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greatness

August 21, 2016 Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking a lot about greatness and mediocrity. What makes one person great and another average? Is it destiny or fate? Is it beyond or within our control?

The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor – Vince Lombardi

I believe that if you want to stop being average, choose to stop being average! Greatness is a choice, and it’s achieved by becoming progressively productive in your daily routine and life decisions. Strive to be better than who you were yesterday. Set high goals and try to see things beyond the realm of possibility. You’re in competition with no one, but yourself, so train yourself to be better. Greatness eludes people who only strive to be average.

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answer

July 17, 2016 Leave a comment

There is a book called The Enemy Called Average by John Mason. I recommend it. I’ll share some things I learnt that seem so simple, but will make a world of difference if you adopt today.

yes-and-no

One of the tricks of the devil is to get us to say yes to too many things. Then we end up being spread so thin that we are mediocre in everything and excellent in nothing. There is one guaranteed formula for failure, and that is to try to please everyone.

There is a difference between something that is good and something that is right. There comes a time in every person’s life when he must learn to say no to many good ideas. In fact, the more an individual grows, the more opportunities he will have to say no. Perhaps no other virtue is so overlooked as a key to growth and success. Becoming focused is a key to results.

There is power in the word “No”. No is an anointed word; one that can free you from burdens you really don’t need to be carrying. No can be used to turn a situation from bad to good, from wrong to right. It can also allow you to devote the correct amount of attention and effort to God’s priorities in your life.

I’m sure that as you’re reading this, some past experiences and present situations come to mind. I’m sure you can even recall many situations where no or not right now would have been the right answer. Don’t tell those put you down; just don’t yourself through that kind of disappointment in the future.

Yes and No are the two most important words that you will ever say. These are the two words that determine your destiny in life. How and when you say them affects your entire future. Saying no to lesser things can mean saying yes to the priorities in your life.

marriage

June 16, 2016 4 comments

Like a lot of young Nigerians in my age range, the older generation [and married friends] have been on my neck on getting married. At almost all social events, all I hear is “When are you getting married?”, “Se a ma tun se ti wo naa?” and so on, all I do is smile or reply “soon”. Over here marriage is an achievement, just another notch on the belt. Don’t get me wrong, I’d absolutely love to settle down someday, and by God’s grace, at the right time, I will. Besides, what I’ve realized is they’re not so much asking when I’m getting married as when my wedding day is, and there’s so much to marriage than just the wedding.

Almost every little girl dreams of her wedding to her tall and handsome knight in shiny armor. She has her dress, she has her plan on how everything will play out, and for the longest time, she looks forward to it. It sometimes gets worse as they get older. I wonder if any thought goes into what happens after the wedding? Here’s a hint – not 24/7 romance; reality happens.

marriage I think no one should rush you, neither should you rush yourself into marriage; God-willing, you’re gonna spend the rest of your long life with this person. Before getting married, I think the people involved need to know why they’re getting married. The years we’ve put in isn’t good enough. We can’t wait any longer is no good either. We’re running out of time/last chance isn’t even close. We love each other is half the answer. Obviously, love is absolutely necessary for any healthy and mature relationship to flourish, but it is insufficient on its own. You should want to get married because you are compatible – because you have similar interests, because you’re the best of friends, because you’re supportive of each other, because you want and enjoy many of the same things, because you understand each other, and of course, because you love each other. Healthy long-term relationships that stand the test of time are based on love, respect, and compatibility.

Dr. Daniel Rutley, who wrote an article I read on some years, is a strong advocate of compatibility in relationships. He says getting married just because of love is dangerous, infantile and immature, but that countless, supposedly mature adults do this every weekend for that single reason alone. He says self-identity is completely formed by the 27th year of life (even many older adults still struggle with who they are), so if you get married before your identity as a separate autonomous human being has formed, you interfere with this process.

He also says there are two other aspects of compatibility to consider when choosing a mate or deciding to stay with one, is the issue of lifestyle and personality – do you like the same movies, restaurants or types of vacations? Do you have a healthy style of conflict resolution, a money management system, the same long-term goals, and so on? Are you similar in character, curiosity, vitality, intellect, appearance, sexual passion, artistic interest, adaptability, self-concept, moods, communication, kindness, autonomy/closeness, humor, sociability, energy, ambition, education, spirituality, values, morals and ethics? He says this list only scratches the surface, but it is a guide for you to consider before taking the plunge. You can follow this link to read the complete article.

There is a lot of compromise in the best of relationships. It is however important to note that each time there is a compromise, someone gets less of what they want, and after a while, it can become exhausting. The greater the similarity between the two people – including emotional health and maturity – the better the chance of the relationship working long term.

plan

May 29, 2016 Leave a comment

It’s my birthday today. I’ve gotten lots of great gifts from my lovely family and loved ones. I’m feeling so happy and magnanimous that I’ve decided to share what goes into the preparation of an excellent business plan; well, the way we do it at Herança Financial. I’m expecting guests from 2:00 pm, so I’ll make this quick.

planThe first part should be the Executive Summary. As part of the name implies, it is a summary of the entire document. This means even though it comes first, it is usually prepared last. Essentially, it should have briefs on the most important aspects of the company to banks and prospective investors – profile, market analysis, start up cost, and projections.

Next is the Company Overview. This is where you put in the profile of your company (logo too, if you have one), your motto/slogan, your clear-cut mvvpp/mission, vision, values, philosophy, and positioning statement; your products/services and the pricing, your management structure, and the equity distribution of your company.

The Marketing Plan comes next. It is most likely going to be the bulkiest part of the plan. It should have a comprehensive profile of your primary and secondary target markets, analysis of your competition (direct and indirect), SWOT analysis of your company and the competition, your competitive strategy/unique selling point (usp), your market share analysis and potential, and your marketing strategy for making sales to your target customers.

Next, if you choose to or would find it advantageous, develop a Networking Plan. This will basically list places where you’d regularly socialize (to market yourself and your business), your goals (to meet mentors, investors, and/or prospective customers), your budget, and the frequency of attendance.

Then, it’s time for the Operations Plan. Here, you list prospective location options and analyses of the various locations (including zoning and the layouts), required personnel (yourself, included) and respective job descriptions, and the compensation plan (wages/salaries, overtime pay, bonuses, severance packages, study leaves, maternity/paternity leaves, and so on).

Another optional section is Government Assistance. You can include this for your personal use and/or to demonstrate you’ve done your homework on grants available to entrepreneurs and SME owners in your industry and proposed area of operation.

Finally, the most important section to banks and investors, the Financial Plan. This will house your balance sheet or personal net worth statement (if your company is not yet operational), start up cost/SUCs (include the utility bills projections and wages for defined length of time), your revenue model, sales forecast/projections (monthly, quarterly, and Year One to Year Three/Five), loan repayment structure, and [projected] income statement.

If you want to go the extra mile, like we do, put in a Customer Service Plan. This will have your code of conduct, dispute policy, employee discipline and evaluation practices, social media decorum, and so on). You can also add your Corporate Image Package/CIP. This will simply have samples of your brochure, business card, invoice, letterhead sheet, and flyers).

That’s it.

If it seems like a lot of work, it’s because it is!

You can always contact Herança Financial for assistance.

All the best!

 

readiness

March 22, 2016 Leave a comment

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things” – Peter F. Drucker. It is important to understand that a position of leadership is one of service and not solely of control. As a leader, you have to cultivate the ability to influence your subordinates positively.

leadership

In a company, the supervisors are one of the most important figures, as they directly interact with the employees. As a supervisor, you should promote employee engagement. If employees aren’t engaged or motivated, there is a problem. The nature of the job/ position is similar to that of a coach and a judge. They have to practice firmness and fairness. In order to do this job effectively, they are required possess these traits: intelligent, good role models, have desire and drive, honest, intelligent/knowledgeable, respectful and self-confident. Most supervisors have some or all these traits, however, sometimes their personalities come into play, making them either people-centered or task-centered.

People-centered supervisors emphasize interpersonal relationships, while task-centered supervisors emphasize technicalities. Being either has its benefits, but also has its shortcomings. For example, people-centered supervisors tend to be caring and lenient, but sometimes get too involved in the subordinates’ affairs. Task-centered supervisors are mostly focused and result-driven, but tend to be demanding.

Due to individual differences, it is sometimes counterproductive to focus on interpersonal relationships, whereas less work gets done; or to focus on tasks, whereas there is no team spirit or quality work being done. The best way to handle to handle employees effectively is to find a grey area – blending task orientation with people orientation to find a middle ground. This middle ground is called situational leadership.

Situational leadership emphasizes adjusting the leader’s communication style to the readiness (or maturity) of his/her subordinates. Readiness is the extent to which a subordinate demonstrates the ability and willingness to perform a task. Ability in this context refers to the knowledge and experience of the employee. Willingness in this context refers to the confidence and commitment of the employee. However, please note that readiness is task-specific, not global. Positive performance in a specific task does not translate to positive results in all tasks.

There are four (4) levels of readiness which suggest the appropriate level of supervision a subordinate will require. Readiness 1 or R1 connotes unable and unwilling; that is, the subordinate lacks knowledge and confidence to execute a task. Readiness 2 or R2 connotes unable and willing; that is, the subordinate lacks knowledge, but has the confidence/ is committed to executing a task. Readiness 3 or R3 connotes able and unwilling; that is the subordinate has knowledge/experience, but lacks the confidence to execute the task. Readiness 4 or R4 connotes able and willing; that is the subordinate is experienced and confidence enough to execute a task.

As earlier stated, by following the different levels of readiness, a supervisor will understand the subordinates and provide the necessary guidance to make that employee effective. A R1 subordinate requires supervision 1 or S1 which is the telling/teaching stage. A R2 subordinate requires supervision 2 or S2 which is the selling/encouraging stage. A R3 subordinate requires supervision 3 or S3 which is the participating/co-dependent stage. This is means they require occasional supervision. A R4 subordinate requires supervision 4 or S4 which is the delegating/dependent stage. Subordinates in this stage require little or no supervision in order to execute tasks.

Whatever type of supervisor you are or the mix of subordinates you have, credibility and trust are necessary in order to exercise leadership. It is key for your success that your subordinates believe in the ability, character and integrity of their leader.

evaluation

February 7, 2016 1 comment

Employee evaluation is one of the most crucial periods in an organization. Quite possibly, as a supervisor, you may have noticed that most employees are not too excited about reviews. This is mostly because of evaluations usually connote a conflict of perception of results and/or negative criticism. For this reason, when performing evaluations, it is important to communicate the reason(s) for the evaluation to your subordinates. Some basic reasons are development/training, feedback, motivation, and recognition.

evaluationIdeally, evaluations is one of those situations where supervisors should be a coach and judge simultaneously – a coach in the sense of being firm and looking forward to an improvement in the performance of the employees, and a judge by being fair, considering even performance in past sessions. Sadly, it is not the case in a lot of organizations, and that’s unfortunate. An evaluation is not an excuse to berate or embarrass an employee. It is to help employees improve their performance and enhance the overall productivity of the organization. To this end, there are three (3) widely recognized performance standards of evaluation – Absolute, Relative and 360◦. The absolute standard involves evaluation based on the periodic (monthly, quarterly, annually) review of an employee’s performance. The relative standard involves evaluation each time an employee has faulted or is commended. The 360◦ evaluation involves evaluation based on reviews from an employee’s clients/customers, peers and supervisors. In my opinion, the 360◦ evolution is the most effective, but also the most tasking to coordinate.

Whichever standard you decide to use for the performance evaluation of your subordinates, here are some pointers:

  1. The evaluation is a legal document and hence be conducted in a private formal or semi-formal setting between only the supervisors and the employee being reviewed.
  2. The information in the evaluation should not surprise the employee. This is why prompt feedback is essential. A wrong doing must be addressed within a reasonable time-frame after committed not saved until performance reviews.
  3. The performance should be held periodically – monthly, quarterly or annually. An effective way is to hold it on the eve/day of the anniversary of employment. This way, it is more of a process than an event, and an employee’s growth or lack thereof can be easily noted.

As earlier stated, evaluations are to review performance, and hence, must be objective. Hence, I’d like to warn against three (3) common errors supervisors tend to make while making performance evaluations:

  1. The halo error: This is overvaluing and/or undervaluing subordinates’ performances based on their personality. Every personality has its strengths and weaknesses. Assertive people aren’t necessarily more productive than quiet people.
  2. The recency error: This is overvaluing and/or undervaluing subordinates’ performances based on their recent activities. This is why it is important to file every commendation/warning involving the employee.
  3. The similarity error: This is overvaluing and/or undervaluing subordinates’ performances based on familiarity/state of the relationship with the supervisor. A review is to objective – a tool to build, not a weapon to destroy. There should be not favoritism in the workplace either, well, at least not when objectivity is required.

Finally, this goes without saying, but employees are individuals and should be reviewed based on their merits or lack thereof, not who/what they are. Please do not ever make concessions or deductions on the basis of age, color, disability, gender or tribe of an employee.

balance

January 18, 2016 1 comment

These days, with the help of technology, it’s gotten difficult to separate personal life from work life. What you could only get done at work, can now get done on the go – receive and send emails, create presentations, edit and view documents, with apps like Gmail, PowerPoint, Word, and Acrobat, all your smartphone. Technology has its perks, obviously, but for the most part, a lot people no longer have a private life, and that makes them ticking time-bombs.

work life balanceEven trying to find a balance between work expectations and life expectations has become a chore; a chore that stresses a lot of people out.

Stress can be tough to get a handle on, especially when it’s being faced on both personal and work fronts. Common stressors, irrespective of age, career, gender, and status, include ailments, bad bosses/supervisors, family issues, financial challenges, personal distress, personal injuries, task deadlines, and technological malfunctions. If these go unchecked, the long-term effects of stress can either be physiological or psychological. Both may have adverse effects on the quality of life of an individual. The physiological consequences of stress include burnouts, heart complications, high blood pressure, and ulcers. The psychological consequences include anger, depression, irritability, psychotic breaks, and resentment. Stress, however isn’t always a bad thing. For example, optimal stress, unlike high stress and low stress (which are bad for the health and overall well-being of an individual), brings out the best performance on the job and in private life as well.

As an individual, the key to a balanced life is quantity at work, quality at home. That simply means putting in a considerable amount of time being productive when you’re on the job/at work – attending meetings, completing projects, meeting up with appointments, responding to emails, and so on; giving your family, loved ones, and yourself your undivided attention when you’re off the clock/at home – laptop and phones off when you’re with them, playtime with young children, bonding activities with teenage children, date/movie night with your partner, weekend/summer getaways, and so on; and on your own, engage in your favorite pastime, take up a new hobby, try yoga, live a healthier lifestyle – more physical activity, less processed food, more water, less alcohol and fizzy drinks, get a full medical checkup (contrary to popular belief, what you don’t know will hurt you, bad) at least twice a year, and so on.

As a business owner/manager, it is your responsibility to help your workers find a middle ground in which they can perform optimally. Some ways to help employees deal with long-term stress is through peer counseling or hiring psychologists (in addition to the on-site/close proximity medical facility), encouraging exercise and physical fitness through the mandatory use of available company facilities or provision of subsidized fitness programs, and the implementation of mandatory sick days or stress leaves (with or without pay) depending on the stressor. In situations where the supervisor is the stressor, frequent supervisory reviews should be done, where subordinates individually and anonymously rate the leadership style and performance of their supervisors. This could help the supervisors improve, and make the subordinates feel valued. When employees are content and happy, they are more engaged and productive.

A balanced life is a happy life, and you owe it to yourself to be happy.