Juliet Newton is a businesswoman and an entrepreneur . She founded learning and development company, Avocado Vision, in 1996 and built it up to a 29-strong team with an impressive list of corporate clients, before handing over the managing director reins to Steve Gaydon and taking up the position of CEO. Juliet is also the founder of Footprint, which delivers training and skills development to the bottom-of-the-pyramid market, and TR-ED which focuses on training blue-collar workers. Juliet’s business success, the role she has played in empowerment, her advocacy of women and passionate involvement in community upliftment has led to recognition and numerous prestigious awards.  In this article, she highlights the importance of having the ability to inspire your staff and bring out their best qualities…

“Life has continually shown us that nothing lasts forever. This is useful to keep in mind as we struggle to keep afloat amidst a depressed global economy and tough local business conditions. This too, will pass. However, according to Spencer Johnston of ‘Who Moved my Cheese?’ fame, how you behave during your peaks will directly affect how well you are able to survive the valleys…and that what you do during the valleys will shape the height of your future peaks!


Quality vs. Quantity

This is a point worth remembering during challenging times, even though it’s easy to lose sight of anything other than pure survival. In order to cut costs, many companies react to hardship by cutting back on staff, systems and capital expenditure. Sometimes this is crucial for survival, but prescient managers and business leaders who have lived through previous downturns understand the importance of balancing cutbacks with an investment in what remains behind.

Before you lay off staff members, it’s essential to ask two key questions. Firstly, how are you going to maintain your business standards and productivity; and secondly, how are you going to ramp up when things improve?

History has provided plenty of examples of companies that took many years to reap the rewards of an upturn because they simply didn’t have the human resources to maximise fleeting windows of business opportunity. Instead, they spent their time employing new staff to fill the holes created by their last wave of retrenchments.

It’s a common mistake, but one that can be easily avoided…

Instead of focusing on the number of employees in a business, emphasis should be placed on the quality of staff, and crucially, the ability of leaders to draw the best out of them. Essentially, one highly talented and motivated employee can be far more valuable than three average and uninspired workers. Great news for companies that are struggling to maintain productivity after retrenchments!


Maximise Your Talent Pool

The secret is to get the most out of existing staff. How well you do this will depend on your ability to recognise and use their natural talents and strengths. This is not about skills, but rather about innate ability. For example, some people have a keen eye for detail, while others might be great strategic thinkers. Individuals use these strengths daily to solve problems and take on challenges in both work and personal life, but often aren’t aware of their unique talents.

Yet when people become aware of their strengths and enhance them, the results can be remarkable. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because we are most energised and motivated when doing something that we feel good at. In addition, discovering strengths can help a team to realise that it has valuable assets that it can utilise for new projects. Indeed, many people are in positions that don’t harness and maximise their full potential.


Talent & Tolerance

At Avo Vision, we’ve noticed that when the strength discovery exercise is done as a team, there is an interesting increase in tolerance. For example, when a manager learns that an employee is particularly good at finishing something, and then recognises and harnesses this value, the manager is less likely to get stuck on the fact that the person is not a particularly good starter. Similarly, when team members know what their strengths and weaknesses are, they are more likely to take a tolerant approach to fellow team members.

Some may argue that during tough times you need staff to work harder, reach higher and strive to be better. However, it’s also true that nobody is good at everything. If leaders accept this truth and focus on what people are good at, it can lead to greater team cohesion, increased staff morale, improved retention and enhanced performance. Plus, this is a sustainable and realistic approach to business management.

And when the economy starts picking up again, you’ll be in poll position to reap the awards and grow your business…”

Avocado Vision

Tel: 011 614 0206


Offices in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town

About The Author

Paola Chellew

I am Italian by birth, but passionately South African. I specialize in copy-writing, writing press releases,editing and proof-reading . I have10 years experience as a publicist (PR) in diverse fields such as dance and theatre, art, the travel industry, fashion, lifestyle and events.I write many reviews for travel destinations, events in and around the city, theatre productions and beauty products.

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