MIND OVER MATTER

Last year I went to a Networking Event at a local Hospice here in Harrogate. Wonderful work done by wonderful people.

On that night they informed us about a sponsored bike ride they were organising in July 2014. I said that I was interested in doing it. Well, it is for a very worthy cause. 

Afterwards I discovered the length of the bike ride was 50 miles!! Through the very undulating countryside of North Yorkshire. 

I have a compressed 3rd disc in my back, which tends to throw my hip a bit. It means that sometimes I get pains in my legs. My mind went straight to this fact and was setting up a “Don’t do it !!” scenario. I was looking at the negative side of the whole thing. 

We do this in life, when something becomes challenging, we find ways of not doing it. We might actually put off repairing that dripping tap, because we say to ourselves “It’s a two minute job, I will do it later”. We put off mowing the lawn. Only to find that when we eventually do it, either the grass is too long and too wet to cut, or we burn out the motor on the mower dragging it across the lawn. 

Using my training and coaching skills, I reframed the whole thing. I looked at the benefits of doing this bike ride. I will get fitter, as I will have to train prior to the event. I will have to focus on the end result, giving me something to work to. I.e. raising money for my local hospice. I will eat the right foods for my cycling training and will have a schedule to work to, up to and including the 27th of July 2014 when the event starts. 

Thinking about it – do we do this in life? I would suggest not. 

Most of you reading this will have a job, attend work, get paid, go on holiday, pay bills – all for what? What is your eventual outcome or result – retire? Then enjoy life? 

When I do anything, I look at the end result first and work backwards towards the present. This way it gives to me a timetable in life. 

My outcome for the 27th of July 2014 is to raise money for my local hospice. I will have to prepare my bike, plan a training schedule, eat the right foods, find my waterproofs, as it might rain while I am training – this will be my timetable. As a by product of this I will become fitter – an added benefit. 

So, look at your life, see where you are going – is that destination really where you want to be? 

This is your chance to change it.

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Have You Ever Hit A Brick Wall?

There are times in our business and private lives when we hit that brick wall. This term will mean different things to different people. For me it is when I am not getting where I need to be, to some it will be just a state of de-motivation or stress.

Ask yourself this:-
1.) Have you ever put off making that phone call because you cannot be bothered?
2.) Have you run round all day at the office and not got a thing done?
3.) Do you ever sit in your chair and just sit there looking busy?
4.) Have you got so many balls in the air – you are not sure which one to deal with next?
5.) Are you due some time off?

You may or may not agree with any of the 5 points above – they are just examples to stimulate your mind – so that you know where I am coming from.

What you are experiencing is a state of flux, a stopped state of mind that just cannot process all those things going round in your head. You may feel that if you got up and made a cup of coffee or go to the bathroom that this will unstick this stuck state. Not so.

What is happening for you is that your head will be down, dashing around all over the place. Task after task after task – that is what it seems like to you while you are in this state of mind. It is called an Associated State – this is where your head is totally immersed in what you are doing.

To change this state you need to do something. There are a couple of techniques I will share with you:-

a.) Move from where you are sitting, change the environment. When it is safe to do so – simply raise your head and stroke the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. It will tickle a bit, however by doing this brings you out of that state of mind.

b.) When you are at home – away from the office. I want you to find your favourite chair and sit there. Close your eyes and see yourself in the office, doing what you have been doing recently. So you are observing you. See how you’re sat, your body language, and the tension on your face and see how you are coming across to other people.

By using one or both of these two techniques you will find that you dis-associate from the issues at hand. It will give to you a clearer picture of what is going on. This way you can take action – the great benefit of this is that you will become more productive.

Don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself.

Have a great day.

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Do Your Work Colleagues Work And/Or Think In Silo’s?

I visited a potential client the other day, who was a manufacturer. Had a tour round the plant by one of the Directors. Very clean, very organised – no out of date memos on the notice boards – you know the thing I mean.

I was collected by this Director in their reception area. We started our factory tour by putting on our high visibility vest, safety hat and ear plugs. I was shown one area near to the reception, where some goods are delivered. All quite neat and tidy.

We then went into another part of the factory, which in fact was another part of their manufacturing process – a storage area. There was a difference, still tidy – the notice boards were still organised – and it had information only about that area of the business – nothing else. I would go so far as to say, that the staff had a different attitude to the ones I had previously experienced.

My factory tour continued into the main production hall. The noise level here was higher than the other two areas – not surprising as this was the main hub of the whole plant. I noticed that the floor and corners of this area were not as clean or tidy, when compared with the previous department. There was a lot of shouting, and quite ‘robust’ language, people being quite aggressive with each other. They were not arguing or fighting – just a bunch of guys constantly in each others faces.

The final part of my tour was the distribution area. Once again there was a marked difference to the production area. I went with my host to the boardroom for a coffee. He asked me what I thought about his plant. I said that my first impressions were that there seemed to the four businesses under one roof. The delivery area, the storage area, the production area and the logistics side of the business.

The Director was interested and asked me to give to him more detail about what we were discussing. The main point that I made was that each area was so different to the other. Yes – we must have some differences. What I was alluding to was the attitude of the work force in those areas – the way they came across as I walked passed them.
This Director thought about what I had said and after some discussion he realised that the four areas reflected the Manager that ran them. In essence the guy running the production area was a former military man before he came to industry. His department reflected his management style, as did the other three departments.

These four Managers had created their own Silo’s or how that part of the business worked for them, It is important to have individuals who are what they are and not clones of each other. So that they are different as I am different to my host Director.

He then told me that they were having ‘communication problems’ between departments. That is why he contacted me and gave me the factory tour. He knew there was something not right, yet, could not put his finger on it.
I devised a plan to ‘De-Silo’ the Managers – the benefit will be that communication will be better. Thus ensuring that the needs of the external customer are put first – not the internal Silo’s. Quite a challenge – however, I will achieve a result for him.

If you need silo’s removing – then I can help you.

Have a great day.

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Customer Service – How is Yours?

I came across an article by Pat Lencioni of The Table Group about customer service. I thought I would share this with you as I it highlights what a Companys perception of Customer Service is compared to what it actually is.

The Dangers of Dishonest Marketing
Summer involves a lot of air travel for me, and so I suppose I get inspired, or provoked, to address my airline frustrations and relate them to leadership and management. But the purpose here is not to complain about bad service.

That’s not to say that the flight that stimulated this essay featured good service. It didn’t. It was one of the big, legacy air carriers, and even as we were boarding the flight attendants made it clear that they were not looking forward to our disruptive presence in their workplace. But I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to that, so I wasn’t particularly upset by the situation.

What made this experience particularly frustrating was something that happened even before the plane took off. Just before the safety briefing, a video was shown featuring the CEO of the airline, who warmly greeted passengers and proudly announced that customer service was the hallmark of the airline, and that it always has been.

Really?

It got worse. Next we watched short clips of smiling employees – flight attendants, customer service agents,
pilots – declaring that everything they do, the reason they work, is to make customers happy. It was surreal and, frankly, insulting.

As unpleasant as this was for me and the other passengers, I think the most uncomfortable people on the plane were the flight attendants who had to stand there and watch themselves portrayed in a way that did not generally reflect anything close to reality. Whether they were ashamed of themselves or disgusted by their leader, I don’t know, but either way it was awkward.

Anyway, once I got beyond my initial reaction to all this, I came to realize that there are two lessons to be learned here. First, leaders should not use marketing to address an issue that is more fundamentally related to organizational health. This only masks the problem and prevents the organization from addressing it at its core, which almost always starts at the top.

Second, leaders who do this throw gasoline on a fire, making a bad situation even worse. See, there is something far, far more maddening than experiencing poor service: being lied to about that service and having your intelligence insulted. I am not proud to admit that I had a very visceral, bitter attitude about that CEO at that moment, and I think his flight attendants did too.

Frankly, I would have preferred if he had come on the video and explained, “Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for flying our airline. Though we say you have a choice, these days you probably don’t as we may be the only airline serving this route at this time of day. And I know all too well that the service you get when you fly with us is inconsistent, if not unfriendly. Unfortunately, for a lot of reasons that I can’t go into here, it’s difficult for us to get rid of surly flight attendants, and for that matter, reward the really good ones. But I hope you’re fortunate to have a really good one today, and if not, I hope the overall experience isn’t too unpleasant. And please know that we always do our best to make the flight safe.”

I would have stood and applauded. And you know what? I think that kind of honesty would actually do more to provoke a cultural change at the airline by making the less friendly flight attendants not want to be seen that way.

Okay, just as I was finishing this essay, I arrived at my destination city and checked in at a big airport hotel. My colleague and I were greeted somewhat unenthusiastically by a young woman at the check-in desk who was wearing a ribbon emblazoned with the word “WOW” on it. We asked her what it meant and she told us, a little hesitantly, that it had to do with providing customers with great service so they would say ‘wow.’

As she explained this, another ribbon-wearing employee was standing next to her, doing nothing. She neither smiled, looked up at us, nor asked if she could help my colleague check-in. I can only imagine what must have been going through her mind as she listened to our conversation and decided not to engage.

Again, the point here is not to be harsh on these particular employees. Like flight attendants and the rest of us, they have their stories and their challenges in life, I’m sure. The point is that leaders of organizations only make their problems worse when they use gimmicks and marketing programs to convince customers that they’re good at something that anyone with eyes and ears knows they do poorly.

Of course, what these companies need to do is address the underlying cultural and operational issues at the heart of their service problem. And if they ultimately come to the conclusion that they shouldn’t or can’t invest in improving service – which might be justified – then they should focus on touting their real strengths and stop insulting their customers and employees by making preposterous and unjustified claims.

Ultimately, people want honesty, clarity, and even vulnerability from the companies that serve and employ them. And I’m convinced that they’ll reward those companies for it. Heck, maybe the woman at the hotel should have said, “Hi. We’re not the Ritz-Carlton, but the rooms are clean, we don’t have bedbugs and there’s free wi-fi. That’s all you really need for the money you paid, right?” Okay, that may be unrealistic, but I swear it would be better than the “WOW” ribbons.
Yours,
Pat Lencioni

I agree with Pat on all the points he raises here. We have all put up with this type of thing in the past. Maybe it is time for a change.

Have a great day.

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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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