Monday, November 28, 2011

Business Management

Managing Conflict

Conflict in the workplace can have a negative effect on the day-to-day working of your business, or result in a large scale strike or other employment dispute. It can also affect the general health and wellbeing of your employees. Here are a few ideas illustrating how you can manage relationships in your business and minimize conflict between individuals, teams, and larger groups of employees.

1. Signs of conflict

Conflict can arise at work for a number of reasons. For instance, two employees may have a personality clash, an employee may have a grievance against their manager, or a manager feels an employee is underperforming

Conflict can have a negative impact on your employees and this may be demonstrated by:

·        a lack of motivation - fewer people volunteer to take on new tasks or providing input at team meetings

·        unpleasant behaviour - people start to make derogatory remarks towards each other and there are fewer social events organized

·        falling productivity - people are not cooperating with each other

·        increased sick leave and absence of staff 

By spotting signs of conflict early, you have a better chance of: identifying causes, resolving the conflict.

2. Causes of conflict

Every employee has needs and certain expectations at work, and conflict could arise when people feel that these are not being met or are being ignored.

Conflict could be the result of:
·        poor management communication
·        unfair treatment
·        unclear job roles
·        inadequate training
·        poor work environment
·        lack of equal opportunities
·        bullying and harassment

3. Preventing conflict

To minimize and prevent conflict in the workplace, you should try to learn as much as you can about why conflicts occur and develop processes to address them. Common action points that employers should consider are:

·        developing a strategy for managing conflict with managers, employees and your representatives
·        having sound policies and procedures in place
·        explaining plans for change and making employees feel involved
·        listening to and consulting with employees on decision-making
·        rewarding fairly with pay or bonus schemes
·        ensuring work safety
·        ensuring that managers are properly trained 

4. Managing conflict

When a conflict arises you should try to take a calm approach and not react in a challenging way. You should also not ignore the problem and hope that it will go away.
The best way to handle conflict is to face it and have a planned approach. If you have policies or procedures in place, you can use these to determine how you approach the issue or to give your employee an idea of how you will approach addressing the problem. It may help to have an employee representative and/or a senior manager available who can help when employees find it difficult to confront their managers or when you are not able to speak to each employee individually.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Networking tips

1.     Set goals when attending networking meetings. Are you attending to learn? Make contacts? Or strictly making business connections.
2.     Volunteer. This provides you with greater visibility and you give back to groups that help you. Act as a resource for others to enhance your role.
3.     Clearly articulate your needs. Some people cannot answer a simple question like “How can I help you”?
4.     Ask open-ended questions. In networking group conversations ask questions like who, what, where, how rather than questions that can be answered yes or no. This suggests you are interested in what people have to say.
5.     Follow-up. If you receive referrals follow-up quickly. The way you respond is a reflection on the person providing the referral.
6.     Call new contacts. If you meet someone of interest make a follow-up call to indicate your pleasure in meeting the person and try to set a date to exchange further ideas.

Networking can be a core tactic for both independent professionals and small business owners. Customers are more easily attained this way than through more costly and time consuming cold calling.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Business valuation

Business valuation tips

Here are a few tips courtesy of my friend Bill Sivell of VR Windsor

1.     What about that big customer?

Many companies have a single customer or a few large customers that dominate their overall sales. After all, nobody wants to turn down business!  But when it comes time to sell the company, this becomes a huge problem.  Most buyers won’t look at a business whose revenues could drop dramatically after closing from the possible loss of those customers.  Some how, some way, business owners have to find a way to diversify their customer base before they ever decide to sell their business.

2. Timing is everything!

Many business owners seem unable to let go of their company and wait too long. Some lose their entrepreneurial drive and the business starts sliding. Or the market starts to change and the company loses value. To get the maximum price, owners need to do some serious planning to prepare selling the business at its peak.

3.  Special Relationships with Customers

 Special relationships that business owners have developed with customers can be a real issue when selling the business.  A new owner may have a problem continuing that relationship and this could jeopardize the sale of the business.  It is recommended that business owners begin delegating any special relationships with customers to other company employees as soon as possible.

Please visit Bill's web site at   for additional tips on placing a value on your business.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Business Leadership

Effective Business Leadership

Effective business leadership demands a captain of the ship, not just someone who's standing by the helm. Leadership is active, not passive.

Cool-headed, farseeing, visionary, courageous - whichever adjectives you choose, leadership is a winning combination of personal traits and the ability to think and act as a leader, a person who directs the activities of others for the good of all.
But you can't be a leader just by saying you are. Business leadership, like leadership of any kind, needs to be worked at. Transform yourself into the kind of leader your small business needs with these keys to business leadership.

1.     Vision - Vision is essential to good leadership. Vision provides direction and without direction, there’s not much point to all that planning; your small business will still flail about. Create a Vision Statement for your business. Because it embodies your dreams and your passions, a vision statement will also serve as a leadership vision. Plan where you want your business to be in five years and how you are going to take it there.

2.     Planning - The core of business leadership is being proactive rather than reactive. Sure, leaders are good in crises - but that doesn't mean they sit around letting crises develop. Leadership involves identifying potential problems and solving them before they reach crisis proportions. Good leaders analyze and plan and adapt their plans to new circumstances and opportunities.

3.     Communication - Plans, strategies and results should never be left on paper, collecting dust. “If you are making money, your employees should know about it and be rewarded. This will motivate them and your company will continue to grow. The success of the company isn’t yours alone, it belongs to your team. On the other hand, if the company is facing problems, your employees will be a valuable source of ideas on how to improve things.

4.     Staffing - Businesses are as successful as the people working in it. Great leaders who created successful companies have one thing in common: they surround themselves with talented, courageous, loyal people. Once you have recruited them, invest in their development through training, coaching and fair compensation.

Learning to be a leader isn't easy because it takes a conscious commitment and consistent effort to develop one's business leadership skills. But on the positive side, anyone who is willing to make the effort can become a good leader.