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Oct 13, 2020 Raymond Huan (0)

The negative impact of the global pandemic is felt by businesses large and small around the world. To keep afloat, many are looking for ways to not just stay in business but also to find more business.  

In this video, I explore three ways that you can start doing today to set you up for increased sales.  

Covid-19 has brought economic challenges across the board, forcing many businesses to find ways to stay afloat. Some businesses have opted to do the #COVIDPivot, which I discussed in a previous video. Essentially, the #COVIDPivot entails developing a new business model, introducing a new product, or finding a new market. Doing any of those three may help you get more sales.  

But what if this doesn’t apply to your business? Or, what if I’ve done that already, but it isn’t working as I had hoped it to work--what else can you do? Or how else can I supplement my other efforts so that I can bring in more sales? 

Here are three things that you can start doing today, or more of today, to help you bring in higher revenue or turnover for your business. 

  • Reach out to your customers, or potential customers.  

If you haven’t reached out to your customers since Covid-19 hit, it is best to do it now. Many businesses do this.  

Talk to them about how you are doing, too. Were you affected by the crisis? How are you affected by the global pandemic? How has that affected your ability to do business? How has that affected your employees—and what are you doing to help your employees? Continue the conversation by telling your customers how you plan on moving forward—and how you would like them to move forward with you. 

And once you continue with this conversation, you’ll find that you’re not only building trust between you and your customers, but you are also building and nurturing a community around your brand, just as I discuss in the video on how to build a community during the age of social distancing (link forthcoming).  

  • Develop your distribution channel. 

Part of the reason for reaching out to your customers is understanding their pain points. One of the challenges that consumers experience during the pandemic is finding ways to purchase goods and services as a result of community quarantines and lockdowns imposed by governments to curb the spread of the coronavirus. This resulted in many businesses operating in a limited capacity, so getting goods and services to customers became a challenge. 

So when you get to reach out to your customers, ask them for feedback. Would they prefer that you deliver to their doorstep, instead of buying in-store? Would they prefer that they order online instead of purchasing in-store? Do they want these changes only in the short-term, or do they want these options available to them permanently? 

The global pandemic is said to affect normal as we know it—and many things, including consumer lifestyles, will change permanently. And so the immediate need is to understand how your customer’s lifestyles will change and how you can address these changes so that you can keep up with their wants and needs. 

  • Develop complementary or supplementary products or services. 

Many businesses had to turn to digital marketing when governments ordered lockdowns and community quarantines. To supplement their limited offerings and to ensure that they can keep in touch with their customers, many of these businesses offered webinars or online training classes. Some of them were offered for free, like Single O Café, who offered short classes on their social media accounts. Some bundled these classes with their offerings. 

Asian Mint, a Thai restaurant in Texas, USA, had to quickly pivot and create a new product when the state of Texas ordered the closure of dining rooms to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Asian Mint offered cooking kits to allow their customers to cook some of the restaurant’s favourite dishes in the comfort of their own home. Each kit contained raw ingredients and instructions on how to cook each dish. As a complement, they also offered free virtual cooking classes, which they streamed on their social media accounts, to help customers learn how to cook their kits. The restaurant also opened their pantry where their customers can source additional ingredients. 

Some vineyards offer wine tasting classes. Wineries would send in bottles of their wines and a link to an online virtual class. Other wineries would partner with restaurants so that they can offer cold cuts and cheese and offer a class that discussed how to properly pair wines with dishes.  

What I find very interesting during this global pandemic is how businesses are responding to the challenges that it brought about. Many business owners are creating their own disruptions and finding different ways not just to stay afloat but also get ahead of the curve.  

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great. 

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Great leaders motivate people. What do great leaders do repeatedly and consistently to motivate their team?

As leaders, we want motivated people to work in our teams because they’re productive and perform at their best.

Everyone is motivated by their ‘WHY’. Our ‘WHY’ explains why we do what we do. In a previous video (Understanding our WHY—and why that matters), I explored why entrepreneurs and business owners need to know and understand their ‘why’. The answer is because our purpose as business owners guides us on what we should do and how we should do it by providing a very good reason on why we should do it.

Employees are also motivated by their WHYs. The common advice is to lead employees in a way that aligns with their WHYs. This is important—because if we miss out in understanding what that WHY is, we run the risk of rolling out policies that, although well-intentioned, will run contrary to motivating people.

Let’s take a very well-intentioned attendance reward program that recognised and rewarded employees who came to work on time every single day for oneentire month, which I discussed in a previous video. On the flipside of this program was that if anyone came in tardy at any time during the month, they will not be eligible for this reward. At the end of the program, the company found that the policy became counterproductive. In fact, the company discovered that they lost 1.4% of daily productivity!

The problem with this program is that it tried to motivate people through an external motivating factor, like money, which they found out does not effectively motivate people. What gets people motivated instead are internal factors—which is essentially our WHYs or our PURPOSE.

So what should you do instead?

In another video, I discussed examples of policies designed to align with employees’ internal motivating factors. One company focused on providing employees with a reasonable amount of autonomy through reducing working hours. This, in turn, gave employees a greater sense of responsibility. Another policy focused on continually providing opportunities for professional development. It aligned with the employees’ desire to develop their skills.

These policies were designed through a significant course in time and suited the kind of business that the companies were involved in. These certainly require long-term planning prior to execution.

Perhaps the more pressing question for you is: what can I do consistently and repeatedly starting today so that I can build and nurture a team of motivated individuals?

Here are some practical tips to motivating people in your team that you can do on a regular basis.

  1. Be more engaged with people.

People, in general, appreciate it when other people take an interest in their well-being. They particularly appreciate it when they know that their bosses care for them and are working to provide support. Schedule time with your employees to check in on them regularly, whether weekly, fortnigthly or quarterly. Check on them—how are they doing? Do they have any issues that you need to address? In some organisations, top bosses schedule 15-minute catch up meetings with their subordinates at the end of the week to check up on their progress and general well-being.

  • Make it a habit to ask when an employee is facing a problem or challenge at work: what do you need to help you do your job better?

Often, the people who cause problems have the knowledge and ability to solve them. Many times, too, these problems can be resolved more quickly when employees are provided with some level of support by the organisation--perhaps tweaks in the process, provisions of additional resources, or designing better policies. But we can’t find solutions if we don’t understand the problem, and so it is always a good idea to ask.

  • Help employees find meaning and purpose in their work.

Not everyone will have the privilege of knowing and understanding their WHY—or even find meaning in their work. This is more common with people who perform repetitive tasks. To me, one of the best ways of motivating them is to make them understand how important their tasks are in the whole scheme of things.

Let’s say you have an employee who is responsible for filing boring paperwork. The task itself can be tedious, and repetition can make it boring. For some, menial tasks can be disheartening, and this can cause people to make mistakes. One of the best ways to motivate people to do this task is to make them understand the repercussions of sloppy work. What happens if he or she files an important document in the incorrect folder? What if that document is important and required by, say an important regulatory agency or a key client? And what if the document was urgently needed but could not be found merely because it was filed incorrectly?

When people understand how important their job is, it will be easier for them to understand how important it is for them to do it well.

  • Train! Training comes in many forms: formal training, mentoring, shadowing, or even cross-training in different departments. Find opportunities where employees are allowed to train and be trained.
  • Praise publicly, criticise privately.

No one is perfect and we’re all prone to make mistakes. Feedback is crucial so that we know whether we’re doing a good job or a bad one. The key to motivating employees is knowing how to provide feedback. Recognising employees publicly results in two things: (1) it provides feedback to that employee that the bosses see the good work, which motivates the employee to continue doing good work, and (2) it provides other employees with behaviour that they can model so that they, too, can be recognised.

On the other hand, providing negative feedback privately is also important because it provides the employee with an opportunity and a game plan to rectify his or her mistake. It is also an opportunity for you, as leader and business owner, to understand certain issues and concerns that contributed to this mistake—and provides you with an opportunity to correct it. It’s also a learning opportunity for both you and the employee to learn from this.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

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Some teams work in-house. Some teams work from home. As more companies are creating policies and measures to respond to the current global pandemic and its residual effects, which experts predict to linger for at least two more years, workplaces will look very different from today.

In this video, we explore how you can boost employee morale when you have in-house and remote teams working with and for you in this ever-changing workplace.

The sweeping changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic will affect the workforce in various ways, and this includes employee morale. Many workers have been encouraged to work from home to lower the risk of coronavirus spread. Some companies, such as Facebook, Square and Google, have started putting infrastructure in play to enable some of its workforces to work from home in the long term, or even permanently.

Telecommuting or working remotely is not an entirely new concept as it has existed to some degree for a few decades now. However, the events in recent years, such as globalisation and the emergence of certain risks, such as the coronavirus pandemic, combined with shifts in modern technology and demands for greater workplace flexibility has made remote work more familiar and accessible to more workers.

While remote work has its advantages, particularly in providing workers greater autonomy and flexibility in how and where they work, it also has its downside. Health experts monitoring the effects of increased remote work during the global pandemic reports that mental health issues are surging.

And then there is also the issue of how remote work is viewed by in-house workers who have not experienced working remotely. There is a certain stigma with remote work—some people may think those who work from home, work less to watch Netflix more or take excursions to the mall or the beach more often.

Well, if you’ve ever tried working from home, you know that this is far from the case. In fact, more studies show that people who work from home suffer from anxiety and stress precisely because they work longer hours.

If you’re a business which keeps a mix of remote and in-house workers, this becomes a pressing issue because this affects overall employee morale, and consequently, employee productivity. So how do you motivate your team and boost team morale when your team is a mix of remote and in-house workers?

Here are three key factors:

(1) Keep deliverables and policies clear.

First things first, determine how employees will be evaluated.

Employees are appraised based on whether they show up at work or not. In the traditional workplace, this is measured by their physical presence at work and the number of hours they spend working. Did they show up today? Did they work the full 8 hours?

In remote teams, measures are not as straightforward. While there is software that may allow you to measure whether a remote worker is working on their desktop at particular times of the day, this seems rather counterintuitive to why we allow remote work to begin with, which is to provide greater autonomy and flexibility. In my previous video, How to motivate employees the right way, I explored how cutting the number of work hours to provide employees with a greater (but reasonable) amount of autonomy motivates employees and results in greater productivity.

As work shifts in-house to remote locations, measures of productivity should shift, too. And these measures should apply to both in-house and remote teams. The focus, then, should be on output,  creating and enforcing policies that enable and encourages workers to focus on delivery. Did they do the work that they were supposed? Where they able to accomplish the work?

But what if workers are required to “show up” to work at specific hours of the day? What if the type of work requires teams to chat with or deal with customers at particular hours of the day? How do we, as a business, handle that?

Here’s an example of a business whose employees all work remotely but “show up” for work at pre-determined times of the day: Mountain Bikes Direct. In a previous video, I discuss how they keep their team motivated despite all of them working remotely from different parts of the world. The key to this productivity is being clear about what is expected from each team member. Being fair to everyone is an important factor that determines employee morale.

(2) Stay in contact.

Promote a positive, inclusive culture by setting up regular catch up meetings, where both in-house and remote team members are present.

The catch-up meetings can be a venue to update the team about the state of current projects or a venue to elicit help from each other to fix issues. Alternatively, these can be informal virtual coffee or cocktail meetings (depending on the profile of your team) for people to just catch up and share stories to nurture team bonding.

Aside from these catch-up meetings, businesses should also define how employees can report challenges or issues with work specific to them. Determine a communication plan with clear channels for escalation.

What if a remote worker experiences connectivity issues in the middle of critical work? Where should he or she report this issue, and how should he or she proceed? Or, what if an in-house worker needs to reach a remote team at hours outside of operations for a critical issue? Or, what if an employee, whether in-house or remote, suddenly needs to take a day off for personal reason?

(3) Keep health checks and policies in place.

Experts say that the global pandemic will change the way we work. Remember your team member who would report to work even if they are sick just because work needs to be done? We used to measure worker diligence and commitment based on what an employee is willing to sacrifice just to get to work done. It was normal to see a sick person report to work because things needed to get done.

Not anymore.

These “norms” should soon change—and as leaders and business owners, it’s our responsibility to keep everyone safe and healthy. There is a need to revise health policies, particularly policies on when employees should not report to work due to particular illnesses. The new policies and norms should also include measures that address employee mental health, particularly to remote employees who are more susceptible to loneliness isolation, anxiety, and even depression.

People are driven by their purpose. They are motivated to work when they see that their work contributes towards this purpose. They are also motivated when there is fairness when policies are equally enforced so that good work is recognised and offences are corrected.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >

While being professional entails knowing how to manage our emotions to allow us to work despite pressure, studies have also shown that emotions influence productivity. Happy employees are more likely to be professional.

In this video, I explore what determines an organisation’s emotional culture and how this impacts team performance and team productivity. I further discuss what team leaders can do to nurture a positive emotional culture.

One of the pillars of professionalism is self-regulation. This means that we need to have the ability to work under pressure. However, the flip side of this coin involves what experts now call psychological safety and the need to take care of our mental health.

A recent study by Google concludes one key factor that differentiates mediocre teams from high-performing teams is psychological safety. These findings suggest that emotional culture play an important role in organisational performance as emotions affect team productivity and performance.

What is emotional culture?

There are many facets of workplace culture. The most recognised facet is organisational culture, which defines a set of understanding on how to do things to achieve a goal.

But there is also emotional culture which “predicts many important work outcomes, including employee absenteeism, teamwork, burnout, satisfaction, psychological safety, and objective performance outcomes like operating costs.”

What determines emotional culture?

Emotional culture is contagious—and it trickles from the top. How managers behave and react to different circumstances sets the tone for the team’s emotional culture.

How does emotional culture affect productivity?

Imagine what could happen if you have a manager who consistently reacts negatively to mistakes. Or, what if this manager is prone to blame members of the team for mistakes caused primarily by circumstances out of their control? What if this manager focuses on putting blame rather than using mistakes as opportunities for team members to learn and improve? How do you think the team will react?

  • Team members will be afraid to make mistakes or try new things. This instantly “kills” the growth mindset.
  • Team members will be more focused on doing what they think the manager thinks is right and appropriate, rather than what is good for the team. They will afraid of disappointing their manage. When things go wrong and team members are afraid, it sets off their fight-or-flight response, which instantly “kills” their ability to be creative or innovative.
  • When team members are focused on “not making a mistake,” they’re likely to only focus on just the job or task at hand, and not finding new ways to improve the process. This kills productivity right away.
  • There is no psychological safety because no team member will feel safe in taking risks and making mistakes and doing things differently. If team members are not allowed to learn, grow, and be innovative, there is no incentive for anyone to perform well.

If you have a team leader who consistently focuses on mistakes and putting blame, you are unlikely to build and nurture a high-performing team. What you have is a team of robots or “yes” people who will do only what they are told and nothing else.

And when the environment becomes even more unbearable, team members are likely to jump ship and find work somewhere else. In this scenario, you are more likely to lose the best people in the organisation.

How do you nurture a positive emotional culture?

  • As a leader, keep your emotions in check. Observe how you react and see how your own employees react.
  • Replace blame with curiosity. In my video on How to Build High-Performing Teams, one of the key things to change is mindsets—and one that redirects the focus on issues and root problems, rather than on people.
  • Take a step back and take care of yourself, the leader. Perhaps you are stressed, which is affecting everyone else in the team. In the video, Maximising The Best Asset in Your Business, I discuss how rest is important to encourage creativity and problem solving in the long run.
  • Ask for help. When we have been doing the same things for a long time, it is easy to develop blind spots. Because of this, we tend to think that how we do things is “normal” and “acceptable.” Perhaps they are, but there may be things that are not as acceptable or maybe some things that need improvement. It’s hard to see beyond our blind spots, so we may need someone—a person looking from the outside in—to show us what we don’t see. This someone can be a mentor, a trusted colleague, or a business coach.

Do not let your pride limit you on what you can do in your business. I personally seen successful businesses be ruined by the business owner due to the individual’s perception that only he knows what is best for the business. I have seen his team members leave the organisation, and yet he stubbornly refuses to change his mindset about the business. The result? He is now working alone on his business and struggles to make ends meet. Please do not make the same mistakes as he did—ask for help.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

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In this video, I explore the characteristics that make a team successful and high-performing and discuss how your team can build one.

Who are empowered employees?

Empowered employees are your employees who know what they are supposed to do and what they are accountable for. More importantly, they are the ones who take the time to understand problems and their root causes, find solutions to these problems, and find ways to improve processes to make things work easier and more seamlessly. The best part about empowered employees is that they do all of these things without needing to be told—they work on developing solutions almost instinctively.

Empowered employees are motivated to go to work every day. They do not just do what is expected of them, but also the things that are needed to be done for the good of your business and your organisation in the long run.

Why do we want empowered employees?

Having empowered employees mean that you have your entire team making it their business to delight your customers and to improve business. Working with them means working with a team who cares about your customers and your business. They work together, carry out their responsibilities, resolve problems for the greater good of your business, and, most importantly, without needing your intervention.

This sounds like a very ideal situation—but it can be done!

How do you empower employees?

To understand what motivates and empowers an employee is to understand the importance of trust. An empowered employee trusts in the belief that what he or she does is important and meaningful—that it is important to him/herself, to the people he/she is working with, and to the organisation he/she is working for.

An empowered employee also trusts that his/her team and organisation as a whole is looking out for him/her—just as he/she is looking after the team and the organisation. An empowered employee is equipped with the necessary skills and tools to carry out what is expected of him to do, and that the team and the organisation trusts him well enough to know how to use these skills and tools to deliver exceptional service.

The goal then is to build trust. How do you do this?

  1. Hire the right people with the right attitude. Depending on the kind of industry you work in, you hire people who have the right disposition for the job. If your business requires that your team provide technical support to your clients, then you probably want team members who are patient and can remain calm to address problems and provide quick solutions.
  • Train for the skills and the tasks at hand—this includes formal training, mentoring, or even shadowing.

In a previous video, I shared a simple guide on how small businesses can train employees.

  • Make sure that everyone is clear about and understands the organisation’s goals, what their roles are, and what they need to do to achieve these goals.

In Disney, for example, Cast Members (that’s Disney language to mean Disney employees) go through rigorous training to ensure that everyone understands Disney’s main goal and know how each Cast Member can do to achieve this.

  • Nothing proves that you trust your employees more than allowing them to take over their roles and own it. That means cutting micro-managing tendencies and allowing them leeway to solve problems and achieve goals the way they see fit—of course, within reason.

The main challenge is allowing them to make mistakes on your time. But this leads to learning from their mistakes and learning how to make things better.

Do you think that you have empowered employees in your small business? Would you like to share how you empower them? If you have a story to tell, please send me an email and let’s chat.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >