Monthly Archives: July 2013

Doing Your Best In Business and Commerce

Sometimes doing you best is not good enough. You plan your sales calls, you make sure that you plan your route and get the most number of visits in the day. Your briefcase is full of literature, pens, note paper, brochures and maybe even a price list. You go about your business and at the end of the day; the potential clients had good meetings with you and did not commit to buy or even talk further – how very frustrating!

There are other days you just get out there. Meet people at networking meetings, have a coffee with them. They warm to you and the products or services you are offering. They agree to talk to you in their office about prices and specifics – why is that!

I came across a study by Latham & Yuki (1975) where a hypothesis was tested.

Which was:- ‘People who are given the hardest goal should perform best.’

They had three sets of workers who were given the task of cutting and transporting wood, working in small groups. They were called ‘Do your best group’, ‘Assigned group’ and ‘Participative group’.

The ‘Do your best group’ was not given a specific goal to achieve.

The ‘Assigned group’ were assigned a hard goal to achieve.

The ‘Participative group’ were tasked to set their own specific hard goal.

The results were very surprising:-

The ‘Do your best group’ moved 46 cubic feet of wood an hour.

The ‘Assigned group’ moved 53 cubic feet of wood an hour.

The ‘Participative group’ moved 56 cubic feet of wood an hour.

The participative group worked as a team, were motivated as a team, were motivated by setting their own high goal, they were motivated to achieve it – as they had set it.

Working towards a goal – however high is a must for people in business and commerce. To stretch oneself and the team will forge a work ethic that will be beneficial to the business. It will keep people aware of what is needed, it will maintain output, and it will increase sales and therefore profits – ultimately leading to job security for the workforce.

So what are your goals – what are you working towards?

If you are in business, what is your long term goal?

Is your plan to sell after X years?

Is it to still remain part of the business and put a management team in place?

Are you looking to franchise what you do, or float it on the stock market?
To do your best – you need to look at that big picture. What are you doing all this for? What will you be hearing when you have achieved your goal, and how will that fell for you?

This is not ‘airy fairy’ stuff – you need to know where you are going – what you are about and what you will have achieved when you get there. Clearly a lot of hard work and planning has to be done. Key Performance Indicators have to looked at to ensure you are heading in the right direction.

Companies like mine can help business people focus their attention on what is important in setting that end goal.

OUTCOME – EFFORT – REWARD

Have a great day

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Customer Service – How Do Your Clients See Yours?

I came across this story recently about customer service. You may have read it before, so bear with me. The story itself will make you think.

The story is set in the USA, where someone purchased a new $70,000 BMW car. He chose the colour and a few other things in line with what he wanted for this vehicle. This chap was a non smoker – so he ordered a coin holder to replace the ash tray. When his car was delivered, he was disappointed that his request seemingly had been ignored – as the ash tray was still in the car – not the coin holder that he had ordered.

He called the garage and asked if they would post to him the coin holder and he would simply take out the ash tray and replace it with the coin holder – quite simple. Not according to the garage as they insisted that he called into the showroom. This was inconvenient for him as it was 60 mile round trip.

In the short term he thought – to heck with it and got on with a few jobs in the house. Which gave him time to think. Why did they not give me what he wanted? What he did then was to call Mercedes, Lexus, Rolls Royce and a few other prestige car distributors. He put his current scenario to them – they all replied that would have put the coin holder in the post as it was their mistake in the first place, and, it was only right that they put it right.

Armed with this feedback from the other car dealers. He rang the original dealership where he had bought his car from. Told them exactly what the other dealerships had said – and, gave them a piece of his mind. Once he finished the call, he put down the receiver and had a coffee. About 30 minutes later there was a knock on his door. He answered it and a young mechanic gave to him a coin holder for his car.

“It’s amazing that I had to call you and tell you what other people would do just to get BMW to take some action and get out here.”

To which the mechanic replied;

“I can understand your frustration – but, I’m not from BMW I am from Lexus.”

Which begs the question – What do you do for your clients or potential clients?

For my part in Saxton Partners as part of our Executive Coaching, Mentoring and courses – we offer:-

Resource Library – A full use of our resource library, which includes books, CD’s & DVD’s. These are loaned out to whoever needs them.

Follow Through – We follow through with them after their Executive Coaching / Mentoring sessions with appointments in the diary and action points that they have to complete.

Phone Support – I am always at the end of my mobile phone. If I am coaching when they ring – I call them back. My phone charges up overnight on my bedside cabinet. So if any of them need me – they can get hold of me. Although offered as part of our service to clients, this has never happened – however they know they can get hold of me. That is enough to put someone at ease, when they are going through some change in their lives either personally or professionally.

Action – When I say I will do something for them – I do it. Even if it just a quick phone call to see if they are ok – or to email them a paper that I have written on a subject that they are interested in.

The above are just a few things that we offer ‘over and above’ what is expected or demanded from our clients.

This ‘added value’ is very important to both current clients and prospective clients. With the latter you are giving them an experience of dealing with you – even though they have not committed yet, to doing something with you.

If you are interested in Executive Coaching, then take action; just contact me, that way we can make it happen.

Have a great day.

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By Doing The Same Thing – You Will Get The Same Result

We humans are very complex things. Our bodies maintains itself, it moves us around the planet. We use our intelligence to work things out and invent things. It even repairs itself. For our part we might exercise to keep it working and put in fuel to keep it running. Some of us take this level of performance for granted; some of us just do the silliest things.

Think about this point – have you ever tried to change the channel on your TV with the remote, and, it did not work! What did you do then? Most of us would do the same thing – and push the button down even harder! We would never think to change the batteries – that is too simple.

If you have tried to change the channel with this remote and it has not worked again (all very frustrating) have you taken the battery cover off and used your thumb to roll the batteries, while they are still in the remote – then put the battery cover back on – then tried to change the channel. All logic says that what you have done is a meaningless task. Yet, you still did it.

When I was in industry, I worked for a large expanded polystyrene manufacture of food packaging. I remember one shift made 5 tonnes of eps foam. Each roll of material weighed something like 200 kilos per reel. These reels went into stock, in readiness for it to be made into burger boxes. When the time can to use this foam the order for the customer was getting quite urgent. The reels of foam where then used – however, the resulting product was not forming correctly. The decision was to make another 5 tonnes of foam ASAP. This was planned in – made, then used on the machines. Once again the burger boxes did not form correctly.

The upshot of all this was that 10 tonnes of foam had been produced – that could not be used. In the example above no-one addressed the original issue with the first batch of foam. Remember if you do the same thing you always have done, you will end up with the same result.

So, if you are not getting what it is you want – then change something. Re-evaluate the big picture, hear some of those things that can be different, feel how the new outcome or end result feels to you once you have ‘imaginered’ it in your mind. Once you have tweaked this frame of mind – things will change, because you have altered something. Therefore the result will be different. It may not give to you your end result straight away – however it will put you on the right path. You might even engage an executive coach to facilitate this change in you.

Don’t believe me try it for yourself.

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Rock Bottom – The Next Chapter

Richards Rock
Now that you have read about how I hit rock bottom. The next chapter is what I did next. When I returned from Beaumaris after sitting on the beach in November, totally numb about my whole situation. I had an old VW Passat. I had a quarter tank of petrol and £10 in my wallet, and, I had to get back home. So I drove the whole way at 30 miles per hour – just to save fuel. If I had driven at normal speed on the motorway – I would not have made it.

A while went by when I decided to give my car a darn good cleaning – top to bottom inside and out. I allocated a whole weekend for this. So I got prepared and did it. When I got to the boot I cleaned the boot carpet and even polished the inside of the boot lid. In a VW Passat there are two little recesses at either side. I removed the bits that had fallen in there and vacuumed it. The vacuum when into overdrive – I wondered why. It was trying to suck up that rock! I had forgotten all about it, as it had rolled out of a bag and fell in the recess – it had been there for a long time.

When I held it up to the sunlight, I just smiled. That is when I realised that this rock was shaped by all sort of forces and had become the shape it was. Again, the thought struck me that I was shaped by other people, other situations – leading a life where it was not me.

When I was running one of my Accredited Diploma Courses in Coaching and Mentoring. I had the notion to tell my Rock Story – so I did. I took this one stage further by giving each person a little round rock of their own before they depart for home. This was my personal present to them – they now had control of this rock, not me. I informed them that they are in charge of that rock – as they are now in charge of themselves. The metaphor here is that they and no-one else, now shapes their future. They can facilitate this with the tools that I had given them on the course. Oh, they may decide to throw it away, put it in their sock draw or put it on their rockery in the garden – the important thing was, it was their choice to do that not mine.

I have still people who still have their rock. In fact I met a lady the other day who said to me “I’ve still got that rock you gave me”. This particular person used to be the MD of a multi million turnover business in the UK. In turn this company was bought by a global player in their field of expertise. She decided to leave and set up her own Global Technical Marketing Organisation. She is doing very well in her new venture, getting clients and imparting her marketing knowledge across the globe.

I am also in contact with another lady who used to have a global role in a German Pharmaceutical Company. She re-shaped herself also when she had her own rock; she gave her old self back to herself. Which is exactly what I did. She subsequently changed to another Global Pharmaceutical Company, and she now runs their Far East Division. She informed me in a recent email that her rock sits on her desk in her office and has pride of place.

For me, when I do something for someone, either Coaching or Mentoring I do not expect anything in return. However, it is lovely when I hear that my Rock Story itself has now gone Global!

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How I Survived Hitting Rock Bottom

Richard - Rock Bottom

Richard – Rock Bottom

I found this on our server today – it was an interview that I did in 2009 after reaching my own ‘rock bottom’. I hope the story gives you some thoughts as to how you can deal with ‘stuff’ and provide a way forward.

As the recession bites, increasing the risk of unemployment and putting greater strain on relationships, one man’s story is proof that there is hope for the future, even when life hits rock bottom.

Within a matter of months, Richard Cockell lost his father, was made redundant from the job he had held for 23 years, split up from his wife and discovered that his mother was suffering from breast cancer, leaving him in despair and virtually penniless.

Depressed and seemingly without a reason to live, he found himself sitting on a rock, staring at the bottom of the ocean with the waves lapping around his legs.

But, remarkably, a seemingly innocuous event prompted a shard of humour to break through his depression and set him on the road back from the brink. And he is now keen to share his story to provide hope for others.
The fall into despair had been quick. Divorce had left him living in the back room at his parents’ home in Wakefield and then, one day, his mum went to the doctors for a routine breast scan and discovered that she had all the signs of breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy and a month after she came out of hospital Richard’s dad passed away after a long deterioration in his health.

Then the management team announced redundancies at the plant where the father-of-two worked. He said:
“My blood ran cold when I went to the allotted room. ‘Would they really get rid of me after 23 years of service?’. “The answer was ‘yes’. I sat quietly whilst I was told that I was going to lose my job as a buyer. I am normally quite a controlled person and yet, at that point, tears streamed down my face and I couldn’t stop shaking. Afterwards I wasn’t angry or sad. I just felt numb. I was just so stunned at the news.

“When I received the letter that would provide details of my redundancy payment I once again felt stunned as I stared at the figure on the page – £6,079.00 for 23 years service – with no discretionary payment at all.
“So there I was, marriage over, father dead, mother recovering from breast cancer, no job and a cheque for £6,079.00, which mostly went on some outstanding bills from my divorce.

Richard, 55, who now lives in Harrogate, said: “Appropriately, I was sitting on a rock when I hit rock bottom.
“I had gone to a place on the coast which held happy memories and started to reflect on all the stuff that had happened to me.

“And I found myself saying out loud: ‘Well Richard, your dad has died, your mum has had breast cancer, and you’ve no job and nothing in the bank!”

“And I found myself replying: ‘Well Richard, things can’t get any worse!’

“That small drop of humour pulled me round.

“Then out of the corner of my eye I noticed a rock. This rock was round – tan in colour – and was rolling in the surf. It inspired me somehow. I waded into the waves and picked it out of the water and put it in the car.
“I was later to realise that, just as that rock had been shaped by other elements, such as contact with other rocks and the action of the waves, my life had been shaped by other people, others’ needs and others’ expectations. I had been moulded into something that I was not.

“That day on the beach was the beginning of me taking control of my life for the first time.”
Richard was born at his parents’ home in Pinderfields Road, Wakefield, in 1958 and was a pupil at Thornes House Comprehensive, Wakefield.

He spent 23 years working for Linpac Plastics, in Wakefield Road, Featherstone and was married with two children when his life began to go off the rails. But, after hitting rock bottom during the trip to Beaumaris, Anglesey, Richard’s life began to improve. In 2005 he was working as a security officer based at the Emmerdale television set in the grounds of Harewood House.

He was looking for further inspiration when he got hold of a Neuro Linguistic Programming Diploma course leaflet run by a company in Harrogate – it intrigued him.

NLP uses the power of positive thinking and visualisation to improve people’s lives as well as improving businesses’ performance by aiding team work and communication. One Friday night fate played a part in helping to complete Richard’s journey from despair to happiness. Some of the cast and crew went for a drink after work and invited him along as his shift had finished. In the pub, he bumped into the owner of the company whose leaflet he had picked up just a few days earlier – Sonia Saxton, of Saxton Partners Ltd.

Richard said: “I did an NLP diploma and started to make the connections about people and their behaviour and what we do to ourselves in our heads. Out of the blue I thought of my rock. The one I’d retrieved from the sea and that’s when I realized what that moment had meant to me.

“Now, with my learning and new set of NLP tools, I have taken control of me. I shape me and what I do – no-one else.

“I saw how I could change my future. I grasped that future and have moulded it the way I want it. Now, I help other people to get to where they need to be by One-to-One Coaching, and delivering NLP courses.”

And the owner of the company, Sonia Saxton, is the woman he now shares his life with after they fell in love whilst working together. It’s a far cry from the dark days and, with the recession hitting people hard, Richard has some timely advice for people going through tough times, at work and in their personal life.

He said: “Somewhere you will have your own rock. All you need to do is shape your own future and not wait for someone else to shape a future that, after all, belongs to you.

So the moral of the story is – if I can do it, so can you.

FOOTNOTE – Richard is now am Internationally Qualified Coach and Master Practitioner in NLP Coaching and Mentoring. Helping others to reach their true potential at Saxton Partners – Harrogate – UK

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Influencing in Business

Influencing in Business is vital to its survival – that’s obvious I hear you say. Well here are some thoughts for you to ‘wrestle’ with.

The OED sees the word influencing as:-

“The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.”

Influencing to some is about one person telling another what to do and how to do it. I can remember countless examples of this in industry where a Manager has adopted this approach. It might stem from them being higher up the ‘food chain’ than the person being ‘influenced’. The person on the receiving end of this ‘influence’ does not question or seek greater understanding. They may be concerned that if they asked a question they would be considered stupid or not on board with the company policies. They could in fact be fearful that they will lose their job. So they carry out the allotted task to the letter, they may simply do what is asked of them and no more. This creates behaviour from that other person. I am sure you have heard “I did exactly what you asked me to do!” The co-worker has not failed the task or has not completed it. However they have not had any input as to its outcome and could be disengaged. The result is a behaviour that is not helpful.

On the other hand, the person doing the influencing, takes on board the other persons skill set and works with their motivations. The result will be much better. You do this by stepping into their world. This way you use what they are about to best effect. I am not an expert in martial arts – however there is a school of thought that says – use the others persons momentum, not your own, for you to gain the upper hand. This is the same technique when you are influencing – use their momentum to best effect, to get the job done – to achieve the outcome. The influencer is using the character and development side of the OED definition seen above.

If a person is a mover and shaker – then use that attribute.
Remember not to squash this with your own stuff. Work with their energy and drive to get the end result.

If a person is a thinker – then that is their strength – so use it.
You may have some of the answers, and they might have that little nugget of an idea that will make all the difference.

If a person is a process person – they will have a methodical approach to the task. This is their strength – it may not be yours – so again, use it to best advantage.

Just taking the three examples above – you may not see yourself doing these things. However, if you can step into their world – influence – then step back from their world. You will find that they will walk through a wall for you. By doing this technique you might feel that you are not influencing – maybe you might think you do not have control. In fact you have all the control – as you are conducting the orchestra – not the other way around.

Have a good and very productive day!

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Healthy Entrepreneur – Healthy Business

The health of people in a business or organisation is very important. A business is generally described as being ‘healthy’ when it posts good profits. However what about the people running and working in that environment?

I am 55 years old and in my experience we tend to look after and maintain things that are important to us. The $64,000 question is – “What to you do to keep you healthy?” For example most of us own or have access to a vehicle. That vehicle has to be looked after – we put oil, water and petrol in the engine. We may even send it to the garage for a service. In the UK every car has to have an MOT (Ministry of Transport) certificate, to show that the vehicle is healthy. New cars are exempt from this MOT for the first 3 years of its life. This legal requirement forces us to do this annually as without it you cannot tax and insure your vehicle. If we check our cars over every week – we will notice those little scratches – bits of rust, little jobs that can be dealt with there and then. If we do not check the car as often – and only put water in it when a light comes up on the dashboard – you might have more issues with your car than you had first thought.

I used to work for a multinational company, based in the UK, that made food packaging. They had a whole line of machinery that produced packaging 24 hours a day – almost 365 days a year. They would produce 40 x 40 foot trailers of product per day. As you can imagine a very hectic schedule to maintain. They used to run the machines until they broke down. Then the OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency) of that machine was lowered because of this issue. Down time = lost production = customers are let down.

They then changed their approach as this was clearly not sustainable. They brought in a system where they had diagrams of every machine in the production hall. I am not an engineer – so forgive my terminology – they looked like ‘exploded diagrams’ with all the parts identified and numbered. Every single breakdown was recorded, the part replaced and the part number was also noted. This in time enabled them to build up a picture of what parts would fail after say XXX hours of running that machine. The production planning team then set up a TPM (Total Preventative Maintenance) system and planned into the production schedule TPM downtime to change the part BEFORE it broke. They used my car story to clean down the machines every shift and noted everything – the benefit of this was that they did not get ‘rusty holes in their bodywork’.

Taking this analogy further. There are some of us who maintain our bodies in a similar way – there are some who do not. I am sure, that as you are reading this you will know people who may take vitamins, eat organic food and exercise. This is helping to maintain or TPM our ‘machine’, our body. There are some who do not TPM their bodies and they run and run until they break, the individual becomes ill or worse.

So how does all this fit in with a Healthy Entrepreneur I hear you ask. If you maintain and nourish your mind and brain – you are TPM’ing the whole. Simple things like having a coach or mentor. To make time for yourself to connect with the real you. (That may sound very ‘tree huggy’ – not the case.) We have to evolve and nourish our bodies and mind right through the day. (Lets face it there are some of us that only get time to themselves when we are in the bathroom!). To recognise, and work through those unhelpful behaviours that are getting in the way of you having a better performance at work or with loved ones at home. Just chilling out. This list can go on and on – it will be different for each person. Why? – our individual needs are different. What works for me, will not work for another.

This article on this blog – is just to stimulate your own thoughts and ideas as to what you can do to maintain the wonderful you. I have received coaching and it helped me. So much so 8 years ago I changed my career path to go into 1-2-1 coaching and team development all over the UK. This coaching enabled me to give my old self back to myself. I am a lot happier and more content with life.

So, a healthy entrepreneur, both in mind and body are wonderful attributes to have either for yourself or for your colleagues and co-workers.

Have a great day.

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