Customer Service

How You Overcome That Great Fear

PASS iStock_000001252419Medium“Fear is the expectation of evil.” I came across and was struck by that definition recently. It came strongly to mind this week when I read a research report about CEOs’ greatest fears. Apparently, for a whopping 64%, the single biggest fear is of disruptive ideas and the impact they might have on their business.   

Thus, according to that definition of fear, business leaders see new ideas as evil. You have to find that incredibly ironic if, like me, you believe:

  • Business exists for the purpose of meeting needs;
  • The more the business meets those needs the better the business will do;
  • Business leaders are responsible for shaping the way the organisation meets those needs.

With that attitude, you might even say that CEOs could be the biggest barriers to change in their organisations.  

If nothing else, that possibility should give you pause to think. As defence you may claim that there is a very big difference between “new ideas” and “disruptive ideas.” Maybe so, but where do you draw the line? How do you distinguish one from the other? More importantly, how do you know that you are not rejecting good ideas that could achieve wonders for your business?

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Legally right or morally right?

Cruise ship 41666596_sI don’t know why. It is not a column I normally read. But somehow my eye was drawn to the report of a man who booked a cruise 18 months ahead, paying a significant (+/-20%, four figure) deposit. Unfortunately he suddenly died a few weeks later. So his daughter asked for this money to be refunded. Her request was refused. The managing director of the cruise company, no less, wrote to her saying, “With our guest demographic, we are all too regularly presented with requests for refund payments due to illness or a sad loss, all of which should be claimed by travel insurance.”

I struggled with this. The whole scenario suggested that the company puts revenue before customer experience. With the MD’s own words indicating that the “guest demographic” makes this a regular occurrence, you have to ask how much of the company’s profits result from this dubious practice of deriving revenue without providing any correlative service. Such justification seems unethical or morally bankrupt. It seems to illustrate a fine line between legal and ‘legitimate’: the decision may have been legitimate but was it is legal? I needed to think more.  

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How is Your Brand?

How good is your brand? How secure is it? Who are your best brand ambassadors? Brand 123RF_41682176_s

Those are some of the questions I found myself asking this week after coming across an article in Chief Executive Magazine entitled, "How to turn your employees into your best brand ambassadors." My instinctive response was that this should not be new to any CEO worth his salt. After all, surely you need employees who believe in your brand, in order to deliver a customer experience that turns customers into raving fans. But, perhaps it is a subject that requires a refresher.

If my instinct is right, and making your people brand ambassadors isn’t already core to everything you do, you have a problem. If your people are not your best brand ambassadors,  your brand will definitely not be all it should be. Certainly this research from my friend Alexander Kjerulf suggests that may be the case. So, now ask yourself just how good your brand is. This also makes it unlikely to be as secure as you might like to think.

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How the Learning Cycle Fits into Organisational Development

Apparently the achievement of learning induces a chemical reaction within the body that makes the learner feel happy and good about themselves. This past week-end I experienced this for myself. In fact, I got such a ‘buzz’ that I cannot resist sharing what I learned. I hope you experience a similar ‘high’!

It all began with an introduction into Max Boisot’s theories about the learning. Like most people, I was already aware of the distinction between data and information and so the differentiation between information and knowledge was only a small step. Likewise to understand that knowledge has no value until it is put into use. However, the discussion was around why knowledge isn’t always put to use and that is what was so enlightening. The following diagram is my interpretation and helps explain better.

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Challenge: People Skills or People Management Skills

Potential 11049229_sAre people skills and people management skills the same thing? The question arises from a recent DPG blog that identifies “people skills” as the number one requirement for HR professionals to be outstanding, and explains this by saying. “HR spends so much time dealing with people and people issues, so good people management skills are essential.” This suggests they are, but it is definitely a premise worth challenging. In fact there are several things that bear challenging in all this.

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Emissions, Ethics and HR

As the world gets to grips with the fallout from “Dieselgate” I was amazed to learn that 74% of respondents to a CIPD poll agreed that, “HR should play an active role in building an ethical culture.” Even making allowances for an almost exclusive survey population of HR professionals this seems surprising. One can only assume that they failed to recognise the corollary which is, that in the event of a major ethical failure such as the one that has come to light at Volkswagen, HR would have to be held accountable.  I am sure they wouldn’t like that!

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A misguided idea of leadership: could this be the ultimate leadership mistake?

“Imagine for a minute, a workplace where everyone is aligned with business objectives; where everyone understands the value they contribute; an environment where people actively seek to build mutually beneficial relationships across the organization.”  This invocative opening statement to a newsletter caught my attention because that is precisely the type of workplace that I aspire to help create - and would like to see as universal.  But the next sentence struck me like a blow to the solar plexus.

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Kill the Performance Review

Death_000013987544XSmallPerformance reviews remain in the news. Last week I wrote about Accenture’s abandoning them, but this week came the even more shattering news that GE – the bastion of the “rank and yank” – is also killing annual performance reviews. This seems to be good news for most managers and employees alike. You need, however, to ask, “What precisely is being killed?”

There are two possible interpretations here. One is that it is annual performance reviews that are being ditched and the other that it is performance reviews that are being discarded. You will readily appreciate that there is a significant difference. So let me ask you, if you had to decide this instant, which option would you choose?

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People as Assets

Assets - Gold bars 16003502_sA Google search on “people assets” yielded 664 million results! That is very nearly two thirds of a billion. Mind-boggling! (As is the fact that these results were yielded in 0.36 seconds, less than half a second!) Clearly it is a topic that a lot of people think about and even talk about: I would be a very wealthy man if I had received a pound every time I heard the expression “People are our greatest asset.”

Despite this, the very first page seems to challenge this. Three of the first five results are either questioning or denying the statement. The fifth result actually links to a December 2011 article in the august Harvard Business Review titled “People are not your greatest asset.” Hopefully your response to that is the same as mine: “Then try running your organisation without people!”

Moving beyond the headline (and a first paragraph that claims people can actually be liabilities,) the authors acknowledge the importance of people. They go on to claim that an organisation’s greatest asset is actually “how you empower people.” This makes the headline seem little more than an attention grabber. And while it may be a good one, and the article’s points sound, it can still be harmful.

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Here and Wow!

The other day I had an epiphany!  I was watching a Matthieu Ricard TED Talk on “The Habits of Happiness” and was struck by his equating happiness with well-being. I suddenly realised that happiness is not an elusive emotional sense but actually a situation of satisfaction.  I liked that idea because it made happiness somehow less fleeting and transient.

Unflickering flame 7713397_sRicard claims “authentic happiness can only come from the long-term cultivation of wisdom, altruism and compassion.” (My emphasis) Reflecting on this brought back a childhood memory. As a young boy of about eight I heard my parents complain that the carpet was dirty. So I decided that I would surprise them and clean it. Thus the next day when they went off to work, I managed to roll it up, take it outside and wash it.  

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