How To Know When It’s Time To Hire

Mar 7, 2016

When is the Right Time to Hire?

You may have noticed you've been getting busier, and it would be great to have an extra person or two to take some things off your plate. But what things? How many people? Before you throw money at the problem and hire another team member into your midst, you need to consider your systems and how they can be fine-tuned first.
  1. Consider the 80:20 principle: That 20% of your activities account for 80% of your results, so you are certainly going to want to concentrate on those items and pass a hat to someone else, so you can focus on growth. Have a look around at the resources you have first, to see if this delegation can be done internally. There are also many ways you can implement technology to help you do more with less.
  2. Determine if you can afford 60% of a new hire's salary. In theory, the new hire will bring the remaining 40% of their salary to the table themselves through efficiency and capacity.
  3. Consider the burn rate. When hiring, you have to factor in 3-6 months of overhead costs while your new hire is getting up to speed enough to work at a higher level (and achieve financial results for your organization). Ensure you have enough to funds to cover this transition, and that you have the training to support their development.

If you aren't sure where you sit, or whether your growth profile will support a new hire, take our free 7-minute test to find out.

A Better Alternative to New Years Resolutions

Jan 18, 2016
Most people acknowledge that New Year's resolutions rarely work, so why do we keep making them? Is it a moment of drunken utopia that makes us believe that this year is going to be different?
The truth is, Jan 1st is just another day in the calendar. There is nothing magical about it. I know that sounds a bit deflating. Sure, it comes with the perception that you get a clean slate (and I’m all for taking advantage of that) but that is it. So why do we think a ‘resolution’ is going to work on Jan 1st vs. any other date on the calendar?
The reason most resolutions don’t work is because there is no emotional substance behind them. The plan to go to the gym and workout 4 times a week takes some serious dedication. Most people won’t do it because it requires a massive change in habits and the payoff is not entirely clear. The gym resolution is based more out of pain and fear (“I look like crap in front of a mirror”) vs passion and excitement.
My goal here is to give you a more concrete strategy to make your business and your life better
There are three things that must exist for a plan to be well executed. They are:
  1. Emotional leverage.
  2. Tools and skills.
  3. Visibility / Accountability.
(note: I’m now talking about plans and not resolutions. And the first ingredient to make a plan work is to actually have a plan 😃. I'm not going to be talking about how to create your plan here. For more on that topic read my post creating 90-day plans or the importance of planning)
Emotional Leverage - is the ‘why’ behind your plan.
Why do you want it?
What is it going to do for you?
How important is that to you?
Your answers to these questions must add up and offset the level of difficulty in sticking to your plan. In other words if you are not really clear on the payoff, you are likely to quit or fall off the plan as you come up against obstacles. If the pain of not achieving your goal is less than the pleasure from hitting your goal … you’ll quit every time.
The way I do this, is I get my wife and kids involved in setting our family goals. Then together we work to build our vision board (a board with pictures representing the things we want to ‘be’, ‘do’ and ‘have’). These are both individual and family based. One of the ‘have’ items on our vision board right now is a pool in our backyard. And every other night or so, as we are putting the kids to bed, we role play how it would be to have the pool, like it is already there. During this process we get a feeling that builds within us. It’s an excitement and it give me fuel during the day when I’m going about executing my plan. Believe me, having your kids asking daily “how’s the pool coming along Dad?” is potent fuel for action.
Does it work. Hell yes. I’m using it right now. For me, writing like I’m doing here, is one of those tasks that will easily fall on the procrastination pile. So to make it happen I think of my kids playing in the pool. It makes me move!
Tools and skills - when you are awesome at something, it is much more fun to do. Simply because it is easy. So to make executing on your plan easier, get better at the things on your plan. The more you invest in your own education and betterment, the easier life becomes. The question to answer is - “what 2 or 3 skills are going to be critical to this plan succeeding”. Then develop some methods for improving (reading books, practice, attending a course etc). Just think, if you invested in improving 1 or 2 skills every 90-days, how much could you improve over the course of a year? What about 5yrs? Oh yeh … this is where the gold really lies.
Visibility and Accountability - Even if you have strong emotional leverage and you have all the tools and skills you need to be successful, sometimes we just don’t make the best choices with our time. (i.e. we get distracted - it happened to me yesterday as I passed too close to a bike shop and I got sucked right in 😃 ) and caught up in things that are not key to our progress.
My suggestion for you here is have your goals and key activities clearly posted where you can see them. I use my 90-day plan format and have it posted on my wall in my office. Our family vision board is where we eat every meal. It is all front and centre so it’s very hard to forget. I also take tasks from my 90-day plan and have them posted right in my calendar so I know exactly what I’m supposed to be working on and when. My last tool is one I call 'The Sales Game’ and it is a points system based on certain activities I know need to be done to grow my business. It sits on my desk and is very obvious. It serves as a constant reminder as of what I should be working on.
Having someone you are accountable to also helps. You really should have others involved in your plan anyway so it becomes easy for others to see what should be getting done. I’m not a big fan of people checking in on me (I know when I’m behind, having people ask me just pisses me off). What works for me is making commitments to people. I really feel bad when I don’t keep my commitments. Know what form of accountability works for you and use it to your advantage. Want an app solution? Check out www.coachme.com
Some things to remember before you run off - executing on an idea is way harder than coming up with the idea. Sticking with a plan is way more important than having the perfect plan. Use these tools and strategies to truly make this your best year. I’d love to hear your success stories. Email me jamie@jamiecunningham.com

Culture Shift: An Interview with Aaron Lavell

Jul 28, 2015

[two_thirds]Today, we sat down with Aaron Lavell, Managing Director with WMS Chartered Accountants, to speak about the shift in workplace culture which led to the creation of WMS, and their fantastic culture growth which has seen them grow to be one of the Gold Coast's largest professional firms.

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Aaron tells us why principles matter in business planning - and what impact that has on retaining the best talent.

Enjoy! [/two_thirds]

 

 

J: Give us a bit of an overview of WMS and how you came to be...

A: We started in May 1994. 2 partners and 5 staff left a Big 4 accounting firm at the same time after an extended down turn period emanating from the “Recession we had to have”. The “W” and “M” stand for the surnames of the founding partners and the “S” stands for Staff. From day 1, the staff have been recognised as the core ingredient of what the firm is about.

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J: What led you to embark on formally developing your culture?

A: Day 1 was easy. We simply looked at where we had come from and assessed the merits of doing the opposite. That isn’t intended to be a criticism per se of the former firm, it was just a result of an extended down turn and their former policies around transparency in numbers and decision making processes. For example at WMS for over a decade, we were totally open book and staff set their own salaries. As the firm grew we found it harder to keep everyone on the same page and certain newer staff didn’t appreciate the history and the fragile nature of a true open book approach. We found staff making ambit claims for pay rises expecting to be shaved back. In the first 5 years of operations, not one pay rise was knocked back, because the requests were fair.

Around 2006 we implemented the “WMS Culture Wheel”. This was 10 core cultural concepts usually expressed as one word. We received immediate positive impact with same. A true test of any culture is hard times, with the onset of the GFC we found that some of the one word concepts could be interpreted in different ways and some were aspirational. As an example, our final concept was “Fairness” which was the outline of the wheel and designed to be a tie breaker provision. What is “Fair” can vary depending on your perspective. So with that by way of background, in 2014, we embarked on a fresh approach trying to keep the genesis of the firm’s origins whilst introducing an explanatory framework for each core principle. It coincided with a brand and web site refresh.

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J: Can you give us an overview of the process?

A: We grabbed our 6 partners and a range of 6 staff. By range, we covered from our next partner in waiting to the leader of our Secretarial team. We were facilitated by someone external and we had regular break out groups of 3 armed with butcher’s paper to brain storm concepts and associated explanation. We had decided to include 3 to 5 core principles with about 3 explanatory lines per principle. This was designed to address the ambiguous nature of the original one word concepts. By day’s end we had a draft list of 5. We met again internally the following week and then again the week later with the entire office (approximately 50). During that workshop, which was again facilitated by the same external party, we updated the proposed imagery for the core principles to go onto our new website. We workshopped on a Friday afternoon and the website went live on Monday. This gave us bang for our buck internally and also drew attention to it for visitors to our new website.

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J: How did the team engage/react to the process/outcome?

A: You could feel the energy in the room which was great to be part of. As it was designed in-house, we all had ownership of it.

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J: What have been the benefits of the process?

A: Straight up, it gave us to have a focused above the line discussion as a group as to “what type of work place would you want to come to everyday?”. You then assessed each principle as to whether we as a group were prepared to commit to live and breathe it in both good and bad times. We have a go to framework to assess any key decision facing the firm.

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J: How do you keep it alive?

A: It has to come into your daily vernacular. As an example, every email our HR manager sends contains a footer with some different play on words of one of the principles. We filled an entire wall of our main break out area with graphics of the 5 principles. Our screen savers are a rotation of the core principles. We had about a dozen of the staff do a culture video which sits on our website. The framework was allocated in terms of what principle each team member would cover, but what they said was completely unscripted. We wanted it to be real and the only way to do that was to have it come from the coal face.

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J: What are some of the setbacks or pitfalls you’ve experienced around developing your culture?

A: We adopted two broad approaches pre the present framework. Both were entirely appropriate for the firm at that stage of the firm’s evolution, however, for broad reasons outlined above, they both ran their course.

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J: How has it impacted your ability to attract or retain talent?

A: Huge impact. 99% of applicants make reference to the culture video on the website and the initial perception of what it is like to work here is very high. Our challenge of course is to provide the tools and environment to enable the reality to match the brochure.

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J: How has it impacted performance and happiness of the team?

A: Our last financial year results were great. The staff turnover here has always been good compared to industry standard but has further been enhanced. I think the staff trust the culture and we encourage them to “shoot straight” if they feel we have slipped up as a partner group. We all work hard and deadlines can stretch the odd friendship, however the group get along very well because we have a common goal to understand our client’s business and make a difference to their lives.

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J: How did you get all leaders aligned to buy into the process?

A: That was easy, as our own observations combined with our 360 degree reviews told us the old Culture Wheel had run its race. When you get that feedback, you ignore it at your own peril. None of our partner group are perfect, but we all understand that if you don’t have the foundation right, anything you try and build on it will be fragile.

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[two_thirds]Aaron Lavell is the firms Managing Partner, and has over 20 years experience in the accounting industry with his initial years at Ernst & Young, before commencing as a founding member of WMS.

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Aaron has a strong focus in the property sector and heads the firm's Corporate Finance Team, which holds and AFSL

For more about Aaron, click HERE. [/two_thirds]

[one_third_last]Aaron Lavell [/one_third_last]

Are You Feeling Dangerous or Defeated?

Jun 29, 2015

When you experienced your most recent success—think back to how you were feeling leading up to that event.

Were you feeling skeptical, afraid, or tentative? Or were the feelings more like 'confident, excited, anticipation'?

It might sound like a silly question. You might be thinking "well of course I was feeling good".

Well, the next question is "How important were those feelings in creating those successes?"

This second question might be harder to answer, but in my experience, most people acknowledge that when you feel good and are thinking positive, good and positive things happen. Think to a time recently when you met with someone who was trying to influence you in some way (you shouldn't need to think too hard, we are always trying to influence each other in same way), how did their energy (an outward projection of how they are feeling internally) affect how you felt about them and what they were communicating? Did it affect you? Of course it did. It always does. You tend to get a 'feeling' about someone or a concept. How much you tune into that feeling will vary from person to person, but there is always a level of subconscious intuition going on.

The same goes for you. How you feel and think affects how others feel about you and how they are influenced by what you are communicating. Whether you are working on developing a team member, or trying to put a deal together, how you feel in the moment has a massive impact.

One of the philosophies I train my clients on is this:

Your Results = (Your Skillset x Your Mindset x Your Activity Level) x Your Current State.

This overriding variable in results is how you are feeling in the moment. So here’s my question to you: How do you need to be feeling to maximise the chance for success? And how do you check on this and manage it to work for you?

Here's how I do it:

Each morning and throughout the day, I ask myself the simple question ‘Am I feeling Dangerous or Defeated?’ These are obviously words that resonate with me, but you get the idea. If the answer to that question is not "Dangerous" (meaning I'm ready to blast through brick walls) then I've got a few rituals I use to get into that state. I'm not always looking for a 10/10 on Dangerous scale but I definitely want to be at an 8 or higher.

If I come back with a 7 or below, here are my go-to actions to boost me up a few notches:

  • Revisit my vision and why I'm doing what I'm doing. This is by far the most powerful and sustaining of all the strategies. Keep in mind, this will only work for you if you are extremely clear on your vision (what you are working to create) and why you are doing it. See Simon Sinek's TED talk 'Start with WHY' to learn more about this.
  • Review my plan. Similar to the point above, but my plan is a shorter timeframe (3-12 months) vs. my vision, which is years out.
  • Think about how I want to be remembered by my kids. This is another plan that is similar to the first point. It is a real motivator for me.
  • Exercise. This can vary between a full workout or a 5 minute walk. Usually the secret is to get the blood moving and get out from in front of the computer screen.
  • Listen to something inspiring or educational. I love listening to interviews with successful people. I also have some go-to audio books and books that lift me up a couple of notches. If you'd like some recommendations, comment below or email me jamie@jamiecunningham.com
  • Coffee. Notice this one's down on the list. For me, if I'm in a low mental state and I have coffee, sometimes it can just make the negative thoughts happen faster (not good), so this one is used more if my energy feels sluggish. Again, not one I aim to be dependent on.

If you've got some strategies to add here, I'd love to hear them. Comment below and share your own successes and strategies.

Make it a great day!

 

How to Hire Top Performing Sales People

May 12, 2015

If every there was a holy grail, this would be it. If only there was a way to consistently hire top performing sales people!!

Well I'd love to say I've got the silver bullet for you ... but I think you'd know I'd be lying. What I have got though, are some juicy tips and tricks shared from recruiting veteran Kristen Harcourt. Kristen is a senior consultant with The McQuaig Institute. The McQuaig Institute are leaders in the field of profiling and assessments with respect to recruiting. While The McQuaig Institute can and do help companies assess a variety of roles, their grass roots and expertise is with sales people.

In this interview, Kristen shares with us the 'tells', tricks and tips on finding, filtering and identifying top performers. The whole interview is 37 minutes long and it is packed with gems to help you find the sales people you are looking for.

Enjoy the listen. Please share your thoughts and ideas on the content of the interview below, we'd love to hear your take.

And...if you want to take this podcast on the go and have a listen later, you can! Right click the link HERE and save it to your device.