3 Factors for Building Resilience

How to assess and develop your organization’s resilience.

Resilience

*by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Resilience – a word more often abused than used correctly.  Resilience often is used to describe strength.   Although strength is implied in resilience, it is actually not a trait (a distinguishing quality) – rather it is a capability, something that can be used.

There are two definitions for resilience that can be used here:

  • “the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress”
  • “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”

The Three Factors of Resilience

Resilience relies on three factors:

  1. Flexibility – how flexible is your business in terms of how it works, how it is structured and how it is organized in producing the same outcome result?
  2. Adaptability – how can you apply what you do and how you do it to produce different outcomes or results.
  3. Learning – how good is your business, at an  individual and corporate level, in learning the lessons from having to adapt or be flexible so that you can avoid repeating them (hard , painful lessons) or you can leverage them in the future (where you have had success) and understanding why you were successful or not.3 Factors for Resiliency - Overview

Flexibility Factors

  • Elasticity – can you easily expand or contract the business in whole or part
  • Alternatives – are there many ways in which you can achieve the same result, or are you locked in to one or only a few ways?
  • Interchangeable – how easy can different building blocks (people, assets, processes) be used in a different sequence and/or configuration to produce the same result or outcome?

Adaptability Factors

  • Reusability – can your core people, processes and assets be used to produce different outcomes and results with little or no difficulty?  For example, a consulting firm can reuse many of its existing people, processes and assets in delivering a new service.  However, the Boeing factory production line can only produce Boeing airplanes – it cannot produce other products without significant changes in people, assets and processes.
  • Speed – how quickly can you move from producing one set of products and outcomes, to produce new products and outcomes?
  • Capacity for Change – how prepared and able are your people to make the necessary changes? 

Learning Factors

  • Measuring – how good are you at being able to quantify or qualify the changes that have occurred, their implications and the associated outcomes?  Are you able to identify where the greatest impact, positive or negative, has been realized?
  • Applying  – can you clearly ascertain as to where the lessons learnt can be applied?  Do you understand what caused the problem and how it was solved, or where and how the opportunity was capitalized on?
  • Anticipating – how good are you at being able to replicate or avoid the lessons learnt?  For example, if you are an engineering consultancy who tried to enter a new market unsuccessfully then can you identify why?  Was it the lack of a local partner?  Cultural differences? Inability to deliver?

These 3 factors apply equally to the individual as to the business.  For real success you need resilience both personally and corporately – if you lack the resilience you may not survive the change, even if the business does.

Resilience is not about just meeting the current challenge, or having met the challenge just past, but it is about putting yourself in a better position for the future – not just going back to your original shape or form before the challenge occurred.  To be resilient you need to be flexible, adaptable and to learn from your experiences.

Two out of Three Ain’t Bad – But It’s Not Enough

So what does it mean if you only have two out of three, let’s see below.

  1. Flexibility & Adaptability – you can meet the challenge in the short- or even mid-term, but your inability to learn from your experience and apply will mean that you will be overtaken by the competition and quickly become irrelevant
  2. Adaptability & Learning – you can diversify into other areas, but you are not at the forefront of your market being weak at delivering in alternative ways.  You are at risk of being out-maneuvered by competitors and being a market follower rather than a leader.
  3. Learning & Flexibility – you are efficient at operating in your particular niche, but you are a one-trick pony, and you are at the whim of industry pressures.  You are more reactive than proactive, and your ability to become diverse, grow and spread the risk is weak.

For each of the 3 factors, and for each of the 3 components for each factor, how do you rate yourself?  Score yourself out of 10 for each component (1= Very Low, 10=Very High), and rate how strong or weak you are in each factor and relatively.

Resilience Worksheet

Which are your strongest and weakest areas?  How can you leverage your strengths to offset your weaker areas and reduce the associated risks and implications?  Are you really as resilient as you thought?

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Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Personal SWOT – Creating Strategies for Personal Success

How to create strategies to build the You of the future.

We are all familiar with a SWOT Analysis being used on our business. SWOT  is an acronym for identifying your company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  But did you know you can use it on yourself? And that you can use it to generate strategies to help you develop yourself?
There are several steps involved:

1. Identify your Key Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats – have no more than 5 bullet points for each.

2. For each of the intersections ask the following questions:

3. For each intersection develop two or three strategies and write them in the box.

4. From the eight to twelve strategies you have developed select the top three which will have the greatest impact for you and develop an action plan around them. You should produce something like the example in the picture below.

Example of a Personal Strategic SWOT


Top 3 Strategies:

  1. Work with new boss to help him succeed/look good
  2. Learn to be a strong negotiator
  3. Create reciprocity with other areas

Develop your own Personal Strategic SWOT and take action of what you develop for it. Share this with your team and get them to individually develop their own Personal Strategic SWOT.  This will open up the discussion, give you insight to what they are thinking and why, and help to align people, expectations, and performance.

A further freebie: Use this tool for your team – as a group goes through the exercise asking “As a team what do we need to do to be high-performing?”

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

What a Lack of Trust Can Cost You

Trust “Taxes”, the Costs of a Lack of Trust

Trust taxes are costs that you incur when there is little or no trust. When trust goes down, speed also goes down and cost goes up.  This is a “tax” – and this tax can double the cost of doing business.

There are 7 types of “trust taxes”:

  1. Redundancy & duplication with smaller spans of control – if there is less trust, then you will find that tighter control develops over smaller areas, and that there is unnecessary duplication of resources to offset the increase in perceived risk.
  2. Bureaucracy – with less trust so procedures and systems become more cumbersome in order to bridge the perceived gap between what is needed and what is available in providing security and consistency in the work done.  In the US there is Nordstrom where its high levels of trust are reflected in its one card operating manual: on one side of the card it says – “We have one rule… – on the other side it says “use your best judgement in all situations“.
  3. Politics – more silos develop and turf wars become more prevalent.  Less trust results in individuals putting their agenda ahead of others and the business overall, it also creates a “fixed mindset” where people see the pie as fixed, so that they only way they can get a larger slice of the pie is at the expense of somebody else e.g. different departments negotiating for budget allocation will compete against each other for it.
  4. Disengagement – a lack of trust reduces staff engagement as they do not believe that their leaders have their interest at heart.  This is reflected in research which shows that 96% of engaged employees trust their leaders, whereas only 46% of employees who are disengaged.
  5. Turnover of Employees – as disengagement increases, so staff perceive roles and jobs elsewhere as more attractive which, previously, they might not have considered.
  6. Churn – low trust also extends to customers and other stakeholders who now see other businesses as more attractive and less risky.
  7. Fraud – with lowering levels of trust there is a lower level of integrity increasing the likelihood of fraud being committed within the company.

If you have a lack of trust, then you are likely to incur some or all of these taxes.  If you have a lack of trust then you need to address this. This is the subject of another blog.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here.

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

The Real Costs of Poor Management & Leadership

The Cost of Management & Leadership Shortfalls

by  Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

The costs and risks associated with having weak managers and leaders are often overlooked.  What does it mean to you?  How can you overcome it?  And what are the benefits of doing so?

A recent report from the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills Leadership and Management Network Group (LMNG), showed the UK’s economy has been negatively impacted by a lack of training and support for new managers.  Across 18 management practices by country the UK ranked 6th, whilst Australia ranked 9th – behind France and just ahead of Mexico.  This strongly suggests that the findings for the UK are equally applicable to the Australia and that there is a stronger sense of urgency.

John Hayes MP, UK Minister of State for Further Education, Skills, and Lifelong Learning, suggests that effective leadership is what makes the difference for successful, innovative companies. “Strong leadership and management is a key factor in fostering innovation, unlocking the potential of the workforce and ensuring organisations have the right strategies to drive productivity and growth.”

However, in the UK the research shows that effective management is the exception rather than the rule.

Too many of our organisations, both private and public, are failing to achieve their full potential: managerial shortcomings and a lack of strategic thinking are holding them back. Overcoming these weaknesses and improving our leadership and management capability is fundamental to creating a culture where more organisations have the ambition, confidence, resilience and skills to respond to the current economic challenges and compete successfully both nationally and globally.”

By providing more comprehensive management training and development for budding leaders, companies can gain the edge over competitor firms.

Key Findings of the UK Research:

  • Ineffective management is estimated to be costing UK businesses over £19billion per year in lost working hours.
  • 43% of UK managers rate their own line manager as ineffective – and only one in five are qualified.
  • Nearly three quarters of organisations in England reported a deficit of management and leadership skills in 2012, contributing to the productivity gap with countries like the US, Germany and Japan.
  • Incompetence or bad management of company directors causes 56 % of corporate failures

Quite simply, improving leadership and management capability is an issue that no organisation wishing to achieve long-term success can afford to ignore. There is no question that good leadership and management can have a truly significant impact on organisational performance, both in the immediate and longer term.

  • Best-practice management development can result in a 23% increase in organisational performance.
  • Effective management can significantly improve levels of employee engagement.
  • A single point improvement in management practices (rated on a five-point scale) is associated with the same increase in output as a 25% increase in the labour force or a 65% increase in invested capital.

Business’ long-term success is dependent on developing these management and leadership skills, these  are crucial to ensuring high performance working and business success. This is especially true as more new managers and leaders will be needed over the next decade as the number of experienced baby-boomer managers and leaders who are retiring increases.

Why are businesses underperforming when it comes to developing their talent pipeline in management and leadership?  There are a number of reasons including relatively low levels of training, shortages of key skills, the failure to apply skills strategically, and employer concern about the relevance of training provision, have also been identified as potential reasons. Other factors include difficulties in recruiting graduates with the right skills, particularly for small and medium sized companies; a perception that leadership and management skills are something you “pick up” on the job; and lack of clarity about the specific leadership and management skills and behaviours managers need to display.

Improving our leadership and management capability makes sound business sense. Helping managers at all levels to develop the right skills and behaviours will ensure organisations have the ability to adapt, innovate and evolve, and seize the growth opportunities that lie ahead.

So what are you going to do?

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Why Customer Satisfaction is Irrelevant

Don’t assume that because your surveys show that your clients are satisfied it will mean that they will be loyal…

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

A common mistake to make is that client satisfaction and client loyalty are positively correlated i.e. that higher the level of client satisfaction the higher the level of client loyalty. customer loyalty satisfaction

Working in a harder and more competitive environment often results in businesses focusing on marketing and selling to get new clients. While continuing to bring in new clients is necessary for a business’ survival, so is keeping your current clients loyal to your firm.

Satisfaction vs. Loyalty

How loyal are your clients?  And how loyal are your “very satisfied” clients?  The answer may surprise you, your clients might be more likely to switch to a different provider than you think. In a 2009 study, across professional service industries, it was found that:

  • Only 48% of clients are “very satisfied” with their service provider

and that

  • 60% of these clients would consider switching service providers

Results by Industry

satisfaction vs loyalty

So what does this mean?

It means that fewer clients are loyal to you than you think.  It also is likely that your perception of the real situation as regards your clients’ loyalty is significantly over-optimistic.

For example, a legal firm that equates client satisfaction with client loyalty would assume, on the basis of the above numbers, that 50% of its clients were “loyal”.  The reality is that of this 50% of “loyal” customers over half are likely to switch to another provider. This means that only 25% of the firm’s clients are loyal – it has over-estimated the number of loyal clients it has by a factor of two!  This has a significant on its ability to maintain and grow business, and the strategies and plans it needs to have in place.  In all likelihood, because people do not realise this, the firm will probably be following the wrong strategies, and this can be put the firm at risk.

As the competitive environment continues to intensify, it’s likely that other firms are marketing more aggressively to your own clients and, as this data suggests, a good portion of your clients may be open to having these switching conversations with your competitors.

Why do we make this mistake? It is because people confuse the two concepts of satisfaction and loyalty. The difference is like that between “like” and “love”. Let’s look at them separately.

Client Satisfaction

Client satisfaction is a tactical concept and measurement, and it speaks only to one moment in time – typically, right after a client has completed an interaction such as a purchase or has a problem solved. So measuring customer satisfaction merely tells you if you are doing your job, from the client’s perspective.  Clients express satisfaction in an intellectual and rational manner. In doing this, it makes people think. satisfaction guaranteed

Many organizations should be performing up to their customers’ expectations.  This is really just the basics.   While these days consumers are in the driver’s seat, the mindset tends toward “what have you done for me lately?” as opposed to “that transaction went well so I’m a customer for life.”  Thus, good customer satisfaction does not guarantee that you will continue to keep those customers.  How many times have you bought goods “satisfaction guaranteed”, yet gone to another product or provider even though you had a good or even excellent experience?  All of us have done so at one time or another.

Client Loyalty

Customer LoyaltyThis is a much more reliable and strategic measure.  True loyalty – much harder to earn than mere satisfaction – tells you that your customer wants to stick with you over the long haul and that they will share that feeling with others.  Loyalty derives not from “good” transactions but from exceeding the customer’s expectations on a repeated basis. Loyalty engages your client emotionally and makes them want to tell others about their experience of working with you and your relationship.  As such, emotions make people act!

Next Steps

It is much easier (not to mention more cost effective) to retain and grow your current clients than it is to continuously have to fill the pipeline with new prospects.   It is enough to get people to think, you need to get them act.  You need to engage them both intellectually and emotionally.

Have a look at your existing client base and assess their level of satisfaction. If you are not sure, then use this as an opportunity to ask them for constructive feedback, listen and learn.  Then begin to think, from their perspective, whether you have done enough to earn their loyalty – be specific about what you have done or not done as the client perceives it.  Do this individually and then come together as a group to discuss your scores, perceptions and to share insights.

Next Week

So, what does it take to build the type of relationships with your clients that keep them loyal and coming back to your firm year after year? We look at the 9 questions you need answered in next week’s blog.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

How to Focus on What You Can Influence to Get Results

You have limited time, resources and energy to expend on getting work done, projects completed and achieving the results you are looking for.  As such you need to be able to use these limited and finite resources effectively.  To do this you need to be able to distinguish between what lies within your Circle of Concern and your Circle of Influence as shown in the picture below:

Circle of Concern and Influence

  • The Circle of Concern – this larger circle encompasses  everything that you are concerned about, including those things over which you exert no control or influence e.g. the level of tax, terrorist threats, the current interest rate on loans and mortgages etcetera.  We tend to waste a lot of our time, effort and mental energy in the Circle of Concern.  This produces nothing as we are unable to overcome the inertia or have any effect.
  • The Circle of Influence is smaller, and it encompasses those things that we can do something about.  These are those things where we can be proactive and, by taking action for ourselves, address them. Here we invest our time, energy and effort on the things that we can change.  This produces results and momentum forward.

The two circles – Concern and Influence – are about the choices you make and the results you want.

The Circle of Concern is where you find people who focus on that which they cannot influence. They are reactive, stressed and ineffectual.  The Circle of Influence is where we find people who choose to focus on things that they can influence.

By focusing attention and energy on our circle of influence, people are increasingly proactive. The energy we expend is enlarging; each small victory motivates us further exert influence. We don’t waste energy on things we can do nothing about, but direct it towards what we can change. With each step we feel stronger and more creative. And so our circle of influence expands.

By focusing on what we can influence we also start to understand better what we cannot influence. We develop a better understanding of our circle of concern, and what it includes and does not include – it may even expand our circle of concern. This provides us with a fuller and better appreciation of the context in which we work, and helps us to better focus on our efforts on what we can influence. It can be incredibly liberating to realize that, in choosing how to respond to circumstances, we affect those circumstances. If we want to cope with the challenges we face, then we need to learn how we can influence them.

Share this diagram with your team, colleagues, and clients to help them distinguish between the two, what lies within their Circle of Influence whilst being aware of what lies within their Circle of Concern – and to focus their efforts on what they can influence, not that over which they have no control. This will provide greater traction, reduced stress and a more effective and productive team who can achieve results more easily.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

The Difference Between Being Involved & Committed

The Chicken & The Pig

An executive coach is not a silver bullet for your problems.  But what do you need to do before you engage an executive coach, and to make sure you get the most out of your time with them?

Coaching is a two-way process and dialog, based on open, honest  communication and a strong commitment to self-improvement and learning.  It requires effort, discipline and humility – on both sides.

Commitment

But the question to ask yourself is are you ready to be coached?

Coaching starts with the coachee – the person being coached.  There is an old joke that goes, “How many shrinks does it take to change a light bulb? One, but the light bulb must want to change.”

If you want to be coached you need to be committed: “The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed”

Unless you are willing to change, and are committed to doing so, then no coach can help you.  Before a coach can help you, you need to help yourself so you in turn can help others.  It is like being on an airplane when an emergency occurs – the first instruction is for you to put you oxygen mask on yourself before you help others.  So you need to be willing to change before any other change can take place.  Change starts with you, not with others.

Even if we think that we want to change this is not always true.  The human capacity for self-deception is well-known.  We can rationally believe that we want to change, but unless we are emotionally invested in changing it will not last.  Logic makes people think, but emotions makes people act.

We often overestimate our capacity to change ourselves.  Even in situations which can be life-threatening our resistance to changing ourselves.  Studies show that, when giving up smoking, it takes on average seven attempts and five years; and that half of those quit on New Year’s Eve start smoking again within ten days.  This is despite the overwhelming evidence and availability of information on the risks associated with smoking.

How Do We Reduce Our Resistance to Change

1. Create Commitment, Not Compliance

Research has shown that compliance, when you are responding to a demand, incentive or threat only works in the short-term.  As soon as the pressure is removed people revert to their original behavior.  This is because we are not motivated to change – motivation only comes from within yourself, not externally.  Demands, incentives or threats are there to make you avoid something.

Commitment comes from within you because you are personally engaged in achieving a personal change.  This is the only way of maintaining the change for the long-term and on an on-going basis.  As such commitment comes from your beliefs and mindset.

However, a mindset is not just brought into being.  It has to be developed – you need to view the change as an opportunity and not a problem; to see the opportunity to grow the pie rather than seeing it as of a fixed size where others only gain if you lose and vice-versa.

2.  Commit to the Coaching Process, Don’t Just Participate

When it comes to a breakfast of eggs and bacon there is a major difference – the chicken is participating, but the pig is committed.  Which are you – the chicken or the pig – when it comes to the coaching process?  You need to be invested in it and have skin in the game.

3. Be Honest with Yourself

Do you really want someone to coach you and to be candid and honest with you? Or are you looking for having you ego stroked and lots of unqualified encouragement?  If you are the latter then don’t hire a coach – save your money and don’t waste the coach’s time.

Coaching will do nothing for you unless you are willing to change.  Be clear on whether you want to be coached or not, what you want to achieve from the process, and whether you are committed to it or not.  It’s up to you.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.