Want to change culture quickly? Create an environment of mutual respect, and encourage collaboration at all levels, including with IT professionals. Sure, you might encounter a little annoyance when you forget your password for the third time this week. But when it comes to the big stuff, you’ll have a better – and far more productive – relationship.
Don Dea's insight:
Looking at Both Sides of the Coin
As with most difficult relationships, there are two sides to the story. From their perspective, IT often feels:
Like order takers. Internal customers come to the tech team and tell them what they want, without discussing whether it’s even possible and without inquiring about better alternatives; simply put, they do not respect the knowledge and expertise of IT.
Ignored, especially when it comes to security. IT develops security policies and protocols to protect the business, when employees ignore directives or best practices, they feel disrespected (and could also face additional work and/or scrutiny from their supervisors).
Frustrated by employees’ lack of knowledge — or willingness to learn. IT professionals are a wealth of knowledge. However, employees sometimes “just want things fixed” and aren’t interested in learning how to fix recurring issues themselves – or how to avoid those problems in the first place.
At the same time, employees often complain that IT:
Develops policies without employee input. Employees often feel IT creates unnecessary roadblocks or implements solutions without consulting the people who actually use them.
Communicates poorly. Not everyone has a technical background, but IT tends to use terminology that assumes they do. Or, when they explain something, they too often display a condescending or insulting demeanor.
Long wait times. Employees call for help only when they have exhausted all other options, and get frustrated when they have to wait a long time for help.
Clearly, these issues are not present in all organizations. But for those that do have issues, what can be done?
Sharing feedback is tough no matter what circumstance you face. Most of us try to be constructive, to balance positive and negative, to tailor it to the recipients’ communication preferences and, ideally, to communicate your overarching goals while sharing.
The first thing to know is that the responsibility of sharing effective feedback should not rely solely on the provider. Feedback should be a two-way dialogue. Expectations should be set to create a collaborative environment open to feedback, and all parties should agree upon the end-goal in mind, as well as everyone’s role in reaching said goal.
Don Dea's insight:
Keep it Professional, but Friendly
Feedback presented with hostility enters dangerous territory. The recipient will immediately become defensive, and the discussion will turn into an argument that lasts way too long. On the flip side, there’s a fine line between being empathetic and being passive when taking a friendlier, softer approach.
Remember that you’re having a professional conversation. When providing feedback, your tone should be friendly, but not overly casual; assertive, but not mean or demeaning.
The best way to refine your tone is to practice. Ask your loved ones, friends and colleagues if you can practice giving them feedback, then have them critique your approach. How meta, right?
More importantly, remember that you’re talking to another professional — an expert on the thing that you hired them to work on.
The essence of any given problem, according to Harvard Business School professor Herman Leonard, can be reached through question zero. As practiced by design firm Ideo, question zero is a sequence of "whys" used to get designers through a chain of answers until they reach the actual challenge they need to address.
Applied to creative strategy, question zero can clarify the exact thing we are trying to accomplish and help us create smarter solutions. It allows us to address bigger and more important issues than we originally set our sights on. The question zero of a successful creative strategy is to ask what the problem is, why it is a problem and how we can use resources at hand to solve it.
Don Dea's insight:
At the bottom of most problems is a human truth. If we do a better job of understanding it, we can do a better job of satisfying our customers’ needs. Our task is to observe how our customers are currently solving their problems and build a better product or service offering based on this observation. A simple look at our immediate environment offers proof that we are surrounded by things constructed around machine needs rather than human needs. For example, think: vending machine. We need to bend all the way down to get a pack of snacks from it. It is easier for a machine to use gravity to drop a pack of snacks into a bin at our feet than to deliver it at waist-height into our hands. Machine wins, we lose.
In our eagerness to put bliss above getting the job done have we fostered societal complacency?
Don Dea's insight:
“Follow your dreams and go broke” – and it does nothing to help a struggling economy. Here’s why:
Opportunities for economic development are missed when people are always looking inward. Rowe speaks eloquently about the pig farmer with whom he worked on one episode. The farmer realized that all the foods that were thrown away from the Vegas Strip buffets were protein-rich and an ideal source of nutrition for his livestock. It wasn’t his dream to go into the business of collecting food scraps for livestock but years later he’s worth millions of dollars because he saw an untapped market and entered it.
We forget to imitate because we all want to innovate. We have this need to be the first to do something, rather than heralding those who piggyback on inventions. Ford didn’t invent the car, but he used the car as a springboard for other possibilities.
One of the most important tasks of any leader: build a solid team around the mission at hand.
This always sounds easier than it really is. Bringing diverse individuals – with different strengths, weaknesses, skillsets, and in most cases, their own goals and agendas – to work toward a common goal is not an easy job.
And yet sometimes the right team is in place, only to have the leader make mistakes that torpedo team dynamics. Teams become unproductive at best… and toxic at worst.
Don Dea's insight:
1. Not Leveraging Individual Strengths
Rarely is one team member good at everything. It’s the leader’s responsibility to identify team members’ strengths and weaknesses, and play to them. Mary might be great with customers, but struggle with deadlines. John can develop incredible marketing copy, on time every time, but doesn’t have great customer service skills.
When you know where your employees excel (and where they don’t) – and combine that with what they like to do (and don’t) – you can foster a positive team environment; one that embraces those strengths, which continually improves engagement and performance.
Rather than making the mistake of expecting the same level of performance from every member of the team, this means tailoring assignments, pairing individuals with complementary skills, or perhaps offering additional training to those in need.
If your company has a business outcome tied to brand equity, marketing can move the needle by improving engagement and loyalty. So, what do you need to do to build your model and put this construct into play?
Don Dea's insight:
Know the current levels of customer engagement, loyalty and brand equity, ideally by customer segment.
Analyze your current engagement and loyalty data and determine what marketing programs are impacting both of these.
Understand the brand equity target, again ideally by customer segment.
Establish how much engagement and loyalty need to change in order to achieve the equity target.
Define what channels and touch points will best impact engagement and loyalty and establish performance targets for these.
Leadership effectiveness comes, in part, from the CEO’s ability to “project a salient social identity” that traverses past, present, and future
Don Dea's insight:
Thus, companies should ignore star power and look for a leader with an extraordinary ability to foster camaraderie, cooperation, and collective competitive drive.
Just as important, the effective, charismatic CEO in this study subscribes to a “cascading model of leadership” in which leadership is seen as a distinctive organizational capability. Everything from hiring to training and promotion should reinforce the culture. The authors maintain that “all top managers can adopt important behaviors to influence both the TFL climate and OIDS.” Leadership, it turns out, is everyone’s job.
What’s missing from this study? Given that CEO charisma was determined through employee surveys, one must ask if executives at high-performing companies are inclined to see their leaders as more charismatic than they would if those same leaders were heading low-performing companies. I am reminded of a comment made by the CEO of a company that had gone from dowdy regional player to red-hot national IPO: “I’m not as stupid as they said I was then, and I’m not as smart as they think I am now.” Strong returns create a certain halo effect.
Also, there isn’t a clear indication of the durability of the impact of a charismatic leader. The benefits of a truly effective leader should be evident years after any individual has moved on, not simply while he or she is in office.
Still, there is a lesson here: By drawing a clear connection between a commitment to transformational leadership, robust shared identity, and bottom-line performance, this research provides a model of the charismatic chief executive worth further exploration.
We can practice leadership and continue to learn with the freedom of knowing that none of this was ever really ours to possess. We can learn to see the situation in front of us for what it is and nothing else. In this way, we open to learning and giving others the space they need to grow. This is by no means Laissez-faire leadership. Accountability, vision, values, influence, etc., still apply. Only now, they can be expressed free of a personal agenda grounded in fear and scarcity.
Let go of…
Control – You don’t really have it anyway. If you think you are in control rest assured that circumstances will conspire to teach you otherwise.
Outcomes – Allow things to unfold differently than you imagined. The way you see the outcome determines what it will mean to you, not the outcome itself.
Fear – When you are afraid, you project thoughts, attitudes and beliefs onto people and situations creating serious leadership blind spots.
Don Dea's insight:
Knowing – When you let go of knowing you create room for learning. Otherwise, you are stuck.
Proving – Trying to prove to someone else that you are “worthy” or that you deserve “respect” is a bottomless pit.
Achieving – Who you are becoming is more important than what you are achieving. Be then do.
Importance – Needing people to need you is not healthy. It leads to creating problems that only you can solve. Less you more them.
Comparison – Be true to yourself and stick to the path your heart has given you. Your journey is unique.
Legal and cyber-security issues are increasingly intersecting. A study shines a light on evolving trends and what business must to do combat threats effectively.
One of the biggest challenges related to cyber-security centers on the connection points between private industry and government officials. Most security analysts and experts agree that over the last quarter-century, the stakes have become greater, and the need for cooperation has expanded dramatically.
Don Dea's insight:
How enterprise leaders interact and interface with government regulators, law enforcement officials and other organizations shapes issues as diverse as how the reporting of breaches and other incidents takes place, and how the public and private sectors respond.
A newly released study from law firm Mayer Brown, "Perspectives on Cyber-security and Its Legal Implications," offers insights into these and a variety of other issues. Among the key findings: Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) considered cyber-issues to be just one more cost of doing business; 57 percent estimated that litigation risks posed by cyber-security issues have a relatively modest impact on their cyber-security planning; and 29 percent believe that cyber-crime will always be one step ahead of legislative protections and enforcement.
Only 23 percent indicated that their company had built a close working relationship with an industry regulator, and 20 percent had had connections to a law enforcement agency.
- See more at: http://www.baselinemag.com/security/cyber-security-business-government-interactions.html#sthash.KGehvkw8.dpuf
Fairy tales are written in such a way to make executives aware of the dangers they will encounter on their various quests and the fundamental issues they will confront associated with the leadership mystique. In my book Telling Fairy Tales in the Boardroom: How to Make Sure Your Organisation Lives Happily Ever After I have summarised these into five “deadly dangers”:
The first danger, one many leaders are prone to, is lack of self-knowledge. Why do some leaders succeed and others derail? What differentiates effective and ineffective leaders? Why do bad things happen? The second is hubris. Many leaders become too arrogant and lose touch with reality. Why do so many leaders self-destruct in this way? The third danger is a leader’s inability to get the best out of people. Ineffective leaders fail to stretch the people who work for them. They don’t know how to make people better than who they think they can be. Linked to this danger is the fourth and greater danger, a leader’s inability to create well functioning teams. Effective leaders are aware of and accept their personal limitations and surround themselves with people who have the strengths they lack, creating executive role constellations of people with complementary characteristics. The fifth danger is the creation of an organisational gulag. What is it that prevents leaders building great places to work? And why are there so many workplaces that stifle people?
Skepticism and Cynicism: Not the Same If you ask anyone to list the qualities they don’t want in a teammate, chances are they will say someone whose always negative or cynical is a drain on the team’s energy and is difficult to work with.
People often associate asking questions, requesting clarification, bringing up alternatives, questioning assumptions and conclusions with negativity. But those behaviors are actually signs of skepticism, which can be healthy.
A skeptic is someone who doesn’t accept facts or opinions out of hand. That doesn’t mean they are trying to discredit those ideas. They just want a better understanding, and to have all the information before making a decision about whether to support that idea. This is not the same as being a cynic or negative.
A cynic rejects ideas and facts out of hand, without any further consideration. They are quick to point out why something is not true or won’t work, without considering alternatives. Often, cynics not only scoff at ideas themselves, but also at the person presenting them. They might say something like, “Are you insane? That would never work. Why would you even think that’s a good idea?”
Clearly, when you consider the behaviors associated with skepticism and cynicism, it’s easy to see where one is beneficial to your team, and the other will do nothing but create conflict and discontent.
Tracking mobile applications is significantly different from traditional enterprise data analysis and company Web site monitoring.
The time- and location-sensitive nature of the information that mobile apps provide signals a need for a paradigm shift with respect to the measurement tools that mobile product managers, app developers, marketers and analytics teams use.
To accurately track performance and support intelligent decision-making, mobile marketers need to be updated in real time with information that identifies the reasons behind the numbers.
A bigger brand The service is looking for the largest possible audience and is accomplishing this through these numerous platforms, the more places to view the higher the chance of attracting viewers.
These videos feature a wide range of content that coincide with Good Housekeeping’s original content such as classes surrounding home improvement ideas and crafts. For example, “Learn to master gallery wall 101” is a beginner level class offered for $4.99 and is a 59-minute video that details how to decorate an eye-catching wall in a home, reflecting a student’s style, taught by Will Taylor of Bright Bazaar, a well-known interior design blog.
All of these tricks-of-the-trade will not get the work done but they can get and keep people engaged. And an engaged team produces more.
Don Dea's insight:
Iyengar teaches us that too much choice will shut people down. She also teaches us why framing is so important and why being the first to propose a solution anchors all other solutions to the first proposal. Gigerenzer outlines the fact that an outfielder uses his “gut” to catch a fly ball versus calculating the parabola to find the best spot to catch the ball is important but the fact that the ballplayer learned this instinct is more important. Fast and Slowteaches us that our thoughtful brain is mostly right but is lazy and will always defer to our instinctual and reactive brain which can be very wrong! So spooling up people’s thoughtful brains will help keep it engaged and drive to better outcomes.
Ultimately, all of these tricks-of-the-trade will not get the work done but they can get and keep people engaged. And according to many articles on this subject, an engaged team produces more (25% more according to Derek Irvine) and if focused in the right direction, can drive a ~20% increase in income according to Towers Perrin and Gallup. I also want active and curious minds at the table that both ask questions and challenge assumptions. Only then will I have positioned a team to be successful.
Passion creates meaning for doing what we do every day. Why do you do what you do?
Don Dea's insight:
1. Boost Your Self-Confidence
This may seem easier said than done, but you really can increase your self-confidence, which builds influence, by sharing your knowledge with others, offering your opinions and ideas in group settings, and even speaking publicly whenever the opportunity presents itself. If these things make you nervous, practice what you are going to say until you know it by heart. Many times we don’t give ourselves credit for the experience we have or the knowledge we possess. By sharing regularly, we can sometimes receive validation that leads to a greatersense of confidence. Remember, practice makes perfect and these are things that must be done over and over again.
Waiting sucks. It always has. As kids, we had a hard time waiting for the afternoon school bell. As adults, we hate waiting for the weekend to start. Every day, almost universally, we hate waiting for replies to our emails.
Why is it, then, that so many companies keep their customers in email limbo?
It is safe to assume that a customer writing in with a problem feels a sense of urgency about getting that issue resolved. The troubles they’re facing are disrupting their workflow; perhaps their whole day.
Don Dea's insight:
Why it Pays to Respond Quickly
The economic argument for communicating quickly and efficiently: responding to customers in a timely manner directly impacts customer conversion and retention. An expeditious response to a customer’s initial inquiry into Shippo, before their first transaction, captures them at the moment of their intent, before they can find something else to busy themselves with or, worse, a competing service to try out.
We’re happy to say that many converted customers have explicitly pointed to our responsiveness as a major reason for choosing Shippo.
Let’s work on it together. Save your exclamations for things worthy of the extra punctuation. Tone it down with a simple period unless you have something really big to say. And take a minute to read “’Just’ Say No” if you didn’t up above; the thinking reinforces what’s shared here.
Small changes to everyday actions can be easy when we look at the thinking behind them. And those changes can affect other, more important things in our life, relationships, work, and even the way we feel. When something truly great happens, share all of the exuberance the occasion deserves.
Zone in on these questions to ask the team: What were the positives to the failed approach? What could we do differently to make it work next time? Is the benefit of trying this new tactic worth the risks involved? How can we minimize those risks?
Don Dea's insight:
Creating a positive environment where people are encouraged to try new things will benefit the company, the team and every individual, even when new attempts are not always successful. By providing the kind of leadership that celebrates mistakes in addition to the successes, you can generate the energy that will foster new ideas and keep employees engaged in delivering great results.
here are three more productive reactions you can have when one of your employees doesn’t meet your expectations. Fix it and move on Share your story Reward, don’t punish
Don Dea's insight:
Different kinds of failures demand different reactions, of course. You can adapt and use whatever response is appropriate to your particular situation. Just make sure to providequality feedback to your employees.
Fix it and move on. It’s a competitive world out there and if you want to succeed, you may sometimes need to prioritize speed over perfection. Making mistakes is a necessary byproduct of a highly productive workplace. Let your people know that mistakes will be accepted, and that they may even be critical to success. If mistakes are made in good faith, not repeated and fixed promptly, then go for it.
Let’s say, for example, that your team is responsible for creating a dynamite presentation of your company’s skills, designed to land the biggest client you’ve ever had. Five minutes before you’re ready to enter the spotlight, you discover that the last section of your visuals has vanished from your laptop. Instead of blame and panic, get creative. Use a whiteboard, go for some audience participation, do whatever it takes. Get the job done and clean up the internal breakdown later.
Share your story. Nothing humanizes a boss more than being vulnerable with the team. Your people need to know that not only are they free to fail, you have failed before them — and you probably will again. Let’s say, for example, that you’re debriefing the screw-up outlined in No. 1, above. Instead of beating up on the poor person who didn’t download the right presentation, share your horror story of a presentation gone wrong. Scott Adams, creator of the ever-popular “Dilbert” comic, has a book of shared failures — everything from bad stock buys to ridiculously silly inventions. Moral of the story: you’ll never succeed unless you fail first.
The majority of technology professionals say they're increasingly aligning to their organization's business goals, according to a recent survey from PMG. The resulting "2015 PMG Benchmark IT and the UX" study indicates that business leaders are starting to understand IT's objectives. Meanwhile, the technology organization is taking a proactive role in improving the user experience (UX), in part by conducting employee surveys and observing how users work with apps. "Investing in and deploying easy-to-use technology is not only beneficial to the user, it's ultimately valuable to IT," says Joe LeCompte, principal of PMG. "When business users feel empowered, IT suddenly has more time to focus on strategic objectives that enhance the organization as a whole. This positions IT to become more of a collaborative partner." There's still plenty of room to grow in that area, however, as IT employees say they're still more often perceived as service providers rather than strategic partners. Nearly 250 North American IT professionals took part in the research.
Provide questions, not answers. Developing your people means making them thinking, not telling them what to do. Here are some good coaching questions to have on hand: How I can help you grow? Is there anything you don’t understand? What tools do you need to move ahead? What do you want to do more or less of in your job? What abilities do you want to develop? What are you passionate about? What new roles and responsibilities do you want to take on? What to do now: Choose one of your employees who you feel has great potential and set up a one-on-one where you can ask questions and work together to create a growth strategy.
Don Dea's insight:
UCLA’s John Wooden was one of the greatest, most beloved coaches of all time. He understood the game, but more than that, he cared about his players. The best managers are coaches who are caring and focused. They share the responsibility for what their people are becoming. A true leader is both a manager and a coach. If you can do both, you’ll create a winning team and a team of winners.
Or, as Wooden said, “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.” That’s real coaching!
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get,” said Warren Buffett, adeptly observing that value is more than just a notion of what something is worth.
Customer value that is based on substance as opposed to perceptions is widely pursued by organizations that aspire to greatness, and is also a fundamental building block of the Lean management system. One of Lean’s great triumphs is that it breaks value down into a set of metrics that can be actively pursued. Leaders who aspire to excellence can gain much from studying this approach.
Don Dea's insight:
Separating value from waste
Toyota, who pioneered Lean methods in the wake of World War II, learned how to maximize value under dire circumstances. Desperate to make the most of scarce resources, they began a relentless campaign to eradicate any expenses or activities that didn’t contribute directly to the value that customers would willingly to pay for. In other words, maximizing value – Buffett’s proverbial “what you get” - was a process of elimination. For example, an assembler installing a mirror on a vehicle was at that moment adding value. Walking across the plant to retrieve a screwdriver while the vehicle sat idle, however, was considered non-value or waste. If there were more workers than necessary assembling the car, or more parts than needed in inventory, these were considered wastes that added unnecessary cost to the vehicle.
The key here is that the workpiece is treated as a proxy for the customer. It’s almost as if extra walking was keeping the customer waiting, or extraneous activity was wasting the customer’s money. This applies in any industry, whether the workpiece is a manufactured product, a meal in preparation, or an insurance claim under review. In healthcare, the workpiece and the customer are the same, making non-value activity waiting particularly visible and objectionable.
Clearly this change is an incremental step between the old way of doing things, and some future where Google hopes to augment or otherwise improve logins either by adding another layer on top of the password entry, or by doing away with the password altogether. But rolling it out before this “better” system is fully introduced has confused a number of users, it seems.
“We think our customers will appreciate that added flexibility, as a well as the ability to customize their searches and apply additional filters to the search results. Ally Assist is a simpler, smarter solution when using Ally Mobile Banking,” she said.
Anticipating needs Using automated intelligence and customer data profiles, Ally Assist is designed to anticipate customers’ needs and serve relevant solutions. The system learns from individual interactions and transactional behavior to determine the likelihood of needed information.
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