Lessons from Disneyland

Build your map and build value

Have you ever been to Disneyland?  Millions of people, children and adults alike, have visited it and enjoyed its magic and experienced the wonder it has engendered. But did you know it nearly didn’t happen?

When Walt Disney first tried to get financial backing for his project – the future Disneyland – his own studio refused to fund it. So what did Walt Disney do?

He sent his brother, Ray, to meet with potential investors in New York. Imagine going to meet with potential investors to sell the concept of Disneyland – a concept that was new, unknown and untested. However, Walt Disney did not send his brother unarmed or empty-handed – he equipped him with a map of what Disneyland would look like.

Figure 1 – The Original Map for Disneyland

The map of Disneyland allowed Walt and Ray Disney to share the vision with their potential investors, it made the idea tangible for them, and provided them with a path that they could follow to see where this concept would lead it to.

Maps provide a point of reference for you and others, a guide to how you will achieve your vision, and a way by which people can align their interests and effort by creating buy-in and engagement. They reduce risk and provide a yardstick that you can measure your progress against.

What is the map that you have drawn, or have to draw, that you need to share with your stakeholders – your staff, your customers, your suppliers, your investors and shareholders, and your community. And when you have your map – how will you share it and communicate so it aligns their needs, interests and actions with those that you need?

The first map illustrating the Disneyland concept recently sold for over USD $1 million at auction. What will your map be worth to you in the future?

 

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

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

3 Reasons Why the Customer is NOT Always Right!

3 reasons why the customer is not always right

One of the oldest adages for customer experience and customer service is “The customer is always right!”.

Sorry, I don’t hold with that. Why? People assume that it is better to keep a customer rather than alienate a customer. But often this is not the best decision to make.

I want to distinguish between two types of customers – those who buy products and those who buy services.  There is a key difference between them – products are fixed and tangible; services are experiential.  In short, products are about hand-offs and hand-overs, and services are about handshakes. Be clear on what you are dealing with – the product or the service.

So when is the customer NOT right? Simply put, there are three times.

Firstly, when the customer is not a customer. Just because someone has bought from you does not mean that they are a suitable customer, or that they are someone you want to have and keep as a customer. Think of a time you had the “customer from hell” where the cost, stress and effort involved in servicing the client was not worthwhile. What did you do? Keep them and continue to suffer or let them go?

Secondly, when the customer is wrong. Yes, they are human and fallible and prone to making mistakes just as often as you and I. Just because they believe they are right does not mean that they are right. Think of a time when you believed you were right, but when you considered the situation further you found that you were wrong. Caving-in to a customer just because they think they are right does damage in two ways – the customer is kept uninformed and unaware of the risks/costs they are incurring; and you are doing the wrong thing by the customer, it may be a difficult conversation but you need to act in the customer’s best interests and educate them.

Finally, when you are right. You should be an expert and experienced in regards what you are selling to your customers – whether products or services – and you should be able to distinguish between when you are right or not. Just because a client is more vocal or aggressive in what they are saying or claiming does not diminish you or your expertise. Be assertive and calmly state the position whilst staying focused on the issue and not the individual.

So what are you going to do when the customer is not right, and how will you handle the situation? Share here the one action you will take, right now, to address this.

To find out more about how to attract the right prospects, convert them into great customers and deliver great results for you and your clients in building a sustainable business please click here.

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.

3 Insights to Being Successfully Self-Employed

What you need to know to be successful

So you are self-employed or you are looking to take the plunge and become self-employed.

Why?

Being employed is often seen as a safe and secure way by which to live your life. But is it what you want? Increasingly, job security and tenure is becoming less certain. Even so, people are loathe to make the move from what they know to that which they do not know.

Being self-employed can give you freedom, but with freedom comes with choice and with choice comes responsibility. Being self-employed does not necessarily bring you independence. Believe me, I have been there!

Being self-employed means taking responsibility for what you do and for what you don’t do, for what you achieve and what you do not achieve. At the end of the day it is what you do that matters. You may not be able to control everything around you or what happens to you, but you can always choose how you respond.

If you want to be self-employed and independent here are three things to be clear on:

  1. Your passion – what is your passion, that which underpins you and is you, which inspires you and can inspire others?
  2. Your goalsusing your passion, what do you want to achieve for yourself, for others and what legacy do you want to create or leave?
  3. Your planhow you will make it sustainable? What do you need to do to ensure you can continue to do this on an on-going basis? What do you need to earn? Who do you need to involve? What resources, capabilities or capacity do you need to be able to access?

To be self-employed and independent you need to take control, to drive from the front where you can see you are going and focus on where you need to go. To guide you use your passion, your goals, and your plan to help you build something that you love, that lasts and leaves a legacy.

So what are you going to do if you are self-employed, or you are looking to be self-employed? Share here the one action you will take, right now, to address this.

To find out more about how to build your own business and to attract the right prospects, convert them into great customers and deliver great results for you and your clients in building a sustainable business please click here.

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.

Managing Conflict Successfully, Using the Conflict Strategies Matrix

Four key strategies to use when managing conflict, and when to use them

When assessing what strategy to use in managing the conflict there are two key criteria:

  • the importance of the outcome and
  • the importance of the relationship.

Their relative importance will vary with each situation.

The four quadrants in the above matrix are:

  • Detachment/Disinterest. You don’t care about the outcome or the relationship.
  • Accommodation/Appeasement. Keeping the relationship going is far more important to you than achieving your personal goal.  In this kind of conflict, you may accommodate the other person’s interests. Accommodation approaches can be habit forming. Being flexible about your personal goals is important, but putting yourself second to all others can be an ineffectual stance.
  • Tough-Love Negotiation. You place equally high value on your goal and the relationship. These conflicts are often difficult as you look to create a ‘win-win’ situation.
  • Goal-Centered Negotiation. You don’t care whether the other person likes you, whether the relationship continues or how badly the other person feels; you just want to win. You are prepared to forgo the relationship

In managing conflict you need to be aware of and develop the necessary cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills that will allow you think, calm down, slow down and engage with the conflict constructively.

When faced with conflict, people respond in a variety of ways. They think about what is happening. They experience emotional reactions that are influenced by the ways they view and how they interpret the conflict. Finally, they also take action to address the concerns that the conflict raises.

Three other factors that will influence your style of handling conflict: power, emotionality and time.

  • Power. The extent to which a person has power will vary with the context of the situation, and the relative of the power of the others involved in the conflict. These interactions will affect how the conflict is handled. People derive their power, both formally and informally, through five main sources:
    • Reward power: using compensation to drive people to accomplish more than expected.
    • Coercive power: convincing people to do things against their will.
    • Legitimate power:  using their role  or position  within an organization to garner respect.
    • Expert power: exercising influence because they are viewed as knowledgeable in an area.
    • Referent power: compelling people to act in a certain way because they are attracted to you or want to be like you.
  • Emotionality. Certain strategies are typically accompanied by more expressed emotion, and certain emotions can influence which strategies we use. For example, tough-love is hard requiring the ability to express, tolerate and manage emotions.
  • Time. Here we find ourselves having to cope with what is important and what is urgent.  Often people fall victim to a sense of urgency and compromise on what is important.  For example, you may lack the time you need to involve everyone and gain their commitment in managing a conflict.  Time, especially the lack of it, can change the dynamics of the conflict.

Being aware of these different strategies is important in two ways – firstly, it helps you determine what kind of strategies you want to adopt in managing the conflict; secondly, it provides you a tool by which to assess what strategies the other party may adopt.

Try these three steps in developing insights in situations where you currently experience conflict:

Step 1: For yourself: where are you now and where do you want to be?  Mark it out on the matrix.

Step 2: For the other party(s): where are they now and where do you them to be?  Mark it out on the matrix.

Step 3: What do you need to do to move each other to a suitable location on the matrix that will create a “win-win” situation? Identify the key strategies and actions.

What have you found out and what will you do?

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.

Using Executive Coaching to Grow

How executive coaching can help you in your business

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

learn leadExecutive coaching is a next evolutionary step in the development of leaders. Historically, leadership development was largely focused on participants’ involvement in training programs. These programs were all based upon one completely invalid assumption—if they understand, they will do.

Wrong!

In the United States the diet industry is worth about $59 billion per year, with over 50% of Americans on some type of diet – yet 95% of dieters fail. That means the market just keeps churning: people lose weight, gain it again, and go right back to the diet industry to search for another solution.  Everyone who buys diet books makes the same assumption as everyone who goes to training programs: If I understand how to go on a diet, I will do it.

Wrong again!

You don’t lose weight by reading diet books. You lose weight by actually going on a diet—and sticking with it.  You don’t improve yourself by attending training programs, you only improve by actually applying what you learn on a consistent basis.

Extensive research involving more than 86,000 participants in leadership development programs from eight major corporations found that if leaders attend training programs, but then don’t discuss what they learn with co-workers and follow up to ensure continued progress—they improve no more than by random chance. In other words, they might just as well have been watching sitcoms all day!  Those who do apply what they have learned do get better. Yet many don’t!

Why do so many leaders attend training programs and then end up making no real change? The answer is seldom because of a lack of values or a lack of intelligence. The reason why many leaders don’t apply what they learn in traditional training when they’re “back on the job” is that they are buried in work. Leaders in major corporations today work harder than leaders have worked in the past 50 years. They feel trapped in an endless sea of e-mails, voice mails, and requests. They worry about global competition. The job security that they may have felt in the past is a distant memory. They barely have time to meet the minimum requirements of their jobs—much less focus on their long-term development as leaders.

Executive coaches can help leaders bridge the huge gap between understanding what to do and actually doing it. Your coach is a person who sticks with you over time and makes sure that you do what you know you should do, but have a tendency to “put off until tomorrow”—a tomorrow that (without help) may never come.

So why do CEOs prefer to work with external executive coaches rather than coach their leaders themselves? There are four good reasons:

  1. They don’t like dealing with behavioral issues, so their motivation is very low;
  2. They lack the ability to coach well
  3. They lack time
  4. It is more efficient and effective to have an objective outsider involved, rather than take up a leader’s valuable time which is in short supply

In today’s corporate world, the stakes have gone up, the pressure has gone up, and the need to develop great leaders has gone up. The time available for executives to do this has diminished. Coaching can help high-potential leaders become great leaders! In doing so, coaching helps you to develop the skills, capabilities, and bandwidth of your people to lead, manage and develop others.

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

Understanding How Others Respond – And the Implications

Understand how people can react – whether they take control of themselves, or abdicate responsibility…

There is a simple, but useful tool that helps you to understand how people respond to situations, and to anticipate their likely behavior. It can also help you identify those who are likely to be winners and losers. This tool is called the Locus of Control.

Everyone wants to know what separates winners from losers? One of the significant factors limiting the attainment of your vision is the degree to which you believe you are in control of your destiny. Your locus of control can be internal or external. You can have a combination of both but normally one will outweigh the other.  So what are the differences between an internal Locus of Control and an external Locus of Control, and how can you identify them?

  • External Locus of Control – listening to what you say, or your team members, when talking about your business and your life. If you hear things like, “I would have been successful but the economy turned sour” or “I got caught by a pile of bad debts so I had to close the business down” you or they have an external locus of control. People with an external locus of control blame the external factors for their failure.
  • Internal Locus of Control – people with an internal locus of control feel that they can influence the issues around them. You’ll hear them say things like “I misjudged the market so I put on too many people which ended up costing me a packet of money” or “I found that my skills weren’t sufficient to handle the negotiation”.

Get into the habit of listening to the people to determine whether they have an internal or external locus of control. Of course, those who have an external locus are the ones who find it difficult to change. It’s always someone else’s fault or responsibility.

If you are setting up a team or looking at staffing make sure you have plenty of people with an internal locus of control. In simple terms, a person with an external locus of control is problem focused, while a person with an internal locus of control is solution focused. Remember, you will always find what you are looking for. Sometimes you find that by teaching someone about the locus of control and helping them to change their own mindset they can change from having an external locus of control to an internal locus of control.

There is little point in developing a focused and aggressive business strategy if you are surrounded by people who believe that the Government, their people, and even their customers are conspiring against them. You are defeated before you start. How can this be resolved?  By having people with an internal locus of control!

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,

How to Hire for Attitude, Not Just Aptitude

How attitude is a good predictor of prospective employee success, and how you can identify those with the right attitude for your business.

The top challenge for CEOs according to a survey from the Conference Board (January 2013) is Human Capital – the ability to develop and acquire the right people, with the right skills needed to take the business to the next level.  But skills alone are not enough.

“Hire for Attitude, Train for Aptitude”

This is an old mantra which, if ignored, can be costly.  Companies I have worked with have found that recruiting people with the right skills can be costly if they do not have the right ‘attitude’, where there is a lack of ‘fit’.  This is reflected in a study by Leadership IQ of over 20,000 new hires over 3 years which found that 46% of the people about to be hired will fail within the first 18 months on the job. And they won’t fail for lack of skills but rather for lack of attitude.

Top 5 Reasons for Why New Hires Failed

The following are the top areas of failure (i.e., were terminated, left under pressure, received disciplinary action or significantly negative performance reviews):

  • Coachability (26%): the lack of ability to accept and implement feedback from bosses, colleagues, customers and others.
  • Emotional Intelligence (23%): the lack of ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, and accurately assess others’ emotions.
  • Motivation (17%): insufficient drive to achieve one’s full potential and excel in the job.
  • Temperament (15%): attitude and personality not suited to the particular job and work environment.
  • Technical Competence (11%): functional or technical skills required to do the job.

The key point from this is that when new hires fail, and 46% of them will, 89% of the time it’s because of attitude and only 11% of the time because of skill.

As such, the key predictor of a new hire’s success or failure is their attitude, not their skills.  As such we need to be clear on what attitude we are hiring for. To do this requires two steps:

  • Define the Specific Attitudes – what are the attitudes that make your business different from the rest.  This is both in terms of what is good (which you want) and what is bad (which you want to avoid).
  • Adapting the Hiring & Interviewing Process – you need to make sure that you focus on these attitudes, so adapt how you do this as appropriate.

How Do We Do This?

Define the Specific Attitudes

Attitudes in themselves are not visible or tangible.  Where they are made apparent is in people’s behaviors.  How people behave is an active display of their attitudes.  Their behavior should also be a reflection of the business’ core values which provides guidance to people in the business.  A good example of how the core values are made tangible, and the expected behavior (and hence attitudes) is shown below.

The US Marine Corp

The US Marine Corps has Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.  The concept of these core values runs throughout all aspects of Marine life, beginning in recruit training and continuing into combat. These “warrior ethos” provide guidance to Marines in difficult ethics situations and as a reminder to provide good order and discipline. These values are defined as:

  • Honor – integrity, responsibility and accountability.
  • Courage – do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons.
  • Commitment – devotion to the Corps and my fellow Marines.

Adapting the Hiring & Interviewing Process

Too often, when interviewing, we focus on prospective employees’ technical skills and competencies.  Why?  They are the easiest to assess but, as we have seen, they are a very poor predictor of the success or failure of a new employee.

When you look at jobs being advertised the experience, skills, and qualification that are detailed it can be seen that the business advertising the position has the expectation that a perfect candidate will apply.  This is about as far from reality as you can get.  Realistically, there is no ‘perfect candidate’ and, as such, there can only be attitudes that are right for your business – they will never be perfect.

Tests for Finding the ‘Right’ Attitudes

  • High Performers’ Test – what are the distinguishing attitudinal characteristics of your top performers.  List up to 10 responses that reflect your business.  For example:
    • They own the problem.
    • They always see problems as opportunities.
    • They are great listeners and communicators.
    • Etcetera.
  • Low Performers’ Test – what are the distinguishing attitudinal characteristics of your low performers.  List up to 10 responses that reflect your business.  These are not just the opposite of the attitudinal characteristics that make a high performer. For example:
    • They avoid responsibility and are quick to blame.
    • They focus on themselves rather than others.
    • They do the bare minimum work required.
    • Etcetera.

Once you’ve got your two lists, conduct a quick assessment to make sure every point is on target. This can be done by asking yourself the following two questions about each attitude listed:

  • How does this attitude add value or competitive advantage to this organization? (If the attitude brings no benefit to the organization, it doesn’t belong on the list).
  • Who cares about this attitude? (If the attitude doesn’t bring benefit to your customers, it doesn’t belong on the list)

Doing this provides insight into both what you want and what you don’t want in the terms of attitudes and the associated behaviors.  It then helps you to prepare for the interview by focusing on how they respond to questions around both these areas.  However, how the questions are phrased is just as important as what the question is.  You need to develop the question with the kind of response that you are looking for in mind.  But that is a separate article.

In summary, be clear on what values, attitudes and behaviors you want in your business, and which you want your new employees to exemplify in what they do and how they do it.  Get clarity by distinguishing the attitudinal characteristics of both your top and low performers – this helps you to identify what you want from a potential employee, and what you don’t want.  Around this then adapt your interview and hiring process to ask the kind of questions that will help you elicit answers which will help you determine the prospective employee’s values, attitudes, and behaviors.  Take this into account when you look at their technical skills, as it is their attitude that is a predictor of their skills – not their technical skills and competencies.

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,