Category Archives: Entrepreneur

How Your Leadership Affect Your Company’s Culture

Every organization has a culture. For some it is intentional and for some, it just is what it is.
When I think of culture, I think of how the world sees my organization. I also think of how the people inside the enterprise treat their work and the people they engage. A formal definition of culture is this: Organizational culture is the guiding operating system by which people interact and get things done.

I have always been very aware of culture. I am sensitive to the unspoken word, and how people feel has always been very important to me.  Despite this, I have in the past found myself employed in companies I didn’t fit into at all. I didn’t like the people that much and I certainly didn’t have fun. With my own companies, I decided that I didn’t want that to happen again.

For me, culture comes from these 4 things:
1. Strong leadership
It takes work to define the culture elements and a continuous process to keep the company operating by them.
Leaders are responsible for defining the elements of culture and the work to ensure that the company is leading by the principles that shape the organization.
2. Mission
The mission is the point of the organization. Every organization has a purpose. The reason “why the organization exists.” Leaders define how to take that purpose and make it bigger. It is about the impact on the community and the world. It can never be just to make money. Mission guides the future you are creating and how you intend to contribute to it.
As an example, London Medical Education Academy’s Mission is to “Make doctors better surgeons without harming patients during training by using cadaveric tissue samples for surgical skills labs.”
3. Vision
The day-to-day experience is the vision of the company. Vision paints a picture of what the organization looks like over a set time frame. JUNE MEDICAL uses a 2-year vision as part of our culture to frame the experience for each employee.
Vision tells the story of how the organization will look as it is in service to the mission.
4. Values
The values are guiding principles of the organization. Values become the tool by which each employee does their work and interacts with the people that come in contact with the company. It tells us WHO we are and HOW we are.

For my companies the values become the guiding principles.
Values become a central part of the company’s unspoken conversations. The key point is to make sure you are using values that really matter to the company, mission and vision of the organization.

One word of warning though….: Don’t put values on the wall, unless your values are visible in your work each and every day.

Unless you are authentic in your leadership, no Mission/Vision or Value statement in the world can help you build a truly winning team.

Frustrated and scared

Most things in my life I feel like I can control. I can master my companies, budgets, strategic plans, people and business relationships.

But my body is driving me crazy. I just don’t WORK! It makes me frustrated and angry, and I hate the feeling of weakness. I battle my health fairly constantly: one thing after another — if it isn’t an infection, is muscle pain, or a bad hip, or any other stupid problem. Most days I am so tired I am down by 9pm, and drag myself out of bed at 7am when the children wake up.

Now I am standing here with a heat pack on my neck, since I am so stiff I can’t really move. I have of course tried some stuff, but my point is I don’t HAVE TIME to go see a chiropractor or get massages or see doctors or do tests every month! Can you IMAGINE how much I would get done if I would just be strong and healthy?!

That being said, when I was younger I was very sick for many years, and I was in pretty bad shape. I am MUCH better now, and I know I should be grateful for what I have, and that it didn’t leave bigger injuries than this, but it is just SO frustrating to never be fully well.

Ok, rant over. Sorry. Back to budget sheet for potential new office building.

(Point is: if you’re well and strong, appreciate it!!!!)

…watching my team in a meeting…

I am sitting on the side of the room, watching my team. That’s what I do most of….I watch.

Usually I watch as someone else talks (watching while talking is not the same thing) and I learn so much. Who is comfortable, who is passionate, who is concerned. For me to keep an eye on words, tone, body language and side conversations, I know exactly when to lean back, when to step in, when to steer and when to keep silent.

I was asked this morning what my secret leadership skill is. Perhaps it is this: my geeky interest in communication, skills and strengths.

I wonder how much more I get out of my team, because I can immediately do what I just did: sent a little WhatsApp to my PM, as I watched him spending longer than expected on his iPhone 🙂

Most of the time I watch a finely tuned machine — based on respect for individual people and their strengths, interests and experience.  The way the group collaborates and communicates, often broken up by joking and laughter!

Here is how we got to that and what you could do:

  • Be clear on roles and responsibilities, and make sure everyone is appreciated for their personal skills
  • Balance the agenda to make sure you build in parts of personal development and growth
  • Self insight: not everyone is a great people leader: if you’re not, don’t beat yourself up. Find someone who is, and concentrate on what YOU are good at.

 

Are staff retention policies outdated? I say Yes.

“Let me know how you will find your next skills, and how you can continue to grow , inside or outside the company?”

I lean back to let her think, before I speak again.

I am having a development meeting with someone in my staff, and my question makes her frown involuntarily. That warms my heart, and I have to stop myself from grinning. I like when people want to stay!

I can see I need to remind her what it means to work in this generous and people focused environment, built on striving for excellence and constant improvement; I spend a lot of effort on making sure I get the communication right; encouraging people to learn from outside doesn’t always mean I want people to leave!

We are not your average company 

I get that it is not common to be encouraged to look both inside and outside for your next learning and challenge. I know it is certainly not what you usually get from a manager who thinks you’re a top performer, in a company you’ve been told you are highly appreciated. But we are not your average company, and we certainly don’t aim for average growth and development for our staff. I am an Improver, in its truest form, and that is highly visible in my relentless push for finding talent and then making it better, brighter, faster.

We are a fairly young company, and as such, each and every employee is tremendously impactful on our small and tight knit team. We are growing fast, which means there are ample opportunities to grow both in role, as well as move to a new position. We have more chances of providing new responsibilities internally than most other companies – we are lucky that way. However, in 2017, that means very little. Let me explain.

Don’t get laid off!!

It used to be great to keep a job your whole life. The goal was to never get laid off, to learn on the job and to be as experienced as possible – that was the best way to increase your salary. But all that has changed: technology and innovation drives faster much quicker than ever before, and the most effective way to raise your salary is often to switch companies every two years. It is no Ionger suspicious to having have more than 3 employers in a lifetime, and certainly the pure REASONS for working has changed with different generations. We are no longer satisfied with doing something we are capable of, we also want to do something we love. And that is exactly it:

I hire smart people. I hire people who are clever, hungry, eager and driven. And then I give them a carefully balanced mix of support and opportunity, tailored to the individuals personality. So then, the inevitable happens: they grown. And learn. And they love it.

Which is maybe why they want to stay, and don’t get me wrong, that’s awesome. But it may not be what is best, neither for them, nor for the company. Continued and accelerated growth is better, and we get that from people bringing in new thoughts and ideas, new viewpoints, new skills and experiences. If we can keep a great balance between harnessing the talent we have, combined with the new intelligence we get in, while continuing to support the learning we see, we will be a hot, magical melting pot of brilliance, where the love of growth, learning and progress brings out the very best in all of us.

In my companies staff retention policy has changed to staff returning policy. Give it a go. You might learn something new!

Employees and employers: who has the responsibility for a successful employee?

Let’s say I hired the wrong person. Is it his fault, or mine? Did I have a thorough enough process, was I good enough in deciphering the codes that make up a new personality?

Or did he fake it? Without me seeing through the charade? Should I have been able to spot the liar?

As a leader, it would be very easy to blame someone else for the lack of success of employees, but I can’t push it aside. I don’t want to. The responsibility of our success is mine – my job is to match, lead, guide, coach and steer, so that we all work together like a well-oiled machine. Nobody is great at everything, so it is a leaders role to put the pieces together in the best possible way.

 And when it goes wrong (it will. Of course it will. If you push people to grow and do new things, it won’t be all smooth. Don’t expect it to be.), it is a leader’s job to guide it forward in a smooth manner, ensuring individual and team growth, teaching, leading, coaching. Continue reading Employees and employers: who has the responsibility for a successful employee?

Does it look good?

I run three companies, I work part time, I chair a charity for the local school, and have an amazing family whom I love, and who love me in return. I live in a big house in the center of an affluent town, and we have just had our downstairs refurbished with the help of an interior decorator.  I would guess that on the surface, it all looks pretty enviable.

And don’t get me wrong — I know very well how lucky I am. Not a day  goes by without me talking to my kids about being grateful, humble and generous.

My point with this is that not everything is as it seems.

Being a leader is lonely, but I don’t complain. I chose this. Being busy? Same thing. I made that choice too.

But I would give it all up in a heart beat, if I could cure my dad.  He is a cancer sufferer, since ten years back. He is battling this cruel, unforgiving, crippling torture that we call cancer, and he does it with strength, integrity, determination and power. But of course, we know how it ends. We are close, my dad and I, very close, and this breaks my heart.  You may have heard my comment on the radio last week, where I shared how my parents have been enablers for my dreams — this is true in so many ways. That’s how he got into horses 🙂

I don’t talk about this often, but I wanted to mention it in case this life looks easy. In many ways it is, but in the ways that matter the most (love and family), it isn’t easy at all.

 

 

Sometimes I surprise myself: Work Ethics

I was chatty. I don’t know how that fits with being an introvert, because I am told they aren’t chatty. But on the radio yesterday (1.5h!) I was happily chatting. Perhaps because it was mostly about business and people around me, both being topics of interest to me.

Lately, I am getting a lot of invitations to speak and write. I am absolutely delighted, as it means I have something worth listening to, and if that can help and/or inspire someone, that’s great.

Sometimes I say things that I didn’t know I was thinking. For example, I don’t think I realised how much work ethic my parents have instilled in me. Perhaps that is both a strength and a weakness?

Strength, because it is natural to me, and I always do my very best, and I work hard. I am committed, and dedicated. You can trust me with getting it done.

Weakness, because when I was younger, I would get it done at any cost. I think I may have frequently bulldozed over people if they weren’t on board. (Sorry about that.)

Potentially also a weakness, because what I take for granted may not be natural to others. Am I expecting too much from my team?

I don’t have any answers – this is another area where I am still learning.

And….is there anyone out there who thinks they DON’T have great work ethics? Maybe we all think we do, and we are just fooling ourselves?

 

 

 

Nobody* likes to feel naked in public

The professor in the back of the room is leaning back in her chair, arms crossed. She is tilting her head, eyes narrowing. I know I am in for a challenge, I can see it. The tension in the room is palpable.

I am 26 years old, and have been in the job for a couple of months. I represent a medical device company, and my customers and doctors, highly educated, are experts in their field. Decisions are made on facts, statistics and clinical data.

The professor asks me if I think the product I am talking about has better clinical trial results that the leading product on the market. 6 months ago I had never read a clinical trial. She is the lead author for over 250 publications in major journal across the world. There is only one thing to do: openly say that I don’t know.

This is a frequent occasion in my business, and rightly so. Medical device reps is on high turnover, often young, inexperienced, polished and smart, in for the career opportunities. In the good cases, there to make a difference, in the bad cases they are there to make a quick sale and move on.

Two things are imperative to do a good job in one of my companies;

Technical skills, and a humble approach to the knowledge of our customers. There is no way we can catch up with the 8 years of medical school. But we CAN be experts on one thing: our product.

I tell my team 2 things: don’t EVER try to diagnose and treat a patient. You will be asked to, and sometimes even pushed to. Stay away, and do not be flattered and dragged in, no matter how good your relationship with the doctor is. You are NOT trained and equipped to make such judgement.

Know everything there is to know about the product. Features, benefits, technical specs, clinical data, user experience, manufacturing process, origin, improvement history. Watch it being used. Listen, learn. Ask questions  of the users. My favourite one: Ask the user why she/he is using it. They will tell you better reasons than your marketing department can, with a lot more credibility. Know how it is used, in what applications. For us, anatomy is key, and I send my team on the same anatomy trainings that doctors attend. They need ton be extremely knowledgeable, so they can add value to the customer.

After all, it boils down to this: you need to earn the trust of your customer, and they will appreciate your dedicated. Few things can replace passion and dedication, no matter what field you’re in. And trust me…you can’t fake that.

And of my professor? I asked her to mentor me. We spent a couple of years with me tagging along every chance I got. Her patience and support benefits me yet to this day, and I thank her by paying it forward.

*Well, MOST people don’t like it.

 

Beware. Frustrated Entrepreneur.

….you KNOW IT WILL GET UGLY.

We work hard. I have hired the best I could find, and I have coached and refined their skills. They are like racehorses: competitive, well trained, prepared and with a winning attitude. They are GOOD. We run circles around most competitors, thanks to the internal dedication and alignment.

So you can imagine how VERY frustrating it is to me when we have to collaborate with companies who don’t have that kind of ethos. Companies who don’t focus on their staff, which means the staff don’t focus on their employer. While my gang would go through fire for our company and our colleagues, we sometimes run into companies who….just don’t. And boy do we get pissed off. We raise hell on earth. Rarely makes a difference though.

Reasons:
–If we promised a customer something, we WILL get it to them… on time.
–We try our VERY best, always. You better do the same if you want to supply us.
–Our CUSTOMER FOCUS is relentless. Yours should be too.

Doesn’t that sound simple!?

So why isn’t that the primary objective of EVERY organisation?!

5 things you can do for your team TODAY

1) Make sure you can hire the best talent, so make sure they have FLEXIBLE WORKING HOURS and that they can WORK PART TIME.
2) If you can, pay them BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
3) Give them their BIRTHDAY OFF, as a present.
4) Take every chance to BUILD UP INTERNAL RESPECT for individuals and roles in the company.
5) Hand over ownership to areas, topics or projects. Build leaders.

Do one of these, or which ever one you can. You will be repaid in multiples.