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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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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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A-Z of Business: Y – YOU – Are you the Problem or the Solution?

You and your business

 

Whether you are in business for yourself or working for others, it is natural in times of success to take credit for it.  But it’s tempting to blame external factors (other people, customers, the economy, market forces, etc) when things go wrong.

However, to do so is no help at all except that it massages a fragile ego.  You are still stuck.  The mark of a successful business-person is one who looks to themselves in times of challenge.  In this way, they retain control rather give away their power to outside forces.  To avoid looking to what you could do differently is to be a victim, powerless to make changes.  In this competitive world, it is unsustainable.  The power is in the ability to evolve.

All it takes is a different perspective.  Look to yourself for the solution and ask yourself the right questions:

  1. What factors have contributed to this problem?
  2. In what way(s) have I contributed to this problem?
  3. Where did I take my eye off the ball?
  4. What didn’t I do which I should have done?
  5. What did I do which I shouldn’t have done?
  6. What didn’t I do which I could have done?
  7. What steps can I take now which can remedy the situation?
  8. What steps can I take to avoid this happening in the future?
  9. Is this part of a bigger pattern?
  10. What else can I learn from this?

By putting yourself “at cause”, you take control, you evolve and you build a more robust business.  It takes courage, insight and humility.  Do you have what it takes?

It can be difficult doing this for yourself and this is where a good coach/mentor can really help.  Why not book a session now?  Call me on 0845 130 0854 to find out more.  You’ll be glad you did!

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

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

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A-Z of Business: W: Weaknesses – You are only as strong as your weakest link

Weakness

We are all made up of strengths and weaknesses, undiscovered potential and blind spots.  Your best strategy for success is to exploit your strengths, uncover hidden skills (we all have them), open your eyes to your blind spots (we all have those too) and start working on these – and your weaknesses – to make sure they do not become your derailers. 

Your biggest enemy in addressing any limitations is denial.  If you want to have success, your best friend is your willingness to be open to discovering weaknesses and to work on them.

As the title of this article suggests – you are only as strong as your weakest link.  Doing whatever it takes to mitigate against these is good insurance for the future and it will give you a sense of progress and achievement too.  It may mean working on yourself (it’s much easier with the support of a good coach) or hiring in talent to make up for any shortfall.  All the best teams, according to the principles of Belbin Team Roles require a variety of attributes to achieve success.

Belbin has nine team roles from Shaper (takes the business forward, creating strategy) to Completer Finisher (who puts the strategy into action).  One cannot exist fruitfully without the others, otherwise the team is out of balance.  Whether you are working on your own or with a team, the same principle applies.

In the 5 Pillars of Success, I look at the dimensions which help to make you successful:

1.    Clarity
Do you have a clarity of purpose, of mission and of values?  Do you have a clear strategy with clear steps to take you there?  Can you see clearly enough to prioritise well and delegate effectively to your team or brief your suppliers effectively?

2.    Skills
Do you have the skills you need to make you successful?  InfluencingTime management?  Leadership?  Delegating?  Presenting?  Emotional intelligence?  Business skills?  Conflict management?  What skill do you wish you had more of?  What skill do you overplay so that it becomes a problem?  Perfectionism?  Drive?  It’s just as important to see when a strength becomes a weakness as it is to recognise your blind spots.

3.    Mindset
Are you positive, motivated and solution oriented?  Do you possess the personality factors for success?  Have you been on my Personality for Success seminar yet?  This gives you a great self-assessment tool, or you can book yourself a psychometric profile.

4.    Stress Resilience
Are you calm and resourceful under pressure?  Do you respond thoughtfully to situations rather than react impulsively, building up more problems for yourself down the line?  Do you allow the small things to become big things?  Do you take the stresses at work home with you and the stress at home to work with you?

5.    Energy
Do you have too much work at the end of your energy?  Does your lifestyle or pace impact your health?  Do you have adrenal energy or core energy?  It is only core energy which is sustainable but few people have this.  Are you firing on all cylinders?  If you aren’t, nor is your business.

And what weaknesses are there in your business?  Do you have the skills, processes and systems in place to run the business effectively and profitably?  Do you have a good quality team, performing well and working well together?  Are you able to acquire and retain customers who pay well and are happy with your service or product?  And are you able to meet your financial targets and obligations?

Remember that no one person can know it all, do it all and be it all.  Perfection is not a human condition but it is a destination, one you can travel on your journey of self-development and business improvement.   

What one area could you improve which would have the biggest impact for you?  If you focus on one thing at a time then you will not risk dropping any of the many balls you are juggling and it is easier to integrate the change.

Why not book an assessment to see where you can best focus your efforts to create the best value?  Call me on 0845 130 0854 to discuss your options.

 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

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

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A-Z of Business: V – Values – Your Guiding Principles

You may think of value as being the value you provide to your clients.  This, of course, is important.  After all, if you are not providing value to your clients (or customers), why should they work with you?  The value of your product and service needs to be clear and tangible to them if you are to have a sustainable business.

However, just as important are the values which drive you in your business.  Values are what you consider to be important.  They link into your vision, your mission and your strategy.  They are your guiding principles.

Values are also part of your brand – the personality of your organisation.

As well as guide you, they can be a barometer in decision making.  Let me take an example.  Let’s say your values are:

  • Quality
  • Teamwork
  • Integrity
  • Customer delight
  • Innovation

If there is an opportunity to buy into a joint venture which stacks up financially with a quick and generous return on investment, but the quality of the offering is lower than your current product or service offering, this will undermine your values of quality, customer delight and possibly integrity.  So, while on paper the deal may appear lucrative, the net effect is likely to be negative as people stop trusting your brand and you lose customer loyalty.  If you lose customer loyalty, this will, in turn, impact your revenues.  Remember it is more cost effective to keep an existing customer than it is to attract a new one.

But more important than that is your reputation.  Working counter to your values undermines your brand and your brand values become different to your espoused values.  They become your reputation – what people are saying about your company when you are not in the room.  It is important to really understand the values which underpin your business.  So, here are some questions for you:

  1. What is important to your business?  Truly?  (This is no time for self-deception)
  2. What do you want your clients and customers to be saying?
  3. How is this different to what you imagine them to be saying now?
  4. Are your values supported in your decision-making processes?
  5. Your marketing?
  6. Your logo?
  7. Your website?
  8. Your communications?

Remember that everybody in your organisation is an ambassador for your business (for good or ill), so it is important that they buy into your values with their own behaviours and attitudes.  To what degree are your values reflected in the following:

  1. Your hiring processes?
  2. Your hiring decisions?
  3. Your inductions?
  4. Your training?
  5. In your leadership style (and that of your other managers)?
  6. In how you the performance of your staff is managed?

Perhaps your lived values are different from the values you would like to be known by?  If so, it is possible to change them.  However, it requires a structured and integrative approach.  They need to weave into everything and to underpin everything with buy-in from each and every member of your staff – otherwise it is just a PR exercise which will backfire.  Getting this right can create more customer loyalty, more employee satisfaction and attract new business to you.
© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

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

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A-Z of Business: U – USP – Why You Need One

Unique Selling Point

Do you really need a Unique Selling Point?  What happens if you don’t have one?  Well, unless you are in an industry with no competitors then your USP is what will set you apart.  It will give your prospects a reason to go with you instead of someone else.

In a struggling economy, you need all the competitive advantage you can get.  And if you are looking for a job, you need that competitive edge too. 

So, why should someone buy your product?  It is no longer enough to say “we are the best”, you need to say how.  And it needs to be based on reality rather than an aspiration that you are working towards. 

There was a wonderful sign displayed which went like this:

“We offer three kinds of service – Good, Cheap or Fast.  You can pick any two.  Good and cheap won’t be fast.  Good and fast won’t be cheap.  Cheap and fast won’t be good.  ”

At the gym yesterday, my personal trainer said the best advice he was given is to always think of yourself as number two so that you would still strive to do better.  This reminded me of the Avis USP which is “We are number two – we try harder.”  What a great USP which succeeds in turning a negative into a massive positive.

Apple’s USP is to think differently – they are the company best known for their innovation, having broken many technological boundaries.  They can be relied upon to be innovative, fun and customer-focused.

If you are finding it difficult to identify your USP, go back to testimonials you have been given by your customers.  It is easy to forget these but hopefully you have kept a log of them.  Also, consider what your competitors are doing and what they are promising.  How are you different to them?  What are the problems you are solving for your customers?

Let’s take an example.  For an IT support company, their customers may suffer from not being terribly IT literate, having to wait a long time before an engineer can fix their problem, or their technology is stopping them from getting on with their work

Let’s look at the customers’problem, potential USPs and their corresponding straplines:

  1. Waiting a long time for an engineer
    • USP – getting their IT problems solved quickly
    • Strapline – Your IT Support within 24 hours or quicker
  2. Not very IT literate
    • USP – use jargon free communication so that the problem is easier to understand
    • Strapline – Taking the Jargon out of IT Support
  3. Technology stopping them from working
    • USP – getting you up and running quickly
    • Strapline –Helping you to work when your computer doesn’t
  4. Frustrated that every problem seems to mean a new computer
    • USP – providing the simplest, most cost effective solutions
    • Strapline – Simple Solutions to Complicated Problems

Whatever your USP, do make sure that you live and breathe it.  You don’t want your USP to be “tried and failed” – it should enhance your reputation, not undermine it. 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

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

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A-Z of Business: P – Product: Ten Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

Products and Services

If you don’t have a product or service which delivers value to your customers and prospects, it makes building a profitable business almost impossible.  Having an inferior product isn’t something you want to risk your business or reputation.  In this day and age, competition is very tough, consumers are fickle and markets are constantly changing, so it’s important to make sure you are delivering what your customers want.

Having the best product or service isn’t enough in itself if you don’t have everything else right.  However, it is an essential component.  When looking at your products, consider what are you offering and how does it benefit your customers?  What need is it fulfilling?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of the product or service?  This is where you really need to listen to your customers.  It’s easy to acknowledge compliments – they make you feel good.  It takes a lot of strength to be open to negative feedback.  However unreasonable it may seem, there is always at least a grain of truth in in it.  Be gracious in receiving negative feedback because you can really turn around a negative situation and create a raving fan out of a disenchanted customer if you handle it right.

Customers can fulfil a need in a number of ways.  For example, if your business sells washing machine repairs, then your customer has the option of either repairing their washing machine, getting someone else to do their laundry, buying a new washing machine or resort to hand-washing.  So it’s important that you get your product right so that you become the obvious choice.

If you want your product to be a best-seller, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What need is your product (or service) designed to fulfil?
  2. What are the strengths of your product (or service)?
  3. What are the weaknesses?  If your customers were being really picky, what would they be saying?
  4. What are you doing to address those weaknesses?
  5. Who are your top 5 competitors?
  6. What do they offer that you don’t and how can you address this?
  7. What is another way your prospects might fulfil the need?
  8. How can you make your product a better option?
  9. What feedback about your product (or service) have you been ignoring and what are you going to do to address it?
  10. What processes do you have in place to make sure your product (or service) is the best?

Steve Jobs, one of the greatest innovators of our time, talked about surprising and delighting the customer by looking at how to excel, not just meet the competition.  He thought in terms of simplicity, elegance and sexiness (of the product, of course!).  By contrast, I know of a man whose business failed because he insisted on providing his service using old, outdated technology and old, outdated principles.  You have to constantly re-invent and improve if you want to thrive.

 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

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

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