+Scott Watson

Monday, 23 September 2013

Managers Need Much More Than Passion To Truly Succeed

Premiership football club, Sunderland have just announced the sacking of colourful Manager, Paulo Di Canio.  No shock for many independent observers, somewhat of a relief for demanding fans who pay good money in a tough economic climate for some level of enjoyment and success, and no doubt viewed as unfair by m/any unions representing football managers.

With a dismal record of just three wins in his thirteen competitive games in charge of the team, Di Canio's record speaks for itself.  But there are several important factors to consider in this sensitive situation, such as:-

Was the Board's decision to appoint Di Canio as manager (after sacking Martin O' Neill) based on a successful track record, cultural fit, technical competence, or something else?  That something else being a passionate Italian accent, a 'Never give up' attitude, and some good PR?

Di Canio is most certainly passionate, and perhaps his Italian accent creates more impact than many of his (former) peers in the Premiership such as Tony Pulis at Stoke (who was fired as his board thought he had done all he could at the club), and Steve Bruce of Hull FC who, with his clearly north eastern accent, doesn't quite match the romance and passion, Di Canio's accent does.

Does a 'Fresh pair of eyes' really add so much value to a team who aren't 'succeeding' or achieving the success the financially driven board of directors and owner demand of them, or at least, hope for?  Not in this case at least.

Di Canio's reign at Sunderland was littered with public outbursts about his team's lack of passion, commitment and motivation.  Rather like former Hull FC's manager, Phil Brown's spat when his team were performing badly.  Brown is now famous, for all the wrong reasons, for not allowing his players to return to the dressing room at half-time.  Instead, he insisted they remain in the centre circle...to receive a right royal roasting from him!  Perhaps not the best motivator, or the best PR for a reasonably respected and successful manager. 

There is a time and a place for manager's to reprimand their team members.  My thoughts are - it's best done privately.  Why?  Because individuals make up teams and the 'one size fits all' approach to addressing poor or unacceptable performance has never worked in terms of adding value, and most likely never will.  But whether it is a football manager, call centre manager, customer service manager, or any otehr kind, the manager is paid, trusted and expected to deliver high quality results.  And this is where responsibility must be taken.

Di Canio is a fine example of a passionate, focused athlete.  But, as in business, being a great technician by no means guarantees that you will be a great manager. 


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Spotting When You're Being Influenced To Make A Decision....NOW!

How often do people in business attempt to influence you?  Very often I expect as without influencing, nothing would get done and communication would not exist.

I absolutely love exploring how people influence each other, ethically and not so ethically too.  You've experience the charity 'chugger' who makes uses the town or city centre precinct as their stage to approach you in perhaps an overly friendly manner, in an effort to entice you to stop, listen, feel guilty about not supporting the charity s/he is 'representing', in the hope you will sign up for a monthly standing order to 'support' their charity.  What these 'chuggers' don't tell you is that they are employed by an agency which, if you sign up through their representative, take a commission of anything from 50 to 70% of your first year's 'donations'.  

OK, chuggers are an extreme case, but take a look at the content below which was an initial response from a conference exhibition sales representative following my enquiry about my company possibly exhibiting at a HR conference.

This email is by no means unethical, unprofessional or misleading.  Indeed, it is the exact opposite, and it's a pretty good effort to attract business and encourage me to make a decision to exhibit....NOW!

See for yourself what journey the sales representative takes me on.  Read through the complete email immediately below and have a think about the author's intention.  On the copy immediately below this original email, I've detailed my notes in italics so you can differentiate his and my comments.  Let's see if you and I are spotting the same things!

Many thanks for your enquiry. 

I have had a look at your website and the services that Summit offer would be ideally suited, and of interest to the senior level L&D decision makers that the exhibition delivers.

As you can imagine at this time of year the last remaining stands are being booked quite quickly now, we have approximately 5 remaining.

Price and size of stands are,

3m x 2m £2,322
4m x 2m £3,096
3m x 3m £3,483
4m x 3m £4,644

There is also two other costs that you would need to factor in,

Administration Fee £245 - This covers your for 3 main areas of insurance, Loss Damage & Theft, Cancellation & Abandonment and Public Liability Insurance to the value of £2million.

Registration Fee £270 - However this is refunded in full if the invoice is paid within 3 weeks. As we are are already within 3 weeks from the event and all invoices must be paid before the event we can literally ignore this cost.

I have attached a copy of this years brochure, media pack and floor plan. The floor plan isn't quite up to date with the bookings that have come in this week, but I can still accommodate various size stands that companies may wish to book.

Obviously I would be delighted to have you exhibit this year, but a question I would like to ask is, that bearing in mind the event is in 19 days, does that give you enough time to prepare to exhibit this year?

If you have any questions or queries don't hesitate to let me know and if you could let me know your thoughts I would really appreciate it.

Kind Regards

Copy With Scott's Comments

Many thanks for your enquiry. (not a good start as my name would have developed a more personal, less scattergun approach).

I have had a look at your website and the services that Summit offer would be ideally suited, and of interest to the senior level L&D decision makers that the exhibition delivers. (The author claims to have invested time in reviewing my web site to understand my company's offering, and yes, of course, my company's offering is 'ideally suited, and of interest' to his conference audience.  This is rather like you trying on an item of clothing in a store and the sales rep stating 'Oh, it really suits you'.  Not that they would ever state otherwise).

As you can imagine at this time of year the last remaining stands are being booked quite quickly now, we have approximately 5 remaining.  (Here, the author intends to place me in a visual thinking mode with 'As you can imagine' and then he uses the time of year and scarcity of time...time is running out, trick to understand that 'the last remaining stands are being booked quite quickly now' and 'we have approximately 5 remaining'.  Whether true, accurate or otherwise, the author is using the rule of scarcity to push me towards...NOT LOSING OUT ON THIS OPPORTUNITY.

Price and size of stands are,

3m x 2m £2,322
4m x 2m £3,096
3m x 3m £3,483
4m x 3m £4,644
Notice that the author has not stated that the prices are exclusive of VAT.  This serves to present the pricing as less expensive.  Bu then we go on to other costs to be factored in...

There is also two other costs that you would need to factor in,

Administration Fee £245 - This covers your for 3 main areas of insurance, Loss Damage & Theft, Cancellation & Abandonment and Public Liability Insurance to the value of £2million.  Such admin fees are similar to the charge you receive when using an ATM in some stores which charge you up to £1.99 for you benefiting from the convenience of using their service.  But my company for one has these insurances in place and this 'AdministrationFee' is perhaps being presented as a 'Compulsory Fee' rather than an optional fee.  But one question to ask if you were considering paying the fee is - just how much commission is the event organiser receiving on this income stream?  The author's hope is that exhibitors will simply pay it.

Registration Fee £270 - However this is refunded in full if the invoice is paid within 3 weeks. As we are are already within 3 weeks from the event and all invoices must be paid before the event we can literally ignore this cost.

I have attached a copy of this years brochure, media pack and floor plan. The floor plan isn't quite up to date with the bookings that have come in this week, but I can still accommodate various size stands that companies may wish to book.

Obviously I would be delighted to have you exhibit this year, but a question I would like to ask is, that bearing in mind the event is in 19 days, does that give you enough time to prepare to exhibit this year?   What a wonderfully soul searching question!  Beginning the question with 'BUT' and then accompanying it with a question to create uncertainty and again, scarcity.  The challenge the author experiences here though is that, until he asked the question about whether I was running out of time, I hadn't even considered the possibility.  As it happens, my team and I don't have enough time - so we're not exhibiting!

If you have any questions or queries don't hesitate to let me know and if you could let me know your thoughts I would really appreciate it.

Kind Regards
This email was sent to me 3 weeks ago, and just yesterday I received an email from the same author asking if I had made a decision on exhibiting.  What does this second message chasing business actually do?  it discredits the content of the author's first email which encouraged me not to lose out.

If you want to not just survive, but thrive as  a leader, business owner or entrepreneur, don't just accept what some people communicate to you as true, accurate or win-win.  Take time to dissect their communication and reflect on the consequences and implications of you choosing to make a decision based on their, perhaps self-serving communication.

Monday, 16 September 2013

When Will Jamie's Italian Learn That Bullying Customers Is Bad For Business?

What are your thoughts on tipping in restaurants?

Do you feel socially obligated to leave a tip following a decent meal which is accompanied by decent service?  Or, do you feel that you reserve the right to decide for yourself as to whether you would like to leave a few spare quid to the waiter or waitress?

Perhaps you and I are in the same boat here.  Personally, I prefer to leave a tip if a financial reward, in addition to the cost of the meal and refreshments has been earned by good food and at least 'good' service to match.  By 'good' I mean friendly, attentive and responsive service, and not 'Well it wasn't as bad as the last time' standard.

Now here's the thing for you and your organisation.  Do you really understand the impact your customer facing colleagues have on your trusting customers and/or end users?   And do you understand what impact, positive and negative, they are having on your organisation?  If you don't, it's a very precarious position to find yourself in, as you never know who will be so disappointed or frustrated by your quality of service that they never return to purchase your product or service.  And this (once again) is the challenge I experience on visits to Jamie's Italian, Leeds.

Bear in mind that Jamie Oliver is not just a chef, and a rather fantastic one at that, he is an entrepreneur.  An entrepreneur with stakeholders such as financial investors, employees and perhaps even his family.  But ultimately, Jamie Oliver is a national and international brand.  And as we've witnessed in recent years with the likes of some of the UK's biggest financial institutions and high street retailers, when a brand is damaged, sometimes it just never recovers.

Here's the challenge, the gripe, the complaint and feedback for Jamie and Jamie's Italian managers in Leeds.  

'Stop bullying diners in to leaving a tip.'

If you take a look at my previous blog post about this outlet, you will see just how abhorrent I feel the practice of underlining the wording on the bill which states that tips are not included in the price of your food and drink.  Not only is wording underlined, but some staff (who I expect have chosen to work at this outlet and not on a bare minimum wage), choose to *asterisk* the wording so as to draw the customers attention to their plight.  Their plight being extremely self-serving, unethical as well as downright unprofessional.

But as you'll notice from my previous blog post, the very same practice has been implemented by more than one member of the waiting staff.  What suspicion does this raise for you?  Is it one or two rogue waiting staff looking out for themselves, or, is this practice more of an organisational or management practice which the waiting staff are instructed to undertake?  Well, as you can see from the photo below, and the photo in the earlier post, there is a standard in place here.

The strange thing in all of this?  Even though I understand in quite some detail how (ethical) influencing works in a business and personal context, this disgraceful behaviour demonstrated by two of Jamie's Italian staff resulted in me feeling rather uncomfortable.  So uncomfortable in fact that on the first occasion I took the opportunity to express my concern and discomfort to a member of the management team in Leeds.  The strange thing about the incident this past weekend was, the lady serving us was absolutely first class.  So brilliant in fact, I mentioned her brilliance to the manager on duty.  So why does a hospitality 'professional' feel the need to get involved with trying to rip off diners?

Let's work out the maths on this activity.  You're a waiter and in one hour you look after seven tables of diners.  There are two diners on each table and each table of guests 'tips' you £2 each.  That's £14 straight in your pocket and I do wonder whether this income is declared to HMRC.  And over a seven hour shift at £14 per hour tips and excluding the hourly wage, that's a whopping £98 per shift.

If I lacked even a small amount of decency I'd pack up my running my own business and become a waiter at this outlet.  Well, just look at the income.  Wouldn't I be a fool not to?

Monday, 22 April 2013

Emotional Intelligence Training For Luis Suarez?

The latest episode in the ever so entertaining saga of football player Luis Suarez was performed yesterday in Liverpool's game with Chelsea.  Whether you notice it or not, the behaviour of Luis Suarez draws some significant parallels with organisational managers and team members.

A review of Suarez's history in the sporting arena reads like a comedy of self-serving and blatant cheating.  His behaviour goes way beyond the 'diving for a penalty' standard which has become more and more popular each and every season as professional players seek to gain from every opportunity, whether within the rules or not.  This 'professional' possesses undoubted skill and the ever elusive ability to be in the right place at the right time during high-pressure matches.  The down side is that he also possesses an unparalelled ability (and willingness) to breach the rules, strike out at opposition players and then, entertainingly, feign injury to move attention away from his behaviour and shift it to the opposing player he has attacked, whether it be a verbal or physical attack.

Suarez's decision to bite the right arm of Chelsea player Branislav Ivanovic was just that.  A decision!  OK, he may have made his decision in less than one second, but, he CHOSE the behaviour he demonstrated.  Whatever his protestations, whoever he may choose to blame, Suarez owns his decisions and he owns his behaviour.  If you have watched the clip of the biting incident, you will have noticed that immediately following Ivanovic falling to the ground, and attracting the referee's attention, Suarez began to limp.  He began to limp, even though, Ivanovic hadn't impeded Suarez in any way.  Are you noticing anything in this pattern?  Isn't it the spoiled kid getting ready to blame the boy next door for making him lash out? Is it not a clear demonstration of the blame culture that the UK as a nation has promoted and endorsed during the past 20 years?  As the UK is finding now, the blame culture has quite literally returned to bite it on the ar...m!

How Is This Related To Managers? 

Have you ever worked for, or even appointed a manager who achieves the results, but leaves a trail of destroyed relationships in their wake?  Or how about working alongside a manager who again, achieves the results, is quick to accept the credit and receive the plaudits, but even quicker to absolve him or herself of responsibility when something doesn't go to plan.  It's the old finger pointing habit which only serves to destroy trust and collaboration, and when this happens, projects are delivered more slowly, more expensively and this impacts your organisation's bottom line, whether you operate within the private or public sector.

As Liverpool Football Club is finding with this latest outburst from Suarez, it is very easy for the boss to say 'No player is bigger than the club.'  But, such behaviour can be extremely difficult to address if the team member him or herself choose not to, and of course, when the player regularly demonstrates athletic brilliance in and amongst toxic behaviour which only serves to draw negative attention to your organisation.

Isn't it a challenge when you have a member of your management team who, because he or she possesses rare or amazing technical knowledge and/or skill, simply do not get managed proactively to promote a trustworthy, collaborative and healthy emotional climate within their team and within your organisation?  You may not realise the real cost to your organisation until it is too late.  Much like Liverpool Football Club!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

What Can Jamie Oliver Learn About Customer Service?

I'm happy to admit...I'm A Fan!

Jamie Oliver has been extremely successful in not just building and growing a financially successful business empire which includes publishing, online products and a chain of restaurants (including one brand which does a commendable job of helping individuals who have faced, or continuing to face severe personal and emotional challenges, learn how to cook, and often, gain employment in either one of his outlets or elsewhere.

So what can Jamie Oliver learn about customer service?

The major lesson to be considered is 'Remember that it is wrong to demand tips from your customers.'

My wife, daughter and I enjoyed a fantastic lunch last week at Jamie's Italian in Leeds.  The food was easy on the eyes and light on the tummy.  I am definitely not a chef or proficient cook.  The only time I invest in the kitchen at home is either when I've been 'encouraged' to do the washing up, or boiling the kettle for a cuppa, so I have no idea how fresh the ingredients were that served to produce a wonderfully array of enjoyable meals for the three of us.  But, the one thing I am proficient at, being a typical Yorkshireman, is spotting and appreciating when 'good' or 'excellent' service has been provided by the waiting staff allocated to us.

OK Service...With An Unwelcome Twist!

If you have ever visited Harvey Nichols cafe in Leeds, you may (or may not) have noticed that when your bill arrives, it already INCLUDES a service charge of 10% of the total bill.  Rather cheeky, as this 'service charge' isn't reserved for the usual group of six or more diner.  Even if you visit on your own, you get smacked with the supposed 'service charge'.  Why does Harvey Nichols do it?  Well, there could be a number of reasons, and they may (or may not) include:

  1. It's Harvey Nichols...and you don't expect it to be cheap or reasonable do you?  You pay to 'enjoy' Harvey Nichols' brand.
  2. The cafe hopes that you, the trusting customer, will be too embarrassed to ask for the 'service charge' to be removed from the bill, so they take their chances...and a liberty too!
  3. The cafe is being blatantly greedy, subversive and eager to scrape in every last penny it can...perhaps because of their hard working, completely professional and oh so responsive staff.
There may be other reasons of course, and the above are just my humle opinions rather than a statement of fact or truth.  But why is it that this brand (as you'll see, just like at least one member of staff at Jamie Oliver's Leeds outlet) feel that it is fair, reasonable or even right, to actively impose such charges on customers, who are ultimately paying their employee's wages, whether or not during a time of austerity?

Back To Jamie's Italian, Leeds

So, we've enjoyed a lovely meal, lots of laughs and the bill arrives.  The waitress who has been 'OK', nothing spectacular, presents me with the bill by placing it down in front of me, wrapped in a promotional leaflet for the restaurant.  Yes, the bill is correct and that is absolutely fine.  Now it comes to the discussion with our nine year old daughter about what, if any, tip to leave for the waitress.  And this is where the trouble begins!

Not content with waiting to be pleasantly surprised with a reasonable tip, for OK (aka 'Average') service, the waitress decided to rather visually draw to our attention the fact that 'Service Charge is not included' by underlining the sentence and asterisking the line too.  Why?  Of course, to draw our attention to the fact that she either, felt she was worth, or indeed expected, us to tip her.  Why?  Not because she is perhaps worthy of a tip. After all, the food was fantastic, but the service was nowhere near that standard.  She wanted to inform us of her desire to obtain additional income from us, simply because she wanted to!

The final line in this comedy of customer dis-service can be seen on the receipt below.  How overbearingly patronising is it to focus attention on a self-serving action, to then write 'Thank you' at the bottom of the receipt?

Mr Oliver.  Please understand, your customers are not always right.  But on this occasion, someone your organisation chose to employ, entrusted with your brand, and pays to be 'professional', got it very badly wrong.  Is this just one example of the darker side of the hospitality industry?  And more importantly, is this a behaviour that your leadership and management teams actively encourage and endorse?

Friday, 22 March 2013

Cut Training Costs & Boost Results

With training budgets for management training and team building training being slashed due to the uncertain economic climate, an alternative and worthwhile option is required when it comes to providing worthwhile and meaningful learning for managers.

The Management Training Channel is a completely portable management training and coaching portal that is available 24/7 via any internet-enabled device.  The BIG benefits of this solution are that:-

- Managers can learn 'on the go' rather than having to take a day out of the workplace.  This means that the user can access any number of the current 137 subject-specific audio and video casts within the portal - before that important meeting or challenging performance management chat.

- It costs just pennies per day for a single-user and discounted subscription options are available for corporate clients.  Look at it this way, a 180 day unrestricted access pass for one user is just £199.  Remember, this is just £199 for a full 6 months of expert support!

- Managing remote teams can be quite a different challenge to managing a team based in the same geographical location.  The Management Training Channel provides instant access to expert coaching, because which manager wants to be calling their boss regularly asking for guidance and help?  Not many I expect.

So, that's The Management Training Channel and it's available to you now.  Go take a look!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Employee Engagement - The Facts

Employee Engagement continues to be the buzz phrase in a tough economic climate.  With under pressure bosses needing to navivate choppy waters, face uncertainty on a daily basis and keep their customers and stakeholders happy - or at least not as 'unhappy' as they may be, keeping employees motivated, committed and focused is quite a challenge.

This infographic details some research data together with my recommendations on how you and your organisation, whatever industry, whatever size and whatever culture you operate within, can boost employee engagement.

Yes, I know, it's always easier said than done.  But it CAN BE DONE, and quickly too. Take a look and feel free to share your thoughts with me.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Enabling Learning In Your Colleagues

So so often I observe well-meaning coaches and managers 'showing' a colleague how to successfully undertake a task or procedure. Of course, sharing information, knowledge and skills is a vital contributing factor to every organisation.

BUT, the challenge manifests when the educator, manager, coach or well established colleague simply shows the learner what to do, in what order and at what 'reasonable' speed.  Especially frustrating for the learner, even though s/he is very likely to speak up and mention it, is when the educator appears to become frustrated with the slow pace at which the learner 'appears' to be learning.  The subsequent 'Give it here, I'll do it and then you can do it' comment really doesn't help, motivate or engage the learner who, is for all intents and purposes, proceeding slowly because s/he wants to get it right.   Or at the very least, doesn't want to get it wrong!

Impulse Control Gone Crazy

Busy managers and coaches need to develop an awareness of how to effectively set the scene for learning to take place.  As I mentioned to an audience of teachers recently, 'Just because you are teaching, it does not necessarily mean that your audience members (students) are learning.'  The very mention of this fact stimulated fantastic discussion amongst the teachers who, albeit unwittingly, had been on auto-pilot setting when teaching.

A key challenge for those entrusted with teaching colleagues new skills, processes and procedures is the absence of effective impulse control.  Their desire for immediate gratification 'I want this done now', is exactly the same principle that applies to you, me or anybody else who really wants that biscuit, glass of wine or feels the need to shout and ball at the driver who just pulled out in front of us at the junction. It's poor impulse control at it's very worst!

Here is a 5 minute audio that will help you to coach others to learn more effectively, confidently, and very likely, more quickly too.


http://summitpodcasts.s3.amazonaws.com/Enabling Learning.mp3

Monday, 11 February 2013

Emotional Intelligence Training For Trainers

Emotional Intelligence Training is often reserved for managers and leaders.  Why?  Well, largely because managers and leaders are responsible for, and expected to, enable and engage team members to perform at, or near, their best each and every day.  Quite a challenge!

But one audience overlooked all too easily is Emotional Intelligence Training for trainers.  The very people who are charged with educating and encouraging your employees to undertake their role effectively, and connect with your customers, internal and external, in a professional manner.

But why is Emotional Intelligence Training so important and valuable for your organisation's training team and HR partners?

Emotional Intelligence Training can help you and your colleagues to learn some proven, easy to use 'soft skills' that can deliver 'hard' results, and it doesn't matter whether you are a private, public or charitable organisation.  These Emotional Intelligence skills and competencies are as relevant and effective in virtually any environment.

Some of the specific benefits of Emotional Intelligence Training for Trainers include:

  1. How to develop empathy to engage learners (including reluctant learners) in their self-development.
  2. Developing emotional resilience and greater ability to bounce back from learning 'failures' more quickly and easily.
  3. Boosting collaboration in the learning environment through improved facilitation competence rather than the 'Chalk and Talk' approach.  Remember, just because you are presenting does not mean that your audience members are learning!
  4. Promoting more personal ownership of applying learning without appearing autocratic.
The benefits of Emotional Intelligence Training for Trainers are immense and these are just a few.  So, if you want to boost the effectiveness of your management training, team building, assertiveness skills, coaching skills or an abundance of other vital skills to help your organisation prosper, developing Emotionally Intelligent Managers and Trainers can definitely help you.