When it comes to ticking hard jobs off the ‘to-do list’, I must admit I’m shocking. I’m not the only one though, there are plenty of you out there who are just as bad! I mean come on, who likes doing the crappy jobs when there are some easy ticks sitting there in front of you.
A week or so back I came across a blog that gave a simple (but evidently effective) suggestion on how to get those painful jobs out of the way. Quite simply, make the first job you do when you get into work each morning, the thing on your hit list you are dreading the most. Before you leave the office each night, go through your list of work for the following day and pick out that job. Make sure you set yourself a clear reminder so that when you waltz in bright and breezy the following morning, that job is staring you in the face.
Over the last week I have been giving this a go and it has been surprisingly satisfying. This morning I had a moment around 10am where I felt quietly pleased with myself about what had been accomplished in my first couple of hours at work. Sure, when you think about how you want to start your day it isn’t doing something you aren’t looking forward to. But on the bright side, once it is out of the way the rest of the day seems like a breeze!
No unfortunately I didn’t get to pick the brain of Neville Isdell, the former CEO of Coca-Cola, but I did read his book Inside Coca-Cola recently. It was pretty good, not great, but definitely interesting to get an insight into the ultimate global brand.
Whenever I read a biography or business related book, my goal is always to find at least one takeaway message. Anything that helps expand my knowledge, opinion or perspective on or about business. From some books I end up with a list but from Neville and Coca-Cola I learnt one key lesson. It is very simple and makes perfect sense but I barely ever hear it discussed when reading or conversing about business.
It essentially stems from Neville’s experience during his early days working for Coca-Cola in Zambia in the 60’s. Back then the distribution networks for Coca-Cola in Africa were rather primitive by today’s standards. Cases of Coca-Cola were paddled up a river by boat to be sold at stalls in villages. It may sound inefficient but it worked and secret as to why is very simple;
“Everyone along the way, from start to finish, makes a profit”.
I know that in real business life, especially as a small business, it is never that simple with everyone along the way always after a bigger piece of the pie. But it’s a great notion to keep in the back of your mind when building a business that will be sustainable in the long term.
A considerable detour on my return from a holiday yesterday was far from ideal, but gave me plenty of time to contemplate the first day back at work for 2013. Over the past couple of weeks I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how we as a company, need to improve in the New Year and ensure we are prepared to capitalise on our continual, rapid growth. The simple outcome of these musings is; do the little things right. Its basic advice that you hear time and time again, but far too often it is advice that gets forgotten when big, exciting opportunities present themselves.
That brings me back to the journey home; after making a considerable dent in what should’ve been a pleasant 4 ½ hour drive home, we came to a dreaded ‘road closed’ sign…problem. The engineer was 2 hours away from assessing the bridge in question we were informed (along with what seemed like half of Christchurch’s population) and IF he OK’d everything then would be allowed through. Never one to leave things up to fate, we did an immediate U-turn and headed back up the road and nearly doubled the length of our journey home by taking the next quickest route…solution (not ideal but a solution none the less). As we wound our way through the mountainous roads of New Zealand’s beautiful South Island, I vowed never to leave on a long journey again without checking out the road closures online…lesson.
So tired and dishevelled we arrived home, but not before I had given some good thought to how this little excursion could be translated into getting the little things right in our business. Problems are going to arise in business, its unavoidable and often outside your control. As they do you’ll have to come up with solutions; fixing problems is generally a poor use of time but an unfortunate necessity. The key is learning a lesson to ensure you don’t need to fix the same problem in the future and using problems to encourage continuous improvement. I am going to trial this problem, solution, lesson theory with my team and see if we can’t make it damn hard not to get the little things right.
After a second opinion on anything related to running your business? You can’t go past networking; it’s interactive, fun and best of all free!
Recently I’ve been on somewhat of a spree reading up about what other bloggers feel a small business must do to be successful. Without fail, getting a second opinion or someone to ‘bounce’ ideas and thoughts off is on the list. But surprisingly all suggest a business consultant as the best option to fill this void if you don’t already have a confidant. This seems somewhat bizarre with the vast majority of businesses needing to be very particular about how money is spent.
While networking often seems like a chore when your days are already packed with meetings and a ‘to do’ list a mile long, if you make the effort it can also be extremely rewarding. Be selective about the events you go along to you won’t waste your precious time and it is highly likely you’ll be able to find that second opinion free of charge. Chances are they will probably be looking for exactly the same thing!
Since my earliest days in the workforce, gossip in the workplace has never been dealt with all that well by companies I have worked for. It always gets treated like the Elephant in the Room, everyone knows it exists but it just gets accepted as the norm and inevitable.
Left unchecked, gossip in the workplace can have a seriously damaging effect on both staff morale and efficiency. This isn’t ‘who had lunch with who’ type gossip we’re talking about. This is gossip about workplace related issues that are far easier to complain to the wrong person about, than sit down and resolve with the appropriate people.
In a small business, negative gossip about the company or people can be damaging to staff morale and can spiral out of control very quickly. Lower staff numbers mean less people need to talk to one another to pass around a story or opinion. On the upside, it also means the situation is quicker and simpler to deal with than in larger organisations, and the solution starts with you!
A decision to deal with workplace gossip head-on must from the leader(s) in the form of honest, open communication and confrontation of issues when they arise. Work with your direct reports on creating a culture where it is OK to call out people when they are gossiping and encourage them to deal with the issue rather than just talking about it.
To do this you can’t ‘be a chicken’. You need to be able to have the difficult (but extremely important) conversations and open up a path of clear communication between yourself and your team. Although it is sometimes a difficult step to take, the outcome is incredibly rewarding and it will also help establish you a reputation as an honest and trusted leader.