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Rules of engagement

Are we engaged yet?

What is employee engagement? You have probably been assigned the task (especially during these trying times of slashed budgets) to increase your team’s engagement. But without spending anything. It has been a well known fact for many years that salary isn’t everything. These days, some may argue, “A” salary is everything; in so much as you have a job and are being paid to do it. So it’s back to good old Muslow and his pyramid. Just when these guys were going out of fashion, the markets get thrown twenty years back and the golden oldies are making a comeback. Gone are the cash rich and time poor customers. Gone are the affluent customers, hell, where did all the customers go? So now, we are left with highly sophisticated buyers with even more time to research purchase options (because of the unemployment) and less disposable income (because of the unemployment). It’s a marketer’s nightmare.  Add lot’s of amateur entrepreneurs buying market share and you get the picture. Still, you need to engage your employees. In a cost effective manner. What the hell is the boss thinking? Actually he is thinking along the right line if you think about it and assuming that he or she has. Many companies are looking at zero voluntary turnover. This is not a sign of a healthy market. Quite the opposite. Come on, guys! Somebody has to be ticked off with The Man. But if you walk these days, it’s straight to the unemployment line. And the line is getting longer. So where does engagement come in to the picture. Let’s imagine we are back in the good old days. What is employee engagement? Actually it’s the same as it is today. But back in the GODs, the boss probably said something like, “throw them a party”, or “throw them some money”. Now, we are actually getting it right. A disgruntled employee with a pay rise, in three months time will simply be a disgruntled employee in a better suit.  So what is engagement? If you ask me, it is what makes somebody prefer to work for you rather than for somebody else with the same salary. Think of your employees as your customers: we are talking value for money. That is, in fact, the secret to selling and it is no different if you are selling employment. So, back to Muslow: People need esteem. They desire respect and acceptance from others. Couple this with the fact that they don’t want to lose their job plus the fact that happy employees mean happy customers and it shouldn’t be too hard to connect the dots. Show respect for your team’s work. Show understanding to their needs. Reward them with recognition. People know it’s difficult to give fat pay raises these days. Get them to want to come to work because they feel valued. Make them part of the system. Then they will look to make things better. They will feel included instead of excluded. They will accept brutal facts easier. If you can achieve this, even if you are no longer dishing out the fat bonuses, you will see a continuous improvement in the level of your customer service. Engaged people care about their work and this becomes apparent to the customer. They become recipients of genuine customer care rather than customer service policy.

Keep people in the loop. Be honest about the company finances. Make it clear that as long as you have paying customers you will be able to be a paying employer. You will be surprised at the impact this will have on the sales effort and the tendency to give big discounts at the drop of a hat.

Treat your people as that: your people. It makes all the difference.

 
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Posted by on 10/10/2012 in Managing people

 

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Why high tech communication has failed

Never miss the opportunity to put on a suit and take your laptop to the beach

Email. Electronic mail. Fast, ethereal, efficient, catastrophic. Like the photograph in this post (seriously though) , the term electronic communication is riddled with  antitheses.

For, oh, lots and lots of years email has been the main means of communication in both the corporate and the private world. And it’s amazing. The technology is unbelievable. The brainpower behind making it happen is (as in most such cases) well, mind boggling. And as in the case of most tools developed for the betterment of man’s life, man totally mis-uses it.  A while back I did a little research (via email) and came to the conclusion that  on receiving an email communication, people feel more pressure to respond faster (or even immediately) than, say, to a fax or a letter. If the message is from the people upstairs the pressure increases further. And what do people in a hurry and under pressure often do? That’s right. They make e-stakes and i-screwedups.

Think for a minute. In many cases you don’t when answering an email. Strange when you think that we consider it so important that we activate that god annoying pup up so that it can interrupt you no matter what you are working on. Opps! There goes one now. Shall I stop writing and open it, or should I finish what I’m doing first. It doesn’t really matter since my train of thoughts has been derailed anyway. And as I already have more than twenty tabs sitting on my task bar I really have to ask, what the hell am I thinking of. Seriously, what are you thinking of when you have for or five spreadsheets, six or seven websites, a couple of presentations and several PDFs open? Would it be safe to assume your mind is not 100% on the task at hand? Well, it never is unless you are bald, have a long beard, are probably wearing orange and are sitting cross-legged on a rock near a yak – that kind of focus takes years to develop. You get the picture. How many of your resources are focused? How many are wandering off in twenty different directions. And then you get Spam. A ridiculous “forward” just popped up. Add antisocial networking and you might as well tattoo UNPRODUCTIVE on your forehead. (AUTHOR’s NOTE:Yes, antisocial networking. If you want to network get out and meet, have coffee with, touch, feel and joke with people. Sitting alone in a dark room in front of a bright monitor clicking on hyper links is not a social activity no matter what you have heard. If your parents were social networkers social intercourse may never have occurred and you probably wouldn’t be here reading this right now).

So you get an email, glance over it and feel compelled to answer. Chances are you haven’t scrolled down far enough to see the preceding messages. You never know, the first may have been “Let’s see how many idiots get stressed and answer this”. If the answer needs some research you click on a search engine tab (remember, one of the five you already have open) or open a new one and type in the burning issue. You then look at the first ten hits out of half a million options and click on a couple. You scan through ten pages of text, adverts, links and pictures of smiling “gurus”. Maybe you copy something. Back to the email, a quick paste, a smart comment, what you believe is a documented response and off it goes. You may have used the term “educated guess”. It’s still a guess, just in a more expensive polo shirt. Hang on! Was that reply or reply to All? Quick! Sent items! Oh, crap! She wasn’t supposed to get that! Recall! Recall! Where’s Recall!! Folks, stop looking, it never works.

As managers we need to expel info stress. This is the term used for the headache and gut cramps you get when trying to deal with all the “information” whizzing around the information super highway. In fact, most of it is BS. All the  BS you can handle only a click away. It has come to a point that you need to shovel through so much BS to get to the information, by the time you find it you forget what you wanted it for or have become engrossed in something else you happened upon. You are, of course, multitasking. Or so you think. Two or three threads: multitasking. Twenty threads: who are you kidding?

Take time to focus. Make it a rule not to answer (or even read) emails as soon as they pop up. Turn off the pop up! Incidentally this practice can also save you from particularly awkward moments during presentations.

Treat emails as you would a good old fashioned letter. Take the time to read it. Without pings and pops. Hang on, my mobile is beeping. Sorry, it seems one of my son’s dragons gave birth. Really important stuff. Where was I? Oh, yeah – letter. Then take time to compose a reply. Put it down for a while and go back to it twenty minutes later. Then send it. Oh, and never fill in the recipient’s address until you are ready to send. And mind the drop down lists so you don’t send your competitor your customer price lists by a slip of the cursor.

So one can’t help but wonder, to what extent has this half-assed approach to communication, with projections into decision making, contributed to the mess the world economy is in today? How many hours do people at the office spend actually working or focusing on the job? How many important business decisions (or feedback leading to them) were based on amateurish web searches and hasty replies to emails?

 
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Posted by on 06/10/2012 in Management tips

 

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On customer satisfaction

Make sure this is the digit they raise

What makes for a satisfied customer? When do you feel satisfied as a customer? When are you not a satisfied customer? It all boils down to good old expectation management. What have you led your customer to expect? Or even worse, what are his or her default expectations or preconceptions? It is so easy to become customer critics instead of customer advocates. “Oh God! it’s Mr. Jones again! He’s such a royal pain!” and so on. This is not the time for such behavior. People are angry with the downturn, with shrinking incomes, with bad payers, with increasing running costs and cost of living. It’s so easy for them to add you and your company to the anger list. Don’t give them reason to. So, manage the expectations. If you sell dirt cheap and have a crappy service, then advertise this fact. People expect not to expect good service and they walk out so happy with the bargain they got. If you buy something for ten dollars and its value turns out to be ten dollars, you are most probably not a satisfied customer. At best you are a neutral customer. Paid ten, got ten. Nothing to post on the social network about (my first, outdated impulse was “nothing to write home about”). If on the other hand the value turns out to be eight, then you are a peed off customer. Depending on your character you may be a letter writer or a lawyer user or a thumper of fists at the front counter. Or maybe you just take your business elsewhere in future. Take your pick – they are all loss makers. And nowadays word of mouse is much stronger than word of mouth. One click and the whole world knows about it. Welcome to the wonderful world of antisocial networking. Finally, on a brighter note, we have the case in which you pay ten and for some reason the value you get is twelve. Your expectations have been exceeded. You are now a satisfied customer and net promoter of the company that went the extra mile, click or even smile for you. Yes, even a polite smiling employee at the counter can make the difference in the value received.

Manage your customer expectations. If you really want satisfied customers you need to create the correct expectations and then exceed them on the deliverable. And remember, you can do it even by proactively notifying a customer of a problem with their purchase. Most of all, we expect companies we give our money to, to act responsibly.

So walk the talk.

 
 

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Process revisited: The hidden cost saver

Uncover the smart savings

How often do you take a really critical look at how you do things in your company? Seriously. Processes are strange creatures that exist whether you believe it or not, irrespective of whether you actually set out to design them. This is what many empirical managers fail to understand. Have you ever made a cup of coffee? Is there an underlying process? Of course there is! How else would raw materials and kitchenware end up as an enjoyable and stimulating beverage on your desk? You have inputs, you follow certain steps and get output. Simple as that. So maybe every time you make a cup of coffee you do things a little differently. Get the coffee jar out first, get the mug first, warm the mug, don’t warm the mug and so on. And that’s OK. It’s just a cup of coffee. Why all the fuss? What if you had to prepare a hundred cups of coffee in half an hour? Or two hundred? If you do it a little different every time, you’ll be running for the hills laughing in a manner usually associated with villains in cartoons and vintage thrillers. That’s when you need to design a process and stick to it. So how do you go about it? In ridiculously simple speak, you decide which is the most efficient way to do whatever it is you are trying to do, lay down the process and then stick to it. Religiously. And as they used to say in the olden days (back when people thought things through before hammering out emails to fifty recipients) practice makes perfect. If you do it the same every time, as time progresses, things can only get better. Repetition is the mother of learning. Ad hocking it the mother of cock-ups. And a mean mother in deed…

So, take a look at whatever it is you are doing, whether it’s answering the phone and taking messages, or billing a client, or arranging for a delivery- whatever- and then see if it makes sense to keep on doing it the same way. Usually it doesn’t. There is always room for improvement, to use a cliché, and herein lie opportunities. Here be the smart savings, as the old maps say. Any idiot can fire half the workforce. It takes work, brains and leadership skills to manage change, even if it is efficiency driven.

Process re-engineering can save a lot of time and ultimately money. So where’s the catch? There is no catch, but do be warned: a process left unattended will degenerate. Such is the nature of the creature.  Ever miss a gym session after religiously following a schedule for months? Then next time something turns up and before you know it it’s been three months. If you set up a process also set up the controls.

Put together the nature of processes and the nature of humans and you end up in a process improvement workshop with a lot of people looking flummoxed, at each other or the floor when you ask, “So why do you do it like that?”

 
 

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What sales plan?

If you plan to sell, sell to plan

When talking with small companies (and some not so small ones) It never ceases to amaze me how little concentrated effort goes into Sales. What is even more surprising is the fact that this also occurs in organizations with reasonable earnings. So I have come to soundly believe that mediocrity will indeed ambush excellence nine times out of ten. This, I feel is a factor contributing to the deep… hole many companies have found themselves in during the past four years or so. If you are getting along, why rock the boat. “We’re in the green”, “We’re not out to dominate the market”, “We don’t expect miracles”, are common answers from people asked (pre-downturn) why they are not pushing for more sales.  “What do you expect in these conditions”, “Can’t you see what’s going on out there?”, “There’s no growth left”, are but a few sales reps’ responses to the question “Why aren’t you selling more?”. Put the managers giving the first set of answers in the same company with the sales people giving the second set and you might as well call it a day and go home before the debt becomes unserviceable. Entrepreneurs are those alive go-getters. The when-the-going- gets-tough guys. The “we’re doing OK” guys are simply not entrepreneurs. Like I said, excellence has very slim survival chances in a mediocrity infested environment.

The first thing you notice is the total absence of planning. More specifically there is no sales plan. No matter whether there is one, two, ten or a hundred sales reps in the company you need to have a sales plan. The company’s revenue and profit is built up from the bottom, sales territory by sales territory. It depends on all sales people delivering on target. Admittedly, most companies do have sales targets. They are handed out in a top down fashion without any attention to what are supposed to be the constituent parts. Someone upstairs decides on the figure and then the sales force is expected to miraculously deliver it. Then once a quarter there is some sort of sales review where sales people are chewed out over their results and the target is upped to cover the gap. Come on, guys!

Sales management is a rather complex and specialized discipline. However, you don’t have to be a guru or have thousands in software to be able to put together a serviceable sales plan. For a company already selling something, it’s a matter of going territory by territory and then customer by customer. What is their performance? What is their potential? Are they splitting with your competitors? Are they growing, shrinking, going belly up? Are you selling them everything you can? Do you know everything they need? Once your sales people put your customers under the microscope, then they can make informed decisions about what sort of revenue they can pin on them for the next period. Some will be up, others will be down, a few may be lost. The result should show where you stand in relation to the target (which has been shared across the sales territories depending on their potential. People then know how much new business they need to drum up to make target.

Find a way that works for your company, but get a sales plan in place. Otherwise  you are just taking pot shots in the dark. And more often than not they miss.

 
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Posted by on 01/10/2012 in Managing sales

 

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Training: getting the best out of your people without permanent damage

Make sure to keep it genuine

In my post on recruitment (Recruitment is everything, Aug 29) I refer to the importance of getting the right people on board. If your basic building blocks aren’t high quality material, you can train until you are blue in the face but you can’t turn lead into gold (the physics involved cost too much). Having said this, even the best of people need training unless you are running a business which sells something people are born to. Some of these are illegal in most countries but I am sure that even in these more specialized areas training comes into the equation at some point.

Sales and customer satisfaction are, in my mind, directly correlated to the level of training provided by a company. You should train your people for everything: how to answer the phone, what to say to customers, what not to say, how to handle or escalate complaints, how to sell, how to dress, how to negotiate, how to compare your offering with that of your competitors, how to comment on competitors – you get the picture. This ensures that you are projecting your company to the outside world as you have strategically decided to do so. Leave nothing to luck and, God forbid, common sense.  Also training, when done correctly, can be very motivating as demonstrated by today’s image.

Training manifests itself in various forms. Let’s look at three common manifestations:

1. Training: Sit everybody in a room and talk at them about how to assemble a PC. With diagrams.

2. Mentoring: “I’m great at what I do! Come, little Grasshopper, see how I do it”

3. Coaching: “We hired you because we believe you are suitable for the job. Let’s see how we can aim you in the right direction. Oh, and by the way, here are some tools”.

Horrifying as it may seem, I believe you can’t avoid any of these three types. “Let’s discuss the processor speed of the new tablet we launched. How fast do you think it may be?” You sometimes need to sit people down and brief them. But you can make it interesting and fun. With chocolate prizes for the ones that stay awake. It is, of course, necessary to let people watch the experts at work. And it is crucial to develop a coaching program. This is where you support intelligent people (the ones you correctly recruited, remember?) to develop their skills and knowledge so that they can fly solo. My apologies to the control freaks reading this.

Whatever the mix you choose, your people need to receive training, even for the basics. You need to massage them into the company culture. You don’t have to spend huge amounts. If you run a small business you may even run some sessions yourself on a Saturday. You will probably also do most of the coaching. Throw in lunch. This is especially important for sales people (the coaching bit, not the lunch). In these days of crisis I would go as far to say that on a typical coaching ride (you sit back and observe the neophyte at work and then go back to the office and talk about it) it may even be ok to breach coaching etiquette and step in if the rookie is about to blow the 100K deal.

By the way, having trained your people, you can be very specific about what is expected of them.

 
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Posted by on 26/09/2012 in Managing people

 

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Know your enemy

Competitors: Make no mistake – they are your enemy

Competitor analysis is a hot MBA topic. We learn lots of nice tools. Then we forget about them. The truth is that most small business owners and managers don’t dedicate half as much time as they should be to monitoring competition. Why? The ever present, ever invalid excuse of being too busy.

There are several reasons to know what your competitors are up to. Lets name three:

  1. You want to gain business from them
  2. They want to gain business from you
  3. You want to gain business from them

 

The oxymoron here is that in the case of small and medium organizations it is so much easier for the top brass to be close to the market, the customer, the staff.  I asked one manager during a workshop, “Why don’t you devote part of your time to analyzing competition?” He responded, somewhat aggressively, “I spend most of my time in meetings with customers!” Yet another offended attendee asked me if I had any idea what it was like trying to run a sales force. So, think for a moment. If you take away the BS from competitor analysis and put it into context for your business, what it really means is knowing what the other guys are doing. In a perfect world, you have “people to do these things”. In real life, you need to be talking to your customers, talking to your people and keeping an ear permanently to the market. If your competitors are other small medium sized companies, The Journal or Forbes may possibly not be running a feature on them. So it boils down to street savvy. And, by the way, do you really think that a colleague stuck with drawing up a competitor analysis report along with 246 other tasks is actually going to supply intel you can work with?

If you spend all your time in meetings with customers or talking to the sales force, then you have more than enough to go on. You just need to fine tune the receivers a bit. You, your sales people and everybody else in the company should be gathering information on competition. What are they charging? What is their structure? What are they paying? Are they making targets? Do they have targets? You will of course need a repository for this information, somewhere to store it in an organized manner. Find a simple way to consolidate. Then integrate competitor analysis into the sales meetings. This way it is alive. Does your sales rep know which competitor sales rep visits his top customer? The truth is out there. Ask the right questions. Run a dedicated competitor analysis workshop every quarter. Use an easy tool such as SWOT analysis. Caveat: SWOT analysis, unless the facilitator is disciplined (you) tends to yield BS outputs such as (under our strengths) “We have an excellent set up”. “We have a good sales force”. “Our service is fantastic”. And so the BS continues. Stick to numbers and facts. What can you measure? What can you compare, apples with apples. What can you action to enhance your competitive advantage?

If you were asked why don’t you live a bit, would you answer “because I’m so busy breathing”? Turn on the receivers and fine tune them. You will be surprised at how much you can learn.

 
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Posted by on 24/09/2012 in Management tips

 

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Reality check

…nowhere left to hide

Well, this is a depressing turn of events. One depression seems to be following another and surprisingly enough, there are those among us that have yet to realize the significance of what is happening.

As the crisis unfolds we are bombarded with what do to, what not to do, when to do it to weather the storm.

On the other hand, we hear that it will take another four, maybe five years to get back on track. The question nobody seems to be asking is, “Should we actually be talking about a crisis?” One of the characteristics of a crisis is that it is short lived. It happens, we take emergency measures, it passes, we revert to normalcy. Have you stopped to think just how long five years are? What has changed in your life in the past five years? A couple of failed affairs? A marriage, one or two or even three kids? A couple of promotions or job changes? The death of personal correspondence?   Five years. Stocks are crashing, banks are folding and people are still buying cheap. What makes us think that this is a crisis that will pass? Perhaps we would be better off if we looked at it as the portrait of things to come and adapt rather than take emergency measures. You can board up the windows once a year but if hurricanes are hitting every week you need to start thinking about things differently and adjusting your mindset.

 
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Posted by on 23/09/2012 in Welcome

 

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Keeping the balance

Balance or burnout?

“If you want something done, give it to a busy person”. This, in my experience, is so true. Bear in mind the caveat: there are two types of busy people. Type a. is the person that is driven, focused and organized. They get things done. An additional task is thrown into the grinder, shuffled, tagged, prioritized and seen through. Type b. is the person that likes to appear busy, mainly because they are not. They will leave everything until an hour before knocking off time and then make sure everybody sees how stressed and busy they are. So, only apply the aforementioned adage for Type a.

One little secret that type a. busy people have, is that they know how to keep the balance. They know where to insert down time and in a somewhat oriental like manner, compartmentalize. Think of tasks etc. as being placed in little mental boxes. They are leak proof. Take each out when the time is right and devote the necessary attention to it. Yes, you can open more than one at a time, but this is known to westerners as multitasking and requires more time in the dojo perfecting the balance between harmony and chaos. The box approach offers the all important and, lately more frequently, elusive FOCUS. Focus is the essence of success no matter what you are trying to do. If you are spending time with your child and are thinking about the P&L, then you are cheating both. If you want to be a black belt at busy, you need to allocate time to things other than work. This is where balance lies. One complements the other or else one will negatively impact the other and as any oriental medicine practitioner will tell you, in the upheaval of balance lie all ills.

Time off is time off. You must realize this. Your co-workers and associates must realize this. Otherwise you are game in a free zone. Define your “open seasons”. People will know that you are there for them 100% of the time you delegate for them, but you are offline 100% for the time you delegate to yourself and your loved ones. Is this absolute? No. I never deal in absolutes… well you get the point. There will always be exceptions but find your yin and yang, ping and pong, zig and zag or whatever other philosophy you subscribe to and allow for regeneration and revitalization. Burned out individuals are not efficient and usually not much fun to be around.

 
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Posted by on 22/09/2012 in Management tips

 

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Conflict management: It may not be easy, but it can be simple

Ira furor brevis est – anger is a brief madness. The consequences of decisions made in anger are not

A friend received a letter of resignation the other day which was, in my opinion, the culmination of a series of management mistakes. Tension had been building up for some time as I understand. The result was a verbal showdown in front of colleagues and the resignation of the employee involved. So what does the autopsy show? Let’s make a to don’t list:

1. Don’t lose touch with your people

Even if they work at a remote location, you need to be in personal contact. Remember, we are talking about small and medium sized operations. When you limit your communications to phone calls, emails and, god forbid, scorecards and reports you are missing the essence of what you keep saying is your company’s most important asset: its people. Your people. How can they be your most important asset if you are not willing to take the trouble to drive out and find out up close and personal what’s up (or down) with them. If they are facing personal issues or even tragedies, shouldn’t you be aware? When you communicate personally with people there are so many messages between the lines. “I am unhappy”,” I am pissed off”, “I am about to blow a fuse”, “Why does nobody appreciate the fact that I put in twelve hour days without clocking overtime?” Did you even know this? Probably not if you are only calling them during work hours and only looking at the OT sheet. You visit the premises and as soon as you walk in the door you can tell if everything is running smoothly or not. Is it tidy? Is it clean? Is there a good, bad or ugly atmosphere?

2. Don’t only listen to one side

This is cradle of bias. Get all the facts from both sides and then get some third party input. Then sleep on it. Let them sleep on it. Then decide on what approach you will use. Remember that everybody, with the exception of certain historical figures and the highly professional, assume that they are right, the better person and perfect at their job. This, of course in combination with a healthy dose of self preservation instinct will have an effect on their narrative. Use all your senses, including your instinct when listening to accounts of incidents. Always see things within context. Nothing happens in a void. People favor other people, harbor grudges and have wants and needs. Examine the incident with reference to the frame within which it occurred and look for hidden factors and parameters. An upstanding, trusted co-worker faced with a sky high doctor’s bill for their child might develop long fingers.

3. Don’t let angry dogs lie

Deal with conflict immediately and personally. Things we hope will go away if we ignore them are limited to school yard bullies and pushy sales people. The rest need to be dealt with.

4. Don’t tolerate unprofessional conduct from your managers

The people you trust to manage other people are people. They have people reactions. You need to recruit correctly and then train and coach. Especially newly promoted managers or team leaders. They need to learn one simple rule: Treat your reports as you would like your manager to treat you. Nothing more, nothing less. If a co-worker is indeed out of line and his or her manager handles it badly you will become involved in a “yes, but” type of conversation. The friend I mentioned at the beginning was in a difficult position because although the team leader was right, the issue became not the performance of the employee but the unprofessional conduct of his manager. Lawyers love this kind of thing. “You see their performance was negatively impacted by the manager’s bad handling and personal grudge”…

5. Never lose your temper

Back to the historical figures again. This is impossible. It is possible to control it though. This takes effort for the more hot-headed amongst us. It takes a conscious decision and self discipline. If even I can do it, so can you. If you see yourself ready to explode, interrupt the meeting, ask the other party to come back tomorrow with the facts and sleep on it. Sometimes the implication that you are so angry that you can’t continue the discussion in a civilized manner is enough to make a point. You will regret nine out of ten decisions you make under the guidance of anger. Even if it is the decision to use harsh language. You can not be in control of your company if you can’t control yourself. Having said this, a staged, controlled outburst does have an effect in some cases. It depends on who you are dealing with. If this were not the case “0” on the phone would have “Pearly Gates” printed next to it instead of “Reception”.

6. If you do, do it in private

This is another, less sung, reason to reprimand in private. If it comes to the point that you are out of control, you don’t need an audience. Telling people off in private, removes 90% of ego from the equation. They don’t have to save face or put on an act of saving face, usually manifested as defiance, in front of colleagues once the boss has gone. You can have very extreme conversations behind closed doors and once the steam has dissipated, you can close with, “To everybody outside this room this conversation never happened”. Both parties walk out smiling and the issue is contained rather than costing man-hours in gossip in the form of extended nicotine and caffeine breaks.

7. Don’t think like yourself

If you are going to get to the root cause of problems and find long term solutions, as opposed to fire fighting, you need to walk a mile in the other person’s shoes. If you refer to Rule 1, and if you are actually communicating with people, then you should have a sound understanding of what everybody does or is supposed to be doing.

Let’s stop here. Just remember that steps 2 through 7 are usually redundant if you practice Rule 1 until you are perfect at it.

 
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Posted by on 19/09/2012 in Managing people

 

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