Ed FitzGerald's Blog

Roles & Responsibilities – Structuring for Success

Roles & Responsibilities – Structuring for Success

Roles & Responsibilities – Structuring for Success

Focusing on the structure of your business may not seem the sexiest way to spend a couple of hours, but here’s 10 reasons why it’s absolutely key to having a successful business that works for you: –

1 Understanding our own role

If we don’t understand our own role, how can we fit other roles around our own? Chances are we’ll be doing some of their roles and working too many hours as a result.

So be clear on your own role and build others around you and not vice versa – it’s your business after all!

2 Responsibility

Do we know what each member of our team should be doing? And if we don’t know, why should they know what they should be doing? And if they don’t know what they should be doing, how would they know what each other should be doing?

And even if you do know what your team should be doing, how well have you communicated it to them?

3 Efficiency

People who don’t take responsibility as they don’t fully understand their role are unlikely to be performing at their best – yet we’re paying them as if they’re giving 100% every day and that’s not a recipe for success.

4 Customer Service

If our team don’t know their responsibilities, then they are highly unlikely to take personal responsibility for customer satisfaction. Instead they’ll be on their heels looking for others to take charge – and eventually our customers will go elsewhere…

5 Accountability

If I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, how can my boss hold me to account? I’ve a ready made excuse every time.

6 Delegation

If we don’t know who in our team should be taking responsibility for each business function, then how do we effectively delegate tasks? It’s what I call the running in treacle effect – we delegate, but it gets lost in our bureaucracy and no action results. So we do it ourselves and then complain we’re overworked. Clear roles leads to clear delegation paths and clear lines of accountability.

7 Performance Management

Effective Performance Management is the key to successful employment of people. Yet without clear structure, Performance Management meetings become Excuse Meetings because a lack of structure gives us all wriggle room – “It’s not my fault I missed my target” becomes the norm.

8 Recruitment

If we don’t have clear structure and responsibilities, we won’t have clear job roles. So how do we effectively recruit new people. Typically, we’ll recruit someone then fully define their role around their strengths. And then you’ll end up covering their blind spots. The tail should never wag the dog…

9 Training

Lack of defined job roles means a lack of clearly defined training plans and that means people not fully trained for their jobs and poor staff getting through probation periods due to lack of effective testing against the job role.

10 Our reward!!

Most of us business owners are looking for one or more of 3 key themes: –

  • Adequate financial reward for the risk we take
  • Job enjoyment & limited stress out of hours
  • A work/life balance with a limit to working hours

Failure to define roles, structure and responsibilities puts all three at risk for the reasons listed above.

Or put another way, roles & responsibilities are business critical to your success as a business owner.

If you feel any of the above feels a bit too familiar, please don’t hesitate to get in touch so we can chat through and see whether our Performance Management solutions are a good fit for you and your business.





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Stating Your Business Strategy

Stating Your Business Strategy

In my last blog, I explained why starting by focusing on your business is a fast track to a successful business with an unhappy business owner.

Instead, we must start with the business owner themselves & understand our own personal vision. Only when we’ve established what we want out of our business should we focus on the actual business.

We then need to ensure that our Business Strategy will be set up in line with our Personal Vision.

So what do we want to achieve?

If we don’t take the time to set our business strategy, we run the risk of not having the business we want. Too many of my clients end up with roles they don’t want and aren’t good at in a business that doesn’t reflect their strengths and values – and this impacts on the success of the business.

You’re taking the risk – so don’t let the tale wag the dog!

So what is business strategy?

A much applied (and mis-applied!) word, strategy is the link between a vision and a plan.

It incorporates the non-negotiables. Strategies are essentially fixed, tactics are flexible.

And don’t worry if you’re running an established business – it’s never too late to change your business into one that is run to reward you in and out of work.

Key questions to answer are: –

  • What do you want your role within your business to be?

You’re taking the risk and will burden the stress – so make sure you enjoy the day to day of working in your business. Do not revolve around the strengths of your team.

  • What are your key strengths?

As above, it’s your business so put yourself first. If you’re playing to your strengths and enjoying your role, you’re halfway to success.

  • What is YOUR Unique Selling Point?

People buy from people, so what do YOU bring to the party. If you’ve a corporate background, you’ve probably had your uniqueness knocked out of you by being told to focus on your weaknesses. We need to bin such a negative mindset. You are unique so go ahead & list your unique skills, then build your business around them.

  • How do you want to earn your money?
    • By being hands on?
    • By managing a team?
    • By earning recurrent income?
    • A combination of the above?
  • How much are you prepared to risk?

Knowing the limits of what you’re prepared to lose ensures you will never get out of your depth & that you’ll remain in control of your business.

  • How many hours are you prepared to commit?

It’s your business, so set the rules now. We should have covered this within our personal vision, but let’s just double check we’re being consistent.

  • What are your non-negotiables?

So what are the things you’ll never compromise regardless of how well or badly your business is performing? You may always want to work within the law or you may always want to pay your suppliers within 28 days. More specifically, if your business is internet based, you may never want to travel more than 5 miles to meet a client. Whatever it is for your business, write it down.

Why is this important?

Two reasons – firstly, it’s making us further understand our business principles. Secondly, everything we’ve not written down is by definition flexible. Everything else is just a tactic we can employ to ensure we hit our business goals.


Once completed, we’ll have a Business Strategy to set alongside our Personal Vision; and by combining the two, we know both what we want out of our business & what we want whilst in our business.

We’re now ready to set our Business Goals & we’ll discuss these in my next blog.


Ed FitzGerald is a specialist in helping businesses grow successfully.

Expansion is a time of high risk and Stating Your Business Strategy is the second step of Ed’s 9 Point ESCALATOR plan providing the necessary step-by-step guidance to do it successfully and painlessly without breaking the business, the team or you, the owner.

To learn more about how the ESCALATOR plan will deliver a smooth ascent to growth, ring Ed on 07976 370728 or contact him through any of the options below.



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Looking to grow your business in 2017?

Looking to grow your business in 2017?

Here’s why all Business Growth strategies must start with you.

We often hear business consultants talking about “working on our business” rather than “working in our business” and this is certainly good advice – but it misses the essential starting point for all business owners.

For 99% of us business owners, however much we love what we do, however much we excel at it, however much we prefer it to the drudgery of employment, our beloved business still needs to be a vehicle for us – to pay the mortgage, to give us flexible working or just a basic sense of enjoyment or fulfilment for the hours we spend working.

Whatever motivates us to run our own business and whatever framework the business must deliver for us (minimum income, maximum number of working hours, minimum level of enjoyment etc), this is the true starting point for any business strategy.



If we jump right in and start working on our business, we’re putting the business before ourselves and we’ll end up with all the stresses of self-employment and none of the rewards. We may have a successful business (because we’ve at least chosen to work “on” the business) but we won’t be a happy, fulfilled or rewarded business owner.

So we put ourselves first and ensure our business revolves around us. Be selfish, you’re taking all the risks after all.

Now the best time to have put ourselves first would be when we started up… The second best time is always now – and the dawning of a new year is a perfect time to reflect, plan and adopt a new mind set.

So what do YOU want from your business in 2017? What is YOUR vision?

What are your financial “must haves”? What are your non-financial “must haves”?

Once you’ve got clearly a defined personal vision of what your business must deliver for you, then (and only then!) are you ready to move onto the next stage of your business strategy – working on your business by setting clear business objectives that will deliver your personal vision.


Ed FitzGerald is a specialist in helping businesses grow successfully.

Expansion is a time of high risk and Establishing Your Vision is the first step of Ed’s 9 Point ESCALATOR plan providing the necessary step-by-step guidance to do it successfully and painlessly without breaking the business, the team or you, the owner.

To learn more about how the ESCALATOR plan will deliver a smooth ascent to growth, ring Ed on 07976 370728 or contact him through any of the options below.




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Getting the best out of 3rd party trainers…

Lately, I’ve been delivering quite a bit of 3rd party training to a variety of clients – the client doesn’t have anyone in house & has hired me to deliver training to a number of their team.
I’m always surprised just how under prepared & under motivated the delegates are as they walk through the door of the training room prior to the training.

So here’s my top 10 tips for businesses to get the best out of 3rd party trainers…

1/ Start with the end in mind as Stephen Covey would say: –
– What do you want to achieve long term?
– How does this training session fit into this goal?
– What do you want this specific training session to achieve?

2/ What is the expected Return on Investment? How will you measure the success of the training?

3/ Invite people with plenty of notice – engagement isn’t just the pink and fluffy stuff, it’s the basics too, such as courtesy. And I’m far more engaged if I don’t have to rearrange my diary to come.

4/ Make attendance sound optional – even if it’s not!

5/ Engage the delegates – sell the course to them: –
– How will THEY benefit from attending?
– How does this training fit into the big picture
– Explain the follow up to the training

6/ Engage the trainer – the more vague the message to me, the more likely I am to miss your objective. I’ll deliver a great session, just not the one you wanted! So please be specific.

7/ Make the delegates feel important. I’ve found that people’s view of how important the training is gets measured by how special the business has made them feel on the day. So treat them to a nice lunch, ensure there’s refreshements available through the day. Check that your training room is clean and tidy.

8/ Be there yourself. I’m just the external trainer, it’s you that gives the event its gravitas. Personally, I like my host to bookend the day by opening & closing the training and giving me free reign in between.

9/ Review the training: –
– Did you get your Return on Investment?
– Did the delegates enjoy it?
– What did they learn?

10/ Follow up! There’s nothing more frustrating than running a great training session but knowing that the learnings will disappear into the ether once the delegates step out of the training room back into the real world of stress, deadlines and business as usual. So start with the end in mind & know exactly what the next step is.

So remember that when you’re using a 3rd party trainer, you’re delegating not abdicating and working together, we can then add great value to your organisation.



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21st Century Service

21st Century Service 

Service Crossword Concept

Service Crossword Concept

Last week, I decided to conduct a unique social experiment – could I survive 2 days in a strange town with no cash and no cards. Or put another way, I flew to Newcastle without my wallet.

The results were starkly contrasting that brought out the best and worst of people and businesses. But who would come out on top – customer service 2016 vs service 1972 style?

Here we go then…

1-0 to the 2016 team
Back of the net!
The pre-paid Bristol Airport car park does what it says on the tin and I’m parked up and heading for departures.

It’s just like watching Brazil!
Armed only with only my passport, Easyjet fly me to Newcastle with no questions asked. If it’s already paid for, it’s already paid for. No cards required!

Own goal!
Despite having the code that is now required from the DVLA website to hire a car, Europcar need the last 8 digits of my driver’s licence to use the code and access my licence details. Is this cyber security overkill?
But a phone call home and I’ve got the digits…

The 1970’s rigid 4-4-2 formation is seizing control, leaving no room for creativity!
Despite the car being pre-paid, Europcar refuse to give it me as I don’t have my card in front of me and they need to swipe it as a deposit – and they won’t take my card details over the phone from my partner. The computer says no…

Not only do they refuse to take my card details remotely, but they refuse to take my partner’s card details too. It’s as if the CVV code was never invented…

The big Number 9 celebrates his hat trick and points to the name on the back of his shirt… Jobsworth!
The service from Europcar is truly awful! I actually hear the words “it’s more than my job’s worth to help you” and I’m turfed out into the street in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. And I’ve already paid for the car! And they refuse to refund me…

Back in the game!
Putting the multi-national to shame, a sole trader taxi driver correctly assesses that I’m not a master criminal, that I am low risk and drives me to my hotel.

It only takes a second…
Then my guardian angel takes payment from my partner over the phone via his PayPal app. Faith in the beautiful game is being restored!

Back in the lead…
My pre-paid Travelodge presents no problems and their excellent receptionist even gives me a breakfast on credit.

Bogged down on a muddy pitch!
Lloyds Bank in Durham are keeping 1970’s opening hours and I have to delay starting work. And their website gave no indication that I could get emergency cash from a cashpoint as some banks do.

Lloyds make a copy of my passport, ask me to confirm my address and give me £200. Fantastic! They were so blasé, they made me suspect people forgot their wallet all the time. Are you listening Europcar?

They think it’s all over, it is now!
The public transport system in the North East is excellent. Bus and Metro gets me easily and quickly from hotel to work to airport.

So well done Bristol Airport, Easyjet, Airport Taxis, Travelodge, Lloyds Bank and North East Transport – you get a thumbs up from me for providing a modern 21st century service.

But you were all almost undone by one company with rigid procedures, out of date systems and a service policy too bad to be true.

Which side of the pitch would your business line up on?

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So, with the 6 Nations upon us and the dust settling on the World Cup, what lessons can business managers and leaders learn from Stuart Lancaster’s England’s dismal results?

1/ It’s all about customers!
Ever tried to win a rugby match without the ball? England tried – and failed. The successful teams had a strong scrum, line out and a dynamic No 7. England had none of these due to poor selection. Having the ball is no guarantee of success, but you won’t win without it.
Ever tried to run a profitable business without customers? Having customers is no guarantee of success but you won’t win without them…
Don’t lose sight of who and how you win customers – and ensure your business equivalent of the scrum, line out and open side are some of the best around.

2/ Be prepared!
The best sporting interview I’ve ever heard was Stuart Lancaster on 5 Live a few months into his tenure as England coach. He was asked at one point what his favourite Coaching book is. Without hesitation he said Bill Walsh, “The Score Takes Care of Itself”.
Bill Walsh was the genius behind the San Franscisco 49ers near monopoly of American Football in the late 1980’s and it is a great book.
But one of the key messages from the book is that the coach and the team should have anticipated, planned and rehearsed every scenario they might come across, so no decision on the pitch will ever be panicked or emotional.
Fast forward to Twickenham versus Wales, 3 points down, 2 minutes to go, reserve hooker on, goal kicker not looking like missing, and England’s captain looked like he made the decision to go for the line out there and then. The decision should have been made 6 months before in a training room.
What is your business strategy? What tactics will you employ in any given situation?
Will you be calm and collected or panicked and reactive?
Will you be Bill Walsh or Chris Robshaw?

3/ Beware of your over strengths!
When does one of your strengths become an over strength?
When you instill discipline in the England team following the off the field debacle of the 2011 World Cup, refuse to pick one of your big name players because he’s been convicted of assault… but then refuse to pick a key player because of an on the field disciplinary issue.
Dylan Hartley, now England’s captain, was England’s biggest miss and the reasons for his absence show the previous strength of instilling rules and discipline overshadow a more common sense approach to an internal rugby issue.
In today’s businesses there is huge pressure to place conformity over individual flair, but we need our Dylan Hartley’s (see point 1 above) and we need to find a way to be more tolerant of some than others without losing our principals – think Alex Ferguson and Eric Cantona.

4/ Stop looking for perfection!
England were still tinkering with their selections right up to the eve of the tournament. They had 4 years to find their best team and failed to do so. At some point, a line had to be drawn, a settled side established and played together on a number of occasions.
Waiting for that perfect set of circumstances before acting is usually a recipe for continued non action or acting, like England, when it is too late.
Don’t lose sight of the goal and don’t lose sight of the best chance you have of achieving it.
And waiting for the perfect moment is not a good percentage call, so is not the way forward.
Instead, seize the moment and live with the odd banana skin that comes your way.

If any of the above themes strikes resonates about your business, then please give me a ring to discuss for a free initial discussion.
I specialise in helping managers, leaders and owners regain their focus, get the best out of their team and to understand their numbers better – or, put another way, increase their profits.



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Effective Goal Setting

“Lose weight”, “Stop smoking”,
“Spend less time at work” …

Wonder why our New Year Resolutions don’t last past the end of January?

Well, too many Resolutions are doomed before you even get started and the above examples are no exception.
So what’s wrong with these Resolutions?

The way our brains are wired, they don’t recognise negative words or phrases. So when we say “We must not buy chocolate”, our brain only hears “We must buy chocolate”.

So “Lose weight” becomes “Weight”, “Stop smoking” becomes “Smoking” and “Spend less time at work” becomes “Spend time at work”!

It’s like when we walk into a supermasrket with healthy intentions  and say the “I must not buy chocolate” mantra all round the store until we get to the checkouts and cave in and put the Twix in the trolley. But if we’d have said “I must eat healthy”, I’d have thought of all the healthy things to buy and not thought of chocolate at all.

So Goals must be set in the positive – if chocolate is what you want to give up, what is it you want to achieve? Healthy living? Running a marathon? Looking good?

Effective goal setting is essential to maximise your chances of achieving your targets for 2016 and positive goals are just one key strand of effective goal setting.

To learn how to achieve your targets for 2016 through effective goal setting, come and join me for a fun, motivational half day “Introduction to Effective Goal Setting” workshop on Thursday 28th January and unlock your potential.

For more details and to book your place, click here


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Stress is the No 1 reason for absence in the UK workplace.

So what causes stress and how can we manage it more effectively in our lives?

There are 3 different approaches to Stress Management: –

(i) Stressors – these are caused by external situations, for example, public speaking.

A lot of people find public speaking very stressful.

But some people love it – so is there more to stress than just the external situation?

(ii) Signs of Strain – this involves looking at the individual for signs of strain when subjected to a potential stressor.

This looks like a step forward as it takes into account the uniqueness of the individual.

But what if we fail to spot the sign of strain? And what if the individual shows no external sign of strain?

Many personality profiles measure people under normal and stress situations – and I know from personal experience that the people who’s personality moves very little from normal to stressful situations are the most difficult to spot when they are under pressure. They don’t show signs of stress until they blow up.

(iii) Transactional – this states that it is always how we as individuals respond to a specific situation that causes stress.

Once we acknowledge this, stress is always a choice.

In fact it is as easy as A-B-C…

A – Activating Event

B – Belief System

C – Consequence

In this model, there is always a human reaction between the situation (A) and the subsequent stress (C).

So public speaking itself is not stressful, but how many of us react (B) to the prospect of it is what causes the stress.

Stress coaches emphasise that all situations can be managed and our responses appropriate.

In my next article, I’ll explore how we can go about managing our responses and, on the rare occasion that we do suffer stress, how we go about getting that stress out of our system as soon as possible.



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Are you struggling to keep up your enthusiasm for your New Year resolutions?

In the blog below, I explain what you need to have in place to stay on track & make your resolutions a reality this year.

  • Motivation

It’s vital to really understand why you want to achieve your resolution/goal – we must find our motivational key.

If your resolution is to eat healthier, you need to be clear on why you will go without unhealthy (and tasty!) food.

Questions we should ask ourselves include: –

– why is this goal important to me?

– what are the benefits to me and my friends/family from achieving this goal?

– what are the consequences to me and my friends/family if I don’t achieve it?

Keep drilling this down until you get to the heart of the issue.

Using our example above, I will eat healthy because I need to have the energy to play football with my son, so that he can have the best parent possible is a very powerful why.

  • Positively Stated Resolutions

Resolutions need to be positively stated to be effective.

“Losing weight”, “stopping smoking”, “not eating chocolate” are all negatively stated goals. They tell us what you want to give up rather than what you want moving forward.

“I want to weight 12 stone”, “I want to be fit”, “I want to eat healthy” are the same 3 goals as above but stated positively.

Why is this important? Research has shown that our subconscious brains do not recognise negative words.

So if we say “not eating chocolate”, all our brain hears is “eating chocolate” – and so reminds us of the very thing we don’t want to be focussing on. Small wonder so many New Year Resolutions do not succeed!

The other great thing our brain does is stimulate and respond to our thoughts.

How many times have you walked into a supermarket saying over and over to yourself, “I must not eat chocolate, I must not eat chocolate, I must not eat chocolate”, then thought of nothing but chocolate all around the store and finally caved in and bought some at the checkout?

Next time, try walking in saying “I will eat healthy, I will eat healthy, I will eat healthy”. Your brain will kick in and start reminding you of all the healthy food a supermarket sells- salads, fruits, vegetables, pastas. And you won’t think of chocolate once!

It really does work! And all because you have stated your resolution positively.

  • Visualisation

Because you’ve now set yourself a positively stated goal and understand exactly why you’re doing it, you’ll have a very clear vision in your head of what this looks like.

Now you can make this come alive, so you can have a visual reminder to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Try putting an old photo of yourself looking great on the fridge or writing down and displaying all the benefits of you achieving your goal.

  • Make the journey fun

If you don’t enjoy getting up at 6am in all weathers or don’t enjoy eating lots of lettuce, you’re unlikely to still be doing it in a month’s time.

The key to success is to sneak up on your unpleasant actions and you’ll be doing them without dwelling on them, because you’ve subjugated them below an action that does appeal to you.

If you are competitive, see how quickly you can run at 6am, if you like learning new skills, see how many new healthy recipes you can learn to cook.


So there you have it… The key to achieving your resolutions are Motivation, Positively Stated Goals, Visualisation, and Make It Fun.

I hope this has helped you stay on track.

Now, go and make it happen!!



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With the New Year of 2015 around the corner, it’s a good time to discuss the importance of goal setting.

Goal setting is central to Coaching & I know that Coaching transforms lives – so goal setting is essential to all of us that want to continually improve our lives.

There are 2 key parts to setting a goal: –

  • actually sitting down & setting the goal – this is not meant to be flippant! So many people don’t take the time out to set themselves goals for the year ahead that actually setting a goal puts us in a good place. We are now in the game!
  • setting a good goal – now we’re in the game, we need to maximise our chances of success.

The ESSENTIALS to setting a good goal are: –

1/         Goals must be wriiten down. Writing down the goal embeds it in our subconscious mind – it makes it real and it becomes a reference point and anchor.

2/         Goals need to be SMART: –

  • Specific (not vague)
  • Measurable (so we know when we have succeeded)
  • Agreed (so it’s your goal, not your boss’s or your partners)
  • Realistic (ie it can be achieved)
  • Time phased (deadlines promote action)

3/         Goals must be Personal. It must be your goal and you must own it. Most good goals begin with “I” – I will get that new job, I will eat healthy.

4/         Goals must be Positively Stated. Our brain does not recognise the negative article. When we say “I don’t want chocolate”, my brain just hears “I want chocolate”. But if we say “I want to eat healthy”, our brain will start thinking of all the ways we can eat healthy. Try it when you’re next in the supermarket – it really does work!

5/         Goals must be challenging – if it’s not challenging, we won’t be motivated and will just go through the motions.

6/         Goals must be in line with your values – if we set a goal we don’t 100% believe in, we won’t give it 100% and we won’t achieve that goal. Looking back, so many of the goals that I’ve not achieved are because these goals didn’t reflect me and my values. It really is vital to have head and heart aligned.

7/         Goals must capture your imagination. If our goal doesn’t excite us, are we likely to persevere when the going gets tough? Goals need to capture some fun too.

8/         Goals must be reviewed regularly. I find it really beneficial to diary a monthly review of my goals to check that the goals are still relevant and that I am still on track to achieve them.

So what are we going to do now with this knowledge? How about setting aside sometime in the next 7 days and setting ourselves some good goals?

If you need any support and encouragement, just drop me a line.

Good luck!

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