26 February 2013

"Crisis Management - Stick to your Principles" Article by Steve Marsten

Many people at the helm of a business often face crises from time to time. The hard question is determining whether you’ve got a run-of-the-mill crisis or one that’s transformational for your company. This can often be made more difficult because every crisis is emotional.

Smart business owners know that to see your way through the fog you must work through a set of principles. These are usually those original principles you had when you first established your business.

It’s often like driving your car. You aim to go from point A to point B as quickly as you can. We need to focus on the road and not on the wall or the pot hole; on where you’re going rather than what you’re trying to avoid.

Every business will run into crisis from time to time. I find it useful to write the issues down as well as my thoughts – that way it helps sort through the facts from the emotions and using your key people to talk through an issue is often handy to clarify your own thinking. Often I will discuss issues with a colleague. We may not agree however it often fleshes out the real issues and assists in preparing an Action Plan to overcome the crisis at hand.
Often when talking to business owners and CEO’s, I ask them how they solved a particular problem. The Mediocre CEO’s tend to point to their brilliant strategic moves or the intuitive business sense or a variety of other self-congratulatory explanations. The great CEO’s tend to be remarkably consistent with their answers. They all say “I just didn’t give up!”

In business it’s natural that you will run into crises from time to time. The question is - in the way we react. Too quick to decide can often lead to a lack of consideration and a greater crisis to come. To slow and we risk damaging the business name and reputation.

Take time to assess the issues; determine the best strategy and implement it. The next step is to review and assess and tweak if necessary. Don’t give up until it’s sorted and you are driving smoothly again.

How have  you reacted when presented with a crisis in your business?

How do you solve the crisis?

Do you have strategies that you follow?

Are they effective?

At Sothertons we can assist you with crisis management strategies. Call us on (07) 49 721300.

19 February 2013

'Learning and Earning' Article by Tina Zawila

Recently I attended a GAPDL "Search For Solutions" breakfast meeting to discuss how "Gladstone employers bridge the gap to retain a commercially viable, productive, flexible and skilled workforce in the Gladstone Region for 2013 and into the future".  Facilitated by Sothertons Director, Steve Marsten, a panel of local business owners and managers provided us with an overview of their challenges and solutions.  Not surprisingly, there was a lot of concern expressed around attracting and retaining team members and much discussion about apprentices and trainees and the investment required in training and developing employees.

In our industry, regular, ongoing professional development is not only mandatory, it is essential.  We must keep up to date to be able to provide innovative solutions and the best possible advice to our clients.  We regularly undertake formal training and next week we will have one of our regular "Team Training Days" where we will immerse ourselves in technical training, identifying best practice processes and team building activities.

Professional development and training of your team can require a significant investment of both time and money.  However, I am reminded of a quote from Tom O'Toole, otherwise known as the Beechworth Baker - when people ask him "Tom, what if you train them and they leave?" to which he replies "What if I don't, and they stay?"  He also says "the more you learn, the more you earn".

Every business in every industry must invest in training employees if the business is going reach it's potential and achieve success.  Training and development is also an important attraction and retention strategy.

A book I read recently titled "Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go" by Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni suggests that developing the talent of employees is "one of the most significant drivers of employee engagement, which in turn is the key to the business outcomes you seek: revenue, profitability, innovation, productivity, customer loyalty, quality and cycle time reduction".

Developing your employees doesn't have to be done via formal training programs, checklists, and procedures.  Genuine and meaningful career development can often be achieved simply by having regular conversations with your team.  Ask questions, provide feedback, challenge, engage and interact.  The quality of the relationship you build with your employees will often determine whether they stay or go.

In Gladstone at the moment, it can be difficult (if not impossible) for small business to compete with "big business/industry" in terms of remunerating employees, however, one powerful advantage small business has, is the ability to offer unique and individual career development and ongoing training and mentoring.  Do this well and you will build a team of loyal and happy employees and in turn, you will be rewarded with a great place to work and a successful business.

Do you undertake regular training with your employees?

Do you notice an improvement in your business as your employees develop their skills and knowledge?

Have you read “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go” by Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle?

What did you think of their view on developing the talents of employees’ one conversation at a time?

At Sothertons, we are here to assist you with the development of your team and your business.  Call us on (07) 4972 1300 to discuss how we can help.

12 February 2013

"Become Indispensible" Article by Steve Marsten

Each year Small to Medium Enterprise (SME’s) operator’s carryout the annual ritual of reviewing staff performances. Some business’ do this on a six monthly basis others attend to it annually. Our business is part of the former group. Many SME’s do not look forward to this task, its downtime for them. It costs money. It often results in more costs if they increase wages and salaries. Hence they do not always go in to such meetings in the right head space.
Staff reviews are simply a formal communication meeting with your staff. It should be an extension of your ongoing communication with your people. All staff should have atleast one encounter with ”the boss” each day. If that doesn’t happen then management are shirking their responsibilities.

Recently while working with a client, a young staff member asked what they had to do to guarantee their job?  Her “Boss” straight away said that it was not possible. The employee walked off with their head bowed. Straight away I could see this employee just had her self esteem lowered and was probably off to scout the web for her next position.

This “boss” confessed to me that she was a “really” good employee! But then followed up with – “well no one is indispensible”. The fact is the “good” ones are hard to find and very costly to replace. SME’s make their biggest mistakes by not realising that employees need to be shown their future within the company otherwise they won’t see one!

It has been our experience that there are 5 ways that employees CAN make themselves as “indispensible” as possible.

  • Many employees as well as their managers and bosses are the first to arrive each morning. Some like to chat until “start time” others like to catch up on their emails or surf the web. Consider dealing with something that is worthwhile to your company.
  • Be the specialist in something. It maybe a piece of software; using excel or PowerPoint of something completely new that can be used by management and they just don’t know about it yet. Make sure they find out.
  • Understand your Key Performance Indicators. Knowing your KPI’s and understanding the “how” to achieve them will allow you to develop a focus.
  • Work harder than your colleagues. This is usually the easiest way to stand out.
  • Finally, take the opportunity to actually have a conversation with your boss or manager. Make sure they know you.
Let us know if you have got dedicated employees who are great at their job. What do you do to encourage their dedication?

Are you an employee who is the specialist in the field you work in? If so how have you created your skill set?

Do you stand out from your peers and does your Boss or Manager acknowledge you?

At Sothertons, we are committed to supporting you in [Business] + [Life]; if you need any assistance in developing strategies so you understand how to maintain the key assets of your business – your team, please call us on (07) 4972 1300.

05 February 2013

"Floods and Finance" Article by Tina Zawila

Rainfall for the week ended 28 January 2013 - Queensland
We have all been touched over the last few weeks by Queensland’s extreme weather conditions.  It seems that every community on the east coast of our great state has been impacted by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.  

Sadly, there have been lives lost and many people have lost everything they own as a result of the floods.   Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this terrible weather event.

As we start on the road to recovery, financial assistance will be vital to those who have lost their businesses, their homes or possessions.

Both the State and Federal Governments have funding that is available to those adversely affected by the floods that began on 21 January 2013.

The Federal Government offers an Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) which is a one-off payment for people who have been adversely affected by a disaster.  If you are eligible, you will receive: $1,000 per adult and $400 for each child (under 16 years of age).  Refer to www.humanservices.gov.au for more information.
Awoonga Dam in The Gladstone Region  - 26 January 2013

The Queensland Government (www.qld.gov.au) offers the Emergent Assistance Grant which is not income or asset tested and applicants may receive between $180 and $900.  These payments are usually made at a Community Recovery Centre in the disaster affected area. 

The Queensland Government also has three grants available if you are uninsured, or unable to claim insurance, and you are the owner (or mortgagee of the property), you live in a disaster declared area, and you meet the income and asset tests.

·        Essential Household Contents Grant will assist in replacement or repair of essential household contents, $1,765 for single adults and up to $5,300 for couples/families.
·        Structural Assistance Grant is a one-off payment towards repairs to your home to make it secure and safe, up to $10,905 for single adults and up to $14,685 for couples/families.
·        Essential Services Safety and Reconnection Grant to help reconnect essential services (electricity, gas, water and sewerage or septic system) that were damaged by a disaster.  Available in two parts: 1) Inspection – up to $200 towards a safety inspection for each essential service needing reconnection and 2) Repair – up to $4,200 towards repair work to enable essential services to be reconnected.

The Old Bridge in Bundaberg - 28 January 2013 
This information is general in nature and your own situation and circumstances must be considered to determine eligibility for financial assistance. 

Have you, your family or friends been adversely affected by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald?

How are you/they coping? Have you/they had time to see what financial aid may be available?

Can we help?

At Sothertons, we are committed to supporting you in [Business] + [Life]; if you need any financial advice or help in determining your eligibility for financial assistance please call us on (07) 4972 1300.