DISC: Better teams > Better results

Picture your business as a school bus, a really important school bus, and you have taken great care to be sure that the people who sit in the seats on your bus are the right people for the seat. Your Vice-President, CFO, maybe even your HR director and Sales & Marketing directors all have a seat at the front of your bus. Seats further back are filled with managers, supervisors, and others in your business. In normal day-to-day operations, you can comfortably drive your bus down the road you’reIs this your bus? following and avoid the bumps, potholes, and deer in the road.

But what happens if you face a detour? You may find out that the bus you are driving looks like the one on the right. Your detour could be:

  • a fantastic project or contract, the likes of which you’ve been working on for quite a while now;
  • an unexpected loss of business, and you need to make internal adjustments FAST.

You are now lost and you need to get back on the right track ASAP. 
Start by identifying your process issues.

  • Where are your problem areas?
  • Where do you need to allocate personnel in order to manage the problems you’ve uncovered?
  • What are you missing?

Your key to revealing your way through the detour: your people! Those very same people sitting on your bus understand your business from their unique perspective and talents. This knowledge is invaluable to you, and it’s what’s really been moving your bus down the road. But how do you harness this and put it to use?

DISC is your key to revealing the talents of  your people. In order to switch your bus to an updated model, my clients use DISC because it shows you the talents ofMove up to a new bus! the people who work for you. You may use a very different configuration of people for specific topics. Having your DISC results readily available in a spreadsheet format like you get with KITE DISCtest24/7 gives you the ability to quickly assemble the people to remodel your bus.

Detour done and back on the road to success. You may choose to continue along the detour, or you may choose to return to your original route. My points are that:

  • your choice needs to be informed,
  • your people hold the key to your being informed, and
  • one of the tools you use to become informed is DISC.

As you’re driving your bus down the road today, why not stop for a minute and visit with me to see how I can help you? I’ve been using DISC with businesses just like yours for many years. Happy trails!

Business Strategy: Focus using time chunking

Focus using time chunkingFocus: a time allocation issue
I’ve tried the serious and intense time management stuff. I’ve managed my time in 15 minute increments. I’ve kept a list of tasks and projects. I’ve worked on one of those tasks or projects at a time and used my timer to keep myself on my schedule.  My outcomes?

  • Stressed because I could not keep to my schedule
  • Tasks not completed because of interruptions

My focus strategy: I chunk my time
Chunking works for me and it might work for you. When you chunk your time, you step away from your task list and instead first look at how your week and days flow. I only chunk the current week. Here’s how I look at my time chunks:

  • Work week
  • Work day
  • Morning
  • Afternoon

With my calendar handy, I next look at my scheduled meetings, coaching clients, lunch appointments, and networking sessions. I now understand when I’m going to be in the office and when I will have a chunk of time.

The quality of a chunk of time is definitely worth your consideration. If you spend your first hour putting out fires, acknowledge this, allow for it in your chunking by scheduling it in that time slot. Putting out fires is important work!

Once you understand your time chunks for the week, go to your task list to fit your tasks into your time chunks. Be true to your plan if at all possible. I give you permission to reassign your tasks to another time chunk because we all know time chunks can change between Monday and Friday.

My hint: I acknowledge the completion of a task by highlighting it in yellow rather than crossing it off my list. I prefer the color to show my success.

The ROI of focus
While the term Return on Investment (ROI) is often used in financial areas, it applies here to the benefits I get when I chunk my time:

  • Feel more in control and successful at completing tasks
  • Complete more tasks than I do when I don’t chunk my time and respect my time chunking
  • Operate more efficiently and cost-effectively

Would you like to talk about time chunking and how it can work for you? Give me a call today at 910-215-0077. I look forward to our conversation!

Customer Loyalty: Handling Complaints

At the root of it all, a complaint is a gift. Why? Because it’s feedback. We don’t often receive feedback, and more often than not, companies rely on the outdated and faulty customer satisfaction survey.

Be sure to read my post on the 3 company values that lead to emotional connections with your customers. You will need to be sure you have these values firmly in place in your business and you discuss how your business is managing these values on a regular basis (like at monthly employee meetings).

If you are tempted to either (a) hide from the customer so you don’t have to deal with their issue or (b) treat the customer like a grump who doesn’t know anything, here are some tidbits based on research that demonstrate how your management of complaints impacts not only your repeat sales, but also your chances for referral business.

  • If a customer has a minor problem and it is handled quickly, 95% will repurchase
    from your business; 82% will purchase again even if it is a major problem that has been resolved.
  • If the problem is not resolved and the problem was a major one, only 14% will

A complaint is a gift and an opportunity to show the customer how
good your organization really is. It also provides important information on how
you can get better by changing a process or improving a procedure to prevent a
repeat occurrence with this customer or any others!

Keeping track of complaints therefore becomes a very important function within your company’s internal processes. You need to have your complaint management system in place now, before you have a complaint and if you are in the middle of managing a complaint. The steps you follow are these:

  • Thank the customer for bringing this to your attention
  • Offer an apology
  • THEN find out the cause of your customer’s issue

The thank you and the apology create a huge emotional shift in your customer’s
mind. It shows a great deal of empathy and sends a strong message that the most
important consideration is how the customer feels rather than who did what to
create the problem. If your customer feels someone at your company cares about them, they are less likely to blame your company for problems.

Business Sustainability: The Advantage of Risk

Juggling catsRisk avoidance. Risk aversion. Risk management. Call it what you like. In today’s world, we trend towards viewing risk as a negative instead of as an advantage, maybe even a condition to be pursued and planned for in order to take us to our next level.

The status quo is comfortable. When we are in status quo, things are flowing smoothly and that’s where the trouble comes in. We become complacent. That’s when growth stops and we move into a protective mode where we do what we can to protect the status quo. Talk about stressful! Have you ever fought to protect yourself from risk only to learn later that you missed out on a huge opportunity? That’s not a good feeling.

Pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone is how we get ahead. Ever move up the ladder at work? Congratulations! You took a risk. Ever purchase a home? Congratulations! Another risk taken.

My point is that we all need an element of risk to propel us forward. Planning for risk helps us advance and grow. We manage risk through the establishment of metrics to monitor how our planned risk taking is going and then adjusting our plan to continue our forward progress towards our ultimate desire. The flow looks something like this:

  • Select the outcome we are most interested in achieving
  • List the risks we perceive to be associated with achieving that outcome
  • Rank or rate these risks on their potential to impact us resulting in a risk priorities listing
  • Plan for addressing each risk to develop the metrics we will use to monitor if or when each risk is impacting us
  • Adjust our progress towards the desired outcome to capitalize on the advantage the risk brings to us
  • Keep moving – don’t quit, and above all, don’t give up

Business Growth: Make the Domino Effect Work for You

As kids, we used to set up our grandmother’s dominoes in what we thought were intricate designs and then set off the chain reaction and enjoy watching those dominoes all fall down.

A couple of thoughts come to mind as I think about this:
♦ There is no one set pattern that must be followed in order to get the dominoes to fall down. The business world is much the same. We all bring our unique talents and experiences to our business tactics. The very fact that we are different from our competitors is a huge advantage to us as individuals and to the people who choose to work with us.
♦ If we don’t get the curve quite right and the domino string stops falling, we remedy the situation by resetting the dominoes so they continue to move in the direction we want the string to flow. How do we flow this concept to our business? Metrics. Measurements. Analysis. And ultimately adjustments to our business tactics so business growth occurs.

This is true: Your dominoes are falling in the exact direction you’ve set them up to fall. If you’ve hit a point where the dominoes stop falling or you don’t like the direction your dominoes are heading, make the adjustments you need to get the dominoes headed in the right direction.

How can you change the direction your dominoes are falling? Change your beliefs. One of my clients told me that she suddenly realized all the opportunities surrounding her when she started working with me. Her business is now stronger and better positioned to grow because she is seeing and taking advantage of those opportunities that were standing in front of her all the time. In effect, her dominoes had stopped falling and she reset and restarted them in the direction she wants them to go. Her business tactics support the flow of her dominoes.

Your business tactics likewise direct the flow of your string of dominoes. If your domino effect is not headed where you want it to go, the reason is your beliefs. Do an inventory of your beliefs and admit which ones are stopping the flow of your dominoes. Then change those that are stopping you and adopt new ones in order to make the domino effect work for you.


Business Growth: Ready or not, here comes 2013

I don’t know where November went, or October or September or the rest of 2012 for that matter, but 2012 is close to being in the history books.

We’ve seen upheaval, tumult and turmoil on a local, national, and global level. While we might think there’s more happening now than ever, that may not be accurate. We now find ourselves inundated with what is referred to as “news” 24/7/365 whether we want it or not. The words chosen by the reporters and their editors may have more to do with building viewer numbers or selling newspapers with success measured by shares and retweets rather than with the truth or the accuracy of the reporting. Chances are a lot of what’s being reported will not help you grow your business nor will it harm your business. It will just distract you.

So what can we do to manage all the noise and take control of our situation? At the core of everything we do every day, our attitude has the most to do with how we view our success. If you’re tired of the status quo, start with these steps today.

First, figure out what really affects or impacts you and your business. There’s a lot of junk being reported. Does it really mean anything to you? Probably not. And if not, why should you pay any attention to it?

Second, what do you need to know at this point in order to make 2013 turn out the way you want it to? I’m talking about business intelligence or data or education or whatever it is that you need to know. Where can you get this? When will you begin?

Third, what do your customers need that you can provide in 2013? If you don’t know, why don’t you ask them? Things wear out. Situations change. Your customers have friends and relatives who need your product or service.

Once you figure out your responses to these questions, then you can begin to move forward and grow your business towards a profitable 2013. You will probably find that these are not the only questions that will be important to you. What I’m suggesting is that you plant your feet firmly on the ground, take a look around you at what people need and you can provide, and then you get busy working with direction and purpose so that a year from now in December 2013, you can look back and truthfully say out loud that you’ve had a darn good year.

The Barr Associates Groups: How will it work?

Value through group synergy

You’ve joined one of The Barr Associates’ groups. Congratulations on taking a positive step towards your future! Now you want to have some idea of how the group sessions will work and what you can expect. Good questions! And I’m glad you’re asking. Your time is valuable, your investment in your group is important to you, and it’s important to me that you receive high value for your investment in The Barr Associates’ group you’ve joined. At the end of the day, odds are you selected a group in order to grow your business. As an adult learner, professional development through groups offers you new avenues  to explore your options and get a grip on the best steps for business growth.

You can have confidence in the materials you will be using. As an affiliate of Resource Associates Corporation, any of the materials I use in any of my groups or individual sessions are constantly used by thousands of people around the US and continuously updated to be current and relevant to the current business real world.

There are two sources for information and reinforcement for you in your group. The first is through the listening or reading that you will do outside of our group meetings and the written exercises you will complete in between sessions. The second is through the synergy you will find in the group meetings. These two sources combine to give you optimal results for the growth of your business you desire. Whenever you are considering a learning environment, you owe it to yourself to be sure you have quality written steps to follow along with the synergy of people to serve as neutral sounding boards.

Can you make the changes you desire without assistance? No. If you could, you would have done so by now.

Can you make the changes you want? Absolutely. As humans, we are versatile learners with the capacity to change and grow as individuals.

Whatever your reason for joining The Barr Associates group, welcome!

How People Buy

This information comes primarily from a blog post by my friend Jay Niblick, founder of Innermetrix (http://www.innermetrix.com/index.html), the company that provides the DISC Index, Values Index, and Attribute Index tools I use. Thank you, Jay, for this great assistance!

The topic is sales. I don’t think it matters what you do, you are selling in some way even if your title does not include the word “sales” in it. Whether you are leading a team of people or trying to get someone to do something, you are trying to persuade the person to take action.

Many times we encounter people who seem reluctant to buy or who make decisions quickly. What’s up with that? The answer might be that their buying style is governed by their type of personality. Read these descriptions below to understand the different buying styles. When you recognize these styles, you will also know how to respond to people to move them through your sales process.

Buying Style #1 – The Decisive
The first buying style is called the Decisive. These buyers have a clear picture in their mind of what results they want. They are often seen as “Type-A” people, preferring to make buying decisions very quickly. They are more often interested in “winning” or “promoting their own agenda” so they like to buy when they feel they have “gotten their way,” so to speak. They are attentive to actions or communication that will speed up those results. Discussions about details and minutiae are distracting to these individuals. They prefer to discuss top-line, big-picture concepts when considering the value of any offering.

Buying Style #2 – The Interactive
The second buying style is called the Interactive. These buyers want to shape and mold events and enjoy “getting their way” when it comes to negotiations or buying something. Unlike the High D, however, High I’s tend to go about this by working with or through people – much more collaboratively. They are interested in people and like to interact with others, understand others and to be understood by others. They are most receptive to making a buying decision when they feel a sense of connection with the person, are in a more social environment and have had the opportunity to express their emotions, thoughts, fears or excitement about the offering first. Like the High D, this person is also particularly inattentive to details, preferring to stick to the big-picture and emotional benefits of the solution.

Buying Style #3 – The Stabilizer
The third buying style is called the Stabilizer. These buyers are more passive and introverted and interested in the how and why of a solution (i.e., the details and minutiae that the I and D couldn’t care less about). Their primary interests are in maintaining stability within themselves and whatever situation they find themselves in. Messages that don’t address the specifics, or that champion radical change, are likely to alienate rather than resonate. They prefer to buy things that will increase the stability in their lives, provide more security, and are well known and well proven. They prefer to “take their time” more than any other dimension so any offering should give them plenty of time to decide.

Buying Style #4 – The Conscientious
The fourth and final buying style is called the Conscientious. These buyers are also more passive and introverted. Like the High S, they too take a much more detailed (the most) and accuracy-based approach to their buying habits. Their buying decisions are very much driven by questions of accuracy, detail, reliability, level of proof, etc. Without sufficient data to prove any statements made to a High C, you will fail to achieve their buy in. Why is a favorite question for a high C buyer. Prove it is the second most common one. They are very concerned with doing things accurately. They are receptive to offerings that provide proof that the solution works, proposals that are meticulously detailed and absent of ANY grammatical mistakes or typos.

In my practice, understanding this type of information about the people I work with is invaluable to me. Approaching people in their style makes me more effective and makes their results better for them. I think this is a key to being a good business coach.

For more information or clarification on this, drop me an email at sbarr@thebarrassociates.com.

360 Degree Feedback at the Organizational Level

I was helping a friend who was teaching a Masters-level course. The group had completed DISC assessments, and I was doing a group debrief as a way to help the group understand the impact and value to management of assessments. As one of the conversation topics, the group was asked if any of them had ever participated in an individual 360 Degree Feedback. Not surprisingly, some had.

How about 360 degree feedback at the organizational level? Unheard of, you say? Not exactly. It’s possible, and it  uses some very well established parameters, namely the Malcolm Baldridge Criteria. The quality assurance push of the 1980’s was influenced by these Criteria There’s even an award.

Why should you do an organizational 360? Because you don’t know an awful lot about your organization at the deep levels.There are a lot of impacts that occur at this deeper level and affect your bottom line. To only look at the bottom line and wonder what’s happening should be a strong indicator to you that you need to do an organizational 360 degree feedback. You need answers, and you need them now.

360 organizational feedback can be open to everyone in your business or only to certain departments. It’s completed on-line, of course. The responses are confidential, so much so that no one can access the individual responses.

You use this tool when you want to focus on performance for the entire organization in an overall management framework. The benefits of the tool are that it identifies and tracks all-important organizational results in these areas: customer, product/service, financial, human resource,  and organizational effectiveness.

The Criteria include these core values and concepts:
Visionary leadership
Customer-driven excellence
Organizational and personal learning
Valuing employees and partners
Focus on the future
Managing for innovation
Management by fact
Public responsibility and citizenship
Focus on results and creating value
Systems perspective

As our economy recovers locally as well as nationally, it’s important that you get your feet underneath you so you can go forward. One of our greatest fears is that we will make a mistake. There are no seminars you can attend that will pinpoint and resolve the issues covered by the organizational 360. You need to listen to your people, and this tool gives you a way to hear what they know to be the reality of your business. We can get you the answers you need within 30 days, so it’s time to get moving before you get left behind.




Business sustainability starts today

As an executive coach and business analyst, I facilitate continuing education courses and speak to groups in order to reach out to entrepreneurs and business people to help them with issues they are facing. For some reason, we are slow to reach out for the help our business needs, so I am glad we have such a strong asset in Moore County with the Small Business Center at Sandhills Community College.

In June 2012, the topic was Creating a Roadmap to Business Sustainability. I wanted to introduce the topic in Moore County because business sustainability is, in fact, a megatrend that is not going to go away. It will strengthen and grow in relevance as younger people enter the workforce. Those of us who are nurturing the younger generation are creating this megatrend as a natural flow of our lifestyles and the various impacts we are living through – the cost of natural resources (been to the gas pump lately?), reaction to news media (glaciars are melting), and financial pressures (do we really believe inflation is 0?).

What is a megatrend? It’s a fundamental shift in the competitive landscape that creates inescapable, game-changing opportunities and profoundly affects companies’ competitiveness and even their survival. Megatrends require businesses to adapt and change in order to survive.

What have other megatrends been? For sure, one is the quality megatrend of the 1960’s and 1970’s that focused on quality output quickly. The other one we live with every day – the information technology revolution of the 1990’s.

Business sustainability qualifies as a megatrend for these reasons:
Steadily encroaching environmental issues put pressure on us to safeguard resources that may not be renewable or easy to replace
Capacity to create value to customers, stakeholders, and shareholders leads us to analyze ways to increase profits without increasing overhead
Globalized workforces available to step in and take over work processes
Business liabilities due to supply chains and the impacts on those chains that can affect our inventory
Competition for natural resources
Investor pressure for more profit, lower costs, higher ouputs
Public and governmental concern to amend our practices and procedures to fit oversight and regulatory processes

Megatrends change the face of business forever. Can you imagine not paying attention to your thermostat in your home, not turning off lights, or not recycling newspapers or aluminum cans? Business sustainability starts with you. Adopting sustainable business practices now is how we create businesses that will be around in 10, 15, or 20 years. Contact me today to get started so your business knows how to be around tomorrow.