Life In Lock Down

Astonishingly, we are now beginning week 9 of Lock Down, for me it feels like forever since I have enjoyed face to face coaching with my clients, but it also feels unbelievable that I have been working remotely and coaching via Zoom for almost 9 weeks.

It surprised me, like many others how quickly I fell into the new norm.

Many people have asked me if I will return to my office and to delivering face to face coaching, or remain offering a remote service, as lots of businesses are weighing up the pros and cons of returning to their work place and assessing the need for office space and balancing costs and wellbeing.

My answer is clear, I will return to my office and face to face coaching when the time is right, but I will definitely return.

Remote coaching works, it is just as effective and some clients prefer it because of the convenience, I have offered this service for a while for clients outside Essex and Suffolk so it is not new for me.

Personally though, I thrive on the energy from face to face contact, and personalities I feel from my clients in my coaching practice.

I love the buzz and hustle of the office environment, my mind set prep on my commute to the office and my de compression on my way home, even though it shocks me, I think I even enjoy the structure of the working day.

I am a big people person and therefore it suits me to share my space with clients and colleagues, I am an outgoing extrovert.

I can see however, that others who are more reserved and introverted are enjoying the comfort of not having to socialise and are indulging in their own company right now.

What camp do you sit in?

When planning your return and bringing your teams back, it is important to remember which type of individuals are in your team, some will be as keen as mustard to return and can’t wait to socialise and enjoy the hustle of the office, others will be more reluctant to come out of their comfort bubbles and their inner shells and might need more time to adjust.

So the return……………………………….

Has it happened?

Did you actually close at all?

Are you now open?

Are you still planning for your return?

Or sitting back and waiting to see when the right time is for you?

I said earlier, that I will return to the office when the time is right.

Right now my clients are telling me that they are happy to continue zoom coaching as they are getting what they need from me, and to travel to my office right now would be taking unnecessary risks. I don’t think that this will change for some weeks yet.

I have to, and have accepted that my new norm is set to continue for some time yet.

This is where I pull upon the inspiration and energy of my clients to get me through.

What are you having to accept?

We are all having to make many sacrifices at the moment, some as I say are easier to bear than others, I have to admit that for the first time since lock down was initiated, I hit my wall at the weekend.

I crave time with my family and friends and miss the spontaneity that my weekends normally offer, I nice coffee overlooking the water, a cheeky glass of wine and a laugh with the people I love.

After a little word with myself I had a lovely Saturday and Sunday, pottering around in the garden, a long walk with the dog, a bike ride with my boys, a BBQ in the glorious sunshine coupled with a few bottles of something deliciously cold and full of bubbles, which was a lovely gift from clients, a welcomed surprise delivery on Saturday. (they didn’t realise how well timed this was)

I have witnessed some great innovations and solutions over the last 8 weeks, I speak a lot about the grit, tenacity and determination of business owners, and it never ceases to surprise me.

We have all adapted to continue to do business the best way we can, finding new models which enable us to trade.

I have seen great examples, of introverted business owners thrive in this period and make huge steps in working on their strategy and long term vision.

My mastermind members acknowledged that even in this time, their goals for 2020 were not pushing them hard enough and have revisited them, is this down to having the time to step off of the hamster wheel and have a good look at the future and reaching their true potential.

Most of us are now using technologies which we were not familiar with 9 weeks ago, which will enhance our efficiencies in the long term.

We have all seen good and bad in people, both at work, in our teams and around the world, acts of true kindness and heroism.

I believe that we all have a new level of respect for the NHS and key workers, the Thursday night clap has helped my children understand the great work people are doing in our country to look after us.

We are all making tough decisions, in our work and personal lives and we are all getting through this the best we can, with good and bad days.

I will continue to encourage my clients to work on the one thing that they can do which will make a difference to their business, to focus on things they can control, and to take each week as it comes.

What will you focus on this week?

Thank you for listening, I would love to hear from you.

Life In Lock Down

So, you are in week 8 of lock down – or are you?

I’m not sure about you, but I felt that last night’s message from Boris Johnson was very confusing and a big anti-climax, due to the lack of clarity.

The message now is, if you cannot work at home you can return to work, so does that include everyone such as hairdressers and dentists?

Boris also said that from Wednesday we are allowed to play sports with our own family members, so does this mean that sports centres will open.

The message is that we must stay alert and control a virus which we cannot see, taste, hear or feel.

Surely this virus is controlling us?

I feel for business leaders, this morning, to receive a briefing which carries such a lack of direction makes it a tough decision to know whether to reopen your business and bring back your team.

There was certainly a sense last week amongst my business community that they were planning for some sort of return even prior to last night’s new briefing. I completely understand this craving to get our businesses back to normal, it feels disjointed to own a business and not have your team and surroundings with you.

We have all been pushed outside of our comfort zones for 6-8 weeks, evidence proves that as soon as we are given an opportunity to revert back to normal we will.

The chief exec of London Chamber Of Commerce said last night on Twitter, that his strong and unequivocal advice to London businesses is not to change your plans for today, as we do not have enough information to get your employees back to work safely, and keep them safe once they return.

He goes on to say that “it would be foolish for any business leader to encourage staff not already undertaking essential work to do anything but to continue to work from home.”

I feel that like with everything, we have to do what is right and feels right for us, our business, and our team’s wellbeing.

There is a fine balance between doing the right thing commercially and morally but it can be achieved, and you will find it.

Lots of my clients are staggering their return, and have introduced shifts patterns to ensure that they reduce contact to the same individuals at any one time during their working hours, and administrators and other personnel who can work from home remain to do so.

Others have purchased additional screens to protect desk based teams, and PPE to protect engineers who are working on site or in people’s homes.

We will see enhanced cleaning in our work space, and various other initiatives to keep our teams safe.

Personally, I am lucky to be able to continue to offer my services digitally from home and despite a tingle of excitement last week with hope that I might return to my office, I have no plans to do so prior to June, there is no benefit to me or my clients to do so.

We adapted to lock down with professionalism and innovation and I know that we will find our own path out of lock down with the same skills, the path that is right for you and your team.

My advice would be, to take this week to plan your return, communicate with your team, implement the necessary precautions you need to keep both yourself, your teams, and your customers safe.

I would love to know your thoughts and plans.

Good Luck

Life In Lock Down

Wow week 7, how does that feel?

I think, if we are honest, we all initially expected lock down to last until June, so why does it feel like we are on an extended period?

Last week I spoke a lot about mind set, it seemed as though everyone around me had hit a wall, family, friends, colleagues and clients were finding it tough last week.

We have all done our own things to help get us through, some have relied on exercise, DIY, decluttering, others on Zoom calls with friends and family, but last week it seemed that even those things were less impactful.

I witnessed business owners cope with the initial lock down very differently early on, some saw this as a chance to relax, shut off and shut down, others panicked and tried to offer everything to everyone. Neither of those I believe would of born a positive result on any business.

What I am seeing now is a complete 360’ turnaround from both of those types.

I was thrilled when speaking to two business owners from my mastermind groups last week, who fell into those categories, if I am honest they had temporarily checked out.

With the support, guidance and innovation from their mastermind peers, they have now remodelled their business to be able to offer something of value to their audience and are now achieving revenue figures which are needed to survive lockdown, but will also make their business stronger, due to the restructure.

This is what I love about SME’s and what I do, I talk a lot about one of my values, humility, but I feel it in abundance at the moment, being part of a business community who genuinely can see when a fellow business owner is in a place which is not healthy and is committed to getting them into a more efficient and productive place, makes me feel proud and humbled to be part of this network.

These people inspire me daily to be the very best version on me, and for that I am always grateful.

I have seen a massive spike in traffic passing through my village last week, and I fear that many have simply given up or given in to the pressure of needing to get back to normal or inject some cash flow into their business.

Planning the return, and reopening the workplace seemed to be part of everyone’s agenda last week, which is understandable.

There have been some brilliant innovations to aid with the process of returning to work, one of my clients has designed Perspex screens which are easily assembled onto current screening systems, to stop aerosols being transmitted, this seems like a great affordable, and temporary solution, others have been redesigned their space to allow for the social distancing guidelines.

I think lots of businesses will introduce a staggered return, and maybe shifts to allow for less people to be in one place at the same time.

One thing is for sure, businesses are going to reopen in the next few weeks it seems despite of any lock down rules.

I think this will be a very interesting time, as it is one thing wanting our businesses to reopen, but another convincing our teams that they are safe.

I have been asking my clients to include their teams in helping them plan for the reopen.

  • Ask them how they feel
  • What processes would they want to see in place
  • What would make them feel safe and looked after

I believe including them early on will save lots of time and anxiety further down the line when you need your team to be on their A game.

The best laid plans will not work unless we address the emotions of our team and help them to feel safe.

For many of us, this Sunday’s unveiling of our governments plans to lift lock down can’t come soon enough, personally I am prepared for a further three weeks, until we see any real changes.

If that is the case, I am going to make sure that I maximise the time working from home has given me, to finish filling in the gaps in my business which I highlighted 7 weeks ago.

I want to look back at this time in lockdown and feel proud, firstly of how I served my clients, secondly what I achieved whilst working ON my business, and lastly how as a family of 4 we reunited, survived home schooling, and enjoyed some really qualified time together, I think they call it being in the moment.

How will you look back and reflect on your lock down period?

What can you achieve in the next 3 weeks?

What are your plans to reopen?

I look forward to hearing from you

Life In Lockdown

Motivation, morale and mind-set are the three M’s which I am hearing the most about during the last few weeks.

These have overtaken, fear, frustration, and furlough, which is interesting and a maybe a sign of how we are managing our emotions as the weeks progress.

Is this dependent on our own self leadership styles?

Some of us are better at self-motivating and self-discipline than others.

I have seen recently amongst clients and my circle of friends, that some struggle to focus and dedicate their attention to work whilst remote working, due to distractions of family members, chores, media, or WhatsApp.

(We literally could spend hours keeping up to date with our ever growing number of WhatsApp groups.)

I am sure that self-introspection has led many of us to the triggers of our distraction and we have been able to create new habits to help us adapt to life and business under lock down.

I have always been ok with self-motivation and discipline but have struggled during the last 5 weeks to find a healthy work balance, my top value “ making a difference “ has fed my need to serve and support my network of clients and mastermind groups.

I love what I do, business is I am sure like you, my passion and therefore putting the hours in is easy and enjoyable.

My other top value is family, which if I am 100% honest with you has taken the seat behind business!

I constantly strive for balance in my life so this has caused me some questioning, however my justification is that fortunately every member of my family are currently healthy and fine and being looked after.

My children are back in their virtual class rooms today, I share my home work space with my 15 year old as I hold him account to his GCSE coursework. Luckily my husband is home and schooling my 8yr old which is a different ball game altogether!

Like thousands of families right now, we  have weekly catch ups with all of my family via zoom. On Saturday we even had virtual bingo, and donated our winnings to Captain Tom!

I level the balance by devoting my whole weekend to my family, however we will all remember lock down forever and I want my children to look back with fond memories and feelings of safety and support and most importantly fun, my goal this week is to find the OFF switch a couple of evenings this week.

On balance, I also wish for my clients to look back and feel supported and safe within the community I strive to serve, this has been  my sole reason for Cloud9 for 10 years, and I continue to commit to providing a support network for everyone I work with as I appreciate how much I have relied on mine since the beginning of the pandemic.

We all need a strong sense of belonging and support, Mastermind has given me all of that and more, I am so thankful to those I have in the groups who have been my rock.

I urge you to lean on your support group now as never has there been a stronger sense of camaraderie in business than now. I really hope that this remains as strong after lock down.

The mind set of ourselves and the teams which we lead are also paramount to surviving this lockdown period, if we are flat we will sub consciously affect the morale of our teams, feed from the energy of your network, surround yourself with clever and positive people, engage with them and take action, as productivity feeds positivity.

Action the one thing that matters most, move forward and triumph in the one area which you know will make a difference to your business.

Enrol the help of your team and involve them in your triumph, continue to be transparent with your communication, let them in on your thoughts and plans for both now, and their return to the workplace.

Enquire of their wellbeing and be the support they need.

Remember we are all different and react differently to situations, those who are surprising you today may be out of their own mind set struggles, take the time to question and not accuse.

A great client of mine reminded me this morning of a quote, by Warren Buffett

Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.

Equally we must be the very best leader we can be, to encourage the very best version of our employees.

The more your invest in your team now the stronger they will be post lock down.

Identify your triggers, keep motivation high, be active and energised, find your equilibrium, create the habit for being the best version of you.

Life In Lockdown

We commonly talk about how time flies,  but how do you feel about when you look back on the last 6 weeks?

Most of us will be full of mixed emotions, we have settled into remote working and may of even experienced a little period of calm, but our “make up” means we can’t stand still and are racing to look to the future and get back to normal.

The most common expression I am told now is a feeling of being very “flat” maybe as entrepreneurs we thrive on energy, innovation and vitality, to feel like we are standing still is alien and affects our tenacious spirit.

So how do we mend our mind set?

Personally, I believe that productivity feeds positivity. I set myself no more than 3 big tasks per week, but these must be tasks which will move my business forward.

I focus on the big things, the things which may get delayed due to normal demands of the business.

Just not having to travel to my office has allowed me this extra time to focus on these areas, knowing I am tackling these projects is hugely motivating for me, we all know that working ON our business is more productive than working IN it.

What is the one thing you need to do to move your business forward?

Identify 3 tasks which will move that project forward – plan these tasks into your week.

Lots of business owners tell me that they struggle to get away for a two week holiday, but most of us have not seen our offices for 36 days, perhaps we are more adaptable than we thought?

Will this “pause” teach us that some time out is valuable to reflect, and review, because if we always did what we always do, we will always get what we always got, we stand still and plateau.

This period is testing our systems and procedures and highlighting who, in our business are our “team players”, most of us are realising that there are definitely areas and habits which need to change.

What will you change?

What we cannot change this week, is lock down, use this time to focus on what you can change, what will make your business stronger?

I know I need to feel productive, healthy, balanced.

I also know I need energy from others, I tap into my support networks for this, Mastermind has been a game changer for me and many others, I believe it will remain a life line as we come out of lock down and the economy recovers.

Stay healthy, both in body and mind, be active physically and mentally, do what works for you, as you know your triggers.

Life In Lockdown

After finally coming to terms with the impact that our children may not be returning to schools before September, and our repertoires have had to include teaching at all levels. (GCSE maths and science are proving a challenge for me)

There have been noises during the past week that Schools and the premier league may now finish their timetables.

Personally, I feel that our leaders are trying to share hope and optimism, to keep us engaged with their plight in keeping everyone at home. It is easier to accept that the lockdown may be lifted within weeks rather than months.

It helps us to focus on the here and now, and not the long term which can affect our mind-set.

Some will get complacent and their commitment to the cause will lessen because a long term lockdown is too hard to face, but the thought of just a few more weeks is easier for us to bear.

My clients have all been amazing in adapting and accepting this enforced change, and remaining positive.

I am hearing that in business terms it is getting easier, I believe this is due to clarity, confidence, accepting the new norm and finding our own groove.

I believe that in the beginning we all acted a little like clones, judging our offering and services against others and trying to be someone we are not, we all know that this never works.

Again we are all different, this week feels a little flat for me, I think it is because for the last week I have felt like an outsider within my own little family, my boys are on their school Easter holidays and my husband cannot work at the moment due to new build sites being closed, leaving me the only one working in my house for two weeks.

I am lucky that I don’t struggle with self-motivation or discipline and this didn’t put me off of my stride at all, in fact I worked longer hours because I could, but it did make me look long and hard about my own working habits and priorities.

I know the next 4 days will be the same, as I listen to laughter and plans including bike rides, obstacle courses and various other activities, and feel a tinge of sadness that I cannot join them (cleaning out the garage however,  I see as a lucky escape!!!)

Others who I have seen really struggle over the last three weeks, have lept into this week with a new found positive energy, which is great to see.

How do you feel?

Many people say that you should only focus on things that you can control, and this is so true, so right now why are most of us focusing on when lockdown will cease and how will we be introduced back into normal life.

I believe it is because we are creatures of habit and want to return to our normal routines asap, this is where we feel our most comfortable. We have all been pushed out of our comfort zones and for some it has been a nudge too far.

So what can we control?

I have been working with clients in recognising, what is the one thing that will make a difference to our business, what will move us forward, what will make us stronger when we return.

If you are a retailer, what is the next season you need to be ahead of? How well stocked are you?

If you are a manufacturer, What is the next new product which will replace your current best seller? Is this yet designed?

If you are in the service industry, how can you improve your systems and processes to make it easier for your clients to buy and work with you.

I am obviously in the service industry, I have been reviewing my client on boarding system, I follow a certain flow when I first start working with a new client, it works but it is not pretty, I have wanted to improve this for a while.

I also reviewed the biggest weakness in my business, which is lead gen, this has been on my to-do list for more than a long time, but I needed space and the right experts around me to tackle this frog.

I am really pleased with the progress of this over the last three weeks, and will have moved this forward enormously by the end of the month, when new products are added to the Cloud9 menu.

Moving your business forward dosnt have to include major changes, (we have all seen enough of those for a while) but constant review and tweak is what keeps us from becoming stale and then plateauing.

Most of the new clients I meet and work with are in this situation, a business will plateau if the business owner is not continuing to grow and develop.

Old strategies stop working, it becomes harder to achieve the same revenue figures, sales dip and we can’t identify why, our mojo has moseyed on out the door, these are all common results of businesses who plateau.

Let’s focus on the right now, and what we can control.

What can you do right now, this week which will make a difference to your business?

Take each department or role, pull it apart and build it again.

Review your systems and processes.

Review your structure, are people in the right seats, have they got the right skills?

Do a skills gap analysis, remember that anyone who has been furloughed are allowed to carry out training, this is a perfect time to improve the skill set of your teams.

Don’t stand still, keep moving physically and mentally, review, tweak and go again.

Life In Lockdown

Like you, never in my 10 years of owning a business have I witnessed such mass interruption which is affecting us all in some way, either in business, personally or both.

What I have experienced in the last 14 days working closely with my clients has been really interesting.

We are all different and cope with things in our own way. What works for some won’t work for others.

I am sure that like me, you have witnessed a huge amount of panic selling across all social platforms, our inboxes are inundated with online program after program and free this and that.

Personally I feel that those early offers have fallen on deaf ears, I believe we needed the last two weeks to process our thoughts and emotions on the enforced changes, adapt to our new norm and find our groove.

I have been reassuring clients that it is ok not to have launched anything new yet, and to focus providing the very best support to their existing clients which is where my effort has been.

I feel that now more than ever our customers need to feel safe. We can play our part in helping them feel that way, by being open and honest in our communication, keeping them informed of any changes to our service and being the experts in our field, the other thing we can do is to offer them a community, now is not the time to work in Silo.

I have seen an increase in the number of people asking to join my business Facebook group – Business Bitesize.

During my Mastermind groups, I have seen where working together and sharing challenges has resulted in some fantastic opportunities for new areas of business, just by allowing others to look in, solutions have been found. Pull on your professional network right now and let them to help you adapt your business to survive this period of uncertainty.

Many clients have witnessed members of their teams really step up and support them where others have seen employees disappoint and almost push against them.

During change and adversity we value and remember the people that support us, but as leaders we recognise that people react differently and what you may be seeing from some is fear and anxiety not acts of rebellion.

Communication is everything, some of your team will need more direction and reassurance than others, some do not cope well with change and others may be experiencing personal challenges and complete isolation, you can offer support and a community by hosting team group chats.

Lots of fantastic leaders have been holding after work virtual team drinks and quizzes.

The last thing you want is your team feeling disconnected and a low morale, as when normal life resumes and it will at some point, you will need your team to return with their A game.

Keeping your team motivated and engaged is critical to the success of your come back.

Now is the time to add real value to your audience. What do they need right now that you can offer?

How can you help make their lives easier as they survive this crisis?

How can you adapt your product or service so your customers can still buy from you?

What are you learning from these weeks, that will change your business forever?

There have been some real heroes throughout this, and we will all remember their efforts.

SME’s are known for their grit and determination, business is tough at the best of times, some of us thrive on the tough times and challenge.

I have seen two types of business owners recently, one who rolls their sleeves up, embraces the change, adapts, shows flexibility and flair, who isn’t afraid to try new technology and is comfortable sharing their emotions and vulnerabilities. I do not worry about these at all as their business will grow stronger because of this pandemic.

Other business owners cannot process the fear, or push beyond the panic, they are sending out mixed messages and instead of using strategy there are pushing the hard sell. When they finally lift their head to gain a sense of clarity it will sadly be too late.

There is so much help out there right now, some will be relevant to you but lots wont, try not to listen to too many opinions as it can become conflicting.

Trust your instinct, it has gotten you this far.

Do what is right for you and what feels like the right thing.

Don’t be afraid to change the course if it is not working.

Don’t be alone, there is no need, share your emotions and be honest.

Let people help, as lots of us genuinely can and want to.

I initially got lost in the panic, and was feeling frustrated that I didn’t have an online programme to boost and protect sales. Thankfully my coach helped me see that my business will be stronger due to the support and value I was offering to my existing clients.

I feel proud at how I have and will continue to serve them, in the strength of my community and at how strong the bond has grown in my Mastermind programmes.

When life regains some resemblance of how we once knew it, I will be at peace with my actions and strength during this time.

How will you feel when you reflect?

Managing your team and productivity during lock down.

Ensuring your team stay motivated whilst remote working will be, what I believe the hardest task for many employers and leaders over the forthcoming months, especially in today’s modern world where there are so many distractions at hand.
Throw in home schooling and the situation becomes very different.

For many people and given the current circumstances, it can be difficult to resist watching the continuous live news stream, whilst attempting to work from the sofa and maybe viewing this as a little impromptu holiday.

It’s essential to consider some of the impacts incorporating remote working can have on your business. Many employees are capable of self-motivating, others need constant direction and praise. Some people will feel looked after whilst others can feel neglected. Being able to identify potential negative attributes means you can come up with a solution before any problems arise.

Motivation

For me the way your team are driven has not changed, it’s the delivery in your leadership which needs to adapt to your new model.

If you know your key workers need constant direction, review, praise and reward you still need to deliver it in this way, and there are many online tools which are perfect for this.
For others who thrive on a challenge and love autonomy, continue to give them space to be creative and innovative, whilst ensuring they feel supported and safe.

Effective leaders are able to adapt to their environment and also between leadership styles to suit their audience and circumstances.

Encourage your team to create a light and comfortable working area, free of distractions. Ensure they are adhering to the health and safety requirements ie, enough space, the right chair, and arm monitors to eradicate further health problems later on when you will need them to be on their A game. This may be a long road, so ensure everything from the offset it comfortable and working.

The task of leader’s to keep your team motivated and productive is no mean feat.
So, does leading remotely require new skillsets? Or maybe even new mind-sets?
Change is difficult for some, we are all experiencing unprecedented change which can cause fear, anxiety and abnormal behaviour for many members of your team.
I used the expression the other day, give your team a cuddle! Whatever personality type you have, your team right now need to feel involved, valued, trusted, safe and part of your team. Check in on them, show them you can be flexible and realistic.
I asked a dozen remote workers on Monday how they were being lead, the majority confirmed that they felt they had the right level of support and therefore wanted to prove they could be just as productive at home as their normal desk.
Leaders willing to accept that this is not normal circumstances, the normal strict 9-5pm regime may not be necessary for everyone’s role, those willing to accept that employees with young children will need flexibility and understanding and may need to reduce their working hours or work in chunks of time rather that a continuous 7.5hr day.
The ones who were not showing signs of commitment were not receiving the cuddles………………………..
Communication

As I mentioned above communication will be the foundation of any remote working set up and especially within teams. If you don’t communicate effectively at all levels, remote workers will feel unimportant, uninvolved and will, in turn, lack motivation.

As always, openness and transparency is critical. Be honest with your team about what you expect, and the end result, share the vision and get everyone on-board.
Set boundaries and encourage feedback and discussion. Make it easy for your remote team to ask questions so they have a crystal-clear understanding of everything that’s going on. This minimises room for error.

I suggest a morning and evening team check in, depending on how large your organisation is will depend on the number of people involved and the number of teams they belong to, ie management team, team they lead, sales team.
This encourages people to share their feelings and any fears on the latest Covid19 announcements, a problem shared early morning stops the fear from affecting their productivity all day.
The check in’s show you care, and help you stay in the loop and on top of projects.

Accountability

One of the biggest lingering concerns for remote workers is accountability. How do managers effectively supervise their remote workers without them feeling micromanaged?

Using accountability tools such as Sococo, Slack, Trello, and Asana can help you to keep on track. They give you the opportunity to monitor the progress of projects and tasks, set up workflows that demonstrate your ongoing contributions as well as establish the remote working culture moving forward.

The most obvious way to hold your team accountable is progress reports, and KPI’s, this should be no different to how you usually hold your team accountable.
KPI’s (key performance indicators) allow for transparency as there can be no hiding.

eg.
No of Calls
No of conversions
No of complaints
No of 5* ratings
No of non-compliance issues.

All team members should be required to submit weekly KPI, s which allows you to monitor performance and productivity, if the same measurements were in place prior to remote working you will have a good comparison to track productivity.

Technology

One of the most important ways in which leaders can improve their work with remote teams is to use technology effectively, however many of us are not confident in using the vast array of tools which are now available in business.

As a leader you cannot get left behind the technology train, new apps and productivity tools are being launched all of the time. You might not be aware of them but your competitors are. You will also add value to your own role by introducing them into your organisation, as many tools can reduce labour costs.

A critical skill set required by leaders of remote teams involves linking together people, work and technology.

Incorporate productivity software to your business such as Slack, Trello, Focus Booster and Asana

Wellbeing

Looking after your wellbeing is absolutely crucial at a time like this. Not just for the sake of yourself but also for others. Focusing on your mental health is equally as important too. You should set yourself out a similar day to as you would at the office – this includes taking breaks and not over-dazzling yourself just because your laptop is at hand.

Get yourself outside (where applicable) in the fresh air. Whilst isolating, you’re still able to exercise once per day and the fresh air will be extremely important to your mental health, especially if you’re cooped up inside for the majority of the day.

Socialising is still incredibly important – even if it’s not face to face. Keeping in touch with co-workers, friends and family will really aid in boosting your positivity, making you more likely to be able to focus on your work.
Eat well and stay hydrated. Working from home is the perfect time to meal-prep, plan your meals and keep up with drinking the recommended daily water intakes.

Employees may begin to feel isolated and this is proven to cause anxiety. Reassuring yourself and other people will put their mind at ease, making yourself and/or your colleagues much more productive.

If you/your colleagues/employees are used to working together – the new set up might, at first, be strange. Remote working isn’t conductive to building meaningful relationships with co-workers in the same way that working in the office is. Suggest member of your team ‘’buddy up’’ and check in with each other 2/3 times a day.

Teamwork

When working remotely, teamwork is important to help with group projects, boosting morale and ensuring that every task is completed quickly and efficiently.

You should promote self-management because some people struggle with a lack of managerial presence and without this, your team will find it hard to know where to turn to with struggle. If you encourage teamwork, natural dynamics will form and the group can solve problems, delegate tasks and help each other perform well.

Magnifying motivation will really help to boost your team’s effort. Encouraging team events such as weekly catch ups or lunchtime chat breaks and perhaps even introducing remote teambuilding exercises such as quizzes and games (charades is a personal favourite of mine!).

Control and Trust

Touching on many of the points I’ve listed above, control and trust come hand in hand when you’re remote working.
As a leader you need to trust your decisions and have self-control, it is just as important that you maintain control within your team but also display trust and enable them to manage themselves.

Practice substituting control with communication. As above, communication is key with anything. Too much control can sometimes lead to workers ‘’gaming’’ the system. They’ll feel motivated to find ways to produce numbers whether or not the impact on the business is positive.

Think mentoring, less managing. Trust empowers teams to feel better about themselves, make faster decisions and take responsibility for what they do. Too much ‘’checking in’’ may lead to the feel like they’re being undermined. You hired that individual because you thought you were capable of the job, right? Let them do it.

If I could bottle this, I would be a millionaire!!

As a business owner of 9 years, I recognise the emotions we feel on a day to day basis.

Running a business is not for the faint hearted. It takes tenacity, strength and self-development.

A business owner can only grow as far as its owner’s skills and knowledge (in my opinion)

We often reach a ceiling which we cannot push beyond because we have put a lid on our own achievements.

Your business may be standing still but what about you?

Generally when we hit the ceiling we will either sink or swim.
Some will blame, as we love to blame (especially at the moment with Brexit) others will use excuses. I often hear that “It wasn’t my fault, if only I had a better team, or more loyal customers”

Some will enter denial, and fail to admit that there is a problem at all.

Only this morning, I read an article in my local paper. It was a hard knock story about a coffee shop which is likely to be closed by Christmas, due to the extortionate town centre rates and lack of development by the council.

This sort of story gets me going. The coffee shop owner has clearly entered all of the three emotions above. Blame, excuses and denial.

Retail is tough but so is any business if you stop trying.

I would love to introduce that businessperson to a thriving coffee shop who focuses on what is important to their customers right now. I have not met the local shop’s customers, but I do know that the environment is a topic which is growing in priority for every generation, especially the yummy mummies who have a bob or two and appreciate good coffee, whilst discussing a good cause.

A thriving coffee shop will offer their customers refillable cups, loose coffee, dairy free, and vegan cakes and lunches. They may hold events aimed at supporting the local cause for protecting the environment. These are obvious and small things, but I know that customers vote with their feet and rely on their emotions to guide them when buying anything. They do not care about their surroundings (if it is clean) I also know that this coffee shop is not doing any of those things or anything other than serving coffee. Where is the uniqueness? Why would customers go there above Costa or another independent?
My point is that we can all have good and bad years in business. We can all slip into our comfort zones and watch profits fall. We all know it takes effort, focus, skills and action to thrive, but I believe it also depends on our mindset.

Our mindset is the conversation you have between your ears, in other words we can convince ourselves of anything, good or bad. I can imagine the conversation of the coffee shop owner, “poor me, poor me, poor me”

Generally, if our mindset is negative, we will believe that there is only a negative future ahead. We can easily spiral into a period of self-doubt, self-sabotage and lack of belief.

We can also have a positive mindset and excite in a positive forecast. This encourages confidence, clarity, focus and great action.

Tame your inner Chimp

To achieve a positive mindset, we must manage the conversation between our ears.

If you have read the book “Chimp Paradox” you will know that it is our chimp we need to tame.

Our chimp can influence our behaviour, our beliefs and our thoughts. It can be quite convincing.

I recently attended a workshop ran by Simon Hartley who said that:

“You can be the person you want to be”
“Ask yourself, what is the gap between the person I want to be and the person I am now?”
“What are the steps that I need to take to become the person I want to be?”

Simon has worked with world class athletes and helped them become the person they are now.

I loved his work as I believe he is so right.

We can definitely be the person we want to be.

We must identify who that person is and then work on bite sized chunks to get there. Just like any other goal, one step at a time.
Our beliefs, self-doubt, sabotage and imposters are all words of our chimp that need taming and re-educating to one of self-validation and a positive belief system.

Here’s the Million pound part

I believe we become the same as the people we surround ourselves with.

Look at your circle of influence and be honest, are they providing you with the positive vibes you need, or do they include some negative Nellies who present the worst scenario of every event.

You will identify family members, friends and colleagues who are all part of your network at either camp.

Which ones are more fun, inspiring and motivating?

Which suck all of your positive energy and leave you feeling numb or down?

Mastermind groups are the best solution for this. Generally the only people engaging in a group like this are positive high achievers, who want to better themselves.

I have written before of how I value both attending and running Mastermind groups.

I attended my group on Friday and the feeling I came away with is worth millions if bottled.

The value you get from spending a day with positive, business owners who truly support and care about you and your success is PRICELESS!

I literally float home with a feeling that I can achieve anything as long as these guys are with me.

The Mastermind I attend has people who I would not naturally gravitate towards. This has taught me a lot about myself.

I love spending time with creatives who inspire me to put pen to paper more frequently, despite my limiting beliefs in my ability to write.

Others push me to engage in technology and be less fearful of it. We all know what will happen to our business if we fail to embrace new technology.
I love this gentle nudge in all of the directions which I would naturally run from or avoid.

This is the value of Mastermind, not only does it focus, engage you and hold you accountable to your goals.

It makes you edge out of your comfort zone.

As we enter a new a phenomenon – “FOBI” Fear of being irrelevant. – Simon Hartley

Stand out, be bold, and become the best version of you.

If Mastermind sounds like it will give you a million pound feel get involved in a group.

If you would like to become part of my Mastermind group which launches in March 2020, get in touch or register your interest here.

https://cloud9mastermind.co.uk/

What are you searching for?

There have been many articles and blogs highlighting the benefits of being in a Mastermind group. Accountability, support and growth being amongst the top three.

What I found interesting when launching my recent Mastermind programme, was the personal reasons behind professional business owners looking for a Mastermind group.

It should not have been a surprise to me, as I hear this daily in my coaching practice. Business leaders are looking for what is often referred to as a silver bullet.

Typically, we all reach a point in our business where we hit a ceiling and cannot push beyond. It is at this point where we reach for that silver bullet – why?

On day 1 of my 12 month Mastermind programme it became obvious.

We feel like we have grown our business as far as we can, we have made mistakes and enjoyed successes, but are out of ideas of how to take our cherished products or services to the next level. Or are we?

It was humbling to witness business owners from multi-million-pound organisations sharing in their experiences of self-doubt and lack of confidence. Could this be the real reason why our business has stagnated?

The imposter phenomenon is rife amongst business owners who unconsciously fake it until they make it. (who hasn’t?) I am really pleased that it is becoming more acceptable for us to share our vulnerabilities, and accept our own feelings of self-doubt, at the end of the day we are all human and need support.

I feel incredibly lucky to belong and run Mastermind groups which allow me to share in others journeys of realisation that we are not alone and with a little support, encouragement, motivation and an objective viewpoint, we can raise the bar and achieve our goals, however big.

We must all accept that we will not find the silver bullet because it doesn’t exist, like anything in life, there is no easy fix, but we can address our confidence and fear levels and find the support we need.

A professional peer group who challenge each other by holding up the mirror and asking the questions which we wouldn’t ask ourselves, encourages us to think bigger, find the belief in ourselves to smash through the ceiling and reach limits we knew were possible but didn’t dare to believe.

Mastermind has enabled me to believe in myself and action my plans with confidence and clarity.

It is not surprising that Mastermind groups are becoming a common entry on any budget report.

It is an inexpensive investment in both your business and you!

When I asked myself “What am I searching for?” I found the answer from my Mastermind peer group.

Where will you find yours?