YOUR STRENGTHS > YOUR FEARS

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WHO WOULD YOU BE WITHOUT YOUR FEARS?

Your Strengths > Your Fears

Me: What is your greatest strength?

Client: My honesty.

Later in the conversation…

Client: I often don’t confront issues because I don’t want to hurt others’ feelings and I don’t like the drama.

Me: So, are you being honest then? How do the people in your life get to benefit from your Strength of Honesty if you are unwilling to offer it?

It is these kinds of conversations I frequently have with my clients. And they are why I do what I do.

If my “honest” client shields the people in her life from her genuine thoughts, are they able to experience the BEST of her, or is she shortchanging them? What would her relationships be like if she showed up as her authentic self? How much richer would her life, and the lives of those she loves, be if she were confident in her Strengths?

How often do you hold back your strengths out of perceived deference? How many times have you said to yourself something like this:

  • They don’t really want to hear what I have to say
  • She doesn’t want to know what I think
  • He won’t like my answer
  • If I take charge they won’t like me
  • If I do it “my way” she’ll reject me
  • Every time I’m “myself” I lose friends

You know what we are VERY good at doing? Becoming what we THINK “they” want us to be. When we come to terms with who we genuinely are, we find that no one knows us…not even ourselves. We think we are an honest person, but then we see the truth that we tell lies all the time. Oh no, not the bold-faced ones; but we tell “white” lies or “fib” consistently in an attempt to be accepted. And what are other people accepting? Not who we really are! No, they accept the illusion we have crafted.

What fear is causing you to deny your authentic self? The fear of rejection? The fear of failure? The fear of discomfort?

What conversations would you have? What experiences would you pursue? What would you create? Who would you ask out? What business would you start?

 WHO WOULD YOU BE?

 

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THE BUSINESS INTERNAL SCORECARD: THE BASICS OF A FEEDBACK SYSTEM TO GAIN VALUABLE INSIGHTS FROM YOUR TEAM.

Business Internal Scorecard

 

How to gain valuable feedback from your own team.

This post is Part 2 in our series on “3 Things Every Successful Business Does.” If you missed Part 1, CLICK HERE.

The Business Internal Scorecard, as executed by our Team here at Vision Consulting Group, is something of a hybrid between an employee engagement tool, and a collaboration tool. It creates a feedback loop for both areas. The feedback it provides may be used for navigational and operational purposes.

Often, as business owners, we tend to believe that we stay deeply in touch with our teams. We think that we know what the team wants, know what the team knows, understand what is important to the team, etc. Others of us may even feel these things are of no importance to running a successful business. (If you fall into the latter category, please take a moment to read this article from Gallup: http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/163130/employee-engagement-drives-growth.aspx, pertaining to the sheer financial benefits of engaged employees. If you’re not interested on a socioeconomic level, at least consider what the data indicates about the financial impacts to your organization.) In between these two poles lies the typical business owner. We see the value of having the feedback but figure “Hey, we work together every day! If the team has something to say, they’ll say it!”.

Unfortunately, many times we have a very haphazard system for gathering this information, or we have no system at all. We just assume that we have all of the above-mentioned information and insights. Like many things, we only need a little structure to GREATLY improve our results!

Okay, here’s a practical outline of the basics of creating a feedback system – an Internal Scorecard. Think of this like you would a customer survey, except in this case, it’s not for your customers it’s for your team members!

Here are 4 key components to a good internal scoring or feedback system:

  • Anonymity from the top executive or owner (or at the VERY least – asylum from retribution). It is ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE that each team member be allowed to speak freely about things which might be difficult for the owner or top exec to receive.
  • A physical questionnaire in some form. There’s something powerful about the team member writing - or at least typing - in their answers, then holding them physically as they discuss them with an interviewer. An electronic document to be printed and filled in works very well. The basic outline – no more than 5 questions, ideally 2-4. These questions should be very open ended and answering them is not optional. For some team members, this will be difficult and they will tell you what they think you want to hear. For others, the opportunity to speak freely will result in a gushing of information - much of which will be of tremendous value if properly synthesized and utilized. Simple questions such as “What do you love about your job at ABC Company?”, “What would you do differently if you were in charge?”
  • A one on one, behind closed doors, meeting to go over the answers to the survey. Ideally this meeting would be conducted by a third-party, outside of the organization. This meeting will often take an hour or more. The first 30+ minutes will be an attempt to convince the team member that their opinions really ARE valued and that they will NOT be penalized for speaking freely, the last 30+ will be the speaking freely that ensues.
  • Synthesize the information from the team and analyze looking for patterns. Anytime a significant percentage of people (or number of people in large organizations) mention the same positives OR the same negatives, you have cues to help you determine how to make your organization better. LISTEN TO THEM!

The above information is by no means exhaustive, but it gives an idea of the basics of an internal scoring system. Additional value components of the Internal Scorecard can include deeper insights on the organization’s customers, products, and competitive insights. These would be tangential to the operational components outlined above, but very often insights come to the surface during the open communication opportunity provided by the process.

One final note on anonymity or safe asylum. Anonymity is absolutely superior to an attempt to guarantee safety. The only thing that truly guarantees a lack of retribution IS anonymity. Options for anonymity are to bring in a third party, or at the very least, use an executive VERY near the top of the organization (not the owner or top exec) to collect and synthesize the information and conduct the interviews. The purest form of feedback would be that collected by a 3rd party. There is a reason that bosses go “under cover” in their organizations. They want to know what’s REALLY happening and what people REALLY think and want. 😊

As always, should you run into a snag while creating or implementing your Internal Scorecard system, we’re here to help you get it done. Every phase is available as an al a carte service, and of course we also offer the entire process “turn-key”.

 

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THREE THINGS EVERY TRULY SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS DOES

successful businesses always keep

Three things you can do to ensure the success of your small business.

Welcome to part 1 of a 4 part series covering 3 things which are vital to the success of every business.

OK, to get started, we’d like to remind you that we know where you’re coming from. We’ve owned and operated small businesses. We absolutely understand that making the time to work “ON” the business rather than “IN” the business can be quite tricky. However, most business owners and executives would agree that time must be made to do both.

Let’s outline 3 “on” the business things that are vital to good business performance. These make a very solid foundation for that “ON THE BUSINESS” time that you’ve set aside.

  • Internal Scorecard – Knowing what your team knows. As a business owner, I understand, You think you know what they know. However, I can tell you from experience (both in our work with business owners and as one), they likely know a lot more than they’re saying; about your products, your services, your competition, your quality, your customer experience, etc. If you ask them, they will tell you. Yet, most small businesses think they ask, but the team members do not agree.
  • Market Scorecard – Knowing what your customer thinks/feels. just because they continue to purchase from you does NOT mean that they always will. In his best selling book Good to GreatAuthor Jim Collins quotes the CEO of A&P as saying “You can’t argue with 100 years of success”. Well, in 2015 A&P closed it’s doors. It was 156 years old when it died. With all due respect, the market determines success, and it will absolutely argue. A blind eye is an exposed flank – ALWAYS.
  • Competitive Scorecard – Knowing who your competition is – both inside AND outside your industry. competition comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes it’s not (Just ask the folks who were making buggies before the automobile was invented, or those manufacturing typewriters prior to the age of the personal computer). A constant finger on the pulse of competitive landscape is a must to ensure long-term survival, much less success.

Over the next few weeks we’ll open up each of these 3 components for the purpose of helping you know where to aim the precious resource of your time. 

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TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS = TAKING CARE OF PEOPLE

concert

 

The most important asset of your business is the PEOPLE.

I know it’s cliché, but the reality is that most of the business world still doesn’t get it!

Here’s what’s interesting about this subject: 90% of small business owners, executives, and managers would say that they agree with the above statements. However, if we look closely at our organizations, little, if ANY, time or money is invested directly into our PEOPLE. Yes, we probably have some picnics or some holiday parties, maybe even beer Friday’s or taco Tuesday’s, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Those things can be TEAM-building but they are not PEOPLE-building.

So what IS people-building? I’m so glad you asked! People-building is a process by which an organization takes an active, constant, and authentic stake in developing each individual toward their own success. This is personal development, not group development.

Here’s the thing; great teams are made up of great players. Coaches only orchestrate and develop the talents of individuals who are already GREAT! As business owners and managers, we need to understand that if we don’t invest in the INDIVIDUALS to make them strong, happy, fulfilled, and engaged, the PLAYERS on our team are underequipped.

Let’s look at an orchestra. Let’s say an orchestra conductor takes a group of musicians with strong natural talent and tries to conduct them BEFORE they fully develop the individual skills associated with their talent. Not only would that conductor produce poor musical results, but they would be in for quite a bit of drama as they attempt to bring together two very different processes: one being the process of building a great musician; the other being the process of orchestrating those musicians into glorious symphony.

So here’s the bottom line: Every individual has a unique offering to the world around them; a “talent”, if you will. Organizations who recognize this fact, and help the individuals on their team learn about themselves and develop in their unique strengths, WILL build great teams. They’re effectively developing the raw “talent” of each individual, finding the best fit for that individual on the team, and continuing to nurture that relationship over time.

Don’t have any idea what I’m talking about? No worries. Start by reading this short article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ekaterinawalter/2013/08/27/four-essentials-of-strength-based-leadership/

And remember, Vision Consulting Group is people-centric. We are always ready to help you learn about, develop, and engage your team! http://www.yourfutureaccelerated.com 

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HIRING IS AN ART AND A SCIENCE! 3 TIPS TO HELP YOU GET THE PEOPLE YOU NEED.

Team 800x650

 

Better Hiring Saves TIME & MONEY!

At some point or another, every business owner or manager has made a bad hiring decision. Though hiring can be a very complex process, there are some very simple, tried and true techniques which can SIGNIFICANTLY improve the odds of making a truly good hire. 

Here are three basic tips that should be part of any hiring manager or owner's hiring plan:

1.) Prove basic things early.

Since you know that you want to hire someone who is willing to follow basic instructions, consider including unusual requests EARLY in your application process. For example, your advertisement could conclude with something like this: "For consideration, send your resume, including salary history, along with your favorite food, to ..."

Applicants who fail to follow those simple instructions (or supply an explanation for why they did not) are immediately disqualified. As a small business owner or manager, do you really have time to follow that person around and see if they follow through on every assignment? Of course not. So find out early!

2.) Search for clues on how the applicant's THINK, not just what they KNOW.

Consider using simple, open-ended questions in the interview process. Try something like this: "Tell me about your most recent position. What did you love about your job? What did you hate about it? What kinds of things would you have done differently if you had been the boss?" The answers to questions like these will yield very valuable insights into an applicant’s philosophy and their perspective on a variety of work-related issues. ALL KINDS of flags, good AND bad will fly if you pay close attention to these answers. (Hint: Always try to use strong adjectives like "love" and "hate". These words evoke strong feelings and that's part of the value in the exercise.)

3.) Have a balanced hiring system. 

Understand that skills and expertise represent only one side of an individual's overall work balance and value. The other side of the scale is attitudes (IE, the way they APPLY their expertise and skills in a given environment or the way they DO their work). This less tangible side of the scale is often overlooked. That's why in a recent study of more than 20,000 new hires "attitudinal" misfit was responsible for 89% of hires that didn't work out. Again, the skills and expertise are rarely the problem...attitude is. (There are easy to use, proven tools available to help you identify attitude fit or misfit.) - Dan Schawbel, Forbes, Hire For Attitude

"I don't have time to worry about a "hiring plan". I need to hire help--NOW!"   

We've certainly heard that, and we've even said it ourselves! It's tricky; as Main Street business owners and managers, we typically don't hire until there's a clear need. This is wise. The tricky part is making certain that we don't jump at an applicant out of our own need, ignoring the flags that might be warning us of hazards ahead. Unfortunately, bad hires because of time pressure are all too common. Sometimes we just have to "slow down to speed up". The answer: Have a good solid hiring plan and work the plan!

Regardless of what shape your plan is in, put these three tips into practice! They WORK. Meanwhile, if you don't have all of the tools you need, drop us a line or give us a call; we can fill in the gaps and have you nailing your hiring goals in no time. Remember, our initial consultations are always FREE but bad hires are NEVER free. They cost you time AND they cost you money!

See what people are saying about Vision Consulting Group HERE!

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WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER HIRE A CONSULTANT (LIKE ME).

Vision Blog Hire A ConsultantSince I've vowed to be honest in this blog, I'm gonna jump right in: There are two primary reasons people hire a consultant. (Or a personal trainer, or a financial advisor, or a nutritionist, or an executive coach, etc)

One, they recognize that an outside perspective is likely required, in order to truly do EVERYTHING possible to produce the highest level result - and they desire THE HIGHEST LEVEL RESULT. Two, they seek validation that they have already done (or are doing) EVERYTHING humanly possible to produce the highest level result.

Now, to me, only the former of these makes sense. However, every year, small business owners spend millions of dollars paying consultants to do the latter. Even as a firm which stands to benefit from this behavior, this is disappointing.

Understanding that most business owners and execs don't have a lot of "free time", typically they favor direct, honesty in the form of practical business principles, delivered quickly and cleanly. 

Well...here's today's practical, quick, clean truth: Whether you aim to develop yourself as a leader through books, classes, or the advice of a consultant, YOU have to DO THE STUFF. It's like when you hire a personal trainer to transform your body from a Homer Simpson physique, to a Mark Wahlberg physique. You gotta DO THE STUFF. If you don't, you will remain the likeness of Homer.

So bottom line: All of the BEST business theory in the world cannot help you if you are unwilling to implement the principles laid forth, and experiment with how they impact your organization. This is why if you're "not gonna do the stuff" you should never hire a consultant (like me). If you're only interested in validating your current actions, save the money and use it elsewhere in your business or life. Because, let's be realistic; if I do my job well, I'm not going to pat you on the back and say "Keep up the great work!". I'm going to challenge you to see more, be more, and do more! 

 

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