How reverse mentorship can drive fresh ideas, develop staff and help your business succeed

younger employees being a mentor for older staff

With age comes wisdom, but all too often in the business world, hubris can come along for the ride too.

After finessing business decision making for decades, executives naturally begin to conclude that their specialised knowledge, expertise and business skills mean that they always know the best way to solve a client problem, to win a major account, or to drive a workplace innovation.

After all their past successes confirm this. Subconsciously survivorship and confirmation biases are at work; good decisions are reinforced, and poor ones are forgotten – which distorts their real importance.

So, can these experienced executives learn something from Millennials? Absolutely! (more…)

What businesses can learn from the US Marines

US Marines Practice High Standards

The US Marines are world-famous for their exacting standards and ruthless efficiency. The conditions they operate under might be very different from those we see in the commercial world, but there are very valuable lessons that businesses can learn from the Marines.

Here, James Bowen and Brian MacNeice, authors of Powerhouse – Insider accounts into the world’s greatest high performance organisations – explain what your business can gain by studying the strategies and tactics of the US Marines. (more…)

Five questions that will add value to your bottom line

increase profitability

As a business owner, you are always looking for greater efficiencies, more productivity and some general cost savings.

One of your key jobs is to make sure you are always looking for ways get your business running more smoothly and more profitably, but before you jump in and make wholesale changes to the way your business is run; ask yourself these 5 key questions; (more…)

Purpose, values and goals: The 3 Key ingredients for a successful business

Purpose, values and goals

Striving to find a meaning in life is the most powerful driving force in humans. Acknowledging this as the key motivator for everyone involved in your business will help you to nurture the best achievements and results.

Neuroscientific research taking place around the world is beginning to piece together connections between the brain and behaviour, especially at work. This research is providing valuable insights into how to be a more effective leader. (more…)

Learning to lead your leaders

As a business owner, you’re also a business leader. And therefore, in order for your start-up to grow and develop beyond a one-man-band, there will come a time when you need to be able to lead other leaders within your business.

To do this successfully, you’ll need to develop a whole new set of skills and ways of operating because leading leaders is not simply a question of knowing what needs to be done and telling others to do it.

Instead, you will have to guide those leaders and inspire them to inspire their teams to deliver the results you need. When you can do that – you are a Super Leader.

To help you become a leader of leaders, in this article, Jean Gamester reveals 3 key steps, you’ll need to take; (more…)

Why building resilience in your workplace is good for business

According to Billy Ocean “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” – a sentiment many people working in business would echo and applaud. Tough is a word people often use to mean resilient. It may not scan as well, but when the going gets tough, the resilient remain resourceful, creative and healthy.

Studies have found that more resilient people are higher performers and respond better to change. They are more motivated, build better working relationships and are less likely to take time off sick or suffer from low morale. (more…)

Work Experience & Internships – A Guide for small businesses

Many companies are enthusiastic about creating opportunities for younger people to gain business experience and skills in shorter placements, often labeling these as work experience or internships.

While larger businesses frequently put internship schemes in place, many smaller businesses can be put off offering these opportunities because they view them as an extra administrative burden.

Many small business owners hold the misconception that they would take up large amounts of time, money and effort but this is not always the case. In fact, providing such opportunities can bring tangible benefits for smaller employers.

Here’s what every small business owner needs to know about offering work experience and internships; (more…)

6 common team challenges – How to overcome them and grow your team

As a business owner, you will no doubt, face some of the common team challenges experienced by many businesses today. When you do face these problems, you will need to know how to overcome them if you want your team to deliver.

We all know that dysfunctional teams are not successful. They will become de-motivated and in turn deliver poor results.

So, here’s how to take the pain out of meetings, handle tricky conversations and solve those perennial communication problems once and for all. (more…)

3 Ways to create a culture of learning, not blaming, in your business

Culture of learning Business of excellence

If you can create a culture of learning, not blaming, in your business, you are more likely to see your business grow and flourish.

If you allow a blame culture to take hold in a business, staff will tend to hide, or even cover up, any mistakes. This attitude can often compound problems further. On the other hand, a learning culture encourages errors to be highlighted so everybody can learn lessons from them.

To help explain the benefits a learning culture brings to your business, and how you can instil such behaviour in your team, we asked Justin Hughes, author of The Business of Excellence: Building high-performance teams and organisations to share his experiences and to explore a few of the key issues around a learning culture; (more…)

Training and developing staff on a tight budget

‘If you think training is expensive, try ignorance’

This oft-quoted phrase, attributed to Peter Drucker, is frequently used when businesses say they ‘can’t afford’ to train or develop their staff.

So it’s worth asking yourself how much ‘untrained ‘or ‘undeveloped’ staff are costing your business – now and, potentially, in the future? (more…)

Why the best leaders do less

Stop Doing Start Leading

How do you describe yourself? Are you an entrepreneur, a technical expert, someone who is good at a specific task or a manager? Or are you a leader?

Whether you describe yourself as a leader or not, the chances are that your business needs you to show leadership at every stage of its development. So how do you successfully lead your business?

Here’s why great leaders do less, and the 6 key steps you need to take to transform yourself into a brilliant business leader; (more…)

Making sure staff know their position and purpose within your business

Red tape… compliance… ticking boxes… costly… time consuming… frustrating… not my job!

Be honest, when you think about HR (Human Resources) in your business, are these the kind of phrases that first spring to mind?

If you ask any small business owner what frustrates them in their company, most will include HR and talk about problems with their staff. They will tell you about people who fail to do what they are supposed to do or what they say they will do! They will bemoan the fact that people constantly ‘let them down’. This is what they relate HR with… and blame HR for!

However, HR does not have to be like this.

Imagine you could get people to do what they are supposed to do and to the standard you need – wouldn’t that make your life as a small business owner easier? Would that add value to your business? Would it free up your time so you could concentrate on other aspects of your business?

Well it is possible – not easy – but possible! (more…)

Leaders tell people what to do – don’t they?

As a leader, it’s your job to decide what kind of behaviour you would like in your organisation. But, how do you find your own style as a leader and set the tone for everybody who works with you?

Here, Kate Mercer, author of ‘A Buzz in the Building – how to build and lead a brilliant organisation’, looks at different styles of business leaders and explores the concept of partnership at work as a guiding principle…

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Why business owners must embrace co-creation to create real value in their business

Co-creation is the joining together of people to produce a mutually valued outcome.

In business, it is the cultivation of win-win solutions where efficiency, success, and staff fulfilment march hand in hand. Co-creation brings many benefits to businesses, such as;

  • Team members feel respected and honoured, and they know their contributions make a difference.
  • Job satisfaction and creativity is ignited, there is a positive flow of ideas, and problems get solved in surprisingly simple and practical ways.
  • Staff remain loyal and stay longer because they love what they do.

For the entrepreneur, co-creation can be a challenge, a real anathema. The building of a business demands resolve and determination to push through ideas in the face of disbelief and scepticism.

For business owners who have honed such skills, co-creation may not come naturally. They struggle to let go of being in charge, and risk blocking further evolution of the business. Maybe this is due to a subconscious belief that no one can do the job as well as them – or indeed, a dread that others may do it better.

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Team Building – The best way to train your staff to really work as a team

Who do you call if a pipe is leaking? A plumber, right? You don’t call an electrician. And when he turns up, you don’t expect him to build a hypothetical model of the structure of your pipework and work on that, leaving you to sort out the actual problem yourself. You expect him to get stuck in and repair the pipe – don’t you?

Yet this is exactly what business owners often do when tackling the issue of building their teams. (more…)

A few small changes that can really boost your productivity

Technology is the modern day malaise. On the one hand it has helped businesses become more efficient, but on the other it often means people are switched on 24/7 – something business owners need to overcome to improve productivity.

The Chartered Institute of Management (CIM) suggested in a report called the, ‘The Quality of Working Life’ that the ‘long-hours culture’ has now been replaced with an ‘always-on culture’ – with devices such as smart phones and tablets allowing people to be at work all the time, checking emails, answering calls wherever they are. (more…)

Your business isn’t ‘yours’, and your problems aren’t all about ‘them’

When you start and run your own business, your company inevitably means more to you than anybody else.

As a business owner, it’s easy to get wrapped up in everything and become frustrated with staff that don’t understand ‘your’ business like you do. This mindset can lead to you spending too much time and effort battling with employees, and this is not good for business. (more…)

Why “Change Management” is the most overlooked driver for executive success

Uber has a new logo. And many people don’t like it. There are things we don’t mind changing – seasons, governments, underpants – but most of the time, most of us resist change.

For every innovation, from skinny jeans to a black Bond, there are plenty of us instinctively asking why? Why change? Why do the bus timetables have to change? Why do we need another damned software upgrade? Why can’t fat-free yogurt and smoothies still be good for us?

The questions may vary, but the subtext is constant: Why can’t things stay familiar, and safe? (more…)

5 Ways you could be stifling staff, and 5 Steps to harnessing their full potential

It can be exasperating when staff don’t use their initiative, or they go about solving problems in a seemingly baffling way, but often workers donning their stupid hats as they clock-in can be because of how you act as their boss.

If you regularly find yourself cursing the stupidity of your employees, then you really need to take a look in the mirror because your actions and behaviour could well be the root cause of this. To help you understand more about how you could be inadvertently stifling your workforce, let’s look at five common reasons for staff not fulfilling their potential; (more…)

If you can’t fire an employee you can’t manage staff

Firing staff is never easy. But if you have decided to run your own business then this will be part of what you will be required to do.

Here’s how to conduct positive feedback conversations with staff and effectively manage employees that aren’t performing satisfactorily; (more…)

7 Common HR Mistakes Small Businesses Need to Avoid Making

HR tips for small business

Running a successful small business is a balancing act, which requires business owners to be in five different places all at once, whilst also mastering the art of embodying multiple roles in order to service all aspects of their business.

Whilst, unfortunately this is just a fact of life for many small business owners, the competing demand placed on them can increase the chances of mistakes being made. These can damage morale, lead to high employee turnover and possibly see you facing an employment tribunal. Here are 7 of the most common HR mistakes small business owners make, but can easily be avoided; (more…)

7 Common reasons why employees resist change and how to encourage them to embrace new developments

Resistance to change can be a major challenge to any new initiatives you might want to implement in your business.

Most business owners will be able to identify some employees that prefer the status quo and find new developments difficult to embrace. But before we think about how we can overcome this resistance, we need to properly understand why people resist change.

Here are 7 common reasons why people resist change, and how you can overcome each in turn, to ensure that your staff tackle changes and new developments with a positive attitude;

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How firing under-performing staff can be the kindest thing to do

If Alexander Armstrong gave 100 business owners 100 seconds to name words describing the kind of boss they are, the chances are, “cruel” would be a pointless answer.

But some of the 100 would be wrong. Why? Because many well-intentioned business owners continue to employ some members of staff who, because of their results and/or attitude, quite simply shouldn’t be there.

Here, HR expert and author of Fire Well, Sue Ingram, explains to ByteStart how a small business owner should deal with problem staff and how letting an employee go, can be the most considerate action an employer can take;

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The Founder’s dilemma – Managing the transformation from start-up to growth business

Business growth can be characterised in several ways – sales, profit, employees…. and looking to make the business scalable and capable of achieving sustainable profitable growth is a fully understandable objective.

However, whichever way you look at it, the underlying driver is likely to be that the founder wants to look beyond funding his or her lifestyle and start seeking value creation. (more…)

Start up by listening your way to a better business

Employers and employees talking to each other is a good thing… right? Of course it is, but only if they’re actually listening. Key to the success of any start-up is effective communication between everybody in your team. But that means more than merely ensuring that all your staff know what’s required of them.

An employee can often feel their role is that of a worker bee, and all that’s asked of them is to get on with it. While this relationship can work to an extent, it usually results in frustrated staff because they know the business and can see how to improve aspects of their work, but there’s no outlet for them to share their unique understanding, insights and ideas.

So, if you’re starting a business, (or running an existing business), and want to harness the full talents of all your staff, you need to learn to listen actively.

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Are you relieved when a staff member goes on holiday?

When a member of your staff takes a holiday, do you feel like you’re the one having a break? While they’re away, does your time at work feel less stressed? Do things run more smoothly? Is being at work just more enjoyable? And does the workplace in general seem lighter? Do the people around you seem more contented, even though they’re taking on the workload of their vacationing associate?

Yes?

That can’t be right.

Well it’s not. And you need to do something about it. Otherwise, you’re effectively paying someone to sabotage your business. But how do you fix it? (more…)

5 tips to help you create a great team at your start-up

It is often noted that a business is nothing without its people, but how do small business leaders create a winning team when their time and resources are often taken up with getting the business up and running?

The key is to remember that a great team with an average plan will be far more successful than an average team with a great plan. A great team is one that shares a common goal, its members are engaged and work within an environment of support and trust. Employees who are engaged and feel supported are more likely to be loyal and motivated. (more…)

Team reboot: How to achieve employee engagement

One of the big problems for businesses today is that fewer than 20% of employees are fully engaged at work. This is, of course, a huge waste; for the individual, the team and the company.

As a company, you pay for 100% of employees agreed work time. If your employees are not fully engaged, this means you are only getting a small part of their paid-for capability – and they are not fully valuing their own time.

So how can you improve employee engagement in your business and what benefits will it bring?
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How to motivate employees and create a loyal workforce on a budget

A recent survey by the Institute of Leadership and Management (iLM) suggested more than a third of UK workers (37%) were hoping to leave their current job inside 12 months, and that a quarter of people planning to change jobs were doing so because they felt underappreciated by their current employer.

Other studies have shown that many UK employees feel undervalued at work and often it’s the small things that count. Last year recruitment website monster.co.uk found 58% of British workers don’t believe employees are thanked enough in the workplace, with 54% saying this left them feeling unappreciated and 41% feeling demotivated as a result.

So what can small business owners do to help ensure staff are motivated to do a good job and want to stay with you for the long-term? (more…)

Using staff benefits to motivate and retain employees

In an increasingly competitive business world, nurturing your existing staff can help you avoid a high turnover rate. If you’re constantly losing employees you find yourself spending a lot of valuable time training new staff, but not reaping the rewards down the line.

In any small or start-up business, one of the most important aspects is to find the right staff for the company. Employees need to be a good fit for any business, and in a start-up environment staff need to have the drive, innovation and determination to ensure that they make any venture a success.

While training may be a big upfront cost, it is vital to retaining new employees and ensure that the investment you make in recruitment and training are not drained from the business as employees leave the company.

So what staff benefits can you introduce to help you draw high-calibre employees to your start-up or small business? (more…)