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  1. Luckily for me, business has recently increased dramatically...not on the retail side of the business, but on the bespoke, commissioned side. This is fantastic, but it does bring its own problems: The most significant one being that there simply aren't enough hours in the day for me to do it all.

    So, then I faced the difficult decision that many small business owners face: turn work down or entrust other people to help me? 

    I've decided to let go (a little!). 

    Yes it means that I personally am not earning the full value of the contract, BUT I have to take the longer term view: My client is more likely to be impressed as they will recieve the completed work more quickly AND it will be just as high quality (I am still going to be checking everything of course). This in turn will lead to improved satisfaction and hopefully, more work in the future.

    I've just put in a proposal for a 12 Module Leadership Development Programme. Four of these modules are highly bespoke and will focus on internal commercial and operational issues. Detailed business case studies and simulations strike me as being the best way to tackle these issues and really make learning meaningful. To do this, I need to spend quite a lot of time in the business to truly understand how it works. This is something I'm confident I can do.

    However, an associate of mine who spent 30 years in a similar environment, 10 of them at a very senior level, can probably get to grips to it an awful lot quicker. So I'm delegating this part of the programme to him. It was a hard choice, but I had to look at the bigger picture: What talents do I have at my disposal (not just within myself)? What is the best use of those talents in terms of meeting my clients needs? Me spending a week getting my head around something that my associate could probably pick up in two days is NOT the best use of our combined talents. I'm better off adding value where I AM the best person for the job.

    In organisations all over the world, from multi-national corporations to tiny local businesses, managers find it hard to let go. They want to keep hold of as much as they can because they have pride and what to make sure that the best service is delivered. However, this sometimes leads to an inefficient use of resources and talent. Sometimes letting go and delegating certain aspects, though hard, may be in the best interests of the customer.

    Help your managers to learn to let go through delegating, which in turn will motivate and empower others, and SHOULD lead to a better overall outcome.

  2. I'm loving the Sochi Winter Olympics, especially the 'newer' sports like slopestyle. Sweden's Henrik Harlaut is clearly a talented guy, but he hade the headlines for all the wrong reasons when he lost his trousers part-way through his run!


    Part of me thinks he was the ultimate professional for carrying on regardless and still landing a pretty good run. 

    Part of me thinks that the ultimate professional would have planned ahead a bit, and not had the problem in the first place!

    And that's the same for managers everywhere. You DO need to be able to react to the moment, adapt and keep going when difficulties arise. However, you also need to prevent problems occuring as much as possible and minimise risk at work...without suffering from 'paralysis by analysis'.

    Many managers get addicted to 'reacting to the moment' - they love swooping in to save the day and proving how great they are at handling problems. Often, they are praised and rewarded for it.  Managers who spend more time planning may not get the same recognition as their adreneline-junkie counter-parts: No-one sees how much effort has gone into having a 'mundane' day where everything has gone like clockwork, yet it's these people who will deliver results consistently and in the right way for the business AND the people doing the work.

    So, don't be like Henrik - plan ahead, organise yourself and your team and then you can focus on getting the job done NOT dealing with the unexpected!


    PS - Don't forget our Olympic Inspired offer: Use the code 'JJonesGB' at the checkout and get a THIRD OFF - Offer valid to the end of the Winter Olypics.

  3. As part of my research for one of my latest projects, I recently spent time in a dry cleaning branch. Dry cleaning is something that on the one-hand is very straightforward yet at the same time incredibly complex. Like a lot of technical processes, there is a core procedure that absolutely must be followed. At some stages however there is the opportunity to inject your own personal way of doing things.

    Pressing is one of these areas. Now I am a wife and mother and I have spent a great many hours over the years ironing things, and I would say I can iron. So I was slightly taken aback when the branch manager asked me “what do you think is the point of pressing?”

    “Obviously” I replied “it is to get the creases out”.

    “Exactly” he said “so why do so many people spend their time ironing the bits that aren't creased?”

    Naturally for this I had no answer at all. It was obvious when he said it. Why waste time ironing the bits of a garment that are already crease free?

    It wasn't too great a leap for me to take this analogy into training generally, and management training in particular. Many managers fall into the role, and only a minority of fully prepared for the challenges ahead or have any training to help them deal with it. Most managers, particularly at first line level, work it out as they go along learning from colleagues, their own manager, and trial and error. Indeed many managers I train have been reasonably successful in the role for very many years and yet suddenly placed on their very first management training course.


    I have realised over the years that with these managers we need to focus on getting the creases out (metaphorically speaking of course). I like to think that Power Hour bite-size training allows people to do just that – focus on the bits they need help with, and not go over stuff they can do. The truth of the matter is there are lots of ways of doing things right, and there are lots of ways of doing things wrong. If a manager is achieving the right outcomes whilst displaying acceptable behaviours, it seems silly to start from scratch and try and force them to do things in a set way.

    Most businesses don’t want battery hens. They want free-range chickens.

    Good management training allows people to retain their own style and methods (as long as they are within defined guidelines). We all know that every person, customer, branch, team and situation is different. We can’t advocate a single best way of doing something. That is why it’s so important to do a proper TNA and give people the training they need, rather than sheep-dipping everyone. If delegates are doing 80% of the job well, then leave that alone…let’s just focus on getting the creases out!