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 …

5 Ways NLP increases productivity in the workplace

Neuro-Linguistic Programming describes the process of how we perceive the outside world or external influences and how we communicate this perception through the language we use. In the workplace NLP can be used as a tool to completely change individuals and hugely increase productivity.

By understanding the ways in which an individual or team interprets the world around them, you can change the way they think, speak and behave towards it. NLP aims to reverse negative attitudes and habits in the workplace to give individuals control over how they react and feel towards future events. So, how can you use NLP to increase the productivity of your team?

1. Set Objectives

The simplest way of implementing a form of NLP in your work environment is to make sure everyone is working towards goals. By setting objectives you are giving your team a direction and something to work for. If employees feel they are expected to achieve these firm objectives they will naturally work harder to make sure they do. They will also automatically be taking more responsibility over their role and the work they do.

This increases productivity on an individual level. Incentives for successfully achieving objectives can also be specified in order to motivate staff to succeed and thrive in the work environment.

2. Boost Staff Morale

NLP is a great way to make employees more engaged and content in the workplace and NLP training is a valuable investment. Committed and engaged employees will perform better than other employees in the business – what are you doing to maintain commitment and engagement in your business? Learning NLP techniques through tailored training courses and coaching will enable team members to reach high levels of performance by over coming barriers in the workplace.

Staff morale is an ongoing factor that a team leader or manager considers. Treating employees with respect, listening to their ideas and making them feel included on a daily basis will keep their self-esteem and confidence high.

3. Better Communication

Internal communications and client relationships are vital for a productive and efficient working environment. Making people aware of how they come across when interacting with others is a key aspect of using NLP to improve communication. NLP will help to identify adverse behaviours such as body language. Body language such as avoiding eye contact or slouching shoulders is generally a subconscious behaviour.

Once the negative behaviour has been recognised, the individual can work to change and improve. As the individual becomes more self-aware, they also become more aware of other people. Effective communication requires an understanding to others’ thought processes as well as an awareness of yourself. See yourself in the way that you would like others to see you.

4. Learning and Development

NLP is all about bringing together an individual’s innermost skills and highlighting their hidden, concealed ability. NLP unlocks the potential for a wealth of knowledge. Employees will be eager to learn and advance in their own professional development. This enables employees to take control of their own career and requires them to be proactive about doing so. A proactive, engaged and progressing team will be highly motivated and productive.

NLP helps the individual to improve in their job role by taking a highly performing team member and using their behaviour and work ethic as a model for others to adopt. You could have a team that is as strong as your strongest employee. This would have a huge impact on productivity as well as give your business a competitive edge.

5. Changing Behaviour

The main objective of NLP is to reverse negative behaviours and habits. How an individual interprets their workplace has little to do with the actual working environment and more to do with the individual. Employees have completely different experiences at work, even though the work environment is the same for everyone. NLP makes employees aware that the problems they face at work are usually internal, not external. Making employees self-aware of their attitudes and behaviours is the first step towards a positive change.

Ripley Training

If you would like to find out more about how NLP can increase and improve your business then our Introduction to NLP course is right for you. Alternatively, if you would like to study NLP in more depth then you should take a look at our INLPTA Diploma in NLP course.

We provide a range of high quality and accessible training to suit your business’ needs. Get in touch today.

Case Study – Eclipse Legal Solutions: “How we used training to boost our business”

The way an organisation communicates with its employees, and how employees communicate with each other, has gone up on the agenda of many organisations who now understand that engaging their people is crucial to business success. But how can companies use internal communications to turn strategy into action, and ensure that the energies and enthusiasm of their employees all point in the same direction?

Continue reading

Can Harmony Exist between your Sales and Marketing Teams?

It’s obvious that Sales and Marketing teams should work together. But at so many companies, that just doesn’t happen and the ‘war’ between the Sales and Marketing department can cause real problems. We’ve outlined some of the key issues Sales and Marketing teams face when working together, with some practical tips on how to get sales and marketing working together in a coordinated effort to achieve the ultimate goal: revenue. Continue reading

How to get the most from exhibitions and tradeshows

Trade Show Marketing

Trade show marketing is said to be the ‘biggest marketing expenditure’ for B2B businesses, accounting for an average of 16% of total marketing spend – which is more than online, email, print or direct marketing put together! So as  ‘exhibition season’ is officially here, and with all the planning, resources and money spent on exhibitions and tradeshows, are you truly seeing great results from your efforts? Continue reading

Sales & Marketing In Focus: Why You Need to Invest in CPD

No matter how established your people are in their careers, there should always be room for continuing professional development (CPD) to encourage personal and career progression – and help take your business to the next level.

Continuing professional development (CPD) basically means ‘updating and improving your knowledge and skills throughout your working life’. It might seem simple – but it’s essential to the ongoing effectiveness of your team. Continue reading

Financial Training – the next big thing in leadership & management training

Leadership & Management Training

 

Leadership and management training is well understood in the UK with many fantastic providers who deliver outstanding results in this field for their clients.

Leaders and managers can have the best inter-personal skills in the world, with the ability to motivate and inspire masses, whilst also being brilliant at what they do, be that sales, operations, HR, etc.  However, what if they don’t really understand the numbers?  And what if they’re not sure what the ‘right’ questions are to challenge their finance function?  How well will their organisation fare then?  Could it perform considerably better? Continue reading