Better Choices, Better Outcomes

RESILIENCE – ADAPT OR DIE

2020 is an election year and has also kicked off with several local and global issues for us to contend with.  What might these mean to us this year and beyond?  An unfair question perhaps: but whatever the answer it will likely involve the ability to adapt to change.

The theory of natural selection has important parallels to business: 

Markets, environments and technologies change constantly and the businesses and their people most suited to that change, or most able to take advantage of it, survive and flourish.

Species die out because they cannot cope with new climates or compete with a more aggressive species or due to unforeseen events. Businesses do too, but unlike animals, they do so because of their own choices: they choose whether to respond to change, adjust their strategy, embrace new technology and bring on and develop new skills.

Those that respond survive in business, those that let the world change around them die out.

The best way to thrive now is the same as it was ‘then.’ You must always put the customer first.

Dr Ian Brooks, author of many books including 10 Steps to Becoming Customer Driven, states: “the main thing in business is to have profitable customers who want to stay with you for a very long time. This is more likely to happen if you focus on the basic principles or keys to business success”.

The first key is to deliver such superior customer value that your customers are so delighted they want to come back for more.  It is not enough for them to be satisfied or even happy. If you want their loyalty, they must be delighted. Specifically, you must understand what you have that your customers want so badly they are prepared to pay for it. (Don’t think it’s about products or quality, think total customer experience every step of the way, including acting as their trusted advisor)

Change bring uncertainty

Despite the need for agility, the drive for change is often met with resistance. There is a conflict between desire to progress and reluctance to change. This must be carefully managed.

On one hand leaders and marketers, those charged with driving the business forward, will be constantly looking at how change can benefit the business.  On the other hand, the operations team are often under pressure to maintain performance.  Change often means increased risk and ensuring changes are implemented successfully is a big challenge. Saying ‘no’ to change can be the default response for an over-stretched or misaligned team.

But this must not be the default position. Before saying ‘no’ to an idea ask your people; “what is the ultimate cost of missing this opportunity or doing nothing; in business terms?”.   The team needs to ask, “what are the benefits and risks to our existing customers, services and business processes if we go ahead or do not go ahead with this change?”

Adaptable, Agile, Successful

Truly agile organisations have mastered the paradox to be both stable and dynamic at the same time.  Try and embrace and trust change and work on being loose and supple, not rigid and brittle.

This is where change management is necessary. The change management process needs to make sure the right questions are asked along the way: Is the change necessary? Is it worth the cost and resources? What are the risks? How can we negate these risks? If the right processes are followed, ideas and communication are allowed to flow and the right questions are asked (and answered), there is almost always a mutually agreeable solution that can be found.

Practise and refine your change management process and develop a more agile team and a more agile business. Putting controls and people in place to get it right is a strategic no-brainer, but there are challenges and objections to overcome along the way.

The success of change management relies largely on organisational change, in the broader sense – changing people’s attitudes through great leadership.

Ian Featherstone is a business advisor and leadership coach, and the owner of Glass Half Full. He specialises in the construction industry, particularly the joinery & cabinetry sector. For more information or to find out how you can move your team forward,  please visit www.glasshalffull.co.nz

In the end we have to make a decision and jump right in wholeheartedly

IS SAYING NO BAD FOR BUSINESS

After believing for many years that the joinery and building industry is seasonal, I am starting to change my view.  Traditionally we have seen our business’s experience peak demand towards the end of the year.  However, the last few years many of us have returned after the summer holidays with full order books and more inquiries than we can handle or process.  This year is certainly no exception, almost everyone I am speaking with has more inquiries than they can handle, very long lead times and are feeling anxious about letting people down and worrying about how much they have to do.

On top of this, business owners and their key people are in danger of taking their eye of the ball and losing touch with key clients, team members, process controls and key business and personal relationships, leading to surprise resignations and a decline in customer satisfaction and personal relationships alike. 

“A company finds its destiny by answering 3 questions

1. Who are we?

2. What do we stand for?

3. How do we serve?”

Tom Chappell

    

This is a great time to remind yourself of why you are doing this in the first place and ask yourself some pertinent questions:

  1. What is my own passion & purpose for this business?
  2. What is the business’s purpose?
  3. Who are our ideal clients?
  4. Why are they our ideal clients?
  5. What is the value proposition for our chosen clients?
  6. What are the company’s values? And are we living them?
  7. Who are our most profitable customers, jobs, or product types over the long term?
  8. Where do we have a competitive advantage?
  9. What is our actual capacity for the different work types and are we prepared to increase this?
  10. Am I or others losing touch with our team? Are any of them a “flight risk”

Ian brooks, a well-respected business leader, speaker, and expert on creating and selling customer value has a quote I always remember, contained within his theme of “it’s about the customer always”.

“The aim in business is to have profitable customers,

who stay with you for a very long time”

   Dr Ian Brooks

 It is a good idea to have conversations with regular clients (who you wish to retain), to understand their future demand and build up a forecast against a budget and the available capacity.

Once you have asked yourself the 10 questions above and are clearer, its then much easier to decide who your chosen clients are, the type of work you desire the most, that which is the most profitable (in profit $ or profit per hour or unit of capacity, not %).

Then, when you look at the new inquires and understand how much work is coming from your regular clients, its much easier to decide which additional opportunities to pursue and those to gracefully decline or refer elsewhere.

Also review your digital messaging on your website, social media etc,  you may be attracting the wrong type of clients for these circumstances.

And of course, this cycle will change at some stage, so be prepared to adapt and adjust your focus and strategy to remain flexible in your approach, the team and pricing strategies.

MINDSET – BELIEVE & GROW

Working hard has always been valued and we know it’s a good way to achieve our goals.

Some people have a natural talent for things, and it is easy to believe that this talent or gift is the reason why some succeed and are satisfied, and some of us are not.

Developing ourselves and each other takes a learning, disciplined approach, and plenty of practise.

We can choose to believe that the obstacles, diversions, errors and failures that come onto our path are impediments to progress, or we can choose to belief that these things provide growth opportunities that we are privileged to experience and learn from.

It’s a question of mindset.

Mindset is about how your feelings and patterns of behaviour manifest throughout all areas of your life. Where your mindset is strong, you’ll get the behaviours you want in the key areas of your life. Where your mindset has weaknesses, you’ll see patterns of behaviour that hold you back.

In her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” Carol Dweck describes the concept of a “Fixed Mindset” or a “Growth Mindset”.

A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static truths which we cannot change in any meaningful way.

 A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as an educational springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.

Out of these two mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of our behaviour, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness.

What Is Your Mindset?

To find out, start by reading the following statements and decide which ones you agree with most:

  1. People have a certain amount of intelligence, and there isn’t any way to change it.
  2. No matter who you are, there isn’t much you can do to improve your basic abilities and personality.
  3. People are capable of changing who they are.
  4. You can learn new things and improve your intelligence.
  5. People either have particular talents, or they don’t. You can’t just acquire talent for things like music, writing, art, or athletics.
  6. Studying, working hard, and practicing new skills are all ways to develop new talents and abilities.

If you tend to agree with statements 1, 2, and 5, then you probably have a more fixed mindset. If you agree with statements 3, and 4, 6, however, then you probably tend to have a growth mindset.

Can you change your mindset?

There is no “button” for achieving a growth mindset, however, if we focus on the things we can control we will make progress.  We can choose to hear our own inner voice, but not to always believe it; don’t listen to its doubts and fears, but re-frame them as opportunities and ask ourselves and others better questions such as “how can we….?”  “What will it take to…..”.  If we learn to observe our own mind and thoughts, then we will remain calm enough to make better choices and learn from them, even if the outcome is not what we first envisioned.

By focusing on the process rather than the outcome, we can help people understand that their efforts, hard work, and dedication can lead to change, learning, and growth both now and in the future.

Adapted from

https://positivepsychology.com/growth-mindset-vs-fixed-mindset/

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/29/carol-dweck-mindset/

I hope that this article helps you believe in yourself and your abilities to grow, to develop, and to thrive beyond what you currently perceive as your limits.

COMMUNICATION – WE ARE HUMAN, NOT ROBOTS

In today’s world, it’s easy to become task driven and go from one thing to another and lose sight of what is going on around us.  When we feel like this and have so much to do, some of us will become even more focused and be even less aware of what others are doing or what they need from us.

In the last 2 decades, we have become surrounded by more communication devices, channels, systems, and apps, both socially and for business.  These all provide an endless stream of information and alerts and disturbances that make it harder and harder for our human mind, which has hardly changed for hundreds, if not thousands of years, to focus, and be happy.

It’s easy to forget that humans are social animals and the best way we send and receive information is face to face, accompanied by gestures and other body language to acknowledge and verify that the message has been understood and received.  We are not robots.

Many of us focus on systems, software, machines, processes, KPIs etc to find improvement.  The effectiveness of these are multiplied hundreds of times, if good interpersonal communication and leadership is applied as part of the process.

Great leadership question is to ask ourselves are “what is the quality of our communication?” right now? Today? this week? in our business?  People like to know where they stand, to get feedback, to be informed, to have clear expectations and to simply have the information they need to do their job.  If we work to improve our communication to others, learn to observe ourselves and how others receive, then we have a wonderful opportunity to communicate better, to become a great coach and an effective leader plus be a better person for ourselves, our family and the community.

Key areas to work on at work are, job and team briefings, tool box meetings, company updates and how you might handle issues or crises that arise.  Delivering feedback in a constructive way that helps people learn, grow, and be challenged in a positive way.

I would argue that 90% of your customers place more value on the way they are treated, kept informed and handled by your team, than on the products you make. 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

― Maya Angelou

In the right environment, with the right inputs and energy we can grow ourselves and those around us in a sustainable, agreeable way.

Any good communication requires some planning, shooting from the hip, is sometimes required, however, most of the time, a few moments to think before we speak is much more effective.

Remember, unlike our systems, devices and apps, every person is different and has been programmed differently throughout their life, so understanding them and considering how they might receive, decode and respond to your message, and also how you interpret their response in return completes the cycle and understanding.

For those of use that like diagrams or models, see the one below from Daniela Ilieva-Koleva and Rosaliya Kasamska.

MEASURE SUCCESS – KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

Its Friday 14th August and this afternoon we will hear the governments decision on how they propose we handle the latest outbreak of Covid-19.  We are again moving into uncertain times and are reminded to keep each other safe and look after our own mental and physical health.  Easy to say and harder to do, I know.  For many of us we are feeling frustrated, angry, and disappointed that we are back in this position, however, we must re-group and lead the way forward.  By the time you read this, we will have accepted the situation, felt the emotions of decisions made for us and have made the necessary adjustments at home and at work.

This year we have all learnt to deal with unprecedented changes and have re-shaped our thinking and our businesses.  I see many employees in our industry who are deeply grateful for the support they have had from their employers and to still have a job.  Now is a good time to share more of what makes the business successful and enlist them to keep your boat shipshape and moving faster, rather than merely focusing on survival and keeping it afloat.

Business KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

Key Performance Indicators are measurable values that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving its key business objectives. Organisations can use KPIs at different levels to evaluate their success at reaching targets. High-level KPIs may focus on the overall performance of the business (revenue, gross margin, profit for example), while other KPIs may focus on processes in areas such as safety, sales, marketing, manufacturing, quality and process adherence.

Make some time to identify the key measurable things that if done well and often enough, will make your boat go faster.  Decide on a frequency of measurement (daily, weekly, monthly) and decide on who is responsible for each KPI, then give them the responsibility and accountability so they can report it to the business, to the toolbox meeting or elsewhere as appropriate.

Some Examples of KPIs for a joinery business, large or small.  Not all these need to be used, it depends on the type, size and structure of your business.

Then think about how often and how these will be communicated to feedback and motivate your team to think of ways to improve.  You can then coach the responsible individuals to achieve their improvement activities.

Keep an eye out for more webinars hosted by Master Joiners on this subject and others over the coming months.

WE ARE NOT ALL IN THE SAME BOAT

Well, it’s the middle of May and 2020 has not been like any other year. We can be proud that, so far, the sacrifices we have all made seem to have put NZ in a good position compared to what could have been with Covid -19. So, what now?

Last edition I spoke about making the choice to adapt (or die) and to lead your teams forward into the unknown.

Those that respond to change survive in business, those that let the world change around them die out

Our businesses have probably had the largest jolt they have ever experienced. Most had their doors closed for longer than ever before and some individuals have been away from work for the longest time ever. We have been in lockdown with family or friends or alone. Those of us that could work from home did so, we learnt to use new tools and discovered the effectiveness of on-line video meetings, we learnt to be more disciplined in how we use our time, it was hard. We had the opportunity to spend a lot more time with those we usually did not, to practise being patient and listening and appreciating some simple things, each other, our neighbourhood, being outside, being in New Zealand.

Some people have been waiting for “normal” to re-appear, some of us have had a personal jolt in the last 7 weeks that has taken us on a new path and we don’t want to go back to “normal”, or we don’t feel very comfortable at all right now. It’s OK, whichever camp you are in, well done, because you are, like it or not, learning to adapt to change.

Yes, we are in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat.

Keep yourself and your business ship shape

• Take care of yourself and your own mental health, do not start to work long hours again, keep up the exercise, take breaks, keep spending time with people you are getting to know again. You have the same amount of time available now, as you did in lockdown, how you use it is up to you. A clearer mind is much more effective than a cluttered one. Same principle as the joiners’ workshop.


• Stay closer to your customers, your team, your supply and service partners, increase the quality of your interactions and communication. This is what builds, strengthens and will make the biggest difference in the end. Culture and processes should be kept sharp.

• Understand the things your target customers value and are willing to pay more for, make sure your team are passionate about providing these with a level of service that delights, not simply satisfies. Customers will then become raving fans and recommend you to others.


• Know your numbers, work on things that matter, be confident with decision making, act with grace and dignity where people are concerned. Many of us are making changes or re-structuring right now and this does not have to be a heartless act.


• Embrace and trust change, pressure is a privilege, it can bring out our best. Work on being loose and supple, not rigid and brittle.

We are all small businesses here, we only need a few more jobs each week to regain the lost ground taken from us over the last few weeks. So let’s make the lockdown count for something positive and then we can look back on 2020 with some gratitude and 2020 hindsight.

Adapted from the webinars hosted for NKBA & Master Joiners which can be found here. http://glasshalffull.co.nz/webinar-content-april-2020/

Ian Featherstone is a business advisor and leadership coach, and the owner of Glass Half Full. He specialises in the construction industry, particularly the joinery & cabinetry sector. For more information or to find out how you can move your team forward, please visit www.glasshalffull.co.nz

Building Better. December 2019

As another year end gets close, we will soon have some well-earned R&R and perhaps a chance to reflect and consider what might be in store in 2020.  Despite what you read in the media; things can always get better.  Most of us work in very small businesses and to stay ahead we must be a little smarter and look after our customers better than our competitors do.  To be even better, we need to build a better team.

Graham Henry said, “better people make better All Blacks” and “better people make better teams”

I’d add that “better leaders, make better people and better teams”.

Are you a business owner or leader who feels that, even though you have people around you, you are carrying most of the pressure and decision making and sometimes even question why you are doing this at all?  Do you recognise the impact you can have as a leader on the effectiveness of your team? You are, after all, the head coach as well as the manager.

Creating a great team takes deliberate action and starts from the top, be the spearhead from which everything else follows, be strong and clear on the direction you are going and make sure everyone knows the direction and why.  This will help define why the company exists and what each person’s role is in this.

As “tradies” (yes, I’m one too), we tend to focus on the practical / technical skills of creating, crafting engineering and machining.  It’s easier to appreciate the skill required to produce a beautiful piece of joinery or furniture.  It’s harder to appreciate that the best work and service comes from workplaces where individuals are engaged, teams collaborate and there is a common sense of purpose, along with some fun.  When things flow, the best work just happens, and people are happy.  You know the feeling, right?

So, what are some of the elements of an engaged, free flowing team? And what can you do differently as the leader?

Respect

  • Respect yourself, each other, the values and processes you have, and all the people involved from beginning to end.
  • Walk the talk.

Purpose

  • Unite the team around a common “reason for being” and make sure every person has an opportunity to be a part of it.
  • Create opportunities to pause, reflect and admire the great work that is going on.

Team Development

  • Be prepared to do the hard work, lead by example, no-one is too big to “sweep the shed”.
  • Stand shoulder to shoulder as one team. Ask, don’t tell.
  • Recognise good and bad behaviour, catch people doing good things and praise them, deal with poor attitudes. Don’t walk past either good or bad (we often develop a habit of focusing on the negatives, rather than highlighting and celebrating the positives).

Leadership, Engagement & Growth

  • Empower people, give them the freedom to act, accept that failure is a great teacher and make sure errors and failures are learning experiences that are not repeated.
  • Give constructive feedback, recognise everyone can always be better with focus and practise.
  • Welcome newcomers, celebrate success and work well done, recognise those that choose to move on.
  • Allow life / work balance to exist.
  • Do the little things right and the big things will take care of themselves.

Remember, you are the role model for the character of your organisation, so prepare, rehearse and act when required, your people rely on you to set the tone and standard.

Ian Featherstone is a business advisor and leadership coach, and the owner of Glass Half Full. He specialises in the construction industry, particularly the joinery & cabinetry sector. For more information please visit www.glasshalffull.co.nz

What value are you selling? Products? Services? Brand? Reliability?

In the last issue I spoke about how to calculate the cost per hour a business requires to recover all the costs in the business, before it makes a profit.

Another area which I believe the industry is undervaluing itself and leaving money on the table, is in sales and in particular; selling the value of the services it provides.

Too often we get stuck talking about the price of the product and overlook the real reason why people chose which business they deal with.  It’s because of trust and the feeling that their emotional needs will be taken care of, the risks will be managed during the project AND of course, products will be made and supplied.

Remember; “People do business with people, they know, like and trust”. Its useful to design your sales / design process to include steps that lead to conversations that build trust and then “re-play” elements of these in your proposals (try and not use the word “quote”) that lead to an emotional contract in the customers mind.

If I asked most business in this industry what they do, they jump straight to “making products”, such as kitchens, joinery, shopfitting, furniture etc.  It’s true for a small number of you, that you mainly “make stuff”, but most companies do much more than that.

Most of you work in, or own businesses that provide professional services such as design, project management, subcontractor management and other advice including interior colours, flooring, lighting and other interior design related services.  I’ve noticed that some companies start providing these services as part of their work without considering the value of this.  Sometimes spending hours adding extra value to the client, but not getting paid for it.

I recommend that you discuss this with your team and agree what is a “reasonable amount of time” to spend on sales for certain types of work.

For example;

  • How will you communicate to a homeowner what your process is? What services are included? And excluded?
  • How many steps and hours could there be in the design process?
  • How many visits or design hours will be included? and at what point will there be additional design or project management fees?
  • To what extent will you liaise, co-ordinate or manage other subcontractors on the clients behalf?
  • What is an appropriate fee or hourly rate for design and project management services?

Once you have agreement then start to include in conversations and proposals; the amount of design effort / project management hours you will be including to achieve the client’s goal.  Point our that what you are providing is a unique product designed for them, that fits and works in their space.  This takes considerable time, effort and skill, which you have built up over many years.

It takes several years to become a tradesperson and longer to become a master, the same applies to the design, project management and ability to problem solve and think on the fly.  Try and think of words to describe the way in which you will create the total solution for your client, including your sales / consultation process.  The way in which you “just take care of things”.

After all, if the client really does just want a low cost product, there are plenty of imported or cut-price options, but most people  don’t want that, they want someone, YOU,  to provide a locally made quality product, wrapped up in an experience with people they trust and they call on again and again.

Be brave, if some clients wont value what you do or offer, let them go and try DIY or a low cost operator, they will come back.

If you want to learn more, see one of my favourite sources of sales inspiration Brian Tracy; https://www.briantracy.com/blog/sales-success/how-to-sell-value-rather-than-price/

Ian Featherstone is a business advisor and leadership coach, and the owner of Glass Half Full. He specialises in the construction industry, particularly the joinery & cabinetry sector. For more information please visit www.glasshalffull.co.nz

Are you charging enough? June 2019

We are now in June and 2019 is in full swing.   I’m writing this in May and many of us have started the financial year with some goals, but without fully understanding our 2018-2019 financial result and what we need to focus on to improve performance.

Its true that time = money

Recently, I’ve been working more with clients and their financial advisors / accountants and the subject of hourly charge out rate has come up every time.  Labour is usually our single biggest cost and the thing we have the most control over, if we put our minds to it.

In doing this exercise, it has been surprising to find that the charge out rates these companies are using is close to their actual cost per hour!  This is once the hours lost due to leave, statutory holidays, sick and other leave and downtime are taken into account.  We can then see that the profits generated are coming from material mark-ups and other gains, not from the value adding labour which is the very thing we generally love to do!

To be clear; what we are trying to establish is the rate we need to charge to recover all the costs in the business, (excluding materials)

If you wish to do this exercise yourself, then add together your expected wages costs and your fixed costs for the year and then divide this number into the available chargeable (productive) hours.  This will be the average hourly rate you need to charge to recover these costs.

Total wages Cost + Total Fixed Costs

Chargeable hours

For example

Wages 400,000
Fixed Costs 250,000
Total Costs 650,000
Chargeable Hours 9,152
Cost Per hour  $71.02

To establish your available, chargeable (productive) hours per year; remember to take into account all the non-workdays.  You may be surprised to find you only have around 80% of your direct labour hours to charge out, see below:

 

 
Hours Paid ( 1 person example) 40 hours x  52 weeks = 2,080
 Less Non Work-days
 Days Type  hours (8 hr day)
                                       11.00 Public Holidays 88
                                       20.00 Leave 160
                                          5.00 Sick leave 40
                                          2.00 Other leave 16
                                       38.00 Total 304
Number of chargeable hours at 100% Productivity 1,776
Less Downtime (examples only)
Maintainance, factory cleaning tasks 3%
H&S  / toolbox meetings / training 2%
Re-work, errors & unaccounted time 2%
Other, leadership tasks, improvement projects 2%
Total 9% 160
Number of chargeable hours 1,616
% of Chargeable Hours of Hours Paid 78%

 

Once you have established the cost per hour, you can then refine your pricing methodology, material mark ups and create a budget to work to.  This exercise will also focus you on the value of the downtime.  Remember every hour saved, can be re-sold to another customer, so the value of labour-saving initiatives is double the hourly rate you charge!

Make a note to discuss this at your next meeting with your accountant or business advisor.

Ian Featherstone is a business advisor and leadership coach, and the owner of Glass Half Full. He specialises in the construction industry, particularly the joinery & cabinetry sector. For more information please visit www.glasshalffull.co.nz

First things first – back to basic principles. March 2019

Happy New Year! I’m writing this in mid-February and have noticed that many businesses are only just getting up to speed for 2019. It’s great to take a break, but the NZ holiday period does take a toll on businesses – not only the lack of trading days, but the loss of momentum after shutting down. It’s difficult to quickly get back to the pace at which we finished 2018.

Hopefully, those of you who are business leaders had some time to reflect and plan for 2019 and beyond, and have some things to work on for yourself and your people.

I often say to my clients that I won’t bring too much original material but refer to some classic principles and references. One of my favourites, which I use frequently is “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey. I recently gave a copy to one of my client’s managers, and they’re finding it a really useful tool for self-improvement, and in dealing with others, as well as the practicality of time management.

I thoroughly recommend this book and hope that this brief summary below will get you interested enough to seek out more ways to help you and your team.

Habit 1: Be proactive

Proactivity has a lot to do with a person’s “circle of influence”. What you can control, what you can influence and what is out of your reach. You become aware of the fact that you’re the architect of your own life and with this knowledge you set to work.

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind

This is the habit of vision, objectives, and goal setting. Beginning with the end in mind means that when you make decisions today you consistently take into consideration what you stand for “in general”. This has to do with the principles and guidelines you choose to live by, what you find important in life, what you stand for, what you want to accomplish.

Habit 3: Put first things first

This habit has to do with integrity, discipline, sticking to your agreements. What is life about, and how do you wish to shape your own life? Knowing this, will help you get to work proactively while setting the right priorities.

Habit 4: Think win-win

This is a habit that requires a paradigm shift. It’s tempting to think in terms of winning OR losing or wanting to be right – but the trick is to recognise that there is an alternative. You’ll be independent but at the same time you realise that you can accomplish more by co-operating with other people. You know what you have, but you also realise that you need the other person. You can accomplish this by thinking in terms of win-win.

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

This is the habit of listening – one of the fundamental qualities of a leader or a coach. Concentrate first on understanding the other person and then put energy into being understood.

Habit 6: Synergise

This is the habit of strengthening; the pitfall is compromise. It means that your approach is fundamentally based on respect, co-operation and trust. The objective is to find the third path: how can two viewpoints be combined into something better?

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw

This is the habit that tells you that it’s worth improving yourself and to always persevere. It’s not just your plant and equipment that needs maintenance; you also do! By taking plenty of exercise, rest, and meditation you’ll keep your body, mind, relationships and personal belief systems in balance.

Ian Featherstone is a business and leadership coach, and the owner of Glass Half Full. He specialises in the construction industry, particularly the joinery & cabinetry sector. For more information please visit www.glasshalffull.co.nz