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A free monthly newsletter about improving your
people, processes, sales and marketing, financial
performance…and other interesting stuff

September 2012

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Keeping Good People

A question I frequently get asked is "how do I keep my good people from leaving?"

Given that our staff are more open to the prospect of changing employment, going to where the grass is apparently greener, it is a constant challenge to know how best to keep good people on our team, and how to have them increasingly engaged in our business.  
Here are some ideas that I have seen work firsthand.

1. Treat them as a person, not just a worker
Our people want to know that what they are doing with a third of their lives is actually counting for something. Treating workers based simply on their performance and job roles misses an important aspect – that they are people (not robots). Think about it for a minute. Each of them have aspirations, dreams and goals, desiring to contribute to something worthwhile. Some do it tough at home with all them facing the challenges and joys that life brings. When we deny the personal side of life, purely focusing on job performance, no wonder staff leave and if they don't, they just make life miserable for everyone around them. 

2. Understanding drivers
Closely aligned to number one, when we get to know our people we get to understand what drives them. All of us live life according to the priority of what we prefer, our values. For some its money, others family, others giving back and so it goes on. No one person is driven by the same end, yet, many a manager treats all people exactly the same. Understanding a person’s drive, taking an interest in what makes up the whole person, creates greater respect for you and a greater willingness on their part to follow your lead. 

3. Pay above award rates where possible
This is a contentious one and difficult where profit margins are skinny. In a hot employment market, paying above award rates not only decreases the prospect of employees looking over the fence but makes them feel a valued part of the organisation. If you don't pay on the front end to keep your people you will potentially pay it in the back end due to staff turnover.

4. Incentivise performance
Providing bonuses (whether financial or other means) around team performance as opposed to individual behaviour brings about a broader well being for the company, increasing the employees sense of appreciation.

5. Affirmation
Something many managers and business owners don’t do well. Some employees love public praise while others are satisfied with receiving it one on one. Some are just happy with getting results and hitting their goals. Knowing your people and the kind of affirmation they need (and doing something about it) will bring significant shifts in morale and performance. 

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 Financial Performance
What is the one KPI?

A key performance indicator (KPI) is an industry term for that which gauges and measures performance.  As a doctor might measure heart rate and blood pressure as key indicators of human health, KPIs are ‘spot checks’ on the ‘health’ or performance of an organisation. 

Measuring performance is important for gaining knowledge and making improvements within an organisation and KPIs can be used to evaluate the success of a particular activity or the progress made toward strategic goals and objectives. It is essential to have a good understanding of what is important to the particular organisation and in fact each department, in order to select the right KPIs to use.

The best KPIs balance quantitative and qualitative measures to ensure a real understanding of performance is gained.  The information can then be used to make strategic changes and to arm employees and management with the knowledge to assist them in making better decisions that in turn, lead to improvements in performance. KPIs can also be used to provide information to external stakeholders such as mandatory reports for regulatory bodies or for marketing/PR purposes such as data on community or environmental issues. KPI’s are in effect a snapshot of reality within organisations and designed to help companies check if they are on target in relation to their strategic goals and objectives, with the resulting data identifying potential areas for improvements in performance.

Marcus Buckingham in his book 'The One Thing You Need To Know' talks about one company who's primary KPI was that of employee engagement. They had defined it to the point that they understood what the revenue increase would be for each percentage point on the engagement indicator. 

To understand the KPI's you need to track for your particular company ask the following questions:
1. What are the key areas that we need to track that are important both internally and externally to the company?
2. What are the major 5 - 7 areas that are critical to our ongoing performance in terms of finance, our people and customers etc.
3. What one indicator, potentially drives the performance of all others?

Case Study
Working with an accounting firms KPIs led us to focus weekly on productivity rates of their bookkeepers and accountants. There were numbers of areas we tracked but focusing on this one particular indicator and keeping the employees accountable to their performance, yielded a 238% nett profit increase in a period of seven months. The firm then went on to experience the best year they had ever had. While we tracked various areas of performance, this one 'thing' was the key to all others.

If you'd like to discuss the potential areas and the one thing your company should be tracking feel free to email me on

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Efficient Process 

Systems : The Difference Between Chaos and Order

By documenting and implementing proper policies, procedures and processes, businesses greatly reduce the risks of disruption caused from staff turnover or losing key personnel for any reason. Spreading the knowledge base and using properly written business systems, ensures any member of staff or management can step in and take over at any time by reading ‘instructions’ for any particular job. 

It is also good to train as many staff and management in as many different jobs as possible should the occasion arise when they are required to step in.  Job swap is a good way for staff and management to experience other duties and responsibilities whilst testing your documented processes to check how easy they are to follow.

Policies, procedures, systems, processes – all seem a bit overwhelming at times. Here's an explanatory snapshot.

Policy: The guiding principles and rules used to ensure the observance and consistent application of a company's strategic plan. These would include management expectations, philosophies, company mission and vision statements, laws and regulations, industry standards etc.

Process: The systematic series of activities 
required to produce a desired outcome, typically converting inputs into outputs. Process maps are often used as a way of tracking the flow of actions involved from one point to another. They convey who is responsible at the various stages and reflect trigger points for when the next step comes into play.

Procedure: The course of actions required to effectively implement part of a process. It should include instructions and a concise description of duties and responsibilities for target users. Procedures portray a clear series of steps for the completion of tasks.  

System: The integration or path of policies, procedures and processes implemented to achieve the smooth and efficient operation of a business.

It is one thing to have all of these documented, quite another to have them implemented. We'll cover the implementation phase in next months newsletter.

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The Cellar Notes
Caffè corretto 

Pre-dinner champagne, wine served to compliment each course and then...a cup of tea??? I don't think so. Try this to finish your night off in style.

Caffè corretto is a shot of espresso with a shot of liquor and often with brandy, sambuca or grappa. The english translation is essentially 'coffee correct' or 'proper'. A variation I use here is the shot of espresso, half a shot of Irish Cream and half a shot of Sambuca.

So, next time you reach for the tea bag, think again - you might be pleasantly surprised. 

End note: Bundy rum is probably not the best liquor to use!!!
On The Lighter Side

Some time back I was speaking to an audience of about 150 people with the topic being around the theme of 'making the most of every circumstance and enjoying life to the full'. There was a general feeling of happiness and smiles in early part of my talk, with me thinking that I was hitting a home run with the crowd. About 15 minutes in, a gentleman arose from his seat, walked up the centre aisle and proceeded to slip a note over the top of the lectern. It said 'Raymond, your fly is undone.' It took me no longer than a millisecond to realise I was not going to be able to deal with this discreetly so I simply read the note to the crowd. The smiles and happiness turned into pure laughter as I called for a half time break, hopping off stage to give time for the red face to recede and the green 'garment' to be covered. 

Nothing like speaking on a topic and having to live it half way through. Practice what you preach now has a whole new meaning.

For Ray to speak at your event - (just joking!!!)

In This Issue:
Ray Hodge is the Director of Ignite Business Consulting. He speaks and consults to businesses & organisations, a notable event being the Department of the Australian Prime Minister and Cabinet.

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In Your Prospects Best Interest

....that caught him from left field and landed a blow to the effect that displayed immediate disappointment on his face. And he never rebounded. He quickly shut the meeting down, showed us to the door and we've never heard from him since.

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"Ray came to work for me on contract as a General Manager for a period of 12 – 18 months. In that time he guided and managed the day to day accounts of the company and helped bring the business out of a very deep and serious financial hole to ride a wave of success for another 3 years. My big mistake was to not keep him connected with the business for regular checkups and strategic consultation…more fool me."

Darryl - Former Director, Construction/Tourism Company

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Copyright 2011 Ray Hodge. All rights reserved.


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