At this time of year many people begin the process of making individual, business or corporate plans for the forthcoming year ahead.
Greater success comes to those who take time to carefully consider, plan and make goals for the future. Even greater success comes to those wise few amongst us who write those goals down, track and measure them every week/month, review and adjust our strategies/actions accordingly, never losing sight of the goal we have set ourselves.
The combined process of positive thinking, leading to positive action is the cornerstone to transforming the results you want in your personal and business life.
“If you want to be happy, seek a goal that commands your thoughts, unleashes your energy and inspires your hopes.”
Over the past 30 years, over 1 million people have set and tracked their plans using a system called Best Year Yet. This online results system is incredible and the testimonials are endless.
So, are you looking to make 2013 your best ever year. how many times have you promised yourself you would sit down and make a plan for the next 12 months, but never got round to it and, before you knew it, another year has passed you by and things you have always wanted to achieve keep alluding you?
Change your life. Join a million other successful people who use the Best Year Yet online goal setting and tracking system to set up your annual plan and learn to become a master of producing breakthrough results in both your personal and business life. This system is really easy to use and will prove to be one of the best investments you have ever made in yourself.
Recommended by Leadership Expert, the Best Year Yet system brings you a secure, easy to use, cloud based online goal setting and tracking programme for only £100.00. Thats less than the equivalent of 30 pence per day, to experience your Best Ever Year.
Simple to buy and simple to do – make your own Best Year Yet Plan today:
The UK Economy
Look around you, and all the Press tell you about is layoff’s, downsizing, outsourcing and austerity budget cuts. Millions of the employed masses find themselves out of work, sometimes almost overnight. With unemployment figures high across the globe, it’s almost unthinkable that someone who loses his/her job today will find “gainful” employment very soon. Conflicting reports would suggest the lines at unemployment offices stretch around the block many times over, and still more individuals join them almost every day.
An exciting and challenging way out
Individuals with transferable skills, who have recently lost their jobs, instinctively think about getting a new job in the same trade or line of business that they most recently performed. However, in today’s business environment where businesses and corporations have loyalty to just one – themselves – a way out of the dilemma of being employed might lie in a totally different direction: Self-employment!
If you, or people you worked with until recently, suddenly find themselves out of a job, then why not create employment opportunities for yourself, instead of looking for them elsewhere. Making use of your transferable skills, either individually or in collaboration with ex-colleagues or friends, is the best way to break free from the perpetual Employer-Employee frame of mind. And with good planning, loads of effort and bouncing your ideas and decisions off others (particularly an experienced business coach), that entrepreneurial spark inside you can quickly turn into an unstoppable fire!
So what does it take to become a true entrepreneur? Don’t you need start-up capital and connections to really make a success of it? Well, yes, you definitely do need both items in order to start a business. These two elements are actually part of the 4 pillars of any successful business venture. However, you may be surprised to know how many opportunities there to access both those elements for your entrepreneurial venture.
And once you are on the path to success, both funding and contacts attract themselves to you like a magnet. That’s because both money and people love being part of a success story. No, the most difficult, and often challenging aspect of entrepreneurship is a good idea and an equally solid business plan, backed up with making the right decisions along the way. Without both these pre-requisites, no amount of capital and even the best of contacts will not matter.
From Hobby to Business
The most successful entrepreneurial ventures are those that revolve around the entrepreneur’s passion for doing what they like. Of course, most passions stem from a casual liking of a subject or a hobby. That’s where you first develop a passion for doing something. Whether it is painting, computer programming, writing, cabinet building or helping people find a new home. Nurturing your hobby into a passion is then just one step away from being able to turn it into a successful business. If you try to start up a business doing something you hate, or aren’t very passionate about, chances are you will not be as motivated as if it were a passion. And motivation is the key to success for any entrepreneur.
Planning your passion
Now that you know what you are passionate about, how would you turn that passion into a vibrant successful business idea. The answer: meticulous planning. Entrepreneurial success rests largely in the ability to plan – even the smallest of details – minutely, and flawless execution of the plan, even when you feel lost or helpless. The essential elements of your plan should include:
- Your vision, spelt out in as much detail as possible – What you plan to do, why, how will you do it, what will be the product or service you create
- How you plan to monetize that vision – Your target customers, why will they buy what you are selling, where will you find them, how much are they willing to pay, what will you price your deliverable at, how many do you need to sell
Although a “real” business plan is much more involved than this two-point list, if you start up with these 2 points and don’t get a real good sense of what you are getting to know about your venture, then perhaps you’ve chosen the wrong passion to pursue. If it can’t make you money, it won’t pay the bills!
Funding your passion
Any fledgling enterprise needs seed capital, and there are a number of ways to get that. If you have a convincing vision, and a defensible business plan, then funding should not be such a huge hurdle to cross. Organizations like ABN AMRO Commercial Finance are a good place to start.
Alternately, if you prefer more “informal” sources, you can tap into the Crowdfunding phenomena to attract capital for your new venture.
For more information feel free to contact me.
There are 5 BIG reasons why leadership and management is failing in many organisations right now.
I call them the five harbingers of doom.
Your about to discover exactly what the 5 harbingers of doom are – although you’ve probably seen some of them in action and you are seeing evidence of their handy work day in and day out – if not in your company then in many you interact with.
The five harbingers of doom lead to:
- Low staff morale
- Reduced productivity
- Poor customer experience/rising complaints
- Lost sales opportunities and revenue streams
- The best staff leaving…
The monster which has plagued both household names, global organisations, long standing local family businesses and one in three start-up businesses in the UK (3 in 4 in the USA!) – LEADERSHIP. The five harbingers of doom which feed the monster are:
- The autocratic leader
- Leadership teams who don’t listen to their people
- Transactional as opposed to transformational leaders
- Corporate bullies
- Leaders who don’t do as they say and fail to deliver on their promises
Ring any bells?
If you’ve worked in any of these organisations I’m sure you will agree:
Clinton Cards; Kodak; Enron; DeLorean; Pan Am; Woolworths; Royal Bank of Scotland to name but a few. There are tens of thousands of smaller businesses and organisations that have faced the same fate. Are you working in such a company right now?
If so, its time to break out from the norm.
The change you want to see in your organisation begins with you.
You can change the environment, the atmosphere and the culture. Yes, I know it sounds incredible – it might even sound ridiculous for someone who feels entrenched in an organisation which seems hell bent on self destruction, where staff morale is at its lowest ever.
So whats the secret?
The secret to making the changes needed to turn your company into an:
Iceland; Pets at Home; PWC; UKRD; Admiral Group; or a Shine Communications (source: The Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to work for 2012).
What you must do is focus on the following five long term traits and turn them into daily habits and actions:
- Become a leader who constantly seeks to develop and fine tuning your skills, using self development tools and practicing a wide repertoire of leadership, management, coaching and mentoring styles at every opportunity.
- Become a leader who is open to and constantly seeking feedback from the people you interact with. This includes your boss/senior stakeholders, your immediate leadership team, staff you interact with, suppliers, partners and customers. Using 360 degree feedback in this way will helps you to …
- Self reflect. Leaders who invest time in reflecting and considering the impact of their actions, who are open to admitting their mistakes along the way and showing some humility, always win the respect of the people they work with.
- Be a Leader who takes the view that your staff don’t work for you – you work for them. Acknowledging that you can only ever be as good as your team. ..
- Nurture and develop your people, acknowledging their talents, inspiring and leading from the front. People respect this kind of leader and will follow them anywhere. This kind of leader no longer has a ‘morale’ issue, because people love working for him/her.
So, here’s the first step you must take, right from now. From this very moment. I strongly encourage you to create time to begin at STEP 1 – self development.
This issue is so important to leadership and management in the current global climate that I spent over 2 years traveling the world and seeking out the best leadership and management tools to help you to become an accomplished and authentic leader. In that time I had the pleasure of meeting the late, great Dr Stephen Covey, Jinny Ditzler, Andy Lopata, the team at Charterhouse, Profiles International and many other influential people engaged in thought, study and publication on Leadership and Management today.
Combining all their experience, talents, success and I have produced the following leadership toolkit. This is one of the most powerful self-development leadership programmes on the market. This is an exclusive offer specifically to help readers of Leadership-Expert.co.uk. The beauty of it is…
It doesn’t cost thousands of pounds. It doesn’t mean your company has to commit to sending you off on a 6 week course to learn everything there is to know about successful leadership. This is something you can do for yourself – no-one at work has to know. This is your gift to yourself to enable you to become 100% more effective as a leader in your workplace, whatever your current role.
The Ultimate Leadership Toolkit is ideal if:
- You are a business owner who employs staff.
- You are new to leadership – perhaps you have just gained your first management promotion.
- You are ambitious and want to progress in your organisation by building a strong reputation for leading people.
- You want to develop top performing teams.
- You want to learn, find out what you don’t know and apply some staggeringly simple but hugely effective techniques.
To start you off I am offering you an exceptional leadership and management tool – which will give you the answers to some of the fundamental problems and challenges all leaders face, but sadly too many do not know how to respond to them. This tool will give you the edge.
- The Ultimate Leadership Guide – secrets to success at work and in business. This compendium contains 32 of the worlds most powerful leadership concepts and open up a whole range of practical tips and tools you can implement in the day to day situations and challenges you face. Do you want to build an incredible reputation for developing top performing teams, who will follow you anywhere. Do you want to learn some of the secrets of how and why the British team did so well at the last two Olympic games? The foreword to this compendium, comes straight from Steve Backley OBE, British Olympic Silver medalist in Sydney 2000 and commentator on London 2012. Value £35.99
That’s just £35.99 (plus postage) to invest in making yourself 10 times more effective than you currently are, because you don’t know what you don’t know. The Ultimate Leadership Guide tells you all you need to know. At the moment Amazon are offering a 15% discount, but this is bound to be for a limited period only.
So dont delay – if you’ve got this far all you have to do is click here and order your copy of The Ultimate Leadership Guide.
Transform your leadership skills right now – don’t let the harbingers of doom feature any more in your working world.
Featured by The Daily Telegraph Business Club – oh and here’s some of the feedback from people who have already started using this toolkit:
“It’s more than a guide – it’s an inspiring instruction manual to help you motivate and lead your team.
Simon Teague has sifted through techniques, treatments and tips from prominent experts around the world to deliver bite size pieces of management good sense.
It’s a must for every desk top.”
Graham Miller, CEO
“Whether you are newly appointed, a developing manager or an experienced executive this guide will provide you with a tantalising toolkit of best practise tips and techniques that will help you to become a more effective leader who motivates and inspires his / her people to deliver outstanding levels of performance”
CMS (GB) Ltd
“A sensible choice for any Leader or Manager who is looking for a guide of proven work place techniques to use as building blocks for self development and longevity of high individual and team performance”
Royal Bank of Scotland Group
‘I know how important it is for managers and leaders of business to develop their skills in order to stand out in the marketplace. The tips and techniques revealed in the Ultimate Leadership Guide come from some of the World’s leading experts and Simon Teague has designed the Guide expressly to make it easy to read, learn and apply the powerful strategies within. The rest is up to you.’
Author and expert on business networking strategy.
In the business world today we are experiencing many challenges: Change; Competition; Communication; Motivation and Morale. For leaders to see their way through this multifarious range of concerns, they need to quickly diagnose and apply the right remedies. Having the specialist desktop guide at your side will provide the support needed to tackle these challenges head on.
Sales and Marketing Director
Peter Thomson International PLC
What I love about The Ultimate Leadership Guide is how it simply and visually explains complex leadership principles in a way that enables the user to instantly apply the theory into practical work based issues and see measurable results. It is the one piece of armoury in 21st Century leadership you simply cannot afford to be without.
Corporate Responsibility Manager
Ernst & Young LLP
This Guide is a fabulous resource, containing a wealth of information that no self respecting leader can afford to be without.
Peter Thomson International PLC
“If you would love to know all the tried and tested leadership and management skills but don’t find the quality time to read, take in and apply the plethora of information that’s available, then The Ultimate Leadership Guide is just what you need. Written in a style that is easy to read and comprehend, you have at your fingertips all the answers you need to be a successful and highly respected leader.”
Director, People Development, Holtby Turner
‘The Ultimate Leadership Guide’ is the most user-friendly, practical and results-orientated reference guide for all businesses that I have seen in a very long time.
Busy people don’t want to have to allocate significant tranches of time and money for them or their staff to increase their skills, effectiveness and profitability. ULG is the solution. Simon Teague – like many great ideas – has come up with a really simple answer to the question of, ‘How do we ensure our people keep on track, self-motivated and with a minimum of supervision?’
A distillation of many of the best ideas from many of the leading gurus, this Guide can save you years of research and reading to track down the answers you want to the challenges you have.
QJ, Inspirationist, Quite Stunning
‘The Ultimate Leadership Guide’ offers real insights into some of the greatest authorities and experts in leadership and their tried and tested principles. If you apply these principles rigorously you will certainly reach your full potential.”
Steve Backley OBE
Leadership-expert will shortly be releasing a subscription membership model which will release significant on-line leadership learning modules for a monthly investment of only £8.66pm. This is currently under development and will transform the world of leadership and management, because the very people learning these modules will become incredible, inspirational leaders across the globe. If this interests you, make sure you join our current community of free subscribers as these will receive the first offers with many bonus leadership development programmes up front.
With the economy picking back up, it’s only a matter of time before job turnover also starts speeding up again. Unsatisfied workers will begin looking for a better job environment and if your office morale is lacking, your company could be the one losing team members. But making some tweaks to your office and work culture can turn the tables and make yours the company that people are dying to work for. Try these techniques suggested by Business Insurance Quotes for boosting office morale and you may see your employees’ satisfaction soar. Alternatively you may not, because I don’t actually agree with this list of 8, so see my alternative list at the end. What do you think?
1. Get a dog
Not every work environment may be suitable to have dogs running around, but research has shown that dogs in the office can help boost the morale and improve work relationships. Whether it’s one office dog or many dogs brought by the employees who own them, the furry co-workers somehow build trust between employees and encourage collaboration. If you allow workers to bring their own dogs from home, it also keeps them from wanting to leave work right at 5 to get home to their pet.
In 2011, employees everywhere got great news: there is now scientific evidence that says they should be able to browse the Internet at work. Now, we’re not talking going to any sites you’d be ashamed to show your wife, but in general, if you let employees use their short moments of downtime to look at websites they enjoy, they will feel less tired become more productive when they’re done. Studies have found that workers who use their breaks to goof around on the Internet rather than checking emails or texting friends are also more engaged in their work after the break and less likely to get bored with it.
The trend in employment is to let more and more employees work, at least occasionally, from home. As many as 40 million Americans telecommute at least once a year and that number continues to grow, with some estimates putting the number at 43 percent of the population by 2016 (though that seems a little extreme). But telecommuters in your company might be hurting the morale of the physical office. In-office workers are less satisfied with their work when there are more people working remotely. It may be because they have weaker ties with these co-workers or because they feel like they have less freedom and more work than the unseen workers at home.
In terms of the set-up of your office, what works for one company won’t necessarily work for another. You obviously have to take the space you have to work with and the nature of your business into account, but there are some office layouts that are better for morale than others. Traditional cubicles are the worst, making workers often feel isolated, under appreciated, and depressed. The open layout has less privacy than cubicles, which could be a problem if your workers make a lot of phone calls, but it encourages communication between employees and makes them feel like part of a team. Closed offices, where employees each have their own office, might be the best for morale, offering privacy and satisfaction, but if you can’t afford that, you might look into a mixed office plan, with closed offices, open-office desks, and a common area.
So “That’s what she said” jokes might actually hurt the office environment? Maybe taking management tips from Michael Scott isn’t such a good idea after all. A 2009 study found that even when people enjoy flirtation and sexual innuendo in the workplace, it has a negative effect on the morale of the office. Surprisingly, the effect is even greater among men. So try to cut down on sexual jokes among your employees, even if everyone seems to be laughing along. The office may seem tame at first, but it will boost spirits overall.
Whether you work in a place where suits are the daily requirement or your office just demands slacks and button-downs or dresses, rewarding your employees with a casual day can be a big morale booster. Many offices go with Casual Fridays, which allows workers to relax a bit and gives them something to look forward to throughout the week. You might also want to give dress-down days as a reward for finishing a long project or a special achievement.
7. Swear a bit
You don’t want to swear at someone at work, but mixing in cursing occasionally when appropriate can actually build relationships in the workplace and allow employees to release frustrations. A British study found that profanities that aren’t used in a negative or abusive way can boost morale and decrease stress. The boss should set the tone for the amount of swearing that is acceptable and gauge the comfort levels of employees to make sure no one is turned off by the amount. You should also avoid using foul language in front of clients or senior staff members.
Many companies were discussing cancelling their office holiday parties when the recession was at its worst. Spending money on a lavish affair didn’t make sense when everyone was hurting for cash. But experts warn against nixing parties altogether because it could hurt the morale of employees who have been working hard all year long. Take companies like Iceland Foods, recently voted the best company to work for in The Sunday Times – now they know how to party and celebrate, thereby creating a high value, high performance culture. If you typically have a party around the holidays or for other special occasions, like the company’s anniversary, keep the celebration but maybe scale it back a bit. You don’t always need a chocolate fountain or a ballroom for employee satisfaction.
Thank you to Roxanne McAnn for sending this post.
My personal view however, is somewhat different to all of the above.
What’s written above reflects things from an employee perspective in an economic cycle where employees have power. However, with 3 million people unemployed in the UK, it’s currently the employers with the power. In addition to which, if companies are to survive in this extremely challenging global economic climate, they cannot afford to go all ‘soft’ on their employees.
Great companies, like Iceland Foods, will be seeking to get the best out of their employees, retain and attract the very best people, by creating a high value, high performance culture. I would therefore replace the above eight suggestions as follows:
Organisations who are looking to become great places to work are striving to achieve the right balance between a stretching and demanding work environment and highly efficient, productive workers with a healthy work/life balance. This see-saw is incredibly difficult for leaders to manage. Companies must have the edge over their competition if they are to provide a secure environment for their employees and maintain their morale. To achieve this requires the creation of unstoppable teams, who deliver staggering results, but do so because they work hard and play hard and don’t burn themselves out. Having an external professional coach by their side enables leaders to achieve this balance in the same way top athletes and sports people do.
The problem with an open policy on browsing, as I have so often seen in companies I visit, is that it can become a complete distraction for employees and it reduces overall efficiency. Conversely, one of the biggest issues affecting productivity and morale is when employees feel they are so over-worked that they cannot afford to take a break at lunch. No break = a more inefficient afternoon = mounting workloads. Leaders should set the tone here and encourage staff to take ‘time out’ and rest.
Now-a-days many teams operate remotely. Some in different offices; some in different countries. The key to strong team-work and morale is good communication. Get the team together once a week to discuss and debate issues. This is the key to better decision making. With the explosion in audio conferencing facilities, skype and GoToMeeting this is entirely possible to get everyone ‘in one room’.
In terms of the set-up of your office, you will achieve greater productivity, efficiency and morale by addressing the behavioral and attitudinal issues facing the team each and every day rather than the physical environment in which they work. Here it is the leader who sets the tone. He/She must demonstrate good leadership. They must be alive to the feelings of the employees if they are to win their hearts and minds and create a fantastic atmosphere in which to work.
The key to healthy, open and honest working conditions is to actively promote equality and respect for all and celebrate diversity within the team. the team needs to be able to have their say in a spirit of honesty and openness, without fear of reprisal or blame. Playing to everyone’s strengths you can have banter and fun in the office – but everyone needs to understand the ground rules and the implications of getting it right or sometimes acknowledging if we get it wrong.
Most organisations now provide their employees with uniforms – in the customer services arena this helps the customer to easily identify who is working at the company. Wearing company attire with pride promotes the overall image of the organisation and can lead to a positive brand image – after all, as an employee, you are the face of the organisation. As such, poor dress code or poor (miserable) facial expression and attitude will undoubtedly damage the brand. I have a saying that one of only two things happen whenever you walk into an organisation. Your view of the brand will either be enhanced or diminished by the experience you have – there is no middle ground.
I’m not sure about the swearing thing – the boundaries here are impossible to set. However, leaders should always be promoting the opportunity to have fun. I once visited the guys at Charthouse Learning – their office was full of color, family photo’s, toys and games to play at break time and as ice-breakers for meetings. The atmosphere was electric. There was plenty of laughter, but also a serious undertone of being the best in business.
Surprisingly, many staff are not motivated entirely by money. The bonus culture is frowned upon and research shows that people are far more inclined to work harder and feel greater job satisfaction with a simple “Well done” and a pat on the back. The best blue chip companies I ever worked in knew that if they spent up to £10 million on lavish parties/conferences to celebrate the success of their very top people, they would earn that money back within a month, because it has the effect of stepping everyone up a gear to want to deliver even more and get back on the podium the following year/quarter. Take companies like Iceland Foods, recently voted the best company to work for in The Sunday Times – now they know how to party and celebrate, thereby creating a high value, high performance culture in which to work.
Anyway – that’s what I think – what do you think?
If you enjoyed this article:
- please LIKE Leadership-Expert™ on Facebook,
- subscribe here
- Sign up to learn many more leadership tips at The International Leadership Conference, London 2012
- Leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.
Few would say that personal transformation is easy. Or as our friend Lew Epstein put it — “It’s simple, but not easy.” “Simple” because the information about how to transform is available from many sources, such as your spiritual path, articles, books, teachers, coaches, the Internet — but, as a leader, top of the list is your inner wisdom.
“Not easy” because it takes being mindful about the small everyday things, letting go, and shifting our beliefs. The way through is personal responsibility.
Doing so is most difficult when we’re right — I mean really, really right. The evidence is right there before our eyes. It’s obvious.
We’re absolutely right about the fact it’s the other person’s fault, the company we work for isn’t doing what they promised, or our own spiritual path is the best — right on down to the little stuff like the best way to drive to the store, the fact our spouse doesn’t accurately remember what happened, and our political views. No doubt about it, right?
One of the most challenging things for me is to let go when I am right — even when I know it’s far more responsible and rewarding to do so, and even though I’ve learned that it’s not worth the price when it’s at the expense of someone else’s feelings. Yet every time I just let it go, I achieve another personal transformation. And to be clear, I don’t mean just keeping my mouth shut even though I’m still 100 percent right. I have to let it go completely — thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and all. Poof!
Simply said, follow the advice of Anthony Robbins:
“Whatever happens, take responsibility.”
The Cost of Not Taking Responsibility
Here are some examples of personal irresponsibility. Have you see the cost of:
- Grown up kids still blaming their parents for their problems?
- A team member who gossips and points out the faults of others?
- Blaming our genes, our medication, our lifestyle, or our work for the fact that we can’t lose weight?
- Calling ourselves the victim of mental abuse, when our own rapid response is just as painful?
In what ways are you paying the price for not taking responsibility?
Top of my list at the moment are 1) breaking my workaholic addiction — even though I have way less on my plate these days, and 2) losing the 10 pounds I gained last year. I can see the problems, but I’m not being responsible about solving them, even though doing so would be hugely transformational for me.
Payoffs for Taking Responsibility
One thing I know for sure: The more responsible I am, the more people and things around me transform. The process is automatic and natural — and it begins with me. Here are several examples:
- Taking complete responsibility for our finances has led to our being millionaires — and is enabling us to give generously to others.
- Sticking with the Best Year Yet business, no matter what, has created the possibility of generating transformation for many, many more people.
- Giving up being right with Tim (including my righteous and judgmental thoughts about him) has brought a new level of happiness, partnership, and love.
How has taking personal responsibility transformed your life?
Recently my brother didn’t feel at all well, so bad for example that he couldn’t play golf. As a heart attack survivor, he decided to get an EKG. The doctor reported that he was just fine, no worries. But he still didn’t feel well so he kept checking until he discovered a week ago that one of the main arteries in his heart was 70 percent blocked and another main artery was 99 percent blocked!
Several days later he underwent bypass surgery and is now recovering remarkably well. We’re all so grateful that he took personal responsibility for his health because if he hadn’t, he might not be here today.
Steps to Taking Responsibility
Answer these questions as accurately as you can:
- In which areas of my life am I not being responsible?
- In which of these areas am I going to begin taking responsibility?
- What outcome do I want as a result?
- What step am I going to take today?
Several months ago I was watching a 60 Minutes report on homeless kids in Florida. It was there I discovered a 15-year-old homeless teen by the name of Ariel Metzger — an inspirational poster child for personal responsibility if ever there was one. She’s interviewed twice in this very short segment, near the beginning and at the end. Ariel talks about personal responsibility with clarity and wisdom in such a powerful, yet simple, way.
Thanks again to those of you who have written to join in this journey of personal transformation. Here are a few of your responses to last week’s question: “What am I doing to invest in myself?”
- “One of the ways I am investing in myself is doing vision education to improve my eyesight. In order to do this, I have to be much more relaxed — eyesight weakens with strain, so I am learning to be more focused — taking one thing at a time.”
- “I love getting requests for an article, but soon the request transforms into doubt that I have anything worthwhile to say. What to do? I have decided that the best thing to do is to stop thinking and start writing. I discover again the pleasure of moving from thinking in order to write, to writing in order to think.”
- “I don’t think I have too much wrong with me. Not enough money maybe, but that is all. I like myself — more and more each month lately.”
The next article in this series is called “Personal Transformation: Anything is Possible.”
As a partner on this journey, please share your answer to this question: How has taking personal responsibility transformed my life?
This article is written by Jinny Ditzler, author of Your Best Year Yet!: Make the next 12 months your best ever! as part of a series on The Huffington Post
For more by Jinny Ditzler, click here.
Allow me to completely jump off the topic of leadership for the moment to focus on something we’re all passionate about: our happiness. This fantastic TED Talk by Daniel Kahneman casts a critical reflection on the lazy assumptions we all have regarding happiness. It may make you seriously think differently about the way we make decision about choosing our experiences.
While working on some rather run-of-the-mill admin tasks today, I was reminded of the old saying, that ‘It does matter if you don’t like what you do, as long as you love the way you do it‘. And I feel this proverb gets more powerful and relevant, the more salaries come under pressure, and hours stretch longer.
Let’s face it. It doesn’t matter whether you sell Harley Davidson accessories online, or bake bread for Hovis, you have one thing in common: you want to enjoy your job. Like the folks at Surdyke.com, you may be passionate about motorbikes, or you may love the smell of warm bread, but your day job will still leave you with a list of repetitive or admin-based chores that you would rather not do. Again, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a salesman or a baker, you’ll experience the same problem. What’s more, the solution is universal also!
The easy remedy for dull or repetitive tasks is to love the way you do a task. Focus on excellence, focus on speedy deliveries, focus on being an uplifting member of staff, or focus on the sensations you feel as you perform your work. Take your mind away from the ‘boredom’ and the negative thoughts, and positively orientate yourself in a different perspective while you work. Try it today and share your results with us by leaving a comment below!
While Leadership Expert Blog mainly discusses modern leadership issues, I think that if there is a demand for information on a different topic that affects the working lives of readers, then it also deserves a dedicated post. Pay rises or salary increases are one of these topics. I receive at least 2 unsolicited queries a week from visitors asking for tips on how they can bump up their pay packet. This article attempts to answer these questions!
Why do you go to Work in the Morning?
Before we jump straight into a range of techniques, let’s step back and take a look at why you are where you are. No, this isn’t padding, this is important. I want you to think deeply about why you are working for your current employer. Are you working there because you like the environment, love the people you work with, enjoy the job? Or alternatively, is the good salary the only thing holding you to that business? The answer to this question will put you into one of two categories of people. You should implement wage-increasing strategies that is relevant to your situation only, don’t pick and choose from both.
Type A: The Diversified Employee.
A diversified employee finds many elements of their job satisfying and sees pay as only one part of the reason why they work for their employer. It will take a significant increase in pay (20%+) to lure this employee away from the company. Other sources of satisfaction could include relationships with collegues, a sense of purpose within the organisation, good working hours, other perks of the job or a cosy sense of familiarity.
Type B: The Ship Jumper
A ship jumper finds that their wage is without doubt the domineering reason why they choose to remain at their employer. The ship jumper is either largely unattached to their company, or has perhaps slowly grown weary of one place and feels like a change of working environment is in order. The ship jumper is not necessarily disloyal, but it is fair to say that quitting their job crosses their mind far more often than a diversified employee.
To put it in other words, a diversified employee feels routed into the organisation and would need considerable motivation to leave, while a ship jumper wonders whether there are sufficient reasons for them to stay.
A Brief Introduction to Wages
To outline a common context here, let’s produce a quick framework of what drives the level of wages you receive. The exact state of these factors will result in the output (your wage level). Some of these factors are controllable (and will be the subject of several of our techniques later), while others are largely uncontrollable and will always impact upon your salary, either continually depressing or uplifting your salary.
Uncontrollable Factor 1: Profitability of the Company/industry
Lets assume that you are not the CEO of your company, and are otherwise not single-handedly capable of shaping the profitability of the industry it inhabits. While shareholders and top management will enjoy the majority of bumped profits from a good decade of business, it’s employees will indirectly enjoy these too. A company with higher margins will be prepared to pay more to retain key members of staff, or can afford to embark on employment policies as mentioned below. On the other hand, a company in severe financial difficulty will not entertain requests for salary increases while the bankers are loudly rapping their knuckles at the door.
Uncontrollable Factor 2: Employment Policies
Industry-leading companies in today’s world seek to ‘attract and retain the top talent’ in order to boost their competitive advantage. This can sometimes lead to higher wages being offered. A good example is Aldi’s recent graduate job offerings which promise a £40k salary plus company car. Such a package is above and beyond the standard retail manager’s salary, however Aldi are making a clear effort to attract the best in candidates.
Controllable Factor 1: Profit Generation
How much profit do you generate as an employee? For example, average lawyer in Magic Circle law firm Allen & Overy generates on average, £370,370 in fees for the firm. Of this figure, at least £150,000 will be bottom-line profit. Against this backdrop of profitability, law firms will be encouraged to pay their employees a higher wage. Why? Because any of their employees could leave to setup a rival law firm and obtain 100% of those profits if they so wished.
Controllable Factor 2: Perceived Broadness of Role:
Does management see a role as very narrow, fixed, and easy to define? The easier a role is to pin down, the easier management will find it to pay the minimum amount that still remains “competitive” against similar businesses. The more blurry the lines between several roles, the more room there is to earn a ‘premium’ on what you do.
Controllable Factor 3: Productivity & Competence
Naturally, a company tends to pay employees higher for producing higher quality work. An employee that slaughters sales pitches and aggravates customers will find the search for a pay rise very difficult, as they have apparently done little to deserve it. With this in mind, the techniques below assume that you are a reasonably competent employee.
Controllable Factor 4: Level of Training
Training doesn’t just create skills, it creates scarcity. A cohort of qualified accountants leaving their professional examinations are now in an exclusive group. The exclusivity of their skills restricts the supply of employees to the market, and ensures that employers must pay a generous salary to fulfill their all-too-necessary accounting function.
Controllable Factor 5: Years of Service
While it cannot be said that in today’s world, all companies reward the loyalty of employees, some companies still employ this old fashioned but ever-appreciated courtesy.
Controllable Factor 6: Inside Knowledge
Employees with inside information or commercially sensitive knowledge are an asset to a company. However, disgruntled leavers with such insights are a significant liability. With this in mind, businesses react more sensitively to the needs and requests of employees that hold such experience.
Controllable Factor 7: Relationships with clients and suppliers
It isn’t just collegues that sorely miss employees when they’re gone, but customers, suppliers and even regulators too! The relationships an employee can build within their role literally create value for their business, and this will often be reflected in the wage of the worker. From a different point of view, professional organisations also fear that employees will take clients with them if they were to leave, and this also increases wages.
Controllable Factor 8:Popularity and Networking
Merit is certainly an important element in your ‘worth’ as an employee, but being friends with the person who must place a price on your head is even more effective! An employee’s network will also help boost several other factors indirectly. For example, being on good terms with management means that an employee is more likely to hear about new training that head office is offering, or will give them an opportunity to broaden their role by suggesting initiatives to bosses.
Pay Rise Techniques: For Type A (Diversified) Employees
Type A employees enjoy their jobs, and wish to obtain a pay rise without damaging the benefits they already enjoy. If you believe you’re a diversified employee (read ‘Why do you go to Work in the Morning?’ above if you don’t know what I’m talking about), you may wish to employ the following ‘softer’ strategies.
Technique 1 (Easy): Training
Now, I want you to imagine the training elements of your CV. Have a think about how long would it take someone, starting from scratch at the age of 16, to achieve the level of training and experience you have. The longer it will take, the higher the premium you may command. This in part describes why surveyors, architects, doctors, lawyers and accountants receive good salaries. All of these careers involve a minimum of 3 years intensive training under contract, and rigorous exams, taken after further education in school and obtaining a good degree classification. This in all will require a minimum of 8 years to achieve, including several successful interviews and a sequence of exam passes.
Of course, training doesn’t stop the moment you achieve a qualification. Leadership training from leadership classes or other leadership courses will also count towards such a factor, so long as it yielded tangible and observable results.
Action Point: Proactively request training. Many large organisations run training sessions each month that you don’t even realise happen, but would be happy to take you on if you only asked. Perhaps you could become the office expert on planning or design software, or perhaps become the health and safety officer. Both of which will likely lead to a marginal increase in your salary as well as your future prospects. If you ask often enough, your manager may even begin looking for training on your behalf. If you belong to a small company, you may want to look into training courses provided by external companies, and put forward the idea of you attending, alongside a solid business case for you doing so.
Technique 2 (Advanced): Blurring Roles
Blurring the lines between your (standard) role and other roles to create a ‘hybrid’ job is a subtle and effective technique. While promotions are not always within easy reach, management will not hesitate in giving you extra micro-responsibilities if you ask for them. After a couple of years of volunteering in such a way, you will have a job role so ingrained in many different areas, that it will be very hard to pin down your job title. Distinguishing your job title from other colleagues is an essential part of this strategy.
Step 1: Identify cross departmental or other roles that can be added to your list of responsibilities. Perhaps leading the weekly meeting between accounting and marketing is a good example. It is important you choose roles that are important business-centric roles, and not too administrative in nature. Administrator style employees naturally build a list of extra responsibilities (buying the milk, organising the Christmas party, cleaning the office, running health & safety campaigns) that further ingrain their role as an administrator, and do not effectively accomplish the task of blurring. Tasks that involve leading, or at least supporting a critically important process are perfect.
Step 2: If you particularly enjoy one of these tasks, then attempt to widen your responsibilities in this area, while moving responsibilities for your earlier tasks to assistants or other staff. This is to be done formally, through discussion with your line manager, who will expect such pro-active behaviour from career-orientated individuals.
Step 3: Request a change of job title. At this stage, do not present the idea as a promotion, as this is not what you are doing. You are merely trying to distinguish your official role from that of your former colleagues. Hence, you should merely request for a change of title in the interests of properness and accuracy. “I’m not really just a bookkeeper anymore, as I split my time between accounting and preparing sales letters, so I think my official job title should reflect this“.
At this point you are probably expecting me to recommend you ask for a pay rise. Well, simply asking is not necessarily going to achieve any results in this case. In fact I think the blurring of roles, despite its complexity, is more of a facilitating technique that improves the effectiveness of all the other techniques. As an ‘individual’ employee, managers will be much happier to negotiate with you, safe in the knowledge that the decision will not create a precedent which will multiply the effect several-fold. This on its own will have a dramatic effect upon the success you achieve through the other methods. It will also help you build a more varied working experience, and give you a real chance to prove your abilities in areas other than your core responsibility. See ‘Getting Noticed‘ below.
Technique 3 (Moderate) : Getting Noticed
As we mentioned above as controllable factor 3: productivity and competence has a significant effect on your pay grade. In some companies, this process is clearly visible and formalised through set pay rises for certain gradings of performance. In other organisations, this effect may be more indirect, and come in the form of promotion or infrequent & individual pay rises.
If you haven’t quite spotted it yet, performing well, and being rewarded under the above systems, are not the same thing. The latter requires management to actually acknowledge your high levels of performance, and is not simply solved through exerting plenty of effort into your role. I could write an entire article about ‘getting noticed’ in your company (which I’m sure I will one day!), but I’ll include my favourite tip in this segment.
The biggest mistake people make when trying to be noticed, is to spend too much time perfecting the little tasks, down to every detail. In reality, what catches the eye of your manager is if you proactively work on new projects, improve the way you carry out an existing task, or generate ideas to help others do the same. These activities are never very pressing, and this is why so many hard working employees fail to do them. Whereas the pressure from a phone call, a deadline or a meeting is immediate, there is little pressing need to do so ‘out of the box thinking’ or start side-projects. This is why you need to be very clear and stern to yourself. At the start of the month, set yourself a goal. Perhaps you’d like to create a ‘getting started’ guide to help new employees settle in faster. If this is your goal, then ensure that you set some time aside to work at it at least once per week. While the deadlines and meetings will ensue, if you have blocked off some time in your calendar, you have a much better chance of completing these attention-grabbing and value-creating projects.
Pay Rise Techniques: For Type B (Ship Jumper) Employees
As a ship jumper employee, you are in two minds as to whether you future is with your current employer. Try using these techniques to push for a pay rise and give your employer that extra chance at retaining you!
Technique 1 (Moderate): Asking for a Pay Rise
It’s cheeky, it’s ballsy, and in many cases, it’s common. Asking for a pay rise may be the most obvious method of boosting your salary, but in most cases it probably isn’t as effective as it could be.
The real key point to remember when asking for a pay rise, is to ensure your case is backed up by a solid business case. Managers, especially in tough economic climates, will not lightly hand out extra wages simply to keep employees happy. The days of purely motivating through the wage packet are over, and companies now prefer to grow an attractive and retentive culture, provide cheap perks and offer the promise of a good career, rather than simply increase your wage. Doing so is cheaper, and creates a more fulfilling place to work, and asking for a pay rise is challenging this new status quo. Hence, the most successor askers will be those who highlight how much value they have created for the company above and beyond what was expected of them.
Technique 2 (Hardcore): Demanding a Pay Rise
Demanding a pay rise can take many forms, but the type I’m discussing today is where the following ultimatum is thrown to the employer; ‘Deliver a pay rise, or I’m leaving the company‘.
This is a very extreme method to use in the search for a pay rise, and I’d warn you to not to engage with it lightly. Some readers may be thinking ‘It’s not that extreme, as you could always decide to stay with the company if they say no, so you can’t loose out.’ However the problem with revealing a bluff in this sense, is that you have practically destroyed your credibility within the organisation, and you may be seen as a ‘taker’ or someone who takes advantage of companies to squeeze the most out of them.
So, on the assumption that you are only using this technique if you indeed are indifferent about leaving the company, here are a few tips to help improve your chances of success:
Have a job offer from elsewhere to wave in front of management’s face.
Be armed with the facts. Research wage levels paid by other companies for similar roles. Are you underpaid in comparison?
Be ready to list reasons why you’d prefer to stay with your existing company at a higher wage level, than leave the company for another job. This at first seems intuitive, but you have to remember that as soon as you talk of leaving the company, management may be rather offended. Therefore while you are trying to convince the company that you are valuable and worth paying a premium to retain, you also have to convince them why it is still sensible to have trust and faith in you. Otherwise, the relationship may be damaged irrevocably.
So, I hope that in this article, I have not only given you a few ideas for techniques to try yourself, but that I’ve also given you a framework to use to think about what other strategies would improve your chances of earning a pay rise. A technique that improves any of the controllable factors will yield benefits, but some factors will be much easier to change that others!
Below, you’ll find one of the most inspirational videos ever to come out of Youtube. Randy Pausch, a respected professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the USA, had only 2-6 months left to live at the time of giving his now famous ‘last lecture’. Watch the whole thing below!
|“Going forward…”||This effortless phrase has given british management 2 extra seconds of thinking time since 2001, or even longer if one can over exagerate the vowels.|
|“Out of the box thinking”||Because just ‘thinking’ will never bring success.|
|“Lets touch base”||It’s an awkwardly personal sounding request that almost always results in a monologue email.|
|“Strategic Fit”||Managers uttering this phrase have clearly read their ‘Good Management’ manual and discovered that this is apparantly important for all projects. If only we knew how so.|
|“Synergy”||Is it possible that one keyword can increase the impact of a presentation by 77%? Yes, indeed there is.|
|“Value added”||Adding value is a common sense concept that has recently taken to the board room in force, reminding us that yes, some managers do understand how business works.|
|“Holistic approach”||It’s like saying nothing but at the same time, saying… nothing.|
|“Leverage”||Yes leverage was technically the reason why the banking crisis was so extreme, but I doubt managers would have time to reflect upon this fact, as they have meetings to attend you know!|
|“Knowledge Base”||Why have a razor when you can have a Mach 3 Turbo? In the same line of thought, its obviously why people don’t talk of simple ‘knowledge’ anymore. Where’s the macho?|
|“Proactive”||Easily the most overused word by candidates in job interviews, and mysteriously the most lacking characteristic in successful graduate recruits.|
|“Lets get a dialogue going”||Well, you can… do that. I’ll talk instead.|
|“Mission critical”||Were you one of the 99% minority who didn’t realise that their admin work was tremendously vital to ‘the mission’? You’ll soon be convinced otherwise with this solid reaffirmation.|
|“Networking”||Theory is; if you don’t know something, you’ll probably know at least one person who will provide you with a fantastic excuse for not knowing it.|
Some Terrible Real-Life Examples:
“This year has seen significant negative growth” (they lost money).
“We need a holistic, cradle-to-grave approach. “
“I’m a one-stop nexus for your outsourcing mandate” (consultant pitching to a client).
“Our organisation has an end-to-end governance framework .”