The price of ill-health in the workplace

According to CIPD research the median cost of absence per employee in 2015 was £554. This was lower in the private sector at £400 then in the public sector at £789 and the non-profit sector at £639 sectors.

The most common causes of long term absence include:

1. Stroke
2. Heart Attack
3. Cancer
4. Stress
5. Mental ill-health
6. Musculoskeletal

ACAS have been quoted as says that sickness absence is costing the UK economy £8.4 billion each year. It costs an estimated £2.5 billion annually to replace staff who are forced to give up work because of mental health issues.

If you need help in training your managers in managing attendance then click here for more information.

Or call us on 01423 861122 or email us at info@ripleytraining.co.uk

As a Supervisor/Manager are you afraid to give feedback?

Are you afraid of giving feedback to under performing team members because you are concerned with how they will react? You are not alone! Many managers who attend our Leadership and Management Skills Courses have booked places to help them address these fears and become more confident in handling specific individuals in their teams.

Best practice in giving feedback includes:

1. Prepare for the conversation ensuring you are clear about what needs to change
2. Getting into the habit of making it a continuous learning process by providing regular feedback
3. Be timely about negative feedback normally within a couple of days
4. Provide them with the opportunity to respond to your observations/situation – they might have a good reason for their actions/behaviour. Remember you might not have all the facts! Influencing you flow both ways on getting a clearer view so be open minded to the facts before making hasty decisions on who is right and wrong.
5. Be specific about what has been done or not done avoiding the ‘You’ language. ‘I’ frame the feedback so they can only come back at you rather the ‘We’ approach.
6. Ask open questions to collect information to enable you to make an inform decisions on ‘what next?’
7. Be clear how their behaviour/actions have affected others – includes internal (colleagues) and external customers
8. Agree what the future looks like and keep the actions SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound)
9. Using a coaching feedback style with open questions to get them to identify the solution(s)
10. Reinforce improvements and/or provide more coaching to maintain momentum
11. Be reflective on how the feedback went and how you can be even more effective next time

If you need help in developing and advancing your feedback skills then join us on one of our Leadership and Management Courses – click here for more details

or call us on 01423 861122 or email us at info@ripleytraining.co.uk

Employees suffering in silence with mental health issues

Two-thirds (62%) of the 20,000 people surveyed by Business in the Community (BITC) said they had experienced mental ill-health caused by work. Nearly a quarter (24%) of UK workers have experienced symptoms of work-related mental ill-health in the past month.

There is more pressure to deliver more with less resources, testing the most effective team members and leaders. Skilled team leaders will be able to recognise the signs early, take the appropriate actions and provide the right support, with the ultimate aim of reducing the risk, and to authentically show how they and the business care for team members.

If you would like to know more about our supervisors course then please click here for more details.

Or call us on 01423 861122 or email us at info@ripleytraining.co.uk

Do you need to fire a member of staff?

If you’ve ever had to fire someone, my guess is you didn’t enjoy doing it. I am also guessing they didn’t enjoy it much either.

However, it is perfectly possible to fire a poor performing individual and for them to thank you.

According to Sue Ingram, author of ‘Fire Well – How to fire staff so they thank you’ this is achieved, not by the words that are used, but by the intent behind the words. The same words can be delivered with contempt or concern – creating very different results.

The aim is to hold a positive intention during the conversation, but with some individuals, particularly those that are practiced at being negative or difficult, this can be very challenging. So how do you do it?

1) How do you want the individual concerned to behave? Professional, respectful, honest and willing to listen with an open mind seeking positive solutions? If so then you must first act in this manner. Fail and you give permission for the individual to match whatever your behaviour becomes.

2) Have the sole objective of the conversations to achieve the best outcome for the individual; that they become both personally fulfilled and successful at their work; be that with you or elsewhere. This in turn will also be the right outcome for your organisation.

3) Balance any negative feedback with positive. Often, when people receive negative feedback, they expand it to affect everything always; that they are, and always will be, useless. This leaves them with no energy to improve or confidence to resign. Give them the hard message but also make them aware of their natural talents, your appreciation for what they do well and with a feeling of resilience.

In summary, at all times recognise, respect and speak to the human being behind the failure. Do everything possible to move them into a job role where they will succeed, even if that means firing them. Maintain this as your outcome and you have greatly increased the possibility of being thanked as you walk them out of the door.

If you feel you need help managing staff, dealing with poor performing staff, or you need to improve your HR knowledge and skills – check out our range of training courses including:

Management Development Programme
Coaching and Mentoring Skills for Managers
Employment Law and People Management Skills
How to effectively handle disciplinaries and grievances

To note or not to note

Everyone tasked with speaking in public has the same choice to make: to make the speech with or without notes. The opinion of some people is that using notes is unprofessional. But is it?

In 1914 a young Winston Churchill stood to speak in the House of Commons. Churchill had memorised his speech, but part-way through he lost his way. He repeated his previous sentence, hoping that would jog his memory. It didn’t. Churchill had to sit down, humiliated. He would go on to make many impressive speeches, all of them with the aid of notes.
So if using notes was good enough for Winston Churchill, it should be fine for all of us to use them. Right?
According to professional keynote speaker Bob Ferguson, a three-time Toastmasters champion, the answer is yes.
And no.

“It all depends on WHY you are giving the speech in the first place,” says Bob. “At one end of the public speaking spectrum there are Professional Speakers. Speaking is their job. At the other end there are business speakers. Speaking is part of their job.”

Bob identifies two major differences between a Professional Speaker and a Business Speaker:

1. Content

Professional Speakers may have three, perhaps four speeches. Some have just one. The Professional Speaker will customise a speech from their arsenal for each engagement, but essentially they are repeating the same performance again and again.

Business Speakers stand up in front of audiences in a variety of circumstances, perhaps covering project updates or sales presentations or team briefings. They’re dealing with new material almost every time they make a presentation.

2. Preparation Time

When Professional Speakers develop their keynote speech(es) they spend a lot of time crafting both the content and the performance. They allow themselves time for research, rehearsal and trial runs. They’ll organise feedback from friendly audiences and hone their product.

That’s not the world the Business Speaker inhabits. Pretty much each speech focuses on new subject matter and will often be delivered at short notice.

Professional Speakers and Business Speakers may seem to be doing the same thing, but only in the way that Usain Bolt and Mo Farah seem to be doing the same thing.

For a Business Speaker, using notes makes sense. Their audience isn’t there to be dazzled by performance, they’re there for information. And if notes help the Business Speaker deliver that information effectively, what does it matter?

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about how we use notes.

Bob Ferguson says, “When I have to use notes I either use small flesh-pink card (so the audience doesn’t see the flash of white on my hand as it moves) or I use a speech map (rather like a mind map) which I put on a music stand set at under waist height. That way I can see my aide memoir clearly but it doesn’t interfere with my engagement or eye contact with the audience. I also put small props on my music stand so I’m not retreating to the back corners of the stage, where the lecterns normally are, to retrieve my visual aids.”

For those still feeling a little sniffy about the use of notes, consider this: What do these iconic speeches have in common?

• John F Kennedy’s Man to the Moon speech
• Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech
• Winston Churchill’s We will fight them on the beaches speech

They were all made behind a lectern … with notes!

If you would like help in becoming more confident with your speeches then we have courses planned across the UK and we can also come to your business.

How to Leverage your PR Wins

If you’ve decided to take on the job of generating your own PR, hopefully you’ve had some successes. Chantal Cooke, author of “PR Demystified; how to get free publicity by giving journalists what they really need” says, “Getting coverage is always a great achievement. But not everyone maximises the benefits of their hard work. There are five easy ways to leverage your coverage.”

One. If you have a website, add links to the articles you’ve been featured in. This could be on an Updates/News page or section, and/or on your Blog page. Once you have a large number of links, you could create a dedicated Press/Coverage page.

Two. Make sure you include mentions of your coverage on your social media platforms. Be sure to include the Twitter handle of the media outlet you were featured in; this lets them know you’re cross-promoting them, which could help you when you next pitch a press release to them. Remember that Social Media loves images.

Chantal says, “Learning to use image editing software is a great investment of your time. Taking scans of hard copy coverage and screengrabs of online coverage gives you a visual record of your coverage that you can use on your Press/Coverage page, or (suitably cropped) to add images to the likes of Facebook and Instagram.”

Three. Mention the coverage you’ve achieved when you’re at networking events. This will increase your kudos and credibility among your peers. The more they think of you, the more likely they are to recommend you, pass on a good lead, or even use your services themselves.

Four. If you send out regular newsletters, be sure to tell your subscribers about the coverage you’ve received. If you’re worried about sounding too braggy, wrap the information in anticipation or gratitude. For example, if you’ve been booked for a radio interview, say that you’re looking forward to talking about [subject] with [presenter name] on [radio station]. If you’ve already done the interview, say thank you to [presenter name] at [radio station] for asking some great questions during your interview on [subject].

Chantal adds: “If you’re booked for a radio interview, ask if the station posts recordings of its interviews on its website. If they do, be sure to include a link to the audio on your newsletters.”

Five. When you achieve a piece of coverage, include a link in your email signature for a few days. Every time you send an email, you’ll be promoting your PR win. Be sure not to leave a link beneath your signature for too long though; only when the article is most current. Achieving regular coverage means your email signature will be updated regularly, which sends a subtle, positive message to everyone you’re in contact with. If you become a regular contributor to a newspaper, magazine, blog or radio station, add that to your email signature too. Something along the lines of regular contributor to leading B2B magazine [publication name], or [subject] expert for [radio station].

Chantal says, “This is one of my favourite tips. Just think about how many emails you send every week. If you don’t use an email signature, you should set up one immediately.”

Follow these simple tips and you’ll reap even more benefit from your PR efforts; you’ll have people talking about the fact people are talking about you.

Chantal is one of our leading PR and Media Skills Trainers and if you would like to receive some tailored in-company training at your business then register your interest through our course page here.

This time next year Rodney, we’ll be Millionaires!

Most business owners are not Derek Trotter, but many share Del Boy’s ambition when they start out; they see themselves at the helm of a multi-million pound business, perhaps even a multi-billion pound business.

But here’s the harsh reality: statistically, only 4% of business owners ever reach the £1million mark, and only 10% of £1million businesses ever reach the £10million mark (that’s 0.4% of all business owners).

So what’s getting in the way of 2.5 million UK businesses punching through that £1million barrier?

Multi-award-winning business coach Shweta Jhajharia puts it down to something called the Complexity Ceiling.

“The first year of the life of a business is the most critical,” says Shweta. “The start-up year defines whether a business has any survival potential and whether it has the potential to reach the £1million mark.”

Shweta points out that no formal education or qualification is required to starting a business. On one hand, that’s great. Anyone can do it. On the other hand, the ease with which people can start their own business can lead many people to assume that what they already know will see them through. However, it most cases, new business owners discover they have a lot to learn, and much of their first year is spent finding their feet.

And if a business makes this kind of start, it builds the pillars that support the ceiling it will eventually hit. “A business reaches this ceiling when it becomes trapped in what is sometimes called the Hindu Rate of Growth,” explains Shweta. “That’s an average growth rate of around 3% each year, which, most of the time, is just enough to keep pace with inflation. If a £500,000-size business grows at 3% every year, how long will it take to cross the £1million mark? The answer, despite the magic of compounding, is 24 years! Many business owners will have already looked at succession or retirement before those 24 years are up.”

For a business to reach the £1million mark before its owner starts yearning for more time on the golf course, it needs to employ new systems to allow growth to happen. “But because of the way many businesses operated as a start-up, further improvement and growth is too complex for them to handle and pursue,” says Shweta. “What allowed many entrepreneurs to run a successful small business simply cannot support larger, more complex teams and issues.”
So what can someone with a great business idea do to ensure their start-up makes the best possible start?

The advice from Shweta is simple: find out what you don’t know: “For example, a key skill is mastering the language of numbers. Profit, Sales, Cash Flow, Receivables, Assets, Equity, ROI, Average Value Sale, Conversion Rate. These are all numbers that the professional business person must be fluent in. It’s not enough just to understand these numbers, they need to be leveraged for every decision in the business. In marketing, sales, team management and leadership there are key metrics to measure, estimate and average in order to evaluate the probability of effects and justify decisions and calculated risks that will lead to sustainable growth.”

But how does a fledgling entrepreneur find out what they don’t know? They ask. Mike Smith from Ripley Training says “one of the most efficient way is to access training like Finance for Non-Financial Managers, Leadership and Sales and Marketing to help you to develop and enhance your skills and knowledge. Accessing external training and follow up coaching can give you a clearer view on your business and how you plan for the future. If time is on your side, you could also combine this approach with joining a local chamber or networking group and learn from your peers.”

Whichever route you choose, here’s to this time next year …

10 Reasons your Public Speaking is sending the audience to sleep

Public speaking is an art – ask anyone who’s sat through a poor presentation.

It’s a sad fact, but overall the standard of public speaking falls well below where it should be, and that’s a pity, because being an accomplished speaker is an excellent route to raising a business profile.

And with that in mind, here are some pointers from Barbara Moynihan, a Past President of Toastmasters International (Dun Laoghaire club). Barbara believes there are 10 ways a public speaker can sabotage their presentation:

1. Poor rapport. The easiest way to get an audience on your side is to smile, start on time, dress appropriately for the occasion, and ensure you finish on time.

2. Not being authentic. The best speakers are confident, and it’s easier to be confident if you’re comfortable, and it’s easier to be comfortable if you’re being yourself. But sometimes we need to practice being ourselves. Try recording yourself on your phone, or even video yourself. Is the person you see and hear really you, or someone who looks like you pretending to be something you’re not?

3. Not minding the gap. Silence can speak volumes. Emphasise your key points by using pauses to add impact.

4. Being stone-faced. Engage the audience by engaging the 80 muscles in our face. You can produce around 7,000 facial gestures. Use more than one.

5. Avoiding the audience. Don’t be afraid, look them in the eyes. Do not spend your talk turning away from the audience to read from your PowerPoint. Slides should enhance your talk, not act as subtitles.

6. Too much tech-talk. Avoid TLAs. People don’t like it when they don’t understand Three Letter Acronyms. Unnecessary technical detail is another turn-off. Keep your message simple, and in English.

7. Being too serious. Everyone likes to laugh, but that doesn’t mean you have to be Michael McIntyre. If you can tell a joke, great. But if that’s not you, there are other ways to inject humour into your presentation. Try anecdotes, relevant pictures or short movie clips; Google and YouTube are your friends.

8. Poor planning. Your presentation is like a novel or a movie. It needs a beginning, a middle and an end. Keep the structure of your talk simple, with clear signposts and transitions to help your audience follow your narrative.

9. Lacking energy. Don’t be Mister or Ms Monotone. Project your voice, vary your pace and pitch, and be animated, using gestures to emphasise points.

10. Being boring. Adjectives, adverbs, metaphors and similes are what Toastmasters champion Andrew Brammer calls “linguistic sparklers”. Remember to sparkle.

Hopefully those tips will encourage you to polish your presentation skills and reap the benefits of public speaking. And if you really want to be inspired, join us on our Keynote Speaker Course and we will help you sparkle in front of your next audience.

Is your Year-End helping or hindering your business?

Every business, whatever its size, must produce and file, company accounts . In that you have no choice – but you can choose WHEN you do it.

In most cases, a company can choose whatever year end is most convenient and makes sense both commercially and financially.

So how do you decide what year end is best for your business?

We spoke to Carol Cheesman of Cheesmans Accountants to get some pointers:

1) Stock levels: If you carry stock you will need to assess the level of stock that you are holding at the year end. This will probably mean counting it, valuing it, and considering whether it is of a fair value etc. It would therefore not seem sensible to choose a year end when your stock is at its maximum. Far easier would be a period when stocks are usually at their lowest.

2) Time resource: Consider the amount of time it takes, and the inconvenience caused, by having to prepare annual accounts and, if necessary, undergo an audit. You don’t want this to happen at your busiest time – so choose a year end that will avoid the work taking place during this period.

3) Commerciality. Does everybody else in your industry have a 31st October year end? Would that therefore be sensible if competitors are comparing results? Does the industry as a whole report on participants results and therefore do you always want to be out of sync?

4) Tax payment dates: For a corporate entity the tax has to be paid within nine months and one day of the year end – so choose a year end that works for your cash flow when it comes times to pay your tax.

5) Don’t necessarily settle for the default: With a corporate entity your year-end will automatically be the month in which you incorporated. However, the directors are able to change the year end by passing the relevant resolution and completing the relevant forms for filing with the Registrar of Companies.

6) VAT quarters: To make your life easier, consider when your VAT quarters are made up to (assuming you are VAT registered). It will save you time and be easier to manage if they tie-in with your year end. You can write to HM Revenue and Customs and ask them to bring your VAT quarter in line with your accounting period.

In conclusion, taking the time to consider the impact of your year-end date, and changing it if necessary, can save you time, resource and money.

We offer a number of courses to help you becoming more confident and skilled in how you manage your company financials and these can be viewed by following this link.

MARKETING TIPS #5: Make your life easier with free apps and cloud collaboration tools

As a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats, juggling marketing and finances with sales and operations. Make your life easier with the right apps, either free or low cost.

William Buist from xTen suggests checking out Evernote for business cards and HootSuite for social media management.

Entrepreneur Taimur Khan recommends productivity app Skylightit.com – which can keep all your emails and documents in one place and make billing for your time quicker and easier.

Starting and running a small business has never been cheap or easy, and these apps make the process a bit simpler and more affordable. Accounting (Xero, Freshbooks, Sage) CRM (Capsule, Nimble) Marketing automation (Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, etc), Documents, Presentations etc. (Office365, Google Apps) Mobile video chats (Hangouts, Facetime, Skype) mean that no matter where clients, consultants or suppliers are located you can collaborate and talk in real time, all from your smart phone.

Planning what you use and why, who else needs access and when, are key strategic questions. 2015 is the year these tools really deliver directly to your bottom line.

Back to Marketing Tips #4

More information on our PR and Media Skills Course at your business