Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

It’s Lonely At The Top …

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

A Business Advisory Board Can Help

Small Business Advisory Board | Ohio CPA Firm

Excellent leaders seek out excellent advisors and the best advisors for your business are those who fill knowledge gaps within your company. They will also not be afraid to share their opinions and offer differing perspectives. You may not always like what they have to say, but you will be a better leader for hearing it.

It’s not uncommon for small business owners or CEO’s to feel like there is no one they can turn for help, advice or validation.

Fortunately, a business advisory board can help. Business leaders who consult an advisory board not only gain camaraderie, they gain ready access to experts in a variety of fields, such as marketing, sales, financing, and others. Not to mention a valuable multi-perspective approach to your day-to-day managerial duties.

Read Also: 5 Best Practices For Taking Your Business To The Next Level

Business Success Is A Team Effort

Not ready to commit to utilizing a business advisory board in all aspects of your business? That’s fine. Start small instead. Many successful boards are originally formed with a very specific goal in mind – such as the implementation of a new strategic plan.

And you don’t always have to look exclusively outside of your business for help. Consider tapping members of your management team for specific organizational reports. Each advisory board meeting could begin with members of your management team providing updates on assigned areas, such as finances, operations/production, human resources, IT, and sales & marketing. This portion of the meeting will ensure that everybody is on the same page and will encourage your management team to buy into the advisory process. Later in your meeting, set aside time to speak confidentially with your advisory team. Doing so will provide everyone with the opportunity to speak candidly.

Say ‘No’ To ‘Yes-Men’

If you don’t trust the members of your advisory board, the initiative will not be effective. You need to go into advisory board meetings ready and willing to share sensitive information about the business, as well as personal information about yourself. If you don’t trust your board, you are unlikely to tell them everything they need to know to provide you with the best advice possible. Your board should consist of the following experts:

  • An attorney
  • An accountant
  • A banker
  • Experts in Marketing, HR and/or IT
  • Other successful entrepreneurs from other industries
  • Potential customers

Optimally, you should try to keep the group small and close-knit. More than six advisors on your board are not recommended as the productivity of the team is likely to take a hit.

Know Your Limitations

Excellent leaders seek out excellent advisors and the best advisors for your business are those who fill knowledge gaps within your company. They will also not be afraid to share their opinions and offer differing perspectives. You may not always like what they have to say, but you will be a better leader for hearing it. You can’t do everything and you can’t be an expert on every topic or every issue that comes across your desk. But an advisory team will help you get there.

Set Expectations

Even though advisory boards are more informal than boards of directors, it’s important to set expectations and ground rules on any time expectations, responsibilities and duration of service. Consider a written document outlining your board’s responsibilities and logistics, such as meeting frequency, expected time commitment and compensation, if any. Quarterly meetings as a group with individual meetings as needs arise is a good framework.

Remember, your business advisory board does not have authority to make business decisions; it will offer advice that you can either take or dismiss. Speak frankly about your business goals are and explain that you don’t expect them to take on an active management role or assume any liability for your company or for the advice they offer. Providing written indemnification for each participant is appropriate.

The advisory board experience should be interesting and beneficial for all involved. Being on your board will expose members to new ideas and perspectives, and also offers mentoring, networking and social opportunities that make the experience worthwhile. At the very least, you should cover any expenses members incur to attend meetings, and provide meals when you get together. You could also consider a per-meeting fee that might range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on commitment.

Email Rea & Associates to learn more ways a business advisory board can help you become a better business leader.

By Chris Roush, CPA (Millersburg office)

Are you looking for more insight into the effectiveness of a business advisory board? Check out these articles.

Getting By With A Little Help From Your Friends

Why It’s Important To Have A Good Banker As Part Of Your Business Advisory Team

This Is An Intervention – Step Away From Your Business

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Building Bridges

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Closing The Gender Gap In The Workplace

Closing Gender Gap - Ohio CPA Firm

The percentage of women in the workforce increases every year, but that’s not necessarily reflected by the percentage of women in leadership positions. Additionally, women are often being paid less to do the same job as men, despite having equal qualifications and experience. Regardless of your gender or position within the company, we all have a responsibility to help close this gap.

We’ve certainly come a long way from the old days, when women in the workforce were expected to be seen and not heard. As anyone who has ever watched an episode of “Mad Men” (or worked during that era and lived to tell about it!) can attest, the workplace was exclusively a man’s world.

But despite our progress, the gender gap in the business community continues to be a hot topic these days. Shouldn’t men and women be paid the same to do the same job? Haven’t women proven that they are just as skilled, intelligent and driven as their male counterparts? Why does a gender gap still exist, anyway?

I’d like to think that no one intentionally denies their employees equal opportunities and fair pay for any reason, including gender. But, unfortunately, it does happen – even if it’s just on a subconscious level.

An organization is only as strong as its employees. Men and women are equal and integral parts of the equation. Successful companies recognize that diverse opinions and skill sets are invaluable assets to the modern business, and they have begun to hire and promote accordingly.

The percentage of women in the workforce increases every year, but that’s not necessarily reflected by the percentage of women in leadership positions. Additionally, women are often being paid less to do the same job as men, despite having equal qualifications and experience. Regardless of your gender or position within the company, we all have a responsibility to help close this gap.

LEADERSHIP: You Hold the Keys to Change

Even if your intentions are pure, your actions may fall short. Remember, your employees are following your lead, so be sure you’re setting the proper tone at the top. For help, survey your employees to find out how you’re doing in this area. You can also take the following steps to help close the gender gap in your business:

  • Ensure that women are represented at all levels of the company, and keep them involved in management decisions.
  • Pay women equally as their male counterparts.
  • Don’t assume that a woman with family obligations isn’t up for the challenge of a promotion or increased responsibility.
  • Take time to listen to the concerns of women within your organization and foster an environment of open communication.

MEN: You Play an Important Role, Too

It’s the job of every man in the company to respect and treat their female colleagues as equals. You can do this by:

  • Becoming aware of communication differences between genders and encouraging women to participate and offer their ideas.
  • Actively working to include your female colleagues in the same way you do other men.

LADIES: Support One Another

Women in leadership positions have a unique opportunity to support other females in the organization, both by serving as mentors and acting as “spokeswomen” for gender issues with upper management. Additionally,
women can:

  • Organize and participate in groups that address common issues women face in the workplace.
  • Be visible. Make sure company leadership sees your work ethic and initiative, and ensure your opinions are heard.
  • Find ways to connect with your male colleagues.

Men and women bring different yet equally valuable perspectives to the workplace, and all contributions should be respected. We’re on the same team, working toward the same goal — let’s ensure we always act accordingly.

By Lesley Mast, CPA, MAcc-Taxation (Wooster office)

Want more insight into this topic?

Check out Lesley’s podcast episode, “girls & glass ceilings: the gender gap,” on unsuitable on Rea Radio. You can listen to the podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud and at www.reacpa.com/episode-20.

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Can Your Business Survive An Employee Exodus?

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
Do Your Employees Love Their Jobs - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

It’s easy to blame the pay scale when an employee leaves or when it becomes a struggle to recruit new talent and it’s common for top performers to leave for bigger and brighter opportunities that promise a larger pay check. But sometimes, the reason a top performer leaves has nothing to do with dollar signs. Sometimes their departure has everything to do with whether they believe their work is appreciated. When an employee does a good job, do you let them know?

As the economy continues to improve, it’s more important than ever to remain focused on the well-being of your team – because if you don’t, somebody else will.

Just because your employees aren’t actively looking for another job opportunity, doesn’t mean that other companies aren’t looking for them. And that makes it your responsibility to keep them happy in their current position or company more important than ever. Maybe your closest competitors have begun to regularly communicate with members of your team as part of a strategy to siphon your top talent or maybe an appealing job posting on LinkedIn has prompted one of your best employees to take a critical look at their current situation. While widespread mutiny among your rank-and-file may not top your list of business threats, it’s a real possibility that must be given proper consideration. If key members of your team determine that the grass is, indeed, greener on the other side, you could be left shorthanded, unable to fulfill your business obligations and ultimately branded with a bad reputation.

Read: Are Your Employees Stakeholders In Your Business?

Could your business recover after taking this kind of hit?

If you’re not sure how your company would be able to handle the exit of your star employee or a mass exodus of talent, try implementing these tips into your team-building strategy to help secure your overall business structure – and ultimately your success. As an added bonus, you might be able to earn the “workplace of choice” status in your community in the process, which can have an extraordinary impact on all aspects of your organization.

Be A Better Leader

How effective you are as a leader hinges on your ability to provide support, motivation and direction to your team on a regular basis while utilizing fair and constructive methods of communication. Leadership is not just about barking orders, it’s about listening to your team and providing solutions that address challenges and promote higher levels of proactivity and efficiency. Want to be a better leader? Get involved. Listen. Be hands-on. And actively demonstrate the qualities you expect to see from your team.

Encourage Ownership

When team members are able to take ownership of their work and accomplishments, they will take more pride in their work and in the company. Oftentimes, the quality of your team’s work will increase and they will be more likely to offer valuable insight into the effectiveness and shortfalls of certain aspects of their area in the organization. You can’t be everywhere and they can serve as your eyes. Your team’s intuition can be incredibly valuable and can help improve your business’s processes and procedures. One way to encourage your team to take ownership is to give them the chance to walk away with a bonus for their efforts. Individual and company performance bonus plans have been successfully implemented in many businesses.

Environment Matters

Want to know the best way to drive your employees away? Make them work in cramped space with poor lighting, uncomfortable working conditions and outdated facilities. On the other hand, if attracting great hires and retaining top talent is your goal, be sure to provide your team with the tools they need to do their jobs effectively while ensuring that your facilities are up-to-date and the working conditions are manageable. Just like you, your employees are working harder than ever to earn a living. Another great way to satisfy your team is to understand that many of the men and women working for you are part of a household that depends on both parents working full-time jobs. Therefore, respecting the need for greater work/life balance might also give your business the edge when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.

Be Generous With Feedback

It’s easy to blame the pay scale when an employee leaves or when it becomes a struggle to recruit new talent and it’s common for top performers to leave for bigger and brighter opportunities that promise a larger pay check. But sometimes, the reason a top performer leaves has nothing to do with dollar signs. Sometimes their departure has everything to do with whether they believe their work is appreciated. When an employee does a good job, do you let them know? When your team works together to fulfill an especially difficult quota, do you speak up? When you notice that one, two, 10 or more members of your team are struggling, do you take the time to work with them and help them overcome their challenges? When you take the time to give employees feedback with regard to how well they are performing their specific job duties, you help provide them with a roadmap for their own success. Some companies have begun to implement longevity awards to help acknowledge their team for the great work they do. These rewards are not only great incentives, they become points of pride.

Email Rea & Associates to learn more about the benefits a great team can have on your company’s bottom line.

By Tom Jeffries, CPA (Millersburg office)

 

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This Is An Intervention – Step Away From Your Business

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
Be The Leader You Want To Be - Rea & Associates - Ohio CPA Firm

Join organizations, attend events, and talk to other leaders about your business, your industry and your role in the world. It’s time to be the business leader you’ve always wanted to be.

As the driving force behind your company’s growth and success you have undoubtedly spent countless hours and dollars strategizing, networking and juggling a laundry list of managerial responsibilities. But your effort has paid off – today, you are praised for your work and are regarded as a leading entrepreneur within your industry. But maybe it feels like you have only begun to scratch the surface and that your business is long overdue for a growth spurt. While these are great challenges to have in the business world, if you are spending all your time in the office instead of hitting the pavement, it could seem like your ability to expand further is simply unattainable.

If only there were more hours in the day!

Read: Did You Know That Treating Your Business Like An Investment Can Lead To Wealth?

Throughout my career I have had the pleasure of working with many successful business owners. And while these men and women possess the skills, expertise and leadership traits essential for success in their respective industries, they have all learned that they are not immune to getting caught up in day-to-day managerial distractions. It can happen to anybody and before you know it you are caught up in a fruitless, energy-sapping, time-consuming headache that hurts your effectiveness as a business leader and prevents your company from achieving the growth and revenue you know it is capable of.

When that happens, it’s time to stop what you are doing, take a step back and reassess your organizational development strategy.


Step Away From Your Business – An Intervention – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Work On Your Business, Not In It

“[The] executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there,” says Jim Collins in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … And Others Don’t. “No, they first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.”

In other words, if you want to continue to grow a successful company, you can’t do it alone. While this advice may sound cliché, your ability to develop a strong organizational structure is directly responsible for your company’s long-term success. But it’s not easy and getting “the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off)” has been the single hardest objective for some of the most talented business owners. But once you are able to achieve this step, you will finally be able to maximize your time and talent by working on your business, instead of in your business.

How To Lead Your Business By Developing Your Organization

  1. First you must understand that organizational development is a never-ending process. To get started, develop a formal organizational chart and take time to identify “the right people” to effectively fill the top positions on your chart. To aid in the flexibility and evolution of your business’s organizational development, consider forming an advisory board to bring outside objectivity to the process.
  2. Next, step away from the daily grind of running your business. It’s time to be the business leader you’ve always wanted to be. Join organizations, attend events, and talk to other leaders about your business, your industry and your role in the world. Doing so will help you earn respect and influence throughout your community.
  3. Once you put some distance between yourself and the day-to-day grind of your company, you will be able to lead your company more objectively. This is an ideal time to observe your current organizational structure and brainstorm strategies to help you achieve your future success with your inner circle. Just make sure that those who make up your inner circle are not like you, will tell you the truth, will add value to you and your organization and are willing to have crucial conversations.
  4. Now that you have solidified your role as a business leader, it’s time to empower those in your organization to take ownership of the company and their place in it. This includes giving them the ability to make decisions while supporting and encouraging them and demonstrating your willingness to follow their lead.
  5. One of the most critical responsibilities of a business leader is planning for the future of your company. How will you transition your business once it is time to retire? What should you do now to ensure your company’s longevity? Do you know how much your business is actually worth? In order to protect your most important investment, your business, it is important to thoroughly understand the value of your business and develop a plan for its continued growth.

Starting your business is hard; growing your business is even harder. You will make mistakes. When you do get it wrong,act swiftly to make the necessary changes.

Maximize your time and talent. Email Rea & Associates today to learn more growth and development tips for your business. I won’t say that we have seen it all, but we have certainly seen a lot.

By Mike Taylor, CPA (Millersburg office)

 

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