Category Archives: Blog

Prioritise: Now is the time to be smarter than ever before

What a crazy year 2020 has been. As we start to see a return to something that resembles a more normal life, with the notable exception of our friends in Melbourne (hopefully soon guys!), it’s a good time to focus on how we can work smarter.

I wrote a post recently around the use of the word ‘busy’ that generated a little commentary. It is something that drives me mental at times, and it seems that there are plenty of others out there with a similar view! I want to focus this piece on one of the points I raised in that blog: The need to prioritise.

Choose what’s important

As I said in my earlier blog, we all have enough time in our lives; it’s just what we choose to do with it. When we say we’re ‘busy’ we’re making choices on how we spend our time.

Those choices reflect our priorities. It’s a simple fact of life that if we are motivated to do something, we will find a way to do it. So, the question you need to ask yourself is: Why am I not prioritising that thing I say I’m too ‘busy’ to get to? What is the real reason I’m not seeing it as being important enough to dedicate time to?

If we focus on our working lives, I’m a big believer in the issue of people focusing on delivering the wrong tasks. We often see businesses and management teams focusing on tasks that fill their day…but possibly don’t add a huge amount of value to the organisation. It makes you look ‘busy’, but is it really delivering a result?

Start with the end in mind

When I think about prioritising my time, I try to look at a bigger picture. You need to know why you’re prioritising that task and how it fits into where you want to go.

For example, our approach at PPS is to focus on outcomes. We’re not so focused on the team’s daily task list; it’s not our management style. What we want is a focus on starting with the end in mind. Once we know the end goal, we can then set priorities within the business or project to focus on delivering that result. It sounds simple but it actually takes discipline in your approach to achieve this.

So ask yourself: What’s the end goal? Will the activities I’m prioritising get me there?

Create the right environment 

So what’s stopping you from setting the right priorities? In reality, it could be the management style you’re employing that’s stopping your team from achieving more.

In recruitment, I’ve seen plenty of managers/businesses that have an overreliance on call numbers. While activity is a part of your success, it’s not the only measure, and I’d argue that there are other more important priorities for your people to focus on. There are plenty of people churning our calls and never closing a deal.

It highlights for me that for your team to set the right priorities, you need to create the right environment. I’ve already mentioned our outcome focus at PPS: That’s been super important during COVID where we’ve been working remotely. Some of our team will continue with remote working longer term, and, in my view, if that’s going to put them in a situation where they can deliver a result, it’s entirely fine by me.

Think about what you’re giving your team in terms of a frame of reference for setting the right priorities. For many managers, it can be eye opening when they do.

How are you making sure you prioritise the right activities to achieve success? Keen to hear what you think. DM me here or email me at steve@projectprofessionalservices.com.au.

 

 

Struggling to hire the right sales people? Here are three tips to turn it around!

Selling is often described as a bit of a dark art. You’ll hear people throw around terms like “some people can just sell”, and ‘gun’ salespeople do have a certain mystique to them.

While there’s plenty of debate on what makes a good salesperson (we can debate that in another post at another time!), one thing I have noticed that is often raised with me is the that companies struggle to hire the ‘right’ sales people. For me that’s a very different conversation than good vs. bad.

The right salesperson is simply one that works for you and your business. Sounds simplistic and at face level it is, but there is an art to finding the right person to fit the right role. So here are my top three reasons why you might be hiring the wrong sales people…and my tips to avoid it!

Don’t go off the CV alone

First off, we all know the starting point in the hiring process is selecting the right candidates and it’s here where I often see businesses start off on the wrong foot.

For a sales role, the CV is only one input. The challenge for hiring managers is that they often have preconceived ideas of what they want and if the CV doesn’t fit those preconceptions, it’s out. This is why I believe the issue businesses face is not lacking enough good candidates, it’s more that they bin good ones without ever meeting them!

For example, don’t just look at experience and time in your industry. Experience doesn’t always equal skill and success. Nor does miles on the clock in a certain industry. Sometimes looking outside the square at someone from a related industry, or even someone completely left field will actually be a good option. They’ll be fresh, have no preconceived ideas about the industry and its dynamics, and will be more willing to prove themselves.

Really understand the type of salesperson you’re after

Which brings me to my second point. Point one often happens because a business is looking for a ‘gun’ salesperson and is under pressure to find them. What they haven’t done is really work out what type of salesperson fits their clients and their business.

What type of person suits your business? For example, we know the sales profession is heavily based on relationships, but do you need some one who is a relationship builder alone? Or is the role more suited to an aggressive challenger style of sales rep? Selling to an IT person requires a different skills set than selling to say a HR role, as an example.

You really need to understand what suits your business first. It can be a tough question to answer and it’s why having an expert help you to make those calls can be really beneficial.

Arm them with knowledge early

Once into the recruitment process, my number one tip is don’t just expect them to understand your business. Sure, brushing up on their knowledge of your organisation is a core interview skill in any occupation, but sometimes a little background on your business and the type of person/skill set you want can help qualify candidates in or out. It also helps them give you a better understanding of whether they can work with you or not.

So don’t be afraid to share info upfront. Just letting them come into the interview cold isn’t always the best approach. Changing your thinking can also help you improve the hiring process.

What are your thoughts? I’m keen to hear what you think. DM me here or email me at sarah@projectprofessionalservices.com.au.

Busy is the new ‘stupid’: Can we drop saying we’re always ‘busy’

 It’s certainly been a very strange time to be alive. We had terrible bushfires that then morphed into a 6-month and counting pandemic that has changed so many things in our lives. For business in particular, it’s changed the way many do what they do.

One thing hasn’t changed though: Everyone tells me that they’re too ‘busy’. In some ways, there are reports around that back this up with people suggesting that while they’re working at home/remotely, they’re ‘expected’ to put in more hours. I’m not sure that’s the case, but I can tell you one thing: I’m tired of nearly every conversation I have starting with some variation of “I’m great but I’m too busy”.

So, it led me to pose the question: Is everyone running around saying they’re busy the new definition of stupid?

Busy or just not efficient?

Before everyone starts slinging arrows at me…It’s easy to concede that it is a crazy period. Adjusting to new ways of working can be difficult and I don’t doubt for a second that there are plenty of hard-working individuals out there.

What it comes down to is this concept of being too busy. I get that it can feel like that. There are plenty of demands on everyone’s time and no one is ever going to find extra hours in a day. But the question is: Do we need to lead every conversation we have in our lives trying to out ‘busy’ each other?

It leads to another question: Are we all really that busy? Or are we just choosing to spend our limited hours per day on activities that aren’t proactive or efficient? There is an argument that we accept overreaching demands from our employers so there’s a certain amount of self-blame we can attach to work making us busy. The other question to ask here is: If we are really that busy, is it a case of just not managing our time efficiently?

Time management

Time management is one of those soft skills in business that many people scoff at but is absolutely crucial. It’s one that more of us could spend some time working on (no pun intended). In business, it’s crucial as no one wants to live to work. You need to take an approach that allows you to maximise your time to deliver what you need to deliver…but also factors in everything else you need out of life too.

It’s not just in a business setting either, it’s in our personal lives too. How many friends have you got in your life who are constantly late? Or always moving a catch up with you? Chances are that they are also struggling with efficiently managing their time. No one is perfect, but if it keeps happening, it’s a repeat behaviour and one that suggests their time is more important than yours.

The question to ask yourself is: Is this important enough to me? I guarantee if it is, then you’ll find a way to make it happen.

Taking accountability  

I’m not perfect, and I’m not suggesting that I am. I do, however, try to improve the way I manage my own time to ensure that I am as on top of this as possible. I try to lead a life that has time put aside for work, personal, and health activities. Running your own business isn’t easy at the best of times, so it does take work to make it as efficient as possible. The trick is focusing on keeping myself accountable. I challenge myself every day to do that, so when the alarm goes off at 5.30am for the gym, I bounce out of bed as quickly as I can.

Holding yourself responsible can be difficult, but it’s the first step in getting control back and avoiding throwing ‘busy’ into every conversation.

Does anyone else feel like we’re overusing the word busy? Keen to hear what you think, DM me here or email me at steve@projectprofessionalservices.com.au.

 

 

Work to your strengths: Don’t be everything to everyone

Given the times we live in, the above heading could be something that makes people feel a little uncomfortable. But it’s a statement that I think is more important than ever.

One of my pet hates, at previous businesses I worked in, was the “let’s sell whatever we can to people, even if we can’t do it” mentality. It often happens when a manager is under pressure to hit their monthly sales target and it becomes a case of ditching plans, strategies, ethics, etc., and just selling to hit the numbers so the manager above them doesn’t come down on their head like a ton of bricks.

The problem with this approach is that, ultimately, it comes back to bite you. If you take an ‘everything to everyone’ approach, eventually you’ll find yourself in the position of providing very little value to anyone. One of the key lessons I’ve learnt in running my own business is that finding your speciality, your niche, makes a huge difference, even more so in the recruitment/project services space.

Don’t promise the world and deliver an atlas

The key to all of this is to build strong relationships. If your clients can trust you and see you as an expert, you go a long way to adding value and winning/retaining business. It’s a mantra for our team at PPS: We won’t take on a project that we can’t deliver. We don’t want to try and learn on the run; invariably this will leave you spending more resources than you’d budgeted for and making mistakes that impact your clients along the way.

Relationships are core to our business, specialising in the areas we do means that our clients see us not only as a partner, but also as a source of information in those speciality areas.

So, instead of trying to be a jack-of-all-trades, here are the three core principles I believe can lead you on the right path to being a stronger, trusted partner to your clients.

  1. Find your niche

A former manager, and now mentor, of mine told me early on in my career, when I was under that ‘hit your number this month’ pressure, that I should ignore the calls to do every deal I could. Instead, I should concentrate on finding my niche.

Being in telecommunications recruitment, I found that idea daunting at first. But as I built my knowledge and understanding of the design space, I realised that was my core strength…and still is today. It was and still is the cornerstone of the PPS business and has allowed me to expand out from there.

  1. Hire experts to cover your weaknesses

To expand, I didn’t want PPS to be based solely on my area of expertise. So I brought in partners, and will continue to do so (watch this space!), that have a different skill set to my own. It’s a strong business principle: The best leaders I see are the ones that surround themselves with people who have skills that they don’t, that fill the blind spots they have.

At PPS, this approach is allowing our business to expand into areas such as construction, civil engineering, sales and marketing, and IT. By bringing in experts in those fields we’re able to offer services that suit their core competencies, thereby growing the value PPS can offer.

  1. If it isn’t your core, outsource it

The third rule is: If it isn’t your core skill, then find someone whose it is. Think about the example of an internal recruiter: Often they’re recruiting multiple roles across multiple disciplines. That means they’re often overwhelmed and under resourced. Why not work with someone who specialises in that instead? It means you have to think in terms of overall value rather than upfront costs, but once you get your head around it, I promise it will revolutionise your business.

For example, I do that in a number of areas internally in my business, from IT to our marketing efforts.

How about your approach? Do you agree or have a different set of rules? Keen to hear what you think; DM me here or email me at steve@projectprofessionalservices.com.au.

 

 

Better projects: Our top three tips to better-run projects

As a business that works in project services, it’s fair to say that we have plenty of experience in running projects! That, in turn, leads to our team seeing plenty of projects where things are run well…as well as having seen where projects can go wrong if you don’t get the basics right.

The word ‘project’ can invoke a fairly wide range of emotions, and everyone has a story or a theory on how they work best. For me, there’s three key areas that I like to see the PPS team focus on in running our projects and, from experience, if you get these right, you’re a long way to delivering for your client, regardless of the industry you’re in.

  1. Clear communication solves 99% of problems

Sounds really easy right? Just communicate clearly and everything will be fine! Without sounding like Captain Obvious, it’s absolutely the number one rule when it comes to life….and projects. But it’s amazing how many times I’ve seen this delivered poorly and, as a result, the project suffers.

So, how do you make sure you get it right? It’s covered in both rule number one and two; so, to be frank: You make sure you’re clear from day one. Right from the initial project brief, regardless of whether you’re writing it or responding to it, make sure you’re very clear on what you’re delivering for the project. If it’s a client, make sure they’re clear on what they’re receiving for the money they’re spending. Make sure you’re clear on what you’ve promised to deliver and stick to it (more on that shortly).

Clear communication helps you avoid unnecessary hold ups and errors. It means you spend less time in meetings essentially pouring over the same points over and over again…because everyone knows their role and what they need to deliver, they can just get on with it.

In my view, 99% of all problems start with bad communication. Eliminate that, and you’ll have solved almost every problem you can encounter!

  1. Be accountable: Stop shirking responsibility

It is a great rule to live by: If you say you’re going to do something do it. And if by some chance or force of nature you can’t, then own up to it and fix it.

I’m pretty sure if you’re reading this you’ve come across someone in your working or personal life that is the exact opposite, and I bet you find it incredibly frustrating; I know I do. In projects, particularly for our business in industries like telecommunications, construction and IT, things can move fast. As long as you have your communication sorted, you’re on the right track. Then it’s a case of being accountable.

If you make a promise, do it! If something unforeseen happens, make sure you own it, discuss with all the stakeholders, and have a plan to fix it. Taking ownership helps you both deliver better and build a sense of openness with your stakeholders. People are more likely to work on a project, and come back to you for more, when they know that they can take you at your word.

  1. Exhibit the right behaviour

This is a good one in our industry: If you’re running a project and want your team to deliver it, then make sure you conduct yourself in the same manner you want your team to. A pet hate of mine is leaders who say one thing in front of the client or project stakeholders and then operate in a completely different fashion once they’ve left the room. You need to operate in the same way you want your team to.

One key thing here that has always worked for me: Don’t surround yourself with ‘yes men’. You don’t want to work with people who just say yes to everything you propose. You want clients and team members who are prepared to challenge your thinking and open to suggesting a better way. If you allow people to bring forward their ideas and suggestions, you’ll find you get a better outcome.

So, there is my top three. What are yours? Keen to hear what you think; DM me here or email me at steve@projectprofessionalservices.com.au.