ANY manager or business owner will tell you that running a business or a large team can be a hard slog and incredibly demanding both mentally and physically. In today’s 24 hour/ seven days a week working environment there is always some important task that needs attending to or vital job that has to be dealt with.
That means it can be a really tough call just coping with the day to day demands of the modern workplace. Often it can be almost impossible to take a step back from the daily demands to attend to jobs that are not always going to be at the top of the list of priorities.
And at the same time it can also be really easy to slip into bad habits and working practises. When you are constantly busy and under pressure it can very quickly become a habit to find excuses why certain jobs can be left for another day or even ignored completely. Even the most driven and enthusiastic people can slip into the kind of poor working practices where some jobs or tasks are simply shoved to one side.
The human mind has a way of working that will allow people to trick themselves into putting off difficult tasks or demanding jobs. If people allow that kind of process to take hold then they will always find a good reason why an unpleasant task or job can be delayed or postponed. There is always a perfectly valid reason why it makes sense to take the easier route or avoid a difficult task completely. Human nature means that most people given the chance will shy away from the arduous or the demanding and always take the easy route.
But the key to avoid this kind of procrastination is simple and can be summed up in two words – self-discipline. Anyone has the ability to put systems in place to make sure that you can always stay on top of your work rather than constantly taking the easy route. The solution can often be something as simple as improving your personal planning and daily routines. If you have a well organised and properly run office then it becomes much harder to make excuses and duck responsibilities.
If something is written down in a down in a diary in black and white then it becomes that much harder to ignore or avoid. Just a few simple steps and some decent organisational skills can make a huge difference but it is vital important to have the right mind-set from the very beginning.
If you consciously adopt the right attitude from the outset it can make all the difference in the long term. It is tough but you can be disciplined and be constantly vigilant for any signs that you are allowing complacency to creep into your working habits. And if you get into good habits from the beginning and make sure you always adopt a positive approach to work then it is far less likely that you will fall into bad habits later in life.
After all it is always better to get to grips with something that can be done today rather than putting it off until tomorrow.
THERE is now no longer any argument or debate about the importance of the internet and social media sites when it comes to the world of work and business. The first place that people turn to when they are looking for a new job or challenge is the internet, it is now without doubt the most important medium for recruiters and for advertising jobs.
But that also means it has also become vital for individuals to market themselves in the best way possible on the internet. Fail to keep up and you will get left behind by competitors. Every sector and profession has its own specialist website but sites such as Linkedin have become vital when it comes to selling yourself to prospective new employers.
In fact, online networking and marketing is going to become even more important in the years to come as old-fashioned methods of communication and advertising start to disappear altogether. That means that for people who are ambitious and want to keep their career moving in the right direction it has become even more important to market themselves online in the right way.
And in a world where the workplace is becoming more flexible than ever before the internet has become the place where free-lancers can make contact with potential clients and get the word out about their skills and experience. The internet is a great tool to network and communicate but only if it is used in the right way. Far too many people think that it is enough just go through the basics in terms of filling in online firms and posting basic personal information.
If you want to stand out be imaginative and creative rather than simply copying everything else that is already out there. The very best marketing is always about being proactive and getting the right message out to the people who really count. That is certainly the case when it comes to the internet and social media. I would advise people to be always on the look-out for new opportunities and the latest developments. The internet has meant that there are always new opportunities to be examined.
However, there are pitfalls. The new form of communication is by its very nature informal and relaxed but it is important for individuals to remain professional at all times. Remember that if you are applying for a new job one of the first thing potential employers will do is check you out on social media. That is why I would always encourage people to be sensible and be careful about what information is out there online.
If you are serious about marketing yourself online then it is important to be continually updating your profile adding the latest information, skills and experience. The world of commerce moves at an incredible pace and if you fail to update your personal information and details on a regular basis then it will very quickly start to look old-fashioned and out of date.
Finally, the internet is all about sharing information and ideas and is open for everyone to use. Blogging and posting can be a very good way of sharing information about yourself while raising your profile in the market place. It stands to reason that the more you do the better you will become known.
One of the key qualities or skills any manager or business owner needs to be able to master is the ability to motivate the people who work for them. It goes without saying that to get the very best from staff they have to be completely committed and focussed on driving the business forward. The success of any business, particularly in the service sector or in a sales environment, is always going to be built on the quality and commitment of the people who work for it. That is why the ability to motivate is a key skill for any senior manager to have.
For me motivating staff has always begun at the selection process. As well as choosing the right calibre of people to work for the business the recruitment process also gives you the opportunity to spell out to staff exactly what is expected from them. The very best motivation is about setting the highest standards and creating a culture of excellence and in order to get that to work everyone involved in the company needs to buy into the philosophy and ethos of the business.
Money always plays a part in motivation and the reality is that people go to work so they can pay the bills. That means that if you want the very best people then you are going to have to pay slightly above the going rate. It is not just about the money, for people to be really passionate about their work they have to enjoy what they do and take pride and pleasure in their job.
The role of a manager is to create the kind of environment where people feel that their hard work and efforts are recognised. If you are continually heaping praise on people for doing their job then sooner rather than later any kind of encouragement will start to lose its impact. But it is always important to make sure that excellence and hard work is recognised while people who are struggling are given the proper support and encouragement.
The key to motivation is all about understanding what makes people tick and to be able to do that you need to know your staff inside out. Individuals will respond in different ways and a good manager will know how to get the very best from people. Finally and perhaps most importantly of all the very best motivators are the ones who always lead from the front.
Great managers lead by example and if you want your people to go the extra mile for you then you have to show them how it is done. Bosses who are not prepared to roll up their sleeves and make the extra effort have not earned the right to expect the staff to give their very best for the business.
As a manager or a business owner it can be all too easy to get bogged down in the day to day demands of working life and start to neglect key areas of a business. There are always demands on people’s time and it can be tempting to push to one side the tasks and jobs that are not seen as crucial to the day to day running of a company.
And sometimes administrative tasks can be viewed as an annoyance and a hindrance that get in the way of the kind of jobs that cannot be ignored or put to one side. It always helps to be organised and to plan ahead so you can be prepared and ready to deal with any unexpected events, but one task I never ignore or put off is my regular one to one sessions with staff.
As a manager I would always aim to have appraisals at least once every three months and I see them as a vital tool when it comes to running a business. Far too many people view appraisals with a mixture of apprehension and unease and handled in the wrong way they can very quickly become used as a tool to criticise and undermine people. In fact some managers see appraisals as a nuisance which get in the way of other more important tasks.
It goes without saying that where there is an issue of under-performance that has to be dealt with it is far better for everyone involved to tackle the problem sooner rather than later. If something is not right within the business or if an individual is not doing their job properly then that is an issue that cannot be ignored of put off.
But one to ones should never be seen as a negative thing or as a chore. I have always viewed the appraisal process as an opportunity to sit down with colleagues to talk to them about their work and how they feel about the company. Both sides should approach the process with a positive attitude and not see the appraisals as an arena where problems are raised and old gripes aired. The best one to ones should always focus on how well people perform and how they can build on the positives to become even better at their job.
And appraisals are also a great opportunity for managers to get to know their staff better. One of the keys to managing people is understanding what motivates them and what makes them tick as individuals. The only way you can really get to know people is by sitting down with them on a regular basis and talking to them on a one to one basis.
All the best run businesses and organisations are well run operations which have properly thought-out strategies and long-term planning in place. At the same time the firms which tend to lurch from one crisis to the next and are constantly fighting fires are the ones which are most likely to struggle and will eventually fall by the wayside.
It is far better to be properly prepared for every eventuality rather than having to deal with situations as and when they arise. After all if you are looking to build something that is going to stand the test of time then you need to be thinking ahead of the game rather than just concentrating on what is going to be just around the next corner.
And the same can also be said for individuals. Both in my business and in my personal life I have always tried to think at least one step ahead rather than focusing all of my efforts on the here and the now. I have spoken in the past about the importance of personal discipline and focus. The truly successful individuals are the ones who are prepared to make sacrifices so they can build for the future and that takes discipline and patience.
The principles of sound financial management and prudence in business can also be applied on a personal level. Success in the world of work and in business means that financial rewards will come your way. Everybody likes to be able to afford the good things in life but I have always felt that prudence in the short to medium term will lead to true prosperity in the long term. That is a lesson that we should all have learnt over the last five years, the fact is that if you are constantly spending beyond your means then sooner or later you are going to get into real financial difficulty.
We are now looking at economic growth and a return to stability – and at some stage that improved situation will start to affect people’s personal finances. And as incomes and spending start to increase I would always warn people to take a cautious approach when it comes to their personal finances and spending habits. Wherever possible people should invest in a decent personal pension and put as much savings away as is possible.
It can be tough getting onto the housing ladder, but owning property rather than renting always makes much more financial sense in the long-term. Having savings and being prudent means that you will have to make sacrifices but in the long-term you will are bound to feel the benefits. There is nothing wrong with being cautious and it makes senses to plan for the future rather than just constantly living for the present.
It goes without saying that if you want to be really good at anything then you are going to have to be prepared to put in the effort and hard work. To be the very best at anything you have to work for it, the reality is that the top people in any given field are always the ones who put in the most effort and are always prepared to go that extra mile.
But hard work on its own is never going to be enough to ensure you are going to be success, you also have to throw personal pride and passion for everything that you do into the mix. Success is always about striving for excellence and in order to strive to be the very best at all times you have to care deeply and just as importantly have an enormous amount of personal pride in everything that you do.
That personal pride includes everything from the way you present yourself as an individual in the workplace to your attitude towards your work and the way you deal with those around you. I have found that often people confuse being competitive with that urge to excel and having personal pride and passion. To put it another way personal pride is putting the focus on yourself and your performance rather than focussing on trying to outdo other people.
There is nothing wrong with having a competitive spirit but it is far more important to concentrate on your own strengths and abilities rather than constantly trying to go one better than the people around you. But to be continually striving for personal perfection takes an enormous amount of dedication, determination and staying power. The very first step towards that gaol is brutal honesty and analysis when it comes to yourself. If you set yourself high personal targets and goals then you need to be always questioning your own performance.
I have always looked at my own performance throughout my career and asked myself is there any way I could have upped my game and done things differently? The reality is that there is always going to be room for improvement in everything that you do, after all it is impossible to be perfect. It is also impossible to manufacture or even fake personal pride and commitment but it is a quality and attribute that can be developed and built up over the years.
It is all about setting yourself the very highest standards and always expecting the very best from yourself at all times. And it also well worth remembering that as a manager you are setting an example to the people who work for you. If you expect the very best from your staff then you are going to have to show them how it is done. If you want to create a culture of excellence in an business then you need to lead the way by setting a personal example.
In this fast-paced and ever moving world it has become even more important to keep pace with the changes that are constantly taking place around us all. Firms who fail to keep pace with shifts in consumer habits, tastes and spending as well as advances in technology run the very real risk of putting themselves at a serious disadvantage in the market place.
There are dozens of examples of major market-leading brands which have fallen by the wayside and disappeared altogether because they have not kept abreast of the latest developments and changes. In fact it often makes sense in larger organisations and businesses to have a whole department devoted to keeping an eye on changes and new developments in the market.
This is even more vital when it comes to businesses operating in the creative and high-tech sectors. The firms who have the best research and development and are completely tuned into current trends are the ones which tend to be the most successful in these kind of fast-moving sectors. And in some market-places it can be important for firms to be seen to be at the leading edge. If you are trying to build a market-leading brand in technology or communication then you have to get the right message out into the market place and make the right impression.
Being seen as a modern forward thinking organisation can be as much about public perception as it is about your products and business philosophy. But it is also important to remember that just because something is new that does not mean that it is going to better than everything else that has come before. It can be a big mistake to become overly obsessed with the latest developments.
Too many businesses make the effort of putting so much effort into the process of trying to stay ahead of the game that they forget to pay attention to the basics and the things that made them successful in the first place. And just as importantly it is also important to remember to focus on the changes and developments that really can make that crucial difference ahead of the products that are gimmicks or that have a very short shelf-life.
In age where so much emphasis is placed on change and staying ahead of the game it can be easy to fall into the trap of mistaking a fad for a trend. A fad is something that comes along and is fashionable for a short period of time before it disappears without a trace. Meanwhile, a trend is a discernible shift in habits that is here to stay. If you are able to spot the difference between the two then you will be in a much stronger position than many of your rivals.
All the best companies and organisations are the ones which have a great communications strategy in place. Leading firms do not establish themselves at the very top of the market by accident, it takes years of hard work and effort to create a leading brand and a great reputation.
The instantly recognisable global businesses all have great brands that are respected and recognised across the globe. Of course, you have to have the very best products and services in place to build a great and truly respected brand but you also need to get the message out to the market place. That means understanding your product and having the right strategy in place to get the right message out to potential and existing customers. After all, the very best businesses are the ones that take their customers along with them on their journey.
But getting your communications strategy spot on is not just about concentrating on what takes place outside of the business it is also about staying in close touch with those inside the organisation. All truly successful businesses need to have a completely committed and fully engaged workforce. And if you want people to stay completely committed and focussed then you need to be in constant communication with them.
It goes without saying that the bigger a company grows then the harder it becomes to stay in touch with all the people working within the organisation. In fact poor internal communication and red tape is one of the biggest problems facing the biggest companies. It stands to reason that the larger a business gets then the harder it becomes for senior managers to stay in close touch with everyone within the organisation.
But even in smaller firms and businesses it is important to have a robust and properly thought out communications strategy in place. If you want people to come with you on the journey then you need to them to understand exactly what you are about both as a manager and as a business. After all your staff are the ones who are the first line of communication with the market place, they are the ones who will be the first point of contact with your customers. The best communications strategy start from the bottom of the organisation and reaches all the way to the very top.
And if you want the very best from your staff then you need to be talking to them constantly and just as importantly you also need to be listening to what they have to say. Sending out e-mails and memos is never going to be enough if you want establish clear and open lines of communication.
Everybody involved in your business should have regular meetings with their manager so that they can be given the latest updates and targets. But just as importantly staff will also be given the chance to air their views and concerns. After all the very best communication is always going to be a two way process which involves both parties.