Tag: business learning

As leaders, there are times when our courage and resolve will be tested.

Staying true to your personal values where there is a values mismatch with the company or organisation where you work is one of the most testing scenarios of all.

Being brave, and calling BS when it’s necessary, is an important step for leaders. This is especially true where a company’s brand promise and cultural reality differ.

The case for organisational health may seem obvious, but its impact on an organisation’s bottom line is significant. Worldwide management consulting firm McKinsey & Company asserts that the top quartile of publicly traded companies who participated in their Organisational Health Index delivered about three times the returns to shareholders compared to the bottom quartile.

So what steps should you take to test and maintain your organisation’s health?

Below, I’ve outlined the essential steps every leader, and company for that matter, can take to ensure a healthy company culture. Remember there is never just one culture present. Organisations are like people, and have positive and negative aspects vying for attention.

Define – and benchmark – what success looks like
Being able to define your own benchmark for organisational health is essential. Without benchmarks, how will you know whether you’re heading in the right direction? This involves being able to define the type of products and services you want to provide, to whom, and in what ways. You won’t be the right fit for everyone, nor is everyone the right fit for you. By summarising your brand purpose, values and leadership culture, you’re defining what success should look like for your brand.

Assess the gap
Once you’ve determined your organisational benchmarks, you’ll need to work to remove the obstacles to the culture you’re seeking to create. Consider what you need to change and what has to be introduced into the organisation’s reality to be able to deliver on its brand promise. Too often the organisational cultural reality is totally incongruent with the marketing fantasy. And, as gothamCulture Managing Partner Chris Cancialosi warns, “when you brand promise doesn’t measure up to your audience’s expectations, you won’t just disappoint; you’ll lose their trust and loyalty.” He says embedding this culture in your organisation first is essential, and prevents this disconnect. Ask yourself how far the gap is between promise and reality in relation to your staff, clients and partners.

Get real insights
True assessment of your company’s culture requires leaders to not only look inward, but also outward. Davis & Company CEO Alison Davis recommends that you assess your company’s health at an individual, team and organisational level to get a true picture. Anonymous surveys and one-on-one interviews that give employees the chance to talk candidly about the environment are some useful tactics. It is best to bring an external person in to do this work and analyse and present key insights in order to get an independent and accurate picture.

Remove obstacles to long-term success
You’ll also need to be prepared to remove barriers to the cultural reality you’re seeking. This could involve saying good bye to staff members, or parting ways with a client due to a misalignment of values and purpose. Ten years ago I was personally challenged when our key client took on new management and asked us to provide a substandard product to its clients. The outcome resulted in us walking away and losing in excess of 90 per cent of our income overnight – not ideal! While this was challenging, I backed the quality of our offering, the reputation of our brand, and our genuine respect for the end user. I also held true to the belief that you can always get other projects, but it is damn hard to rebuild your reputation. As tough as it can be, I recommend constantly holding these cultural aspects to account and calling BS when they fall short of the standard you’re aspiring to. Take the action you need to say good bye and make the necessary changes.

Create your team
Finally, attracting the right talent will go a long way to developing a healthy organisational culture. Ensuring you get the right personality fits, incentivising staff, and creating an environment where teamwork is rewarded and recognised, are just some of the ways to build a positive culture for the long-haul.

As a leader remember that what you put up with you end up with.

Ask yourself: What am I tolerating within my own company that I’d like to call BS on? I’d love your insights.

Opening her eyes to “new possibilities” for two iconic Outback hotels saw General Manager Jo Fort engage Kiikstart last year.

What’s followed is a “quiet little revolution” at both The Birdsville Hotel and The Innamincka Hotel that began with an idea for a business makeover and evolved into staff development work involving all staff.

Located in Outback Queensland and South Australia respectively, Kiikstart’s Virtual Scholar program has enabled staff to undertake remote training with our director, Ali Uren.

General Manager Jo Fort explains the shift.

Kiikstart: What services have you engaged through Kiikstart?
Jo: I had heard of Ali prior to meeting her at the 2017 SATIC Conference. It was generally agreed that the Kiikstart approach was refreshing, and that she was potentially a consultant who could assist us with staff development and improving customer service, particularly at point of sale.

Why did you engage Ali and how has she helped the Birdsville and Innamincka Hotels?
Jo: When I met Ali I had a vision of empowering management to think like entrepreneurs – that way I imagined I could step back from my already overloaded role. I knew that work needed to start at General Manager level first.

What changes have been made and what changes are underway for your businesses?
I can honestly say there has been a quiet little revolution that has resulted in a makeover in what we do and the way we present to our guests. Ali has helped our businesses by assisting us to deal with the tricky issues, and helping our team to come up with ways to do the job better. Choosing to live and work in the Outback can place people well out of their comfort zone and, while it may seem exciting, it’s like any job; it can be mundane and repetitive. Living close together and having to work on relationships at work, as well as outside of work, is challenging.

She’s encouraged us to think imaginatively, to be creative, and to question work practices. If the actions don’t fit with our values and vision, then they have no place in our life.

How has Ali helped to streamline the change process?
The development process is streamlined to suit individuals. Ali is persuasive, but she also understands that some concepts take time, and that from little ideas, big things grow. As a group we are excited, inspired, encouraged and motivated to stand out from our competitors and to be notably excellent in general.

Ali guided me in the early phase of our plan to get myself and then our team to think outside the box. Once I was happy that the foundations of the business were strong under her guidance, the business strategy, roles and responsibilities were fleshed out.

How would you describe Ali’s coaching style?
Ali is a tenacious, tireless trainer who works from her heart. She is 100% authentic and what you see is what you get. She is as terrifying as she is inspirational! I have used the word ‘terrifying’ because it’s the only word I can think of when your tasks aren’t done and you have a session booked with Ali. She is not up for ‘the dog ate my homework’! Ali believes in what she says, and she has the experience and background to back up her teaching. I understood from the beginning that it was my role in my learnings with Ali to set aside the time to do the work and set the tone.

To what extent have you relied on technology throughout this process?
Heavily! Technology has enabled us to learn with Ali through the Virtual Scholar program. That’s been the great strength in the way we’ve done things. Simply parachuting in to learn in one hour will not grant the paradigm shift we’re now seeing unfold. We have the technology, so we use it!

How valuable do you think your investment to date has been?
I believe I have invested wisely in engaging Ali. Not only is she a fantastic resource, but she has become a friend, and I look forward to continuing our journey. Sure, it’s a business decision to invest in staff development, but already there are outcomes and a level of maturity on-site that was not seen before. We are thinking before we act, and we are empowered and confident as a group.

To find out more about coaching options for your business, including our remote Virtual Scholar offering, get in touch with Ali at
enquiries@kiikstart.com or phone 0428 593 400.

There’s that natural sense of trepidation that comes with taking the plunge into business.

Unlike a cold dip, it can take quite some time before you come up for air. And, sometimes, longer still to feel like you’re not just treading water.

But as LA-based investor and entrepreneur Lauris Liberts says, “Don’t wait for the right moment to start the business. It never arrives. Start whenever. Now.”

While there’s a lot you can only learn through experiencing the inherent highs and lows of business firsthand, there are also many tips and resources you can draw upon throughout your business journey.

At Kiikstart I work with businesses ranging from start-ups to large corporations, supporting the development of their business strategy, tactics, skills, and capacity building functions.

Here, I’ve offered a few of my top tips for getting started. If you’re not a business novice, chances are these tips are a good refresher anyway!

Be Genuine
Of all of the tips I can offer, perhaps the most important is to genuinely believe in your product or service. Entrepreneur and philanthropist Maria Forleo advises, “Never start a business just to ‘make money’. Start a business to make a difference.” This comes down to knowing your why. Ask: how will my product or service enrich people’s lives? Your business is much more likely to succeed if you know your ‘why’ and have the passion to keep at it through tough times. Only a genuine belief in your offering will allow this.

Know Your Worth
Do your homework before starting out. How is your business of real value to people? Does it fulfil a gap in the market? Or are you doing things a little differently? Never start a business because someone else told you that you would be good at something. This is a disaster. To be able to make any business work you need to be able to quickly articulate why someone should spend money with you. This is not for the faint hearted or overtly humble! Know your worth, and be ready to spruik it!

Mind the Gap(s)
We all have personal strengths, as well as weaknesses and skill gaps. Get real about your skill gaps – and find solutions to these. Play to your strengths, and assess whether further learning is needed, or whether you’re better off having an employee or contractor do some of this work for you. It’s all about weighing up risks and opportunities. Over the past 12 years I’ve mentored 1700 people to lifelong change, including career change. When people say they want to undertake further study, I always ask how it will benefit them and their business. What changes will it make? And if they don’t do it, what is the outcome?

Choose Your Partners Wisely
Choose your partners carefully in business – and in life! There will be times when you need to lean heavily on your partner, so make sure you have someone who can be there for you when times get tough. Also be careful about who you partner with in business. Ensure this is a person you can trust completely, and that you have complementary skills to bring to the table. As Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, says, “Choose a business partner as carefully as you would choose a spouse.”

Master Your Time
A business isn’t a 9-5 job, so being disciplined with your time – and how you let other people use it – is essential. Starting a new business requires the ability to consistently set and meet deadlines, even if that means saying “no” to the demands and expectations of other people. Remember that for every client-facing hour, there will be just as many hours of work required behind the scenes looking at your business’ strategy, communications, financial management, administration and more.

Take Care
Self-care is a crucial element to long-term business success. So get your physical and mental well-being in order, and make a commitment to yourself. If this means working with a personal trainer and psychologist, then do it. Starting a business and pushing the limits will be the most enjoyable and stressful venture you can undertake. If you are not well in every sense of the word you, will not give yourself the best possible chance of success.

Stay Accountable
Ensure you are accountable to someone outside of your family and friends. Whether this person takes the form of a mentor, business coach, or comes via a formal business program, it’s vital you verbalise your plans and ideas to this trusted source. Choose someone with great business instincts and vision who will also call it as they see it.

Need an accountability partner? Kiikstart offers a Virtual Scholar mentoring program suited to both start-ups and established businesses throughout Australia. During the program, I’ll work with you either in-person or via technology to develop your business – and yourself. Working in partnership with you, we co-create your learning experience so our focus is on what’s most useful to you. Sessions are an hour at a time, and designed to fit in with your life, including over the weekends if need be. If you’re looking for an accountability partner in business, Kiikstart could be it!

Contact 0428 593 400 or email enquiries@kiikstart.com.