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Maximising The Value Of Star Performers And Dealing With Bad Apples

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As managers, our focus is invariably on keeping the team on track, aligned with one another and the mission. But overall performance can be strongly affected by certain individuals; either by outstanding individuals or by ‘bad apples’. These outliers are key to building the dream team and reducing risk.

So, how can these two extremes be managed to maximise success while eradicating pain points?

I don’t believe there are many real ‘bad apples’ – intrinsically most people want to do well. Traction, by Gino Wickman, approaches the problem in a more useful way. There are three types of underperformers: the wrong person in the right seat; the right person in the wrong seat; and the wrong person in the wrong seat.

Wrong person, right seat

These people might look great on paper, but in practice are a cultural mismatch. To avoid this, keep an eye out for warning signs, for example, staff taking other people outside for ‘chats’ or being negative. You need to confront the individual before it escalates. Negative behaviour can be toxic – your culture risks losing credibility with the rest of the team.

To tackle it, outline behaviours in reviews, providing examples and evidence. Most people will try and overcome this, or leave of their own will if they’re really not a good fit.

Right person, wrong seat

If someone fits the business, but not the role, there are three areas that might be holding them back; self-motivation, self-management, and skills. Often people can be promoted above their capabilities because they show talent in a different role – it’s known as the Peter Principle, that people tend to get promoted to the level of their incompetence. If they have the right motivation and attitude try to up-skill them with training.

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If that doesn’t work look at other roles within the company that would suit them better.

It can be tempting to leave your star employees to their own devices. But it’s just as important to help them develop and keep them motivated.

If self-management is the issue, try putting a work-in-progress board above each team member’s desk with all the things they’re working on plus updates. They’re forced to take responsibility for their tasks, and review them regularly!

Wrong person, wrong seat

If someone is wrong for the company and the role, and that doesn’t change, you might need to let them go. In these cases, the most important thing is to do things by the book and be generous to your leaver (with notice periods and so forth), for an easier exit in the long term.

It’s not just about the legal side of things either. Being decent to leavers and keeping them onside (as far as possible) is important for your brand. Disgruntled leavers can cause untold brand damage in the worst cases. When HMV announced mass redundancies to their employees, marketing staff took out their anger publicly on HMV’s own Twitter account.

Right person, right seat…

It can be tempting to leave your star employees to their own devices. But it’s just as important to help them develop and keep them motivated. You will need to invest time to understand the different individuals. I used to manage two guys, one of whom a good ‘talking to’ would always push them to prove themselves, whereas for the other it would cause the other to panic and break down!

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Developing goals for high-achievers is important for their development. SMART goals are one option or Traction uses the idea of Rocks with three to seven goals that must be achieved within three months (for companies, teams or individuals).

Continually monitoring progress is an essential part of that goal-setting process. We use Monthly Business Reviews, one-on-ones looking at highlights and issues from last month and defining objectives for the next, and Crucials, weekly actions crucial to the business.

Finally, great staff will need rewards to keep them keen and motivated. Feedback and praise are a huge part of that, but pay, bonuses and, perhaps most importantly, promotion, should also be considered. This is especially important for junior staff – if there’s no progression available, you will get leavers.

Develop a clear promotion framework with bands of salary – once an individual is at the top of their band, progress them to another responsibility. If someone has progressed as far as they can go in the framework, how about letting them manage key areas like a new product launch, giving them real independence and responsibility?

Where some underperformers can be ‘culture terrorists’, your star performers can fulfil the opposite role, illustrating what success looks like and inspiring others in the team.

Depending on your business culture, perhaps think about creating some friendly competition, for example, have screens showing people’s achievements against their targets.

In the end it’s all about culture and values, ensuring that your culture enables success, validates achievement, but also challenges underperformance. Both underperformers and high-achievers play a vital role in realising the culture that emerges in practice – as a manager it’s your job to make sure everyone’s moving in the right direction.

Bridget is our senior editor, she likes to write about web and marketing mostly. You can reach her at bridget@bigframe.net

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7 Reasons Why Its Important to Have a Niche

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A niche is a focused, targetable segment of the market. You are a specialist providing a product or service that focuses on the specific needs of an identified client group, which cannot or are not being addressed in such detail by the dominant providers in your industry.

But it is important to understand that there is, in fact, a difference between your identified niche and your target market.

Your target market is a specific identifiable group of people you work with, e.g. women in the city, technology start-ups, creative agency owners, small and medium businesses in a particular revenue range.

Your niche is the service you specialise in offering to your target market.

For example, standing desks are aimed at professionals who work in front of a computer for long periods of time. This is a well-defined niche.

Here are 7 reasons why it is important to have a niche:

To avoid spreading yourself too thin

Instead of the risk of spreading yourself too thin in saying that ‘everyone’ is your potential client, niche marketing will help you to focus on a specific grouping of people, and particularly on what their needs and wants are.

You will unlikely to be able to serve everybody, so it is important to focus on what you do best and aim it at a specific group of people who will likely buy what you offer.

It is important to find out what is important to them, what blogs they read, their beliefs and attitudes, who the main influencers in that network are.

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Having these insights means that you can develop products or services specifically aimed at this group, based on your thorough knowledge and understanding of what they are interested in.

It’s easier to identify and target potential clients and partners to work with

As the pool of people that exists for a niche is smaller than its mainstream equivalent, it will be easier to identify potential clients and partners to work with, as you can be much more targeted and laser-focused with your marketing efforts.

It’s easier to become an expert and well known in your niche

Niching means it will be much easier for others to understand ‘what you do’ and ‘for whom’, which will make it easier to position you as an expert in your field. As this group is more targeted and of a smaller size, you can rapidly become well known within this group of people.

Your profile and overall visibility will increase within this group. It is a small world after all!

More and better referrals

Since it will be easier for others to understand what you do and for whom, it, in turn, becomes much easier for them to refer more and better quality clients to you that fit the profile of your ideal client, as you have built up trust, credibility, visibility, and it is very clear as to what your specialism is.

The more unique you are, the less competition you will have

There will be less competition, as you will provide the specific services or create the specific products for the specific people you are seeking to help in a specific way that meets their needs. The BIG advantage of becoming more unique is that usually it can’t be easily replicated by your competition!

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Marketing becomes much easier

Effective niche marketing should really help with your marketing, positioning and branding as you will attract the ‘right people’ much more easily and quickly. People with similar interests tend to behave and are attracted to similar things. This means that many of your clients will do all the hard work for you as they will refer you more and more because your profile, credibility and influence are readily apparent within your tribe.

More repeat business

As you are able to provide an increasingly better service or product, based on your specific client’s needs, it is likely that you will get more repeat business – people will come back for more, and as an added benefit will often start spending more with you as your relationship grows with them.

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4 Things That Are Slowing Down Everyday Business Processes

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A modern business needs a lot of things to be successful. 

High-quality products that capture the attention of your target market are an excellent first start. However, you also need robust marketing strategies, a strong team of dedicated workers, and a plan for continued growth and evolution. 

A good company is like a well-oiled machine. One cog turning out of time could bring your entire enterprise grinding to a halt. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the things that are slowing down your crucial processes and preventing your company from reaching its true potential. 

Today, we’re going to be looking at some of the things that could be hampering your everyday business processes, so that you can make a valuable change. 

#1 Multitasking

How many people in your business are wearing multiple hats? 

The chances are that if you’re a small and growing company, you have endless executives and employees rushing from one task to another. You may even be asking your team members to take part in activities that aren’t closely connected to their job roles. 

While it’s fine for everyone in your organization to pitch in a little extra at times, it’s important to make sure that this doesn’t give way to constant multitasking. 

Research proves that multitasking kills productivity and reduces the quality of the work produced. That’s because when you’re multitasking, you’re continually forcing your brain to switch from one thing to another, so you can’t truly focus on anything. 

If multitasking is a common problem in your organization, then it might be time to reassess your workflow and see where you can create more focused teams. Try to give the right task to the right people to prevent inefficiencies. 

Maybe allowing your senior leaders to delegate more of their work will make them more successful. Perhaps taking extra jobs away from lower employees and keeping everyone focused on their areas of expertise will help. 

The last thing you want for your business is that your employees don’t have time to do the job they were hired for.

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If you have to switch employees between different tasks frequently and it’s slowing down work progress, maybe it’s time to add a new employee to your team. Alternatively, look if some processes can be outsourced to a company or a freelancer.

#2 Inefficient Meetings

Increasingly, companies are beginning to feel as though most meetings are nothing more than a waste of time. For years, we relied on face-to-face interactions in boardrooms to make sure that everyone in our team remained on the same page. 

However, by now, we have learned that this kind of disruptive activity is no longer necessary. 

Although the occasional meeting can be useful to connect your employees and bring people together in a more intimate environment, most of the time, you can switch a meeting out for broadcast on a collaboration app. 

You could even consider allowing your employees to dial into a video meeting so that they don’t have to leave their office. 

Pulling your team members out of their workflow so that they can take part in meetings when you could have shared the same information in an email is a dangerous waste of time. 

The next time you’re planning a meeting, ask yourself whether it’s necessary to bring people together in a conventional sense. If it is, ensure that you’re only inviting the most relevant people to the room.

Once they leave the meeting room, everyone should know exactly why their input was required and what are the next steps they need to take

#3 Lack of Insights

Let’s face it – data makes the world go around. We’re living in an era where information is everywhere, and it’s crucial to making our companies more effective. 

The good news is that the majority of today’s companies have systems in place that allow them to capture intelligence information from everything from their sales calls to their marketing campaigns. 

The bad news is that most organizations simply don’t know how to use their insights to improve their business operations. If you’re not taking advantage of the benefits of real-time and historical data analysis yet, it could be the perfect time to get started. 

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Sit down with the other leaders in your team and figure out some goals that you want to accomplish. From there, you can determine what kind of information you need to reach your goals. 

For instance, if you want to make your marketing campaigns more successful, it makes sense to look at the marketing initiatives that have worked for you in the past. 

You might also want to tap into information about your target audiences and their pain points too. This data could help you identify areas that you can improve to offer your customers an excellent experience at every touchpoint with your business.

#4 Preventable IT Issues

Finally, another thing that we’ve come to recognize in the digital era is that IT can either be your friend or your enemy. In many cases, the right technology in your company’s landscape can accelerate growth and generate new opportunities. 

Knowing how to make the most of the assets at your disposal can significantly improve daily business operations. Implementing some new solutions can help you get there, too.

AI and machine learning are no longer terms out of science fiction novels. People have taught robots to interact with each other and with other people, and solve problems in the process. 

For a great example of how this achievement can speed up daily business operations, just look at chatbots. Chatbots can drastically reduce the time it takes to answer repeat customer questions and queries. Your employees could spend this time on more important tasks and projects. 

Also, chatbots can work around the clock. There’s no denying that having a 24/7 customer service is a great asset to your business. However, due to the high costs of maintaining a contact center, in most cases, it’s not a viable solution.

In such scenarios, chatbots can step in, respond to simple queries, and redirect more complicated issues to a human. 

Chatbots enable you to reduce time, money, and human labour, which you can then reallocate into growing your business.

If you have enough people on your team, offering live chat is another way to bypass long workflow procedures and ticketing systems that might be annoying to your customers. An agent can handle more than one chat at a time and still give the customer a personalized approach. 

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The list of benefits of a live chat for a business is long. It boosts customer convenience, satisfaction, and loyalty, helps your business respond to their pain points faster and opens another channel for upselling.

However, there’s also a chance that poorly-managed technology could slow your business down and stop your team from completing their goals. Remote working trends or bring your own device trend (BYOD) are especially sensitive to these issues.  

While it’s always possible that IT issues might happen in your workforce, you can put strategies in place to protect yourself from any major downtime or disruptions. 

For instance, teaching your team members how to manage work equipment on their own, and providing them with the knowledge to troubleshoot any issues they face means that you can keep your organization running smoothly. 

At the same time, this frees up time for your IT employees, who can focus on finding ways for you to use technology to accelerate your business growth, rather than just responding to the same old preventable problems. 

Time to Speed up Your Business Growth

A company is a dynamic and ever-changing thing. Unfortunately, it’s also very fragile. When something as small as a single process doesn’t work properly for your company, you begin to see negative repercussions everywhere. 

The good news is that taking the time to examine your business workflow and figure out areas where systems can be improved can make your venture more efficient and successful. 

From working on preventable IT issues to reducing the number of meaningless meetings your team members are exposed to, there are plenty of ways that you can make your company into the well-oiled machine that it needs to be. 

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