Monday, September 22, 2014

Business Management

Want to Make Better Business Decisions?

Making a decision is one of the most powerful acts for inspiring confidence in leaders and managers. Yet many bosses are sometimes squeamish about it. Some decide not to decide, while others simply procrastinate. Either way, it's a cop-out -- and doesn't exactly encourage inspiration in the ranks.

It can help to learn how to make better decisions. You'll be viewed as a better leader and get better results overall.

Here are five tips for making quicker, more calculated decisions:

1. Stop seeking perfection. Many great leaders would prefer a project or report be delivered only 80% complete a few hours early than 100% complete five minutes late. Moral of the story: Don't wait for everything to be perfect. Instead of seeking the impossible, efficient decision makers tend to leap without all the answers.
2. Create a constructive environment. For successful decision making, make sure you establish an objective, involve stakeholders, hear others opinions, and ask the right questions.

3. Generate Good Alternatives. This step is still critical to making an effective decision. The more good options you consider the more comprehensive your final decision will be. When you generate alternatives, you force yourself to dig deeper, and look at the problem from different angles. If you use the mindset ‘there must be other solutions out there,' you're more likely to make the best decision possible.

4. Don't problem solve, decide. A decision can solve a problem, but not every problem can be solved by making a decision. Instead, decision making often relies more on intuition than analysis. Deciding between vendors, for instance, requires examining historical data, references and prices. But the tipping point often rests with your gut. Which feels like the right choice?

5. Communicate Your Decision, and Move to Action! Once you've made your decision, it's important to explain it to those affected by it, and involved in implementing it. Talk about why you chose the alternative you did. The more information you provide about risks and projected benefits, the more likely people are to support the decision.

An organized and systematic decision-making process usually leads to better decisions. Without a well-defined process, you risk making decisions that are based on insufficient information and analysis. Many variables affect the final impact of your decision.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Managing Conflict

Good leaders are great at resolving conflict. Great leaders keep conflict from arising in the first place.

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.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Business Growth

Manage Your Business Growth

The do’s and don'ts of business expansion

At one time or another, every business goes through a growth spurt and, whether it’s a multi-national corporation or an entrepreneurial enterprise, expansion is a tough process to navigate.
The real danger for any expanding business is that it does so too quickly or in an uncontrolled way. When this happens, cash flow and customer satisfaction are usually the first casualties and, in extreme circumstances, these can result in the demise of a once flourishing business. The trick is therefore to manage the growth process so you reap the benefits in the medium- and long-term.

Plan your expansion
It may seem obvious that any entrepreneur going through an expansion phase should do so with a game-plan, but many businesses expand in reaction to circumstances and don’t draw up a solid plan. Without this roadmap, it’s easy to get lost along the way, making changes to your business that are either too costly or not well thought out.

Don’t over-expand
While planned expansion can take a business to a whole new level, over-expansion is one of the biggest dangers of a growth phase. It’s easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment and to expand beyond the needs and the financial capacity of the business.
As a rule of thumb, plan capacity based on a five-year projection of demand and allow an additional 10% of capacity over and above that for periods of heavy demand or for partial down-time in any part of your business. More than this could be very risky and leave a business with overheads it can’t cope with.

Get professional financial advice
Whatever the nature of your expansion, there are financial implications for the business and it’s always best to seek professional advice. If you need to build or purchase your own premises, for instance, it’s important to speak to a financial institution that has experience in this area.
For plant and equipment, you may need to consider a flexible financing option, either a loan or a combination of a loan and an equity investment. Again, an institution with experience in the field and in your own industry is essential.

Develop a Project Management Schedule for the expansion
Again, this may sound self-evident, but many businesses expand without treating the expansion like a project – one of the most significant it will ever undertake.
When drawing up a project management schedule:
Identify key deliverables
Attach dates to these deliverables
Identify key responsibilities
Set up a regular review schedule
Identify procedures for managing non-delivery on any part of the project
Build in appropriate timing and financial contingencies
Managing the process is as important as planning it and it’s important to commit to this in a formal way, building in the appropriate checks and balances.

Keep your customers informed
Expansion of any kind can cause disruptions in your day-to-day operations and it’s important that your customers know what to expect. Before commencing an expansion, tell them what you’re planning and what the expected completion date is. If possible, tell them what disruptions to expect and how you’re intending to deal with them.

Announce the completion of your expansion
Once the expansion phase is complete, it’s important to let both existing and potential customers know about it. Tell them about the increased capacity of the business and the additional products and services you can offer. Develop a special marketing drive to announce the occasion and send out media releases, especially to the local and regional press.

Celebrate this moment in your business – it’s one of the best marketing opportunities you could ask for.