A-Head for Success

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Which Stress Personality Are You?

Stress is a very personal thing.  What might be stressful to one person, can be motivational and energising to another and comforting to yet someone else.

Yes, stress is very subjective.  However, most people would agree that stress concerns how we perceive the demands which we face in life.  If we don’t feel up to the challenges, or aren’t motivated by them, they will be stressful and draining.  In the short-term this can affect performance and teamwork.  In the long-term it can affect health and profit.

An opposite of stress is flow – when you are energised, work seems easy, you are able to give fully of yourself and time goes quickly.  You are in your flow when you do something you like and which comes naturally to you.  How you can enjoy more flow will depend on your profile – a subject which we will be addressing in this article.  Another opposite of stress is boredom.  And in many ways, this is simply another form of stress.  So the first thing to do to overcome stress and enjoy more flow is to understand yourself better so that there is less boredom, less tension and more playing to your strengths.

I use a variety of psychometric tools and one of them is called Talent Dynamics.  This is a simple tool which helps you to understand yourself more fully so that you experience less stress and more flow.

It suggests four main profiles.  I will share the main characteristics of each, as well as how each will experience stress and, at the same time, how each causes stress to others.  I will finish with a few pointers on how to deal with that particular profile. It is a longer article than usual, so get yourself a coffee and enjoy.  Even if you don’t identify with a particular profile, it provides insights into people who might be causing you stress, so it’s worth the 10 minutes it takes to read it.

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How much is stress costing you?

Employee Wellness

Stress and Wellness – Priceless?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have published research which shows that if you are not actively managing employee wellbeing, it is likely to cost you £554 per employee per year in sickness absence alone.  But what is the cost of stressed out employees who do turn up day in and day out?  And what is the cost if you run your own business?

Pressure on performance

With most people working longer hours than they ever have before, chasing tougher targets and meeting tighter deadlines, the continued stress levels affect not only the wellbeing of the individual, but can significantly impact teamwork, performance, productivity, customer service levels and, of course, the bottom line.  It also means that managers are spending much more time managing performance than they are managing the business.

Is ignorance bliss?

Ignoring the problem does not make it go away.  If anything, it makes it worse.  One way or another, your business will pay the price.  And stress does not isolate neatly around the individual – it can put pressure on others who have to pick up the pieces.

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Enjoying More Flow – The Steel

Steel

This is the last in the series of articles which explore your personality profile to help you understand how you can enjoy more flow and less stress in your day to day life.  As this is the last article, I will also use it to serve as a summary.

What is flow?

First of all flow can be considered as that feeling where you are at your best, highly motivated, focused and productive.  Work feels like fun.  Like a top athlete, you are ‘in the zone’.

The biggest secret to having more flow

There are many ways you can be more productive.  But to have more flow, the best approach is to play to your strengths.

We can pretty much put our minds to anything we want to, but, if we are doing something which is not a natural strength to us, it takes a lot of thought and effort.  It is more stressful and you are likely to be prone to more mistakes.  Not only that, it is less likely you will enjoy it.

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Enjoying More Flow – The Tempo

Enjoying More Flow - The Tempo

Welcome to the third in the series of how to enjoy more flow in your day to day life.  What does this mean?  When you are in your flow, you are motivated, energised, you are productive and everything seems easy to you.  The key to enjoying this is to play to your strengths as much as you possibly can.

One way of understanding your strengths is to have a profile done.  Talent Dynamics is one of several that I use and it has four main types.  Today we will look at the third type – what is called The Tempo.  But it isn’t the name that’s important, it’s the characteristics.

Of course at work it is rarely possible to have a job which only plays to your strengths.  In reality, most people find that there are parts of their job that fits you so perfectly.  It is far more likely that there are elements of your job that you dread, that may take a lot of mental energy and that take you longer to do than you think it should.  But by doing a job which plays mostly to your strengths, and managing your time so your day is not affected too much by the other tasks, you will notice your productivity increases.

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Enjoying More Flow – The Blaze

flow and productivitySo far in this series, we have looked at what flow means and we have looked at the profile of the Dynamo.  Today we are going to focus on The Blaze and what they need to do to enjoy more flow in their work life.

One of the main factors in enjoying more flow is to really understand your strengths and how to play to them.  So, as you read this article, do consider whether this profile describes you and what you need to do to create more flow.  There is no ‘best’ profile as each brings its own strengths and challenges.  By becoming more aware of what you bring to each activity and how to leverage these, you can enjoy more flow, less stress and more productivity.

It does not mean that if something is not a strength for you then you are doomed to fail in that category.  It does mean you need to be uber-conscious of what you are doing, why and how, to make sure you are being as effective as possible.  It will not flow in the same way as a natural strength, but you can become competent.  So, if you don’t identify with this profile, you might want to consider how the lack of the strengths of this profile could benefit you in your working life and how you might be able to develop some of that.

So, what is a Blaze?  The strongest characteristic of the Blaze is their sociability. 

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Enjoying More Flow – The Dynamo

stress

In my last article I shared with you the general principles of flow and how to get more of it.  A big part of enjoying more flow is understanding your strengths and how to play to them.   In this article, I am going to share with you the characteristics of one particular personality type – the Dynamo – and would invite you to determine whether or not this is you.   Each type has its strengths and its challenges.  The key to flow, stress resilience and productivity is learning how to be more conscious about what you bring into each activity.  Just because something is not a particular strength, doesn’t mean you can’t do it – it just takes more thought and effort.

So, what is a Dynamo?  They are people who are highly creative, competitive, visionary and goal-driven.  They tend to be more task-focused than people-focused and are great at getting things done.  They tend to be impatient though and dislike being constrained by rules.  If you think you are a Dynamo, you are probably a great starter but need to make sure that you finish things off or have a team that will do that for you.  Otherwise you will have a lot of projects that do not have sufficient ongoing attention to have continuing benefit. 

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How to Enjoy More Flow and Less Stress

HOW TO ENJOY MORE FLOW AND LESS STRESS
What is flow?  It is that sense of being in the zone, where everything seems easy.  You feel empowered and in control.  You have more flow when you are playing to your strengths, because your strengths tend to be what you enjoy.

Having more flow is to experience more motivation, more energy and more fun in your work.  You are able to navigate challenging situations more easily because you have a foundation of inner resourcefulness to support you.

You make fewer mistakes too because your concentration improves.

This all means you are less stressed and more productive.

Like a top athlete in the zone, you are super-focused, super-motivated and you perform at your best.

So, what can you do to experience more flow?  Here are my tips to help you:

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What’s the Difference Between a Coach, a Mentor and a Consultant?

The difference between a coach and a mentor

They say that all the best people get support to get them to the top and to keep them there.  It is a sign of vision, strength, and drive to want to take your performance and productivity seriously enough to invest in yourself and your business in this way.  But how do you know what kind of support you need? 

I am often asked the difference between a coach, a mentor and a consultant.  As I use a blend of these techniques when I work with my clients, I thought I would share them with you.  Whereas there is a lot of overlap, the following is my interpretation of the differences:

What is a Coach?

Coaching assumes that you have all of the answers within you and a good coach will ask questions to elicit from you the answers you seek.  They may challenge you, uncover blind-spots and develop perspective.  You can expect to learn more about yourself and develop insights you would struggle to achieve on your own. 

A coach does not need to have more experience than you in your field of expertise as they will not provide advice.  What they will do is help you make decisions and move forwards towards a specific goal in a way which empowers you.  You may be encouraged to evaluate the options available to you prior to making a decision yourself.

Coaching tends to revolve around a particular task, goal or skill to be achieved.  Examples would be leadership skills, presentation skills, productivity.

The coach will hold you accountable and the focus is on skills development and productivity.

What is a Mentor?

A mentor, by comparison, is someone who has more experience than you in a field of expertise you wish to become more skilled at.  They will be someone to whom you will ask advice on a particular subject.

A mentor will offer more guidance and will be a sounding board for any problems.  They are a person you will turn to when things go wrong for encouragement and a listening ear.

Essentially, they will be someone you feel safe with and be able to confide in.

Mentoring is much more relationship-driven without a specific goal in mind and so tends to be long-term.  The mentor will tend to consider you in the context of your work and your personal life.

The focus is on personal development.

What is a Consultant?

A consultant has specialist expertise and will look at a problem, usually on a more systemic level.  They will do research and analysis and provide recommendations for its resolution.

The focus is on solving a specific business problem which may involve several people or departments within your organisation.

The consultant may be asked to manage the implementation of the solution for you.

The focus is on problem-solving.

In Summary

If you want to achieve a specific goal and to develop your skills, coaching is for you.  If you need support and a sounding-board and personal development, then mentoring is for you.  If you want to find the solution to a problem with an expert, then consulting is for you.  My clients like the fact that I can offer support in a way which is right for them in that moment.  Sometimes it is to offload, sometimes it is to provide an answer to a complicated problem and sometimes it is to discover skills you didn’t know you had.

If you would like to find out what would be appropriate for you, why not call me on 0845 130 08540845 130 0854 for a free telephone consultation?

© Tricia Woolfrey 2014

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Customer Retention is Boring

customer retention

I recently signed up for a very expensive service from someone who positions himself as an expert, no, THE expert in his field.  I was given a lot of promises which made the large investment a no-brainer.

I have pretty high standards and, over the years, I have learned to lower them.  And lower them some more.  So, even with the hype, I wasn’t expecting everything which was offered to the degree it was positioned.

However, after a possible 20% delivery and 80% disappointment, and having given said-company ample time to catch up with themselves, I was told they were too busy to deal with it.  They had new customers to deal with.  New customers are EXCITING.  Problems are boring – or so they believe.  He is operating the customer churn and burn strategy.

This individual is pretty charismatic.  He is good at winning new business.  However, his reputation is being tarnished because he is good at customer attraction and very poor at customer retention.  Given that keeping a customer is less expensive than attracting a new customer.  And that there are only so many customers in the world, no matter how charismatic you are, looking at how to keep the ones you have is an important part of your business strategy.

Brand management and reputation management are key to this.  So, a couple of questions for you:

  1. Do you have a customer retention strategy?
  2. How effective is your customer retention?
  3. What would your customers say about you if you weren’t in the room?
  4. What would your customers say are your most redeeming qualities?
  5. What would your customers say is most frustrating in dealing with your company?

Here are some of the customer retention strategies I teach my clients:

  • Make sure your systems make it easy for them to do business with you
  • Offer only quality service and quality products
  • Have a quick turnaround on queries
  • Be easy to get hold of
  • Acknowledge every communication
  • Treat existing customers with as much care as you do prospects, if not more so
  • Under-promise and over-deliver – this on its own will set you apart from the competition
  • Stay in touch

Your customers will forgive you a lot of you care about them.

Tricia Woolfrey is an integrative business coach helping people like you and companies like yours perform at their best, so that you can be more profitable, with less stress and with your integrity intact.  Call 0845 130 0854 for a free telephone consultation.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2014

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A-Z of Business: Z- ZEN – Can Mindfulness be Profitable?

Mindfulness in Business

When I started out in business in 1998, success to me was the achievement of a particular goal, be it profit-related, the completion of a project or the acceptance of an idea.  And while these are true, they are concerned with the what of success, not the how

Over the years, I have studied many psychological and business-school concepts.  And what is missing for most people is the application of zen principles to business.

For the purpose of this article, the term zen can be considered as the mindful engagement with your work and operation of your business (or your job if you work for someone else).  This means being purpose-ful about what you are doing and why, from a macro perspective and a micro perspective.

So, to begin with, why do you do what you do?  What purpose does your business (or job) fulfil?  I am reminded of an old parable about a man who visited a city many hundreds of years ago.  He came across two men labouring under the noonday sun.  He asked the first what he is doing “Oh, I am just doing some labouring.  It is hard work and I will not be finished for hours.”  He asked the same question to the second man who responded “I am helping to build a cathedral”.  This story beautifully describes the purpose of their work.   One saw it is a job, a means to an end, something he had to endure each day.  The second man saw it as a vocation and put his heart and soul into each stone he laid.  Which man was likely to have been more productive?  Which man happier?  Which would have inspired others?  And which went home with a sense of achievement?

Are you clear about what your business is there to achieve in terms of a higher purpose?  If you are in business purely for money, as a lot of people are, what is the higher purpose that money is there to achieve?  For example, let’s take a cleaning company.  Not the most glamorous of businesses and fraught with day to day problems.  It would be easy to get bogged down in the nitty gritty of the issues around difficult customers and unreliable staff.  So, what is the higher purpose?  This would be personal to everybody but it may be to provide a beautiful environment for your clients to live or work.  Or it may be to provide work and career opportunities for employees who have had difficulty holding down a job in the past.  Or, if you really have no passion for the work at all, it may be to provide a good education for your children so that they can be free to make more fulfilling career and life choices for themselves.

When you have an over-riding purpose, it can carry you through the most challenging of times.  It can pull you out of the mire of the day to day and into a higher, more creative, more empowered mindset.  Which is likely to create more profit for you?

At a micro level, it is about being purpose-ful in the moment.  This means applying yourself 100% to whatever it is you are doing, fully absorbed.  The ability to multi-task is seen as a skill and even a virtue.  It is something I have been proud to call a skill.  And it is.  But it is also a weakness.  I noticed myself yesterday doing something and then stopping it to start something else and then interrupting myself doing that to do yet something else.  I realised that I have become so “skilled” at multi-tasking and responding to requests and interruptions that I now interrupt myself!  So I have to remind myself and, when I do, there is a flow to my work.  A peacefulness, a quiet productivity which is enriching and rewarding.  Of course there are times when I have to multi-task and over the years of my career I have had to do this thousands of times, shifting gear at a moment’s notice, which is why it is a difficult habit to break.  However, the effort of stopping and starting and stopping and starting again reduces productivity and increases stress.  It is important to be able to do it but not to make it a way of life.

True multi-tasking is a myth as usually you are simply stopping and starting, picking up and putting down.  I recently saw a cartoon about women being great multi-taskers.  It showed a woman flying through the air with a duster in one hand to clean the ceilings and pushing a vacuum with the other to clean the floors.  But in reality it is really very difficult to apply yourself fully to more than one task at once.  Sure you can wait on the phone for someone to pick up while you file something away but in reality, you are almost always only doing one thing at once.  Doing that one thing with a sense of purpose can bring a richness to the most mundane of tasks.  Most people hate filing but if you do your filing with an intention to create order in your environment this can transform the experience and it can even feel meditative.  In addition, thinking about the piece of work that paper represents with an attitude of gratitude and appreciation can be equally rewarding.  Certainly better than attacking the filing with a feeling of resentment and obligation.

So, the concept of applying yourself 100% to whatever you are doing in the moment, thinking about the purpose of that task, brings with it a higher level of clarity and productivity, a calmer demeanour and a much nicer person to take home to the family!  This brings with it greater financial profit but also an intrinsic profit which is priceless.

And last, but by no means least remember the principles of karma – that you reap what you sow.  So, be kind in your interactions and you will be richly rewarded with deeper and more trusting relationships as well as greater loyalty with your associates, your employees and your clients.

If you would like to learn more about how mindfulness can enhance your productivity and your profits, call me on 0845 130 0854.

On this note we end my A-Z of Business blogs, which I hope have been productive for you. As we enter the new year, I hope that your 2014 business plans are clear – your company goals, business values, products and USP…and that you feel personally prepared to take on the year ahead, manage your time effectively, serve your customers and motivate your staff. For any additional support, do contact me at tricia@pw-consulting.co.uk. I wish you a very happy new year and a successful 2014!
 

 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2014

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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