What do a well-managed team and a well-run business have in common?  Plenty as it turns out.

What do a well-managed team and a well-run business have in common? Plenty as it turns out.

Standing on the side-line of my 16-year-old son’s school rugby team last week I was really impressed with what I saw, and I’m not just talking about the rugby.

Choosing to look at the team through a different lens it was the structure and process they have in place that really impressed me. Let me explain.

Firstly,  they had a starting team of fifteen, each of whom played a different position depending on their skill set and what the team required.  They had four subs who they could bring on when fatigue set in, performance dropped, or to cover injury.  They had the right people in the right places with a robust succession plan.

They had a game plan, which was based on the conditions, the opposition, and the style of rugby they wanted to play.  They had a shared vision and a clear goal.

The players prepared well.  There was a lengthy warm-up, they practiced their moves and their set plays.  They had a pre-game team talk where they reinforced the game plan, they spoke about representing their school with pride, playing for each other going into the game with the right attitude.  They were focused, committed, and aligned.

They lined up for the referee who checked their sprigs and mouthguards.  He spoke to the players about his zero tolerance for high tackles or foul play.  Everyone understood the Health and Safety protocols and the consequences of any breaches. 

Every player understood the game plan and the contribution they would need to make in pursuit of victory.  They were given the freedom to make decisions and play what was in front of them.  They had clear expectations, delegated authority, autonomy, and accountability.

They spent time on attack, scoring points through well-executed plays that breached the opposition line.  They were resolute on defence, refusing to have their line crossed.  They played as a team, with resilience and a competitive mindset.

They had a Captain and Vice-Captain who both led through their actions, rather than their words.  They played hard and fair, and the rest of the team followed the example they set.  They had strong, inspirational leadership.    

They played with intensity, heart and to the limit.  If they overstepped the mark however, they were penalised or yellow carded.  Those players let the team down and were held accountable for their actions by the referee.  There was a fair and transparent process for dealing with adverse behaviour.

At the end of the game they shook hands with the referee, the opposition team and then thanked the supporters.   They had values, played with a spirit of fairness, and showed gratitude.

There was a debrief after the game where they spoke of the things that went well and the things that didn’t.  They talked about ‘work ons’ for the next training session.  They celebrated success but always had a mindset of constant improvement.

So why is rugby so successful in this country?  It’s because as Kiwi’s we have an inherent expectation of success on the rugby field, the coaches create a platform for these players to excel and the players are empowered to execute in pursuit of victory.  

If you’re a Business Owner or Leader and you can resonate with this thinking, get in touch with us at The Alternative Board and let’s start developing your game plan.

Avoid the urge to rush – don’t ruin your business engine

Avoid the urge to rush – don’t ruin your business engine

It’s a horrible feeling. That sudden realisation that the wrong fuel has gone into the car. I’ve done it myself – in fact, I did it the other day. I made the fatal mistake of putting petrol in my diesel vehicle, but fortunately I realised what I had done before starting the engine. From what I understand it is not an uncommon mistake, particularly for those that regularly swap between diesel and petrol cars.

After several phone calls I realised that the only thing I could do was to engage a ‘fuel removal specialist’. Although I had a busy day in front of me I had no choice but to wait for two hours at the filling station for the expert to arrive so he could suck the petrol out of the tank and thus avoid serious damage to my engine. Not only did this cost two hours of my time, it cost $275.00 for the service. A costly experience, but a small cost in comparison to what I would have had to pay for engine repairs, had I started my engine.

On reflection, there are two reasons why this incident happened; I was rushing and I wasn’t truly present in the moment.

Relating this experience to business, how often do employers make a rash decision because they are rushing and not present in the moment? Maybe they make a poor hiring decision and promote the ‘not quite suitable’ person from within the company, or employ an external candidate even when their gut feeling says they shouldn’t – but they do so anyway because it seems the easiest option and they just want to get it done.

I have made this mistake too and it is one that I always regretted. Like the fuel scenario, hiring the wrong person can be detrimental to business – much like putting petrol in a diesel engine. Not only can this lead to a financial cost to the business, it can also undermine the culture within the team. In this example, your investment in an effective recruitment process to ensure you have the right people on board will pay significant dividends over time and will more than compensate for the time and effort you put in.

We live in a busy, sometimes chaotic world, so we need to raise our awareness around this propensity to rush. Rushing affects our ability to be present, it increases our stress levels, it can lead to mistakes and it can inhibit our ability to make effective business decisions. So take your time – and don’t ruin your business engine.

How do we treat our employees?

How do we treat our employees?

Have you ever considered that the way we treat our employees has similarities to how we bring up our children?

If we don’t guide our children, establish boundaries, praise when appropriate and clearly communicate consequences, then we are probably doing them a disservice. 

A child turns into a teenager and if that teenager goes off the rails and becomes a recidivist youth offender as a result of a dysfunctional family and a lack of strong core values, who is responsible for this teenager’s anti-social and criminal behaviour?  The answer is probably both the teenager and the family. But think about the influence the parents could have had on this outcome if the teenager had been brought up in a different environment, one of

  • love,
  • empathy,
  • strong values,
  • accountability, and
  • discipline.  

If this were the case, I am sure we would be talking about a different teenager!

In this example it is easy to lay the blame of this anti-social behaviour with the teenager; some people will even say ‘lock him up and throw away the key’, as if the problem will just go away.  But we do need to ask ourselves; “Where does the real problem lie?”.

A similar philosophy applies in business.  We diligently recruit staff to give us the best chance of finding the right person, with the required skillset and strong core values to ensure they have the right attitude and attributes to fit with our organisation.   This is the first step, but once employed, similar to bringing up children, we need to provide them an environment where they can develop and flourish. 

A poor performing employee may be managed out a business or even fired, but does that performance issue rest with the employee or the employer?  The answer again is probably both, but if this employee was working for an employer that had a;

  • clear vision for the business,
  • strong values,
  • effective communication,
  • an engaged and positive culture,
  • clear goals and expectations for all staff,
  • consistency, empathy and inspirational leadership

I am sure we could well be talking about a different outcome for this employee.

Often our first instinct is to blame, in this case ‘let’s fire the troublesome employee’, but shouldn’t we first look inwards to see if we have contributed to this outcome and ask ourselves whether we have done everything we possibly can to give this employee the best chance of succeeding? 

If we can answer ‘yes’ to this question then we can move forward with conviction and certainty. Staff will still need to be praised, disciplined and some poor performers may still lose their jobs, but we can act with confidence in the knowledge that we have done everything we can to positively influence the outcome.   

We’ve Done It Before – We Can Do It Again

We’ve Done It Before – We Can Do It Again

A sudden slip into Alert Level Three, the blast of the emergency ‘COVID’ warning through our phones and once again we’re into the balancing act of keeping our businesses moving in exceptional circumstances.

Last month our Pulse Check results told us how adaptable and flexible New Zealand’s small business are, with business owners altering operations and changing practice in order to survive the challenges that 2020 has thrown at us all. Just as we have rolled out our August Pulse Check – which you can access here if you would like to participate – the beat has changed again and, in Auckland, we are facing at least three days at Level 3, probably more, with the rest of New Zealand parked up at Level 2 for the time being.

We asked our Auckland team for their thoughts on the current situation and their advice was simple — we’ve been here before, rely on past experience and know that it will pass.

The Alternative Board’s managing director Stephen James said: “Knowing it will pass, spend some time addressing a few scenarios. For example, if Level 3 lasts, as announced, for three days what do you need to do? Or, if it remains in place for two weeks or if Level 4 is declared and we have full lockdown for an indefinite period — what then? Develop plans of action for each scenario and communicate these to your staff and stakeholders.”

Scenarios are very helpful when it comes to managing uncertainty as Alfredo Puche explained in his recent blog post. Other helpful advice is to be found in Gordon Stuart’s tips on surviving a recession and Karen Van Eden’s thought-provoking piece on thriving in times of uncertainty.

Whatever your approach, remember that The Alternative Board is here to help you, the business owner, manage and grow your business regardless of circumstances — and we are all here, ready to help you.

As Karen says: “We’ve done this before – together we can do it again. Stay safe, stay well.”

The Alternative Board - OwnersAuckland South