How Advisory Boards Help Businesses in the Age of Disruption

Disruption is everywhere. It impacts every industry. In 2015, the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation coined the term ‘Digital Vortex’ to describe how it sucks industries in. Key industries (in the centre of the vortex) are hit the hardest, but even industries on the edge of the vortex are affected.

And the effect is expanding. In a follow-up study in 2017 the Center found that all industries are closer to the centre of the vortex than they were two years previously. None experienced less disruption than before.

If your business is not developing any strategies to ride this wave of disruption, you’re in danger of being blindsided.

In that 2015 survey by the Center, researchers learnt:

1. Most business owners, executives, and managers aren’t adequately preparing for the rapid age of disruption.

2. Almost 90% of these business owners, managers and executives actually anticipate their business will be disrupted.

3. Only 40% of them say that their business organizations have prepared for the disruptions to come.

How to appropriately respond to the age of disruption?

In all this talk of disruption, it’s useful to remember that even the most competitive landscapes aren’t remade violently overnight. So if businesses that want to respond to disruption have the will to transform themselves into organisations equipped to deal with change, they’re already a good part of the way there.

But owners, managers and executives who are driven to transform their companies know (or quickly find out) that they can’t do it on their own. Many feel overwhelmed, knowing that ‘digital’ is not their world, their area of expertise.

Chances are you’re going to need the help of external experts who can advise on new technology and solutions to help you and your business adapt.

Which is where an advisory board comes in. The best entrepreneurs use an advisory board to fill in the gaps of knowledge.

Matthew Horton, co-founder and managing director of HR and payroll platform foundU, says that exposure to different opinions and advice from advisory board members is invaluable. Businesses can have different opinions and honest discussions about their business and they can either reject or accept the advice of the board. But the benefit of it is that they get to hear a different opinion from the people they trust and respect. An advisory board is always a powerful asset in finding solutions to key challenges.

Benefits of an advisory board

  • Business owners, managers, and executives have someone to talk objectively about business issues.

  • There is a wide variety of skills and expertise available for advisory board members who have “been there, done that”.

  • Businesses with formal advisory board improve their strategic business choices and decision-making.

  • Leaders, managers, and executives find it easier to develop new and better ideas.

  • On average, most businesses increased their sales for up to 66% in their first three years after setting up an advisory board.

  • Productivity rate of businesses who have an advisory board increased from 3.2% to 5.9% on average.

10 Productivity Hacks You Can Start Using Now

We can't manage time. But we can manage what things we choose to do at that time. Here's how you can prioritize the most effective things to do with your time.

1. Create a To-Do List

Prioritize your tasks better by creating a to-do list. Know the most crucial tasks down to the least important ones. To create an effective to do list, you first need to write it down the night before. Use action words to make sure all items are clear and actionable. It is also important to have a separate to-do list for work and personal purposes. It will also help you avoid any distractions and be present wherever you are.

2. Set Daily Goals

Goal setting works well to set you up for a productive 24 hours. Not only that, it helps us not to lose focus due to information overload. And it helps alleviate the stress and anxiety of juggling multiple tasks in a given day.

To set effective daily goals, you first need to outline what you plan to get done. Afterward, examine how much energy you should exert towards each task to give you a roadmap for a day. Organize your effort to overcome some constant and incessant hurdles you face day to day.

3. Set specific times to check your email

Did you know how much time is wasted shuffling through dozens of emails? Once you started out from one email notification, you’ve already wasted a good 30 minutes of your time responding to multiple emails. To avoid this, choose only two times per day to do emails. The most recommended times are once before lunch and then before finishing up your workday.

4. Say “No” to Pointless Meetings

Too many meetings are one of the blights of big companies and over time it almost always get worse. As much as possible, cut out any meeting that doesn’t have a defined agenda and desired outcome beforehand. It is also a way of elevating your productivity level if you say “no” to things that might distract you from doing your priority tasks.

5. The 2-minute rule

If a particular task can be done in just two minutes, then do it. Small tasks will pop up throughout the day and that’s inevitable. Don’t waste time thinking about whether you should or shouldn’t do them. If the task can be completed in just two minutes, do it. If it takes more than two minutes, then add them to do to-do list instead.

6. Keep a pen and pad on you

Don’t just rely on your memory. Doing so will only make you end up with lots of unfinished tasks. Instead, write down everything you need to remember or you can also use an app on your smartphone to help you remember all the things you need to remember.

7. Work in natural light

Studies reveal that sunlight exposure helps improve sleep, thus improving your overall well-being and in turn your productivity level. If you can, place your table near a window or near a natural light more often to get the benefits of improved productivity.

8. Turn off the internet

If you find yourself distracted by social media, video and news sites, then it wouldn’t hurt to block a particular time of your day and turn off the internet. Turn off your phone or disable the data at a specific time each day. Make sure you do it and stick to it. The benefit of doing this is that you’ll find yourself surviving without the internet and getting far more done.

9. Listen to music

One of the best ways of maintaining focus and productivity at work is by listening to music. Check which types of music works on you and helps you focus better. The types of music we usually hear on coffee shops are typically the types of music that actually helps improve focus and productivity.

10. Do nothing

It might sound strange but doing nothing for a short period of time actually helps boost productivity level. By doing nothing for an ample time helps alleviate the mind for a little while. If you feel like you’ve already used up all your focus and data processing and there’s no constant flow of thoughts in your head, take a moment off to take a short break to do nothing. You may also want to take a walk in the park or sit quietly on a bench and listen to the sounds around you.

How to Keep the Family Business in Business

Did you know that less than 1/3 of family businesses survive the transition from first to second generation ownership and that 50% do not survive the transition from the second up to the third generation? Just 3% are still operating at the fourth generation level!

Around 70% of Australia’s 2.1 million businesses are family owned. However, one of the biggest issues with these family-owned businesses is that they get stuck in the way they’ve done things for years. Even as the business outgrows old structures, they fail to adapt.

Most of these family-owned businesses also tend to rely on trust and relationships instead of good governance. These are businesses that forget that often the best person for a position isn’t the person born to it, but the person passionate about it.

What’s behind the decline?

1. Death of the business founder/owner – This is the catalyst for why 78% of family-owned businesses fail. Business owners or founders who live to their retirement age tend to become increasingly reluctant to face their own mortality and prepare to plan a structured process of handing over the reins. The result of this is that it will leave the family-owned business in a crisis at their death.

2. The intermingling of finances – Reports showed that almost two-thirds of family-owned businesses intermingle with family and business finances. Often, it’s difficult to distinguish between the two. The result is that you can’t accurately monitor the financial performance of the business.

3. Unprepared next generation leaders – For a successful transition, successors need to learn all the ropes and aspects of the family’s business. In order to do so, the head of the business should create a guiding principle which outlines requisite education and experience before making any offers of employment. Poor strategic planning leads to a generation of leaders unprepared for the task.

4. Failure to call in outside help - One major reason why most family-owned businesses fail is that they can’t bring themselves to call in outside help, even in a crisis. It’s not a sign of weakness: engaging an expert advisor can help build a better, stronger business.

How outside help can work

Family owned businesses are vital to our economy. But they’re also facing decline.

By tapping into different insights and experiences of independent advisors, family-owned business owners can make an informed decision about the growth and success of their companies.

Mechanisms such as advisory boards can help ease the tension among family members by giving an unbiased advice, option and opinion on the direction of the business.

If you’re looking to bring in additional support and objective guidance to your family-owned business, contact us. My Advisory Board can help get you back on track to a more profitable business – and a happier family.

Creating Employee Surveys and Why They're Worth It

Companies with engaged employees are more productive and profitable. In fact, Gallup has found that they outperform their competitors by up to 147% in earnings per share. So investing in measuring and improving employee engagement can dramatically affect your bottom line.

Just measuring employee engagement isn’t enough though – you’ve got to read the results, identify areas for improvement and then act on them. Your employees (and leadership team) might feel a bit jaded about the process (as they’re likely to have encountered it at other companies or it’s one more thing on the to-do list) so it’s got to be worthwhile for all concerned.

Like any business initiative, a staff survey needs a plan, and your senior leadership needs to be prepared to champion it.

1. Create the plan

Together with your senior managers, work out the process for the survey. This includes how often it will be run, the timeline, and how you’ll communicate both the need for the survey and the results.

You also need to decide what success will look like and what changes can be realistically made.

2. Set the objectives

Have each of your senior managers list 3 – 5 key issues they want to understand or measure. Everyone should get to voice their issues, and hopefully there will be some overlap, but only 3 – 5 should be chosen as the priorities.

3. Get the survey designed

Things to consider here are keeping it simple and short – a survey that takes about 15 minutes to complete is good.

You also need to decide whether the survey should be done anonymously or not – there are advantages and disadvantages to each.

You’re likely to get a more honest response on a survey that staff believe is truly anonymous but then you need to carefully consider the demographic information you want to collect. So for example, if your team is predominantly male, asking for gender on the survey is not going to make female staff feel confident about their anonymity.

However, you are better able to address individuals’ concerns if the results are attributed to a staff member. Plus you can better plan your next staff review or build a package to keep the high performing staff members motivated and enthused if you have their individual feedback.

4. Take action

Once you have the results, you need to be seen to act on them or you will lose credibility (with a corresponding negative swing in culture.) This can be effectively done by:

  • assessing all suggestions and feedback with the senior management team;

  • mapping suggestions according to effort/resources required to implement them and what impact they would have;

  • deciding which concepts can/will be adopted; and

  • following up with your staff by announcing which initiatives will be implemented (and when and how). You should also tell staff what the other findings from the survey were and how they have been noted, but parked for the short to medium term.

Communicating survey results and actions is best done face-to-face at an all staff get-together or team meetings. Yes, it can be done via email, but bear in mind that many employees won’t read a lengthy email from management, or they’ll skim over it and interpret it differently so its intention and sense becomes distorted in water-cooler conversation.

If the survey isn’t anonymous, make a commitment to follow up with each staff member who made a suggestion that cannot be implemented. Don’t call them to your office – just grab them for an informal but private chat over a coffee.

Most HR professionals and senior managers agree that engaged employees are more productive (as much as 22% in some cases) and perform better – so there is clear and evident value in making sure you’re getting a measure of your employees’ sense of engagement. And then committing to improving or maintaining it.

Key Reasons Every Entrepreneur Should Use Virtual Staff

Saving time and money are the key reasons why I’m enthusiastic about virtual staff.

Virtual staff are freelancers you contract to online, using platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr. They work from their own homes, often based in other countries, and with a strong currency like the Australian Dollar, you’re able to pay them more than they would earn in local wages - while creating savings on your side.

Time-Savers

Virtual staff save you time by freeing you up from working on routine tasks, allowing you to focus on areas that would better benefit from your skills. You can hire virtual assistants to help you manage your workday, for instance. Or data gatherers to collate information that your in-house team can then work with. Or you can contract in specialist services – without having to pay specialist fees.

Using virtual staff can save you time and resources on recruitment processes, too. There are no complicated HR forms to fill out or procedures to understand and go through, and in most cases freelance sites even take care of the tax requirements for your business.

Cost Benefits

Another cost saver is that freelance staff only charge for the hours they work for you (and online platforms have tools to help you and the freelancer track and verify the time worked). So instead of recruiting a part-time employee – and then finding yourself with more or less for them to do at different times – using freelancers is a great way to handle project work or seasonal fluctuations.

Similarly, if you have an employee fall ill or go on holiday, a remote worker can cover aspects of their work without the hassle of recruiting and training a temp. Or you can have a temp cover the front-of-house part of that employee’s job while a virtual assistant manages the administrative side.

Managing your Virtual Team

There are challenges – language and time zones being the most obvious. But these can be managed, and even used to your advantage. Some companies have virtual staff in other time zones which allows them to serve the needs of clients 24 hours a day, at low cost to the business.

To manage virtual staff though, it’s important to be specific and detailed in your brief and hiring process. You can conduct interviews (some freelance platforms have built in messaging/VOIP features but there’s always Skype if they don’t). And you can try out a few freelancers on small chunks or phases of work. That means you’re getting things done while also establishing which of your hires are working out well. You can then choose your top performers and continue with them.

7 Must-Have Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Many of us dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship gives us the chance to become our own boss, to have the freedom to work and come and go as we please. Unfortunately, not all who dreamt of becoming an entrepreneurs succeed. Being an entrepreneur is truly rewarding but it is very, very hard work. If you’re planning to take the leap into becoming an entrepreneur, you should first ask yourself if you have the qualities that will promote success. If you are a seasoned entrepreneur maybe you can identify with these successful traits as well.

 

Here are 7 must-have traits of a successful entrepreneur:

 

1.    Proper time management

Proper time management plays an important role in the person’s ability in juggling multiple ventures all at once. Poor ability to tune in, tune out, compartmentalise and shift from one responsibility to another would result in improper and poor business management. If one has good and proper time management, everything will be accomplished in a much shorter period of time. The shorter the period of time to finish a task, the more free time you will have to focus on other areas of your business that needs attention. 

 

2.    Strong discipline

Strong discipline is a crucial part of being a successful individual. Anyone who has good time management is most likely a well-disciplined person.  A person who is more focused on how to make their business work will eliminate any form of distractions that will hinder to their goals. A successful entrepreneur has the discipline to take every step they can towards the achievement of their goals.

Being an entrepreneur gives you the benefit of becoming your own boss. However, the only downside of this is that you might eventually falter and spiral out of control if you lose the driving force to stay on your track. Successful entrepreneurs have a very strong sense of self-discipline and they do not need any person to tell them what they need to do. Successful entrepreneurs are simply determined to work hard because of the desire to succeed.

 

3.    Determination and Goals

A soft goal is different from concrete goals. Soft goals are much broader and unspecific compared to concrete goals. “I want to be successful one day” is an example of a soft goal. A concrete goal, on the other hand, is more specific such as “I want to create a textile company that has revenue of $1 million before 2018 ends. “

What we would like to point out is that a certain goal can be totally vague and arbitrary while the other goal has specific and concrete measurements attached. Successful entrepreneurs focus on the concrete goals instead of soft goals. They do so because entrepreneurs know that having concrete goals is the only way to consistently accomplish tasks. Additionally, they are determined and focus to accomplish their concrete goals no matter what it takes.

Even if entrepreneurs get defeated at times, they still consider their defeat as an opportunity for success. They don’t care if they try and try again and they have the determination not to give up until all their endeavours succeed.  One determining quality of a successful entrepreneur is that they don’t believe that something or anything cannot be done. Equipped with determination, successful entrepreneurs will then remain focused on their long-term goals while adjusting their behaviour accordingly.

 

4.    Unfaltering optimism

Of course, not all companies or businesses start successfully. There will be times where things will look bleak. What every entrepreneur needs to do is to be optimistic. Optimistic entrepreneurs have the confidence and persistence that even if they feel they’re not making any growth or progress, they will still stick to their chosen path. Their unfaltering optimism will guide them on the highest and lowest of their career. Yet they still won’t allow any negative circumstances dictate their future goals.

 

5.    Strong and Stable Leadership

Entrepreneurs cannot grow multiple businesses if they are unable to lead people. For an organisation to be successful, one needs to have an effective and strong leader. You certainly can hire several good leaders to handle different aspects of your business, but you should have the ultimate ability to lead these executives. A strong and stable leader is someone who formulates and communicates new strategic directions and motivates his employees to increase their dedication to their company’s success. Leadership is a skill that can be learned, so if you don't have this in your tool kit yet - go out and learn it!

Aside from stable and strong leadership, successful entrepreneurs need to adopt new leadership strategies depending on their situation. One thing might work with one business but cannot work for the next. The ability to shift leadership styles without compromise is one great characteristic of a successful entrepreneur. A successful entrepreneur knows how to recover quickly in this business environment where constant change and repeated challenges are lurking. Additionally, agility and resiliency are both crucial to test the leadership skills of a successful entrepreneur.

 

6.    Innovation and creativity

In order for an entrepreneur to continuously churn out powerful ideas, they must think differently. In doing so, innovation and creativity are needed. A successful entrepreneur will never run out of new ideas and lots of opportunity for innovation. Their mind will always look for different niches and even undertake risks in entering them.

Successful entrepreneurs always devise ways to carry out existing business workflow more effectively and efficiently. They don’t waste time and money. In short, they work towards the optimisation of their business.

 

7.    Passion

Having the genuine love for their craft is also one of the most important and must-have traits of a successful entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs who love their work are willing to put extra hours into their business because of the joy their business gives that goes beyond any money. Having the passion and love for their work, successful entrepreneurs always read and research ways on how to have a better business.

An entrepreneur who always conveys passion in their business will sell more, convince more and earn more. All of this contributes to the success of their business.

 

So if you have just embarked on the entrepreneurial journey, or have been on the journey for a while and not seen success, it’s wise to adopt these traits to help make your business soar.

 

 

6 Blind Spots that can Kill Business Growth

Before starting any new business idea, it is prudent to check for business blind spots that could inhibit our success. Sometimes though, we as entrepreneurs are too close to the problem to actually know that there is one. This is where the help of a coach, advisor or mentor can help expose these blind spots which, left unnoticed, might destroy your best-laid business plans

In my time as an advisor and coach, I’ve found some common blind spots that can trip up entrepreneurs time and time again. Here are the 6 blind spots that could keep you from the success you deserve. Try to avoid these pitfalls to ensure healthy business growth.

The Blind Spots:

 

1.    Lack of or poor customer insight and service

If there is one thing that matters most when it comes to marketing, it would be having successful customer insight. Do you know who your target market is? Are you trying to sell products or service particularly to, say,  mothers? How often will your customers use your product or avail your service? If the service or product you offer is only needed once a year, you will need lots of customers in order to make your ends meet.

Knowing your customer and their needs means knowing what you expect to grow. You should have a deep understanding of your ideal customer and that means collecting, analyzing customer research and feedback as well as their engagement preferences. You should also analyse behaviours and health of your customer relationship and check how these things differ across different customer segments. Also, you should know that not all customers are created equal, so you must be able to understand how they align your company’s vision and strategy for an effective marketing strategy.

 

2.    Failure to know your competitors

Your business will have a hard time growing if you don’t know what you’re up against. You should know everything about your competitor, what they offer and how they work. Knowing your competitor means having the opportunity to fully comprehend the needs of your customers. Your business growth may come to a stand-still if you don’t take the time to investigate your competitor’s strategies, for they are working on the same audience.

 

3.    Making decisions by yourself

Most businesses fail to succeed because entrepreneurs make their decisions on their own. In order for your business to grow, you’ll need good advice from business mentors, a business coach or board of directors. For business owners, it is important to have an accountability partner that will help you experience greater business growth. Accountability partners are expert in helping you determine and achieve your business goals while making sure you’re still on track in other areas of your business that needs attention.

Most decision makers fail to make the correct decision because of one simple reason: not getting the advice they needed. As a business owner or an entrepreneur, you should make an effort to learn what you need to know and ask for an expert’s help.  Having an accountability partner will ensure you’re on the right track to your business growth while making sure all the other areas of your business that needs attention are also being taken care of.

 

4.    Lack of funding

In business, you’ll need enough money to cover your needs for each stage from the start-up capital to the pool of money you’ll need later on for expansion. You can’t scale your business unless you have the funds to support it. There are plenty of options though to fund your business. You can either look for investors to support you or borrow money. Ultimately, money is required when growing a business. And there is nothing more disheartening than the inability of your business to grow or expand due to lack of finances.

 

5.    Failure to track money

Managing cashflow and profitability simply through the bank balance test ("we've got the money to pay our bills, so we're ok") is a recipe for disaster. Doing so will only make your growth extremely difficult. If you don’t know how much money is going in and out, how will you able to know if your business is growing? Keep close track of your money in order to avoid possible financial emergencies and unanticipated events that could cost your business.

To boost sales, attract new customers and reach new and potential markets, you’ll need a good accounting procedures. You need a great accountant to help you keep track of your finances or you can also invest in software programs to track your money. The bottom line is, you should never ever lose sight of your money and always keep track of them.

You also need to have an up-to-date budget to track your progress against so you know if you are achieving your growth targets.

 

6.    Poor leadership

In order for your business to grow, you’ll need to place the most driven person at the top. Their vision for the business should be clear and concise. In addition, your team should be able to think outside the box and willing to take some risks if needed. Be careful about risks and rewards though for it needs to be carefully balanced.

Business growth will eventually stop if leaders are too rigid and incapable of envisioning new stages of growth. Leaders that lacks vision or unable to make sound decisions will likely to fail. Leaders should bring new excitement and new energy into the development, research and sales of the business.


A sound business model is one of the basic foundations of a successful business. However, creating one does not guarantee a brighter future. Growing your business is more vital than just creating a sound business model. Always remember that your ultimate goal is to develop a team of people with amazing talent who love their job. The above mentioned issues can be easily remedied by innovation, experience and willingness to change. By carefully considering the 6 blind spots listed above, you and your talented team will get out of your way and build a successful business.

Blind spots are a fact of life. In business, failure to see the blind spot doesn’t mean you’re a bad leader. There will always be “blind spots” even in the best-managed organization due to the imperfection of human beings. The smartest thing you can do is to ensure you’re prepared for anything unexpected. Look beyond the dashboard. If not, even a simple left turn might not go the way you planned.

 


 

Need Help Staying on Track?

The Power of an Accountability Partner

 

Simply having a dream isn’t enough. You have to own your dream.

This is what most people fail to achieve. It’s because they either don’t set goals or set unrealistic and broad ones. This is where the power of accountability comes in.

In today’s ever-changing market, business leaders need personal guidance and access to ground-breaking thinking. They need someone to keep them accountable by asking them the hard questions to uncover potential blind spots. Many entrepreneurs have a trusted network in which they bounce ideas off of - but that is not enough if they want to elevate their business to the next level.

Having an accountability partner is ideal for business owners wanting to leverage the expertise of others in order to experience greater business growth.

Benefits of having a strong accountability partner:

  • A strong accountability partner helps you stay focused on your true business goals. You are more likely to be challenged to focus on strategy and the execution of it.
  • A strong accountability partner will help meet deadlines. Setting clear and definite deadlines while communicating those to your accountability partner will get keep on track towards your business goals.
  • Having a strong accountability partner will enable you to learn from your mistakes. They will help you see things differently and save yourself time, effort, energy and money from making preventable mistakes.
  • A strong accountability partner will encourage you when you get stuck in weeds and will kick you in the pants to keep you get going. They will try to remain realistic with you at all times.

 

An Advisory Board – The Best Accountability Partner

So why should business leaders have something more structured than an informal accountability partner and perhaps engage the services of an advisory board instead?

With the fast pacing world of business environment today, it is too easy for business owners to underutilise the power of an Advisory Board. In a wildly chaotic and frantic marketplace, an entrepreneur or a business owner sometimes feels pressured to sustain a flourishing business without strategic and high-value guidance. This is where an Advisory Board comes in place.

What is an Advisory Board?

An advisory board is a constituted group of people that provides not just high quality but also objective advice to business leaders in target areas of strategic importance.

Having a strong Advisory Board is important, as it is a powerful tool to help businesses in decision making especially for those companies who are family owned, entrepreneurial or SMEs.

As your business grows, the nature of advisory needs also changes. And while there is no single wrong or right approach, there will come a time when a business owner’s desire to achieve certain results means an Advisory Board provides their best chance of business success.

 

With the Right Advisory Board, you can….

 

  • Challenge your own thinking. SMEs and entrepreneurs are known for having such an optimistic philosophy towards their business. While having this trait is important, having the right advisory board will challenge business owners to think clearly and objectively. The right advisory board will help business owners to avoid any overly optimistic approach regarding their business.
  • Growing creative ideas. The right advisory board can provide not just creative ideas but also an alternative approach for situational problems and new business opportunities. Just imagine business owners being overwhelmed trying to operate their day to day business due to lack of time and experience. An advisory board can bring a new perspective about untapped opportunities as well as innovative solutions that will propel businesses to a higher level of profitability.
  • Gain new perspectives on your business. One of the key benefits of having an advisory board is that it allows SMEs and entrepreneurs to periodically step back and look at the overall direction of the business. In addition, an advisory board reassures any business that they are not alone in making decisions. Rather, they can provide a new angle of approach to any project.
  • Find connections. Networking is of high value for any business. Advisory boards help business owners find possible funding sources, strategic partners and connect owners with subject matter experts.
  • Find your own personal development. SMEs and entrepreneurs alike understandably know the technical aspect of their business. But sometimes they lack experience in communication, management, and interpersonal relationships. An advisory board can serve as a mentor for a business owner for their own personal development.

Why Work With My Advisory Board?

Working with My Advisory Board will help you prioritise the right parts of your business in order for you to see and reach your desired goals.

The team at My Advisory Board will strategise to help you determine and achieve your business vision while ensuring you’re on track in all areas of your business that need attention.

Craig D Robinson, the chair of My Advisory Board, is an experienced business coach, mentor, and author. Craig had exited two companies and retired at age 34 and decided to start My Advisory Board in order to help business owners achieve strategic objectives.

My Advisory Board’s top priority is to help business owners live a bigger, better life and achieving amazing results.

If you think you need help to stay on track to accomplish your business goals, come aboard and let My Advisory Board elevate your business to the next level.

 

 

 

Execution of Strategy is Key to Success

Each year hundreds of entrepreneurs and business owners come up with great ideas. And each year they spend countless hours creating and recreating very detailed business and strategic plans. Unfortunately, their effort goes to waste as they fail to follow through on their well-thought-out strategic plans.

Having great strategy is important, but solid execution of strategy is the key to success. How sure are you that you can deliver your intent? Most companies dream big and create their own vision but fail to execute their plans. Research has shown that 95% of company employees are totally unaware or fail to understand the strategy for their organisation. Studies report that 70% of good strategies fail due to poor execution. To make the statement simple, any organisation or business isn’t just judged by the quality of their strategy but more importantly, by the results.

So how do you exactly execute your strategy in order for your business to succeed? The first step is to determine want you want to accomplish. For managers, business owners and entrepreneurs, the determining point is to find a plan that is good enough for their business/organisation (it doesn’t have to be perfect - just good enough!) Any plan that contains too many risks, or lack of clarity can be overwhelming and vague.

Here are the steps you need to know when executing your organisation’s strategic plan:

1.  Visualise

Know exactly what your strategy is. An effective way to understand this idea is to visualise your strategy through an illustration. The illustration should show not just the important aspect of the strategy but also the steps that relate to one another and connects to the overall goal. Ask yourself if you have enough clarity about your vision and the results you want to accomplish. Is your vision clear enough? Is your organisational structure and overall process well aligned with your new strategy and goals? Does your strategy focus on the realities of the market and customer your organisation serves? Asking yourself these questions will help you visualise your strategic plan.

2.  Outline

Your strategic plan is a binding glue which holds everything all together. In order for your plan to work, your strategy needs to be in sync, operating upon a flowing formula. Determine what needs to be done at this stage in preparation for execution. You need to create a strategy that is concise and reinforced with focus on what exact steps need to be taken in order to execute on the strategy. Once every aspect of your strategic plan has been laid out, you are now ready to determine the flow of action and begin implementing your design.

3.  Measure

The key elements of a visualised strategy should be measured by understanding KPIs or Key Performance Indicators. You can organize your KPIs into a dashboard so that your business or organisation can determine the progress. Ask yourself if you have all the necessary business information and metrics in order to execute your strategy and measure progress. Is your KPI identified for your organisation? Can you measure the success you have had in the past? What needs to be changed?

4.  Track

Keep tabs on the progress of your strategy to ensure you’re on the right track. This will also help keep your performance aligned with your vision. Your strategy execution should sail like a boat towards your planned destination. Not knowing where you’re headed before you depart will make you less likely to know when you’re off course. Make sure you have managers tracking your KPIs so they can address events when they occur and get the strategic plan back on track.

5.  Report

Tracking your strategy also helps you prepare your report for executives or board members. Use an automated reporting tool that will tell you to consistently tell what you need to tell whilst saving you time. Make sure to capture all ongoing plans and details of your projects on your report. Ensure all players on the team are on the same page. Managers can then organise work to eliminate non-value added content to help keep the strategy on track.

6.  Execute

Your strategic plan will be useless if it doesn’t work to produce results. Anything that has been planned, talked about and analysed needs to be accomplished. Revisions and tweaks will definitely occur. However, as long as you’re progressively moving forward with your plan, any action of reorganising will not be a setback. There’s a great quote by Clausewitz which says “amateurs worry about strategy, professionals worry about logistics and execution.”

How an Advisory Board Can Help Execute Your Strategy to Success?

No growth strategy, regardless of how well devised the strategy is, will be successful without the help of an effective and disciplined execution. And when it comes to formulating, creating, identifying and executing a well-strategic plan, My Advisory Board is here to help.

Working with the My Advisory Board team will give you the chance to take advantage of the comprehensive advice, guidance and strategic plans and insights you need for your business growth. We give Entrepreneurs a ‘success system’ that will help you prioritise on the right parts of your business to see the results you want. My Advisory Board keeps you accountable to your goals and give you personalised guidance to keep you on track towards your business growth.

If you’re interested in taking your business to the next level - start by taking our Business Health Check here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accountability - The Key to Achieving Amazing Results

Accountability is the single most important element in fueling a truly successful organisation. As an entrepreneur and business owner - it becomes of paramount importance, why is this? Let’s dig in deeper.

What is accountability?

Accountability is all about committing to a choice you have made. When you are committed to a decision, you take full responsibility and create a strategic set of clear actions in order for you to reach your desired result. Accountability is the process of answering and accounting for your actions and results. This is what leaders want more of themselves as well as on their team.

In a workplace, accountability matters in such a key way, that when a business or an employee have no system of accountability in place, everything can quickly fall apart.

The Importance of Having an Accountability Partner for Small Business Owners

Peter Drucker, one of the world’s foremost pioneers of management theory, once said that “anything that gets measured gets managed”. Having someone else you report the results to ensures that things get measured.

Have you ever sat down in your room and wondered where your day has gone or whether you’ve actually accomplished anything strategic at all?  Let’s admit it, not every small business owner is a sales champion or a superhero business owner. Most small business owners fall victim to non-revenue generating distractions such as spending too much time on social media or procrastinating on finishing a particularly important project. In order for you not to fall victim to these things that avert self-destruction, you need to have an accountability partner.

An accountability partner works perfectly for small business owners. For small business owners, running their business inevitably requires being efficient while working in a place full of distractions. If a small business owner lets distractions prevail, success will slowly fade away. Who will be there to nudge you in the right path to business success? That is why having someone you can rely on to is very important. Having a trusted accountability partner such as an advisory board turn to, can help you avoid any of these pitfalls.

How to Find a Trusted Accountability Partner?

Being accountable isn’t something that you can pretend your way through. You need to choose someone or an organisation that isn’t afraid to tell you things the way they are. An accountability partner should be fully honest and holds absolutely nothing back. A trusted accountability partner should meet with you regularly to maintain consistency. In addition, a trusted accountability partner should create fair judgment as well as consequences for failures in order to meet your target goals.

Tips to Working With an Accountability Partner

Here’s a complete breakdown of the tips to make sure you’re successfully working with a trusted accountability partner:

Target. Be clear and concise about your desired outcome and how will you measure success. It is advisable if you and your accountability partner agree on a monthly milestone with a clear and measurable target. Once your target slips, you and your accountability partner should address it properly and immediately. Identify the problem, brainstorm a solution to this problem, redesign your schedule and respond to situations that get your business back on track.

Tools. Your accountability partner should have the skills, tools, and resources available in order to achieve your goal. If they don’t, then what’s the plan? You and your accountability partner should outline everything that’s needed and plan in order to get it.

Tasks/Treats. While this could be an old Carrot and Stick System, it can be really helpful in motivating you to achieve your goal. Setting up a reward (carrot) when achieving a particular milestone while motivating an unpleasant task (stick) so that they will avoid doing it is helpful in achieving a target goal.

Timeline. It is important that you and your accountability partner set up regular check-in times either via phone or via scheduled monthly meetings.

Tough yet thoughtful feedback.  Honest feedback is crucial. If you are tracking your metrics of your business plan yet you still haven’t met your goal, who will be there to tell you what you’re not doing it right? You need an accountability partner to tell you the unpleasant truth and who will give you the tough advice you need to hear.

GET A FREE BUSINESS HEALTH CHECK HERE
 

My Advisory Board – Your Trusted Accountability Partner

Working with My Advisory Board team will help you prioritise the right parts of your business and keep you accountable in order for you to reach your desired goals. My Advisory Board will help you determine and achieve your business goals while ensuring you’re on track in other areas of your business that needs attention.

At My Advisory Board, we:

  • Serve small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them grow their business, become investor ready, or prepare businesses for sale or exit

  • Evaluate company performance using a well-crafted system

  • We monitor not only the key indicators but also the lags in your business

  • We can foresee potential problems and create strategies to avoid them

  • Provides tailored advice to assist with internal decision making

My Advisory Board was founded by Craig D Robinson, an experienced entrepreneur, business coach, mentor and author. Having grown and exited two companies and retired at age 34, Craig decided to start My Advisory Board to help business owners achieve their goals and live their purpose through through their business.

So, are you ready to achieve amazing results by having a trusted accountability partner such as My Advisory Board?

Click HERE to access a FREE Business Health Check assessed by Craig D Robinson and the My Advisory Board Team. It will give you a current business reality check to help identify challenges, potential opportunities for growth and identify key metrics for accountability.  

Why not start today - get more accountable in time for the new financial year!

 

 

Achieve Amazing Results with Outsourcing

When staff are given autonomy within a structured framework, amazing results can be achieved.

Using systems that include key reporting metrics, staff can be given responsibility, autonomy and authority over their day to day tasks. Managers can measure, monitor and rank the progress of their teams ensure quality results and sanction/reward as required. Once the systems are established, it no longer matters if staff are working under direct supervision or remotely.

This opens up the possibility of staff telecommuting (working from home) and the opportunity of directly employing staff offshore. After all, if you can be sure your Admin Assistant is completing tasks in a timely and quality way from home, why not hire a work-from-home staff member in a developing country where you can make huge cost savings, whilst paying double or triple local wages and support a family in a developing country. Don't ‘ship jobs offshore’ take your competent local staff member and 'promote' them, give them responsibility over several remote staff and allow them to work on the 'high level tasks they have shown you they are capable of.'

I recently assisted an IT business with a strong culture implement a huge cost saving using outsourcing. The concern was that it would be seen as taking jobs from the local team with a likely negative result on the morale and camaraderie that the Directors had worked so hard to foster. With a development team of 7 people, we decided that the next hire, rather than an 8th local person, would be an offshore developer/programmer for each of the existing development staff. In this way the team could double from 7 to 14, each local staff member feeling recognized and rewarded as they knew their jobs were secure and they now each had a direct report. The cost saving (yes, it's cheaper to hire 7 offshore programmers than 1 local) was to be used in 'frontline management training' to teach the development team how to delegate, measure and reward/sanction their direct reports.

If you would like to learn more about Outsourcing – you can download your free copy of The Art of Entrepreneurial Outsourcing a book written for Entrepreneurs with details of 100 Mission Critical Roles you can outsource quickly and effectively.

Claim your free copy!

Successful people give time to themselves, others and their goals

Your time is not yours alone.

You are not the only person in your life.

You have goals; you also have various communities you belong to that are a key part of your identity. Whether it is a family, your workmates, your local sports club, a volunteer organisation or simply socialising with a group of friends.

When you allocate your time, you need to take into account all that is part of you. Your needs, your goals and the people who matter to you. Taking great care not to ignore or neglect any aspect of your life. In fact, if we neglect or borrow time away from important aspects of our lives, it has a habit of demanding that time back from us, often at the most inconvenient time. 

This includes your own rest and relaxation.

Find the right balance.

Are you so engrossed in your work that you neglect your health? Are you so busy with work that it is difficult to find some time to spend with your family and friends?

It’s only for a short while, you say. If I work hard now, then I will be able to achieve my goals sooner, and later, I can find the time to indulge.

There are millions of people who say this and they find out too late that life has passed them by.

Then there are the successful few who live complete and fulfilled lives. They are healthy, happy and have time for their personal passions, hobbies, their family and friends, and also work hard to achieve success in their professional lives.

Your goals are important.

Whether they are financial, career- or business-related, your goals help you focus on what is important to you and where you want to be in the immediate future as well as some years from now. These goals should not exclude the rest of your life; goals like how much time you spend with your family, and personal pursuits are equally important and should not be ignored.

You are responsible.

Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, you have to remember one crucial fact. You are responsible for your life and your time. You cannot and should not expect your employer, the government, your personal assistant or any other external entity, to help you achieve work-life balance.

Your life belongs to you. You have the responsibility to live your life the way you want to. You can’t just let life happen.

You belong in a group, a family, a circle of friends and well-wishers. They are your responsibility and you need to make time to maintain your relationship with them.

Your goals belong to you. You have a responsibility not only for creating them but also for pursuing them. You don’t just dream, you follow your dreams.

If you don’t, they will follow you and haunt you. Before you realise it they will have withered and turned into ghosts or regrets.

Just like a plant, your goals and ambitions need to be cared for and nurtured.

Fill your life with meaningful moments.

Creating value does not necessarily mean being highly productive but it does mean finding meaning and purpose, love and happiness. In other words, it is about finding the right balance.

You may not be able to do it every day but over a week, or over a month or a few months, you can find the right balance.

You will know that you have achieved balance when you are eager to go to work, but at the same time are not too tired after work to spend time with your family.

You are (and should be) happy to spend a day at the museum or an evening at the movies without feeling guilty because you know that you’ve worked hard and deserve to live your life.

You have a whole life to do everything. The trick is to distribute the activities in such a manner that you do not neglect your needs, both personal and professional. Nurture your goals whether they are career-oriented, business-related, financial, personal, professional or social concerning your family and friends.

Think about each aspect of your life. Then make a commitment to yourself, your goals and the people who matter to you.

Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns: one for you, one for your goals and one for your relationships.

Now write down activities that come under each category. You have a commitment to your health and wellbeing. So you need to find the time to exercise, not just your body but your mind and soul.

What are your goals? Include professional as well as personal ones. Then allocate the time to pursue them. Make time for the people who matter in your life.

None of these activities should seem like you are duty bound to do them but they should come joyfully and naturally. You will realise as you read this book that you have all the time you want in your life and you can

make the most of it, right here, right now.

 

Use this 6 Step Recruiting System to Build a High Performance Team

People are the key to any business, but how do we make sure we are getting good ones? During selection, most managers rely on

1) the resume;

2) the interview.

What are the easiest things to fake when going for a job? The resume and the interview. A quick google will reveal hundreds of ways to better present your resume (often with creative licence) and countless articles on how to prepare for an interview. As employers, we need better tools.

After hiring over 300 people, I introduced a 6 stage recruitment process.

1) Reply to application with Scripted Email Response and Questionnaire

Once an application is received, we send a personalised (but scripted) reply email that includes an outline of the recruitment process (including timelines,) the Position Description and a link to our website. We invite the candidate to consider if our company is right for them. If the wish to continue, we invite them to follow the link and complete the PRE-EMPLOYMENT QUESTIONNAIRE (a google form that is easy to create and has a range of questions on it.) Here are two questionnaires we use:

Accounts Officer Pre-employment Questionnaire

Estimator Pre-employment Questionnaire

(If you would like more information about how we create and use these pre-employment questionnaires contact us here.)

2) Review Trigger Point Question Responses (before even looking at resumes or cover letters!)

Whilst candidates spend considerable time and effort on their resume (including running it past external people for advice and opinions) they won't take this sort of time on a Pre-Employment Questionnaire for a single position. This means we get a far more honest and less polished written application to consider.

In amongst our questions (from short answer to simple 'rate yourself from 1-10') are hidden our 5 trigger point questions. This is what we really care about and these questions enable us to take the huge number of responses and quickly pare them down to a manageable number. Only once we have seen the questionnaire responses do we even bother looking at the cover letter and resume.

For example, we don’t hire smokers. This is controversial, so we are coy about it. We explain we have a non-smoking policy at our workplaces and then provide 5 possible answers: I’m a non-smoker; this is fine as I’m only a social smoker; I’m a smoker but I can deal with this; I’m a smoker and I would struggle with this; I’m no longer interested in the position.

As you can guess, there is only one answer that is acceptable to us. So we have used a trigger point question to  eliminate a candidates that we don’t want (without attracting

3) Phone Screen

Having considered the questionnaire responses, we do a quick review of their resume and cover letter. If all looks ok, one of our team conducts a short phone screen (5-10 mins) to reiterate some key points and asses if they have taken the time to find out about the company and the role.

We use a short script (on an A5 sheet) but are really asking our team to go with their gut here. (But ask all the questions and keep the sheet as insurance against any claims of unfair selection.)

If this goes well, we ask them to attend a GROUP INTERVIEW where we will be conducting some testing and assessments.

4) APTITUDE, ABILITY AND PERSONALITY TESTING

There are many good tests available for purchase over the internet. I chose to become an accredited test administrator with ACER (Australian Council for Education Research; the company who create and administer such tests as the NAPLAN tests in schools.) this gave me access to over 250 online and paper based tests to select from. We would choose the most appropriate tests for a particular role (usually 4-5 assessments) and run the candidates through in groups of 6. By creating a 'role profile' as part of our in house systems, we were able to decide which candidates would progress (by systemising it, the task could be effectively delegated, with all results brought to senior management ranked and graded.)

These sort of tests are very, very difficult to fake.

This is also very cheap, costing us only $15 per candidate to assess and taking the time of 1 mid-level staff member to assess 6 candidates. Compare this to the cost of 2-3 senior managers conducting an interview for over an hour per person and you will see that in real terms, it makes commercial sense to do this testing first!

5) Formal Interview

Only once we have a full profile on the candidates do we invite them for an interview. We have a senior manager, their direct manager and someone who would be their subordinate (or peer) on the panel when we interview.

As interviews are one of the most written about parts of recruitment, we won’t add more here: google it if you want to learn how to conduct a good interview.

6) Reference Check.

This is the second most reliable tool in your recruitment process (after psychometric testing.)

This is crucial as it gives you a chance to verify what you have been told in an interview. A former employer will generally give you an honest read. If they haven't listed their most recent former (not current) employer, ask why and then ask for the contact details of this employer.

Whilst the reference check can be faked, it takes a lot of skill and planning and I've yet to see it pulled off effectively (every manager's got their bullshit detector dialled up to max on a reference check phone call.)

Just make sure you are thorough and critical. It is possible to “fall in love” with your ideal candidate during the interview phase and then only half-heartedly do the reference check. If you find yourself justifying any of the responses from a previous employer, it’s time to review the entire application.

 

The Pre-Employment Questionnaire gives you a far more honest assessment of a candidate than a resume ever will. It speaks directly to the concerns you have whilst avoiding the nonsense.

Testing is the true winner. Expertly formed testing gives you a true picture of your future candidate. Some employers do this after the interview as you have to pay for the tests - personally I think this is absurd; add up the time your senior managers spend in interviews and quantify this as a dollar value, now compare to the cost of testing. We would run 2 hours of testing for $15 (3 paper based aptitude/ability tests followed by any online psychometric personality profile) we only paid the $70 for the online tests if we choose to get the results. So anyone who failed the paper based tests only cost the $15 plus 1/6 of the admin team members time.

The Reference Check is simple and extremely difficult to fake. It is available to every employer, yet is seldom done. The fastest way to get improvements on your recruiting with minimal resources is to ensure that every candidate is reference checked with at least 2 sources.

 

Do More with a 50 Minute Sprint

 “I can sit there and do nothing as good as anyone,” says Margaret, one of the characters in the movie, Clockwatchers. She couldn’t have been more right.

A person can spend the entire eight hours in an office sitting at his or her desk and still fail to be productive. We all know that despite the 9 to 5 routine or the stipulated 8-hour workday, productivity does not happen just because employees show up for work.

On the other hand, a person can work from home, or from anywhere for that matter, and still productively contribute to the organisation they work for.

 

Are you stuck at your desk?

There is increasing evidence to show that sitting at your desk for long periods is not only unproductive but also unhealthy. The human body was not designed to sit for a long time and work at a desk.

Studies show that when you stand, stretch, walk, run, move for regular periods during the day, you see a remarkable increase in your productivity.

Our brain functions better as a result of the optimised blood flow making us more focussed, more alert, quicker in our responses and thereby more productive.

 

So how long should I work before doing some movement?

It was clear that working at a stretch of many hours does not increase productivity. If a person finds that he is not feeling energised or motivated after a period of continuously working, then he or she should take a break and go for a walk or stretch or just do something else which does not involve work.

When they come back, they will feel much more energetic. People who take breaks in between work have been found to produce better results than those who don’t.

Research completed using productivity app DeskTime to monitor the work habits of employees found that 52 minutes of work followed by 17 minutes of movement is the optimal mix for producitivity.

 

Time your tasks.

A significant insight from this study is that productivity can be improved when you set a time frame for a certain task. Instead of trying to drudge on and complete a task, if you set a timer or an alarm for 50 minutes and stopped working as soon the timer went off, you could get better results.

(While the exact peak productivity period is 52, for practical purposes, it makes sense to round it off to 50.)

You may not always complete the task but the sense of purpose that the time frame imparts enables you to use the time allocated in an efficient manner. The 50-minute time frame also creates a sense of urgency and builds up the pressure of meeting a deadline.

It prevents you from dilly-dallying. It helps you focus with purpose.

Similarly, when you take a break, don’t think about work or your next task. Just do something which is not associated with work which will help you relax and get the blood flowing.

It’s important not to be self-conscious about appearing to laze around because that’s exactly what you should be doing during your 15 or 20-minute break.

Entrepreneurs should stop behaving like employees if they want to make any real difference. They should stop looking over their shoulder trying to impress or gain the approval of the world.

Employees on the other hand should start performing like entrepreneurs. Instead of pretending to work all the time and putting in long hours to impress their manager, they should practice the 50-minute productivity sprint.

When your productivity improves, appearances don’t count. Look around you and you will notice that the most productive people are those who seem to get things done effortlessly.

The secret lies in the 50-minute productivity sprint followed by a break for 15 to 20 minutes.

It is important that during the 50-minute productivity period, you create the ideal work environment. This means that you ensure that there is nothing that breaks your concentration. So phone on airplane mode and email notifications off. If you have an open plan office, invest in a pair of large headphones. You don’t have to play music, simply having headphones on gives you permission to ignore anyone calling out to distract you with their issues.

 

Get the Right People in the Right Roles

You will get the most out of your team when they are happy and enjoying their roles. There are millions of articles to tell you how to be a better manager and create a better culture and work environment. That’s great and important, but there’s something you can do first with a lot less effort. Something that goes a long way to getting your staff to enjoy coming to work – give them a role that their personality is suited to. When we are suited to something, it just seems to come naturally, to be easy – and generally we enjoy it.

There are 2 main personality typing tools – DiSC and Myers Briggs. I have always preferred DiSC, because it is simpler and easier to learn. For information on the four DISC personality types click here. 

Now that you understand the main personality types, there are two simple steps to getting people in the roles suited for them:

Step One: Define what Personality Type is suited to each role

Step Two: Identify the Personality Types of your team

For Step One, it can help to think outside the box with your role creation and description. I used to employ an Estimator whose job description covered a range of areas that logically went together: he would network with and market to clients to get the projects to quote, then quote the project whilst liaising with the client, follow up with the client after we submitted the quote, then attended the meetings to try and make the sale. Now let's break those parts of the position description down and look at the personality type we want for each:

Networking and Marketing – I

Quoting – S & C

Follow up – I

Close the deal – D

My estimator was a high I with secondary D traits, so he loved ¾ of his job. Unfortunately, his personality type was diametrically opposed to the S/C need to accurately and methodically estimate. Now don’t get me wrong, he could do it (we can all discipline ourselves into whatever quadrant we choose – it just takes exactly that: discipline.) He did well until the workload increased. Faced with increasing time pressures and limited time, he had to make decisions about where he applied his time. So he naturally did more of what he enjoyed and was good at; the networking, sales and follow up. The quoting still got done, but he brought his I/D characteristics to it – he got results, but they were not accurate, precise or systematic – the result? We got a lot of quotes in the field that we couldn’t use because the data used in them was off.

What did I do? I got annoyed that he hadn’t done his job correctly (he was after all an Estimator!) It took some reflection and thinking on one of my favourite maxims:

Every time one of your staff fails it is because you have failed as a manager.

So, why had he failed? Because I had him in a role that was pulling his personality all over the map and he ended up settling where he was most comfortable.

What did we do from here? We went through our positions descriptions and listed the key tasks of each position. We then discussed each task and decided which personality type would be best suited to that task. If a task fitted 2 DiSC categories, we assigned both (most people have a primary and secondary trait.)

Once we had DiSC selections next to each task, we simply flipped it around. All the D tasks together, then the D/I then the I tasks and so on. In this way we got to see what tasks and responsibilities we needed handled by each Personality type. Bingo! We had just created our new position descriptions that would let that high S person operate in there most comfortable space year round! All that was left to do was come up with a title for this new job (that covered 4 traditional job tasks.)

We now give all our staff DISC tests to establish which tasks suit their personality. The result is a workforce that is happier, more engaged and doing the work that they are most suited to. 

Craig D Robinson has authored a book on using DISC profiling to build high performance teams, especially in rapid growth companies. Book a call with Craig to learn more about theses techniques.

 

STAFF ENGAGEMENT SURVEYS

Using staff engagement surveys as an effective tool to quantify and begin to change that most difficult aspect of any company, the culture. I would collate a list of 100 or more potential questions, then ask each key manager to choose 3-5 that they most wanted data on. I would choose a similar number based on current initiatives and issues. The surveys can be done anonymously (only works if you take measures to make the staff believe it will be anonymous) or {not anonymously} each having its advantages and disadvantages:

 - you are likely to get a more honest response on a survey that staff believe is truly anonymous

 - you are better able to address individuals concerns if the results are attributed to a staff member

 - you can better plan your next staff review or build a package to keep the high performing staff members if you have their personal results showing what they like, dislike and aim for.

Once you have the results, you need to be seen to act on them, or you will lose credibility as a manager (with a corresponding negative swing in culture.) This can be effectively done by:

 - assessing all suggesting and feedback with the senior management team

 - map all suggestions according to effort/resources required to implement and impact of the initiative {quadrant chart showing scatter graph}

 - deciding which concepts can/will be adopted (looking for high impact concepts, implement all those low effort/high impact and decide which other initiatives to implement)

 

If survey is anonymous:

 - address EVERY suggestion with staff, showing which will be implemented and discussing why other suggestions aren't practical to implement at the moment, but encourage feedback to see how these can be implemented down the track if important to staff. This is ideally done at face to face staff meetings, although can be done via email/memo - far less bang here as many staff won't read a long winded email from the management. Worse, others will skim over it, interpret it for their own means and then play "Chinese whispers" for there own ends.

 

If survey results are attributable to staff members:

 - announce all initiatives that are to be implemented, show when and how

 - fell staff that other initiatives are being considered and that some have been seen as not currently practical. Make the commitment to follow up with each staff member that has made a suggestion that wasn't implemented today.

 -  make a list and grab a couple of minutes one-on-one with each staff member who made a suggestion that didn't get up. Don't call them to your office, just grab them for a coffee or a few minutes alone.