What You Said Is Not What I Heard – How to Communicate Effectively

Message Distortion – What You Said Is Not What I Heard

What you said is not what is heard…

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit SolutionsSherlockHolmes

Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle wrote his first Sherlock Holmes story in 1886. The fictitious character was based on a real man, Dr Joseph Bell, a renowned forensic scientist at Edinburgh University. Conan-Doyle wrote 60 adventures in total. The collection is known as The Cannon. All but 4 stories are narrated by Holmes’ loyal sidekick Dr Watson. Together, they solve the most amazing mysteries. Now think for a moment. What’s the most famous Sherlock Holmes expression you know?

Most probably you answered, “Elementary, my dear Watson.”

Now here’s the interesting part. The character Sherlock Holmes never actually uses this precise phrase. You won’t find it in any of Conan-Doyle’s books. Holmes does say ‘Watson’ all the time. He was his loyal companion after all. He also uses the word ‘elementary’ repeatedly, as a way of showing how smart he is. (They run into the most complex situations. Holmes points out the solution and states it’s ‘elementary’ as if the solution is the most obvious thing in the world). And somehow, both words ended up together. Why? Because there’s a nice fit. We can easily imagine Sherlock Holmes saying, “Elementary, my dear Watson,” showing his unique ability and intellectual superiority towards his friend Watson.

It’s a characteristic of a communication phenomenon science calls Message Distortion, another villain on the execution road. Gordon Allport and Joseph Postman researched message shortening. And their results are astonishing. A message loses a whopping 70 percent of its details after 5 to 6 mouth-to-mouth transmissions.

Imagine the effect of this happening with the messages you are putting out internally and externally. Internally we can get message distortion when senior management cascade messages downwards. How these are communicated and the essence of the message changes slightly with each repetition, often making the final transmission of the message quite different to what it started out as. Similarly, when information is escalated up the management chain we find that details, nuances and key information is often omitted or changed giving a very different picture to what was intended or expected. There is a large body of research that indicates the effects of the hierarchy on the distortion of messages.  Just a few of those findings are that:

  • Employees tend to send more favorable than unfavorable information is sent up the organizational hierarchy, especially when that information is important.
  • Employees tend to send messages that please their supervisors or managers.
  • Employees tend to send information up the hierarchy that they think their supervisor or manager wants to hear.
  • Unfavorable information is more likely to be blocked from being sent up the hierarchy.
  • The more upwardly mobile an employee is, the greater the distortion of messages that go up the hierarchy.
  • The less that employees trust their supervisors or managers, the more that information is distorted as it moves up the hierarchy.

Externally message distortion can also happen when you communicate with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders – and when messages are misunderstood they can be costly in terms of money, time, relationships and management attention.

To reduce the incidence and effects of message distortion use these three techniques:
1. Communicate only the essence of the message – keep it brief and succinct.
2. Check that the other person has understood what has been said.
3. Check that the other person has interpreted it correctly, ask how they will share the message with others.

This won’t eliminate message distortion, but it will help to reduce it significantly, and to help people communicate clearly and consistently, and to avoid misunderstandings and mistakes.

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

Why You Should Measure HOW You Perform

Measuring Performance Doesn‘t Help! Measuring How You Perform Does!!

It is not what you do that matters, but how you do it that does!

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Significant effort, time and resources are spent by companies in assessing the Managing Performance 2current level of performance in order to be able to determine what we need to do to perform at the right level.  This focuses on the result.  This is backward thinking.  This is like managing for profit by measuring your profit.  Profit cannot be improved by managing profit, rather but by improving your revenues and costs.  So it is with performance.

To improve performance you need to understand what the three drivers of performance. Once we do so we can then start to analyse what we need to do to sustain or improve our performance

Andrew’s 3 Drivers of Performance

  1. Right People
  2. Right Tools
  3. Access to the Development of the Skills (Aptitudes) and Behaviours (Attitudes) Needed 3 Drivers of Performance

Right People

You want people who want to work for you, who are able to use their talents in the right role and find gratification and recognition in their work. Their values and approach match those of your business.

Right Tools

People need to have the necessary tools to enable them to do their work and to support them in doing so. For example, an architect needs to have the right software to design and develop buildings, the necessary space

Access to the Development of the Rights Skills & Behaviours

These are probably the most important drivers.  You may have the right people and the right tools, but it is the skills they bring to bear in doing the work, and their attitude they have to how they do their work, that will differentiate how they individually and collectively perform.

  • Skills – people have the necessary skills to do the work, or ability to learn the skills they need to be a high-performer.  This is the what of the work done.
  • Behaviours – this is the how of the work done.

You want people who have high-performing behaviours, that is the way they do their work creates synergies, opportunities and virtuous cycles – for example, they hold themselves accountable for their work, and look to remedy their own mistakes without being told and share lessons learnt with others.. You also want to ensure you don’t have people whose behaviours are those of low-performers (for example, they always find fault in others but never themselves, they are unable or unwilling to learn and develop (especially from their mistakes), they put their self-interests above those of the team etcetera).

Here you need to be able to provide access to the means by which people can develop the right skills for their job as their role and business conditions change, and to have the rights systems in place for recruiting, managing and developing the right behaviours – the high-performing behaviours which drive higher performance.

Next Steps

So stop measuring your performance in terms of what you have done – this is an end-result.  Rather, start measuring how you perform – look at how you have performed (or  failed to) in terms of each of these three factors, and how you can improve each factor both individually and in their interaction with each other.  Only by focusing on how you perform can you improve your performance.’

Look at your performance in terms of each of these three factors in term.  In doing so look at where you are performing now, and determine where you need to perform, and identify several strategies to help you bridge the gap. Look at how each factor interacts with the others, assess the gap in performance, and again identify several ways to bridge the gap. Once you have done this then identify the top three actions from the list you have created which, if you address first, will have the greatest impact on improving your performance.

Good luck and share your experiences here!

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

How to Stop those You Manage from Managing You

How to free time, reduce your to-do list, and move back to managing from being managed!!!

Many managers often find themselves with long to-do lists which get longer, with more seeming to have been added then taken off at the end of each day.  The fault for this most often lies with the manager himself or herself, especially if they are caring managers who want to help others.  Why is this?

First, let’s understand what we mean by a “monkey”.

What is a “monkey”?

A “monkey” is simply a task or project.  The important factor here is that every task requires ownership and supervision. The monkey metaphor is a nice way to describe how tasks get pushed toward managers when they really need to be kept away to improve efficiency. For example, if a staff member comes to me and says “I can’t find this” or “how should I do that”, what do you think is happening? They are passing their “monkey” to me:

  1. They identify a problem and immediately pass it to me
  2. I take the problem and offer a solution

In doing this the “monkey” is climbing off from your report’s back and onto your back.  This happens a couple of times a day, day-in and day out, and for every week.  Suddenly you wake up to find yourself overloaded with work while your reports twiddle their thumbs while they wait for you to come back to them with a solution.  They then hope that the work has been done and they have escaped the need of having to do it.

The irony here is that your reports come to you and ask for a status update on what they have, effectively, delegated to you!  The managers are being managed! And so you get managers who are running out of time while their reports are running out of work.  It is not a pretty picture, but it is one we all recognize, of managers feeling overwhelmed and becoming a bottleneck.

How You Should Manage the “Monkey”

There are two simple steps that ideally should occur, and which you need to have in place to ensure you are not managed – and in the process made a monkey!

What should happen is:

  1. Staff member identifies a problem and offers a solution
  2. You approve solution or recommend alternative

By following some very simple processes you can easily optimize my time, give staff more responsibility and motivation, and focus on the important things (which tend to get buried under the morass of other’s work.

By getting rid of the monkeys that others have given you, you free up time which you can spend with your people!  

Four Golden Rules for Monkey Management

When a report comes to you with a “monkey” (or two), here are a few guidelines on how to ensure the monkeys (the tasks they have to do) stay with them and not with you, and yet still progress the completion of these tasks.

RULE #1 – Describe the monkey

The dialogue between you and your staff member must not end until appropriate next moves have been identified and clearly specified as regards what has to be done with the task or issue.

Example from the staff member:

  • “I will schedule the project and inform the client when it will be completed and notify you if there are any problems”


Examples from the Manager:

  • “Prepare a one-page brief outlining the problems and possible solutions to this problem”


  1. Everyone knows that the dialogue will not end until “next moves” have been specified.
  2. People get better prepared when they know that their next moves need to be specified.
  3. The rule assumes action by staff.
  4. The more clearly we understand what needs to be done the greater the energy and motivation that exists for doing it.

RULE #2 – Assign the monkey

All monkeys shall be owned and handled at the lowest organization level consistent with their welfare.


  • “Mr. Avery is now John’s client so his satisfaction with our service is John’s responsibility”


  1. Staff has more collective time, energy and, in some cases, knowledge.
  2. Staff is closer to the work and so are better equipped to handle it.
  3. Creates more time for business management.
  4. Management should only handle tasks that only they can do.


Sometimes when you insist on the very best in your people’s work, you may encounter resistance because doing their very best often requires hard work. On the other hand, if you permit your people to be less than their best, they sometimes don’t actively resist. So it sometimes seems that they would rather do less than their best. The leaders we remember most in our lives are the ones that push us.

RULE #3 – Ensure the monkey

Every monkey leaving you on the back of one of your people must be covered by one of two insurance policies:

  1. recommend, then act, or
  2. act, then advise.

When people have freedom, they will make mistakes. That’s why monkeys need to be insured. At times staff may want to take more risk but the safety and needs of the business need to take precedence.

Monkey insurance policies

  1. Recommend, and then act. If there is a high risk then the team member should be told to recommend, then get approval from the manager and then act.
  2. Act, and then advise. If there is little risk, then the team member can act and then advise the manager of the results. As team members get more proficient in their tasks this will happen more, but the responsibility has to be delegated from the manager to ensure safety.

RULE #4 – Check on the monkey:

Proper follow-ups mean healthier monkeys. Every monkey should have a check-up appointment. You must specify the time and place for follow-up. Monkeys sometimes develop unexpected problems and the process of discovering and correcting problems in meetings tends to:

  1. Lower the boss’s anxieties
  2. Develop people’s competence through coaching – which increases the boss’s confidence in their competence and further decreases his or her anxieties
  3. The coaching increases the odds that the boss will eventually be able to delegate to that person


Finally, some notes on when to delegate work and, in doing so, reduce the need to manage the monkeys. Managers should only delegate when they are confident that:

  1. The project is on the right track and staff know what has to be done
  2. Their people can successfully handle the project on their own
  3. That costs, timing, quantity and quality are acceptable
  4. That there is commitment from staff

Note: if you delegate without following these guidelines you will quickly find yourself the proud parent to a family (or troop) of monkeys.

By delegating effectively you give people responsibility, and this is the best way to develop responsibility in others.  It allows you to practice hands-off management as much as possible and hands-on management as much as necessary.

Next Steps

What are you going to do to manage your monkey?  For a free “Manage the Monkey” template to prioritize, re-assign and manage your monkeys please email andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au.

This overview is based on an article in HBR “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?” (1974).

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.

The “Salutary Science of Hierarchiology”

Managing the “Peter Principle” – Developing Key Leadership & Management Skills

by  Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

What are the risks of poor leaders, what are the key skills and capabilities a good leader needs to have, and how can you do this?


Effective leadership requires a blend of skills – commercial, relational, managerial and cognitive.  However, many organisations suffer from having leaders who lack these skills in full or part.  Often such leaders are victims of the “Peter Principle”.  It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle, a humorous treatise, which also introduced the “salutary science of hierarchiology.”

In summary, the Peter Principle assumes that people are promoted because they are competent, and that the tasks higher up in the hierarchy require skills or talents they do not possess. It concludes that due to this, a competent employee will eventually be promoted to, and remain at, a position at which he or she is incompetent.

An alternative version of this is the “Dilbert Principle”, a 1990s satirical observation by Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams which, by contrast, assumes that hierarchy just serves as a means for removing the incompetent to “higher” positions where they will be unable to cause damage to the workflow, assuming that the upper echelons of an organization have little relevance to its actual production, and that the majority of real, productive work in a company is done by people lower in the power ladder.  This is beautifully illustrated here and below.

The Dilbert Principle - Leadership

What We Need From Leaders

Whichever principle you subscribe to there is an underlying theme – leaders who lack the necessary skills, experience and insights can cause considerable damage to the business. This can happen even if the leader is acting in what he or she believes is the business’ best interests.

Leaders need to be able to listen and respond, be flexible, adaptive, and be able to develop innovative solutions whilst handling multiple and conflicting priorities.  The speed and complexity of business is becoming faster as is the rate of change in the business environment.  This means that important and significant decisions have to be made quickly, often with incomplete information, which can carry significant risks.  Leaders need to be able to handle this and more, they cannot rely on the skills that got them to their current position to keep them there – they need to grow themselves and develop new skills and capabilities on a continual basis.

From this it is clear that leaders and managers need a broad general management development that focuses on commercial, relational, managerial and cognitive capabilities. We need to ask some tough questions about how our organization is training its leaders and managers to develop these vital elements. Those responsible for commissioning, designing and/or delivering leadership and management training must ensure that programs move beyond task-related knowledge and skills and emphasize a fuller range of general management competencies that are needed to manage increasingly complex markets and business relationships.

Critical Leadership & Managerial Skills & Capabilities

We have identified four categories of skills and capabilities that leaders and managers need in this new environment: Commercial, Relational, Managerial, and Cognitive.  These comprise of 10 specific yet integrated skill sets that exist.  These are listed and detailed below:

Summary of Business Development Skills & Capabilities

Commercial Skills & Capabilities Financial Insight
Business Acumen
Customer Insight
Relational Skills & Capabilities Managing Relationships
Inspiring Trust
Managerial Skills & Capabilities People Management Skills
Openness to Change & Adaptability
Influencing Skills
Cognitive Skills & Capabilities Innovative Problem-Solving
Ability to Identify Opportunities

Commercial Skills & Capabilities

Financial Insight

This includes understanding the implications of the proposed work for the company – revenue, margins, profitability, cash flows and risks associated with the work and the associated opportunity costs.  It also includes the ability to forecast and analyse client work, budgeting and prioritizing the work accordingly. The leader needs to be able to identify, uncover and anticipate the financial aspects of current and proposed work in terms of being able to assess the costs associated with the status quo, the benefits and associated value of the work, and its impact and implications on the achieving key financial metrics and objectives.

Business Acumen

This is the ability to understand the implications of the technical/specialist work and how it applies to the client’s business at both the level of the work being done, and how it impacts other areas of the business and the business as a whole.  This includes being able to translate technical outcomes and benefits to those of the business, and to align them with the business’ objectives and goals and those of the economic buyer(s) within the client (the individual(s) who have the authority and budget for the work and who have a vested interest and responsibility for the outcomes of the work).

Customer Insight

The ability to understand the client and to adopt their perspective, ensuring that current and proposed work is aligned with the clients’ needs and requirements.  This includes having a good understanding of the client’s company, industry, competition and key trends.  This allows the company to orientate its positioning and work around the client, and ensure that the outcomes are aligned with the client’s needs.  This ensures the company is not focused what it does, but it focused on the outcomes the client needs (these are often not what the client wants).

Relational Skills & Capabilities

Managing Relationships

In complex business situations there is a need to be able to manage multi-level, multi-functional relationships to uncover, identify, develop and manage business opportunities.  Externally, the company needs to identify and address the economic buyer, key decision-makers and influencers and to understand their respective roles, interactions and what they need to progress the relationship, and how to build it according to their personal preferences. There is a need to ensure that the right people with the right technical and commercial skills are matched appropriately with their peers in the client’s organisation to ensure a proper communication flow, and for the company to integrate itself into the client organisation at multiple levels.  Furthermore, how to manage and influence stakeholders is key.

Inspiring Trust

Trust is the essential component to being able to uncover and win opportunities with clients, as well as maintaining and developing key stakeholder relationships.  This takes time and effort, and requires creating rapport, understanding and establishing common areas of interest where the individuals in the company can demonstrate and prove themselves as helpful, relevant and of use.

Managerial Skills & Capabilities

People Management Skills

Much of business-to-business selling is done via teams and cross-functionality.  There is a need to manage the demands on the company in internally managing the resources and people required in winning client business, and the ability to handle people and deal with conflict in doing so. Business is based on relationships, and the ability to both manage the people and the associated relationships is important.

Openness to Change & Adaptability

Businesses are subject to change at an accelerating rate.  This requires the company to be able to adapt and meet these changes to survive and thrive, and to maintain focus and direction as priorities change and create conflicts.  Leaders and managers need to anticipate and to facilitate this. Similarly, the company also has to manage the effect of changes within the client’s organisation (e.g. new key people joining, existing contacts leaving etc) and in its markets and industry (e.g. deferment of projects with a fall in market demand).  This requires leaders to be able to take a holistic view of the company’s opportunities and understanding how and when to address changes or anticipated changes.

Influencing Skills

Complex sales in the business-to-business environment frequently involve working with personnel from the client and third parties over whom the company has no formal authority or control.  The ability to influence and negotiate with such people, as well as with people within the company, is key to dealing with changes and driving successful client outcomes.

Cognitive Skills & Capabilities

Innovative Problem-Solving

More work is won by companies who think in terms of developing a solution to an emerging client problem.  Being able to uncover and anticipate problems, whilst creating an innovative solution which creates real value for the client, whilst avoiding the risks of the status quo, differentiates the company and drives business opportunities.  Being able to put structure to this approach, without compromising the level of innovation, and to leverage this throughout the company’s different departments and other clients provides growth opportunities.  Leaders need to create, build and sustain the environment to foster and develop this.

Ability to Identify Opportunities

With rapid change occurring so there are a plethora of opportunities that can be identified and exploited.  Many more can be identified working in conjunction with the clients.  Being able to identify, capture and prioritize these opportunities in conjunction with innovative problem-solving and excellence in managing relationships and people will strengthen the business.  Leaders need to identify such opportunities, prioritize them and resource them properly to ensure there is the optimal opportunity for success.

Next Steps

Applying the business development diagnostic across the four areas of Commercial, Relational, Managerial, and Cognitive is the start of the process which comprises of three steps.  These include:

1. Understand Your Organisation’s Business Development Skills & Capabilities

Understanding the importance and interdependencies of these 4 areas, and how your organisation’s leaders and managers overall rate in each of the 10 skills and competencies, is the first step to understand what foundation you have to build from and to allow you to address the gaps.

2.  Focus on Developing & Implementing the Required Skills

Once we have determined this we need to prioritise how we leverage and develop this skill base, and to determine which priorities to address first in achieving our business goals and desired outcomes. On-going assistance with actual business development opportunities helps to drive this, and improve both the skill level and understanding.

3. Maintain, Review and Improve

Creating an on-going process of continuous improvement in the area of business development, and extending the skills throughout the organisation helps to deliver better and more sustainable results.  Enabling those who have developed their leadership and management skills to achieve mastery is done by having them coach and mentor others in this area.  This helps to create a common approach to business development, establishes best practices across the organisation, and shared insights and experience.

What has been your experience of this? What issues have you had, and how have you resolved them?  How would you like to raise the performance of your managers and leaders?  Share your ideas, insights and experience here – someone, somewhere has resolved the problems you face, just as you have resolved ones that others face.

Share the knowledge, share the wealth!

To find out how Growth & Profit Solutions can help you in developing your leaders and their critical leadership and managerial skills please contact us as below.


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

5 Steps for Managing Delegated Work

The skill in delegating work comes after you have delegated it

Now you have delegated work you need to make sure it gets done. Just because you have delegated the work does not mean it will automatically get done how or when you want to.


Follow these five steps to help you manage your delegated work more effectively:

  1. Assign the task to one person.Don’t assign the task to multiple people, just one person who will be responsible. Get them to confirm that they understand the assignment and have accepted responsibility for it.  A good way of doing this is to ask them to share with you what they understand the assignment is, and to ask them, explicitly, if they will be responsible for this. Until this is done, the hand-off is not complete.
  2. Articulate a specific outcome. In other words, what exactly are you expecting the other person to deliver to you or for you? I always start the assignment with a verb (e.g., “Call,” “Notify,” “Write,” “Order,” etc.) and finish it with an objective “deliverable” (such as a report, email list, agenda, meeting etcetera). You have to be able to tell whether the task was completed as assigned.
  3. Include your delivery timetable. Some projects have hard fast deadlines. For example, I might tell someone I need a task done by “the close of business on Friday.” Others are not as time sensitive. I might say I need a task done, “anytime in the next two weeks.” Regardless, you have to express your expectations and be clear.
  4. Make yourself available for consultation. You want to be a resource, but you don’t want to micro-manage the other person. The best way to do this is to stay focused on the outcome rather than the process. I personally don’t care how the other person gets the job done (assuming it is ethical); I only care about the end-result.
  5. Track the delegated task on a to-do list. This is crucial. Not everyone you delegate to will have a good task management system in place. Perhaps those directly under your supervision will—because you trained them—but what about the others?

Doing this will save you time, effort and make you more effective when delegating.


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,

Why Motivation Alone Is Not Enough & What Else You Need

The Motivation Trap

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Why motivation alone is not enough, you need more…

Imagine what would happen if your favorite football team took the field and the ONLY training they received in the last 8 months had been sitting in a room. Within the room, they’d be listening to legends of the game motivate them on what it takes to win and being shown presentations of what past champions have done by way of plays / strategies?

No practice drills, No fitness sessions, No practice games, No one-to-one coaching, No individual goals being set, No reviews of previous games and No new techniques.

Impossible task to win isn’t it. Logically it just doesn’t make sense to receive valuable motivation to change without then putting it in the right context and following it up with the hard work required to put strategies and actions in place to achieve the desired outcome.

However this is what countless businesses, teams and individuals do each day when it comes to their professional development and approach to change at present. And then they wonder why they are not getting the success they are looking for, and they continue in the same way yet expecting a different result.  As Einstein described it, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results”.

To understand why this occurs in professional development you need to look at human behavior.

At the end of the day it is much easier when it comes to professional development to be entertained by a motivational speaker (with many sitting at the back of the room responding to emails and chatting on social media these days!) than sitting down and slogging away developing clever strategies/actions in order to adapt your business. While there are terrific benefits for your professional development by listening to great speakers who provide the motivation to change and thought leadership to be innovative; the problem arises when the balance is 80% motivation and 20% strategy/action.

Many business advisors when providing advice to clients give in to this dynamic and only provide their clients what they ‘want’ – the quick fixes and magic bullet solutions. However clients need to be challenged as to what they really ‘need’ to achieve their desired objectives, and good business advisors will do this and challenge their client to ensure the thinking is robust, objective and underlying the real needs of the client.  As such the business advisor provides a balanced package where they become part consultant, part facilitator, part psychologist and part motivator as they customize their approach to deliver the outcomes their client desires.

The statistics are well known that 70% of change initiatives fail. There are countless business models on change and a myriad of great books about change such as Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. Each model, book or guru essentially brings achieving successful change back to three core factors being:

  1. The right motivation / desire to do something different
  2. The clarity to your vision / direction in order to head down the right path
  3. The robustness to your strategies / actions to ensure your team can implement effectively while in the right environment for change.

At GPS we state that if you scored yourself out of 10 for each of these three factors (where 1 is very low and 10 is very high), multiplied them together and then looked at it as a percentage you need a score of at least 64% (so 640 out of 1000) to successfully make the change occur. We call this your ‘change potential’.

Reflecting back to our football analogy, imagine in that example your team scored a 10 for motivation, a 2 for vision and a 1 for strategy. Their score would be 20 out of 1000 or 2% change potential. Nothing would change.

Having balance in professional development across all three areas is critical for success. Motivation alone while easiest to obtain, won’t get you far.

What has worked or not worked for you? Share your knowledge, share the wealth!


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

The Importance of Trust & How To Address a Lack of It

The Must of Trust

How trust underpins business, how to gain it, and the costs of losing it

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Hard to earn, and easy to lose – trust underpins business and all our relationships, professional or personal.  It is a must. So how can leaders accelerate the trust that they can engender from others.  What can we do to improve the speed of trust?

Building TrustThe most effective way for a person to build trust is, through their behaviour; to demonstrate their ability and capacity to keep their commitments.  In doing this the individual needs to keep to the process of Make, Keep and Repeat – continually keeping commitments builds trust makes things happen faster, with less stress and makes things more enjoyable. This can be risky for managers to do but it helps them to build trust quickly and efficiently – especially in difficult situations.

Make, Keep and Repeat

So let’s look at the power of each step:

1. Make – making public a clear, defined commitment that is specific, measurable and has a clear date set to it.  This removes ambiguity and holds you to a commitment to which you can be held accountable.  Yes, you as the manager or leader are making yourself accountable to your reports or peers. Making a commitment builds hope.

2. Keep – demonstrating the fact that you have met your clearly articulated commitment as previously defined.  You need to actively publicize this.  People need to know that you have done this; you cannot assume that they will know because you have done it.  Furthermore, proving that you are keeping your commitments gives you right to expect them to reciprocate i.e. they will make, keep and repeat in terms of their own commitments.

3. Repeatthis develops consistency, belief in you, and proof that your actions mirror your words.  When people see a discrepancy between what you say and what you do, they will always follow what you do.  By repeating this process you are establishing and creating an avatar for others to model their behaviours on.

Extending Trust

A good way to increase trust is to trust others.  Trust is usually reciprocated –the more you give, the more you get.  So if management doesn’t trust, then it cannot expect to be trusted.  In doing this you give trust smartly, not blindly.

“Trust Taxes”

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 these taxes 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 the retailer 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.

How Does Management Address a Lack of Trust?

1. Frame it in economic terms

The issues of trust, or rather the lack of it, needs to be framed in economic terms, otherwise it will become a ‘nice to have’ initiative, not an economic issue.  What is the impact of speed and cost on every dimension of the company; ask yourself if you could improve it then what would the impact be e.g. in innovation, execution, or strategy.

2. Make trust a specific objective

Make so it is not seen as a nice by-product, but rather as a way of improving which inspires trust and confidence.

3. Focus on instilling practicing and applying the behaviours that engender trust in the company.

It is not just the softer behaviours, but also the harder results, that help to drive results.  People need to be seen to be performing and being credible, this gives trust, and helps to drive it.

Trust is key for driving good business, and for avoiding the costly implications of the seven “trust taxes”.  Build trust for yourself, for your managers, reports and peers within your company and for those with whom you have relationships (or want a trusting relationship). To do this Make Commitments, Keep Commitments and Repeat.

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

Why What Got You Here Won’t Get You There!

Why what got you here won’t get you there!

Are any of these scenarios familiar to you?

  • You’ve been recently promoted.
  • You’re in the same job you were in a year ago, but the scope is a lot bigger today than it was then.
  • You’re working in an organization where the performance bar has been raised dramatically.
  • You’re operating in a constantly changing competitive environment.

I expect you are in a position where you could easily pick two, three or four of these options.  The question is, what do they have in common?  The answer is that you are in a different situation in which you need to get different results. You can no longer do what you always did to get what you always got. In short, you need to change.

The problem with change is that we don’t always like to or want to change. Also, if we have been successful in the past then it can be difficult to change our behavior as we believe it is our past behavior that has made us successful. However, these same behaviors can now be an impediment to us with our being successful in spite of our behavior rather than because of our behavior.

In dealing with this are two things to identify:

  • What behaviors do you need to stop?
  • What behaviors do you need to change to be a more effective leader?

In doing this you cannot depend on your own intuition.  An interesting piece of research found that leaders, when comparing themselves to their peers, consistently over-rated their contribution with 80% of all leaders surveyed seeing themselves in the top 20% of performers, and 70% seeing themselves in the top 10% of all performers.  To get a realistic understanding of what you need to improve on as a leader you need to objective input from your stakeholders. These are the people who are involved with you and impacted by your behavior – your boss, your peers and your reports.

To find out more how you can do this email Andrew Cooke and find out more about the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centred Coaching process for executive coaches and successful leaders.

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.

The Only 2 Ways of Making Money

Is the whole greater than the sum of the parts anymore?

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

When we look at some of the changes brought about by changes in technology we find that it has effectively, and literally, taken products, institutions and industries apart. In essence it has unbundled them. Unbundling is the process of taking something and breaking it down to its constituent parts so they can be sold and acquired separately rather than just as part of the whole.

Music is a good example. It used to be that if you liked a band’s new song you could buy it on a 45 record. The song you wanted was on the ‘A’ side and on the ‘B’ side would be another song – usually not worth listening to. If you wanted the one song, you had to buy the other. When the band released its next album you would have to buy the LP record or CD, this effectively bundled all the tracks together whether you wanted them or not. More recently we had the development of companies such as Napster which enabled you to download individual songs – unbundling what was previously bundled together. This has gone further with streaming through Spotify and similar companies, where you can choose what you want and play it immediately.

This process of bundling and unbundling has affected every industry, and it is an on-going dynamic.

Low-cost airlines allow you to book your seat, and have unbundled all the other offerings allowing you to select what you want. So, if you want, you pay for seats with extra leg-room, for headsets, for in-flight entertainment, for food, for drinks, for luggage, for pillows, for blankets. Michael Leary, CEO of Ryanair based in Dublin, once joked (?) about charging people to use the toilet on flights.

Other companies have gone the other way, from having a series of different offerings that were purchasable independently of each other, to being bundled together. For example, Microsoft sells its desktop products as a bundle in Microsoft Office at a significant discount to the price if you bought the same set of products separately.

We tend to cycle through a time of bundling and unbundling our offerings depending on our product portfolio, the level of competition, and changes in customer needs, technology, the industry and the general business environment.

Look at your products and services and ask yourself are there other ways you can make them available to your customers?  Can you unbundle all these things and sell them separately successfully? Or can you bring all the things you sell separately and bundle them together and sell that successfully?

Aristotle said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but he may not be right for much longer.

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