We recommend that companies apply the PAR – Management Approach
Management Process - PAR
Consider your required end result – Ensure your strategies include - What you want, how you want to achieve it, when you want to achieve it, and what resources will be needed to achieve it.
Then take action and implement your planned strategies. Clearly delegate responsibilities, ensure everyone understands the strategies and do not procrastinate. Proceed with the desired actions.
Regularly review the progress of your actions and monitor and track results. If some strategies need adjusting then make those changes and implement them.
The overall process is a continuous one, until changes are firmly embedded.
Case Studies and responses to FAQs
General small business problems
Each of these questions could be answered separately, but in fact they all stem from a lack of proper planning and focus.
The answer was to provide external support and apply the management process above. After their Plans and strategies were implemented, and a monthly review process installed, it only took a few months before real results were being realised and fewer fires needed attention, with the owners feeling they were finally in control and had more time to spend at home.
One of my team is regularly late in, at least three days a week. I have spoken with him, but things only improve for a few days and then he slips back. It has been going on for 6 months now. I really don’t know what to do for the best.
You have given the team member enough time to sort out his poor time keeping. If you leave it any longer he will feel you are condoning it.
Call him in and explain that enough is enough and the next time it occurs he will face a formal disciplinary warning process and, if his behaviour continues, he could finally have his employment terminated.
An important note here is for managers to ensure they document all informal discussions, as these will prove useful if your actions are later challenged.
If a manager has no experience in conducting formal disciplinary meetings, we recommend you call us to conduct them on your behalf until you become confident with the process.
I have an employee who is regularly taking sick days. Over the last 8 months she has taken 21 days off sick. She says she suffers from migraines and it is hard to know whether this is true or not. Can you give me any advice on how to deal with this?
These situations are always tricky, but this person has clearly run out of sick days and has probably used up some of her holiday entitlements as well.
This has to be dealt with, as it cannot be allowed to continue for her sake, as well as the company’s.
It is important for the Company to have her condition clarified by seeing if she is willing to be examined by the company doctor, at the company’s expense, to determine if there are any underlying reasons for these migraines and to see if this could be treated. If the company doctor finds nothing to show why this person is having these migraines, but can provide medication to control it in future, that is the best outcome. However, if time is still being taken off, then it is time to explain that, whilst you understand her problem, you cannot accept any further time off and, unless this ceases, she may well have to go through the disciplinary process.
I have an employee who has been with us for many years and was promoted to a Supervisor last year. He is now managing the team he worked with and it isn’t working out very well. They just don’t listen to him or respect him and that is affecting the efficiency of the team. What should I do?
The first question is: Has this person received any management training on how to manage staff? Just promoting him does not give him the necessary skills he will need to manage his team. However there may be other issues here and we recommend you call us in to discuss this further.
We hired a Sales Manager about 5 months ago and he has a lot of sales experience, but his team are not achieving what they used to do. I am really concerned as it is seriously affecting our sales revenue figures. The sales manager has told me that, in his opinion, several sales people are lazy and he is considering letting them go. They have always achieved their targets before. This is really troubling me. Do I support the Sales Manager or my sales people?
There is always some friction when new managers are brought in from the outside. But it shouldn’t continue. If it does continue, it could lead to losing some good people.
All parties should be questioned on this to determine what the real causes are. If these causes can be discussed with the manager in a way that enables him to correct the situation, that is the best approach.
This does not always work and we suggest you call us to consider using our experience in dealing with it. Sometimes it is better if a third party is used as it is seen to be more objective with no bias attached.
I have a sales person who has been with me for a number of years and has done well for me, but over the last year he has become inconsistent, some months he does well and another month he is woeful. I just want him to get back to his old self. What should I do?
There may be a variety of reasons why this can occur. You need to have a heart to heart meeting with him to try to determine what may be troubling him and what pressures in and out of the company he may be experiencing. Some things can be fixed by you but others may not, and whilst you can be understanding, you have to explain that you are looking for his old consistency to return soon.
Try to problem-solve this with him. Could there be new products or pricing schemes he may be having problems with? Has his sales area or number of accounts been increased? Have his targets been increased?
Give him an agreed amount of time, but if things do not improve, he needs to be aware that your last resort is the disciplinary process, and you really don’t want to go there if at all possible.
I have one technician, who is a very good tradesman, but he simply refuses to work with one of the other technicians in the company, and there are times they really need to work together as they are the only two industrial technicians we have. I don’t want to lose him but if this goes on much longer I may have to let him go. Can you please advise me on this?
This can occur occasionally and could be caused by a number of reasons and these should be discussed with him. If the reasons could point to any conflict with the other person, he/she needs to be questioned to understand the problem(s). If you believe you can bring these people together and resolve this, do it. If this does not work please contact us. Conflict management is not easy but if both people are doing good work they deserve some extra assistance to work through this.
Our contracting company has projects that vary in workloads from week to week. It is costly keeping on permanent staff when half the time I don’t need them. I am considering moving to external contractors and maybe casual workers. How should I go about changing my current set-up?
This is a complex issue. Employers cannot change permanent employees to contractors or casual staff unless the affected employees are willing to do so.
Our approach with this client was to meet with them and go through their current Agreements. It was discovered that some people were on casual arrangements and had been on them for long periods. This should not have happened, especially if employees have been working fairly regular hours. The Labour Department could determine these to be permanent employees.
This situation was resolved with EFG Solutions’ assistance, changing some casual staff to permanent and new employees hired either as contractors or on Fixed Term agreements.
Where managers are unaware of the employment legislation controlling ER areas, we arrange half-day coaching sessions on this subject. It can avoid any future mishaps in this area.
I was interviewing a person the other day and asked them their age and this individual exploded and stated I can’t ask that question and has since reported me to the Labour Department. For heaven’s sake, all I wanted to know was how old he was as the job needs someone who has a few years of experience under their belt. Surely this can be asked?
The applicant was perfectly correct. You may not ask an individual his/her age. There are a lot of cans and cannots when interviewing people. We suggest you, and any other managers in your company, attend our half-day coaching clinic on recruitment, it will be extremely useful and help avoid these kind of problems in the future.
Business Performance Problems
I cannot understand why my revenue is going up to all-time highs, while we are making less Net Profit. What could it be?
There could be a range of reasons for this happening, including your Cost of Sales increasing at a higher rate. Can we suggest we meet and review this with you and perhaps review the rest of your Profit & Loss at the same time? It is always useful to have a professional external review when it can be read it with ‘new eyes’.
We have been extremely busy over the last few years but still our cost of sales has increased as well, and we have a problem with our two main suppliers. One has already put us on pay-as-we-go and the other has stopped supplying us all together. If this continues we will lose some or all of our current projects, how do we resolve this?
It looks as though this situation has been deteriorating for some time. These circumstances need looking at right now and we suggest we come in to review this with you today. An arrangement has to be made with at least one of your main suppliers quickly, but we will also need to investigate all other causes and how these can be corrected as soon as possible.
Cash Flow Problems
Our business is collecting in more cash than it used to, but my cash-flow is still under pressure. Why can this be and how can I fix it?
EFG Solutions were invited in to review this and found that whilst cash collections had increased, so had this company’s cost of sales, also their expenses had increased over the prior 6 months.
Cost of sales was reduced to some degree by finding alternate suppliers for some products, which had lower prices. It was also discovered that one manager had arranged some advertising earlier in the New Year and the payment for this had started a few months earlier. The advertising was reviewed and an arrangement was made to repay the sum over a longer period. It was also determined that the owner would have final sign-off on all advertising in future.
Business Development Problems
My business has operated for 5 years now and every year we have achieved a small growth over the previous year, but we really need to up our game as we know several of our customers will possibly close-down by the end of the year. We also have an opportunity to export overseas, but how do we handle all this and drive our business forward?
The question around business growth comes up regularly. In this instance EFG Solutions were hired to assist the company in developing a set of Business Plans and Strategies for the next two years.
Not only was a formal Plan introduced, but a group was established, made up of the senior management, called the ‘Policy and Strategy Group’, responsible for meeting on a monthly basis to review results against the Plan, and also to determine new strategies and policies for the company.
The following year the company also had each senior manager in the PSG Group involved in the development of their next planning process. This has increased the accountability of managers, and also helped them drive out their own business goals and targets in a professional manner.
Employment Relations Problems
Our company is growing and we are putting more staff on weekly, and our management team are suffering with the growth in their teams, and we are experiencing an increase in various staff issues and concerns. A lot of this can be put down to our managers not experienced in this area. You will appreciate that this is causing us customer problems and already a drop in our outputs. We have no-one here who is knowledgeable about ER and frankly cannot afford a full-time HR Manager. Can you provide us with some cost-effective ways of resolving these problems?
EFG Solutions met this client and conducted two half-day coaching sessions for its managers on Employment Relations processes and agreed a fortnightly session in order to implement the various HR documentation and processes, and to also handle any of the more difficult Employment issues that arise from time to time and to conduct any disciplinary meeting that be required.
The client also uses our Fixed Fee Recruitment services from time to time.
Business Risk Problems
I am a CEO of a company that has been operating for about 25 years and it has been pretty successful despite the fact that our systems, procedures and IT programmes haven’t been touched for at least 15 years and that is beginning to hurt our efficiencies. I have gone to our Board of Directors and said that we have to make some changes before we are really badly affected. They are dubious about my claims and have basically challenged me to prove my concerns. What is the best way to determine the risks to our company? Where do we start? Please be aware we have few people in our company who could assist especially in the financial side of things.
Our approach with this client was to introduce them to a RISK MANAMENT software tool we use which determines the key risks in each of the areas of a business.
Once this was achieved we then worked with them to develop a series of strategies necessary to present to their Board of Directors.
If this is accepted by the Board we will then work with the CEO to develop a Business Plan that includes all the strategies that will be implemented over the following 12 months.