Thursday, 26 October 2017

Are We Part of the Problem?

Where your business is part of a group of one or more service providers and something goes wrong, who takes accountability for finding out the cause?  Most simply check their area & say it’s “not my problem”.  Case closed…

In the age of the internet, services or products are now being delivered by more than one provider as part of a team.  A typical example is apps for smartphones which we can download from an “App Store”.  These are usually developed by one organisation but sold via another’s “App Store”.  In my case, I use an Apple smartphone, so I download from Apple’s iTunes Store. 

What we start to find is that, in the case of Apple, they make the product available under their store (and name), but advise buyers that any problems should be resolved with developers.  On more than one occasion, I’ve had the developer respond that it’s an “Apple Problem” and vice-versa.  Perhaps other readers have had similar experiences with Apple or other vendors.

In the end, it’s the CUSTOMER who has to resolve things with everyone blaming everyone else.  Imagine how that makes them feel about your site/store/product and how much you value their business.

If I sell something associated with my name, I’m partly responsible if that product goes wrong.  No matter what the clever lawyers say, a customer has bought a product or service in good faith (note the stress here) through me and no amount of law will detract from the fact that the customer, whose purchase price pays my (and my lawyer’s) salary associates my brand name with that product.  If I see a lot of complaints about a supplier’s product/service tainting my site, I start thinking about whether I want my brand and reputation associated with that supplier.

Equally, if my product doesn’t work because of some tricky new change to the store, it’s partly my responsibility to talk to the store owner to fix the problem.  

If it goes wrong, the customer’s only interest is in getting it fixed as quickly as possible.  “Blame games” or “buck passing” may make the developer/store owner feel better, but will the customer come back to them for more (unless they're a monopoly provider)? 

Thanks to the “depersonalisation” that the internet provides, we’re growing up with a generation unaccustomed to dealing with “real people”.  What they see is simply a name and email address/customer number on a screen.  They're unlikely to meet them face-to-face.  Some internet stores don't even provide telephone numbers so that dissatisfied customers can't even call to complain.  I’ve certainly seen complaints about this in online reviews.

We mustn’t forget that, just as the internet gives us the ability to be “faceless” whilst we sell, it also gives customers a louder voice that reaches more potential buyers.

The solution?  In one word: accountability – if it’s OUR site, WE are partly responsible.  Those who fail to grasp this will be the first to find that their business disappears.  Just as the internet provides “anonymity”, so it provides the ability for dissatisfied consumers to reach thousands of people and impact our reputation.  Those who survive will be the ones who understand and act on this.



I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email . My website provides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Be the Missing member

I’ve just read a great short email from Michael Heppell, author, speaker and coach, about something I haven't really thought about much.

A lot has been written about the composition of teams and the different roles played by each member.  We’ve been taught that, to have an effective team, we need a mix of talents (not people who all think the same way).  We’re lucky if we inherit a team like this, let alone get the chance to build one from scratch.  Depending how long we remain in post as Team Leader, we may be able to hand over a team that has (more or less) the “right” composition to our successor.

Michael’s solutions are usually “fiendishly simple”, and this is the case with his recommendation for plugging the gap in a team:

Meetings: 
If someone has stepped up to Chair the meeting then you don’t need to. But you may need to be the facilitator.

No one to take notes? Be humble, grab a pen and take the notes.


Briefings:
If everyone is nodding, but you know they aren’t understanding, make it your role is to ask the question. Usually the daft one that you know will benefit everyone.


Projects:
In a timid group, be the one who steps up and volunteers to make the presentation.


Teams:
In a group of starters? Be the completer/finisher.

In a crew of creatives, be the analyst.

We’ve all found ourselves in these situations, and I’ve been lucky enough to witness others doing the above (although I didn't really appreciate precisely what was going on at the time).

If you want to know more about Michael and his ideas, visit his website or read his books.


I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email . My website provides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

What Makes Employees “Highly Engaged”?

I’ve written before on this and since then have been wondering if I could add to what I said.  The premise is that “engaged” employees are “happy” (and therefore productive) employees, but how do we get that engagement and maintain it?

Some people are naturally “good” at engaging (or “getting people on board”).  Others don’t seem to know where to start (myself included, a lot of the time).

I ran across a very useful infographic posted by Jim Bishop of Eli Lilly and Company recently.  The graphic defines 12 characteristics of highly engaged vs low/not engaged not engaged employees and summarises them below.  In short, these definitions show the proportion of employees in an organisation who feel highly engaged.  Generally, they tend to feel that:

Someone has talked about their progress (92%)
Someone encourages their development (97%)
They have been praised recently (88%)
They have opportunities to learn and grow (98%)
They have a “best friend” at work (74%)
Their manager cares about them (98%)
They view their job as important to the company (98%)
Their opinions count at work (91%)
Their colleagues are committed to quality work (93%)
They are able to do their best every day (99%)
They have equipment needed to do their job (98%)
They know what is expected of them at work (99%)

For low/no engagement employees, the following holds:

Someone has talked about their progress (13%)
Someone encourages their development (10%)
They have been praised recently (13%)
They have opportunities to learn and grow (13%)
They have a “best friend” at work (19%)
Their manager cares about them (20%)
They view their job as important to the company (22%)
Their opinions count at work (19%)
Their colleagues are committed to quality work (44%)
They are able to do their best every day (53%)
They have equipment needed to do their job (70%)
They know what is expected of them at work (89%)

If we look at Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”, the lowest scores occur in the “Self-Actualisation” (personal growth and fulfilment) and “Esteem” (achievement, status, responsibility, reputation) area.  In other words, if someone feels they’re “going nowhere” and that they’re unappreciated, they’re unlikely to be engaged (no matter how much they're paid). 

This can be a problem in small businesses with few opportunities for advancement, but one way round would be to give the person more responsibility if we feel they can handle it.  After all, if this frees us up to build the business (or fight fewer “fires”), then it’s worth it.  If they can get a small pay rise out of it, even better (although there may be a limit to how much more they can be paid).

One interesting anomaly is that, even if over 50% (i.e. a majority) feel they can do their best every day, they still may not be engaged.  Closely linked at 44% is people feeling that their colleagues are committed to quality work, suggesting that if you feel your colleagues aren't pulling their weight, it may disengage you…

In my previous article, I suggested “treat them as humans” to get people engaged.  From this, opportunities for advancement and praise are key.   Money helps, but only to an extent as humans move up the hierarchy from base physical needs to the more “spiritual”.  The only thing that may keep them from rushing to the door is if the economy is doing badly and there are no jobs to be had, meaning that the two most basic needs (biological and safety) are met until things improve. 

  

I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email . My website provides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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