+Scott Watson

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Premier League Chairman Approach to Performance Management

Yesterday, the new owners of Blackburn Rovers Football Club decided that Sam Allardyce, the manager who last season saved the club from certain relegation, and this season has steadied what some commentators would term 'a sinking ship' was no longer the manager for them.

Stories of disagreements between Allardyce and the owners regarding the availability of cash to fund transfer purchases were initially reported, however, the club's chairperson stated that the somewhat unexpected sacking was due to Allardyce not being the right person to take the club where the new owners want it to be. and, the place they want to be is in one of the top 4 spots in the Premier League - spots virtually guaranteed to the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and erm...well, not Liverpool - for this season at least!

It's not always about the money

Manchester City's billionaire owners pumped several hundred million pounds into a transfer fund to maximise the possibility for them to be a top 6 club in the Premier League. Perhaps the eager investors and owners are quick to forget that former manager Sven Goren Erickson reached the dizzy heights of seventh in the Premier League before being sacked....because City wanted to be a 'top six' club! And Erickson spent very little on buying new players.
What are the lessons here for managers in your organisation?

  1. Just because you saved a team from failure in the past, doesn't automatically qualify you to lead a team to sustained success in the future.
  2. You (the manager) may not be the problem. Sometimes, it's the team (or several members of it) that need to play/work in a different role or, at worst, be moved on. Carrying dead weight doesn't help your team or organisation perform perform optimally.
  3. Manage 'poor' or 'inadequate' more effectively. OK, in the football arena, the owners can sack you on the spot, but you're likely to be paid off quite handsomely and not need to find alternative employment for a while. In business, it's very different. There's a process to be followed which is aimed at either improving performance or, getting rid of the manager whilst remaining within legal constraints so as to guard against an unfair dismissal hearing.
  4. When you inherit a team, find out specifics about performance history from the previous manager or, at the very least, performance appraisal records (but be careful, they can be very fluffy and inaccurate in detailing facts). Team building is key!
  5. Seek feedback from your boss. What are their most important goals? What are their top priorities in terms of results required? What reporting do they require from you? What are minimum performance standards? When you obtain this data, you have boundaries to work within and goals to work towards. There's no guessing.
Don't you find it a little strange that just last week, England football manager, Fabio Capello was tipping Allardyce as his potential successor in the most challenging job in English football...and just a few days later, Allardyce is looking for a new job?

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Learn to See Situations Differently - A Lesson from Bernie

An integral part of our role as facilitators is to help delegates see a situation, however emotive, challenging or unattractive, from different angles. This skills is commonly termed 'reframing'.

We often share true stories with delegates on how creating (and maintaining) a strong emotional connection to a situation, or at least, a strong emotional connection to how we perceive it, can cause major problems if we allow it to. Take this recent example:

A Qantas A380 super jumbo flight makes emergency landing due to a component shearing off one of its engines. Not a significant problem perhaps. And if you're a passenger and the calm pilot has advised you that all is in order and that you remain safe, no problem at all perhaps? It's more likely to be a story for your family and pals to enjoy back home.

But, what was identified later by 'experts' was that the component became dislodged from the engine because of what is termed 'faulty manufacturing'. And remember, this is a Rolls Royce engine. The cream of the engineering crop! Experts have advised that the component falling from the engine mounting, whilst not good for PR, didn't actually cause a problem with flight safety. BUT, they did comment that the component smashed into a wing. What's the problem? The wings of a A380 store the kerosine which fuels the aircraft. They are packed with flammable liquid - liquid you really shouldn't consider lighting at 30,000 feet. If the fuel had lit, a fireball would have fallen from the sky. Rather like the ill-fated Space Shuttle incident from the 1990's. An incident which, if some people had done their jobs effectively, would not have happened.

So. You're a passenger on the Qantas A380 above. You disembark and what happens?

- Are you grateful that the incident was 'minor' and that you landed safely? After all, no harm done eh?

- Or, are you filled with panic, anger and resentment that 'I could have been killed because of these lazy, stupid engineers'? (Time to submit that claim for trauma...or insist on the Business Class upgrade).

There's always a different way to look at a situation, if we're willing to do so. Now on to Bernie Ecclestone and a rather creative piece of brand management and product marketing.

SKY News reported that Mr Ecclestone was the victim of a 'mugging' and that his rather exclusive HUBLOT watch was taken by the perpetrators of the crime. And this is when Mr Ecclestone decided that there was a marketing opportunity to be had. He allegedly contacted the watch manufacturer and, as SKY News quote an advertisement was launched showing Mr Ecclestone battered and bruised, accompanied by a tagline of 'See what people will do for a Hublot'.

Fantastic reframing and a lesson in self-promotion and marketing!

From Service to Satisfaction - What a Journey

The Christmas shopping madness has started. The spirit of goodwill doesn't appear to have kicked into place yet - at least it hadn't in the hectic Leeds city centre last Saturday.

The problem? Lots of people eager, perhaps a little too eager, to get their gift shopping completed before the streets and shops got too busy. Well, we're not really bothered about the streets being too busy are we? That we can handle. But queues? Oh no, not again. Waiting, waiting and more waiting. only to be served by a store assistant who doesn't smile (because they've seen the length of the queue they HAVE TO serve) and so in their own mind are planning just how stressful their day will be. Isn't it strange how some people plan their stress...in advance? Talk about an unproductive mindset that could ultimately ruin your day, week (or even life).

Thank you for your patience

I visited a beauty store in Leeds last Saturday to buy a few gifts for my wife. And yes, I'm rather good at forward-planning so set off from home at 9am in an effort to avoid the worst of the expected stampede of people who can sometimes forget their manners when 'enjoying' the Christmas shopping experience. And, it was this forward-planning and foresight that allowed me to witness a simply fantastic demonstration of turning a problem into a solution - a very creative solution too. Here's what happened.

Having been served by a very helpful female staff member at the store, I'd selected my purchases and walked to join the queue of around 20 shoppers who were waiting to be called to pay for their purchases. And that's where the problems started.

The two staff members behind the cash desk were fumbling around with a cash register, paying no attention to the queuing customers and talking to each other in shallow whispers. A full 60 seconds later, there was no communication forthcoming from behind the cash desk, or from anywhere else for that matter. And wouldn't you just know it. One of the employees behind the cash desk wore a badge stating 'MANAGER. But clearly, this 'MANAGER' was not 'managing' very well at all. She was so involved in the problem that she forgot that the people in the queue were not obligated to wait AND actually wanted to give her their hard-earned cash. And that ultimately means, the people who keep her, and her employees in jobs were not allowed to purchase their items, at least not for now.

As some members of the growing queue began to share their frustrations with each other, others chose to return their items to the shelves and simply leave the store. After all, these people are actually in the store and in the queue for the cash till BECAUSE THEY WANT TO GIVE THEIR MONEY TO THE STORE! It's quite a simple concept that some retailers should concentrate on. Accept money from those individuals who wish to give it to you.

A full 2 minutes following my noticing the initial fumbling behind the cash desk, still no communication from the Manager about what was happening, why it was happening or, how she would ensure that the now even longer queue of shoppers would be cared for. Now, I'm a patient guy and I am more understanding than many people that problems can arise. And that's ok with me. What I do appreciate knowing is how the problem (which is affecting my shopping experience) is to be resolved. I'm from the 'Just tell me and I'll understand' tribe of shoppers.

Saved by an Angel

With more staff gathering round the cash desk,the manager becoming even more frustrated and more would-be customers leaving the store - without spending any money, it became apparent that one of the cash tills was not operational. Yes, there's only so many times you can say 'Re-Boot' before even the queuing customers want to shout out 'Stop RE-BOOTING...Even we know it's not working'.

Now for the flip. And a fantastic flip at that. In a moment of pure inspiration (or perhaps, desperation), the young lady who had served me 5 minutes earlier takes a stand. Here she goes in a warm, genuine and very apologetic voice. And remember, at this point, the manager is still not speaking to customers in any way and not aware that a public demonstration of brilliance is about to take place - right in front of her.

'Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see the cash till isn't working.....and we continue to re-boot...even though that isn't working.' At this point, the shoppers focus is drawn to the solitary figure of a smiling store assistant attempting to help, and without her Managers' permission or knowledge.

At this point, the Manager, and crowd of followers look up and towards their renegade colleague. How could she break rank and dare to think for herself? She continued 'One of our two cash tills isn't working, BUT, the other one is and we can now serve you on this one.' Fantastic eh? Even the manager was so involved in the problem which was the faulty cash till that her awareness wasn't drawn to the fact that their other cash till was completely operational and waiting to start chomping cash and visa cards. Remember, would-be buyers are still leaving the queue and exiting the store without making their purchase/s.

And on she goes, 'Now, I just want to let you know that I can't sing...and I can't dance very well...' drawing smiles and giggles from her audience,...now for the dramatic pause and a bundle of shoppers wondering where this was leading.... 'BUT I AM THE BEST gift wrapper you'll meet in Leeds today, so please bear with us and we'll do our best to take good care of you

No applause from her audience, but she attracted lots of smiles, a few 'Thank You's and an abundance of goodwill. As her reactive colleagues got their brains in to gear, she politely asked the next in line how they would like their gifts wrapped - in a box? in a bag? Would you like a bow too? Even grumpy children got a treat as, after seeking parents permission, she asked if they would like a sweetie. All of these questions and a few polite and timely offers helped her to flip a problem with 'Customer Service' in to an experience of 'Customer Satisfaction', at least satisfaction with her contribution.

This is a true story about an experience I had last Saturday. Now for some questions for you about your organisation:

- Do you focus on delivering 'Customer Service' or 'Customer Satisfaction'? And do you actually understand just how your bottom-line financial performance is adversely impacted by your employees missing opportunities to satisfy would-be and actual customers?

- Do you train your employees, not just customer service staff, but, sales people, even your IT team to focus on delivering customer satisfaction? If not, you're very likely to be wasting your company money. Just because you don't see it go missing, doesn't mean it's not being wasted.

- How do you actually know when a customer of yours is genuinely 'satisfied' with your product or service? And beyond that, how do you know when they are genuinely 'satisfied' or 'dis-satified' with the quality of service/dis-service you delivered?

- Excellent customer satisfaction doesn't just save you money (fewer complaints, more efficient communication, right-first-time), it can actually make your company money too.

In short, forget about delivering excellent customer service. It's a worn out statement that whilst well-meaning, has become an empty platitude thrown around by some corporate bosses and many motivational (or as i term many of them 'Irritational') speakers that it's become virtually worthless. Focus on satisfaction and your financial performance could be boosted beyond your highest expectations.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Summit prove a popular choice for Middle East HR leaders

Following our participation in the 7th Middle East HR Conference held in Dubai last week, we are pleased to announce that Summit has received a number of invitations from HR leaders in the region to visit the UAE and Arabian Gulf during December 2010.

During the 4-day conference, an abundance of HR Directors and Managers approached us to discuss how we could help them overcome their most pressing challenges including:

- Succession Planning
- Attracting and retaining high-quality managers
- Supporting government initiatives to develop more home-grown talent
- Enhancing Employee Engagement in multi-cultural teams in a transient region

Summit is pleased to announce that it intends to visit Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia during December 2010 and looks forward to being of service.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Launch of New Summit Web Site

Monday 8th November sees the launch of the refreshed and updated Summit Training web site.

The revamped site doesn't just have a new look, it has a bundle of benefits including a client only video coaching academy, interactive blog and a more extensive range of training programmes and HR Consultancy solutions.

If you don't find exactly what you're looking for, please give our expert team a call on 0845 052 3701.

With best wishes


Friday, 13 August 2010

Influence - How Much or How Little Do You Notice It?

It seems that the most effective influencer in the UK is the magician/hypnotist/entertainer Mr Derren Brown. If you've ever witnessed Mr Brown's live show, even the untrained eye can notice that his approach is a potent mixture of trickery, sleight of hand, misdirection and exemplary timing. Twin these with a charming personality and there you have it - persuasion magic!

If you've not seen Mr Brown in action, just type his name in to Youtube and you're bound to enjoy yourself. But we don't all want to be a Derren Brown type of influencer and persuader. And that is a good thing. But we all do have situations at home, at work and in the street where we want to or indeed have to influence another human being, or even group of human beings to either start doing something or stop doing something, to do more of something or do less of something. Indeed, if nobody influenced anybody else - nothing would happen.

Are you aware of how individuals, government, companies and groups influence you? Maybe you are on some occasions, maybe not on others. I've detailed below a number of situations where we are being influenced, perhaps unconsciously or perhaps, because we pay so little attention or place so little value on the influencing stimulus - we tend to comply.

You're too well dressed to be a beggar

I've just returned from a family holiday in the city of Nice, France. Each evening an abundance of tourists explore the beautiful 'Old Town' area of the city to enjoy the architecture, the street entertainment which spans music to martial arts. But the one thing that really stood out was the fact that the 'beggars' who hounded unsuspecting tourists for money - were all really well groomed and remarkably well dressed.

A 'team' of male beggars worked the Palais de Justice square where thousands of tourists passed through and hundreds more enjoyed the cafes and restaurants. Each 'beggar' had a transparent plastic cup which they would shake as their next target approached (so the target could hear the sound of coins and so be encouraged to contribute). But who did they target each and every time? Females - females on their own, females in a group but ultimately no males were targeted. Why not? Perhaps because females are perceived to be more compliant, the beggar can flirt a little and maybe because the response from a male would be more forthright, less polite and more aggressive. See what the beggars have done? They've selected their target market, put their own money in their plastic cups to imply that other passers-by have been kind enough to contribute (to their next Armani clothing purchase) so you should too.

There's a lesson here. If you're going to beg - don't dress, look or smell like you've just got yourself ready for your first date with a beautiful super-model! It just doesn't fit the profile.

The Restaurant Bait

Again, and you'll have experienced this in many holiday destinations across the globe. Restaurants and cafes place a member or two of their team on the street just outside their hostelry to attract potential customers. But why do they always choose to employ rather attractive, in-shape and often blonde (natural or bottle) in this role? Have you ever seen a spotty, greasy-haired, ginger plump lady - or male in this position? Not a chance. Why not? Because the restaurant and cafe owners realise that where a family is passing by, it's usually the father/the male that holds will be paying for the meal and booze - and that they will most likely enjoy the 'sights' too as well as enjoying the food. You just got influenced and it cost you a bundle!

Supermarket Sweep

Why do we buy the 'Special 2-4-1 Offer' in a supermarket so often? Because it appears better value than simply buying the one item you really wanted. It's like 'If I don't buy it now, I'll lose out'. But how can we really 'lose out' by buying something we didn't really need, only wanted? Supermarket bosses use fantastic, perhaps sometimes unethical, influencing strategies to influence the shopper to just keep on shopping. Even when it comes to checkout, the sweets, chocolate and other snack foods aren't there to be of help to you - what they're really doing is providing an opportunity for you to impulse buy a product, or even worse, get your kids to pester you in to buying something for them. And wouldn't it be oh so embarrassing for you if your kid/s caused a scene in front of so many other people at the checkout?

Amsterdam Airport Has the Best Idea

You've heard it over the airport speaker system. 'Will Mr Williams flying to Dubai with Emirates please board immediately as the flight is ready to depart?'...to be followed a few minutes later by 'Will Mr Williams flying to Dubai with Emirates please board immediately as the flight is ready to depart?'

See what's happening here? A supposedly important message, with consequences for the passenger - missing his flight, and the airline - missing its slot and the potential onward delays, isn't becoming any more important to the passenger as there isn't a consequence for him. Now, imagine if you are Mr Williams for a moment and you're flying from Amsterdam's Schippol airport. This is the term they use, and it creates a very different impact.

'Will Mr Williams flying to Dubai with Emirates please board immediately or your baggage will be off-loaded from the flight?' See the difference? If you're Mr Williams, you'll actually feel the difference - emotionally and perhaps financially too. This message delivers a sense of urgency, a sense of responsibility and also a sense of consequence as Mr Williams has no control over the airline shutting the doors without him.

Low - Cost Airlines - The Devil is in the Detail...and Your Visa Card Bill

So, your flight ticket from Leeds to Paris is ONLY £5 each way. Fantastic, WE MUST GO!

You go online, choose your flights and all is looking well. Until that is, you want to take baggage, one piece each to be stored in the hold. £20 to £30 each ticket. And you'll have to check-in online as the airline doesn't employ staff to do this at the airport....DUH! so that will cost you a further £5 each, each way. So that's another £20 creeping its way on to your visa card. Oh, you want to pay by visa or debit card? That's another 2% charge of the total transaction please. But I have a question about the booking, I'd better call the airlines 'customer service' number. Oops, didn't we tell you that it's not only an 0870 number, it costs upto £1 per minute...AND THAT INCLUDES THE TIME IT TAKES FOR US TO TELL YOU YOU'RE IN A QUEUE, ATTEMPT TO SELL YOU MORE OF OUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES not just the time you have speaking to one of our staff.

See what's happened? You've been influenced to make purchases because they feel compulsory. Of course they aren't compulsory as we reserve the right to not travel or choose another airline, but the influencing psychology is 'I MUST COMPLY IF I WANT THE TRIP'. Some call this influencing, whilst others may call it scamming!!

The lessons? Start to notice how you are being influence, who is influencing you and reserve the right to choose not to comply. You might live to regret it if you don't.



Monday, 2 August 2010

Cialdini's Influence Principles Aren't Just for the Business Arena

So, this isn't the usual kind of blog post. As you know, many, if not all of my posts relate directly to the corporate arena. But this one is different. Perhaps very different - in terms of subject, and also in terms of how to apply the wonderful principles and teaching of Professor Robert Cialdini (influence and persuasion), to a rather distasteful subject. The subject that is so distasteful?

Dog Mess!

Now, if the subject hasn't put you off, stick with me on this as I'll quickly demonstrate how to apply Cialdini's principles to under-pressure and often under-resourced local government officials who are charged with keeping our neighbourhood safe and streets clean.

A quick re-cap of Cialdini's principles

1. Reciprocity - you help me, now I'm obliged to return a favour to you

2. Commitment and Consistency - If you say you'll do it - do it! Keep your commitments

3. Social Proof - People will generally do what they see other people doing/or not doing

4. Authority - People tend to comply (willingly or otherwise) with those who are in authority

5. Liking - People are more influenced by people that they like.

6. Scarcity - People tend to want more of something when it is becoming scarce.

Straight to the point. Who do you fear the most, or at least far less likely to be offensive to?

a. Police Officer (a real one, not a 'hobby bobby')

b. Dog Warden (in full uniform)

Let me guess, you went for option A. Why? Possibly because a police officer has far more influence. Not just the individual, but the uniform that he or she wears represents AUTHORITY.And however much, or however little someone respects authority, the police offer has the right, and power to encourage or insist on compliance with the law. Another point is that if a police officer actually arrests you for an offence, you're far less likely to enjoy the experience.

Indeed, encouraging irresponsible dog owners to clean up the mess that their pet just made shouldn't be all that difficult if Cialdini's principles are applied effectively and consistently. Whilst people generally COMPLY with authority, they only comply when somebody is observing them - not afterwards. One example is spotting speeding drivers quickly slow down when they notice a speed camera...and then speed off when they are out of the cameras range.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Management Development Training

The need for and value of effective management development training is often sidelined by busy executives who are so focused on ensuring that nothing goes badly wrong, that they miss the opportunity to ensure that far more things go wonderfully well.

Yes, executives do need to hit the numbers and achieve the goals they have agreed, or been set, whether it be by eager investors or other parties. And especially during or following a recession.

Executives ignore management development training at their peril. Why? Simply because the more effectively a manager performs, the more effective an organisation can be. One objection I often face from well-meaning executives is 'But who will do their work if they're on a training course?' An easy question to answer. 'Somebody else'.

There are many ways, other than traditional classroom based management training to develop your existing and emerging managers. They include:

- One to one coaching with colleagues (same and different teams and departments)
- Peer group coaching with colleagues (same and different teams and departments)
- Group learning with immediate manager
- Group learning with key internal customers & stakeholders(90 minutes per session)
- Self-directed learning with internal HR/Training team or trusted peer
- Real-time, on the job coaching
- Online learning - have you seen the extensive audio book selection on Itunes?

Management Development training and coaching doesn't have to take the person out of the business. They can learn so much 'inside' your business - but only if they are allowed the time and space to undertake such learning. And remember, just because a manager is sat at their desk tapping their pen on the desk or even staring out of their office window, it doesn't necessarily mean they are avoiding their responsibilities. It might just mean that they are thinking, or even learning.

The most effective management development training usually includes a mixture of all of the points detailed earlier. How often have you participated in a training programme, thought that the ideas and concepts were absolutely fantastic, and then, not applied your learning? We've all done it I suppose. But this isn't management development - it's budget mis-management.

I have facilitated thousands of management training programmes across the globe. But whilst so many different factors influence just how effective the learning will be, one major sticking point often appears. And that's participants checking in with the office on their mobile phone. Why do they do this? Well, there's a number of reasons including a desire to ensure that all is running smoothly, a desire to show their deputy that they care about them, a desire to demonstrate self-importance to their deputy....'Oh, you can manage without me can you?' and finally, a deep rooted fear that something will go wrong and they'll be the one who has to sort it out.

There's one simple solution to the problem of managers focusing as much, if not more, on their mobile phone and emails as there is on the learning they are being paid and trusted to participate in. And that's DELEGATE EFFECTIVELY! But that's a subject for another time.

For now though, remember that developing managers isn't all about sending them on training courses and having them return motivated for a few days, or hours, depending on the quality of the learning. It's more about providing an abundance of well-considered options from which they can select their preferred method/s of learning. In addition to this, it's down to the line manager to ensure that time and space is allocated well in advance to allow the manager to immerse themselves in a worthwhile learning which will benefit them as an individual and of course, your organisation too.


Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Unattractive Customer Offer - Why Do It?

It's not rocket science, so why do so many retail companies disadvantage their existing customers with offers which don't make logical, emotional or possibly even financial sense? Here are two examples of offers which I have received during the past 10 days.

While visiting the beautiful city of York with my wife, we noticed a retail clothing store called White Stuff. They sell a very attractive range of mid-price, unique design clothing for men and women. What I enjoy about this store's approach to customer satisfaction and value is simple. They serve first - and earn second. How so?

Well, my wife and I first came across this store during a holiday in the Lake District. My wife wanted to purchase some clothes for her new job and she enjoyed browsing the unusual but very attractive designs. They had a sale on which was also a bonus for me! As my wife browsed, the store attendant gently offered to assist my wife if she would like. Politely declining the kind offer, my wife continued to browse. The attendant's attention smoothly changed focus from my wife....to me!

You're welcome to relax on the sofa if you wish sir', and a half-second later continued, 'or you can enjoy the range of gentlemen's clothing over here', gesturing towards where she wanted me to be. Buying!

I did notice a jumper which I would have liked to have bought, but the only size in store was too small for me. But, it wasn't a lost cause. She picked up the phone and called their store 8 miles down the road. Yes, the sister store did have a larger jumper in store and they would deliver it to this store for 9am the next morning. 'I'd be happy to arrange delivery for you sir....Shall I do that for you?'. How clever as well as professional! Why? Because this young lady had been so polite, gently helpful and discreet that I would have felt a little awkward rejecting her offer of help. Also, by accident or design, including the words 'Shall I do that FOR YOU'? added a very personal slant. It's the law of reciprocity in action. She was offering to be helpful to me, so I was compelled to return the favour.

Yes, we did buy and the whole experience was very positive. So, on to York. A different store location wise, but very similar in terms of offers. Unfortunately for me, there was no sale or discounts being advertised, but a genuinely friendly welcome from the female assistant was followed around 5 minutes later with an extended arm offering to hold the 3 shirts I had taken off the rack, while I continued to browse. The next offer? 'I'll put these in the changing room for you to try on when you've finished.' How cool! In a very professional, non-pushy sense, there was little opportunity of me leaving the store without first trying on the items of clothing she had 'kindly' held for me.

Another offer, and a very subtle one at that was this. 'I'll give you an over the shoulder bag which is free of charge'. Nice gesture. Not that I ever pay for carrier bags in any store. My local health food store wants to charge ten pence for a carrier bag (apparently to help the environment and save the planet). All along, there I was thinking that they were just generating additional income from themselves because they were jumping on the bandwagon of being good corporate citizens. This is the health store that following ringing over £30 of goods through their cash till stated to me 'And the carrier bag is ten pence...is this ok?' My polite and assertive response? 'Well, no actually it isn't, I won't be paying additional funds for the privilege of paying you good money for these goods'. Stunned silence followed until the gentleman advised me that it was 'Company Policy' to charge for bags. My polite and still assertive response? 'Thank you for letting me know that, as I stated earlier, I won't be paying YOUR COMPANY to make money off an environmental issue.' When I asked whether the proceeds generated from every bag sale - and every customer's blind compliance with their 'Company Policy' was donated to a charitable organisation his face changed...as did his manner. Guess who lost a customer?

Back to White Stuff. The offers they made were timely, beneficial for the customer, cost nothing but a few seconds of their time, generated rapport and an element of trust and were partnered with a high-quality product at a price I was willing to pay. How cool is that? Very cool I think!

Now let's look at the other side. Last night I spotted an advert in the newspaper from my local hairdressing salon. The offer is detailed below, word for word as published.


What's wrong with this offer? This SPECIAL offer? You guessed it! If you have never visited this salon and had your hair cut by the manager, you pay ONLY £40. Apparently, this SAVES YOU £15. Let's think about this. If you've never had your hair cut by the Manager previously, you benefit from a perceived saving of £15. But, if you are a regular client of the Manager, YOU STILL HAVE TO PAY FULL PRICE! How fair is that offer? In simple terms, if you're a long-standing client who has helped this company grow their business, or at the very least, remain in business, you are penalised. Why? Because you are a loyal, existing client.

The acquisition of new clients is absolutely essential to any company. I understand this fully. But actively penalising existing clients and customers is potentially commercial suicide. So, if you are a consumer, be careful what offers you accept from organisations. If you are a business, you too need to think carefully before publishing well-meaning but potentially dangerous offers.

Monday, 19 April 2010

The Problem With Scarcity

As I write this post, the Icelandic volcano has paused from its spewing of volcanic ash. For now at least! The leaders of the 3 main political parties still all believe they are the best person to lead Britain out of recession and on to better times. And, as ever in these situations - there's a scam to be had and a victim to be found. How so? Let me explain in more detail.

When a resource is scarce, we human beings tend to place more value on it - in our own minds at least. Whether it's the TV shopping channels that do their best to sell their unsuspecting, no, gullible viewer to purchase something they don't need, and probably don't want - just because 'There's only seventeen left in stock and they're 'Selling out fast and won't be back in stock for 4 months at the very earliest.' No there isn't only seventeen left in stock and well they know it! There's probably hundreds, possibly thousands of the item left in stock. They're just using the scarcity trick to influence the viewer to believe there's hardly any stock left - and so 'I'd better buy one NOW before I LOSE OUT.'

How does this relate to Iceland and their mis-behaving volcano?

Before I answer that question, another example first. Due to the collapse of the Icelandic economy, and several banks and investment houses, each with a presence in the UK financial services industry, when the country and its banks went bust, no UK customer was permitted to withdraw any of their personal funds. Thankfully, the UK government introduced an investor/saver protection policy, basically providing a £50,000 insurance policy to protect UK investors from financial loss. This is even if they possessed more than £50,000. In basic terms, The Icelandic government owes British investors several billion pounds ($5 billion according to www.thisismoney.co.uk) in lost savings.

So, how does this relate to scarcity? Well, the scarcity rule doesn't only apply to products, services or money. It also relates to the scarcity of choice. Limiting the number of choices an individual, group or population can make. Try this one for size!

The Icelandic government allowed their population to vote on whether they should pay the debt to the British savers (who trusted the Icelandic banks with their funds). It was a straightforward 'Yes' or 'No' vote. Guess the result? A resounding 'NO'. Was it reasonable to expect a population to vote 'Yes' under the circumstances? Unlikely and perhaps the Icelandic governments public referendum was a ploy to absolve themselves of responsibility for making such a decision? After all 'They didn't say 'No'..the people did!'

Many trusting British savers now have scarcity of financial resources or reserves due to the actions of a government.

Sticking with Iceland, the volcano eruption has caused enormous disruption for travellers across Europe. Air travellers especially have suffered significant inconvenience due to aviation authorities cancelling all flights for fear of accidents occurring due to the volcanic ash. And for some serious entrepreneurs (or perhaps some would call them unethical business people at the very least), what do they do knowing that other people's suffering could make them a bundle of cash and profit?


Virtually every major news channel in the UK has reported that train companies, including Eurostar have increased the cost of their ticket prices - due to the increased demand. Hotels in regions affected by travellers not being able to depart - have increased their prices and food outlets (not the major chains), have increased their prices. Why? BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY CAN! Of course, however reluctant the weary travellers may feel, they do need to eat and they do need to sleep. Catch 22.


Have you ever travelled abroad, or even to a new city, jumped in to a taxi and stated your destination, only to be asked by the driver, 'Is this your first visit?' Next time, please ignore the question or respond 'No' and leave the conversation there. Whilst some taxi drivers may ask in an effort to build some rapport and influence you to tip them well, others, I know from many personal experiences ask this seemingly innocent question to establish just one thing. And that is 'Can I scam you?'

Answering 'Yes' to the drivers question puts you, the trusting passenger, at an immediate and costly disadvantage. Why? Because the driver can take you wherever he or she wants, clock up the price on the meter, and you're none the wiser. When you reach your destination, you just pay up, possibly tip him or her (especially if they delay giving you change as it can feel somewhat awkward) and find out later in the bar you've paid way over the odds. Who's scarcity of local knowledge cost them dearly? You! I've had this dishonest trick played on me in Florida, Bahrain and Dubai. It's reached the point where I let the driver take me on a tour and only upon safe arrival at my destination (usually a good quality hotel), grab my bags and refuse to pay the fare. Not just the fare shown on the meter, but ANY fare. After all, when you've written down their licence number and contact telephone number for complaints, the driver is always happy to move on and find a more willing victim. I love Bahrain and the behaviour of some (not all) taxi drivers really dilutes my experience of the beautiful Kingdom.

Please Enjoy Your Stay - And Show Me The Money

The Radisson BLU hotel in Nice, France has cornered the market in pressuring paying guests to give them more money, by force rather than choice. How so? Easy, to enjoy the sunshine sat by or swimming in their hotel pool will cost each guest £20 per day. Imagine the cost of your enjoyment if you are a family of 2 adults and 2 children. Sure, you'd likely attempt to get the children to share a sunbed together - but that's against the rules apparently. Ok, you say, we'll go to the beach instead and save our money. No it won't. That too will cost you £20 per person per bed per day. And, as you pay in advance (remember you're a guest at the hotel), if it rains, there's no possibility of a refund. Selling on scarcity and the first hotel I've ever heard of which charges guests to use their pool.

Be very aware of how the scarcity rule is used against you. It could cost you dearly, not just in money but trust too. And when trust is lost, it's often very difficult to win recover.




Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Customer Satisfaction Journey - Forget Customer Service

As a birthday gift for my wife I rather stupidly purchased tickets for her and a friend to enjoy a music concert. Well, 'enjoy' might not be the most appropriate term as the event was with Whitney Houston!

So, bearing in mind the health challenges she has experienced in the past, together with pretty awful concert reviews in Australia and 'fans' leaving the concert early as they viewed her performance as below par, I should have guessed that her UK gigs would be at least postponed if not completely cancelled.

24 hours prior to the scheduled concert, it was indeed announced that the concert was cancelled. Apparently, Whitney had a sore throat. No problem, apart from me having to come up with an unscheduled Plan B - how to fill the void left by the cancelled concert.

Aha, a nice meal in a nice restaurant in Leeds. I chose Gaucho, an Argentinian steak house. And, a rather good choice it was too if you look at the experience the company provided for my wife and myself, even before we arrived. Here's how it went.

I call to enquire about a reservation. But rather than delivering the usual 'So that's a table for two at 7.15pm tomorrow', I was on the receiving end of something pretty special. 'Are you visiting to celebrate any special occasion?' was the wonderful question Amy, the rather helpful and exceedingly professional employee asked me. 'Yes, it's my wife's birthday and as Whitney Houston isn't well, bringing her to Gaucho is my Plan B'.

Now, many restaurant staff would finish the call with a standard 'We look forward to seeing you tomorrow', but not Amy. Oh no, she led seamlessly into evolving the customer experience, and quite understandably, generating potential additional income for Gaucho too. And I'm absolutely ok with this if I'm enjoying the experience.

'So may I make a recommendation?' she asked. 'Of course' was my response. She then proceeded to recommend that upon our arrival we should enjoy a birthday cocktail in the bar as a surprise for my wife. She would think up something - after all, it was a pretty safe bet she would satisfy my wife's tastes as she asked me what kinds of drinks my wife enjoys most. Cool or what? 'And how about if you both have a dessert, I can arrange for a small lit candle to be placed in your wife's dessert as a birthday wish.' ABSOLUTELY!

And this is all prior to our visit. On the night, the cocktails did indeed arrive. Gorgeous they were too. And mine was alcohol free as I was driving. Aren't they two words which if you just change their order, the night takes a very different turn? 'Alcohol free' versus 'Free alcohol'!

At our table, the waiter introduced himself, gave us a few minutes to explore the menu and then - with a heavy wooden board in hand, and at least 8 pieces of meat on it, proceeded to explain in brief but fine detail, the different cuts and types of meat, their recommended cooking style and the different textures the meat had. And I thought up til then that meat - was meat!

The food was outstanding, the friendly, professional and subtle service was first-class. The wine that my wife enjoyed was refreshing, as was the small card she was given by Amy as we retreated to the bar for post-dinner drinks. The card contained details of the wine, a description 'acidic, aromatic, with hints of pineapple', the vintage 2008/9, the grape variety and altitude at which the grapes were grown as well as the region.

Now, neither you nor I would likely need or use this information. But, it was a little bonus which helped our evening be even more enjoyable. I never comply with restaurants which include 'for your convenience' at set gratuity, which is usually between 10% and 15% of the total bill value. My thoughts are 'If you've earned it, you're welcome to it'. But so many cafe's and restaurants just don't earn it. They rely on blind compliance from customers to just accept this fee as part of the transaction. Thankfully, there was the option to leave a gratuity either with the waiter who served us so well or on the total bill, which we did.

Have a think, do you focus on delivering customer service - what you think the customers want or indeed, what you want to deliver to customers. Or, do you focus on delivering customer satisfaction - making the whole experience something the customer will enjoy, value and talk about to others? The difference between customer service and customer satisfaction can have a significant impact on bottom line financial performance and your ability to retain existing and attract, new customers to your organisation. Perhaps now is a good time to take a lesson from Gaucho?

Thursday, 8 April 2010

How to curse effectively, part 2

I like fairy tales.

If you have read enough of them, you will know that very often there is an evil witch or a wicked stepmother who curses the poor, unfortunate hero or heroine.

It goes like this: "From now on, you are a frog (or beast, or sheep, or tea cup)!," and the hapless victim turns into that thing and is cursed to stay that way for all eternity - or until a prince comes along who can lift the curse.

And you know what? We curse ourselves on a regular basis!

Whenever we say to ourselves "I can't do this", we basically cut ourselves off from any chance of ever being able to do this thing - we cursed ourselves as effctively as any witch could do.

Think about it: we don't say that we might in future attempt it, we don't say that maybe we will succeed if we show enough persistence. No, we stopped ourselves from even attempting it.

"Can't" is the end of action.

The way to free ourselves (or others, who have put themselves in the same position) is to challenge this curse.

"I can't do it!"

"What would you do if you could?"
"You can't or you won't?"
"If there was a way to do it, what might it be?"

Same with ourselves: If we notice that we have stopped ourselves from taking action, we could ask empowering questions like "I wonder how somebody else might look at this?", "If I could do it, how would I?".

We have to be very careful with how we use language to empower and disempower ourselves.

Yes, we can!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

How to curse effectively, part 1

Since I just watched a documentary on the curse of Tutankhamun, I thought I’d write a bit about how we often “curse” ourselves and others.

One of the easiest ways is to use a certain, magical word that instantly disempowers people.
Drum roll, please!

That word is "try".

Little smartassy proof: Try to click your left mouse button. No, don't click it - try to click it!

We either do things or we don't. As soon as we say that we will try something, we have this in-built excuse that we didn't really go for it, we just had a try...

Studies have actually shown that if you ask someone to lift as much weight as they can and then ask them to try to lift as much as they can, they tend to be about 25% weaker when somebody used the word "try" on them.

A friend of mine is a Karate Champion and he shared with me that he always talks to his opponents before a bout and tells them to try their best. Quite sneaky, and quite effective!

Force yourself to say "I will do it" and if you hear someone else say that they are going to give something a try, ask them nicely if they are going to do it, or not.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Business Leaders Are Wasting Money on Training That Just Doesn't Work

Many business executives are unwittingly wasting their money when it comes to procuring employee training and development initiatives. That’s the result of research undertaken by Scott Watson, Managing Director of UK and Bahrain based Summit Consulting and Training.

Watson, whose supporters include some of the world’s leading companies and eminent academics recently polled one-hundred human resources executives to identify how they measured their return on investment from their training and development initiatives.

And after analysing the responses Watson said, “There is significant room for improvement in procurement procedures, establishing precise success criteria before commencing training projects and developing greater responsibility for the delivery of enhanced results from the training provider.”

But with corporate training budgets being cut or even slashed entirely during the current economic climate, many under pressure human resources directors are finding that the goals they have been set by company executives before the downturn, are still expected to be delivered, even though funding is scarce.

So what can business leaders do to achieve a better return on their investment in time and of course, budget? Watson recommends that time invested at the outset to identify and select potential training partners can pay big dividends. “There is a big difference between hiring a training provider who will deliver a few days training, and appointing a trusted training partner who will collaborate fully and share ownership for the results you achieve,” he said. “The focus must be as much on what benefits will be realised in terms of measurable improvements in effectiveness as it is on the cost of the training programme.’

The research also identified that 74% of those polled who opted for an off-the-shelf soft-skills training package were less than satisfied with the level of value added to their organisation. “These two factors speak volumes when linked to quality and value for money,” continues Watson.

“An off-the-shelf package is focused largely on what the provider wants to teach your organisation rather than on what matters most, which is what your organisation needs to learn so it can improve its effectiveness” And in regards to the perceived low value in terms of value added to the organisation, Watson takes a very clear stance. “If a training programme is to add genuine value to an organisation, it is vital that the buyer and provider collaborate openly and honestly to establish how the learning will benefit the client, not just in terms of short-term boosts in performance, but longer-term, sustainable improvements. He continues, “Without a clear goal in mind from the start, and responsibilities allocated for embedding the learning back in the real world of work, virtually any well-intended training programme will fail to deliver any value or return on investment.”

But what steps can busy business leaders take to reduce the risk of wasting their hard-earned budget and maximise their potential for achieving something worthwhile from their investment? Watson’s advice is straightforward, “Stop looking at colourful brochures and start looking for proof of competence, a strong track record of high client satisfaction and willingness to be held accountable for delivering business benefits rather than just training.”

- Ends -

Editor’s Notes: -

Summit Consulting & Training is one of the UK’s preferred choices for human resources consulting, specialising in leadership, management and team development training and coaching on all levels.

Clients include DHL Express, DHL Aviation, GE Capital, Radisson SAS hotels, Denplan, Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force amongst many others.

Scott Watson is author of ‘Win Every Time – Essential lessons for existing and emerging leaders’ which is endorsed by Professor John Thompson, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Huddersfield.

More information is available on the Summit Consulting and Training web site at http://www.SummitTraining.co.uk/

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Beware of Time Bound Offers - You'll Be Disappointed

Driving home today I was listening to a commercial radio station. You know the one's. In between a bundle of adverts you'll occasionally get some music.

The recession has brought significant challenges for commercial radio stations. The main challenge being revenue falling through the floor. Yes, in the good times, they were rolling in cash. The high pressure, target and financial bonus focused advertising sales reps didn't really have to sell - they just took orders!

But the current economic climate brings with it tighter budgets from potential advertisers whose businesses, business to business, business to consumers are struggling and financial targets from radio station bosses who need the advertising revenue to survive. So what happens? The tone and urgency of the adverts change massively.

Whereas during the good times, the carpet store may politely, even seductively invite you to 'visit our showroom where you're guaranteed to find just what you're looking for.' Right now, the same company has forgotten seduction and replaced it with a shreeking, fast-talking loud-mouth lout shouting'GET DOWN TO OUR STORE TODAY...THESE AMAZING DISCOUNTS CAN'T LAST FOREVER...THIS CLEARANCE SALE MUST END SOON.'

Now, do you notice the use of time bound language here? 'Today', 'Can't last forever', 'Must end soon'. They all imply that if YOU don't get your skates on and give them your money, you'll lose out. How cool, if not misleading, is that?

Whether you're shopping or working with colleagues, be very aware of how time bound language can be used against you. Even unwittingly, time bound language can cause problems. For example, when someone says 'I'll get the report to you by the close of play today', when do you expect it? You may finish work at 5pm but they don't finish til 8pm - their personal 'end of the day'.

When someone says 'I'll be with you in five minutes', and it's now 8 minutes (and you're scowling under your breath about their bad manners), notice how some people, perhaps even you, use time bound language without considering the consequences.

Have a think about some other language patterns or words that can ultimately cause frustration and disappointment.

See you soon.....whenever that might be!?

You can find out more about influencing training courses and negotiations skills training courses at http://www.SummitTraining.co.uk/

Please Just Answer the Question

For those of you based in the UK, you will be familiar with the BBC's popular mid-week politics programme 'Question Time' presented by an highly respected journalist.

For those of you not familiar with the show, in brief, it's a live studio audience (always a good thing - checking that the audience is 'a live') who put questions and allegations to an 'expert' panel. The panel may consist of politicians from the 3 major parties, an independent, such as an economist or leading charity figure and many others.

Now on this occasion, the show was to be broadcast from the city of Blackburn, and the audience wasn't the usual mix of frustrated adults, it consisted entirely of teenage school children from Blackburn. And one member of the audience was a 15 year old girl whose family I have known for many years. And she had a question. A pretty good one too.

What happens next is something that, if you experience, I expect you don't enjoy or appreciate. Personally I find it rude and disrespectful. Here's what happened.

Her point related to what she perceived as an imbalance in caring for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan who, were fighting a war which, perhaps they don't support, but are legally obligated to fight. Here's the point she made to the panel after being advised of the funds a friend of hers received for her private education.

'Why is it that a child receives over £6,000 for private education when soldiers are dying because they haven't got the correct protective clothing and equipment?'

A straightforward, pointed question deserving of an answer from at least one panel member. A question that, having been answered honestly and fully, could have provided some context regarding the benefits certain soldiers have due to their rank or length of service. Yes, somehow linking private education with the loss of a human life would be difficult, but perhaps a link worth exploring - especially to an audience who in future years will decide who they trust the most (or mis-trust the least) to lead Britain.

The response from the presenter/facilitator was brief. An acknowledgement of the question....and then on to the next subject.

What is it like for you when you ask a question and the person decides to evade, talk fluff or refuse to answer the question altogether? Does this happen at work? Why do some people say that they welcome your views/opinion and thoughts and then simply by-pass the very point they made?

When this happens in the workplace, people become dis-engaged, mis-trusting and to some extent, not caring anymore. It's time to lead by example and answer honestly the tough questions that sometime pop up.

If you type Jeremny Paxman and Michael Howard into YouTube you'll see this standard at its very best. Just look what happens when the politician evades the question....and the pit bull terrier of a journalist won't let him escape.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Are Too Many Arabian Gulf Companies Over Managed But Under-Led?

One of the UK’s top management experts has warned corporate managers that a lack of “emotional intelligence” in their leadership styles could spell financial disaster during the economic downturn.

Scott Watson, the founder and managing director of Summit Consulting and Training, which has trained more than 10,000 business people in the UK, Europe and Arabian Gulf region, claims that managers without emotional intelligence risk ending up with under-motivated, disengaged staff who lack commitment and whose productivity nosedives.

Unfortunately, emotionally intelligent managers are rare, Watson says. Most highly qualified business managers lack the mature interpersonal skills required to motivate staff through hard times. They often make the false assumption that their technical skills, or dazzling academic records, will make them strong managers.

“Academic institutions and most corporate training programmes don’t promote or teach personal qualities such as resilience, optimism and empathy,” Watson said. “Managers are expected to find their own way, and they can go badly wrong. Academic prowess will not guarantee success. Technical competence needs to be partnered with personal character,” he said.

So what is “emotional intelligence” in a leader and how can it be acquired?

“Our research over 10 years with over 10,000 people shows that nearly all employees value high levels of trust, collaboration, credibility and empathy in their managers,” Watson said.

The survey demonstrates how much employees are motivated towards better performance by credible and engaging bosses. From a manager’s point of view, too, the benefits of emotionally intelligent leadership are enormous.

“Striving to achieve a higher level of personal, team and company effectiveness is far more worthwhile than thinking success or failure is at the mercy of external forces so it’s not worth doing anything but drift into oblivion, or bankruptcy,” Watson said.

While a mature level of emotional intelligence in leaders is always valuable, it is crucial in a downturn when employee motivation tends to flag without regular encouragement.

“Feel-good factors naturally develop when profits are growing and costs are reducing,” Watson said. “But when times are tough, employees are full of fears and anxieties that they won’t meet targets, or that their job is on the line, making it harder to stay focused.”

Strategy aside, companies who have managers with high levels of emotional intelligence are far better equipped to survive the downturn, Watson said.

“When times are hard, that’s when you really find out how effective or ineffective your leaders and managers are,” he said.

Emotional Intelligence - A Major Factor for UAE Companies Competing In a Downturn Claims Leading Management Expert

One of the UK’s top management experts has warned corporate managers that a lack of “emotional intelligence” in their leadership styles could spell financial disaster during the economic downturn.

Scott Watson, the founder and managing director of Summit Consulting and Training, which has trained more than 10,000 business people in the UK, Europe and Arabian Gulf region, claims that managers without emotional intelligence risk ending up with under-motivated, disengaged staff who lack commitment and whose productivity nosedives.

Unfortunately, emotionally intelligent managers are rare, Watson says. Most highly qualified business managers lack the mature interpersonal skills required to motivate staff through hard times. They often make the false assumption that their technical skills, or dazzling academic records, will make them strong managers.

“Academic institutions and most corporate training programmes don’t promote or teach personal qualities such as resilience, optimism and empathy,” Watson said. “Managers are expected to find their own way, and they can go badly wrong. Academic prowess will not guarantee success. Technical competence needs to be partnered with personal character,” he said.

So what is “emotional intelligence” in a leader and how can it be acquired?

“Our research over 10 years with over 10,000 people shows that nearly all employees value high levels of trust, collaboration, credibility and empathy in their managers,” Watson said.

The survey demonstrates how much employees are motivated towards better performance by credible and engaging bosses. From a manager’s point of view, too, the benefits of emotionally intelligent leadership are enormous.

“Striving to achieve a higher level of personal, team and company effectiveness is far more worthwhile than thinking success or failure is at the mercy of external forces so it’s not worth doing anything but drift into oblivion, or bankruptcy,” Watson said.

While a mature level of emotional intelligence in leaders is always valuable, it is crucial in a downturn when employee motivation tends to flag without regular encouragement.

“Feel-good factors naturally develop when profits are growing and costs are reducing,” Watson said. “But when times are tough, employees are full of fears and anxieties that they won’t meet targets, or that their job is on the line, making it harder to stay focused.”

Strategy aside, companies who have managers with high levels of emotional intelligence are far better equipped to survive the downturn, Watson said.

“When times are hard, that’s when you really find out how effective or ineffective your leaders and managers are,” he said.

Arabian Business Leaders Must Realise That Command and Control Management Will Ultimately Result In Failure -Warns Leadership Expert

Under pressure managers in our region are more likely to use a “command and control” style of leadership during a recession, but a leadership expert claims that whatever the economic climate, it is the wrong way to go about improving corporate performance.

Scott Watson, managing director of UK and Bahrain-based Summit Consulting and Training, which has trained and supported more than 10,000 executives and managers in the UK and Arabian Gulf, says autocratic management styles stifle creativity, undermine staff morale, destroy trust and ruin the potential for any worthwhile collaboration to maximise organisational effectiveness.

“Some management gurus might say the days of command and control are numbered, but our experience is that it continues to flourish,” Watson said. “During such an economic climate, it becomes even more common as executives eager to satisfy impatient investors and managers attempting to keep demanding customers at bay become even more focused on getting the job done more quickly, efficiently and often with fewer resources,” he said.

Watson, author of the book ‘Win Every Time - essential lessons for existing and emerging leaders’ stated that there is evidence that command control thrives in some cultures more than others. He suggested it was prevalent in the Middle East region. Watson, said it is so common mainly because managers don’t know any better as they haven’t been educated about how to manage people and performance effectively. It is based, he argued, on a misunderstanding of human nature - which craves autonomy and resists coercion. While some commentators may claim that cultural differences are the main reason for such an approach to management, Watson says that this is simply an excuse some executives use to avoid taking the intelligent action needed to maximise effectiveness of their organisation.

“Command and control is simply about forcing people to comply with a demand or instruction. The opportunity for a subordinate to request clarification, challenge a seemingly impossible imposed deadline or suggest a better way of working is viewed as obstructive by the manager. The underlying message a command and control focused manager sends to their staff is ‘I’m more senior in the hierarchy and have greater status and power, so do as I tell you’. But there are a number of significant problems with this ego based management style.

“Firstly, our brains respond much better to requests and invitations than they do demands. Most people resent individuals who demonstrate self-serving, ego-driven managerial styles. They don’t want to be told what to do; they want to have an opportunity to think for themselves, and more importantly, have a high level of trust for their manager,” Watson said.

A second problem is that it forces subordinates into blind compliance, which provides them with a convenient excuse for producing inferior quality work, which increases costs. “People will tend to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the production of poor quality and are more likely to provide the excuse that they only followed their managers instructions,” Watson said.

Workers tend to thrive on having the freedom and time to be creative, Watson said. A boss demanding an immediate response or compliance inspires slipshod work and results in what is commonly termed ‘fire fighting’. But it is the executives and managers who use command and control as their normal approach who are actually starting many of the fires.

“Command and control doesn’t give people time to think. They are told this deadline is urgent, so feel compelled to take immediate action to appease their boss. But this action is often poorly thought out, without focus and potentially damaging to the quality of output achieved which then results in blame being apportioned by all parties and no-one taking responsibility for the failure.

“The performance of a whole team or organisation can be dragged down because of managers persistently demanding ‘now now, now’. But now is not always the best time to get things done. If quality standards are to be achieved, there needs to be time invested up-front for sharing and challenging ideas, developing clarity of purpose and shared ownership for getting the job done right first time, on time, every time.

But Watson states that there are situations when command and control is essential. Even in business, there are rare instances when command and control is required and works well. “It’s good in short bursts. If there’s a pressing deadline and all resources need to be got together in a hurry to deliver the solution. If everybody understands this style is a short-term approach and they trust their manager, it can work well.” It should, however, be used sparingly. A less dictatorial style can produce far superior results.

“Managers should remember that, just like the successes they achieve and enjoy, failure is rarely achieved alone. It is the managers who need to reflect on just how effective or ineffective they are performing and understand that they will get higher productivity, efficiency, quality and profitability for less when people collaborate effectively,” Watson said.

“The boss is not always the best person to make a decision alone. The best-quality decisions are usually made by a group operating in a high-trust environment. Open disagreement is welcome as it helps the team to collaborate well,” Watson continued.

According to Watson, “A collaborative management style is the exception rather than the rule in the Middle East region. Government officials and company executives need to change their approach to recruiting to identifying the best managers if the ultimate goal is to employ more nationals to take on management roles in the coming years. Without this focus their attempts could be futile at best,” he concluded.