Overcome overwhelm

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Are you suffering from a little stress or overwhelm at the moment? How do you stop yourself going into the doldrums and affecting your health? Here are some tips to get you motivated and working through stuff today.

STOP/PAUSE/BREATHE – Yes I know it’s the last thing you want to do right now. The wheels mustn’t stop turning gotta keep everything moving along. You need to connect with your breath and yourself, check in on you and what’s going on, learn to create that calmness and mindfulness for a moment.

If you are worried about something ask yourself “Is it mine?” Are you fretting over something to which you have no control? If yes then let it go it is not your journey, if you cannot change an an outcome by your actions then it is ill focused action. Focus where you can make a difference.

When we just have too much to get done and no time there are various options. You can put more hours in but this is a short term / emergency option and probably the route to overwhelm and exhaustion.The biggest one we tend to ignore is to ask for help, put a brave face on. Another person may not always be able to give time or take a load off but you will get another perspective and friendly support. If you have a team effective delegation is key and this can be an issue for some to let go of responsibility to others. Paying another individual or company is always an option, but what if the only option you see is just you?

We sometimes need to learn to accept that we can only do what we can do, if we have got ourselves into this position the question is why so that we can focus on take steps to ensure we do not let it happen again. The problem is when you are in this state it is not easy to get clarity and plan solutions. We therefore need to lift ourselves up with a mixture of quick wins and feel good prioritised actions.

Quick wins (easy actions to close out quickly) could be a way of helping but cannot take away the larger stuff that is looming over you. Therefore I believe you need to tackle some of each. Choose a couple of things that you can complete easily and quickly; when you start to tick things off your list you will be motivated to carry on because of the feeling it gives you to strike them off the list.

Next ask yourself what one task will make a real difference to the situation and make me feel great if I complete it? Again feel into it and get emotionally attached to the vision of you successfully reaching your goal.

Now focus on this one thing and one thing only and keep at it until it’s done, no distractions. When your done make sure you celebrate, feel good about your achievement. Then pause, breath and repeat.

You can vocalise what you are focusing on to another, then you have an added accountability reason to pursue the action. I practiced all of this today and shared my goal with someone I met networking, told them to ask me next time we spoke. I have now had the most focused session on my book instead of dipping in and out of things that need to be done.

One thing to add is that a to do list is isn’t time bound we may have an expectation of when t will be completed, like a weekly task list. Usually there is no information of how long each item will take us, so how do we expect to know if the list is achievable by the end of the week? Lists like this set us up to fail at our own targets and cause overwhelm, I teach my clients a simple planning process that removes lists and uses other methods to qualify tasks and write action plans that work, are achievable and simply get things done. If you need help with planning or need some mentoring to get you where you need to be, feel free to email me and we can have a complimentary hour chat to go through your current challenges and start you on your way –  angela@white-tiger.co.uk

STARTING WITH A MENTOR

Ok so your interesting in using a mentor how do start the right way so that you and your mentor understand your relationship needs. One thing to ensure is that you build your relationship first so that you feel comfortable sharing personal experiences and feelings. Secondly be aware of the difference between a mentoring and coaching to find the right person for you. Think outside the box to, a mentor can be found in many places like a close friend, a business club, work colleague or professional mentor.

Now it may be a fine line and there are so many unique businesses out there today that it can sometimes be difficult to spot what is for you, let’s look at what I feel the subtle differences are before we look at starting out with a mentor. I once saw a very good statement distinguishing the two: ‘Mentoring is relational while coaching is functional’.

The dictionary definition is ‘someone who trains you to accomplish a task or goal’ or ‘someone who teaches people to improve at a skill or sport’ also ‘helping them to prepare for something’.

So we have support, training and guidance, all good stuff. I believe that there are definitely a lot of good people that cross over the border between coaching and mentoring and as I say wear many hats.  My personal opinion at the extreme end of the coaching spectrum I see is often following a program of knowledge, or even a program set out for you to reach an end goal. The coach has practical tools and techniques or building blocks to use to help you achieve what you need and will hold you accountable to those predefined actions. Driving you to take action for results, your choice is to do or not to do! But what happens when you have other stuff going on in your life not related to the goal that you are being coached towards? I see many different outcomes when this happens.

So where do I see the opposite end of the spectrum in the mentoring role?

If we look at the dictionary definition for a mentor we find ‘an experienced and trusted advisor’ and ‘someone who gives you advice over a period of time’. You can say that it is to teach, support and give guidance, as would any coach. My feedback from clients is that I am a positive influence that inspires them and I would hope that when you pick a coach that this is true also.

Where I feel the difference lies is in the deep personal connection, helping you recognise the path or journey you are on both personally and in business and to clarify the vision you want to achieve. I am always looking at the person on a deeper level and spiritual connection the relationship has to be a good fit for both parties. As I said in my first blog a mentor teaches you to tune into your passion, strengths and core belief system, helping you to shine in the way only you can. Focusing on a mentoree’s total development.

A mentor will stretch you to just beyond your comfort level, not in excess so as to create stress and overwhelm but enable you to reach a potential beyond what you see yourself capable of. This is always where the magic happens! It is being able to recognise that what works for one will not work for another there is no system or course to follow it is all about your journey. ‘Instead of a bag of tools it’s just an empty bag of magic’ as one of my clients said.

My definition of a business mentor is “someone who strikes a balance between expert business advice and the empathy with the individuals personal journey and mindset; getting them personally ready for each step. It is a professional relationship where resources, knowledge and networks are shared to enhance the mentee’s professional and personal growth.”

So how can we make sure that both parties are happy from the outset?

1) Clarify in your head what you want out of the relationship

As best you can write down your expectations and the extent you want that person to play a part in your life. I always say imagine a newspaper article about you in 6 months time what would it be saying? What would you be celebrating and how? Is there anything that you need specific help with?

For example industry knowledge, networking, business skills planning and visualisong. Setting some objectives will ensure that you are clear to your mentor and they understand your personal and professional needs, helping them see if you are a good fit for them.

2) Make absolutely clear the commitment you are both giving

Once you’ve found someone who agrees to be your mentor, make sure you can give the same commitment and share the same passion for your goals and expectations. Your mentor is investing in your future also and needs to be excited by the prospect of working with you. Discuss and establish  a regular meeting and/or update schedule.

3) Make a draft plan to start off the work.

At the start there will be a lot of work around establishing where you are and building on what you want to achieve. If you have done your homework and established some preliminary goals/objectives make a list of topics that you would like to cover, areas you might like to discuss. These will prove to be great conversation starters and help you get into the new routine.

4) Talk about your skills.

What knowledge, skills, networks and abilities possessed by you and your mentor are going to benefit you most in achieving your current objectives.

5) Who will initiate the interaction?

Please be clear who is going to do the coordinating and organising, don’t wait for the other to ring being polite.

6) How will you know things are working?

Set up some parameters that you both agree to measure how things are progressing, define what success looks and feels like.

7) How do you handle conflict and feedback?

What would move you to terminate the relationship? A difficult one but an understanding that needs to be clear. It is important to understand that a mentor role is to give advice, but you are responsible for whether you take that advice or not and how you apply knowledge that is passed across. Your mentor must be ready for this; which is why I always say that a family member is not the wisest choice as a mentor. Choose your mentor wisely you do not want someone that is trying to produce a clone! You need to be receptive to constructive feedback on both sides.

8) Maintain confidentiality

The sessions are between you and your mentor, have an agreement in place to maintain that.

My final word is please honor your commitment, mentoring is a demanding job and responsibility so be appreciative of the time you are given Be timely in your responses and show up. Expect support not miracles, we do not solve all problems but the most valuable quality we offer is a different perspective and an eagerly listening sounding board. Why not come and talk to us about it www.white-tiger.co.uk/services/mentoring

 

Mentoring March – have you found yours?

Often mentoring is something that just happens, most entrepreneurs are happy to take advice and surround themselves with a great team. So what makes a great mentor and how do you find one that suits you?

 

We hear so many different titles these days, life coach, business coach, growth and transformation specialists, sounding boards they are all there with a specific skill: what do you need right now just for you? What place are you at in your life? It is important to have someone who is in tune with you and your personal journey and that has the knowledge that you are seeking right now.

 

To find a mentor we often look to people we know, someone who has faced adversity in a courageous manner.

This is great, it is important to have people that inspire us, ask them how they make decisions, confront fears and move on. What about our personal business journey? My definition of a business mentor is someone who strikes a balance between expert business advice and the empathy with the individuals personal journey and mindset; getting them personally ready for each step. It is a professional relationship where resources, knowledge and networks are shared to enhance the mentee’s professional and personal growth.

 

Mentoring is definitely not the soft option we take our roles seriously becoming deeply connected and invested in the success of the individual. It is a long term relationship that is built and maintained even if at the latter stages only light touch. A good mentor is always looking to help empower the individual tuning into their strengths and core belief system, helping them shine in the way only they can.

 

Important: If you want a good mentor you have to be willing to invest in the relationship it is a two way commitment! A mentor is not someone that just holds you accountable, you must have a genuine interest and readiness to learn. You are not expected to adopt every suggestion but to listen and discuss to enable an open mind and new perspective on things to take your business journey forward. You are ultimately responsible for your business and a business mentor giving their opinion cannot be accountable for your actions – a good mentor will have terms and conditions set out so ask to see them.

 

So what do you need to look for in a business mentor?

 

  • Someone that inspires you – personal attributes that demonstrate success and knowledge.
  • Infectious enthusiasm and positivity – they need to motivate you (remember this is also 2 way and you also are a ‘weather creator’ in your life so always examine the shadow you cast)
  • A teacher – How well can they explain things to you? Not everyone has a natural ability to teach.
  • A good listener – essential
  • You have to like and gel with them – It may sound obvious but can you get to know them at a personal level and share your feelings, you have to feel comfortable.
  • Excellent communication and people skills – the ability to give constructive feedback and challenge you enough to stretch you to feeling achievement and not beyond your stress boundaries. It is no good to send you into overwhelm and affect your personal well being there has to be a balance. Being just out of your comfort zone is where the magic happens trust me.
  • Someone who sets and meets goals – leading by example how well do they respond to requests and answer your emails.
  • Time – Do they have the personal time to take you on as a mentee.

 

The truth is you probably already know someone who you would consider, looking to your peers is a good thing as you probably already have strong relationships formed. There is no formal system to follow and not one person that will be there for everything. You will need different people for different times and situations in your life and that just may mean a one off session to get you back on track. All of the above are ok – it is down to what you personally need so I ask the question again – What key challenges do you need help with right now? Remember we often focus on the urgent not the important to take time for you when you answer this.

 

I am confident that a good mentor can take you further on your journey than you thought was possible whilst protecting one of your most valuable assets – your mind. Try having those conversations that you only have in your head with yourself with a thought partner and see what is possible. Yes peers and relatives can provide valuable information and contacts but I believe that only structured mentoring can provide continuity in the level of support on an ongoing basis—in a manner that can have a directly positive impact on your personal growth and the growth of your business over time.

 

Here’s why I do what I do – my feedback from a one off meeting to help with clarity;

After just two hours with Angela I had completely decluttered my mind and refocused in a way that completely restored my energy and passion. I left with an action plan which I had confidence could be executed within the planned and necessary timescale. As a result I was then able to deliver the results required for business success! Thank you Angela for putting me back on track with a couple of extra skills gained that I will continue to apply in the future!

 

Do you know the difference between a coach & a mentor? Find out next week when I will also share some tips on the process of how to make onboarding a new mentor easier – clarity from the outset to move you forward faster.

 

Motivation is an Attitude!

We all talk about #motivationmonday, share quotes, raleigh people on, me included.What are we actually doing? Reaching out to and for support, looking for tips on how to motivate ourselves and others?

In my speaking I teach people that we have in fact everything inside us right now to follow our intended purpose / vision. We will always be learning but if we feel so inclined to do something we can because it was there in the first place for is to think about. When we find our ‘job’ in life we stop searching.

The thing about not being happy is we tend to point the finger in every direction but ourselves! A bad boss, the need to provide, too late to change etc..Sure external things have an effect but ultimately you are responsible for your own happiness and how you wish to view the world. On the reverse external things can motivate us and our team, bonuses, perks, cars but that soon wears off after a while. You need the next pat on the back or recognition to spur you on – the truth is the only way you will feel truly motivated and happy is when it comes from inside and not anything else.

When was the last time you heard anyone talking about their job as rewarding, fulfilling, stretching them, a feeling of belonging and for a mission or cause. Motivation comes from an inner desire to do something which in turn is from your why and vision behind the actions you take. Therefore this must be your first port to call on for you and your team; for they follow your shared vision. If your team members do not share the same values and vision for the future as you it will be very difficult to be fully satisfied and motivated by what they do. You can inspire and move people but they have to actually want to take action! I cannot motivate you only help you to recognise the motivation within that will drive action.

There is no such thing as laziness I believe it is just disinterest – desire is lacking. We must reach out to the individual, find out what their needs are and we are all different. It is shocking how many big companies do not have time for the ‘fluffy stuff’, they claim to be a fair company and treat all the same and that is the failure in my eyes.

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allen

THINK – FEEL – ACT

Everything that is created first happens in the mind and imagination before it becomes a reality. So surely how you approach things (your attitude / motivation) is crucial. Changing the way we think about things helps us progress; therefore shouldn’t we be teaching mindset to help engagement? We want to know who fits in and actually wants to go on our journey with us. If we teach it early enough surely our younger generation will follow their heart and find jobs they want to be in.

Attitude is also contagious, the mood or attitude you show up to work with will spread quickly with every interaction; soon affecting your whole team. So why do we put such emphasis on Mondays. You get a chance to relax, chill enjoy yourself for the weekend, some even moan the weekend away, but then what? Then you have to face the reality of what you have built as your working life; having fun only 2 out of 7 days is not living in my eyes. I believe that everyone has the right to love to go to work, which is why I’m passionate about awakening people to address the why of what drives them. The mobalise and empower them to take action to make changes. It doesn’t have to be massive things small steps taken each day to achieve a massive change in you and your happiness.

Message me and I will give you ten changes that have made a huge impact on my life and my positive attitude. Or better still schedule a call or coffee I would love to hear your story.

Before you go do one thing SMILE, now notice that feeling spread to the whole of your body. Start to notice others around you as they catch you smiling and grinning – it’s infectious!

Shine your light on the world and go make a difference.

Angela X

How to use your process map to direct change?

Your process choice

How to use your process map to direct change?

A great start to either setting up a business or taking stock of where you are and where you need to be is a process map of what you want your business to look like. Starting with the end in mind as Stephen Covey said.

When you embark on this exercise you need to be able to close your eyes, use your imagination and see what your business is going to be like. Get yourself in the mindset of the end result business owner. Drawing up an organisational chart is an useful thing to do, even if you have to put you in every position at the moment, gradually you will follow the vision and replace yourself with others. Design your business the way you want it to run, one the risks of not doing this are the business grows organically. As you take on others they invent the roles as they go, each helping the best they can to shape the company following your lead. The result: A process that was not designed in the most optimum way to achieve your goal, worst case scenario you fall out of love with the business because it is not all you dreamt it would be.

With an established business there are two phases to process mapping:

  1. We have to map out where we are, document the status quo. This helps us see the big picture, identify risks and gaps within what we do; it also shows us improvements that can be made.
  2. What do we want our business to look like, if we could streamline, automate and have everything the way we plan how different would the picture be.

When we get stuck and need to move forward with our businesses we sometimes hit overwhelm, it can be easier to take no action because we don’t know where to start. There may even be a new picture and vision to follow which can be daunting. Perhaps you are at the stage where you need to take a growth step and employ or perhaps your outlook for the future has changed in what you want. Creating a picture of your business can make things much easier to understand, reasons for change become obvious. The process map then becomes a catalyst for instigating the desire for change within your team.

Try and picture each part of your process as a series of steps and each one needs to be defined. I want you to imagine the process as a series of customer-supplier relationships in a chain.

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When we set the right boundaries, expectations and requirements at each stage we will have happy customers throughout the company. This is what I call creating harmony in the workplace. Taking things step by step will enable you to understand the most complex of processes, and with your map you will be able to keep the big picture in mind.

So what now?

A client recently said to me about their newly designed streamlined process “I love it but I’m not sure what to do with it, put it up on the wall?” This is a phrase that I am hearing a lot of at the moment thank you so much but what next? It is good to have a passion for where you are taking your business but it has to be a catalyst in creating the next phase – the change process. The problem I have recognised is that a complete map can give you so much detail that it can put you into overwhelm, so much that you can’t see which step to do first. Here are my tips for approaching the next step to process improvement.

Create the buzz – Be prepared to share and listen

Share your vision, get people excited about what you are trying to do (Put your map on the wall)! Involve them in discussions, ask their opinion. This may sound obvious but there are many businesses I talk to where it is not their first thought to involve team right down to the front line.

Look at the framework

Make sure you revisit your values and vision together, are they complementary? Is everything you want to do in tune with your core beliefs and purpose? I often say that one of  most important questions after ‘what is your why?’ is ‘what are the the day to day decisions that have to be made to achieve your goal?’ If you want your team to make great decisions they have to understand this direction & purpose.

Communicate and listen

Once you are crystal clear on your objectives they need to be communicated. I don’t mean a poster on the wall, live and breath them, lead by example and get your team on board.

If you believe in your purpose with a passion, and tell your story to others, then your team around you will start to live and recall that story. Make sure all of this is communicated to the outside world too, your customers need to know your story. It’s is the same with driving changes within the company. When you are transparent and honest in what you do, listen to others opinion and explain why; you will get a much more favourable response.

Not many people like change, even less when they don’t know what is going to happen. Fear will set in and they will make up a story where there is none. We need to cut cost, jobs will be lost, the company’s in trouble; you know the drill we have all heard this type of gossip. Don’t let this happen to you, nurture open communication.

Plan for change

From your process maps you will have areas that need to change and new systems that could be significantly different to what people are used to. These changes need to be carefully planned and prioritised being conscious of the time and resources needed. You are not going to get the support and engagement from your team if you start putting them under too much stress, and likewise for yourself when you take on too much.

Itemise the areas in your process where you have found risks, gaps, duplication of tasks, inefficiency or possible automation. Your can always add to this list as you find other things on your process map. If you have taken your map to the next level and rewritten a streamlined version a lot of this will be covered in the report you receive.

This list can be split up into areas to help with project planning, for example the Sales Process, Finance and accounting, Operations or handling customer concerns and improvements.

I use my own tool (based  upon tools tool like PFMEA and risk analysis), It will enable you to think about the individual improvements and their impact on the business. The list of actions get rated or scored on impact, resources, investment and timescale, the result is a prioritised list based on fact. I am happy to provide a template and work through a prioritised action plan with you.

Don’t set yourself up to fail! Plan change step by step and include some quick wins to boost morale. It’s all about the strategy and the team.

Make sure the time and resources are planned BEFORE you execute your plan; there is nothing worse than having a team fired up and innovation stifled because they cannot access what they need to succeed.

Communicate your strategy for change

Let people know the big plan, the game changer! You want people to be excited about the end result and be part of it. You can choose champions for the projects and channels for the feedback such as boards, internal comms or social media. You need a platform that can be used to celebrate the success stories and the challenges ahead. If you are open about the choices you make, even if you make wrong decisions, being honest  will gain you support. Not everything will run perfectly, you are human after all; what defines us is how we rise after a fall. Learn from everything and turn it into an opportunity for improvement!

Take action

Now for the important bit, once you have a strategy for change you need to start taking action. If you are redesigning part of your process ensure you consider the big picture and links on the process map. Be mindful of the impact your changes can have on other areas of the process, the company goal and customer experience. Always follow the discipline of root cause analysis, prove your chosen solution, test and install. The success of your plan is down to you taking responsibility and action – if it is something you are excited about it should be infectious!

Celebrate achievements & milestones

One last thing – feedback and celebration. Change isn’t an easy path so don’t forget to stop and give yourself a pat on the back, when you do your business planning in fact write down the reward you are going to give yourself and your team for each milestone and do it!. Have fun and celebrate in style.

Also if you are doing great things talk about them, quite often there is work going on with the community and charity that don’t ever get mentioned, (I was guilty of this in the being).

Embed the change, support the transition

When you make changes do not overwhelm and change to much at the same time. Make sure people are comfortable with things before you move on. Your leadership, support and understanding at this stage will be critical to the success of the project. If you want a fun exercise to demonstrate what happens in change and where and why support is needed message me and I’ll send it to you; it will help others understand what is happening within the struggle for change.

A final word

Systems is not all about logic and sequence it is about people working together in harmony to achieve a goal. The thing is people are not always logical they have things like emotion and baggage. Then there is a thing called organisational climate, we all have our own take on what culture is ‘the way things are done around here’. Well climate embraces everything culture, leadership style, processes and how the interact with each other – the point is that all these things have a major impact on how people behave under different circumstances. Put people and process together,  communication and knowledge is key, I encourage you to think about your company as a learning organisation, become dynamic and fluid. Be flexible and don’t restrict yourself by what others believe. I know with the right direction, guidance and support you will always get where you need to be.

Have fun, you know who to ask if you get stuck !

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The value of the process map during growth

A period of growth can be exciting and motivating, it can be a challenge but equally it can be a risk. If growth is to be sustained it has to be planned for and financed, under investment is a common failure which means building less capacity than is needed to serve the customers rising demand. This is the same with your business systems and processes, what might cope now will almost definitely need to be adapted for the future to mitigate risks. Technology is also accelerating the pace of business, there are so many routes to the customer now and every contact you have needs to reflect your brand and values. How do you ensure that this customer experience is controlled and every member of your team embraces it. When you allow your company to be under strain you put stress onto everyone involved, the chances of them being present and engaged to deliver this customer experience reduce. So how do we stop the decline and plan for our successful and sustainable growth?

Every turning Point or Revolution needs a starting point, I believe a process map is the answer.  There are many reasons for this but the visual representation of the business says more than words. It allows everyone to see the bigger picture and get that light bulb moment, following the road to customer satisfaction. People will start to recognise the business journey and want to improve it, find the best route.

Improving information and data flow through the business will also have a vast impact. As I mentioned above within the world of technology and connectivity there opens up more and more options available to streamline business operations.

As business owners you need to take a step back and design your business for future growth.  Make sure you look at every aspect of your business process leave nothing out and no stone unturned.  Find your purpose and what you want to achieve,  then think about what day to day decisions you need to make to achieve this. Analyse the steps you take to deliver your goal and map it out, flow charts are very beneficial but you can start with a list of activities. Now you have your status quo recorded and can plan your new improved system.

Ensure you involve your whole team in this exercise and when you have finished you can talk about improvement projects to design the best way to accomplish each step with the people that matter most – your team. When you find the most efficient and effective way to accomplish your goals I would suggest  where possible you automate; take out as much human error risks as possible.

 One word of caution:

I see so many problems because companies have bought different software packages and apps to help them do jobs quicker then find – They don’t communicate. This leaves a very disjointed system that can lead to major issues and errors when the company grows. If you plan to use software packages do so with a holistic approach, consider the bigger picture and ensure that they talk to one another. They need to be able to grow with you, don’t put in manual data entry or transfer if it will not be sustainable when the company ends up 2, 4 or even 10 times it’s current size.

 

Selling Quality Management Systems to the CEO

This is an article I wrote that was first published by the Chartered Quality Institute in Quality World, they have kindly said that I can share this with my own followers as well as providing a knowledge piece for their members. Sometimes when we are experts in our field we forget that others do not carry the same passion for the subject nor speak the same language.  One of the many challenges we face today is putting Quality into the heart of the company strategy, back in the board room where it belongs.  Remember the phrase ‘Get better or get beat’; it comes from the US in the late 80’s when they had to do a real push for Quality following the Japanese market success.  The media today still seems to only focus on the quality profession when a disaster happens.  As quality professionals we understand that ISO9001 is a holistic approach, and that it can give a competitive advantage, mitigate risks and support growth.  So how do we convince the CEO to play his or her part?

ISO9001:2015 is very clear now especially through the leadership clause 5 on how the new CEO role is defined with regard to the Quality Management System. It is the role of top management and ultimately the CEO to make sure that the the Quality Policy and objectives are aligned with the business strategy and take full responsibility for these. It must be an integral part of the the business way of life not a bolt on as we see all too often these days which saddens me. Even this week I sat in a Business Excellence Forum and a keynote speaker said ISO is the worst thing invented and it just makes you write down everything you do, now that is being imprinted on 700 delegates in the room. My vision is to turn the tables and be the person up there telling Entrepreneurs the truth about the principles behind ISO9001 and change the bad press. As CEO’s or business owners they must promote the principles behind the standard especially the process approach and risk based thinking; encouraging and supporting everyone to contribute in an effective quality management system. They must also make clear the consequences if the company and team do not conform to the systems they create.

The Management representative role is now not a requirement but that does not mean the role and responsibility has disappeared nor does it mean that the role transfers to the CEO or other top management. In fact most companies that I talk to will keep the Management Rep role going. It is a focus change that we are looking at in encouraging the senior management teams and CEO’s to take ultimate accountability and understand what they need to do relative to the Quality management system. I could briefly define a CEO role as this:-

Provide clarity on the vision and the values
Promote and engage people
Create other leaders within the company
Direct and support individuals in their roles
Take responsibility for performance and effectiveness.
Now place the Quality management system in each of these sentences and the role doesn’t change just an additional focus to pay attention to.

The CEO or business owner understands that they must work on the business not in it, sound familiar?  After all a business is a commercial profitable enterprise that works with or without that owner. We therefore need to put ourselves in the same mindset and language mode as the business owner when talking about ISO9001:2015. Our job as I see it is to focus on the detail and the risks, helping the business owner plan for success; we should be their right hand man (or woman).  Company growth is great news but only when built on a great company will it be long lived.  Every CEO or business owner will have different priorities for their company and the skill is understanding and helping them interpret the standard and how it supports these company goals.  When we think about the likes of Google and Amazon there are key elements that make them world class. Some essential elements relate to the Quality Management systems; the question is how sellable these systems are to the CEO? If the CEO is not passionate about why the company needs a Quality Management System how can he lead with that focus? We support the purpose – the “why” the business or company exists – and ensure that there is a clear line of sight between this and the front line. This allows the right culture to grow, with everyone feeling part of a community; and  knowing that they contribute to something much larger for a greater cause or experience.

Successful companies don’t ignore anything, they innovate and when it works they systemise it. Systems don’t have to restrict they don’t cause these companies to stand still; they just help make every improvement a habit.  There was a quote in Forbes from the Dijwans leaders (this was a company that had a good product related to mapping networks of web content but it epically failed as a start up missing the detail).

“A good product idea and a strong technical team are not a guarantee of a sustainable business. One should not ignore the business process and issues of a company because it is not their job. It can eventually deprive them from any future in that company”.

I could go into why they failed but the purpose of this quote was for you to understand the message we need to convey to top management, and it’s this.

An effective quality management system supports the vision & goals of the business and enables the owners to lead from a position of authority.

In turn, this enables the right culture, which inspires people to achieve more than they thought possible.

They need only to understand the detail well enough to lead, and it’s still our job as experts to interpret that detail into best business practice for them.

In order for us to influence the business owners, we must therefore strive to understand the business vision and goals well enough to connect them to the value of a good quality management system.

Get Visual

As I take the journey through re-vamping my systems, webs, literature and first impressions to the customer I would like to share my thoughts on being visual.

Starting with your Unique vision

We get an idea for a business, we daydream, we make it happen but it mustn’t stop there. For the first time this year I did a vision board. I have been on quite a journey of learning and one of the key factors in my success so far has been understanding the law of attraction. Learning to take your focus off the negative aspects and turn my attention to what I desire in my personal and business life. Put simply if you focus on lack of customers or money guess what the law of attraction brings? Yep, you’ve got it, more of the same! So if we don’t develop our visions and adapt them how do we progress along our journey? My advice here is to start mapping out in your mind the long term strategy and vision, even visualise milestones, winning awards or contracts. What ever is significant in your business see it and sense it in your mind down to the last detail, what will you be wearing and who will be with you? When you start to see things in this much detail it is easier to become that person and achieve the right mindset. Mindset is another key element; for example if you want to be a million pound business you first need to become and make decisions as a million pound business owner, being able to actually see yourself already there will make the journey easier.

Moving this vision to your team.

When you tell your story to others they will engage with your story and relate to it, and the same is true in business. So what if we add powerful images to this story, how much more compelling does it become then? I recently met an artist who made me think, she had worked with a company on their core values. The staff had been allowed to create paintings of how they thought their values would look as images e.g. trust & integrity. These images have been put onto literature with the values and are carried around in handy sized credit card sized leaflets by all staff. Now employees can relate to their paintings and the values taking ownership of what they have created together. I loved this and think it is so important to use photos and images to capture the aspirations and goals of the company. Even more to get everyone from the bottom up to contribute and understand their part in the journey and ongoing story.

Explaining to your customers.

Nearly all business owners I have spoken to have said what a different using videos or re-branding their business with new graphics has made. We need to show our customers what we do not just tell them. Statistics show that we only have a limited number of seconds to make an impression so images really count. They don’t stop to read, may not feel like pressing play on that video today but they have already seen the image you put there. My journey is looking at images that portray what I do, which can sometimes be very technical. My aim is to show a solution to a customer problem in as little words as possible. This is not an easy job and I would recommend the help of an expert but I hope to share my ongoing story and show what a difference it can make.

Within the business structure

My business revolves around creating good business systems and adding value by giving structure and stability to the company growth. I love flowcharts, sad some may say but a great tool nonetheless. The use of images and diagrams for education and training has been proven so why not find something that gives instruction step by step. A flowchart also allows you to see who your internal customers and suppliers are to help you understand what and why you do what you do. Having critical success factors within these processes give clear measurables, enabling the team to instantly see where they are successful in delivering the needs of the next step in the process. A good idea is to also look at the risks associated with each process as well as understanding the overall business risks. That way the team fully understand the controls in place and the consequences of not adhering to the system.

I digress when I talk systems but flowcharts and process maps are my thing! Let’s also not forget about the power of using pictures to engage, learn and train. Graphics on why things matter, training simulation, video tutorials are crucial as we all learn in different ways. If you eliminate the visual, chances are you eliminate a proportion of your workforce that learn in that way. I prefer visual flowcharts but I do not eliminate detail altogether. When you hover over a step in one of my flowcharts there is a link to written work or form examples or check lists; it’s all about layers and those who need to dig deeper into detail can and will. Phonographics are another great tool as they show a number of complex steps in a simple visual form. i am looking at working in partnership with a new company and the first thing we are working on is an info-graphic to describe the benefit to the customer of our joint approach. Can’t wait to share this with you shortly.

A word of warning

What ever you do; do it consistently. Quality and consistency are key to growing your brand.

With your website is hard to find your space within the noise that is the internet. Good strategy, planning & persistence will get you there; being consistent with timing and content will raise your chances of staying there.

I am no expert but I know the feeling I get every time I decide to draw something or illustrate the subject matter; when eyes light up and they say “I get it now”.

I would love to hear your stories so do get in touch, it is great to bounce ideas from one another and see the innovation that comes out of these conversations.

 

 

 

 

Achieving work life balance needs a system!

You will often hear me talk now about creating harmony in the workplace, true harmony is when all of your processes interact with each other seamlessly to achieve a common goal. Sounds easy enough until you put people, external factors and risks/opportunities into the mix. So how am I helping with work life balance? I will enlighten you. To me ‘systems thinking’ is all about being able to understand the whole or the bigger picture. We need to put this deeper understanding into practice as we manage our day to day activities and changes that are occurring in our businesses. Do you feel that you have adequate time to do your job well and spend Quality time away from work? If the answer is no then Why? Maybe you are so consumed by what you do that the answer will not come without refocusing.

Some of us spend far too much time either fire fighting to survive or having conversations with ourselves over situations. Having precious little time and fighting the internal dialogues of our mind does not lead to us enjoying a healthy relationship with the business and a good work life balance. These are my tips to take you from surviving to thriving.

  • Take time out to relax and refocus, spend time on the business.
  • Look after you – if you are not in good health you won’t be in the right place to move forward.
  • Understand your business process, what is it that you exist to do?
  • Realise why systems are so important to creating sustainable growth.
  • Walk your process and start mapping out your business, design the way you want it to run and look like.
  • Implement systems that work for your business and your staff – involve everyone. (No forced templates)
  • Understand the risks and controls in your business, what is actually affecting your ability to deliver?
  • Prioritise – take things one step at a time – work on the things that are going to make the biggest impact to your customers and bottom line first.
  • Automate when you are able but only after you have defined the process first. For example your CRM system is not your process it is only a tool to help automate part of the Sales process.

If you need a gentle introduction to all of this then check out our new course and give yourself a different perspective on systems.

Have a great day!