Archive for the ‘Social’ Category

Do you know what trust looks like?

September 25, 2013

Part Two in a series of four articles on rebuilding organisational trust and driving employee engagement

Last week, I looked at building your awareness about the low trust behaviours that surround you every day. We’ve had some fantastic conversations starting to build around the topic, so head over to our Twitter page and look for the #DoTrust hashtag or our LinkedIn page to benefit from the stories and tips shared so far!

Please contribute to the conversation as we move onto the next stage in the trust process – breaking trust into manageable chunks.

What do we actually mean by trust?

Trust-Tuesday-email-two-blog-imageWe use the word trust all the time, but it never loses its emotional punch. If someone says they don’t trust you, it hurts. A lot.

I’m a big fan of the Stephen M.R Covey book The Speed of Trust. In it, he discusses how we continually and subconsciously make decisions based on the confidence we have in a person or an organisation. This confidence is made up of character (a person [or organisation’s] intent and integrity) and competence (their capability, skills and track record).

Have a go at the following exercise:

Relax and take a moment to think about somebody you don’t trust. Imagine them in front of you (really try to imagine them; their clothes, their posture, their expression).
Now, think about why you don’t trust this person. Let me ask you four questions:

  • Is it their intent? Do you believe they’re always out for themselves? Or do they play for the bigger team? What motivates their actions? Is it good?
  • Are they straight? Do they do what they say they’re going to do? Do they say one thing to you and another to somebody else? Do they have integrity?
  • Do they have the knowledge and expertise required for their job? The technical, leadership and people skills? Can they make the right decisions?
  • Do they have relevant experience to bring into their current role? Will they be able to tackle unknown problems? Do they have a track record of success?

So what did you discover in going through that process? Is it their character or their competence that results in a lack of trust? Is it both?

We all have people in our lives that we don’t trust – the key question is whether you want to rebuild trust with them. Many of us hate giving those who have hurt us a second chance, but sometimes second chances can have magical results.

If you want a more trustworthy organisation with more engaged employees, you have to behave in a more trustworthy way. You have to commit to building trust on an individual level before you can expect it to scale. And trust is based on our experiences, so common sense tells us that for trust to be changed, behaviours must be changed first. We don’t need to buy sophisticated computer systems. We need to change what we do.

This is both scary and exciting, because it means we’re in control. And the first step in changing behaviour is naming behaviour, which takes a lot of guts.

Stephen M.R Covey talks about the 13 behaviours that build or destroy trust. Let’s highlight a few:

  • Talk straight – and demonstrate respect to your employees and customers alike. Many businesses are afraid of transparency, but it can have an amazing effect. Admitting that you’re in the middle of a change programme and you don’t know what the end’s going to be, or that the CEO is on his way out but you’re recruiting carefully, actually creates more trust and stability, not less.
  • Right wrongs – admit mistakes. Apologise. Demonstrate how you will change. It’s as simple as that. A reclaimed customer is more loyal than one who never had a bad experience in the first place, so it’s not just the right thing to do – it works.
  • Get better – when coaching the board of a very successful company, our team was recently told “whatever you do, don’t tell anyone you’re coaches. Don’t even tell reception.” Why? “Because we can’t let anyone know our exec board are being coached.” Why not? Is getting better wrong? Or is it reassuring and inspiring?
  • Confront reality – does your CEO get to hear the bad news? Does he want to? We recently did a diagnostic on a leadership team and were told to “take out a lot of the bad comments – he won’t be able to take it.” That’s a scary prospect.
  • Clarify expectations – spend time to let people know what is really needed from them. All too often, people come unstuck for the lack of a proper briefing.
  • Practice accountability – consider Jimmy Savile. What about all those people who knew what he was doing and didn’t speak up? Bad people are simply a fact of life, so it’s up to those around them to stand up for what is right.
  • Extend trust – recently, an ex-senior director of AOL let slip that 75% of AOL customers were paying for dial up broadband service, even though AOL offer it for free. They had signed up years ago, when it wasn’t, and nobody had called to explain. This charge accounts for 80% of their profitability. Trust isn’t passive – it has to be earned. Are you proactive in whistleblowing untrustworthiness?

Trust is behaviour. Behaviour is under our control. But do you want to act?

For me it is [as my 10 year old would say] a no-brainer! I remember my Girl Guide motto “It’s your world – change it.” But once you’ve identified what you need to do, how do you make sure it will really work?

Next week, I’ll look at the practical things you can do to rebuild trust in your organisation. Until then, let me know the least and most trustworthy behaviours you see occurring around you every day…

You can share your own stories on twitter #DoTrust or through our LinkedIn page Blue Sky Performance Improvement and of course your own blogs and social presences.

Elke Edwards - Blue Sky Performance ImprovementElke@bluesky

I just gave someone a listening to.

September 12, 2013

Listening-Dog-BlueI am a mere mortal. I know this because I have to take my car for its annual MOT. (That’s a legally required road safety check here in the UK for more mature vehicles. More important people have somebody do this for them. Or have new cars.)

The thing is, it took me a while to get it sorted out because I ended up giving the lady at the garage a damn good listening to.

In brief: Her husband is fifty years young next year so they are going to New Zealand where they have friends. They are going to rent a motorcycle. He already has a Honda Fireblade and she sometimes falls asleep when she is pillion. Their kids – which they had young – are at university and the boyfriends have basically moved in. The kids each have a Vauxhall car. They have almost paid off the mortgage and thanks to a canny endowment purchase.

This happens to me a lot. I meet random folk and they download.

My family roll their eyes when we are out and about as I am forever engaging in dialogue. Admittedly I am partially to blame as I choose to engage, but there is evidence of a kind of conversational magnetism.

Often in delivering training there is a “listening skills” component. Talk turns to techniques, tips, tricks and blocks to listening (summarised here). The more I reflect on this, the more I come back to the same basic thoughts. In order to listen, you need to be present. (That’s present in the sense of paying attention in the moment. It’s not present as in the opposite of absent.)

Practicing good listening is – almost? – an art. You don’t “do” art, you “be” it. For some, it’s a lost art. For others, they have yet to discover its value.

So – for the record – here’s my listening checklist:

A) Choose to listen. (Be open to receiving. Stop broadcasting for a wee while.)

B) Prepare yourself. (Crank up your presence in the moment.)

C) “Be” a listener. (Silence, reflection, pause before responding.)

Now go on, give someone a proper listening to…

“Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people cannot tell the difference.”
David Augsberger

Ian-Beer - Blue sky Performance Improvement Ian Beer

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Bringing the complexities of the human brain to the masses

July 25, 2013

I don’t know about you, but I start to read numerous articles each week, but in truth, actually finish reading only a small proportion. I’ve been wondering why that might be.

I think many open with statements that immediately make me feel like I’ll need to commit to a considerable journey of exploration with a resulting output, that in truth, is likely to leave me none the wiser.

Confronted with complex questions, theories, models, mnemonics, tinged with an inordinate amount of academic references and unpronounceable words, the outcome tends to be the same. “Hmmm, haven’t I got work to do?”

Now, whilst I’m no Stephen Hawking, I’m certainly no slouch so surely if I find much of this stuff heavy going, intimidating even, there must be others like me, no?

I want to read articles that engage me immediately. Things I can identify with and understand without reaching for a thesaurus, something that hints at what’s in store and lures me in with tantalising titles, offering me a little “try before you buy”. Essentially, I want a mini-break before committing to the fortnight’s holiday.

Well, I fairly recently discovered Daniel Goleman and have found his articles an absolute breath of fresh air. Whether skimming the surface or a mere flirtation with the topic, he has a way of keeping it simple whilst offering links which will take me on the deeper journey, if and when I decide I’m ready. Whether it be Evaluating your own Emotional Intelligence with the starting point being asking myself 9 very straightforward questions or exploring the Five Key Steps to Habit Change, he does enough to engage my thinking swiftly.

Seriously, who could resist an article entitled Maximize your “Aha!” Moment Before I know it, I’m there, bags packed and heading off on a journey to who knows where.

Now, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that this is over simplified nonsense. Trust me, with his Ph.D. from Harvard, for those interested, there’s enough references to Freud and gamma activity to keep even the purists happy.  I think he succeeds where others struggle, in bringing the complexities of the human brain to the masses.

Miranda-Cain---Blue-Sky-Performance-Improvement   Mirandaatbluesky

Blue Sky Performance Improvement Logo - High Resolution

The Cost of Poor Service

July 5, 2012

David Carroll is a musician, who travelled United Airlines, and on one occasion put his precious guitar into the baggage marked as fragile! That’s where the story began. Sitting on the plane, waiting to get off, he saw the baggage handler throw it without care onto the truck. He tried to complain to the company representatives immediately but was dismissed. When he collected his guitar, it was damaged.  He went to the customer help desk, where no one seemed to care, and he was told to write in. He wrote in on numerous occasions, and got little or no reply. He called up and still no one took ownership, responsibility or tried to fix his customer experience.

Eventually he decided to write a song about it, and he posted it on YouTube. The result? Millions of people worldwide viewed that clip and United Airlines’ share price dropped! The Times reported that $18 million of shareholder value was lost!

Discover - TV - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

One happy customer is a powerful thing as he or she will tell some people. One unhappy customer is a very damaging thing as they will tell more people! We call this the power of one.

What is the lost opportunity cost associated with customer churn?

I believe all businesses should use great care and concern when determining how their customers and clients are treated. The time, energy, and cost associated with acquiring a customer are substantial, the benefits of retaining customers are considerable, and the costs associated with customer churn are significant. I’m always amazed at how much money will be spent to acquire a new customer, but how little care is given to insuring customer satisfaction after the sale.  There is great truth in the old axiom that states: “if you’re not serving your customer well, someone else will.”

If you believe customer service is someone else’s problem, you have a much bigger problem than you realise. Most businesses these days will have a grasp on the concept of lifecycle value, I’m not sure they really understand the true cost of losing a customer. Let’s just assume that the lifetime value of a customer for company X is £2,000. If company X loses just one customer, the total lifecycle loss could run well into the tens of thousands, if not the hundreds of thousands. If you don’t believe me consider the following points:

  1. The Initial Churn: First you have the £2,000 lifetime value loss attributed to churning the account itself.
  2. Sunk Acquisition Costs: Don’t forget to add in the cost of acquiring the account to begin with. You spent money to acquire the account so you need to factor that into the total equation. I’ll let you pick the percentage you want to use and add that into the total number.
  3. Replacement Costs: Remember the cost of acquisition number you just calculated above? Well, you need to add it back in again, because now you have to go out and replace the customer you just lost. By the way, you should probably multiply the cost of acquisition number by 5 since it costs about 500% more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one.
  4. Lost Ancillary Revenue: On average, a single account is good for a 30-40% cross-sell/up-sell revenue increase over time as new products, services, joint ventures etc. are brought online and offered to existing accounts. This means you can conservatively expect to lose another £600 of upside in our £2,000 example.
  5. Lost Referral Revenues: Depending on your business, and whether or not you have a solid customer acquisition process in place, a single account should be good for a minimum of 2-3 referrals (direct or indirect) on an annual basis. Over a 10 year period of time, assuming only 2 annual referrals, without any cross-sell or up-sell value being added-in, you just lost another £200,000.
  6. Loss of 2nd and 3rd generation referrals: But wait; it just gets worse. Those lost referrals mentioned above would have also given you 2-3 referrals each year, and if you carry this formula out over 20 years the loss of a single account could easily cost your organisation more than a million pounds in lost revenue.
  7. Negative Brand Impact: If it isn’t bad enough already, a lost account can easily have a negative impact on future sales due to spreading the news of their bad experience with your company.  The average dissatisfied customer will persuade 10-20 other people from doing business with your firm. If the upset customer takes their dissatisfaction online and amplifies it via social media you could see a much bigger problem. This will not only impact your revenue, but can also taint your brand equity. Just think back to Dave Carroll!!!! If you like that story, why not visit ihateryanair.org for another example of this.

Sean@Bluesky

Sean Spugin - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Vietnamese Puzzle lamps

October 31, 2011

YouTube is a multi-faceted platform that offers so much more than just funnies to keep the social cogs turning in the office. Did you know that it is actually the second largest and most used search engine in the world (Socialnomics – Erik Qualman)? It’s full of tutorials, learning tools, educational videos and lectures just waiting to be viewed.

Have you ever been stuck for an answer or needed to visualize something? How many times has an instruction manual failed to deliver? All it takes is one click and millions of tutorials appear covering pretty much any topic.

My love affair with YouTube tutorials started around five months ago. My partner bought home a 30-piece jigsaw lamp from Vietnam, after an hour or so trying to decipher the manual (obviously photocopied from an original!!) I gave up and went to YouTube for inspiration. After finding the perfect video manual and a further hour of hard labour I had the lamp completed and ready to go. Now whenever I’m stuck, YouTube provides the answer in so many different forms.

Social Media - Lewis Young - Its all in the visual - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

As video becomes more and more important in business, as a learning tool it’s pivotal to providing quality content and inspiration to both new and current customers. Being able to visualise and learn is such a strong concept, it’s a platform that needs to be harnessed as you drive your business forward.

As a free source of self-promotion and knowledge transfer on a global scale, what’s stopping you? check out our channel and see how easy it is.

Lewis@Bluesky

Lewis Young - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement

The art of handling negative critique

August 24, 2011

Sometimes when talking with managers, a question comes up, “When I am asked to communicate a message from the company, and it’s a message that I personally don’t believe in, how do I communicate to my team, in an authentic way?”

It seems the dilemma for people is that they don’t want to be dishonest in their views and they also know that agreeing with their teams negative opinions, will lead to a spiral of negativity that will end up being de-motivating.  The temptation in this instance is often to keep the relationship with their team by agreeing that the message or company direction is not a good one. The problem is, this undermines an individual’s relationship with the organisation, and the employee’s motivation and morale.

Motivate - Saving Private Ryan (Courtesy of Dreamworks SKG-Paramount Pictures) - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

I think Tom Hanks in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ deals with this delicate situation really well.  His team do not believe in the mission they have been sent on. They respect their leader, and so they ask what his opinion of the mission is.  After listening to them, he responds that he thinks it’s an excellent mission, well worthy of their best efforts, and I think it has a positive effect on the morale of his troops. Here’s the video for reference.

It also has a nice message about how to shape your teams gripes.  Later in the film it transpires that he doesn’t believe in the mission at all.  My take on it is that he is more concerned with his team (their morale and motivation), than he is of his own opinions.

So if as a manager you can’t believe in the message or the direction the company is taking, perhaps it would be helpful to change your perspective?  Imagine that you are the person responsible for the decision or message you don’t agree with. Force yourself to take their view point and to ask yourself, “Why is it a good thing?”  What was the motivation behind it? What is the person trying to achieve with it? It’s not about positive thinking, it’s about consciously and deliberately taking a different perspective in order to help and motivate your team.

James@Bluesky

James Hodgkinson - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Concrete circus

August 16, 2011

Fresh off the back of last nights ‘Concrete Circus’  Channel 4, 9pm, a very interesting look at the future of video – not only a beautiful piece of online film making but a true example of someone who has real passion for something, someone who is committed, determined and brave to push himself to his personal limits…but he has not achieved this without blood, sweat and tears. Practice makes perfect.

Danny Macaskill - Industrial Revolutions - Concrete Circus - Channel 4 - 15-08-2011

Will this go viral? Within 12 hours overnight it has had 13,000 plus hits on YouTube, plus 2 million views on television last night. Watch this space to see how long it takes to reach 1 million hits. The power of social media is immense, but there is a new wave of film makers now. Gone are the wobbly home movie cameras and in come young slick film makers who are making films that look like they have been produced in a studio, but are still done on their home PCs.

Have a look and see what you think.

Sean@Bluesky

Sean Spugin - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement