Category Archives: Blog

4 Quick ‘n’​ Simple Leadership Tips For Improving Employee Engagement With Remote Teams – TERRY WILLIAMS

According to a Gallup survey, the number of employees working remotely increased from 39% to 43% between 2012 and 2016. I know the mice will play when the cat’s away but what are these folk up to? We can measure productivity after the fact, and should. We should judge people by their results, not by slavishly being merely present at a desk until the boss leaves. Ultimately, if they’re meeting or exceeding targets, then does it matter if they’re working in a unicorn onesie whilst binge-watching ‘Game Of Thrones’ to get up to date before the new series starts? (Too late!) Maybe some of those Lannister tactics would boost revenue?

That same survey says the majority (57%) of employees say they would change jobs for one with a more flexible schedule, and 37% of people would change jobs for an employer that allowed them the ability to work from where they want at least part of the time.

Leadership is not just about transactional production. Ideally, it starts with hiring people of talent, intrinsically motivated, whose discretion you have evidence you can trust. Technology might mean you are far more capable today of micromanaging from a distance than ever before but you’re likely very aware that probably won’t be a helpful leadership style, particularly with those high-value, high-talent types. That same tech allows people to multi-task, peruse social media, etc all of which diffuses their focus and tech shouldn’t be the sole means of enhancing connection, commonality of purpose and inclusion. Leadership of remotely located teams is still about creating and maintaining an intentional workplace culture, even in the absence of a literal singular workplace.

If Tom Peters once said something like, “The true test of your leadership is what happens when you’re not around,” what have you done when you were around to maintain that influence when you’re not there in the physical sense? So, what can you, in a practical sense, actually DO?

  1. ABC – Always Be Curious. Ask questions to provoke and promote action. Not retro-questions asking for progress reports but future-facing questions like “Between now and when we next speak, what issues do you anticipate”? Or, “How do you feel Caitlin’s work might be affected by yours”? Note the use of the phrase “might be”. Can’t be any wrong answers with “might be”. Bringing a colleague into the mix increases the likelihood of engagement as people are usually more moved by their impacts on colleagues than on you or the company.
  2. According to Khaneman and Tversky, push motivators are twice as impactful as pull motivators. (ie we are equally motivated by the fear of losing $1 as we are by the potential gain of $2). Be practically pessimistic (that is to say, realistic) with your updates and foreshadowing with your remote folk. For example, “What if your supplier is late”?
  3. As you should with local people, be specific and regular with your feedback with remote people. Keep close a list of their names and, as stuff crops up, pencil feedback-worthy news in so you have it to hand when you’re next in contact. And schedule those contacts. If you wait until you “have time”, you’ll never have time or will only make contact when there’s a problem. Then you’ll be the person who’s only calling when there’s a problem. Don’t be that person.
  4. Make meaning overt and obvious, repeatedly. And, don’t TELL them, guide them to self-discovery. Have you tried W.I.D.W.I.D. and W.W.D.W.W.D. conversations? W.I.D.W.I.D. stands for “why I do what I do” while W.W.D.W.W.D. stands for “why we do what we do.” Don’t leave meaning to chance. Along with autonomy and mastery, purpose (ie meaning) is one of the fundamental drivers of engagement, at work and in life. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, not because they’re tough but because they know what the point of the going is.

Sales Accountability

Whenever I talk about this topic with a range of businesses, there is always the dreaded look in the room where attendees begin to scurry into their paper, check their phone or decide now is a great time for a toilet break!

One of the key things that I encourage businesses and teams to look at is not necessarily just the group accountability but people’s personal accountability to the challenges and tasks that they want to achieve personally. Once we start to decide that our personal accountability around achieving the tasks that we have set for ourselves are important, our enjoyment and success in our roles changes almost instantly. Getting teams to start to realize the importance of developing their proposition, developing their opportunity and defining how they will be getting their key tasks done within a set timeframe, really changes the results in a business.

My key tip is to get your team to define out what are their key personal accountabilities in terms of what they are wanting to achieve in the next four weeks and then supporting them around those achievements. Those achievements may be work-orientated, personally-orientated, fitness, health, diet – whatever they are, it is important for us as a team to provide each other with a sense of accountability but a sense of success when we do meet our objectives. Creating accountability both personally and within the business, is now such a hot topic that it really does work in making changes in your business.

Grow your target market

When I work with businesses who are really wanting to grow their results, one of the first things that I do is to get an understanding of their current client base and then begin to develop out how they can grow their client network.

This may be re-engaging past customers, developing an offer or proposal for a selected group of clients or targeting a new region or geographic area that shows great opportunity for that company’s services or products.

By being able to develop out your target market, this increases your opportunity for increased sales but also developing new relationships which will enhance your opportunities in years to come.

One of the key things we must always remember when defining our target markets, is to be as specific as we can as to the likely clients we will want to work with and who will be able to provide us with the exact connections to grow our business opportunities.

The ‘BackBrief’ As A Business Communication Tool – TERRY WILLIAMS

What is a ‘BackBrief’? I first encountered the concept running a delegation workshop for a prestigious law firm.

The point of delegation is to drive optimal productivity, right. The lowest cost resource that can do the work should be assigned to do that work. The high-cost resources such as the partners, specialists and so forth should be doing high value work. Those in supervisory roles need to be delegating effectively, using systems to ensure work is done to standard, to time, and on budget.

There’s a lot that I could write about delegation and perhaps will in future but, for now, I want to focus in on one person. That person is a senior solicitor in that firm. He knew at a logical level that he should be delegating but his personality was such that he struggled. “No one can do this as well as me”. “Even if someone could do this as well as me, it won’t be the way that I would do it”. “Look, it’s just quicker and easier if I do it myself”.

Obviously those are just excuses and you can probably counter those excuses yourself. It’s short-term thinking, ultimately unsustainable, and certainly not optimal productivity. He was however able to cite several instances where he’d assigned work that ended up being poorly done, or not done at all, due to a lack of understanding on the part of the people being assigned the work. You could argue that adult professionals should not go around nodding that they can do a task when they aren’t sure. You could assign blame to the delegator who is ultimately still accountable for the work and its quality and timeliness. Better is to implement a simple system that invests a small amount of time upfront that ensures there is accurate understanding or there isn’t. Another lawyer in the room was ex-military and she introduced us all to the concept of the ‘BackBrief’.

‘BackBrief‘ is exactly what it sounds like. The person or people receiving the instructions give a synopsis of the instructions they just received. The person originally giving the instructions can then determine whether the message was received properly. If it’s a small task, then the ‘BackBrief’might be a swift verbal remark. If it’s a task of substance, then it might warrant some time and a small presentation.

It’s a great idea that I’ve been introducing into my workshops the past two years. Many professional non-military workplaces are picking up on it. It increases certainty and clarifies expectations. It lessens the odds of ambiguity, uncertainty and misunderstandings. It addresses issues around people’s fears of speaking up. It’s a simple, low-cost communication tool that people take to quickly, leading to fewer mistakes and enhanced productivity and leadership. Change doesn’t have to be scary, giant leaps into the unknown. Sometimes the best change comes about via small things like the ‘BackBrief’.

Improve your business… One month at a time…

1 ½ hours focused on Real Estate to do list – 8 activities for listing success!

This sessions helps Real Estate professionals identify what a great week looks like for them and the key activities that make you more money.

This session covers:

  1. Busy vs productive;
  2. Success actions;
  3. Your to do list;
  4. Create more systems;
  5. Key activity for listing opportunity;
  6. Calls, calls, calls;
  7. Creating a plan in concrete;
  8. Accountability system.

Create your weekly system

I was at a client’s business a couple of weeks ago and one of the key things that we devised for their business was our ‘weekly plan’.  What identified on each day of the week was the key tasks that were needed to be completed every week and on what day.  What got the team thinking was, “what were the things that we did during the week that needed to be done by a specific date?” and then we identified the days on which those tasks were going to be completed.  By creating this ‘weekly plan’, it started to give everybody in the business a clearer vision of what needed to be completed and on what days.  Since then, we have started to have the team looking at days the activity is required ahead and being able to identify things that they could be doing to make the business more efficient and getting these things done earlier and faster.     

I am seeing in business today that they are always in catch-up mode.  They are constantly chasing themselves to be more organized and get more up to date.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to get your ‘weekly plan’ of standard key activities that you are normally required to do and ensure that this is locked in for everybody each week.  From a manager’s perspective going through this checklist each day and each week, provides you a much clearer reminder of exactly what needs to be completed and by when.  Try this for your business.  Set this plan up with your team to identify the key tasks that need to be done on each day of the week and then start reviewing this on a weekly basis. It really does improve the output and efficiency in your business.

Creating actual processes

Many clients ask me from time to time how they actually design or develop a process for their business.  My simple answer is this:

  1. Take a piece of A4 paper , write on the left hand side numbers 1-30 then begin to think about how a particular component of your business works or the components that are needed. 
  2. By simply creating this list of steps that you complete for each part of your business, you will start to build a process that you can follow.  
  3. Once you have initially created this list of 10, 20 or 50 components into a process, the next key step is to provide this list to other people in your team that are involved in this process within your   business. 
  4. Ask them to review your list, add more detail or components that you may have missed to ensure that we are now developing a really strong consistent process.  
  5. Once this list has been created, get it typed into an excel    spreadsheet using an appropriate template.  

At darrenpratley.com and INK Consulting Associates we offer a template that you can use.  This template is designed so that you can insert new rows to enable you to move and develop your process.  Once this process has been developed into your template, it can now be printed and provided to the team in your business.  At this point we usually advise that there is a one month trial for people to be actually using this process day-to-day in the business.  What you are wanting to receive now is feedback on the process, how it is working and ensuring that there is improved efficiency and consistency.  Once this month’s trial has been conducted, the next step is to formalise the process and ensure that it becomes the consistent format for all events relating to that process.  This basically means that every time a particular job or function is required in the business, there is a process to follow and it will enable your team to provide a consistent, accurate outcome everytime.  

Using Compliance to grow your Business

Would you believe me if I told you that AML compliance is the biggest opportunity in your career to become extremely successful?

Business growth and Compliance can seem to be opposites, I know everyone is sick hearing about AML, and frustrated at the delays it can cause to the sales process.

No doubt, it does create extra work in the documentation and record keeping. However, I firmly believe that AML compliance done well is an opportunity for you to set yourself head and shoulders above your competition and create raving fans, referrals and repeats.

Let me explain how…

  • Seasoned professionals are using this as a reason to retire – Who is going to pick up their clients?
  • Cowboys destroying their credibility by cutting corners while are giving you an opportunity to shine as a trustworthy professional.
  • KYC Know your Customer obligations are giving you an opportunity know what your clients really want and deliver it to them while becoming their trusted advisor.

1stJanuary has been and gone, the REINZ roadshow is done and dusted, now it is up to you to decide if you will not only survive AML, but thrive with the opportunity it presents.

To equip your team with practical tools to use AML to create more business, book Cat for an interactive and entertaining 1.5hr  inhouse presentation tailored to reduce risk and make more profit.

To get a head start on your competitors, sign up for Cats online course “Growing your business with Compliance”.  7 videos and stacks of downloads, scripts, checklists and tools to help you meet your obligations while building connection and trust.

Climb Mt. Everest, lose weight, make sales? You need ‘momentary courage’

Regardless of whether your challenge is preparing to crash land an aircraft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (in the dark), steeling yourself to motivate your team towards a seemingly impossible sales target or losing weight – you’ll find the steps to getting there are the same.

You may wonder how can we compare ditching an aircraft in the ocean to team leadership, or even other challenges like weight loss, learning a new skill or hobby? Take it from somebody who has crashed an aircraft into the Pacific Ocean, climbed Mt. Everest and run 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents – the tools, the attitude and the basics are the same.

In my keynote I go into more depth on what those tools are, but here’s the two that you absolutely need.

Momentary courage

While you may not be a pilot or mountaineer, every challenge is your challenge and every challenge requires an instant of courage. I call itmomentary courage; it’s the courage you need at the point of decision – that moment in time, when the scales are evenly poised. 

You can either stand down, close your eyes, turn away, even surrender, or you can take the next step. 

I recall, close to the summit of Mt. Everest (when every step, every breath is life or death), coming across a climber who didn’t make it – lying across my path, frozen in time. At that point I could turn back, or I could make myself safe, assess my situation and step over him.

In those moments in time, I tell myself: “You need momentary courage now…” Just saying it gives you the courage you need.

Basic brilliance

There’s brilliance in the basics. Take any challenge, break it down into its constituent parts. Those are your basics. You’ll find that 90% of your struggles can be overcome by defaulting to the basics.

For airline pilots, when overwhelmed, its back to basics, “aviate, navigate and communicate”. When things get really overwhelming, those basics become, “aviate, aviate, aviate”.

What are your basics?

Perhaps you want to climb Mt. Everest, learn a new musical instrument or be a good mum or dad. None of those goals are any less significant than the other. You can do it. You can do anything, just remember – momentary courage and basic brilliance; they’ll get you there.

Get your team involved

A great way to help build your plan for the year ahead is to get your team involved.  Identify the key people in your business that can assist with creating your business plan and get them all in the room at the one time.  Have a discussion around what you are wanting to achieve for the year ahead and what are the opportunities.