, you need to:

  • Bring it!  Your attitude is critical to the success you’ll achieve.
  • Be honest.  Don’t answer questions with what you ‘think’ your coach wants to hear.
  • Be patient.  It’s a journey of discovery.  There’s no fireworks on day one so hang on in there.
  • Be open to being wrong.  A good coach will challenge you and help unlock a new truth that will help take you forward.
  • Work hard.  Not just in the monthly session with the coach, but in between sessions too.  Take good notes, list out your actions and put them into practise until they become a habit.
  • Keep your eye on the prize.  Be really clear about what you want to achieve.
  • Feedback to your sponsor or stakeholder.  If your boss is footing the bill for your coaching, feedback to him/her on how it’s going and the value he/she will get from you going on this journey.
  • Be committed.  See it through to the end and you’ll discover a new YOU.

Good luck.  Hope you found my story and tips helpful 🙂

PS. If the boss who rejected me for that job is reading…. don’t worry, I forgave you long ago xx