“That Button” Obsession! – To Press or Not to Press?

Button

I’m not talking about a belly button, bathroom flushing buttons, buttons on clothes or pushing anyone’s hot buttons…well, perhaps keep reading. What I’m talking about is the “like” button – Yep that’s the one!

I wake up everyday and like most of us; there are messages on our screen about who has pressed “that button”. We race from one platform to another looking, hoping, wondering and most of all, wanting people to have pressed “that button”.

Then we wish that we could add all the button presses into one total, so no matter which platform, anyone looking, can see the final total of all the button presses you got!

People buy the button to get more presses. People offer giveaways to get a button press. People ask you outright to press that button and for what? So, that you can say, “I’m LIKEable”?

I, myself, am all too familiar with this social phenomenon proudly having a Facebook and Instagram account. My Facebook button gets pressed a lot more than my Instagram and the other day someone said to me, “Make sure you let people know that even though there are not many button pushes on Instagram, your Facebook one has lots!” That’s what drove me to write this article.

That button is “one click communication” – but really, how gratifying is it?

What would happen if we went back to old fashion communication when “that button” didn’t exist, yes I hear you, it takes much more time and effort to write words than click a button, the results …well I’ll let you be the judge.

Instead of being “liked” by the push of a button, I challenge you to try the old fashion, more intimate way of words and interaction. The like is wordless communication and why waste words with a button. There is more love, more empathy and more human interaction by using words and not “that button”.

So the next time you go to click “that button”, perhaps try using words instead. Watch the results. They will astound you. Today, I was on the receiving end from some LinkedIn posts that used words about our company instead of “likes” – I was blown away at how uplifted and positive I felt. Uplift other people by taking the time to truly communicate…and feel free to click “that button” too!Like

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Managing People… the world changes but some things never do!

oops5 common management mistakes! Do you have others to add to the list?

Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Social media, home offices, flexible working hours,  corporate downsizing,  restructures,  regulatory scrutiny, litigation… the  list of changes in the modern workplace goes on and on. No matter whether you are running your own SME, or working as part of a large corporation, you will have been impacted by many of these in recent times.

It means that people managers need to be more readily adaptable than ever before. Management “self help” and coaching is big business – one that we unashamedly and passionately enjoy.  It is fair to say however, that a lot of this focuses on what to do to improve your people management outputs. We thought we might look at some of the “not to dos” as no matter how many changes happen in the broader work environment – some things remain the same:

Mistake 1: Managing by title only

Ever worked for someone who you can honestly say – I have no idea what they do every day? Often, the answer is very little! Or at least very little that actually supports their team. Ensure you spend time allowing your team to understand your role and what means to them and how it fits in the bigger picture. Your team NEED a manager to support, coach and lead them. Management is a HANDS on job (not literally!) , not a title. We are amazed at the number of new and experienced managers that have never actually seen their team members perform the task they are paid for.

Mistake 2: Fail to understand your team

Each person is different. Each person reacts and responds to different drivers and motivations. You MUST spend time getting to know your team, in the workplace, in field, or even if appropriate in business based social settings. KPIs, metrics and minimum working standards drive key deliverables – but you should be driving how well they are delivered based on the person you are working with.

Mistake 3: No clear direction or clarity

Simple – but so often poorly done. Be clear on what you want your team to deliver AND HOW you expect it to be delivered. This means both you and them have a clear set of goals you can use to both reward accomplishments and success, but also manage poor performance. Once these performance goals and ways of working are in place, you then need to be the one to demonstrate and hold people accountable to them. Don’t tell them to do, or not to do something, then allow it to happen or not happen the very next day.  This creates grey areas in which no one wins – least of all you!

Mistake 4: Cross over the line between manager, colleague and “friend”

As soon as you do this, you are heading down a very challenging path. You should always remember your role is to manage outputs and performance, not be someone’s friend and pal. Whilst you can and we believe, should create a healthy, happy and “friendly” working relationship, you need to remember at all times that you may at any point need to manage performance of any individual.

Mistake 5: Fail to trust your team

This results inevitably, in micro-management. If you have clearly addresses point 2 and 3, then you need to trust your team to deliver with your support and ongoing coaching and feedback. Trust them to deliver. If you realize this trust is mis=placed, act quickly to manage that performance.

 

There are a number of others we see all time and indeed, have made ourselves! No-one can every claim to be the perfect people manager. That beast is as real as the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot….

Which mistakes would you add to our list?

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How would you talk to a princess?

Kate-Middleton-Hair-Beauty-Australia-New-Zealand-Tour

Someone one TV the other day called me an expert in communication. Funny that…as an expert I’m still trying to work out how to talk to a princess.

Imagine this …all my life I have wanted to be a princess. I love the Royal Family, watch and read all I can about them, dress up in taffeta because that’s what true princesses wear (even my footy tipping name is Pink taffeta) so when my husband offered me the chance to meet Kate and Wills, my life was  going to be perfect.

It all sounds nice in theory, until you start considering exactly what the opportunity means.

I feel like I am preparing for my first date,  my first new client interaction, or meeting my daughters boyfriend for the first time ….the preparation goes something like this!

What am I going to wear? How will I do my hair?  What will we talk about?

So it’s the night before and I am frantically thinking about how to communicate to a Princess.  It’s no longer just words… it’s everything! What struck me though as I paced the house, is princess or no princess, some of the principles I was thinking through apply no matter what important interaction you are involved in… networking, job interview, blind date or meeting a princess!

Don’t blow it –I have to make sure that I give enough for them to be interested in me but not too much that they ask their minders to take me away and remove me from Parliament House.

Do I make a sign?  – What do I put on the sign “Welcome Wills and Kate”?  That’s a bit boring maybe it should say “Royalty rocks” That engaging first part is the opening to your communication and how you grab their attention – without it screaming “crazy stalker”!

Touching – To touch or not to touch, to bow, curtsey, rub shoulders?.  The hug, the handshake, and what about a kiss? Anyone up for that? What is appropriate for the situation?

Attire – What is appropriate for the situation I am walking into!? Something I have to make sure of is I’m not wearing the same outfit as Kate..see… pressure already.  I have packed 2 dresses, so will have my twitter account open and as soon as she arrives there will be a picture uploaded. This will enable me to be one step ahead. I simply step into the dress she is not wearing (they call that preparation – the key to success!).

Time to talk – OK so it’s time to open my mouth and tall. The first thing I have to do is say is “Hi”… but Hi can be said so many ways (should it be hi, hey, hi there, hey you, Hello, Good morning, morning or yo!?)

This “Hi” bit sets the tone and the scene for the entire interaction so it has to be the right “hi”..said in the right way, with the right tone.

 Using Kate’s name: – Normally I would say it’s extremely important to use someone’s name when greeting them. I love applying these principles. So what do I call Kate?  Is it Kate, Kath, Katherine, The Duchess, or does she have a nickname that she prefers?  Maybe silence is the key. Let her introduce herself to me!

Research – Having done my research and checked, re checked and checked again I have been told that no matter what, you must compliment their shoes.. OK that should be easy?

Wow they are really nice shoes?, I love that shoe colour on your feet?  Great heal? , Gorgeous pattern?.. Perhaps this approach may need further work before I blurt anything out about her footwear look.

You think the shoe comment is a tough one to work out, well what about the whole eating with Royalty part. If they stop eating, you stop eating. FULL STOP.

Research is extremely important when meeting anyone, knowledge is power and if you know something about them, the communication is less likely to go wrong. The things you know about them will enhance your interaction.

Questions – What question would I ask Kate first?  This is really important to consider before blurting out a bad question. Have your first question best question ready to get the conversation started.  I need to make the question about her and  make it one that’s easy to answer..

I may never get to meet royalty again. Just like you may never be invited back to your clients again, so do the very best communication job you can do. As the saying goes “ you only get once chance at making a good first impression.”  Who knows – I might get an invite to the palace!!

Stay tuned for tomorrows wrap up. The photos, the dress and how my interaction with Kate and Wills went!

Grazina Fechner

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Congrats on your new job!! Now you’re a leader!!

CONGRATS ON YOUR NEW JOB!!

NOW YOU’RE A LEADER!!!

Untitled

Of all the topics in the “blogosphere”, Leadership LEADS all comers in terms of self-development text, opinion and ideas – so we thought we would add our views to the mix!

We are often asked – what does your leadership program cover, too which we struggle to give definitive answers… Why – because EACH and EVERY organisations’ requirements of their leaders as so very diverse – one size should not fit all! Is there are core set of attributes? Probably! Are they applied in every leadership position the same?? Absolutely not!

That said, any good leadership program or investment is in our view, the best way of future proofing your success. There are however, some VERY big mistakes in our opinion, made by businesses big and small. We find it interesting that some of the elite sporting organisations (or groups within them) are in some cases, further in front in the development of leaders than are multi national corporate organisations. Clearly, they see the need – so what are some of the pit falls of leadership investment?

First mistake – NO LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AT ALL!! The reality is, long terms success is genuinely at risk here.

The second mistake – waiting until employees are promoted to leadership roles to develop their leadership skills. You need to provide development opportunities BEFORE people make it to leadership positions. This makes the transition into a leadership position so much easier for leaders and the team they lead. GET THEM READY to lead BEFORE they get there.

To do this suggests a talent pool needs to be identified, recognised and supported! Why? Doesn’t that get others off side?

Perhaps, but more often than not it becomes a driver of behaviour and performance to strive to be included in that talent pool.

This also means that you need to identify a set of “qualifying attributes or KPIs for inclusion in this group. It requires investment, it requires a leap of faith and protects the integrity of the offering, making it crystal clear the type of behaviours and/or performance the business sees as “great”.

The program should also be tailored around the skill areas the aspiring leaders need – not a one size fits all approach to generic programs.

The third common mistake, is assuming those in leadership positions no longer need development in this area… WRONG!!! Your business outputs are a reflection of they way your team are led. Invest in them, extend them, challenge them. And it doesn’t need to be a face to face facilitated program…project work, executive one on one coaching, signature projects… these are ALL ways of extending the capability of your current leadership crop.

How many development programs/projects have your senior exec been involved in recently? And what if they left? Who will fill the void? Again – future proofing is the key!

Last but not least, leadership is not a box ticking exercise. You can’t read a book and be a leader. You can’t attend a course and be a leader. Leadership programs must include a blended mix of learning, from face to face facilitated learning (the traditional “I’m going on a leadership program”) through to on the job projects, 360 feedback, challenges, goal setting and re-alignment all based on the leadership context for the group.

Think of it as BEFORE, DURING and AFTER in terms of your businesses’ approach to leadership.. you’ll be surprised at the impact it can have on morale, staff retention and succession planning.

What are your thoughts??

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Resolution, Revisit or Re-Alignment?

NY Resolutions

So – we are a week into the New Year and if your anything like me, you have given some thought, if not written down a list of New Years Resolutions – things you want to commit to for 2014.

Some of us may have picked the traditional “personal” ones…lose weight, get fit, tick something off your bucket list and I have a couple of those in my sights, however, it is fair to say that they are not really resolutions for me – probably more revisits of past promises or, re-alignments of my goals driven by some level of guilt or failure! Know the feeling?

I did however, want to share a resolution I made LAST year, that I did stick to pretty well and it was as much as an experiment as it was a resolution. It yielded some pretty interesting results for me and also some BIG learns that I have been able to continue applying – although they to have become “revisits and re-alingments” at times! No-ones perfect!

Working as we do coaching people and businesses in areas such as influence, client experience and people management, I spend a lot of time like a voyeur “watching” the way people and businesses interact. With each other, with managers, with clients. It is fair to say, that I also got a little jaded with what I saw, biting my tongue and accepting poor service, poor management – particularly if I was paying for a product or service.

So – my resolution in my complete life (personal and work) was this – if someone needs to be told – I will tell them. Of course – my initial focus was on the negatives, bad service, annoying behaviours of those around me etc etc. The old – lifes’ too short to put up with this!

To be fair – I let those around me know that I was going to do this and my business partner pointed out that I was only doing half the job. Why not do it properly. What was missed, was that I also need to “tell” those who were doing well, making my life easy, making a positive impact or impression.

So here’s what I learnt:

1. I found myself having to continually remind myself to let people know they were doing a great job! I was focusing on everything that annoyed me, rather than things I actually enjoyed or liked.

2 . Often, a complaint is met with a counter offer – free something, discount off bill etc etc. What I was surprised to learn – is taking the time to pass on positive feedback is so rare – it ALSO gets rewarded. This was quite un-expected. A recent unprompted feedback email I sent saw my whole family dining free – just because no one had ever taken the time to do so! I hasten to add that this was not the reason for the “resolution” – just a very nice by-product!

3. If delivered well – people actually appreciate the feedback – good or bad. When annoyed about something or someone, it took a fair bit of work however to deliver it appropriately. You need to THINK before you speak (this is on my revisit and realignment list!)

4. Not everything needs to be said. When I took the resolution to the letter, there where often comments I made that were really a waste of energy and did more harm than good. I guess this fits into the old adage of “picking your battles” or “worrying about that things that matter”. You also need to shut up and listen as much as you offer an opinion… again.. add to the revisit or re-adjustment list!

5. All of us have our “things”… issues, nuances, concerns, fears, loves, likes etc. Letting people know how you feel – good and bad (with no 4 in mind), is also way of getting rid of your “things”…

Overall – a very rewarding and interesting “resolution”. Be interested if anyone has done similar and what they learnt!!

Cameron Read – Director: Front and Centre Training Solutions Pty Ltd.

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“Customer” Connection… Lessons from Hughesy and Kate!

hughsey and kateIt is often said that successful people have a charisma, they have influence, they are able to get people to listen to their ideas and in the right circumstances, buy from them.  And one of the “skills” that is inherent in this description is that they can “connect” to those around them.

In any modern business, the ability to connect with your customer or audience,  is becoming increasingly important. The reality is   – we can buy, order, search or ask questions all from the comfort of our home on a laptop or smart phone.  So you need to connect with people in customer facing businesses to get them to come back!

With this is mind, I was quite taken aback at my family’s and my own response to the news that Hughesy and Kate, Nova Melbourne’s breakfast ratings champs …were calling it quits. For the record – I know neither of these 2 personally – BUT… I felt like I did and so did my family!

You see, after the turmoil of a big move from Perth for work to Melbourne, through rentals, new schools, job challenges, nannies, a lack of networks, support and to begin with “friends”, Hughesy and Kate became a constant as we got ready to go about our lives every day. They were always there, they made us laugh and subconsciously we felt they understood what it was like to go through normal life “stuff”!

It seems that we weren’t the only ones who felt that connection.. the outpouring of support, disappointment at them leaving and tears on their last program on Friday just gone, showed we weren’t the only ones. A lady at the gym told me she had to go home to re-apply makeup – such was her emotional response to their last show.

So it got me thinking – how did they do this? After all, celebrities come and go, and brekky radio turns people over quicker than the Aussie cricket teams top 6! So here is a summary of what I learnt from them:

  • Be genuine and give a little of yourself. If people know you are human, that you say what you mean, that you actually care, they will return the favour in spades – and loyalty! But remember – you can’t fake “genuine”
  • Be prepared to laugh – at yourself, at life in general, at your relationships, at your family – life is too short to be serious about everything and most people cannot help but smile back if you smile at them. Why does the office have to be quiet and boring? A customer that laughs has already bought in to “you”! And you don’t have to be an international comedy star to have a laugh!
  • Look for the good in people. These guys shared all sorts of stories, but most of them where focused on people. Even Hughesy’s rants and “attacks” as the first name fascist (aka Name Nazi) was based on people being able to laugh at themselves (or their parents!)
  • Challenge yourself… and be prepared to fail. Be it diets, footy tipping, bets of all sorts, these guys had a good old fashioned “crack” and didn’t care if they failed. Better to die wondering! Others warm to people that put them selves out there and admire them
  • Know when its time to be serious – as comedic as the show was, they knew exactly when to back off, to look seriously at serious issues and to show they understood.  Kate had most of Melbourne in tears as she shared her son’s brave battle recently.
  • Last but not least.. Trust those who trust you… this partnership was based on a level of trust and respect for each other as people and professionals

So there you have it – my summary on connection.. The Hughesy and Kate way!

After all… we were their “customers and we came back EVERY day – imagine all of your customers doing that!

Cameron Read
Director – Front and Centre

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Business Gymnastics – How Adaptable Are You And Your Business?

Heraclitus wrote “Nothing is constant except change itself”. We have all heard variations on that theme and you know what, they are dead right.

One of the key attributes of successful businesses and for that matter, people, is how well they are able to adapt to a changing environment. We have all heard the BIG corporate success stories.. Apple, Nike etc and their ability to change with the evolving market. We have also watched the hard way as companies struggled during the GFC – but I was struck by a recent example.

I have been trying hard to get fit and I have found this great gym near where I live. It has a loyal following and a great group of people – is it a far cry from the big chain style gymnasiums. The guys at Paramount plan meticulously to ensure each interaction or class is different. This planning must take a while. But the sign of a GREAT organization is one that can adjust when the unexpected happens.

We turned up for a 5,45am class the other day and our instructors had been there setting up a full outdoor program. Just as we went into the briefing – the heavens opened. I was thinking… “You beauty!! Back to bed!!” It was obvious that the original plans were not possible in the slippery conditions. Within 5 mins, despite the planning, the guys adapted and pulled together a great session. I walked away thinking – wow – how impressive given the amount of work that had gone into the original planning.

So , yes planning in your own developmental goals is important and so it is in business, but those that do it BEST, are able to adapt quickly, respond to the situation at hand and STILL deliver.

How adaptable are you?

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Hold up the mirror – A key to management success!

I was working last week with a new manager who had recently taken up the role in a finance based organization and he asked me as so many new people managers do – what makes a “great manager”?

I started to list off all the attributes that you would recognize – almost text book stuff and it struck me that really, you can talk about these things all you like, you can list them off and provide ideas on how people can get there but the reality is, the best people managers I have worked with, studied or indeed admired have one main trait….

They are exceptionally self -aware. That is it you may ask?  Just that?

Well , think about it.  Every one of us has strengths and areas for development. The BEST people managers are able to recognize in themselves the things that they are good at and ensure their reports benefit but just as importantly and more challenging, know what their limitations are and ensure their team is not hampered by it. They (just like their team are expected to do) work at getting better at these areas and don’t just go by the old adage.. “I’m the manager so its my way or the highway!”…

Let me give you a good example. One manager I worked with was very analytically minded and amazing at extrapolating data to help build a plan or position. It became very evident in speaking to his team, that these skills although not innate for his team, had been coached and developed and their planning process was second to none. They knew exactly what they were doing, why and when.

The flip side, was a manager I worked along side. Truth was, if he held up the mirror,  he knew he didn’t work really hard himself, so trusted NOONE to do their job. This meant he hounded them, micro managed them, set up ridiculous attempts to trip them up and spent nearly 70% of his time in “managing” them as he described it. Were they successful – no – his turnover was enormous. Were the people in that group poor at there job – I hazard a guess to say no, they were just reflections of his own management weaknesses. They were never trusted to actually DO their job.

So – before you enroll in  a course or attend your next development session – hold up your mirror and truly ask yourself – where do my strengths and weaknesses lie? Your management “success” will often be a reflection of them!

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