Surveys, Still Valuable to Your Business?

Making surveys work

Making surveys workAre surveys still valuable in your business? I have been asking myself this question for the last six months to a year. The sad problem is that I answer myself with the paradoxical “Yes” and “No”.

On the telephone, in the mail, on our computers, smartphones and iPads, American consumers and businesses are being solicited as never before to express their feelings about products and services ranging from meals in fast food restaurants to the latest consulting engagement you presented to a client.

I suspect in some circles there is a remnant of “survey rage”, similar to road rage, where people are contemplating the most absurd answers to the questions the next pollster or online survey they feel they are entrapped into taking.

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4 Favorite Business Questions I Ask

Courtesy artztsamui & FreeDigitalPhotos - Questions for Growth
Courtesy artztsamui & FreeDigitalPhotos

It is standard knowledge that in the coaching and consulting world, the best people are known by the questions they ask to solicit constructive responses.  While we won’t build a whole session on only 4 questions, they actually become door openers that will allow you to dig deeper with your clients. Business owners can also use these questions to examine their own businesses.

When we deal with companies of all sizes the core data and driving principles should be the same except they will vary in volume.  To discover the overall health it is best to focus on the core areas to determine if the company is needing assistance, solid or is poised for growth. The areas we focus on deal with employees, customers, processes and finances.  Getting a pulse from only four questions can be difficult if you don’t ask the right questions or you aren’t listening to the answer.

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The Chemistry of a Successful Business Strategy

Sheelamohan FDP 2014I have been struggling over the last year is to determine how best to formularize a successful strategy for small, medium and large businesses.  We, as humans, really love it when we can look at a formula and be able to see a tangible and repeatable answer.  Sometimes, we make a solution too simplistic and other times we make any it overly complex.  Now we can argue that it can never be too simplistic but I would argue that there are times when our simple mentality doesn’t go far enough to make a tangible difference in the overall solution of a problem.

Many times I find that we opt for the simplistic solutions because of impatience, cost or laziness which further complicates the situation.  So, how can we make sure we have examined all the vital aspects of a problem or creation to ensure that we have a valid strategy for execution?  Now I don’t guarantee that this formula will guarantee success but if you are honest in asking and answering the questions then when you look at the associated risks you will have a good foundation to build success upon.

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Five Meeting Attitudes to Avoid

7K0A0021If you have participated in a few bad meetings, you must have experienced at least one of the following attitudes.  Here they are and how to fix them.

1) Many leaders think they are meeting experts.

Many tell me that they know how to hold a meeting.  Actually, all they do is host a party.  They invite guests, provide treats, and preside over a conversation.  People talk.  People eat.  Moreover, nothing happens.  Alternatively, if they somehow manage to reach an agreement, no one implements it.

> What to do: Learn how to lead a real meeting.  Schedule a workshop or buy a book.  When results really matter, hire a facilitator.  Recognize that there are modern tools that help people make methodical progress toward results.  These tools are practical and easy to use.  Of course, you have to know what they are in order to use them.  Contact us at Transformative Leadership Group for more details of our “Dynamic Meeting Process”.

2) Many leaders think they are inspiring.

Many people believe that long-winded announcements impress others.  Actually, it’s the opposite.  A long lecture quickly becomes a boring (and sometimes offensive) harangue.  Why?  Most employees want an active role in contributing to the business, and thus listening to a speech feels like a waste of time.  If you don’t get feedback from a trusted source afterwards you are prone to recreate the issue time and again.

> What to do: Design meetings that give the attendees opportunities to contribute. Listen intently and make notes.  Plan & ask questions that help direct thinking & discussion towards a goal or specific results, when necessary.  Use activities that help people make decisions.  Distribute announcements in letters, memos, or E-mails.  On the other hand, if you must use a meeting, keep announcements brief (less than a few minutes).  Trust the feedback you receive from others and make changes.

3) Many Leaders think others agree with them.

Many people rely on nods, smiles, and eye contact to measure acceptance.  Actually, some employees will do anything to appease a boss.  In addition, if the boss seems to be upset, the employees will become even more agreeable.  Then, once the meeting ends, the employees will do one of three things: 1) forget the lecture, 2) ignore the message, or 3) sabotage the idea.

> What to do: Conduct meetings by a process that everyone considers fair.  Use consensus to reach agreements and make decisions, where appropriate.  If the decision must be centralized, be transparent and explain the logic and outcome.  People will accept decisions that they helped make.

4) Many leaders think others are clairvoyant.

Many people call meetings without an agenda expecting that everyone will arrive expecting them to share their vision for what needs to be done.  Actually, everyone brings his or her private hopes, fears, and vision to the meeting.  Generally, without a clear agenda, the result is something between chitchat and chaos, depending upon the complexity of the issue.  An agenda should be liberating not restrictive.  We believe that it is possible to collaborate without an agenda but that may not be so with a scheduled meeting.  The ability of the facilitator to manage the conversation will help drive the agenda decision.

> What to do: Determine the need for the meeting.  Write out your goal for the meeting.  If necessary, prepare an agenda that is so complete someone else could use it to run the meeting without you.  Specify each step and provide a time budget.  Send the agenda at least two days before the meeting so that the attendees can use it to prepare.  Call key participants before the meeting to check if they have questions or want to talk about the agenda.

5) Many leaders think meetings are necessary.

Many people respond to every emergency, surprise, or twitch by calling a meeting.  Actually, a meeting is a special (and expensive) process.  It should be used only to obtain results that require the efforts of a group of normally unrelated people working as a team.  A meeting is NOT a universal cure for everything.  Meetings held for the wrong reasons waste everyone’s time.

> What to do: Challenge every meeting for its ability to earn a profit for your business.  That is, make sure the value of the results is greater than the cost of holding a meeting.  If any other activity can accomplish the same result, use that other activity.

If you challenge every meeting based on cost versus benefit, you are on the way to greater engagement and profitability, assuming other valid communication methods are used to support the reduction in actual meetings. We can help you develop a new meeting strategy.  Just contact us at Transformative Leadership Group.