Why Mustard Is Vital To Your Company Profitability

Did you know that it’s said Jeremiah Colman, who founded a mustard empire in Norfolk more than 200 years ago, always claimed that his profit was achieved because what his customers threw away; that little smear of fiery yellowness left at the edge of the plate after the meal was finished?

And did you know that, as a general rule, elections are decided by those small groups of people known as floating voters; those who switch their allegiance from party to party at each election, and by doing so tip the balance in favour of one party or another?

Think of it for a moment; both of those diverse examples go to show that the devil is in the detail, which is where success or failure are achieved; where business dreams might turn to dust, or where you win the right to carry on for another year of gainful employment.

And in business it all comes down to money, how good an expense manager you are. There are two things to be aware of here. The first is that diligence is required in the use of any expense management system. It’s a waste of time trying to change something if you’re not able to monitor it, in this case with some business expense software that’s simple and easy to use.

These days the right solution is likely to be a cloud based expense management software apps that categorise and collate all spending, allowing you to output the results to your accountant or simply an Excel spreadsheet for your own use.

But there’s a need to get forensic in the things you should be recording with your expense manager app. Colman didn’t have such technology of course, which gives you an edge on him. Think about everything you spend in your business, even if it doesn’t appear to involve money – because it surely will, somewhere down the line. Here are some thought-starters you might like to put your expense tracking software to work on.

1. Put that light out! And turn the computer off as well. How much of your energy bill goes on heating and lighting? Don’t know? It’s time you did. Check the bills, which might be a good wake-up call. Turn lights off when there’s no-one in, and do the same with computers. I know of one senior employee who left his computer turned on for several years, even when he was on holiday. He didn’t care; it wasn’t his company. But if it’s yours, perhaps it’s time to check that your employees aren’t squandering your money on unnecessary energy. And turn the heating thermostat down a degree too.

2. Ditch the company car. In the UK it’s probably more tax-efficient for small business owners to use their own cars for business, rather than buying one on the company – because it’s probably a perk you can’t afford under your new online expense management regime. HMRC is good at allowing mileage expenses at 45p a mile for cars and vans. And shop around for the best fuel prices too. Even a few pence a litre will add up over the year. Your expense tracker app will record it all for you, so you can see cumulative savings accrue. (and don’t forget that if you’re running a small fleet the savings are multiplied, and could grow even bigger if you take on a fuel card system to pay).

3. Tout around for tariffs. Are you on the most economical tariff for your company electricity, gas, or telephones? It’s usually worth checking for alternatives – and before you say you’re too busy, think of it in time invested in money management. I know of a company that saved a little more than 40% on its energy costs with a couple of afternoons’ work. Taking the saving over a whole year, that was the best hourly rate the owner had ever achieved – by a country mile. And as far as phones are concerned, look into hosted systems based on the power of broadband. If you’re doing online expense management, why shouldn’t your phones run the same way?

4. Do you need the fancy office? Ask yourself if your rented office space is a necessity or a luxury. Even that hot desk could cost several hundred pounds a month, which you have to earn before you start making anything at all. And what does the commute cost, in time as well as money? Add the costs together and you might find working at home is a more cost-effective expenses option, quite apart from having more time for other stuff.

5. Go green Seeking out ways of recycling rather than sending them to landfill can be lucrative. Landfill tax has climbed beyond £80 a tonne, and showing no signs of falling! Look at your own waste streams and consider what might be recyclable, or of value to someone else. They might even come to take it away for nothing, if it’s a cheap option for them. And think about this – according to waste prevention charity WRAP the real cost of waste could amount to 4% of a UK company’s turnover. That’s a big and avoidable balance sheet hit.

Tough But Tender – How You Can Be A Boss Chick With Compassion

As a boss lady, you must remember that people are always watching to see your weakness that come with nature. But as a leader, you must also remember that people only get to respect you and adhere to your leadership when you show all qualities of a good leader. Contrary to what most people think, a tough leader is actually much respected compared to feared. You just need to know how to strike your balance between toughness and tenderness.

Toughness gives you authority and drives those under you in doing a thorough job in all their tasks, whereas tenderness goes to show that you are human and makes it easy for people to approach you even with issues that may not directly relate to their tasks. When you are in leadership, there are situations that can pose challenges and call for you to be tough and tender. These include criticism, staff conflicts, unexpected change and unmet expectations. How then do you become a tough but tender boss chick?

1. Set a good example. To lead effectively as a woman, you must do it without being a yes woman or a tyrant for that matter. You should set your standards high by having clear objectives, working hard and always punctual and polite. When you achieve this, you definitely will have an easier time getting the same standards from your team. You must rule yourself before you can rule others.

2. Learn to cope with setbacks successfully. There can be all types of setbacks in a business setting and you want to remain in control in such situations. Reprimand those who may have failed in their executions, but at the same time give chance to skillful negotiations to try and improve the situations. A good leader will also learn from the failures and not always making the staff feel demoralized for a mistake once committed.

3. Know when a no is the best answer. Women leaders are expected to say yes to every demand they get from senior management or staff. Be tough enough to say no when you are sure a different answer will lead to financial turmoil or other negative impacts on the business. As a tough but tender leader, say no firmly but then go a step further in seeking for ideas that can help in improving performance.

4. Appreciate work well done. Breathing down on your staff is a good way of making them get work done. When it is done, let your tender side come out by ensuring that you show gratitude for their efforts and achievements. Every human being craves for appreciation, thanks and praise. When you learn to appreciate your employees or staff, you will manage to create a better working environment, build team spirit, increase morale and motivation and create a learning culture too.

5. Take a fair share of blame and credit when things do not work out. As a leader, try as much as possible not to always seek a scapegoat even when you clearly make wrong decisions. Never pass blame to your employees and instead take a fair share of it if you are involved in the mess in a way.

3 Ways Egalitarian Leadership Creates Trust

I went to the internet today, before starting this article, to find statistics to support an idea I wanted to present. In the search bar I put “trust statistics in workplace”. I was hoping to find a data point or two to introduce the chicken and egg standoff of: “which came first – the lack of trust or inadequate communication?”.

The results were staggering! I didn’t even need to explore the reports, the headlines told the story:

“Do Your Employees Trust You?” ~Gallup
“15 Shocking Statistics about Engagement in the Workplace” ~Novarete
“82% of People Don’t Trust the Boss To Tell the Truth” ~Forbes

Anyone who has worked in corporate America, and is familiar with the well-meaning employee satisfaction survey, knows that it is very typical to have both trust and communication surface as top issues when it comes to leadership.

Who is always responsible? The manager. This pivotal point in workplace structure holds all the cards. The manager is the person people trust (or distrust) the most. How this individual deals with people on his or her team, the tone that is set for sharing ideas, and how much the group can count on its leader to carry-through on what has been said, determines the organization’s ability to thrive. It sets the culture.

If you’ve got a great manager you can create a highly productive team in a lousy organization. On the other hand, no matter how good the organization is, if you have a crappy team leader, nothing works very well. How the person at the helm leads makes or breaks a team – formal or virtual. (By virtual I mean any formal or informal group that has someone in the manager / supervisor / boss role.)

Egalitarian Leadership

The manager role can be played out in one of four ways.

1. Autocratic. The autocratic manager gets “99” votes; the employee gets “1”.

In most situations, this leadership style is no longer preferred. But there are times when it is required. Some business situations certainly require a unilateral decision. That’s when autocratic leadership is at its best. Using this style sparingly helps to build trust.

2. Democratic. The democratic manager wants everyone to agree. Decisions are based on a majority vote. Using this style too frequently can drag down initiatives and stall action. But listening and working out a true consensus when possible is good for trust building.

3. Benevolent. “I know what is good for our employees; I don” need to ask them.” That’s what you hear from a manager in benevolent mode. While this style may have its place at times, it is not an inclusive approach. It’s not a great trust builder.

4. Egalitarian. Egalitarian managers know that everyone is equal.. that every worker’s role is valued… from the janitor to the president. Each has a unique contribution to make. This mutual respect approach builds the strongest trust.

Building Trust as an Egalitarian Leader

There are three ways an egalitarian leader builds trust.

#1. Have a core belief in MUTUAL RESPECT for every individual in the organization. Know, unequivocally that each person brings value, plays an essential role. This perspective is at the root of egalitarian leadership and a building block for mutual trust.

#2. Be someone who ACTIVELY LISTENS. Be willing, able and eager to hear the ideas and opinions of every individual on your team. Create a safe environment for suggesting out of the box ideas and disagreeing with yours. Make sure they have no fear of reprisal or pre-judgement. Give them, and their feedback, the respect they deserve. Make it possible so that they have no desire for anonymity. This builds trust that has people willing to give true feedback.

#3. An egalitarian leader CARRYS-THROUGH. Managers can’t commit to something and then ignore, forget or disregard it. Do what you say you will. Be truly committed to the success of each individual. That will translate into success for the team and the organization.

So which comes first… trust or communication? You tell me. In many ways, it’s a Catch-22. But the good news is, try a little of both and you can inch your way into a vibrant, trusting team where effective communications is the glue.