Posts Tagged ‘Authentic’

Does your customer really want a partnership – or a Partnerschaft?

December 3, 2013

Inside views from three global procurement directors

The business world is awash with jargon: strategic partnerships; strategic sourcing; strategic intent… but what does it all really mean for B2B sales people today?

I interviewed three global Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) from Fortune 500 companies to find out.

In the words of one CPO: “The only way I would want a partnership is if I cannot achieve the business result via RFP or competitive procurement activity.”

Another CPO suggests, “If you are a strategic supplier then that means you will give me more discount.”  Another confirms, “When we hear the seller say ‘partnership’ we start to think, ‘What do they want?’  This is another way to leverage us.”  I was then playfully reminded of the German term for Partnership… Partnerschaft.

So, in the eyes of Procurement, what really is a strategic partnership?  One Fortune 500 Bank estimates they have nearly 18,000 suppliers across the globe, but they have just 35 relationships that are considered strategic (under 0.2%). However, these 35 suppliers account for >56% of all money invested (see accompanying model).

Supply base analysisThe real test of a partnership

If that supplier went away, would the customer be harmed more than the supplier? Is there joint investment between the two companies to generate increased revenue; reduce risk or reduce costs to both parties? One CPO claims “unless you have invested, it’s not a partnership.”

So what our panel of procurement leaders suggest is that for many sales people today, a term that they could consider using is “effective commercial relationship”. Customers don’t want a partnership… and they certainly don’t just want a friendship or merely a ‘good relationship’. Develop effective commercial relationships with your customers and save the Partnerschaft conversations for the lucky few.

Andrew's Photo (blog)Andrew@bluesky

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Speak no evil…

November 26, 2013

Felix Harrison is one of several twenty-somethings who belong to my family of ‘surrogate children’ – having had none of my own, I’m blessed with wonderful (but usually, virtual) relationships with my friends’ kids.  Most of the time, I know more about their comings and goings than their parents do because I keep up with their blogs, Twitter feed and Facebook…and they keep up with mine!

Right now, Felix is in his second month of teaching English in Japan. He’s been keeping a wonderful blog – http://harrisongoeseast.wordpress.com. Check it out – I’m sure he’d be thrilled. This weekend, he wrote a heartfelt piece about the difficulties of communicating without the benefit of the spoken word. ‘Aha!’ I thought.  ‘I can give him some comfort by introducing him to Mehrabian’s theory of communication’ and proceeded to search the web for nuggets of wisdom.

Instead of reassuring him that ‘words account for only about 7 per cent of human communication. 38 per cent is to do with tone of voice and over half (55 per cent) to do with how we look and act when we talk’ I came across a YouTube animated video which apparently blows Albert’s theory out of the window! Not really true – Mehrabian’s theory only applies when people are talking about their feelings or attitudes. So, in fact, Felix is still doing everything right – conveying his feelings towards the cool girl that’s grabbed his attention through nods, smiles and eye contact…whilst still trying to learn the right words to say in Japanese. Can’t wait for the next instalment, Felixsan.

There’s a lesson for all of us Brits abroad – shouting loudly in English will never compensate for a smile, a wink and learning a few words of the local language beyond ‘two beers please’

Carla-MarchCarla March

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Friday Night In

November 11, 2013

Tesco-Van-BSI was sat in last Friday night, anticipating some great TV moments ahead. I had already started to plan out the mindless action films I was going to watch, the rubbish I was going to eat…..My better half was heading out for the night leaving me to put the kids to bed and sort the food shopping delivery. The latter task for some reason I build up in mind as something I hate doing.

The food had been ordered online; the man had packed it up and had delivered it to my doorstep! What is there to hate about the process….maybe it is me being a grumpy old man…but my experience tends to be…..The van pulls up, the guy then proceeds to pull 3 huge boxes from the back, rings the door bell and then drops them outside and grunts a hello. I then have to become a human shopping sprinting machine.… where I have 5 seconds to pick up all 12 bags at once, race to the kitchen, dodge the kids who have started to unpack the goodies as I carry the bags, catch tins that have fallen out of the wafer thin bags, unload it all and race back before the guy puts another 3 huge boxes down in front of me. This process repeats until I have no breath left and no room on my kitchen worktop or floor to put more bags down!

I saw from the corner of my eye the supermarket van pull up outside.  I sighed here we go…..The doorbell rang….anticipating the normal grunt and ritual cliché exchanges. Not this time, I was met by a middle aged guy who can only be described as a very happy man, who loved his job! He immediately scanned the situation and observed that I had two children poised ready to take any chocolate from the bags that they could see. He must have noticed I was a little flustered, he calmly said…. “There’s no rush, I will give you a hand to bring these ones in before we get the rest!”. Could I believe what I was hearing… I had readied myself and limbered up even for the customary race  back and forward to the kitchen. But it looks like this time it would be different, the delivery guy was helping me.

As the chap walked back through the lounge he noticed my daughter who at the time was holding her guitar, practicing 3 Blind Mice from memory. He stopped in his tracks and started asking her about the guitar and how long she had played. Loving the attention my daughter proceeded to tell him her musical career (all 2 weeks of it). He asked if he good borrow the guitar for a moment and started to show her a couple of chords… which he then wrote down on the back of the receipt so she would not forget them. All I could think of was…. why don’t more people take the moment to scan the other persons situation and seek ways to help them in the moment? This is what great attentive and thoughtful service is about…. make it easy for people, connect and leave them with a peak ending they will remember.

The delivery guy could have chosen to be oblivious to what was going on for me, but he didn’t. He took a few precious seconds to slow down the process to allow me to only break a moderate sweat moving the bags, he took the time out to engage with us and most importantly he left a lasting memory of the service. That is what I call a peak end to a customer experience. I would love to hear about your stories.

Sean Spugin - Blue Sky Performance Improvement Seanatbluesky

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Asking questions as a creative habit

August 20, 2013

Abraham Lincoln

“The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you never know if they are genuine.”
Abraham Lincoln

Being a bit, well, old I can remember when research exclusively meant having to physically go to a library and read stuff. And when I say read, I mean really read. You’d ask librarians, speak to subject matter experts and whittle it down yourself to a few key titles if possible. Then you’d be alone: scouring the contents pages looking for the right chapters.  Essentially it was a whole lot of reading. Then the world changed.

Behold the internet!

Often we fail to recognise how it has made stuff quicker and simpler. Now we don’t even have to read because a subject matter expert has made a video. When it comes to DIY it’s possible to “get good” at any number of things because one can watch a VideoJug or YouTube expert showing you how.

Of course, quicker and simpler isn’t always better.

As my induction to Blue Sky Performance Improvement rattles along I find an increasing need to up my understanding on various topics. This has become a curious hotchpotch of t’interweb (video or otherwise), reading actual books, working with subject matter experts and getting coached. It’s underpinned by plain ol’ fashioned questions.

Then it occurred to me that I was experiencing blended learning. Now this has me reflecting not only on the shortcomings of each method in isolation, but of my own disappointingly lazy tendencies for finding evidence to fit the crime (so to speak). So as adoring of the web as I am, my level of trust in myself needs to be policed. I am staying honest and tempering my rampant enthusiasm by one simple question.
Is that true?

Is that cynicism? Nope, it’s pragmatism dear reader. The hopeless romantic in me would love to think that everything published out there in the Cloud was good and true. Then I read about Professor Hal Gregersen at INSEAD who positively relishes asking questions of what is presented to him. Like him I now find myself helping reshape and refine existing materials, practices and processes because questions have been asked. This feels good. This adds value. So now I modify my approach.

So what if that was true?

Now we have joyously disruptive conversations around here that test current thinking and move us ahead. How very refreshing.

Abe Lincoln would be proud…

Ian-Beer - Blue sky Performance Improvementwww.blue-sky.co.uk

“If I Had More Time I Would Write a Shorter Letter”

August 7, 2013

Simplicity & Sophistication.

There’s much debate over who this quote is actually attributed to. On this occasion, let’s credit Mark Twain. More here. No matter, it’s a theme that fascinates me. (It’s also a rich vein for irony as any expansion on the topic surely invites ridicule. Note to self: Use the KISS principle in blogs.)

Recently joining Blue Sky I am learning all the time about us: as people and The Blue Sky Way. Then there are our many wonderful clients and projects. Have you seen our case studies?! It’s really rather exciting! And yet really rather overwhelming when you’re new. My poor, overloaded Welsh brain is imploring folk to provide summaries, headlines, priorities and snapshots because it can’t make sense of it all.

This is where the fun starts.

You see, when you are so very deeply connected with a job/project/idea, to pull back and give someone a simple oversight is surprisingly challenging. It’s all too easy to brain dump and give all the detail in briefing a colleague. How so? This is human nature on several fronts: our professionalism, our intelligence, our thoroughness, our knowledge, our expertise all jostle for position.

Yet such detail is not always helpful to the new guy/gal. Not at first. So how do you do this in a manner that gets the newbie up to speed with maximum efficiency? Time to efficiency is a concept all of us have some interest in at work. (Although when you Google it I was rather surprised to see searches around Viagra as a top hit!) How long before you’re going to be truly effective?

Not that one can exist on a diet solely of sketches, helicopter views and big pictures you understand. Yet to prioritise, one must get a handle on the themes at play and then seek out the detail. It came to me in a flash: I need people to pitch to me so that I can buy what they are talking about.

At times like these I turn to Dan Pink. In his corking read “To Sell is Human” he postulates that we need to practice six pitches to get on.  Here’s the first one:

http://vimeo.com/66508882

On a note closer to home, I’ve had success with asking “how would you explain this to my maiden aunt?” Then I get a non-technical, jargon free, plain English overview for what’s going on. It works wonders. Why? Because then I’m curious: then I want to know what’s going on behind the scenes.

Da Vinci said it before, I’ll say I again:

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Ian-Beer - Blue sky Performance Improvementhttp://www.blue-sky.co.uk

Show Trust to Build Trust

November 21, 2012

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Ernest Hemingway.

What does it take for you to trust me? You probably have to be able to rely on me, and to know that I will do what I say I will do. Building trust requires telling the truth and being transparent. What is the benefit of trust? When we have trust in the relationship we can work together effectively and combine both of our resources to create something bigger than we could do by ourselves. So what happens when there is no trust in a relationship? You could say that without it, little or no relationship is possible. It’s almost impossible to work effectively together without mutual respect. Much time and energy is wasted in second guessing, and speculating on the other person’s motives and intentions.

Building trust is a process that begins when one party is willing to risk being the first to ante up, being the first to show vulnerability, and being the first to let go of control. If you are a leader, the first to trust has to be you. If you, as a leader, show a willingness to trust others, your team members will be more likely to trust you. To build trust in your organisation:

  • Share information about you, who you are and what you believe in
  • Admit mistakes, none of us are perfect and people will forgive you if they see you trying to aspire to the high standards you set. We are only human and showing you are fallible will show your human face
  • Acknowledge the need for personal development
  • Seek feedback, and treat it as a gift
  • Take feedback to the source, avoid ‘corridor conversations’
  • Listen carefully to what others have to say and sometimes not saying
  • Invite interested parties to important meetings
  • Share information that is useful
  • Celebrate other people’s successes, make sure the team or individuals get the recognition for their work…don’t take credit for other people’s good work or when things go wrong, don’t let them take the fall
  • Encourage people to contribute
  • Show you are willing to change your mind when others have a good idea
  • Avoid talking negatively about others
  • Say ”we trust them” and mean it

Trustworthiness is in the eye of the beholder. To build trust your team must see that you have their best interests at heart. It means that you don’t want to see them get hurt, be embarrassed, feel harassed or suffer. You want them to be happy, fulfil their potential and succeed. This may seem like a risk….but it is one worth taking.

Some handy tips:

  • Be authentic. If there is something you are not saying and covering up, there is a good chance the other person will know you are doing that – it will leak out in your body language and tone of voice. They might not be able to put their finger on it or explain exactly why they don’t believe you are being truthful, but they will have an instinctive, intuitive feeling that they cannot trust you.
  • Don’t gossip or speculate on someone else’s motivations and intentions.  Don’t have the conversation with someone else, have the conversation with the person…take it back to the source. Show openness and consistency in your behaviour, and demonstrate a strong moral ethic.
  • If trust has been broken it can be recovered. You need to apologise for your side of where the trust got lost, be open and honest and sincerely regretful for the part you played in the relationship break down. Then explain that you are committed to this not happening again and what you will personally do in the future to avoid the situation happening again.
  • Write down a list of all your key relationships at work. Rate on a scale of 1-10 what the level of trust is like. This will help you identify which relationships you could work on.
  • Spend some time with people you might not as readily trust. Get to know them a little. Disclose some information about yourself, open up a little. This is a good way to show someone that you trust them.

To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.George MacDonald.

Sean@Bluesky

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Taking stock from a true leadership master

December 6, 2011

Yoda - Taking stock from a true leadership master - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Sean:  Hi, master Yoda, can you offer some words of wisdom around leadership?

Yoda:  Help you I can!  Yes, Mmmmm…

Sean:  So you mean like the force, you look at authentic leadership as an “ally”. Can you explain that?

Yoda:  A powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us… and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this… crude matter!

Sean:  Ok, authentic leadership is energy like the force? No way, don’t believe you…..

Yoda:  That is why you fail.

Sean:  Hmmm I wonder if you are right ….it is a very different way of looking at it.

Yoda:  Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.

Sean:  But isn’t there a dark side to leadership too, just like the force?

Yoda: Beware the dark side.  Anger, fear, aggression. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.

Sean: I recognise this master Yoda…..those mood hoovers and naysayers, right?  Those that dwell on the negative.  So how will I know who is an authentic leader or when I will achieve this?

Yoda: You will know…when you are calm, at peace, passive…

Sean:  That’s quite interesting.  So as you said to me before, an authentic leader is a person who chooses to live a life of integrity. They are not only honest in relationships with others but most importantly they are honest and true to themselves. Does this mean they don’t make mistakes? Of course they do…we are all human!  Well some of us Master Yoda…..and yet they have the courage to take responsibility for their ways, learn and grow. Why? Because they care! They care about people. Our Jedi mate Bill George says ‘the authentic leader brings people together around a shared purpose and empowers them to step up and lead authentically in order to create value for all stakeholders’…..and so, if I found my authentic leadership, being calm and at peace with myself, what should I be using it for?

Yoda: For knowledge and defense, never for attack.

Sean: Ok. Not sure about the defense bit master, but agree around the attack advice…..Yoda, there’s a lot of talk out there about being a big charismatic leader, some say being a big hero is important and is what makes people follow you.  What’s your take on that?

Yoda:  Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size do you?

Sean: Would I dare, Master Yoda. So how should I use authentic leadership to get the best from my team?

Yoda:  Decide you must how to serve them best.  A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind.

Sean:  What you are saying is I need to adopt the Jedi mind set, that is going to be hard….. You are saying I must learn to serve my team rather than them serving me…. I will try my best Master Yoda.

Yoda:  No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.

Sean:  That is easy for you to say, you are not faced with all the politics at work, with the emails, the projects I have to juggle, competing demands, workload, the difficult people……

Yoda: Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?

Sean:  Sorry, I will make the change Master.

A lesson in leadership by Master Yoda!

Sean@Bluesky

Sean Spugin - 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

Feel the love and blindfold your staff

July 25, 2011

As a CEO and highly trained chartered accountant with a passion for numbers and ROI I have a major confession to make – I absolutely love my role in developing the Blue Sky culture.

Yes it’s the soft fluffy stuff that’s my joint passion and I challenge every leader to truly embrace it. We preach engagement to our clients, we extol the virtues of driving performance and for me as a CEO it’s my role to lead on it and make sure it truly happens.

Inspire - Blindfolded on a bus to nowhere

Like all organisations we have core values and I try hard to make sure they’re not simply fancy words on a poster but we are living them and breathing them and holding ourselves accountable to each other when we’re not. A great example of making sure we embed them is our Inspire events. Every four months all our staff spend two solid days together and the agenda is simple – take time out to reflect on and live our values. We host many different sessions so for example at our June event we held a brainstorm around updating our approach to social media to demonstrate our value around Progress.  Another value core to us is Being Authentic and a workshop around creating an open feedback culture was well received by staff and is something we are always striving to create. Then there was the fun bit! Connection is another one of our values and this time that meant blindfolding all our staff, putting them in a mini bus and abandoning them in various locations in the Sussex countryside (yes now and again a leader’s role definitely means you can be fiendish!) and make them find their way back to our secret location.  Four hours later some felt more connected than others!

So what do you do to lead the culture of your business and do your staff see you at the heart of it?

Go on, embrace the fluffy side. You might just enjoy it!

Marc@Bluesky

Marc Jantzen - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement