In this interview on The Logros Show – in association with The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce – Lee Dinsdale talks to Karl Morris from KRL Consulting – about his impact in creating lasting change for businesses & individuals.
Interview with Karl Morris at Unity Radio – The Real Sound of the City.
Lee: We are here today with Karl Morris from KRL Consulting and Karl is a business and individual coach. Karl has fifteen years working with a host of individuals through the good and the challenging times and his impact is wanting to create lasting change. I’ve invited Karl onto the show today by zoom, mainly because I’m hearing more and more stories of people wanting to take the next step potentially to leave their current employment. Some circumstances may be forced upon people sadly we know as we come out of furlough. Karl has great experience in working with businesses across all sides so stay tuned. We are going to be talking about the next steps of how to move forward in setting up a business and we will start with some coaching techniques to share during these times. Can you tell a little bit about yourself Karl?
Karl: We are based just outside of Altrincham. We’ve been working over fifteen years helping over fifteen thousand people going through our programme and about twelve hundred businesses. When I started about fifteen years ago the mission was always to help people in business to grow and achieve their goals and that is what we have been consistently doing.
Lee: Where are you from?
Karl: Originally from the county of Essex and I still have a bit of family down there. I enjoy the North West and everything it has to offer.
Lee: What was the story of you coming up from Essex to Manchester?
Karl: My wife had lived up this part of the world before and you go on that journey in life and before you know it you’re somewhere else. I’m glad I did it and should have done it some time ago.
Lee: Tell us a bit more about KRL Consulting.
Karl: We are based in Greater Manchester. We go out and talk to people about what they want to achieve and how they want to achieve it. That can be by going through training programmes for their business but ultimately it’s about coaching the business owner and coaching the staff within that business. It’s about unlocking the goals that people want to achieve and then when you have got all that information you can put together a strategy for that business or the executive or staff member to get to where they want to be.
Lee: For those not familiar with coaching, maybe they know about coaching for a sports person, how would you describe what coaching is from a business perspective?
Karl: For me coaching is very straightforward. It’s about unlocking what you want to achieve and helping you to get along there and helping you achieve where you want to get to.
Lee: What do you see as some of the main benefits?
Karl: Coaching gives you the ability to achieve what you might not achieve if you try to do it on your own. I think the greatest analogy is as you said Lee; you’re spot on its sport. Why does every great sports person have a nutritional coach, a fitness coach, strength and conditioning coach? That’s the key thing about business coaching, it’s no different.
Lee: Can you give us two or three questions that you would ask someone in business, or someone setting up, that would be thought provoking to demonstrate goals.
Karl: The first thing you are always going to ask someone is what is their goal? People might say getting fitter but that doesn’t really mean a great deal. If you put that across in business what is it you want to achieve? Do you want more clients, do you want more revenue? Do you want greater profit, do you want to expand or open more shops? Or do you actually just want to leave the job you are in and start up on your own? Something like sixty four per cent of UK workers want to start their own business but they don’t know what the first steps are to take. So goal setting and understanding what a key goal is, and why you are thinking it is a key goal. The other problem with coaching sometimes is people don’t get questioned enough about the goal. So we go back to that SMART concept. Is it specific, is it measurable, is it achievable, is it realistic and is it time bound?
Lee: If you wanted another analogy in terms of, for people who go to the gym, you put a goal in to get fit but as you said, you need to be more specific. So what weight do you want to be, how you want to look, how you are going to do it and how often you are going to go to the gym. It’s exactly the same in business coaching is that right?
Karl: Absolutely right. I have a private client that I’m working with at the moment. He is a sales person within a large business and we were setting some goals. I use something call the wheel of life to look at the goals. It breaks down your life into eight segments.
The Wheel of Life
Lee: Okay we are going to go through the wheel of life and it’s like a quick measure to understand where you are at and what you need to achieve in order to improve different areas of your life. Can we go through the eight components?
Karl: So if you can visualise a circle on a piece of paper and it has eight segments. You rate each of those segments between level one and ten and that is on current satisfaction. If you rate it at zero, that’s never great and if you rate at ten that’s fantastic. So work in a clockwise manner and start with family and friends. So I would ask, what is your current level of satisfaction with regard to family and friends? This is opening up some of the personal components affecting your life because if you take what coaching looks at it looks at your work and your life because they are totally interrelated. If you are having a bad time at work it’s going to affect your life. If you are having a bad time in your life it’s going to affect your work. Those two things are the classic yin and yang. After we’ve talked about family and friends we will move round to significant other or romance. Is there someone special in your life, then we look at fun and recreation. Are you having fun and recreation in your life right now? Are you spending enough time around fun factors? We know that exercise has massive benefits for you. That leads nicely to the next segment which is health. This is a great segment for me because there is probably not a person on this planet who can say they don’t need to do a little bit more about fitness, but is there something health wise that is impacting you? Then we start to go into the business side so we ask about money. Everyone on the planet will say I would love to earn a bit more money, but we look at the money impact on your life. Are you currently satisfied with where you are? Then we have a look at personal growth. Are you currently satisfied with your levels of personal growth? If you own a business you should be reading one business book a month minimum, maximum one a week, that’s what you should be looking at. If you are not what are you doing to your personal growth and if you are someone inside a business, what’s happening with your personal growth? Are you being allowed to grow within the role you have at work or are you being stifled and sat in that classic dead end concept? Then we talk about your physical environment which is an interesting one with lockdown. We were maybe working in an office, then we were working from home which for some people works really well, but for others it won’t work well at all. There might be more of you in the house, you may live on a noisy street, and it might just be a difficult place to work. Finally we would look at your career. Career is a funny old world because nowadays we talk more about a job rather than a career unless you are going into something like police, emergency services or a doctor or airline pilot. So there are your eight segments. Then what you do is you would join the dots and create a circle.
Lee: So from a client perspective I suppose you would rate them out of ten and depending on where your level came out at you would then work within some of those quandaries. Are any of those more important than others in terms of your level of happiness or satisfaction to maintain a sixty/forty positive wellbeing?
Karl: It’s all interdependent Lee. If you are not happy at work, you are not happy at home. If you are happy at work you are happy at home and vice versa. Everyone talks about money and you asked me earlier what does coaching deliver? I was reflecting on that question because a big piece of coaching is listening. What does coaching give you? The first thing is knowledge, the second thing is accountability because suddenly, it’s a bit like a personal trainer, and I’ll ask you what have you done today to build your new business up? You might say, oh I watched a Netflix programme because I couldn’t be bothered, so where is the accountability to start this business? The third thing is you get an objective view. You get someone that you don’t know who is going to give a totally unbiased view of what you are creating. Finally it instils some belief in you because sometimes confidence in the workplace is at an all-time low and we have to boost it back up. That goes the same for the general public; we have to get confidence back. Coaching delivers those four things and if you couple it with some of these tools e.g. the wheel of life, it’s a great business tool.
Lee: Within that wheel there is something around hobbies and interests, how important is it for your wellbeing that when you go round those different segments, that you actively participate in hobbies and interests and learn something new. How important is it to your overall well-being, as well as what you think about money and family friends and significant others?
Karl: We look at it as fun and recreation and I think it all depends on the person. Some people will have lots of hobbies and some people don’t have any hobbies. Some people see volunteering as a hobby. I always think about this concept of abundance that is giving something back. Are you helping people out, are you being abundant? What you give out you will get given back. If you can help with the volunteering, or at the local shop or school and we’ve seen a lot of that in the last twelve weeks across the country and I think we’ve seen a lot of it across society. Will getting a hobby solve your problems at work because you are not getting on with your boss? I’m not sure it will but we have to look at those eight segments and try and create a snapshot of where the pressure is.
Lee: My theory is that it won’t solve the problem with the boss but it may interrupt the constant thinking of the boss because you are doing something else to occupy your mind.
Karl: Yes and as a coach I would be looking at what you could do to improve the relationship with the boss. I don’t want you to go and find a hobby and forget what is happening at work, what I want you to do is to tackle this issue that you have. The barrier won’t go away; the barrier will still be there.
Setting up in Business
Lee: You have some statistics for us about setting up in business haven’t you Karl?
Karl: Statistics tell you a pattern. Sixty four per cent of people in the UK want to start their own business. That’s great, what a great entrepreneurial spirit we have in this country. Six hundred thousand new companies are registered in the UK every year. That is seventy new businesses every hour. Sixty percent of new businesses fail in their first three years, that’s terrible isn’t it? Fifty per cent don’t make it past five years. That’s the scary bit and we ask ourselves why does anyone want to start a business but why do so many of them fail?
Lee: If someone has a business idea let’s go through some of the first steps to get people on their journey.
Karl: The first thing is to ask someone what is it that you’ve got? What have you thought or created and why do you feel it is going to be this great product or service? Over the years I’ve met some amazing people with amazing ideas. It doesn’t have to be something unique. It could be entering a market that is already there or an entry in the market that isn’t there yet. Or it could be a disrupter like Uber or someone and disrupt the market. So you have to decide what you have got and do some research. That’s not just three or four phone calls and look at a few web sites. That’s going out there and thinking who am I looking at and what is my idea? Once you have your idea you then have to ask that big question, who is going to buy my product or service? Who could my customers possibly be? If you are satisfied at that point I would ask myself where do my revenue streams come from, do I charge people by the hour, a subscription, a one off payment, do I charge them over five or ten years? Where does my revenue come from, or am I selling it through a distributor and then I get revenue through a distributor? Am I selling a licence, or a physical box? Those first three stages are quite heavy stages. If you are going to proceed beyond that you need to get them absolutely boxed off and ticked and you have to carry out some heavy research to do that.
Lee: What are some of the mistakes that people make at first that get them off on the wrong foot?
Karl: The biggest one is marketing spend. A classic one is a drinks company. If you really analyse someone like Coca Cola Corporation and how much they are spending to get that drink into the market you cannot compete at that level. What you have to think is I’m not going to compete with that fizzy drink but I’m going to create a niche drink, it’s going to be a health drink. You have to then go and make sure that the niche you are looking at is comparable to what you are. Again go out and do you research into the niche market and look at how some of these smaller companies watch their budget spending and so on. I did some work years ago with the Copella Fruit Juice Company who went out there in all the supermarkets; they grew their own apples – fantastic. Again it was understanding who and what you are.
Lee: So would you suggest people make mistakes in not having enough marketing spend?
Karl: Absolutely but I would go that one stage further and ask yourself are you really someone that wants to go into business on your own? I’ve met people who were in very good jobs, woken up and said right I’m going out there on my own and then after an hour or two, we’ve probably come up with the conclusion that actually that person will probably stay where they are for now.
Lee: In your experience are there any particular traits that you have noticed when someone is talking about going out on their own and you think, no that’s not going to work for you? Is there anything that you can share?
Karl: I said before about reading books. I will ask this business person who is thinking of going out on their own what is the last book they have read about an entrepreneur. Who is their idol, who are they trying to copy or emulate? When someone says to me I don’t really read lots of books on business. I don’t look at forums and I don’t listen to podcasts, that would be a bit of a trigger sign for me because I think, so you want to be an entrepreneur but you have not studied what it means to be one. You have not studied that you might be working seven nights a week or have to take some risks. There’s a huge word in there Lee, its risk.
Lee: So the main key, before you even get off to the races Karl is what?
Karl: It’s that big scary thing called doing a financial forecast. So if you go back to stage one, it’s what am I going to provide, who is going to buy it and how am I going to earn the revenue streams? It’s then a case of running some numbers and getting a forecast together showing your income, expenditure, and costs and showing potentially what the earnings are going to be.
Lee: As you say it is quite daunting, where is the best place to go to for help?
Karl: You could go on the internet and download an excel spreadsheet and that is the easiest place to start. I worked with a lady some years ago who wanted to start a very niche business. She had a fantastic job and was earning thirty five thousand pounds a year in that company. She wanted to sell these certain items which were small lights and we broke it down into how many lights a day would she need to sell to earn thirty five thousand pounds. When we looked at the numbers, the input and everything, she stayed where she was because it became completely unachievable. I hate to say that because I love stimulating that entrepreneurial thought. She went away, did her numbers again, she came back six months later and she launched her business. So I am so glad we did that.
Lee: It does sound like a bit of a Dragons Den Karl listening to you.
Karl: You have to do your numbers. Find a member of family or someone that is good around numbers and get them to sit with you and put down the very basics. You have to look at these two things, what is the income and what is the expenditure? You don’t need an office to start or all the funky stuff. You just have to work out what is your income, where are your revenue streams coming from, and what are your outgoings? Take into account tax, vat if applicable and so on and then you can work out is this a viable business for generating income? Is it scalable?
Dealing with Conflict.
Lee: Can we discuss now how to deal with conflict, in the workplace or in relationships? You deliver training and coaching in improving communication skills, so what would you say in terms of conflict management?
Karl: The first thing I say in terms of conflict is very straightforward. What conflict is to me might not be conflicting to you and vice versa. So someone in an office that has quite a barking voice at people might find that a normal behaviour. The other person receiving it might not find that normal behaviour, then again we have to ask ourselves what is normal and so on. Conflict is a very interesting area to work within. If you strip conflict down it comes back down to the communication within your business, the culture of your business and the team working ethics within your business. When I’m working with businesses I’m always a firm believer that we have to look at the vision, the mission and the culture before we even start working. What culture do you believe exists in your business? What I would say is you can generally tell from that first phone call or the first time you walk into the reception of that business. That culture will then flow from the people that work there. Then you have to understand has that business got a culture of conflict or is it a culture of working things through and talking through? That leads nicely to the concept of team working because in reality a team should work through conflict.
Lee: Can we go through two scenarios now. Employee managing up conflict to boss or colleague and then business owner managing conflict with their employee. Both have their own challenges I suspect.
Karl: One of the nice ways of looking at it is there is concept about looking at whether it’s acting as a parent, an adult or a child. The concept of looking at the way in which we are communicating with each other. Parents are very bound on authority as in Lee you need to do that, Lee you didn’t do that very well, Lee can you make sure you do that later on. Then you have the adult type of conversation which is very much working with you, being collaborative and working as two adults with each other. Then you have the child way of communicating which is very much as Lee you’ve ruined that for me or Lee that’s not fair you have dumped all that on me. How can I get that done in that time, that’s just not fair, you’ve done this and I’ve done that. What you find in the workplace is people generally vocalise in three different ways, parent adult or child. Unfortunately when we are spoken to as a parent which is Lee you need to do that and there is a bit of finger pointing going on, your natural reaction might be to default to a child. So you might say, how dare you talk to me like that I’ve got no interest in talking to you any more, I’m throwing all my toys away and not going to speak anymore. The real place we have to get to is adult to adult and it takes a lot of careful communication to get there. Communication skills can be trained. Even if someone hasn’t got great communication skills we can train people to get better. It’s about reflection, listening to what is being said. It’s about creating time and being less anxious in what you do which goes back to the wheel of life, if it’s not going well at home it might not be going well at work. There might be an outside influence and so on. One of the key things in any conflicting situation is to understand the nature of the conflict, does everybody feel that it is conflict, how can we work this through and get a greater understanding? For instance is it the words you said to me or the way in which you said it? They are two different things. Once we have identified that then it’s raising with another person that you particularly find that conflicting and then it’s creating a culture whereby we can openly reduce that conflict in the workplace.
Lee: What tips would you give to someone approaching someone, that’s always the build- up isn’t it? How do you let someone know that you are not happy with a situation but you are fearful that it is going to cause a problem? What would be the adult way to approach that rather than going into parent or child?
Karl: A nice way of doing it is to be very open and raise it as quickly as possible. What we often see in the workplace is people go home and they stew at home. They tell their husband, partner, whatever and it grows and grows and becomes a massive issue. I always say to people vocalise it as quickly as you can. Never do it in a big open forum in an office where everyone joins in because then you’ve have another issue there which is a group dynamic. Do it as a one to one where possible and in a neutral space and be open and honest. Explain to people how it makes you feel and what the effects are. Don’t be pointing fingers, don’t be saying the you word as in Lee you are making me feel, you, you because that’s actually raising the conflict level. Talk about your feelings and that sort of thing, that would always be my first count of recourse.
Lee: Excellent advice thank you Karl. Now let’s talk about team building. Can you give us some basic tips?
Karl: First thing I would say, is a team necessary? The question to ask is will you as a team achieve more than you would as an individual? We normally work as groups especially in the workplace and if you think about a true team, you can probably count them on your hand. In the world of sports we know absolutely a team will achieve more. Then we have to ask ourselves what is the common goal of all the members of that team? I was watching a webinar last night about teams and they were saying the person who holds the ball in team sport is the one that is leading the team, and the person that isn’t holding the ball is the one supporting the team. When the ball gets passed the one who has the ball is leading the team. BW Tuckman did a lovely model around teambuilding and it was four plus one stages. His stages were first and foremost we form a team; the next stage is the tough bit. This is the storming and this is the bit where everyone decides they might want to be the leader and they all have a little bit of a scrap about who wants to be this and that and is quite a rough place to be hence the name storming. After that we then start to norm. Everything starts to calm down and everyone starts to know what they are going to do and then the final stage is the performing. You have a team that is finally performing. If you go to most businesses where do you think most teams are operating as in the four stages? The answer is normally around the forming, storming area, sometimes dipping into the norming. A lot of teams don’t realise where they are in their development.
Lee: How would a business owner who has a team know what level they are at? They might think, I’ve had this team for three years I thought we would be in the normal process.
Karl: The lovely word you hear from business owners are, I thought we would be ahead of target, maybe Lee is ahead of target but Brian over there is fed up and Bob is somewhere in the middle. So instantly you think oh we have a bit of a team issue here. When we get to performing everyone thinks that is great, but actually there is a problem that comes further down the line. That is this concept where people think, I’ve been here for a while, I’m a bit complacent, I’m cruising, and it’s all a bit easy. I’m going to kick back a little bit or I’m going to leave the team. I don’t want to be a salesperson anymore I want to be a sales manager. That kicks us right back into the forming stage again. Team analogy is a good place to be and look at your own team. Look at the traits in your team, are they handling conflict well? I always say to a business owner can your business operate without you being there? If you are there every day you are not a business owner you are an employee. Is your business operating where you can do what you are supposed to be doing which is to look at the strategy and the development? All those things that you put on a piece of paper years ago when you said these are my dreams and my vision – are you achieving that or are you just being dragged back into your business because the team is a bit of a mess and you are its employee, that’s all you are.
Lee: That’s quite profound Karl thank you very much. In some teams employers potentially may have an employee that is maybe poisonous within the team, gossiping behind closed doors and that brings everyone down. Would you suggest trying to remove that person quickly or would you try to work with them and find out what is happening? What advice would you give to someone in that respect particularly if you notice it is affecting the results?
Karl: Clearly it is a contentious issue. You always have to look at what is causing the behaviour. Is it that the person is not happy there; maybe their skill sets are better off in another department? Is there something outside of work? You have to treat the situation as it is and carry out some analysis. Why is this person not performing in the team and why is the team getting so affected? Actually they are probably not operating as a team in the first place. If someone is causing an issue in there they are storming. It’s all too easy to jump on the one person and say the groups good but sometimes you have to look at the group. Perhaps your processes are not good. You have to be realistic and look at what is happening.
Lee: If people want to get in touch with you Karl?
Karl: You can email firstname.lastname@example.org and I am on LinkedIn and also twitter. I’m happy to chat with people. If anyone wants to send anything in to your station I will respond to them. I always respond to people, its one thing you know you have to do. I appreciate the time you have given me today and have enjoyed it. As you’ve probably realised I could carry on all day!
Lee: Thank you very much for coming in today Karl it’s been fascinating.
Article Transcription by Terry Capostagno
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