The MVP Health Check

The MVP health check is designed for teams who are working towards creating an MVP.

WHO IS IT FOR?

The MVP Health Check is designed for startups, companies and early stage projects who are at the early stages of building their MVP.

 

WHY?

It’s extremely easy to lose focus and lose track of where you are and where you need to be. In the early days you need to speak to lots of customers and it’s extremely easy to be swayed by every suggestion, comment and feedback that comes your way. The MVP health check has been designed to keep you focussed and clear on your goals to ensure everyone in the team is aligned on the path towards the delivery of your MVP.

 

INDICATORS?

Happiness: How happy have you been this period?

Communication: How would you rate team communication this period?

Delivery: How would you rate product delivery this period?

MVP: Rate how close you are to achieveing MVP?

 

FREQUENCY?

Weekly

 

RETROSPECTIVE TEMPLATE?

Health Check Plus

What Are Mastermind Groups?

As a business owner, entrepreneur, manager, or a career person, you may find that you are wanting to take your business and career to greater heights. Perhaps you want to establish yourself as an innovative leader within your industry but are struggling to connect the dots between points A and B.

In this place, it becomes easier to feel alone and overwhelmed. Fortunately, you are not alone. Many people around you in various niches and in your industry are facing that same feeling and desire. As such, a common purpose unites them. They begin to take action in their work environment with outstanding results.

Take Responsibility As A Way To Improve

As you analyze your work environment, you may see a variety of things: a need for fresh ideas and perspectives, stuck in a rut, a lack of mentoring and training (or the training available is not taking you to where you want to go), etc. How can you take action in your work environment?

Deciding to change your work environment may seem daunting and a million thoughts may race through your mind laced with doubt. Yet, change is possible and you can be the facilitator of change in your work environment. If not for your department or business, perhaps for your own career and business growth. As you advance your business or career, the effects of changing your work environment filter through into other areas of your business, inspiring colleagues or encouraging your department to take action in re-evaluating training and mentoring of employees.

The desire to advance in your industry eventually becomes stronger than any doubt. So, you explore your options: training opportunities, networking in the hope of finding that mentor who will give you the advice you are looking for, team building, team meetings, etc.

One area you may wish to explore and that I want to explore with is that of mastermind groups. Mastermind groups are one of the ways that you can take action in your work environment and benefit from personal accountability with your career and business.

What Are Mastermind Groups?

With mastermind groups, you are benefiting from personal accountability for both your personal life and your business. A mastermind group can take your business and professional capacity into leaps and bounds as you learn from other experts in your niche. Together you work towards a similar goal.

Understanding what a mastermind group is, its history and the types of mastermind groups available will help you decide if you want to enroll your business in a mastermind group. Here’s a quick look at the history behind mastermind groups:

History Of Mastermind Groups

The concept of a mastermind group was first pioneered in the 1900s by Napolean Hill with his book, “Think and Grow Rich”. In his book, Hill explained mastermind groups as two or more people working together towards a similar and definitive goal or purpose. As the saying goes two heads are better than one. In fact, Hill claims that where two minds come together a third mind is created albeit a more “intangible force likened to a third mind”. (Greenstreet)

With a mastermind group, the group decides on the agenda for each meeting. With mastermind groups you are in an environment for personal accountability as your peers are able to give you feedback, brainstorm new ideas and possibilities, and create opportunities for personal accountability. As such you are able to take your business to greater heights since you are benefiting from the collaboration of brilliant minds in your niche.

Interestingly, history has been laced with mastermind groups dating back to before Hill pioneered the concept of mastermind groups and after. Ryan Battles gives us a few of these historical mastermind groups:

  • The Junto which was formed by Benjamin Franklin in 1727. It was comprised of twelve members who met regularly to discuss scientific, moral, and political topics.
  • The Inklings came into being around the 1930s and 1940s to discuss unfinished written works of some of history’s greatest authors. These authors included CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein.
  • Nine Old Men was Disney’s mastermind group (1930s to 1970s) responsible for many of the Disney classics loved by animation movie fans. These classics include Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and Cinderella.

(Battles)

Different Types Of Mastermind Groups And Their Purpose

Mastermind groups are formed around almost any topic. What makes a mastermind group is that the group meeting meets the definition above and has clear goals and vision. They can be formed around business, politics, science, personal growth, or inspirational reasons and topics.

However, the key to a mastermind group’s success lies in the participation of each member in the group. A high level of commitment and participation is needed in order to experience the depths of personal accountability provided by these groups.

Given, that mastermind groups and personal accountability can be formed under any given topic or motivation, we can categorize them into two categories:

  • Traditional mastermind groups are those groups that meet face-to-face on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. These groups provide the most effective growth and personal accountability than long-distance relationship because you see each other more regularly and have a stronger support and involvement in your business life. (Sieverkropp,2013).
  • Long-distance mastermind groups also provide personal accountability however they operate more on Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook groups, etc. This allows people all over the world to benefit from personal accountability, support, growth, and other benefits that mastermind groups provide. The challenge is keeping such a group focused on applying the definition of a mastermind group. (Sieverkropp,2013).

 

Why Should I Join A Mastermind Group?

Besides personal accountability mastermind groups provide you with a myriad of great benefits. These benefits include the following:

  • Personal accountability for forward planning and thinking per meeting that you attend. You will also experience personal accountability for implementing those plans and ideas. (Battles). Most successful growth can be attributed to personal accountability since you know that someone is waiting for you to follow through or is reliant on your follow through of your plans. With personal accountability, you are pushed to deliver and give more of yourself. The result is greater growth in your career, business, and personal life.
  • Networking grows rapidly and exponentially. You get to access the networks of other members and share your own networks. This puts you in touch with other key experts and opens the door for future collaboration and opportunities. (Burns)
  • Opportunities to learn new skills, solutions, and tactics from group members as you share and interact with each other. (Burns). This can also apply to the opportunities that will arise thanks to your growing network. Growth is inevitable in mastermind groups.
  • Constructive feedback from people in your niche who want to see you grow and succeed (Battles). Both you and other group members are able to benefit from sharing expertise and experience and receiving it from each other. (Burns). Although feedback is hard for most of us to give or receive, you’ll benefit more from the personal accountability and growth feedback will bring to your success and business growth. In addition, you may also find yourself gaining experience in giving and receiving constructive feedback which you can integrate into your work environment.
  • Think bigger with mastermind groups as they stretch your boundaries, break down boxes, and challenge you to think beyond your current situation (Burns). You’ll also be challenged to think from different angles thus enhancing your creative thinking.
  • Opportunities to learn new skills, solutions, and tactics from the group members as you share and interact with each other (Burns). The group most probably will create exercises and opportunities to test out new ideas and skills learned each week. Or you may find yourselves working through a workbook based on a specific topic agreed upon by the group to further understanding and knowledge.
  • Further collaboration opportunities present themselves as you get to know other members. Not only do you work together in group activities, brainstorming, and discussion, you may also find someone who fits your latest project endeavors.
  • Exclusive community and support. A mastermind group provides you with a community of like-minded people who can easily become your tribe, a people who understand you, support you, and think similarly to you. In such an exclusive community, personal accountability rises and for some people may be easier since greater levels of trust are established. Many mastermind groups are strict with who comes into the group because they are looking for like-minded people who can commit to high levels of participation and commitment. This provides that exclusive community and high levels of support and personal accountability.

Mastermind groups are responsible for many business owners, entrepreneurs, and career people’s success in business. Find you mastermind group or create your own and reap these benefits and more. Watch your career and business soar thanks to mastermind groups.

Resources:

Battles, Ryan. What Is a Mastermind Group? Ryan Battles. https://ryanbattles.com/post/what-is-a-mastermind-group

Gimmer, Christopher. 2016. How to Start a Mastermind Group: The Definitive Guide. Snappa Blog. https://blog.snappa.io/how-to-start-a-mastermind-group/

Burns, Stephanie. 2013. 7 Reasons to Join a Mastermind Group. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/chicceo/2013/10/21/7-reasons-to-join-a-mastermind-group/#42d3421a17ab

Greenstreet, Karyn. How to Create and Run a Mastermind Group. Passion for Business. http://www.passionforbusiness.com/articles/mastermind-group.htm

Sieverkropp, Mark. 2013. 3 Types of Mastermind Groups. Sieverkropp. http://www.sieverkropp.com/mastermind-group/

The Power Of Feedback

“The most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better – because your job is to try to help everybody else get better.”  Jim Yong Kim

Feedback And The Workplace

Feedback is a two-way street – you give it and you receive it. With feedback, you are able to access a plethora of ideas and strategies to take your company from point A to point F in less time while establishing yourselves as an innovative leader and business expert.

Today, both the corporate world and consumer world are fast becoming feedback supporters since you can rate almost anything whether it be an Amazon product, Uber driver and passenger, or the customer service in a department store. Feedback is in most of what we do. This is because companies have realized the power of feedback.

With feedback, companies, businesses, and organizations are able to tweak their product or service to become more trusted, excellent and reliable.

The concept of feedback has been around for many years; the application is dynamic as it adapts to the needs and demands of the era. While feedback may have started in the consumer world, it has begun to monopolize the corporate world as more and more companies make use of surveys, feedback apps, performance appraisals, and the like.

The Role Of Feedback In Your Office Environment

Feedback in the office environment is perhaps among the best ways to keep team performance optimized. With feedback, you will be able to know what is working or not working in your office environment. This insight will help you to make the necessary adjustments towards improving job satisfaction, company loyalty, employee efficiency and effectiveness, trust, and much more.

In his article for Forbes, Josh Bersin explains that according to Deloitte University Press’ article Simply Irresistible, employee engagement is affected by a variety of factors including culture, recognition, career progress, quality of management and jobs, etc.

Bersin continues to say that without feedback, employees become suspicious, less productive and a bit nervous. Thus a correlation lies in feedback and employee security. The more feedback in the office environment, the more secure employees become in the organization and their role in the company. Team performance continues to maintain and grow thanks to feedback.

The Two Ways Of Receiving Feedback

Feedback can be given and received in two ways:

  1. Managers give feedback – This is usually in the form of performance appraisals, surveys, and other feedback apps where employee’s behavior, attitude, and overall satisfaction is measured by their managers. Such feedback helps staff discover their strengths and blind spots.  As employees listen to this feedback, they are given the opportunity to take the information given to them and work towards self-improvement and future growth.
  2. Employees give feedback – Employees are often the ones who are being asked to provide the company with feedback in the form of performance appraisals, 360-Degree feedback tests, surveys, etc. The benefits of employee feedback are more significant than we realize. They span into the very heart and success of a company, bringing about those areas that need improvement or giving solutions to dilemmas.

Regardless of whether you are giving feedback or your employee is, feedback is accompanied with listening. The more skilled you are at listening to feedback, the higher the impact of the feedback will have on both you and the employee. Not only will you gain valuable information but you will also show your employees that they are valued, appreciated and heard.

Both managers and employees need to engage in active listening. This means that you remain fully present with your employee throughout the feedback session or any other time that you engage with them. Listen attentively to what they are saying without preplanning your response. Focus on understanding what they are saying from their perspective. Finally, be open minded (Keyser. 2014)

The Benefits Of Feedback

With feedback being the key to corporate success, being able to give and receive feedback is critical whether you are an employee 

or a manager. Although feedback can be uncomfortable at times, the benefits far outweigh the discomfort and people would rather have feedback than none at all.

One of the benefits that apply to both managers and staff pertains to the more feedback that is given by both parties, the more skilled you both will become at giving and receiving feedback. You will learn with each staff member or manager how to phrase your feedback in a style which will be well received and heard. This, in turn, will enhance the following feedback benefits to team performance.

#1 Managers giving feedback

When managers provide their employees with feedback, the benefits are significant. According to Hoffman, these benefits include:

Performance and future growth

When employees receive the feedback they are given a clear indication of their performance and management expectations. As you provide your staff with the necessary feedback, you are going to be giving them information that will encourage them towards personal growth and team effort. The recognition they get for a job well done will also improve their confidence.

Alongside the improvement in performance, you will see and experience an increase in future growth which will lead to increased responsibilities and promotion.

Increased loyalty

Regular feedback from managers will encourage employees towards loyalty to the company or organization. The more they are recognized, appreciated and given room to grow, the more staff become invested in the company. Their success hinges on the company’s success.

Plus, employees appreciate the heart of managers who dedicate themselves to helping others improve and succeed. These are managers that many people want to work for. It also fosters a genuine level of respect and mentorship within the company teams.

Cost effective and increased profits

As new people are added to a company and other staff members are moved into different roles or departments, further training and development are required. In order to minimize the mishaps that may come with finding your feet within your new role, regular feedback will help keep staff on the course. Bottom line, regular feedback helps reduce the cost and possibility of needing to hire replacement staff.

Because feedback promotes employee loyalty, you (as a manager) can rest assured that your clients will continue to experience great customer service and support with the staff that they have built a relationship with. This allows your company’s sales to remain and grow.

#2 Employees giving feedback

The benefits of receiving feedback from your employees may be greater than initially thought. According to Patrick, these benefits include job satisfaction, compliance issues, relational dynamics, performance, and productivity. In each of these benefits, you will see what makes employee feedback irreplaceable in your office environment

Increase employee performance and productivity

Having a high staff turnover in any company results in increased expenses and a strain on resources as you scour the industry for that ideal candidate who will not only work well with your current employees but also add an important skillset to your current team.

Receiving feedback from your employees will give you insight into some of the reasons why your company is experiencing a high staff turnover and how you can shift your current staff to boost productivity.

Office dynamics

Feedback is a great way for managers to understand the office dynamics such as what situations are causing stress or what staff members are experiencing friction in their relationship with each other. Employee feedback will also reveal how managers are treating their employees and if the company vision is being clearly conveyed.

In addition to this, employees experience validation and ownership when they are given the opportunity to express their opinion regarding their office environment and relationships.

Job satisfaction

Let your employees teach you about their experience working for your company. This feedback will help you tailor your training programs, employee benefits, and company procedures to continue to improve and maintain employee job satisfaction.

 

Resources

Hoffman, Janet. 2016. Key Benefits of Effective Feedback. HR Aligned Design.http://hraligneddesign.com/leadership/key-benefits-of-effective-feedback/

Patrick, Monica. The Advantages of Taking Feedback From Employees. Small Business Chron. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-taking-feedback-employees-18036.html

Keyser, John. 2014. Listening Is a Leader’s Most Important Skill. Association for Talent Development. https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Management-Blog/2014/07/Listening-Is-a-Leaders-Most-Important-Skill

Bersin, Josh. 2015. Feedback is the killer app: a new market and management model emerges. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2015/08/26/employee-feedback-is-the-killer-app-a-new-market-emerges/3/#12fc074550f9

Why Should You Care About Your Company Culture?

 

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”

Jack Welch, ex CEO, General Electric

 Culture And Why It’s On Everyone’s Lips

Corporate organizations worldwide regardless of size have equated success to those things that produce income such as flow charts, financial spreadsheets, and more. Yet, underneath their success lies their culture which is the heart and soul of any good company.

The business culture is that which addresses trust and fear head on. It understands that employees are the heart and soul of a company’s success. The challenge comes in understanding what business culture really is and how to maintain its effectiveness within the company. (Ryan, 2016)

The business world is rapidly moving away from focusing solely on business success and has become more focused on setting up a successful and highly innovative company culture. This culture includes the benefits that employees reap when working for said business, the enjoyment around the work that they do, the values and vision of the company, etc. The more defined business culture is within a company, the clearer it is to employees of what their role and purpose are within the company.

More and more employees are realizing that over 30% of their time is dedicated to working at a company. As a result, businesses are becoming more focused on creating a business culture that is fun and highly motivating in order to appeal to the elite employees in their industry.

Corporate Culture Defined

Corporate culture can be defined as the beliefs and behaviors that dictate how employees interact with their clients or customers and the outside world. Usually, business culture is implied rather than explicitly stated thus allowing it to form organically according to its staff. (Investopedia)

You can often identify a corporate culture by the office setup, employee dress code, business hours, employee benefits, client interaction and satisfaction, employee turnover, deciding factors in hiring new staff, etc. (Investopedia)

 

A Historical Overview

The 1960s saw the awareness of corporate culture in both business, organizations and universities. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that the term corporate culture began to be used with its usage increasing in popularity over years. By the 1990s the term corporate culture was widely used and known. 

During the 1990s, managers, sociologists, academics and others used the term corporate culture to identify the character of a business as per its management strategies, employee communication, and relation, value systems, work ethos, and work environment (to name a few). (Investopedia)

By the time we reached 2015, business culture was influenced by more than just managers, founders, and employees. National culture, economic trends, products, company size, and more began to contribute to the overall business culture of established business and up and coming new businesses.Thus business culture has become more complex than ever before yet its simplicity can be maintained when stated clearly and enforced regularly.

Why Should I Be Focused On It?

“93% of workers working in a toxic culture will leave for a 20% pay raise.” – State of Workplace Culture Report 2017

 

According to William Vanderbloomen’s article for Forbes titled The 4 Keys of Remarkable Company Culture, there are four main benefits or characteristics to a great business culture.

  1. Agility which is the ability to quickly find a need within the market for your particular industry. This agility is responsible for company success and productivity. Virgin Airlines in one of those success examples. Richard Branson was set to fly from Puerto Rico to the Virgin islands when his flight got canceled. Deciding that this was unacceptable, he chose to charter a private jet. From there, he sold the seats available on this jet for $39 and advertised the plan as Virgin Airlines. It wasn’t long before he had “sold out”. After this, Virgin Airlines was launched and has continued to be successful. (Vanderbloomen, 2016)
  2. Purpose. Employees need to know why they work for the company they do and what their company’s vision is for. This gives a purpose to their efforts and hard work. Instead of being part of a job, purpose allows employees to have a greater impact because of a vision that is bigger than them and is changing the world. This attracts many top-notch employees furthering the quality of the business. Hubspot is an example of this. (Vanderbloomen, 2016)
  3. Employee Empowerment is another fantastic benefit to a successful business culture. This comes in the form of employees being given authority and entrusted with a variety of responsibilities. Employees are able to grow in themselves, experience a place where they are valued for their skills and who they are as business people, etc. This, in turn, begins to filter into customer interactions bringing about customer satisfaction, employee loyalty, and a low turnover of employees which also improves customer loyalty. An example of a company that has benefited from this addition to their business culture is Nordstrom which is known for its excellent customer service thanks to its open door policy between employees and management. This open door policy permits employees to ask questions, seek guidance, and exercise their good judgment. (Vanderbloomen, 2016)
  4. Values are part of everyday life. Having a business culture that is not lived out will not generate success. Your corporate culture needs to be practiced every working day so as to be integrated fully into your business. An example of implementing a business culture in daily business is the Ritz-Carlton Property which encouraged employees to take turns at daily meetings to share how the company was or was not upholding its values. From these feedbacks, adjustments and recognition were made. (Vanderbloomen, 2016)

Other benefits include:

  • Lower employee turnover – Thanks to a great business culture your employees will want to stay thus increasing their loyalty to your company and reducing your employee turnover and finances spent on hiring, training, etc.
  • Less stress, more teamwork – By cultivating a business culture your staff is more likely to have a sense of belonging or family. As a result, they are quick to resolve any issues amongst themselves without requiring management input or intervention.
  • Trust towards management – Building a strong business culture allows you the opportunity to know what is happening amongst your staff and in your teams. This all thanks to trust. Your employees trust you to speak what’s on their minds without fearing a retaliation or disapproval.

What Do Employees Value In Company Culture

Most employees consider a good job to be a place where they can have fun and contribute meaning or value to the world around them. In an ideal world, their workplace would not be overly stressful either but a place that they want to wake up in the morning to go to.

Some of the other factors that employees value in company culture include:

  • Supportive management
  • Transparency
  • Higher purpose or focused on changing the world around them by doing greater good. Such a company is Discover
  • Easy communication between staff and management
  • Community among colleagues and management
  • Exemplary training that conveys the company’s value for employee growth. Protector & Gamble is one such company that provides fantastic training to its employees thus illustrating its desire to see employees better themselves and advance in their careers.
  • Great benefits
  • Foster creativity and innovation
  • Well-defined strategies
  • Room for promotions
  • Daily living of company values and culture which often brings fun with it. USAA is known for holding to its values and culture thus its employees enjoy the room for growth they experience as USAA.
  • Heritage and pride are synonymous with Disney. Disney is famous for its excellence, creative atmosphere, and supportive community. People who work for Disney enjoy the many opportunities for growth.
  • Common goals unite staff together adding to a sense of belonging, community, and purpose.
  • Teamwork and support.
  • Committed to diversity and transparency within the business. Intuit is one of the company’s that provides its employees with these factors. They also create an environment where employees are not overworked since their staff is not pressured to arrive at work before 9 am and leave after 5:30 pm.
  • Respect among colleagues and management. Each person is treated with respect and value for what they hold and bring to the company.

A successful business culture will go a long way in setting your company up for success while reducing unnecessary financial costs. Not only will you gain ground as a successful business but you will also reap the many benefits listed above. Create the company you dream of and leave an impact on the world around you by working on your business culture.

Resources

Ross, Marie Claire. 2015. 11 Insightful Leadership Quotes on Culture. Corporate Culture Creator. http://www.corporateculturecreator.com/2015/08/24/11-insightful-leadership-quotes-on-culture/

Investopedia. Corporate Culture. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/corporate-culture.asp

Vanderbloomen, William. 2016. The 4 Keys of Remarkable Company Culture. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/williamvanderbloemen/2016/04/10/the-4-keys-of-remarkable-company-culture/2/#1faaff2acad2

Wilson, Ella. 2016. 5 Benefits of a Good Company Culture. Get U Wired. https://www.getuwired.us/Small-Business-Web-Marketing/2016/03/5-benefits-of-a-good-company-culture/

Ryan, Liz. 2016. How Important Is Corporate Culture? It’s Everything. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2016/09/16/how-important-is-corporate-culture-its-everything/#2bed6a19414d

Bort, Julie. 2014. The 25 Most Enjoyable Companies to Work For. Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/25-best-corporate-cultures-2014-8/#-10-h-e-b-16