Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Grow Your Business

The quickest and most efficent method of marketing is to ensure the customes who use you now - come back again and tell their friends.

Yes, it is that simple.

Have a great Christmas

I want to wish everyone a great Christmas and a happy New Years.

I may post during the next week or two but most likely wll not.

The blog will restart properly beginning January 5th, 2010.

Thank you all, Jonathon.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Managing Generation Y

One of the single biggest issues you will have to confront when dealing with Gen Y'ers is developing trust.

Here are some helpful hints for managing your Gen Y workers -

  1. Set boundaries. Many Gen Y persons have had very little rules to conform to, therefore they are more likely to go ahead with a project without fully thinking out the implications.

  2. Be flexible. Gen Y want to be able to dictate what they do with their time and when. The classic working day means far less now than it used to.

  3. Creativity. Give your Gen Y people ongoing projects and assignments to work to keep them engaged with the companys mission.

  4. Develop Credibility. Gen Y want to know you trust them and that they can trust you in return. Don't assume respect - earn it, test it and develop it. If you lose your credibility - you will have to work extra hard to regain it.

  5. Cmmunicate. Gen Y are totally savvy with new technoogies and using them as a means to speak to each other. Tr using social media and electronic message boards as your primary method of communication.

There is also a great article here by Km Huggins (K HR Solutions).

Alternatively, you can watch this video on You Tube in which Sylvia Ann Hewlett is interviewed for Harvard video and discusses Generation Y.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Great Leaders

People who have passion and drive can achieve great things in their lifetime. Check out the video below of Marla Ruzicka.

You can click here to watch the video on Google.

What can we learn from this? If we apply ourselves to a selfless mission and use our passion for good - we too can begin to change the world.

Ms Ruzicka was only 28 when she was killed doing what she loved. That is very sobering.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

2010 Management Goals

Here are the top three resolutions I have for 2010 as far as my management goes -
  1. Compliance: (a) the act or process of complying to a desire, demand, proposal, or regimen to coercion, (b) conformity in fulfilling official requirements.

  2. Excellence: (a) the quality of being excellent, (b) an excellent or valuable quality.

  3. Teamwork: cooperative work done by a team (especially when it is effective).

These are the three key section headings for 2010. My aim now is to break down these headings into specific sections and goals that are SMART.

  • Specific;
  • Manageable;
  • Ambitious;
  • Realistic;
  • Time measurable.

Watch this space for ongoing updates!

Leadership Interviews - Number 3

Check out this short interview with Pete Peterson, alternatively there is another great longer video over here.

Here's my take on what Mr Peterson covers -
  • Longevity rules. Mr Peterson has a proven track record over time which equals credibility. When you get to Mr Peterson's age and have grand kids - you care more and you aren't afraid to tell people what you really think.

  • Honesty is everything. Be honest at the time when honesty is most required - not a long time after.
  • History counts. The longer you are around or are able understand the past - the more effective your management becomes as you are able to quickly react to new scenarios and situations.

  • Do what you enjoy and what you are good at. There is no more full proof strategy than that.

  • When you've made 'it' reinvest your fortunes into those that either haven't made 'it' or are on their way.

  • Never stop thinking about tomorrow or how you can do things better.

Editors note - you may not always agree with someone and their views, but that doesn't mean you can't mine a wealth of knowledge from them.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Scenarios for Strategy and Planning

"The tales we tell are just as important as the facts and figures we learn. Stories help us try on different possibilities to see how they fit!" (Brian Fies).

Having the ability and making the time to glimpse the future is an important part of the managers role. Here's how you can get started -

  1. Imagine the future. Get wild! What does the future look like to you? How will you know when you have crossed your finish line?

  2. Think backwards. What steps were taken that created the end picture. How did you get to the end result and who did you need to get there. What money was required? Did you need venture capital? How many employees will you need along the way?

  3. Create practicable steps that you can implement today. Start with the smallest steps and then move on from there.

  4. Keep reflecting and keep updating the end picture and stay flexible enough to get there.

Creating a vision for people to work towards is one part of management. Working out what steps are required to get there separates the dreamer from the visionary.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Know Thy Self

One key method for ensuring you are progressing as a manager and a person is to engage in reflection time. Yes, this does include some soul searching but not necessarily in a spiritual way.

One great method is to spend the last 10 minutes of every day writing down your thoughts under the following categories -
  1. What went well today?

  2. What didn't go so well?

  3. What could I have done differently?

  4. What will I do differently tomorrow?

  5. What do I need to accomplish tomorrow?

  6. What do I need to finish the number of days I have left this week?

By reflecting and improving on the little areas in life then you are well able to make adjustments that will work better into the future.

"If we don't change our direction we're likely to end up where we are headed". Chinese proverb.

"The self aware person is able to gain an accurate and appropriate perspective on events in their life, and instinctively brings simmering feelings into awareness. The self-aware person is a positive person, and recognizes that there are only ever 'positive people' or 'negative people' in life, business or sport" (Lead to succeed - Craig Lewis).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Crisis - How do you deal with it?

A crisis can either paralyse you with fear or energise you to make a change going forward.

This week we have had to deal with a major crisis that fortunately will not have as much impact as we first thought it would have. Also the team came out the other side with a clearer understanding and sense of purpose than what we had before the crisis hit.

So what did we do to get through?
  1. Called a crisis meeting. All the parties involved were called in. Not just the persons who may have appeared to have been at fault but a wider selection of people. Those persons who were also able to solve the situation.

  2. Focused on the issue at hand. Move away from finger pointing, blaming others or trying to apportion responsibility to a person. Rather focus on fixing the problem.

  3. Made action plans. Every person in the meeting left with a sense of direction about what would be done to solve the situation. Every person will also be held accountable for their assigned tasks to ensure they are completed correctly.

  4. Created procedures and protocols. Solving the problem faced once is not good enough. Creating levers and establishing communication links for the future is the ultimate outcome.

  5. Reflected. There were a whole bunch of people who - missed it. We all missed the error and didn't fully appreciate the outcomes of our decisions. Through reflection we are able to ensure (as well as we can) that we will not knowingly make the same mistakes again.

  6. Came clean. Our boss went and spoke to the CEO as soon as we knew what was happening and was able to - build credibility (integrity and honesty) and take some of the heat out of the situation.

Don't get me wrong. There was a crisis and there is some fallout as a result. However given the fact that we dealt with it - early, with everyone and can move forward - we all get to sleep better at night as a result.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Leadership Interviews - Number 2

Wendy Kopp, CEO of Teach for America - is a great role model. Ms Kopp is listed as having a Bachelors degree. What does that say? You don't have to have a PhD to be a great CEO!

What I find really interesting about Ms Kopp is the fact that when she first finished her study she noticed a need in the community at the low income end and ended up starting a community and social responsibility company that seeks to help under privileged kids.

Here's the lesson - if you follow your heart, use your smarts and open to change then anything is possibe.

Here's another lesson - often times you won't change the system from within, but you can create and provide solutions from the outside in.

Here is a video of an interview done with Ms Kopp.

There is also another great interview with her written up by the NY Times over here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Change Manager

Change Management.

Definition -

A company or person charged with - adapting to change, controlling change, and effecting change.

Qualities required -
  • high levels of commitment,

  • motivation,

  • optimism,

  • self-confidence,

  • influence and

  • initiative.

Have you got the goods?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Great Reads

If you live in the South Pacific and are wanting to read something that is local and relevant, check out the following publication -

"BOSS" by the Financial Review. It comes out of Australia and constantly has excellent articles and interviews.

From what I can see the magazine has re-engineered it's content over the past year or so and is now capable of competing with other top line management magazines that are out there in the market place.
The October issue has the following article highlight's - Top bosses: the missing link, i feel motivated, The boiler room.
Grab a copy - you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Talent - what do you do with it?

Every employee you have and person you know has a particular talent and tons of potential. The key is to figure out - what is that talent and how do you make the most of it?

Talented people generally are on the move (either upwards or sideways) and think they know where they are going. What you need as a manager to do is to provide a balance between untried ambition and actual skill. Provide a balance between new challenges and the development of new skills as well as the refinement and strengthening of current skills. Getting the balance between the two is hard - but the results are also very rewarding both for your business and the person concerned.

The other idea is to make every employee a CEO of something. Make them completely responsible for an idea or project. Give them a budget, authority and the right amount of support to make it happen.

Talented employees also need feedback and reflection time. The reviewing of KPI's and goals is a powerful motivator. Keep the KPI's short and aggressive. By doing this you, the manager, keeps close to the talent and you can gauge their growth. Where growth is quick - you can set higher targets and more complex problems. Where growth is slower - this provides a good time for both you and the talent to catch a breather before proceeding.

Note - not all talent is under 30! Some of the most talented people you have are over 30, settled into their jobs and are quite possibly bored. the mission is to identify them, lure them out of their secure place and unleash their hidden skills on the world!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Education, Trends and Job Currency

In order to be relevant and to keep relevant you need to keep in touch with current trends, philosophies and approaches.

How can you do this? Here are the simple methods -
  1. Read. Join your local library and borrow books. Readers lead and leaders read. Good libraries update their books often. If your library doesn't - ask! Your local librarian might just need some good ideas of what people want to read.

  2. Surf. Jump on the Internet and seek out teaching and lessons from the top leaders of our time. There are a lot of websites that exist with top content.

  3. iTunesU. Download the latest lessons from the worlds best Universities every week!

  4. Listen. Often times the language that is being used by the 'guru's' doesn't take long to permeate into everyday language.

If you are able to keep current with modern thinking and activities - you position yourself well for tomorrow.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

You Get What You Measure

What are the key aspects of your business and work that you measure?

When you begin to measure something you are able to assess the impacts and success rates of what it is you are trying to achieve.

If you are working to achieve higher turnover - you measure sales!

If you are trying to achieve more website traffic - you measure the hits and content!

If you are trying to get fit - you measure weight loss, stamina gain and strength gains.

In order to know if you will hit your targets and goals - you must measure your development as you go.

Aim, Analyse and Achieve.

Connection vs. Communication

Napolean Boneparte once said "An army marches on it's stomach". True.

A business and relationships are dependant upon something else - communication. We operate in a world where there are countless opportunities and technologies that we can use to communicate with others. However we need to reassess and discover if we are merely connecting or are we truly communicating?

(Note - I will use the word 'connect' to mean electronic methods of interaction).

Here's an example - to connect means someone picks up the phone or sees you have messaged them but there is no action, feedback or follow through by the other person.

Communication is where the other person answers the phone, listens to you and understands the intent and purpose of your message.

Many managers assume because they have made a connection (usually electronically) that the message they were trying to communicate has occurred. Wrong assumption.

How do you know the difference between a connection and a successful communication? Try these tips to figure it out -
  1. When sending email track the message - to make sure it gets opened.
  2. Get the receiver to repeat back to you the message you sent - in their own words.
  3. Follow up with the person to their progress within a realistic time frame (shorter rather than longer) to ensure progress is being made.
  4. Speak to people face to face. Body language and non-verbal communication styles account for 80% of a message given (and received!)

To succeed in life - communicate.

  • Communicate often;
  • Communicate clearly;
  • Communicate effectively.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Management Reads

I picked up a copy of "Lead To Succeed" written by Craig Lewis. This is great book that centre's on the sporting achievements that Craig was able to help engineer with leading New Zealand sports teams and individuals.

The thing I liked most about this book was the openness and frankness of the writer. He dealt with real people in real situations and Craig does an excellent job of walking the line between sports leadership and business leadership.

The book is essentially based upon a few major themes -

  • kaizen - the drive for constant improvement;
  • fun - enjoying what you do;
  • trust - knowing those around you.

It is a great read filled with stories of achievement and overcoming what others think are insurmountable odds - and doing it anyway!

The other book I am reading is "Follow The Roar" by Bob Smiley. What does Tiger Woods have to do with management? Everything!

This is a very humorous and candid story from an impartial observer of what Tiger Woods does, and even more importantly how he does it. There are a number of very potent observations that the writer makes that can teach the average person a lot about how to approach life and be a winner.

Excerpt "He walks slowly; nothing is rushed. He actually appears to relish the pressure of the moment".

Sunday, November 29, 2009

KPI's for improved performance

Setting Key Performance Indicators and Targets for those who report to you works. Through having a discussion with the person you can define goals and targets for them to reach over a certain period of time.

KPI's are generally used for two things - ironing out small areas of inefficiency or business growth.

I like to set no more than 4 targets for my reports. Any less that and they become too easy, any more than that and the chances of being able to achieve them reduce exponentially according to the increase in targets listed.

Another thing I like to do is set a mixture of soft and hard targets. That is some targets are based on physical actions and outcomes, whereas soft targets deal with relationships and things that can't be measured physically.

Ongoing feedback and communication is vital and important but doesn't provide the necessary formal layout that an appraisal and KPI does. By defining goals and targets (and reviewing them quarterly) you can empower your reports to achieve more.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Feedback and Criticism - the how and when to take it

Being told that you aren't as good as you think you are can be pretty hard to swallow - especially when it comes from someone you think highly of.

So what do you do in this situation?

You can either get upset, get angry and blame the other person for being wrong OR you can analyse what they said and change the way you do things.

It is important that when receiving feedback that you differentiate between the feelings and the facts of the situation and comments. Try not to confuse the two.

Here are some quick fire steps for receiving criticism -

  1. Who. Who said it, do do you respect their opinion, does their opinion count in the current situation?

  2. What. What was said? Was the criticism relevant to the situation?

  3. How. How was it said? Was the person fired up and angry? Even if they were - was what they actually said worthwhile and valuable (after you take all the heat out)

  4. Why. What situation arose whereby the criticism became necessary? Was there a genuine situation to apply the comments to?

After you have evaluated these things then you can choose how to respond or change your future approach or management style.

This is exactly one situation I was in during this week. I knew a particular work setup was working okay but was far from the best. I asked a person what their view was - and guess what - they confirmed my suspicions! I became upset and angry because I knew they were right and I was so wrong.

After a day or two of re-evaluation I have decided to write up a new plan for 2010 that hopefully will begin to correct some of the problem areas. Were the problems huge or personal? No way, they were actually quite minor. However it was what I heard (the way I listened) that was the real problem.

So now I move on and start again next week, with fresh feedback, fresh thinking and a fresh plan for 2010.

"We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged frankly, and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticise us perform a remarkable act of friendship for to undertake to wound or offe". Michel de Montaigne.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Employee vs Friend

There is no clear line that separates an employee from being a friend. This is one area of management that is fraught with uncertainty and danger.

A manager can either get this really right or just as easily get it really wrong.

It is important to ensure that a clear distinction is kept between the two to stop problems arising.

When you are managing someone you essentially are there to ensure that they do their job to the best of their ability and to coach them on to higher things.

This works in both positive matters as well as negative. If the manager and employee are unable to distinguish between friendship and work responsibilities - DANGER!

Monday, November 23, 2009


The people who do well in life are those who can see the possibilities and make it happen.

I am not talking about being nice for the sake of it, but rather seeing the good in a situation or person and talking about those aspects.

Yes we must be aware of the negatives and flaws of situations and people - but that doesn't mean we have to talk about them or share them with other people.

What comes out of your mouth does the following -
  • Creates impressions upon others

  • Establishes a precedent

I love this post on the Positivity Blog about Winston Churchill's 6 fundamental lessons for life. Head over and check it out!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Decision Making

The ability to make a decision is what seperates the leaders from the followers.
  • One person may have a full understanding of a situation (analytic view) but don't do anything with what they know.

  • Another person sense's the situation (the hunch view) makes a decision and runs with it.

Who was right and who was wrong? Ultimately this will be proven by the end result. However if the person with the hunch was wrong - they still have time and scope to rearrange the outcomes. And the person who acts is seen to be decisive. Therefire people will be more willing to follow.

  1. Summarise. Look at the decision that was made, analyse what the decision was and how it will affect the future.why it was taken.

  2. Reflect. Ask yourself why did I take that course of action? By knowing your current motivation you can work towards making better decisions in the future.

  3. and Act . If the decision you made was right - brilliant! If the decision you made wasn't so great - by acting early you have given yourself time to a) re-direct your energies, and b) create a fix for the current situation.

Paul from the Idea Sandbox has a great spreadsheet that provides a great template when facing your next decision. Be aware - don't spend too long thinking about your decison - get the facts, make a choice and move.

Luke 14:28-31 "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish."
"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crisis - Help!

What do you do when a crisis hits? A crisis provides the perfect opportunity for you to step up and display your leadership skills and prowess - provided you handle the situation correctly.

Try these easy steps -
  1. Breathe. Allow oxygen into your lungs and brain before proceeding any further.

  2. Focus. Stay in control and wait for the air to clear before doing anything else.

  3. Get the full picture. Examine the situation as much as you can as quickly as you can.

  4. Focus on the what first and the who later. In the middle of a crisis - you have to deal with the what. Deal with what is right in front of you.

There is nothing wrong with being in a crisis situation. Crises are sent to test you. You have the choice to become stronger through crisis - or let someone else become stronger instead of you.

Use crisis to show people what you are really made of!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Job Currency

Cur·ren·cy (n. pl. cur·ren·cies )

1. Money in any form when in actual use as a medium of exchange, especially circulating paper money.
2. Transmission from person to person as a medium of exchange.
3. General acceptance or use; prevalence.
4. The state of being current; up-to-dateness.

How do you rate yourself in terms of currency?

Are you worth what you are being paid or should you be receiving more?

To get the most out of your working life -
  • Know what you are worth. If you don't know - ask someone who does.

  • Don't settle for less than your true value (unless you choose to)

  • Don't think you are worth more than you really are. Be realistic.

  • Remember - money isn't everything.

  • Change grow and keep up to date.

Stay current and currency will follow!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Social Marketing That Works

Orcon have very successfully made the move to capturing the essence of the social media forum and have translated it nicely into a new TV advertising campaign.

What did they do?

  1. Hired a big name star to be the face of their campaign.

  2. Asked everyday people to create a video application for themselves.

  3. The 'star' critiqued the applications down to a manageable number = 10.

  4. The star and his new crew video linked together to record the song.

Why does it work?

  1. Brand leverage. By using a popular cult music star people became interested.

  2. Offering people an opportunity of a life time. At what other time could the average person interact with or even record a song with their star?

  3. Interaction. Everyday people interact and create history.

This was a fabulous idea that perfectly captures the move towards social media advertising. The best part is Orcon have merged social media advertising along with television advertising.

10 out of 10!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Use Your Strengths

Every person has various abilities, strengths and weaknesses. If you want to move ahead in life it pays to know what abilities you have, what your strengths are and just as important is knowing what your weaknesses are.

Maximising your strengths is a good thing. Strengths are just that - strong points are the levers you can pull to get ahead. use them to create momentum, build credibility and

Weaknesses aren't a negative or a blight on you. Rather they are areas that you can either choose to develop and grow in, or find others to work with who have the strengths you need.

"My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength." Michael Jordan

Don't become obsessed with correcting your weaknesses to the point where you discontinue to work on your strengths. Rather know your weaknesses, do some correction work - and become a more well-rounded manager.
"If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome." Michael Jordan

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Trends - Predict them before they happen.

There are a few keys to winning and remaining sustainable. Here are a few generic ones -

  1. Predict what's around the corner.

  2. Plan to change to match what's coming.

  3. Pass on your knowledge to others.

What will 2010 bring? Read the newspapers in 2009 for a decent place to start thinking about it.

Also try this article by David Armano who outlines what he thinks will be the six big social media trends in 2010.

In life as well as business, you have a few options -

  • Ignore the trends and hope they will go away,

  • Follow the trends and keep on playing catch up


  • Create your own trends!

The choice and the power is yours.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Don't listen to people who drink Haterade!

Such great advice. Be careful who you listen to! Others perceptions and opinions can easily cloud your judgement and ruin your day.

You reap what you sow and if you are negative - you will get all that negativity coming back at you!

Kathrien Ahn wrote this really cool manifesto on Change This! about positivity. Check it out!

Main points -
  • Life is unfair
  • Don't compare yourself to others
  • Accept yourself for who you are
  • Don't look to material things
  • Find your escape
  • Make time - love, family, friends
  • If you don't feel positive - fake it
  • Be grateful
  • Laugh

And the BIG one -

  • Dig deep, find your talent, and dream big.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Staying On Top Of Things

There are two kinds of stress at work - good stress and bad stress.

Good stress is the type that motivates you and gives you the edge to work smart, hard and better.

Bad stress is the kind that is demotivating, harmful and ultimately very bad for you.

How do you tell which is which? And how do you get better stress while avoiding bad stress?

  1. Which is which? The best way to tell which stress you are under is to reflect on where you are at and what is taking place internally. Good stress creates a drive and pull factor within you to get the job done. Bad stress causes you to become frustrated, upset and often times will make you irritable and restless.

  2. How do you get better stress? Simply - time management, delegation and understanding your role and the task.

  3. How do you remove bad stress? There are times that projects and tasks will just not be completed properly or on time. There are also times that you will receive requests and extra work without knowing about it first. What do you do about it? In the short term - cope. In the long term - point out to the person who dumped the task on you that they could have manged the task better and it wasn't fair on you to have to pick up the pieces.

You can't avoid stressful situations - but you can learn to manage them and manage them well!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Personal Leadership Branding No.2

Great products are easily recognisable and easy to spot. Take Coca-Cola for example. With a significant and consistent brand they have been able to achieve market domination.


  • A Coke logo can be easily spotted in a crowded arena of fridge,

  • You know what you are getting when you open the lid,

  • It still tastes the same as the last time you opened it.

How does this apply to you?

  • Can you be spotted in a crowd? (And I don't mean just by wearing loud clothes)

  • What will someone hear you say when they ask you a question?

  • Are you consistent in your approach and style?

Try doing this test so see where you at -

  • How can I make myself stand out in a crowd?

  • What sets others apart that people notice?

  • What have I learnt recently?

  • Am I recycling old thoughts and habits or am I developing new patterns?

  • Am I consistent in my conversations with others and with what I tell them?
If you are aware that you don't stand out and you need to create your own brand, the best to start is in reflection.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lessons University Never Taught Me - No. 2

Delegation works for some people and not others. Learning how to let go and let others take over can be a tough ask.

I have found the problem wasn't the letting go - it was the follow through and ensuring the job was done properly. Different staff members complete tasks in a variety of ways. The progress some staff make on a task is very visible and easy to see. Other staff members complete the tasks just as well but not as visibly.

So who does a better job? Generally the results are pretty much the same.

What needs to change is the managers approach to how the task is being done. The manager needs to create a communication strategy/channel with the person the task has been delegated to.

What channels work? Try these examples -
  • Verbal feedback and updates. Just ask. Ideally you would go and see the person but a telephone call can suffice as well.

  • Tracking. Outlook Express and other computer programs have task tabs and job lists for tracking projects. These work better where distance exists or where a project is so large it needs a lot of people working on it.

  • Visual aids. I posted on using Lego as a visual aid for time tracking in August 2009. A similar thing could be done for delegated tasks.

  • Project posters (example - robot). Each team member is assigned a task and as more and more of the task is completed - the staff member adds more bits to the picture. This will give a visual presentation and a way for the team members to keep each other on track.

Delegation requires trust and communication to work properly.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


An interesting situation has occurred in New Zealand politics. In a time where the public and consumers want transparency and honesty - some politicians go and do the opposite.

The public have said through their voice in the media and talk back radio that free perks should not be squandered or abused by the politicians. Especially not by persons whom have previously railed against such abuses of power. However it is only now that those same persons behaviors are in the public arena, whereas previously it was all hushed up.

What can we learn from this?

  1. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Be careful what you say about others and how you go about saying it.

  2. You reap what you sow. If you use the system to your advantage (even lawfully) someone else will most likely do the same to you in the future.

  3. Integrity and a good name is all you have. It is easy to lose a good image and very, very hard to get it back.

  4. Work hard to maintain your credibility - friends are more fickle than family.

What should these politicians do? Be more honest in the future, don't take advantage of the system and never forget that they are in the spotlight at all times. It's hard being in a position where you are visible all the time - hence the need to be so much more careful.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Leadership Interview's No.1

Paul Polman is the CEO of Unilever and shares his thoughts on leadership in this interview with the Mckinsey Quarterly.

In this interview Mr Polman shares his views on leadership, and gives some very grounded and sobering thoughts on the challenges and methods of leadership.

Mr Polman is very humble, yet strong and this is shown by his comments just before the close of the interview where he says "I hope that the word integrity, the word long term, and the word caring comes into that - but the word demanding comes into that as well".

Here a few points I think are important about Mr Polman-
  • Integrity and Trust. Mr Polman constantly mentions these two key operating ideals - which means they are the guiding principles he operates by.

  • Longevity. Mr Polman completed his MBA in 1979. There was no overnight success or lightening trip to the top. All good leaders take time to develop their skill and their philosophy of management.

  • Decisive. Mr Polman prooved he had the metal to operate and think clearly with in the midst of a crisis (Unilever chief Paul Polman ditches pay rises and targets).
Being a leader brings with it both privilege as well as responsibility. The leaders role is to guide, grow and go ahead of their followers to ensure there is some level of success. There is no better way of doing that than through transparency and honesty.

Strategy and Scenario Planning

Never think that your boss will say yes to you. You might be the shining star of the company on the quick road to success - but always have a plan B just in case.

If you are told 3 times by your boss - the answer is no, don't go ask again for a fourth time. Just let it go.

In any situation you need to have a plan b or an alternate course of action. Even if you are granted your request the first time you ask, that same success can not be guaranteed in the future.

By creating a plan B or alternate actions you will be forced to think about what other options exist. It may be that upon reflection your first choice isn't the best option to take.

Before placing a request try doing the following -
  • Climate. Know what is happening to your organisation, what the current pressures are and what strategy is being carried out.

  • Signs of the times. Study what is happening and to whom. Read and listen between the lines. Be aware of what is occurring in other parts of the organisation and let these serve as a barometer for the temperature.

  • Alternatives. Try practising De Bono's 'Six Thinking Hat's '. Learn to see the situation through a number of different views.

  • Opinions. Ask others what think of your options and let them provide constructive criticism.

The first choice option, while it may seem the most obvious and crucial, aren't always as crucial or beneficial as they may first appear.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lessons University Never Taught Me - No. 1

People are different. Their work styles and methods are different.

So why do we focus so much on - creating and maintaining teams?

There is nothing wrong with individuals. Individuals make up teams and need to be treated as individuals.

"There's no I in team, but there is in win" Michael Jordan.

What does this mean? Teams are made up of individuals, but for the team to win the individuals must take responsibility for themselves.

Individuals need individual - coaching, development and time.

Here's a great article from Don Bobinski of Management-Issues that talks about the same issue in a slightly different way.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Education follow up stories - Where are they now?

After graduating on Friday from Waikato University with my Post Grad Diploma, I had some really interesting conversations with previous class mates.

A) One a successful engineer, who had previously worked on some very cool projects, was made redundant along with 139 other engineers - all at the same time.

B) Another had bought into a real estate company venture dealing only with top end customers. It was all fine until the recession hit.

C) A very good friend of mine went in search of the bright lights, found a new job, and then found it is the same job as she used to have - only in a far bigger setting.

What can we learn from these three people and their situations?

A) Used his class contacts to find a similar engineering role and is now doing very nicely and is the number two in charge. Lesson - contacts count. Meet people, stay in touch, strengthen relationships - you never know when you will need a favour.

B) Recessions go away. Okay it wasn't the best time to buy in - but - when is a good time? As the tide turns and fortunes increase, that company will have survived the absolute depths of darkness and will rise to stardom.

C) To make it in the city - you need to live in the city. Okay moving from one location to another for the same job may seem pointless. But the way you conduct business in the city is different to how you conduct business in the country! By moving to the city and re-learning the city culture - she will be better able to walk,talk and sell her skill sin such a way that employers will find it impossible to say no!

Creative Time and Personal Time Off

If you never watch another video or read another article - you must see/watch this one first!

This guy is now my hero.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Personal Leadership Branding

Sometimes selling yourself can be the hardest thing to do. How do you see yourself and your skills to lead others?

Human Resources, the magazine of the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand, features an excellent article on just this very topic. Written by Pip Furlong writes about how you develop your own strong personal brand.

The main points are as follows -
  1. Discover - analyse your skills and experience- understand what you are good at.

  2. Communicate - get feedback from your colleagues and managers on how you are exuding your and showing your brand.

  3. Define - how do you contribute to the organisation currently, and how can you contribute more.

  4. Create - work on a strategic plan where yo combine your personal strengths, passions and values to give maximum value inside and out of the organisation.

It all boils down to - knowing who you are, assessing where you at and changing the way you work. It is about making the most out of your performance both in work and out of work.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Middle Managers - Keep The Engine Running

What is the purpose and role of a middle manager? What exactly are they supposed to do?

The answers to these two questions are answered through an understanding of how your organisation works.

Example - In my organisation there are four tiers of employees. The top level has the CE and then all the way down to the front line staff. So the levels are - CE, Directors, Managers then staff.

By examining this structure the middle manager can begin to understand what their role entails.

The manager needs to know a few basic things before they can begin - the strategy and purpose of the organisation, then what their direct line managers role is and on to what the employees are tasked with achieving. These factors will help to determine the what and the how of the role.

In my organisation the managers role is to - ensure the CE's strategy is carried out, the Director's tasks are completed and the employees fulfill their tasks with excellence.

There is no one right way for any of these tasks to be completed by the middle manager. Similarly there is no one right way to be a Director or an employee.

Here a few ideas to make the task easier -

  1. Know your organisation. Get a feel for what customers and stakeholders think the organisation does and also internal persons as well.

  2. Learn what the overall KPI's for your department are.

  3. Find out what departmental KPI's are directly relevant to your role.

  4. Establish responsibilities, delegate tasks and empower your employees to achieve the KPI's you are responsible for. Allow and coach your employees do the work.

This is the best place to start. Through understanding what you are being held accountable for - you can begin to assess your department/team/employees - and then gear up to achieve success.

In a nutshell - the middle manager exists to keep the engine finly tuned, well oiled and running.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hot Tips For Networking

Networking is a positive method of - marketing yourself, seeking out new opportunites and maximising your time.

Networking can be either - external (outside the workplace) or internal (across an organisation).

Jodi Glickman Brown wrote an interesting piece on internal networking. That is you have been employed by an organisztion - now why do you work there?

External networking is similar but slightly different. However the basic rules to apply are very much the same. Here are some hot tips for networking -
  • Carry business cards with you all the time. Especially make sure you have them on you when you go to events where you know there will be someone you have never met before.

  • Seek out others and be the first to introduce yourself. Be open, friendly and ready to listen.

  • It's not all about you. People will be more open and receptive to you if you spend time asking about them and being genuine in your interest of them.

  • Listen. Be quiet, let the other person talk and mentally note what they have said.

  • Don't be afraid to sell your good points and strengths to others.

  • Introduce others. If you meet someone interesting or someone who may be beneficial to someone you know - introduce them. This benefits the others and the organisation because without you - the contact may never have been made.

  • Follow up. Make sure you call, email or visit again in the future to cement the relationship. Not all contacts are worth following up on - but many are.

Networking - not shameless self-promotion. But a method to make positive and valuable connections both for your benefit as well as others and eventually the organisation as a whole.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Customer Service - Contracts

Contracts and customer service go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other.
When a customer decides to enter into a contractual agreement with a service provider - the provider needs to ensure they keep up their end of the bargain. Assuming a customer will always subscribe to the terms of the contract is a myth. Customers don't just sit and wait for service providers to make miracles.

How do you make sure the people who are contracted to you continue to use you?

The easiest way - Excellent Customer Service!!!

  • Maintain the conversation. Don't assume that because you emailed a client months ago and haven't followed up with them since then - that you are still the first choice deliverer of services.

  • Keep in touch with your clients. Make sure you are at the forefront of their thinking.

  • Don't assume because you have a contract you will always be their first choice. If your client doesn't hear from you or can't see you - guess what? They'll move on.

  • Treat your client the way you want to be treated - with respect. If they ask a question - answer it! Respond to emails, make telephone calls.

  • Create and maintain a communication plan. Emailing quarterly - just isn't good enough.

  • Make sure everyone in the organisation understands what the agreement is and sticks to it. Have copies of the agreement handy, refer to it, remind people about it.

  • If you make promises - make sure they happen. Customers don't forget. If you tell someone you are going to do something for them - do it!

The relationship between service provider and client is no different than any other relationship.

Both partners need to work together to ensure the relationship works!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Groups and Teams - No. 2

Angela Atkins wrote this really great book called Management Bites.

This is an excellent read! This was also where I first discovered the terminology in relation to groups and teams.

Here are a few excerpts from the chapter on Team building -

"Dealing with a group - include the entire group on strategy meetings, but don't make them play team games or activities. Do keep them informed."

"Dealing with a team - be aware of the four stages of team development - 1. Forming, 2. Norming, 3. Storming, 4. Performing" (Tuckman, 1965).

"A team works together and can be measured on team results. A group of employees all do different roles that don't directly impact on each other. Therefore a group is measured on individual results and is not held to ransom for team results".

I feel so much better in my performance as a manager - knowing this stuff! Now I can move forward and it will help to shape where I go to from here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Groups vs Teams

People who work near each other (in an office etc.) can be either - a team or a group.

Whats the difference?

Team - a set of people, completing the same or similar tasks, in a close proximity to each other. Have overlapping work requirements and similar task knowledge is shared by all the group.

Group - a set of people, completing different tasks, within a work environment. Specialised work knowledge is required and one person completes their own set tasks.

Both groups require strong leaders, however each group will need to be led differently.

Teams - can be led in a more relational manner. Decisions tend to be more democratic and everyone hears what is going on together at the same time. This occurs more in new and smaller size workplaces.

Team goals and outcomes are set by the team.

Groups - can be led more in a one-to-one way. Decisions are made by the leader and the individual and then the rest of the group are told.

Individuals are held to account for their personal goals and performance outcomes.

This is one area that I have struggled to understand. In my memory no-one has ever explained the difference or the need to lead in different ways. It was such a relief for me to figure this out! My management style and focus - just went to another level!

Check out - Leadership Development Coaching for this interesting article on leading teams and groups.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Job Hunting Advice

Looking for a new job isn't always easy. Sometimes - it's darn right hard!

Here are a few ideas that might help you -
  1. Spell check all documents you are sending out! A spelling mistake is not a good look.
  2. Make a plan. Decide what you want and start working towards getting there.
  3. Ask friends. Ask friends to ask friends. Network.
  4. If they say no - ask why. Why didn't I get the job? What could I have done differently?
  5. Don't give up. Having someone say no - doesn't mean it's the end of the world.
Here are a few more tips from Career Services and some more from TV3.

Staying Motivated

After taking annual leave, being sick or exiting a stressful time period at work it is easy to become tired and lack lustre.

Work standards fall and so does the quality of the work that is being out put.

Try these simple starters to help get you started -
  • Read all your emails first. Clear all the distractions.
  • Sort your tasks by rank - urgent, important, not urgent, not important.
  • Assign days to the tasks. That is a particular job can be done on Thursday rather than Tuesday thereby reducing the stress and pressure.
  • Delegate quick and easy tasks, then complete as many small tasks as you can.

After making some easy wins - you will feel more energised and better able to take on the big tasks that lie before you!

You may also find some more helpful hints here - mftrou.com, or the Harvard Business Ideacast 161: Stuart Friedman (iTunes).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Learn on the run

There is lots of time in the day that you can maximise to learn.

One way is by listening to podcasts.

Here a couple I subscribe to -

Tune in, plug in - listen and learn!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Communication Skills

They both started with the same scenario from which they devised a question to ask the public.

Simple enough - what do you want in a bank?

Simon asked the question using a very direct and simple form. "What do you want in a bank?"

Marie asked the question providing some context - "I'm with some executives and they want to know what you want in a bank?"

What was the difference - context.

The first question has no urgency, empowerment for the answerer or potential for results. It sounds more like a muse than a direct question to it's audience. Hence that is the way that persons responded.

The second question says - I'm here with someone who has the power and potential to make changes based on your opinion. Tell me what you think - I'll let them know - let's change something. Result - a bunch of answers in a very short space of time.

How does this affect the work relationship?
  • What questions do you ask?
  • How do you ask them?
  • Do you provide context and a sense of urgency?
  • If someone answers - will anything change?

"If you wish to converse with me, define your terms". Voltaire.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Grow Your Own Leaders

Dr Emma Parry from the Cranfield University School of Management published a research paper that found - company's who invest into their own staff to create leaders and unleash their employees potential do better.

Here are a few interesting points of view of the managers interviewed from the published paper:

  • it is better to grow your own employees than hire in,
  • developing your own staff is a cheaper option than hiring in,
  • staff retention and motivation increase when current employees are nurtured,
  • it is a cheaper option to nurture your own employees.

(Source: Nurturing Talent, A Research Project by Dr Emma Parry, October 2008).

Staff development is one of the key areas for businesses to become strong, maintain their position and to move on and grow.

Another finding was that internal candidates may not always be the best choice though.

My personal view is -

  • When a middle management sized position becomes open - it is best to promote from within. Keep the knowledge and experience and move it up.
  • When a specialised or senior management position opens up - it is better to recruit from external sources.

External persons bring fresh perspective, new energy and different motivations.

Brand Loyalty

Recently two major brands have changed their product lines in the following ways -
  1. Changing the essence (flavor, size, production method) of an age old product (Cadbury's).

  2. Modifying the original product in an attempt to 'update' an old product. (Marmite).

What were the results of the attempted changes?

  1. Customers were told through the media that the product had changed. Instant backlash. Customers felt they were being short changed and not listened to.

  2. The customers ignored the new product, thought of it as a gimmick - and still bought the old product anyway.

So what conclusions and lesson can we draw from these instances -

  1. If it isn't broken - don't fix it.

  2. Customers know a marketing scam when they see one.

  3. Humans are creatures of habit and will stick with something that works.

The Coca Cola company attempted to change the taste of Coke in the 1980's with disastrous results. But management listened - changed the recipe back to the original - and have continued to do well ever since.

Maybe Cadbury's and the makers of Marmite should have learnt from the same mistake made 24 years earlier.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Organisational Structure

Economist magazine have an article looking at the pros and con's of decentralisation.

Organisational structures have two basic frameworks - centralise or decentralise.

Centralise means services, choices, decision and strategy is dominated by those at the centre and their commands are carried out by the sectors.

Decentralisation means a lot of the decisions and operational choices are relinquished by the central powers, and the sectors choose how they want to carry out their duties.

In my current workplace I have seen the shift from one to the other (centralised to decentralised) and somewhat back again.

Interestingly those located in the center found it hard to relinquish the ability to make operational choices and stick to strategy.

At the same time the sub-sectors found the new power to make their own decisions hard to understand.

It has taken at least two years for the central point to be reached whereby - central decide the strategy, the sectors make operational decisions and everyone works together (somewhat to achieve the goals of the organisation.

There is no perfect organisational structure and tensions will always exist between the role of central services and how much power they should exude compared to how many decisions should the sectors be able to make?

Which do I prefer? Both and neither.

"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way". (John C Maxwell).

Leadership, vision and strategy need to come from the center that shows the way yet allows people the freedom to make decisions.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Dr Henry Cloud wrote a very interesting book called "Integrity: The courage to meet the demands of reality". The by-line is 'How six essential qualities determine your success in business'.

I picked up this book two days ago and have been impressed with all that I have read so far.

There are three particular pitfalls the author outlines in his first chapter -
  1. Hitting a performance ceiling that is lower than one's aptitude

  2. Having an obstacle or situation that derails you

  3. Reaching great success only to self-destruct and lose it all.

Interestingly the author believes each of these can be solved through a persons growth in integrity. I agree - but it depends upon your definition of integrity.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Growth and Improvement

It is easy to become sluggish and comfortable in your current position. The challenge is to keep getting better. Constant improvement and change. How do we get challenged?

Try these ideas -

  • Read authors you disagree with. Write a retort and send it to them.
  • Read books at your local library. Read about subjects you have no idea about. What about - Nursing? Bio-mechanics? Physics?
  • Talk to others. Find people who are doing something and are getting somewhere. Get them to challenge you.
  • Learn from the best. I quite like these series of videos being produced by the London Business School -

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Creative Thinking

When leaders and teams are faced with making decisions often times it is easy for the discussion to become stuck in a rut. Old ideas keep flowing through, people can not agree and the process becomes bothersome and tiresome.

A great tool to get people thinking is use the mindmap. This is one example that is free to use online.

Similar to brainstorming the mind map helps to create definite lines and approaches to enable progress to be made in going forward.
The mind map concept works especially well for people who are creative in their thinking and approach to work.
Tony Buzan has written a number of very helpful books that share ideas on how to make the most out of your mind mapping experience. Check him out!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Customer Service

If a company or organisation wants to keep existing customers there are a few simple things you can do -
  1. Communicate to your customers.
  2. Provide rewards for loyalty.
  3. Provide quality service.

Frankly - I get frustrated when a company that makes millions/billions in revenues every year can not answer my phone call within 10 minutes.

I get irate - when they can't answer within 30 minutes.

I switch companies - when they finally answer my call after 44 minutes.

Well done Telecom New Zealand! 44 minutes of waiting for a two minute password reset.

Hint - this is not a good way to retain customers.

What would be a good way?

  1. Let customers reset their passwords online.
  2. Hire more telephone operators and answer the phone.

It's easy when you try.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Technology and People

Technology exists but it does not replace people.

People need people and people respond best to other people.

A phone call is better than an email (for personal contact), a visit is better than a telephone call.

Technology can create buffers and obstacles between people that can produce more tension than release it.
Remember - even in the midst of all the technology that exists, people are still people who need people.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I love the message of this video -

Life's too short to spend it walking around looking down. Look up, look up, look up!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Staff Rewards

If a person in your team does well - thank them.

Thanks can be given through a variety of different ways.

  • Say thanks,
  • Buy a gift,
  • Give the person a day off,
  • Give the person more responsibilities (not more work),
  • Acknowledge the person in front of their peers.

One tool to help you decide what the appropriate method are the 5 love languages. Devised by Dr Garry Chapman the languages are broken down into five categories - words, time, gifts, acts of service, touch.

I thoroughly recommend all persons look into these!

"To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude." Albert Schweitzer

Monday, September 21, 2009

Career Advancement Principles - Politics

If you are ambitious, want to get somewhere in your career, or are looking for advancement it is easy to become frustrated when circumstances don't appear to go your way.

So what should the worker do? There are three basic options.
  1. Leave.

  2. Stay.

  3. Improve.

All workplaces have a level of politics and operate around who knows who. Advancement when broken down is more often the result of relationships rather than ability. Rob Yeung writes a great post about the place of office politics. Here is an excerpt at the cosing of his article -

"You can use your understanding of politics to influence people and achieve goals that are good for the organisation as well as yourself. Even in the most friendly and supportive of organisations, people don't always agree – so having an understanding of politics and how to exert influence can help you to pull people together and achieve outcomes that are in the organisation's best interests too.

Try to manipulate and use people and you will probably get caught. You could be tarnished with the label of being "political", which can make people refuse to trust you or want to listen to you again. So effective politicking has to be as much about give as it is about take. So. Play the game. Or get left behind. Which are you going to do?" (Source: Management-Issues.com)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mr Branson and Virgin

@TheEssentialOrange posted a fantastic post this week.

It gives an update on what Richard Branson and Virgin are up to.

Here's a brief overview -
  • Screw the recession - attitude.

  • Day in the clouds - creative marketing.

  • Freefest - get customers by giving them what they want.

Personally I find Mr Branson to be a lot more appealing than Mr Trump. He is fresher, has more attitude and writes great books!

Essentially Mr Branson and Virgin understand their customer, listens to their demands and gives them what they want.

Attitude is everything. Be it negative or positive - it determines your mood, your thoughts and those around you.

I also like this quote - "attitude = altitude".

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Building Customer Loyalty

Adobe know all about customer loyalty - how to win customers AND how to keep them.

  1. They win customers by products that integrated, seamless and work together to achieve what the customer wants (c.f. what they want). They make their products easy to use and accessible. They keep the features the professionals want to use while still making sure the average Joe can achieve their goals as well.
  2. They teach their customers how to use their products through online seminars. This is how they keep customers. Customers are constantly able to learn new tricks and ways of doing their work. Customers can constantly increase their knowledge so the product they bought doesn't become redundant.

How about your business or organisation? You may have won some customers but how do you ensure they keep coming back to you for more - more services, more upgrades, more teaching, more haircuts?

Often time's it's the little add on's that make the difference. Putting time and effort into making sure people come back to you and your organisation is time and money well spent!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Being Accountable

Quote "The finance person in a company of any size plays a crucial role in supporting management and their decision making." (Source: David Irving, unlimited.co.nz, Feb 08).

The finance person is a critical cog in the wheel to ensure the smooth running of an organisation. They may not always have all the right answers but they should be providing all the right data.

Knowing how accountants get their data isn't as important as understanding what the data says and applying it.
Here is an extract - "The monthly accounts are a more comprehensive picture of the company performance, covering all costs in revenues and any other activities. Quarterly reviews typically capture seasonal fluctuations where monthly numbers are too arbitrary a period. Ice cream sales may be crucial in the first quarter of the calendar year while soup sales lead the way during the winter months. Annual accounts, of course, have a very traditional layout but need to be written in a form that give value to the reader when comparing this year to previous years and seeing the consequences of any changes resulting from management decisions made during the year."
These are basic principles that can be the making or the breaking of a business, organisation or group.

Note - Interestingly the article was originally published in February of 2008 - just 5 months before the start of the global financial crisis.
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