Happy, motivated employees are something every business owner wants because those employees are more productive. Job performance is a function of ability plus motivation. Assuming your people have the ability, what motivates your employees? Do you know? If not, how can you motivate them?
Motivating employees is a core component of most management training. If you’ve had any type of training in management and motivation theory, it may have, in part, been based on the work of Frederick Herzberg. He was a pioneer and a thought leader on the subject of employee motivation from the 1960′s through the 1980′s. His theory asserts that the most powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money. It’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others and be recognized for achievements.
These are important and fundamental concepts to understand if you want to improve your team’s productivity and performance. Why? Because now you know where to start when thinking about how to help motivate your people. Your first job as a manager of people is to help them be more successful. You do that by having clear goals and accountabilities, documented systems and ongoing training and development. Then, utilizing behavioral coaching, you deliver positive feedback to recognize good work and habits. In just a very short time, you’ll see your employees’ motivation and performance improve.
A contemporary, Daniel H. Pink, has written several books on the topic of motivation. One I would recommend is his book titled Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. You can also watch the video of his TED talk right here (about 18 minutes) to get a brief overview of this theory:
Pink’s research shows that intrinsic motivation – doing things we enjoy, things that matter, things that are interesting or part of something important – is more motivating than extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is the carrot vs. stick approach – reward or punishment. He cites the three most important intrinsic elements of motivation are autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Based the concepts outlined by these two experts, here are 5 strategies you can start to apply in your business to motivate your people:
- Achievement – put your people in a position to achieve their goals; nothing breeds success, like success.
- Positive feedback – recognize your people when they do things right.
- Autonomy – understand their need to direct their own work and determine how to leverage that in your business
- Mastery – provide opportunities for your people to learn and encourage their desire to improve.
- Purpose – connect your business purpose with each individual’s work and their own personal purpose and desire to contribute to something beyond just a job.
Just by employing these strategies, you have the basis of your operating system for managing and motivating employees. Now, you have to put it into practice. Make applying these five strategies part of your personal weekly goals and activities and you will see improved employee performance because your people are happy and motivated.
Chances are you’ve heard the phrase “Work on your business rather than in your business.” One of the questions that I’m most often asked is “How do I find the time to work ON my business, when I am not able to keep up with all of the things I currently have to do?”
Working on your business means doing the strategic work of building a business – thinking, setting the direction, planning, and asking the right questions about your business and the future. The other type of work in a business is tactical work. It is making the sales calls, doing client work, paying the bills, supervising employees, attending meetings, returning calls, etc. – you know that endless list of things that comes up every day and prevents you from doing the strategic work.
If you spend all of your day focused on doing things inside your business, rather focusing on the outside, how can you ever move your company forward?
A lot of business owners feel that if you are making the sales calls, its business development and you are moving forward. Yes, it is possible to grow your top line revenues by just focusing on tactical work, but as your business grows, so does its complexity. If you’re not prepared for the added complexity, you won’t truly prosper long-term from that top line growth and profitability will suffer. You’ll never reach your entrepreneurial dream, but you will work harder and harder every day to just keep up.
Assuming that you want to build a business that does not depend upon you, then you have do more strategic work, which leads us right back to where we started, “How do you find the time to work ON my business?”
First, understand you can’t find the time to work ON your business. There is no extra time just hiding or sitting idle in your already over-scheduled, over-committed calendar. You have to make the time. You’ll only make the time when you decide that it is absolutely essential for you to reach your goals.
Here are three strategies to help you increase the amount of time you spend working on your business:
1. Plan all of your work
2. Develop a routine schedule
3. Use a “Stop Doing” list
PLAN YOUR WORK
Have you ever reached the end of your day, you know you were busy all day, yet you feel like you have not accomplished a thing? Most people determine what work they do each day based on what “pops up” that day. You drift aimlessly from one situation that requires your attention to the next, without any real purpose. You react to client calls. You get distracted by e-mail. Your employee has an issue that must be discussed right away. You react and respond…you might say you spend most of your day “putting out fires”.
Why not plan all of your work – plan when you are going to meet with clients, staff, vendors, strategic partners, etc. so you can give each of them attention in a proactive manner. This also means planning when you will be doing your strategic work (a.k.a. – working ON your business). We create a master annual plan, a quarterly priority plan, a monthly activity plan and we each have a daily plan.
I plan my work each day. Each morning, I set aside approximately 15 minutes for what I call “Daily Focus”. I use that time to adjust and map out my day on paper using a simple tool, my Daily Prioritizer.
You might be thinking how does that Daily Prioritizer differ from a typical “To-Do” list? My Daily Prioritizer is both a tool and a philosophy. It is what I use to think about and proactively plan my day. The difference is, I’m scheduling and making strategic work my top priority. Strategic work first. After that is added to my daily schedule, then I add my tactical to-do list. I keep that list to my top three to six tasks for that day.
ROUTINES WILL SET YOU FREE
One thing almost all successful entrepreneurs and executives have in common is that they have a routine – they do the same things at the same time each day, consistently. They are creatures of habit. As we just covered, one such habit is they plan all of the work they do in advance.
To help facilitate that routine they set aside, specific blocks of time to work on specific activities. They arrive at the office the same time every day. They conduct daily and weekly meetings at the same time. They set aside time to work on specific strategic areas of the business. They get into a rhythm. This discipline is a strong habit that they develop over time. It allows them to get the important things done and move their company forward.
Developing the discipline to pre-plan your work and maintain a routine schedule will not only enhance your productivity, but also increase your free time.
STOP DOING LIST
Let’s face it, there is work you do every day that you should not be doing. It is very easy in your business to be extremely busy doing the wrong things. You have work that can easily be delegated to staff or outsourced.
Every day, you probably have at least one task or activity that drains and zaps your energy. Now, I want you to begin to keep a list of activities that you would love to stop doing = your stop doing list.
This stop doing list is just the starting point. You then need a strategy and plan to get that work off your desk. You will either delegate that work to staff, outsource it or just not do it. Something’s have such minimal impact on your business that they can be eliminated altogether.
WORKING ON YOUR POINT OF VIEW
One of my favorite quotes is from Marcel Proust: “The voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes, but in having new eyes” or in other words, having a new perspective.
If you’re ever to become free of your tactical work and grow as an entrepreneur, something has to change, and what has to change is your perspective of how you view yourself and the work that you do in your business.
Reacting to what happens each day is not the way to reach your goals – use some of these ideas and make working ON your business a habit for your firm, and you will be amazed at the results.Read more
Most business owners do not plan very often or very effectively. You have seen more than one study which proves that companies that plan are more successful than those that don’t. I know you already know planning works. Yet you don’t plan.
I am not trying to lecture or scold you, but rather point out the reasons why most business owners do not plan. Because when you understand the reasons you can then choose to do something about it. Here are the common reasons I hear:
- Too small to plan
- Do not have the time to plan
- We are already successful, why do we need a plan now
- Do not see the benefit of planning
- Things change too fast to have plan
- I don’t like planning
- I do not know how to do business planning
It doesn’t matter if you’re stuck, already in your comfort zone, or you desire additional growth, there are multiple benefits to strategic business planning. Here are four fundamental reasons why planning is not just necessary, but essential:
- Clarity – it compels you to focus on the long term.
- Working ON It – it allows you to recognize the need for and manage change.
- Prevents Commoditization – it helps you find and keep a competitive differentiation.
- Engages and Inspires – it enables you to communicate and involve your team in setting the direction and building of the business.
Planning is a Critical Strategic Process
Your strategic business plan is the plan you use as a road-map to execute your strategy and reach your envisioned future. This is not the business plan you would put together for financing. This type of plan is something you will actually use to run and grow your business.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer to call this type of plan a business plan, a strategic plan or a growth plan. Documenting your plan is extremely important, but understand the physical plan itself is not the most important part of planning. The real critical activity is the process of planning – the way you and your team create, discuss and update your strategic business plan.
The real value is in the ongoing process and not the physical document. Of all the tools available to the business owner, strategic business planning is perhaps the most powerful for moving your company forward and giving you the feeling you’re in control. There is an opportunity for every business owner to grow more effectively and more strategically by making strategic business planning a standard process in your business.
As the year winds down, your marketing might be getting cold. For some small businesses, year-end can be a slower period. What can you do to either take advantage of the slower time or to reheat your sales?
Here are three often overlooked marketing projects that can reignite your passion and marketing efforts to ensure your continued growth:
1. Update your ideal customer /client profile – Creating a written profile of the person most likely to buy from you is an essential and useful tool for not only finding new buyers but also for being able to effectively communicate with them. Set aside some time to update your profile(s).
A good ideal profile is a dynamic tool that helps keep your best prospect and client top-of-mind. Everyone in your company knows who you work best with and why they will buy from you.
2. Clarify your value – Why would someone buy your products or services? A simple question that many small businesses find very difficult to answer in a clear and compelling way. One of the areas that many small business owners actually struggle with is their ability to communicate the value they offer to their prospects and clients. It’s not that is not clear to the business owner, it is more that they struggle to communicate that value to the buyer.
Often the difference between the most successful companies in an industry and the mediocre performers can be directly tied to the clarity around their value proposition. Your ability to easily, clearly and confidently communicate the value of the products or services that you offer determines how successful your business will be. Take some time now to clarify your core marketing message = your value proposition.
3. Update your bio / key employee bio’s – Today you have at least one, but more likely several versions of your bio. You probably have a version of your bio on your “About Us” webpage. You may have a handout that includes a bio you share with clients and centers-of-influence. You may have another bio that you use in conjunction with speaking engagements. You probably have a profile (or two) associated with your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ accounts and any other social media sites that you utilize.
Also, don’t forget about any web-based bios that appear in member directories for groups and associations you belong to (which you may not even realize are “out there” and possibly a little dated).
When is the last time you reviewed and updated your bio? Do all of your bios and profiles communicate the same message? Or are they all different? How compelling is your bio? Usually there is room for improvement. An easy, yet powerful way to make your bio more compelling is to include your core purpose somewhere in your bio. Tell the reader why you do what you do. It is a powerful way to engage your audience.
You can work on just one or all three of these marketing projects before year end. Committing to these types of marketing projects will make your promotional activities more effective, giving you a better chance to achieve all of your sales goals.
Why Business Owners Must Blog
A simple way to think about marketing is it is all of the things you do to get people to know, like and trust you.
One strategy to accomplish these things is through sharing educational content with people. Your content gives you the opportunity to share something of value with your target audience right from the beginning of the relationship. Content allows your audience the opportunity to get to know who you are and your point of view. Allowing them to decide if they like you and trust what you are sharing. This strategy is often referred to as “content marketing”.
The business blog is an easy tool for creating, delivering and storing educational content for your audience. For this reason, I believe blogging needs to be a foundational element in every small business owner’s content marketing strategy.
What is a blog? A blog (or web log) is a web based information and discussion site consisting of discrete entries known as “posts”. For most of you, it should be an integrated part of your website; while for a few businesses the blog is their website.
It is a good way to reach an audience online. Think of it as your centralized location to share your thoughts, ideas and business knowledge with your clients, target markets, centers-of-influence (including other bloggers) and the media. It is an easy and logical first step in publishing and distributing your own content.
I think educational content delivered via a blog is critical to your success as small business owner because it can inexpensively and effectively accomplish multiple marketing results for you. It can:
- Attract new business
- Establish your credibility
- Build familiarity and trust
- Share your point of view
- Nurture leads
- Communicate your expertise
- Tell your story
- Educate buyers and centers-of-influence
- Overcome objections
- Answer frequently asked questions
- Build your email list
- Tell client success stories
- Build buzz and fans via social media
- Encourage impulse buyers
- Inspire people to take action
- Clarify your point-of-view
- Get found via search (SEO loves keyword rich content)
Of course, content has always been part of many small businesses marketing plans. Writing books, creating white papers, case studies, articles or guest columns are all forms of content marketing. However, in the past, you would need the help of outside sources like publishers and printers to get books published and articles and papers printed (or reprinted). Then you also had to worry about distribution and potentially shipping or mailing the content. Expense and expertise were two major factors influencing how small business owners used content marketing in the past.
Today, with all of the new technologies and web based tools you no longer have to rely on someone else for creating and distributing your content. Everyone can be a publisher. You can quickly and inexpensively create, publish and distribute content. For the small business owners this is a great equalizer. And it is a very cost effective way to do marketing compared to advertising, direct mail, trade shows, sponsorships and other more “traditional” marketing methods.
The act of consistently creating educational content that is relevant to your audience, easy to share, “archivable” and of course searchable by Google is marketing today.
Your blog can be your go to marketing tool for sharing your content. It may just be your single best tool to enable people to get to know, like and trust you. This will lead to a steady stream of new clients.Read more