Empowering Your Employees to Empower Themselves

How to create an environment that empowers people.

As a manager or leader, do you let your people assume more responsibility when they are able? Do you know when that is, or do you keep telling yourself that they aren’t ready yet?In my travels from organization to organization, I talk with thousands of people every year who want to be treated as “partners” rather than as employees. They want information to flow up as well as down. But, oftentimes, leaders do not want to give up control.

Marshall Goldsmith, the world’s leading CEO, tells a story of a CEO he knew who was the leader of one of the world’s largest global organizations. This CEO received feedback that he was too stubborn and opinionated. He learned that he needed to do a better job of letting others to make decisions and to focus less on being right himself. He practiced this simple technique for one year: before speaking, he would take a breath and ask himself, “Is it worth it?” He learned that 50% of the time his comments may have been right on, but they weren’t worth it. He quickly began focusing more on empowering others and letting them take ownership and commitment for decisions, and less on his own need to add value.

Your employees understand their jobs. They know their tasks, roles, and functions within the organization, and it’s time for you to let them do what they need to do to get the job done. But there is a critical point that is often missed: It isn’t possible for a leader to “empower” someone to be accountable and make good decisions. People have to empower themselves. Your role is to encourage and support the decision-making environment and to give employees the tools and knowledge they need to make and act upon their own decisions. By doing this, you help your employees reach an empowered state.

The process does take longer — employees will only believe they are empowered when they are left alone to accomplish results over a period of time — but it’s effective and worth the time. If a company has a history of shutting down or letting go of initiators, for instance, the leader can’t just tell employees, “You are empowered to make decisions.”

Part of building an empowering environment is dependent on the leader’s ability to run interference on behalf of the team. The leader needs to make sure people are safe doing their jobs. To make sure this happens, an ongoing discussion of the needs, opportunities, tasks, obstacles, projects, what is working and what is not working is absolutely critical to the development and maintenance of a “safe” working environment. You are likely to spend a lot of time in dialogue with other leaders, employees, team members, and peers.

Following are a few things leaders can do to build an environment that empowers people.

1. Give power to those who have demonstrated the capacity to handle the responsibility.

2. Create a favorable environment in which people are encouraged to grow their skills.

3. Don’t second-guess others’ decisions and ideas unless it’s absolutely necessary. This only undermines their confidence and keeps them from sharing future ideas with you.

4. Give people discretion and autonomy over their tasks and resources.

Successful leaders and managers today are willing to exercise their leadership in such a way that their people are empowered to make decisions, share information, and try new things. Most employees (future leaders) see the value in finding empowerment and are willing to take on the responsibilities that come with it. If future leaders have the wisdom to learn from the experience of present leaders, and if present leaders have the wisdom to build an environment that empowers people, both will share in the benefits.

There are much more things that leaders can do to build and environment that empowers people. Please send any ideas you have. I would love to hear them!

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.

Five Strategies for Growing Successfully

Not all growth is good growth, five tips to help you ensure that growth is good

Do you want to grow your business?  If so, do you know how you are going to grow the business?  And are you aware of the difference between good growth and bad growth?

People often want to grow for growth’s own sake.  This is more about taking on risk than taking on growth.

Strategy 1: Control Your Growth

You need to manage growth, not have it manage you.  I suspect more companies have failed through poorly managed and unplanned growth than any other reason.  At times you will also want to slow growth to allow you to “catch up” with yourself.  Fast and successful growth is rare.  You need to be able to absorb the lessons you learn as you grow and incorporate them into your next steps.  In doing this you also need to consider some of the risks that are associated with poorly controlled growth, these include:

  • Cash flow risks – growth consumes cash, and rapid growth consumes cash rapidly. If you are not careful you can find yourself with insufficient cash to cover your operating costs; you also run the risk of trading whilst insolvent.  It only requires one unexpected cost or one delayed customer payment to push you over the edge.
  • Operational crunch – to produce the volume required to support your growth can be difficult.  Equipment and/or people have to operate beyond what is practical, and things start to come apart at the seams with increasing inefficiencies and attendant risks.
  • Poor customer service – you have more customers to look after and not always the available people or resources to do so.
  • Rapid expenditure – with more orders coming in you may be tempted to spend more on people, infrastructure, and resources.  You want to invest, but not over-invest or leave yourself exposed.
  • People risks – existing people will be worried about the rapid changes, stressed by an increasing workload, exhausted by an expanded role for which they may not be suitable or experienced, and worried if you will be able to pay them each month.  St the time you need them most you may find your best people, who are the most marketable, may leave.
  • Decision-making changeswith rapid growth people need to step back from an operational focus to a leadership role.  There is a risk that leaders can become disconnected from what is happening at the front-line and make decisions based on the incomplete or inaccurate information.
  • Leadership shortfalls – people who may be operationally adept may lack the necessary leadership skills, business acumen or interpersonal skills to lead effectively.  This can cause problems and compound existing risks.

Strategy 2: Go for Good Growth, Avoid Bad Growth

Good growth is aligned with your purpose and what you are trying to achieve.  Bad growth is not aligned.  Often the problem of bad growth is that you are prepared to take a short-term gain but sacrifice the long-term future.  For example, taking on a big client who has a poor reputation for paying on time leads to serious cash flow issues later and takes a disproportionate amount of your precious time in managing the relationship and fire-fighting. This can also impact your team, lower morale and create stress and pressure.

Make sure that what you do, who you partner with, and who you sell to are aligned.  Good growth is about servicing the need of selected and targeted clients – not any client with a checkbook.  For good growth, you need to say no to opportunities to keep focused and aligned.

Strategy 3: Growth Means Letting Go

If you want to grow you need to prune back.  As the demands and needs of your business change so I remember, as a child, playing on the monkey bars.  The only way you can forward on the monkey bars is to let go with one hand, swing forward, and grasp the next rung. So you need to repeat it to get to the other end. Business is just the same. Let go to grow.

Strategy 4: Lead Your Growth

Growth is about change, and change is about leadership, not management. You need to lead your people and share with them the answers to three questions:

  • What are we changing from and why?
  • What are we changing to and why?
  • How are we going to do this?

Doing this remove any vagueness or information vacuums which can cause stress and rumors and stories (often inaccurate) in an attempt to fill the gap.

Strategy 5: Go Slowly

Business is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Paradoxically, by going slower you will get there faster – and with your risks better managed, and you be better prepared for them.

To grow, and to grow profitably, control your growth, go for good growth, let go to move forward, lead your people to growth and to grow well grow slow.

Please feel free to re-tweet, re-blog, email and share this article with others who may find it of use or interest.

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 the Value-Price Seesaw to Make More Money

Price is what you pay, the value is what you get! – Warren Buffett

Are your prices too low? Are you not getting paid enough? Do your customers do not appreciate what you do for them?

Why is this? Whose fault is it? I can tell you the answer – and you probably won’t like it! If your prices are too low then it is your fault.  Yes, yours and no-one else’s. So, you need to do something about it!

I know this is not a “cool” thing to say, but let’s not waste time making excuses for ourselves or our lack of effective action.  You may be in a difficult and competitive market, but that does not mean you try to compete with everyone on price.  It is easy to find people who cave-in to external pressure, but there are plenty of companies out there who are doing a roaring trade in exactly the same environment. Don’t look for reasons not to act or to act half-heartedly, but look for reasons to act boldly and decisively.

The problems when you compete on price are multi-fold and include:

  1. You position yourself as a commodity – you become something that is easily replaced for something else or something similar. This just makes you part of the herd and you end up following the herd blindly.
  2. You lack leadership – if you are following others on their pricing then you are abdicating responsibility for your pricing, and you deserve everything you get. You may have competitors who price very low, but that does not mean that they are winning good business, that they are profitable or that the business is sustainable. Follow them and you could be one of the lemmings that follow them over the cliff!
  3. You are on a race to the bottom – as a commodity, all that distinguished you from your competition is your price. Everything else, in the perception of the customer (and that is what matters) is the same or irrelevant. Competing on price works in a downward spiral, and it is a race to the bottom where the bodies of all those who have not survived await you.

So how do you get over the problem of competing on price? The answer is don’t compete on price!

Creating Value

Value is what your customer will pay you for that they value (not what you think your customer will value). What customers value are those things that you do for them, not what you do. That is those things within your offering which address their pains and helps them achieve the gains they seek.

What you want to do is create lots and lots of value. In short, there is a clear relationship between the price you can realize and the value you create for your customer. This is shown in the Value-Price Seesaw DiagramTM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: The Price-Value SeesawTM

From this diagram you can see there is a clear and simple relationship between price and value. Low value will result in your only being able to achieve a low price. To quote, “Price is only an issue when there is an absence of value”.

If you want to charge a high price then you need to stack on the value as much as you can to push the seesaw in the right direction. Stack it up with as much value as you can, and then add more. Remember, value is perceived by the customer. So, make sure what you do for your customer is addressing their needs in a strong manner and that they perceive you are doing this, this way you position yourself strongly and you also differentiate yourself.

Creating high value separates you from the herd and makes you more visible and attractive to existing and prospective customers. It makes it easier for them to choose you, and harder for your competitors to take customers from you.

What is of value for you from this article?  What is the one action you will take, today, as a result of this to address your pricing?

If you would be interested in a 15-minute Pricing Improvement Strategy Session to identify your 3 key actions to address then click here, or if you would like a copy of the free  Pricing Improvement Cheat Sheet then email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au with “Pricing Improvement Strategy Session” or “Pricing Improvement Cheat Sheet” in the subject line and I’ll send you the details by return.

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.

5 Ways to Build Emotional Connection with your Customers

 

If you want to reap the benefits of having a strong emotional connection with your customers here are the feelings you need to generate in them, and the questions you can ask to help you do this.

Generate the following feelings in your customers: Do this by asking the following questions:
1.    Stand out from the crowd ·         How do they want to feel in being special and apart from others?

·         How will you help them achieve this?

2.    Have a sense of belonging ·         How will you build their sense of “tribe” and relatedness to you and your offerings?
3.    Have confidence in the future ·         What do they want to feel confident about?

·         What is important for them in the future?

·         How will you provide this for them via your offerings?

4.    Feel a sense of security ·         What is the sense of security they are seeking and why?

·         How will it manifest itself for them?

·         How will you provide it for them?

5.    Are successful ·         What will make them feel more successful and what does success mean to them?

·         How will make them feel more successful?

Try this for each of your customer segments. Remember, try to get in and understand from their perspective and not yours. Write down your thoughts, share them with others – and see how it compares with your customers actually think!

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 Ways to Meet the Faster Pace of Business

It.is not how fast business goes that matters, it is how and if you can keep up!

The pace of doing business is speeding up not slowing down.

Each year the pressure grows on all areas of a business including its people, cash-flow, leadership, innovation, business models, technologies and ability to implementation strategies successfully. This pressure can lead to issues arising across the business that ultimately impact its overall growth and profit potential.

Standing back from all the specific issues stemming from this ‘high pace’ of doing business most can quickly be related back to the in-ability to implement ‘change’ successfully.

So what does a business leader or owner do? What are the strategies that should be implemented to ‘adjust’ the business and its people to this NEW normal environment for doing business?

Here are three strategies that can assist businesses and teams cope with the high pace of doing business:

Strategy 1 – Focus on Micro tasks
Think back to the last planning session you had or project team you were involved in. What was the nature of the strategies / actions that were set? Were they quite broad or were they very specific outlining the steps that need to be taken. Too often planning sessions lead to broad statements such as: ‘Do a marketing plan’, ‘Refine our sales process’ or ‘Fix that problem’ but rarely outline HOW to achieve those outcomes or the micro steps / tasks required. This leads to teams either heading down the wrong paths or not starting to change at all.

The simple solution when you see this occurring is to keep breaking down the broad task into micro tasks that highlight the HOW and the steps required to reach the desired outcome. Try this simple strategy in your next planning session and you instantly see the benefits.

Strategy 2 – Provide just-in-time learning
Sending teams to two day residential training sessions to learn new skills are slowly becoming a thing of the past. There is certainly still a need to hold those types of events in specific situation but 5-7 years ago every training event was a two day off-site with little accountability to the new learning acquired or how it would be implemented. The retention of new learning was thus very low and too often forgotten (until a need arose and the learning had to be acquired again!).

To obtain the skills to address specific issues in this fast paced business world you need to shift the thinking of your people to ‘just-in-time’ learning. This means that as a need arises to address a specific issue (such as understanding the strengths / weakness’ of your competitors as part of a marketing strategy) the focus should be on putting time in your schedule to learn that skill in 30-60 minutes via an online learning platform or quick internal training session and then applying it in the field quickly. The retained learning is much higher with this approach as there is immediately application of the learning. Best of all a solution to the issue is provided straight away to allow momentum to continue with the desired ‘change’ or ‘new strategy’.

Strategy 3 – Capture and track your strategies / actions using innovative technologies
How often have you gone to reflect on a strategy you development months ago and then had to spend hours searching through your emails, journals, files or go and follow-up a team member to get yourself up to speed again with the discussions that occurred and actions that were confirmed. Even if you have a good discipline of having ‘One Page Plans’ operating in your business (and even pasted to your office wall) it can still waste many hours in your day searching for the detailed plans you have developed or putting yourself back in the same ‘head-space’ you were in to reflect on the next steps you should take.

To assist this process and speed up your pace of implementing strategies it’s critical in any modern business to be using the latest cloud technologies / applications to help you track projects and tasks. What are you currently using in your business? Nothing? There are a lot of great, cost-effective options available. The time savings and productivity gains will be felt immediately and free you up to be focusing on the growth and profit of your business.

While these three strategies are not a magic bullet they do help you adapt both you and your teams approach to allow you to implement change much more effectively in this fast-paced business environment.

To assist this process we provide all our clients’ access to GPS-Mindshop Online. GPS-Mindshop Online allows you to capture and track in one location all your strategies, actions and professional development which are only visible by you and your advisor. Your advisor can then provide confidential support and solutions drawn from hundreds of tools, courses and resources within GPS-Mindshop Online.

GPS-Mindshop Online is a fantastic way to help leaders speed up their pace of implementation to give them back valuable time to focus on the growth and profit of their business.

If you would like to discuss how we can assist you implement change more effectively in your business please email us to arrange a call or meeting. In the meantime, check out the overview videos for GPS-Mindshop Online at http://www.business-gps.com.au/gps_videos.

 

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

The Importance of Management & Leadership Development

The Management & Leadership Development Imperative

Why Management & Leadership Development is a priority and its benefits.

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Leadership Development 2

One of the top issues for CEOs is business growth; however the ability of the business to achieve this growth is being stymied by the lack of suitably skilled staff – in short, effective leadership.

Strong leadership and management is a key factor in fostering innovation, unlocking the potential of the workforce and ensuring organizations have the right strategies to drive productivity and growth.  However, this potential is not being achieved due to managerial shortcomings and a lack of strategic thinking. Effective management is the exception rather than the rule.

So how do we address this?

Overcoming these weaknesses and improving our leadership and management capability is fundamental to creating a culture where more businesses 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.

Managerial Performance

A recent report in the UK stated that UK businesses are losing over £19 billion per year due to poor management.  In fact, almost half of say their line manager is effective, with 43% of UK managers rating their own line manager as ineffective – and only one in five are qualified.  However, management problems are not restricted to the lower or mid-levels, with the reporting highlighting incompetence of bad management of company directors as being responsible for 56% of corporate failures.

How much is this costing your business, and what are your risks with those at the top?

One of the root causes of management and leadership weaknesses is due to poor training and development, and this is a global and systemic problem.  For example, first line managers are primarily selected because of their technical capability rather than their potential to move into more senior positions, despite technical proficiency being far less significant when considering subsequent promotion. They frequently do not receive any specific management training and are not only ill-equipped to take on this role, but their immediate line managers often lack the knowledge and skills to support them.

So What Do We Do

The situation can be improved. Companies need to invest in leadership development for their managers, by doing this they can be prepared for the non-technical aspects of their job, which become increasingly important as they advance.

To build a robust and sustainable high performance business you have to take a more strategic view of management development.  To do this effectively you need to have:

  • Commitment to Management and Leadership Development (MLD) – driven by the CEO and senior management ;
  • HR practices that reinforce MLD – such as performance management, leadership succession planning and competency frameworks;
  • Alignment between business strategy and HR strategy – managers’ skills are clearly developed to drive business results.

Benefits of Management & Leadership Development

Good leadership and management can have a truly significant impact on organizational performance, both in the immediate and longer term.  Research has shown:

  • Best-practice management development can result in a 23% increase in organizational 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.

Management & Leadership Development is essential to long-term business success and, as such, provides a high return on investment (RoI) in both the short-term and the long-term, with the value created being realized and compounding year after year.

Growth & Profit Solutions partners with businesses to enable their key people to develop their commercial, management and leadership capabilities by working with them on addressing key challenges and opportunities on the job.  This allows experiential learning which is retained, obviates the need for key people to be absent whilst attending training courses, and is developed around the individual’s and the business’ needs. This helps to drive outcomes, retain critical talent whilst building a talent pipeline, and develops the in-house capabilities of the business allowing it to grow effectively and on a sustainable basis.

The question is not can you afford to invest in Management & Leadership Development, but can you afford not to?  If you have already started, then keep going; if you haven’t started, then start today – but don’t wait till tomorrow, by the time it becomes a “squeaky wheel” and has your attention it will be too late!

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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?

Introduction

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.

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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.

 

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

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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!

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When Saying Nothing Gets You More!

Using silence to find out more

Silence is a powerful way by which you can elicit more information from people you are talking with – especially when talking with customers or interviewees.

silence-is-golden-2

A Golden Silence is when you pause, deliberately, so that you can listen without thinking of what you are going to say next. There are two forms of Golden Silence:

Golden Silence I – you simply pause for approximately three to four seconds after you ask a question,

and

Golden Silence II – you simply pause for approximately three to four seconds after the person responds.

Golden Silence I – this gives the other person, your customer or interviewee, a moment to think about what has been asked and how to respond.  This is likely to provide more solid information.

Golden Silence II – this gives you a better chance to understand what has been said, furthermore during the second pause the customer or interviewee will often reflect further and provide additional information.

Be careful how you use Golden Silence so it does not seem manipulative or intrusive.  The Golden Silence technique is mean to expand, not limit, the possibilities of Superb Communication.  As such, by paying close attention to how the customer reacts, it vastly improves your chances of reaching a better result.

Benefits of Golden Silence

  • The number of  interactions increase
  • The length of responses increases
  • The reliability of the information you get increases
  • Your level of comprehension increases
  • The opportunity for misinterpretation is reduced
  • The number of relevant unsolicited responses increases
  • The number of customers’ questions increase
  • Dialogue shifts to the customer’s real wants and needs, and away from those of the seller
  • It gives you more time to think

Techniques to Avoid

  • Using the phrase – ‘think about it’ – it is vague and can come across as a subtle put-down
  • Mimicry
  • Using ‘Yes…but…’ – this occurs when the dialogue is stalled
  • Rhetorical questions – they add nothing to the dialogue and can be manipulative.
  • Asking ‘Why?’ immediately after they reply – this can put people on the defensive.

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.