Category Archives: Business

The Trouble with Trouble

The trouble with blogging about trouble in love and business is that it’s rather close to home.  If not left long enough it’s rather obvious what one is referring to.

The past few weeks have been full of all sorts of trouble, which will rightfully take its place in the coming weeks in this blog as the obligatory time passes.

In the the meantime, here’s one I wrote earlier:

 http://whatnottodoinloveandbusiness.com/the-5-love-languages/

Love languages.  In the run-up to Christmas might be worth it to brush up on these as a little reminder in to why a present won’t always cut it….

 

The Trouble With “Yes”

 

 

 

Sometimes in life saying ‘yes’ to everything that comes your way can take you to incredible places.  Alternatively, sometimes in life saying ‘yes’ to everything results in you never really doing anything well.

It’s the same in business.  Particularly when you’re new on the scene and wanting to go the extra mile to win the first deal, appease the first client, turn the first leaver around.  ‘Yes’ to everything can take you to incredible places in business.  It can also take you places that your business can in no possible way sustain.

Knowing in business what you won’t do is every bit as valuable as knowing what you will.  Understanding the boundaries of where you want to explore as a team and as a business leaves you free to really exceed in the areas you’ve decided to own.  Remember, the goal is to build the right business for you, not to appease all the requests of all the customers.

Just say ‘no’ nicely and explain why.  Some if not most will even appreciate that your decisions are all to make their product or service that much more of value, for them.

 

Empowered?

The term ‘empowered’ is one I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.  Why is it that we can have a position, anywhere in life, and yet not feel empowered to really hold the office of that position?

For example.  Many times I have been in a role, but not felt truly empowered by my boss, head of department, team lead, etc to really make decisions over and above others even when the decision is mine.  I’ve seen strong leaders come in and fail as they begin to question themselves when no one is following.  So does a senior leader empower a person, or do the people that you are seeking to lead?  Businesses aren’t democracies, yet those who are not accepted, even if only with fearful respect and little camaraderie, don’t seem to go very far.

When I hire someone in to a leadership position, I am empowering them to make their own decisions and lead with their own initiative.  Yet if the team don’t want to follow the individual it can be a real battle.  Or is it because I, or other senior leaders, haven’t made the accountabilities clear?

A simple solution for blurred lines of accountability is a RACI matrix.  Get your team to spend a couple hours outlining the key actions and decisions of the processes of their teams and create a RACI matrix for each of these steps.  This matrix, to be agreed with the one holding the ultimate accountability and therefore veto, allows accountability to be given to a single individual for each of the key actions and decisions, removing any blurred lines and potential ‘stepping-on of toes’.

It seems simple, but could it be that the team aren’t following simply because they either a. don’t believe the person is supported by the SMT to lead, or b. believe some of what the individual is acting on is not theirs to act on?

It’s worth a couple of hours and an excel spreadsheet to find out.

Brands – A Follow Up

 

 

 

In what was perfect timing following my previous post, I was invited to a Chinwag event titled “When Customer Service Goes Social”

So, for those of you intrigued by my previous post “Brands – Are You Listening?” Here are some additional pieces of advice provided by Conversocial, who funded what was a fantastic evening:

Always reply
Do not be selective about which of your customers get a response and those who do not
– each ignored complaint or question reflects negatively on your brand and can easily
spread to a large audience. A policy of zero customer support is deadly on Facebook; if
you can’t manage two-way conversation, you’re in the wrong place.
Enable your wall
There is no benefit in trying to hide from complaints. Your company will waste time
seeking out reputation risks and upset your customers in the process. It is much better
to channel customer service issues on to your wall, rather than spread them to all of your
fans via updates visible in the newsfeed.

Monitor your fan page throughout the day
Give social media the same level of attention as email and phone calls. Applying tighter
SLAs for social media could give you the competitive edge in the developing space of
social customer service.
Add personality to your responses
Let your customers know who they are speaking to. This is even more important in
Facebook and Twitter than via email support, as your fans and followers expect a
different experience of your brand. This is an ideal opportunity to show your customers
what kind of company you are – ideally one with real people who care.
Use a page management tool with customer service workflow
Ensure you don’t miss comments and posts, and filter large volumes of interactions
easily. Unlike traditional service channels such as email and phone, not every message
on Facebook requires follow up action; and comments on photos or older posts are not
easily visible without searching for them. Efficiency features such as
auto-flagging and team workflow make it easy to see what needs to be dealt with and
what your colleagues have already taken care of.

Excerpt from “Who’s Ignoring Their Customers?”  – Conversocial 

If you’re interested in reading more about these topics, Chinwag’s blog is a great place for finding opinions of those not trying to also sell you something.

 

Brands – Are You Listening?

Brands – if anyone has heard about you, then people are talking about you.  Are you listening?

This week, I had a bad experience with Specsavers that they handled really well.  Whenever I am treated poorly by or rudely by a brand I will tweet a mention of the experience once to see if the brand is listening.  More often than not, no one is listening. In this case though, Specsavers was.

I received a tweet back (albeit 24 hours later) asking me to DM them my details for the customer care to look in to.   I had to respond letting them know I can’t direct message them until they are following me, but eventually we got there.  It seems listening is a newer discipline for Specsavers but I was really impressed that they were making a concerted effort.

In this day and age listening to what people are saying about your brand is not rocket science.   Whether you monitor it on a very basic level using HootSuite or a similar free tool, or whether you invest in a more intelligent tool such as Radian6, you need to be listening.  In a world of abundance and thousands of options for just about anything, if you’re not listening you can bet your competitors are.

Great Expectations

I’ve been reading recently about the Pygmalian Theory, or SFP (self fulfilling prophecy).

In short, the gist is that people rise up to what you expect of them.  It works both ways – if you expect someone to be great they actually perform better and likewise if you expect them to under-perform they are far more likely to do so.

It made me think about being a parent.  As this season is still (albeit far-off) on the horizon I’m quite keen to figure out my plan before I actually need to have one – if that makes sense.  Of course it’s all theory now so may end up being absolute rubbish come the time….  but here goes.

What if I were to tell my kids that they were the smartest, the kindest, the most athletically gifted?  Rather than expect them to get good grades, perform well, (though I would hope for this!) I would set their own expectations of themselves – that they believe they can achieve all things.

Bit like the case of Roger Bannister and the 4 minute mile – once people knew the 4 minute mile could be achieved, many others then went on to reach this goal in a short time after.

What if I were to tell new starters that they were selected because they were the cream of the crop – would this set a standard of excellence in the workplace?

What if, what if.  Worth a thought though.  By just finding the best in people and setting a standard of excellence I have an opportunity to actually change my world… even if just a little bit.

Muscle Memory

I’ve been thinking a lot about muscle memory over the past while.  It can make us great, or make us old dogs in the face of new tricks.

Yesterday I had a guitar lesson (I’m determined to learn to play something more portable than a piano) and my teacher told me that in learning to play any new song, to practice it 50 times slowly.  To learn something correctly, without mistakes, creates a muscle memory that then will always lead you to the right chords.  To practice something at full speed incorrectly a 1000 times only conditions your muscle memory to reach for the wrong chords.  Apparently Rachmaninoff never played a piece full speed until the concert itself.

Interesting.

Jason Freid writes in his book Rework that those who have failed in business and wear the badge proudly actually have the same success rate with their next venture as those that are starting out for the first time, whilst those who have succeeded have a much higher success rate the second time round.

Children conditioned to clean their plates have a tendency to overeat for the rest of their lives.  Teenagers that binge drink tend to be more inclined to become problem drinkers.  Those active from an early age tend to stay active.

Research shows it takes 21 days to create a habit.  Others have argued as much as 66 days, but either way the days are just an iota of my lifespan. Think of all the things that you could do differently in just 66 days.  Stop brushing change off with the defeatist behaviour that it’s ‘your genes’, or ‘just how things are’ or worse, ‘how you were raised’.

You can change.  It’s just a case of muscle memory.  What are you teaching yourself today?

 

Wrong is always worse

 

 

Having seen this situation recently in both a business and a relational situation, I’ve decided to categorise this post as both ‘Love’ and ‘Business’.

So often we can have the wrong person in our lives, who we know is the wrong person, but “will do for now”.  Don’t do it.  Wrong is worse than nothing.  Wrong is delaying right.  Wrong is square none – the square before square one.

That person in that role that you know isn’t the right person but will do for now?  Funny isn’t it how long now can last sometimes.  The wrong person in the wrong role isn’t helping you or them.  It can be scary removing someone when you’ve not got a replacement, but is average really what you want for your business?  Is their substandard delivery ok for your company to be producing until Mr or Ms Right comes along?  The wrong person can prove to be costly – not only in salary but in damage to your business that can last well past their departure.

That person you’re keeping around because they’re fun, because there’s no one better at the moment, because you’re lonely…  The wrong person sends signals to the right ones to stay away.  You’re potentially sowing in to your own loneliness, busying your mind and your emotions with something you know won’t last.  Or even someone if you’re anything like me that you end up really falling for and then go through the pains of a dysfunctional relationship and a messy breakup, only to look back and and think I knew at this beginning of all this they weren’t the one.

Cutting ties can seem risky.   I would suggest it’s worth the risk.

Bottlenecks & Socrates

I was recommended a book called ‘The Goal’ by Eliyahu Goldratt that has transformed how I look at our business.

Goldratt’s book takes his Theory of Constraints and winds it eloquently through a story of a man struggling to save his factory.  The book is a joy to read and comes packed with powerful lessons.

In reading the book I looked back at the business I am currently a part of and questioned not only what are the bottlenecks in our business, but also what is in front of the bottlenecks as the issue also lies there.  The book then introduces the Socratic Method for solving questions and issues, with the protagonist using these same techniques to save his marriage.  So really this is a post on both love and business, as this interesting method of solving problems in life.

If you are still searching for answers on why you can not predict or govern the output of your business, or if you simply are seeking another way to handle a troublesome relationship in any sphere of life, this book may just be for you.

Vision

 

 

There is a Proverb that says ‘People perish for a lack of Vision’.  I’m not suggesting that is always literally the case, but things most certainly fall apart.

Something in us inanely always needs to know what we are working towards, what we are aiming for.   Often this vision or goal sits in us undefined, but yet it exists.  The trouble starts when vision is never discussed or aligned.

My 1st marriage fell apart (along with a number of other reasons) when we realised we didn’t want the same things in life.  The same can happen with a company.  The obvious situations are amongst leaders, but the not-so-obvious ones are amongst team who all  – unaware to themselves and their colleagues  – are working towards different ends.

Vision exists in a person and in a company whether it is defined or not.  The difference is, if not defined you can most certainly bet your team are not all working towards the same vision.  I don’t mean vision as in how we are going to save the world – (although that would be a nice BHAG) but vision for what it is you are building, what type of company you are, what success looks like, and what the GOAL is.

Take the time to sit with your team and define your vision.  Take input.  Develop and refine your Vision, and then broadcast it.  At each turn weigh your decisions against your vision, reminding you and your team often of the common goal for best results.  Make it fun.  Print T-shirts.  Make mouse mats.  Whatever you do, define your vision before the wrong one defines you.