Creativity Vacuums

I have not blogged for a long, long time.

Currently in a move to distance myself from all blame of procrastination, I am blaming my inability to write on the fact that my job is consuming all of my creative thought.  I have a theory around creativity and seasons… this season, according to my theory, is not good for music or blogging, apparently.

That said – I’m back with tons to blog on as a result of all the creativity that has gone in to the business I’m a part of.   New business theories, lessons, screw-ups, genius moments and other insights to impart.

But for now – Happy New Year!!  Today also marks my one year anniversary of being married to the best thing since sliced bread.  Lots of lessons there too… mainly in how not to be a pain in the ass.

Watch this space…

 

Stretch Marks

 

More and more I am discovering just how uncomfortable growing really is.  It’s a tug-of-war; old self vs new self and it leaves stretch marks I must warn you.

Each time we are in a season in which we are being stretched everything in us wants out.  Out, back to a place where we can be confident, back to a place where we are self-assured, and we reason that we’re ‘just not as strong here’ or something along those lines.  The trouble is, real growth never happens when we’re comfortable.

Real growth happens when we are just getting through by the skin of our teeth.  Real growth happens in the fire.  We often so long to be better than we are, smarter, of greater character, but these traits all come with a hefty price tag.  Wanting growth without stretching is like wanting to lose weight without making any lifestyle changes.  Unlikely.

So wherever you are in this season, if you’re uncomfortable; embrace it.  Know that in this you are growing… even if only in patience.  In business patience goes a long way, so don’t underestimate what you might be gaining this very minute, as you sit at your desk, gaining stretch marks.

 

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.

 

Confessions Of A Serial Health Fanatic

Health Fanatic

I, am a serial health fanatic.  There, I said it.

My husband, is the victim of a serial health fanatic.  The latest food trends, the latest exercise trends (power plate, bikram yoga, P90x to name a few) the latest clothing that makes you sweat and burn up energy faster than you ever thought possible!!!!  and so on.

Ironically, I never seem to really benefit for long.  The amazing effects of the latest diet means that once I’ve reached my target weight I can head back to gigantic 4-person-size chocolate bars, the super-tight muscles from my latest fitness freak out mean I can definitely chill out for a while, the hot pants actually swoosh when I walk and sounds like diapers…. you get the drift.

I do question that if I never did any of this, would life be any different?

Yes it would.  For my husband.

Sorry babe.

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.

Silos of Character

Why is it that we always give those closest to us the hardest times?

They say (whoever they are) that you always hurt the ones closest to you.  Why?  It makes no sense.  Is it because when the walls come down we somehow feel free to act towards those closest to us in a way that we’d never dare treat others?

I’m convinced that different areas of our lives mature at different rates – in silos almost.  The person I’ve become in the professional world and the character I’ve learned doesn’t always translate in to my home life.  I have a theory that it’s possibly because in my job I have built a career with thousands of little integrous decisions that no one ever knows about but me, but that have developed me in to the person that I am now. Most certainly I have a long way to go, but I’ve come a long way.

Having only been married a few months, I’m making good decisions (and bad) but building the foundations of character in that area of my life is quite a bit less developed.  So, I react to situations sometimes in my marriage in ways that I would never react at work.  Funny.  Yet each time I make a good decision, choose to let go of my old stubborn ways, put the other person first, I move closer and closer towards becoming the person of character in my marriage that I would love to be.

So maybe that’s why we attack those closest to us.. because we’ve not built the foundations there in the same way that we have with those in other environments.   I’m working towards getting better though, growing up, one good decision at a time.

 

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.