Leadership Fundamentals – Understand Your Team and Your Customers

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This follows on from an early post entitled  ” Your First 90 days “.

A short cut to success in your leadership role is having complete clarity on who your key stakeholders are, ensuring you know what they expect from you and building solid effective two way relationships with them all.

So, where do you start?

Firstly, set out with the intention of building a thorough understanding of all your team members, regardless of their experience level, seniority, area of responsibility, personality and attitude. Approach this project with an attitude of curiosity to build a complete pen picture for each member of your team. Do it in a way that makes sense to you however insure you consider what makes them tick, what their aims and ambitions are short and long term even if its just to keep doing what they already are that is fine at least you know. What challenges do they face, what do they love doing, are their any people they are struggling with. Capture all the this information per person and design a process whereby you are continually building and refreshing this knowledge of each team member so that over the next few months you know them inside out! Use your regular 1-1’s, times when you are working alongside individuals on specific pieces of work and social interactions to gleam further insights. Cultivating this attitude of interest and curiosity will enable you to adjust your leadership style accordingly and look out for opportunities where you can put the right work their way and design appropriate development interventions to help each person grow under your leadership tenure.

In parallel to building an in depth understanding of your team you need to take a similar approach with all your customers internal and external. Try and put yourself in their shoes and anticipate what they need from you and your team for them each to be successful. Armed with your thoughts check this out with each person at the earliest opportunity to ensure you haven’t missed anything and to identify the priority expectations and requirements of your role from their perspective as customers. Often we are busy doing work that we think is critically important which our customers don’t value in the same way.

For both your team and internal/external customers ask yourself “how healthy and enjoyable is the working relationship between the two of you?” Score each relationship between 1 and 10, 1 being very broken and hard work to 10 being extremely productive and enjoyable in fact it doesn’t really seem like work! Identify the most important stakeholders that have the lowest quality rating 1-10 and then think about what you need to do to make improvements.

Take a similar approach with your peer group and your manager so you can establish what each needs from you and how effective the working relationship currently is.

Its worth repeating this type of exercise annually as people change roles a lot and also business expectations change as strategy changes.

Sandra works as an executive coach for businesses and also has a private coaching practice for career/life and business coaching. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She is also author of Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon Check book out here and a recently launched series of Own It Podcasts which gives inspiration and tips for professional and personal life Own It Podcasts

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Flexible Working Mindset

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As I was lucky enough to work for a very forward thinking multinational American based organisation in my early career I have always been a fan of flexible working. Even back in the 1980’s and 1990’s working for this company my performance was always measured on the results I achieved not the hours I spent in the office.

When I started a family, I was one of the first senior leaders to return to my role on a part time basis and another couple of my then colleagues were part of a pilot plan to prove a senior leadership role in the Marketing Function could be successfully be carried out on a job share basis (which they did prove!) Flexible working in many forms were supported and actively encouraged as a way of keeping high performers working for the organisation as their personal circumstances changed and recruiting replacements would have been time consuming and expensive.

Since leaving this organisation and having had the privilege of working with many more across a huge variety of industries also supporting SME’s and startups I still work with the ethos of encouraging leaders to do whatever they can to consider individual requests for flexible working/ part time contracts if a few things are carefully considered by both parties.

Firstly, the individual must have clearly defined role, specific areas of responsibility and a plan needs to be in place to cover the times when the individual is not available for work as per the agreed schedule. This is where job sharing can be of great benefit providing the necessary co-cover for each other. If job sharing isn’t an option, then there may be a developmental opportunity for another member of the same organisation to learn skills and provide cover. This ensures continuity of role especially important in client facing roles.

The second thing to consider is that the role needs to be manageable from both a business and a personal perspective using the flexible or reduced hours model. With increased technology this makes life a lot easier with remote access and cloud-based applications the norm now. There wasn’t this luxury back in those early years however we still made it work.

The mindset should however still be the same all these years on – if someone requests a flexible or reduced hour schedule and they have already proven they can do the job well it should simply be “what can we do to make this work from both a business case and a personal standpoint”

 

Sandra works as a coach for both businesses and private clients primarily based in Bristol UK however throughout the year also works in London and Palma Mallorca. More information can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com.

 

Turn Problems into New Outcomes

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How good are you at taking a situation and switching from a problem focus to a solution focus?

Whether it be in private or professional life we can often be faced with unplanned events or situations that we didn’t anticipate and have the potential of derailing us. How quickly  you are able to pick yourself up and reposition both your thoughts, feelings and actions from a problem orientation to a problem-solving stance is a skill high performers work on continuosly. Having some tools and techniques to handle these situations are useful ones to have.

One way of training ourselves to move towards a solution is by thinking firstly towards what is the desired outcome we want. If the outcome isn’t obvious then the first habit to learn is to look wide at all the possibilities alternative outcomes so simply get a blank bit of paper, a white board or flip chart and ask the following questions.

What would good look like?

  • What would it feel like?
  • What would people be saying?
  • What do all the different stakeholders want?
  • What we be proud of?
  • How can we make this the best in class?

Try and get other people involved as well for tricky problems to get diversity of thought as sometimes we can be too close both emotionally and technically to the problems we are trying to solve. So that’s the first technique to learn, questioning with curiosity to explore new outcomes that you can work towards from the problem you are currently encountering. Just by reframing the situation in this way you can change the energy levels of those involved from low energy despair to higher and possibility.

Acknowledge the problem but move on quickly towards a new outcome.

 

Sandra works as a professional coach for both businesses and private clients, more information can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com . She is also the author of Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon click this link

 

 

The Customer Journey Good and Bad

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This wasn’t the planned blog subject matter but it has been such an experience that I felt compelled to capture the learnings.

How can some organisations get it so right while others get it so wrong?

Looking after customers or clients , whatever your terminology, with care, effective communication and the personal touch throughout the entire journey is vitally important. I have had two experiences in the matter of weeks which were as contrasting as black and white.

The first experience started well or so I thought with me signing up for a service that appeared to be offering a timely and cost effective solution to my problem (the old saying if it seems too good to be true it probably is now comes to mind). The first problems started to occur when I discovered the timelines of the service provision were very different in actual terms than the one that was originally offered. In hindsight this should have been a warning sign however I proceeded and agreed to a delayed appointment time. The first appointment was conducted but a solution wasn’t fully available at that point so a second visit was required. This is when the problem started as on numerous occasions the second appointment was cancelled, rearranged, not communicated which resulted in time off and loss of earnings by me (the customer) After an official complaint which wasn’t followed up correctly I eventually cancelled the contract and was back where I started 2 months ago.

The second experience couldn’t have been more different with clear expectations, loads of communication, appointments that were kept, problems resolved and a solution in place within an acceptable timescale.

In the theory of customer care training which we deliver as an organisation there is always a chance of “recovery” – taking some action to recover the situation and leave the customer less dissatisfied. To date the first organisation has not taken this route, even after an official complaint and a withdrawal of the contract no one has got in touch to either apologise or offer compensation for inconvenience caused.

If you are responsible for delivering products or services at least learn where the problems are within the system of processes otherwise customers talk and share their experiences good and bad. It’s ok if customers are happy and recommending your services however if they are in the other camp they could be putting potential future customers off and they will look elsewhere. Customer cancellations should always be followed up to find out if “things could have been done differently” and if so extra training or process changes might be required so that the same doesn’t happen again.

 

 

Sandra works as a coach and trainer for both businesses and private clients. More information regarding coaching can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She has also published a book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

The Ultimate Recommendation

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Anyone who has used the profiling tool Belbin will be familiar with the various roles we can all migrate too e.g. Plant (the ideas person), Implementer (the doer) etc.  well I am a Resource Investigator (the person who finds someone to help or finds an expert for the team) I love connecting people who I think will either get on or who can help each other.

Thankfully in my job I get to meet a huge variety of people, so I can connect people easy if asked to do so or I spot an opportunity that I feel will be mutually beneficial. There is one prerequisite however before I recommend a professional service provider to someone though and that is that I must be 100% happy with that service and the individual providing the service myself. For me to be 100% happy I need to have had a consistently high level of service over a long period of time coupled with the traits I mentioned in my previous blog regarding the individual being knowledgeable, passionate about their subject area and tailored in their offering to each individual client.

When I was asked for the “thankful list” for a profession or service that others provide that I appreciate I had no hesitation in calling out two people in my life who meet all the criteria above and who I always recommend to others without any hesitation and have done for the past three years.

My hairdresser Nadine of Madison Rae  http://www.madison-rae.co.uk/ and my acupuncturist Verity Allen http://www.verityallenacupuncture.com/ both ladies tick all the boxes on a consistent basis, so if ever I meet people via business or socially I share their contact details.

When working with teams of customer service professionals one key measure universally used to measure the current level of customer service is the Net Promotors Score which simply asks the question would you recommend this service others? This is the ultimate result we should all be aiming for; if all our clients are delighted with the service that we provide they will have no hesitation in recommending your service to others and act as your unpaid salesforce always without realising it.

Sandra works as a coach to business and private clients and is also the author of the book Own It available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

The Feel Good Factor Of Quality

Dormy HouseFor 24 hours last week I was reminded of how good it feels to experience quality service. Quality experiences along with quality products and the positive impression this creates is so important. It also makes me realise how rare these experiences are and that is why they do stand out head and shoulders above the average which is sometimes what we settle for or indeed accept as the norm.

From the first enquiry to the venue, through the confirmation process, to the initial personal welcome to departure; the whole environment and service throughout the stay was first class with attention to detail, unique finishing touches plus added extra surprises. In some of the training workshops Kudos have delivered over the years we have often encouraged organisations to ensure all the touch points with prospective or existing customers are positive and memorable. These touch points are often called “Moments of Truth” and can leave either positive or negative impressions. This venue did any outstanding job from start to finish, from the personal welcome on the steps through to the goodbye goodie bag issued at checkout. It appeared as if a lot of thought had gone into the entire customer experience with some surprises thrown in at various stages to solidify the exceptional experience.

This feel-good factor of quality can impact us as individuals on multiple levels. Here are two impacts just 24 hours had on me.

It got me thinking how often do we audit our own work to ensure our customers are experiencing excellent levels of service at each stage, is this consistent and does it cross across both the service and product part of our offering. When was the last time you walked through the entire customer experience and critically asked is this exceptional? What could we do to make it more outstanding so customers leave us and go and tell others how wonderful it was as this is what happens. When each of us have an exceptional experience, we tell others (it also works the other day when things are a disaster we also tell others probably even more so!) Another question to ask in the mini audit of our customer journey is what could be added in that is a little bit different to make this experience unique and memorable for the right reasons? What little twists could you offer that is over and above the norm?

The second thing I came away thinking was how good it feels to be surrounded by wall to wall natural rather than forced quality. Why should we settle for anything less? How can you get more of this in your life so that it becomes the norm and the standard you therefore set for yourself? A lot of the service I experienced over the last 24 hours was down to the attitude of all the people we met, they were attentive, professional, friendly, natural and delivered the element of the service they were responsible for to an extremely high standard. None of these things cost money so really, we can all do this and, we should all strive to surround ourselves by this especially if we are going through a challenging time, maybe having doubts or just not operating at our best.

In Own IT- regain control and live life on your terms: http://amzn.to/2nzRFne as part of the momentum chapter 6 I encourage people to have a ” what makes me feel good list ” I am just going to add “immersing myself in quality experiences” onto my own list as it feels good and it inspires as well. Also, when you audit who you are spending time with chapter 8 are you surrounding yourself with others that expect and deliver this level of service?

Thank you Dormy House http://bit.ly/T6XRnn  for inspiring this blog post and the recent experience … we will be back.