Saturday, 23 July 2011

Is Gamification the Next Step for Employee Engagement?

Using gaming theory is something that we've all come across in the development space.  Games like the "Beer Distribution" game and the lean "envelope" are staples of the creative change programme.  The word "gamification" is becoming more common in the literature, where technology driven games are seen as potential answers to employee engagement, customer intimacy and business transformation.

In this presentation, focused on game based marketing, we are introduced to the concept and given some clues as to were social media and gamification may take us.  I find this to be quite fascinating and I'd really like to see developers building web based games that help employee engage in corporate strategy.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Game Changers for Presenters/Pitchers

You would have thought that by now most people would understand that if you are pitching or presenting the quality of your performance is massively impacted by the amount of rehearsal that you do.  In this excellent reminder presentation by @PresentorMentor is built around this great quote
All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed - Sean O’Casey

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Critical Questions and Solutions For HR Professionals

Ever wondered how to get the conversation going about how your HR department is doing? This very short presentation will help you ask those difficult questions of yourself and others as well as offering some potential solutions.

To view the presentation it's best to maximise the view by clicking the wee symbol on the bottom right hand side.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Never Forget the Hill on Sales Leadership

In his classic book, "Think and Grow Rich", Napoleon Hill discussed the eleven secrets of leadership.  Recently, whilst designing a retreat for sales executives, it occurred to me that the attributes of strong leadership and effective selling have a tremendous amount in common.  After all, to be successful in sales, you need to be a leader, both within your own organization, as well as to your clients and customers.

To paraphrase management guru Peter Drucker, a leader is someone who not only does things right, but who also does the right things, while helping others do the same. The same holds true in sales: how better to serve your clients than to really know and understand what they do, and to truly help them do it better?

With that in mind, here are Mr. Hill's eleven secrets to leadership, as they apply to leadership in selling:

1. "Unwavering Courage": Selling successfully requires courage; taking a risk where the odds may seem stacked against you; courage to make that extra call, to deal with the tough client or prospect, and to not let anything deter you. As Hill says, courage is "based upon knowledge of self and one's occupation.

2. "Self-Control": The ability to set a course for yourself and take disciplined action each day is a key attribute of all successful salespeople.

3. "A Keen Sense of Justice": Knowing right from wrong - understanding what is fair and just - allows you to make, wise informed decisions.

4. "Definiteness of Decision": Deciding on what you want to achieve, and then doing whatever it takes to get there, even in the face of obstacles and setbacks, is crucial to your success. For those who don't quite make it, failure can usually be traced back to a lack of decisiveness about what they really want.

5. "Definiteness of Plans": In Hill's words, "the successful leader must plan his work, and work his plan. Truer words were never spoken when it comes to selling. Plan your time, and then take action on your plan each and every day.

6. "The Habit of Doing More Than Paid For": Want to sell more? Go the extra mile for your clients. Want to get the respect, admiration, and cooperation from your internal "clients" - the people you need to rely on to implement or help you close sales? Go the distance for them as well.

7. "A Pleasing Personality": Is selling a popularity contest? No, but would you buy something from someone who was nasty and rude?

8. "Sympathy and Understanding": Selling is about understanding what people DO, and then helping them do it better. Plain and simple.

9. "Mastery of Detail": Ah, yes... The devil, as they say, is in the details. Ever work really hard to close a sale, only to have it fall apart because of some small detail that falls through the cracks? What may seem like a small detail to you can be a crucial one, maybe even a deal-breaker, to your prospect, customer, or client.

10. "Willingness to Assume Full Responsibility": No matter how much customer support your company provides, you are the prime representative of your organization. If you try to pass the buck to someone else, you lose respect and credibility. "But it really wasn't my fault that the shipment was delayed in customs and then the delivery truck was attacked a pack of wild dogs..." Doesn't matter; accept the responsibility for any problem and all details, and then do whatever needs to be done to make things right. Your clients need to know that you are their advocate.

11. "Cooperation": You can't do it alone. Sales is a collaborative effort. Your prospects need to collaborate with you; you need the cooperation and assistance of others both inside and outside your organization to make things happen. The best salespeople are those who can work well with others, and with whom other people want to work.

Think about these eleven areas of leadership, and ask yourself how you do on each of these items. Find areas where you can make improvements and chart your course to work on improving what you do each day; incremental improvements each day become exponential over time.

Source: Sales Leadership

Friday, 15 July 2011

Employers Still Not Listening

A new report, by Monster, shows only a quarter of employees feel their opinions matter at work; others have their opinions rejected or just not taken into account.

Just over a quarter of respondents (27%) said their opinions are listened to and seriously considered, 33% felt their opinions were often ignored and 32% said they were never listened to. A third of respondents feel sometimes their opinions are listened to but often ignored and another third feel their opinions are not heard at all.

The situation is worse for UK respondents: nearly half (48%) feel that their opinions are not listened to. This contrasts sharply with China, where only one in five (19%) feel this way, and one third feel their opinions are seriously considered. European respondents are the most opinionated - 97% will share work-related opinions - with the UK particularly willing to share their work-related opinions (98%). In contrast, respondents in China are the most reluctant to share work-related opinions, with over one in ten (13%) who either do not have opinions to share or do not speak up.

A spokesman for Monster, said:
It's important for businesses to listen to opinions from all members of staff to ensure they feel valued, motivated and engaged in the company. Opinions and ideas from all levels of the business will often bring valid points to light and raise issues possibly not picked up by more senior employees and management. Also, ensuring that employees are happy in their roles will ultimately maximise productivity and benefit both individual and company.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Turning Your Group Into a Team

Perhaps the most common question I am asked by my clients is, "how do we increase productivity?".  There are numerous answers to this (leaning processes, technologu enabelemt etc) but for me the critical answer is all about the social dynamics in the group and are they such that the group is working as a team?

According to HBR:
...a team is a group of people who do collective work and are mutually committed to a common team purpose and challenging goals related to that purpose

Collective work and mutual commitment are the key characteristics. By going beyond mere cooperation and coordination, collective work produces more innovative and productive outcomes that exceed the simple sum of individual efforts.  Mutual commitment means members hold themselves and each other jointly accountable for the team's performance. They not only think and act collectively, but the social and emotional bonds among them are compelling. They share a genuine conviction that "we" — the potent concept behind every team — will succeed or fail together, and that no individual can succeed while the team fails.

The powerful ties among members of this social structure spring, first, from purpose and goals. A common, worthwhile purpose creates a sense of doing something important together, and specific, challenging team goals based on that purpose create a sense of going someplace important together. Without purpose and goals, no group will become a team.

But they're not enough. Team members also need clarity; about roles, about how the work is done, and about how members interact. When all of these crucial elements are in place, groups become teams: communities that exert strong influence on members' attitudes and behaviors. That's why the ability to transform a group of people into a true team can make you a more influential and effective manager.

HBR goes on the ask a critical question.  Have you made your people a real team bound by a genuine sense of "we"? If not, ask yourself — and your group members — these questions to understand what more you must do:
  • Are we mutually committed to a compelling and worthwhile purpose? Do we know not just which task we must perform, but who will benefit from our work? Do we believe that if we disappeared today, the world would be different tomorrow?
  • Are we pursuing clear goals based on that purpose, and do we have plans in place for reaching them?
  • Does everyone know how the team does its work? Does everyone understand their roles and responsibilities? Are work processes clear? Do we share a set of values and beliefs about what we expect of each other and how we treat each other? Does everyone know how we're doing, both as a group and individually?
Finally (and paradoxically) don't ignore team members as individuals. It's human nature that we all want to belong to a group and we want to be recognized for our distinct contributions. Get to know and deal with each member uniquely — but always in the context of the team and its work.

Source HBR

Friday, 8 July 2011

Do Not Leave Success of Downsizing to Chance

I’ve spent much of the past six months working with the British National Health Service (the NHS). Our activity has been focused on workforce and process efficiency, that being the downsizing of numbers of management grades and the “leaning” of flows through the healthcare economy. This is, without question, a tough time to be working in the NHS and people throughout the system are feeling the pressure.

In other sectors when such change has occurred it has felt a bit like the characters depicted in the picture above.

The good news, for the NHS at least, is that today there has been an announcement regarding the creation of a National Leadership Academy for NHS staff.  The Academy aims to provide the uniform high standard of leadership and management that the NHS needs to survive and succeed at this time of radical change in the health sector.

Let us hope that this goes at least part of the way to help avoid the problems highlighted in the picture and that they take the advice given about empowerment previously highlighted.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Lack of Empowerment - "The" Employee Engagement Waste?

I was reflecting on why one of my client organisations seems to stand out from the rest this morning. Turns out there are a number of reasons, but one thing is dramatically different about how they operate. They have, in place, real empowerment where mid to lower ranking managers and staff have the delegated authority to get things done without having to continuously check with the boss if they are doing the right things. I asked how this had come about and was told by an HR Business Partner:

...well if we don’t trust the people in our business to help us be successful who can we trust?

Richard Noble, entrepreneur and land speed record project manager sums this point up brilliantly in an article on published in HR Magazine:
Leadership is risk! It is a quality corporations try to avoid like the plague. But risk is good; it's very, very good. Everyone in my company is empowered to the point where they could cause the failure of the company. That's exciting.
Now that's what I call Employee Engagement!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

What Happens When the Brakes Fall Off?

I had an interesting meeting with one of the board members of the British Bobsleigh team today (Scott Allaway, Commercial Director). We were chewing the fat about the art of the possible and got round to talking about how we deal with failure in our respective professions.

Working for a large organisation, my answer was typically about performance management. Scott on the other hand had a much more interesting story to tell.
Back in 2002 Scott raced motorbikes (GP 250s).  He was in a race at Brands Hatch and was coming in to a corner on the course at Graham Hill at 150 mph.  He applied the brakes and - nothing.  Scott proceeded to crash into the barriers.  It transpired that the mechanic responsible for the brakes on his bike had forgotten to tighten the nuts that held the brake pads onto the bike.

Despite calls for the mechanic to be sacked and even prosecuted for attempted murder Scott had another view:
...he should keep his job but from now on I want him to be responsible for my brakes all the time... 
The mechanic and Scott lived to tell the tale.  Quite a story and one which really inspired me.