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November 2015

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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How effective is your incentive remuneration, really?

Incentivisation 46025685_sWho doesn't like a bonus? It is always nice to get more in your pay packet than usual. A bonus naturally make you feel good about things, and – particularly when you have worked hard to earn it – helps you to feel appreciated and that all your effort was worthwhile. Even if it isn’t as much as you would have liked, it is still better than nothing! Yet I would wager that there have been times when you have questioned the whole process.

Possibly because you have seen others being rewarded when you didn’t think they deserved it. Or perhaps because earning it has caused colleagues to act in ways that have made your job more difficult. If you are totally honest, you might even admit that you have shaped your own performance targets or measures in ways that make earning your bonus more likely. And that, perhaps, is the major flaw with incentive remuneration or performance related pay schemes: everyone manipulates them but, because everyone has the personal potential to earn more, no-one ever stops to ascertain just how effective they really are.

Yet business publications and management books are full of stories, examples and case studies of the ill-effects of misguided incentives. The problem is that, even if they don’t motivate directly, incentives do shape behaviour, and invariably not to good effect. This is perfectly illustrated by Daniel Pink’s findings on motivation.  (If you have not already seen this ten minute video I thoroughly recommend that you do so now.) However daunting the prospect, his conclusion that incentives are actually counter-productive should be enough to impel you to re-evaluate your incentive remuneration scheme.   

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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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