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Communicating with Impact

By | Communication | No Comments

In this global economy that many organisations call home, communicating with impact is becoming more and more complex. Far gone are the days when we only had to deal with the ‘big personalities’ that would high-jack the meeting. NOW interacting across global communities and locations adds many challenges beyond personalities. Challenges range from technology, to time zones, to culture.

Geert Hofstede describes 6 key cultural dimensions where cultures can be very different or quite similar. From P. Christopher Earley and Soon Ang we learn about Cultural intelligence. The most important aspect of creating understanding between cultures, and people, is keeping an open mind. So don’t be bound by your own assumptions and cultural standards. Give your team time to shine.

Whether you are a fledgling start-up or a global multi-national, setting your team up for cross-location and cross-cultural success is as important as having the correct technology in place. If your company is to truly thrive, follow these 3 simple rules to stay on track with your multi-location meetings.

1. Consider Approach, Aptitude & Attitude

Educate your team about the importance of learning about other cultures. Challenge them to question their own beliefs and assumptions. It is not enough to just keep an open mind, you must communicate it.

  • Remind your team that you are open to suggestions and questions.
  • Encourage everyone to engage in the conversation by building pauses into your speech patterns.
  • Be sensitive to others’ reactions to your comments and questions. Even if you can’t see the person at the other end of the phone, you can learn a lot from the tone of, and inflection in, their voice.
  • Listen actively and openly and continue to learn new ways of conversing with your team.

To communicate with impact, allow others to speak their mind and be part of the conversation. As well as celebrating improvements and successes in your team, consider setting times to talk about what communication style works best. Have 1-to-1 conversation about preferred interaction style. Then follow it up with a team discussion. This signals that you are prepared to follow through with engaging and empowering each person on your team.

 2. Pollinate Across Cultures

One of the most effective ways to open communication is to share personal stories. Whether they are about your experiences in other parts of the world, or observations from working and living in different locations, each story creates a connection. And each connection links you more closely to your team, and to your shared experiences. The principle for cross-cultural pollination is simple:

  • Be mindful & friendly: assume everyone has answers, not just you
  • Be kind & respectful: acknowledge the importance of cultural history and experience
  • Be interested & inclusive: virtually everyone on the planet wants to be part of a team. Make sure they know that they are included!
  • Encourage discussion & disagreement: when someone disagrees with you, be joyful!! You are sure to learn something!

3. Simplify Your Language

Simplicity is a great confidence booster. The simpler the words used in the message, the easier it is to understand. Especially when communicating with a multi-language team!

  • Consider the main objective you wish to accomplish.
  • Take time to reflect upon your message.
  • Keep it simple; 1 to 3 key (bullet) points are easier to understand than several narrative paragraphs.

Especially if you are communicating remotely, remember it takes 1 or 2 seconds for someone to ‘tune in’ to your voice. Whether the message is written or spoke, follow a standard format that incorporates key phrases. This will make it easier for the reader or listener to recognise and understand your message over time.

During Conversation In Correspondence
The purpose of this meeting is to …

The action we require is ….

Please [respond, complete, etc.] by [ date / time]

Use headings and bullet points:

  • Purpose
  • Action Required
  • Follow-up
  • Completion Time

Standardised phrases allow people to ‘tune in’ gracefully. And, if your whole team begins to use the same patterns and phrases, it becomes easier and easier to understand and connect across cultures.

Last of all, remember to keep your sense of humour. Of course, there will be misunderstandings and mis-communication, but a little humour will demonstrate that your intent to to ensure the best conversation possible, and that you don’t take yourself too seriously.

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References

Download this Post  |  Herrman, Social Cognition |  Earley/Mosakowski: Curltural Intelligence    |  Earley / Ang: Cultural Intelligence   |  Including Team   |   Communicating with Teams

Sales Savvy: Know Your Customer

By | Sales | No Comments

We, in sales, talk about market segmentation a lot, but could we be more savvy by knowing our specific customers better?  If we focus too much on the ‘big picture’ do we lose the customer connection that makes the sale?

Peter Drucker certainly had some sales savvy when he said that ‘the purpose of a business is to create a customer’* and that we should ‘know and understand our customers so well the product/service fits them and sells itself.’

Here is an exercise that every sales person can do to tune into to their ‘ideal buyer’. Take a few minutes to think about your best customer (or buyer). Think about a real person; the one who gives you lots of business and supports you when your company brings out a new line of products, etc. Draw an illustration of that buyer; where they work; who their customers are, or who they work for or with; what they do to build business and what they do outside of business. Don’t worry if you have absolutely no talent for drawing, you don’t have to show your illustration to anyone. Just drawing will active both your right and left hemispheres so you can see your customer with fresh eyes!!

Try to create a well-rounded illustration of that person, and once you have, store it somewhere close at hand. As you think of new aspects of the person, add them to the illustration.

This exercise does two things, it allows you to attune to specific characteristics that you see in your ‘best buyer’ which could be a marker for another fantastic customer. Once you are on the lookout for these characteristics, you will spot prospects who carry these markers more easily – thus allowing you to shorten the sales cycle and gather ‘best buyers’ to you. You will also begin to understand the drivers of those best customers (buyers), to connect with, and understand them more fully. The outcome? Better long-term relationships with your preferred buyer and more business along the way.  Win-Win!!

The Practice of Management New York,: Harper, 1st ed. 1954 ; Routledge, 2012

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Create Your Story – For Telling

By | Storytelling | 2 Comments

Ever wondered what special talent you need to be able to create those beautiful corporate stories that stick in your mind and tug, just a bit, at your soul? Although I’ve met some individuals who just had storytelling in their DNA, I’ve met many more who have learned a process for developing their story, that works just as well.

Corporate stories are created to connect people with the product, service or spirit of the company or organisation. Following a clean process will allow you to develop an elegant and memorable story that gets your point across. Here are the steps that I use with my clients:

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Changing Behaviour with Storytelling

By | Storytelling | 2 Comments

There are three important differences between corporate storytelling and the stories you tell around the campfire or read for entertainment. Corporate stories are created to serve a purpose. Although they can be very entertaining, they are not just meant to entertain. Although they can be riveting, they should not have a ‘surprise ending’. And above all, although they are fashioned to be memorable and repeatable, they must also be designed to put specific focus on an important behavioural or aspirational element of an organisation.

By now, we have all heard at least some of the research that confirms that there is little difference between hearing a story and living it. Most of us have also read that we are all hardwired to remember a good story. But corporate storytellers must go a step further and a bit deeper. Corporate storytelling inspires customers but more than this, it provides guidance and alignment for your team to build exceptional results and connection to the organisation’s purpose.

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Breakfast Meetings? Everyday!!

By | Personal Power | One Comment

Life Work Balance: Breakfast Meetings? Everyday!!

Working as a consultant can be daunting. Unlike most jobs, where you show up and get paid for trying your best to get the work done in a specific amount of time, a consultant attaches a number to everything she does. The first number is the day or hourly rate. The second is the number of clients. The third, the hours available to fulfill client requirements. Like lawyers and accountants, most consultants keep some type of docket and count their billable hours carefully.

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Your Pitch

By | Personal Power, Sales | No Comments

Create Your Pitch: 3 Easy Steps

An elevator pitch is something that most people associate with Sales and Cold Calling but it is an invaluable tool for marketing your talent and skills. I have to admit that at first, most of my clients shy away from creating an elevator pitch; they perceive it as being a bit unsavory to create a ‘canned’ description of their work, or associate the elevator pitch with the loud, over-bearing salesmen from the 60s.

But it’s time to look at elevator pitches for what they really are – a tool to help people understand you and to understand if and how you can help them. When speaking with potential clients, having an elevator pitch has helped me explain my career, and what I do. My career has been interesting; it has encompassed …

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It’s a Mind-set

By | OCM (Org Change), Org Health | No Comments

Optimizing Organisational Health

No organisation thrives without well-functioning teams. It can look like it’s functioning, but in the long-run, you will notice work and communication break-downs forming and eventually, wasted time and effort on demotivating and unproductive behaviour and actions. There are a few things you can do to ensure your team is working at an optimal level. Here is my cheat-sheet.

Delegate

Mind-set is especially valuable for new managers. You may have come from an environment that promotes people for their ability to get things done, fight fires or even accomplish the impossible. With this type of organisation comes a mind-set of the ‘individual contributor’ who often works to personal priorities. The two main problems with this type of mind-set is that 1) managers may not delegate enough and try to do everything themselves, and 2) everyone focuses on their individual actions and there can be little cohesion between groups or people.

To combat this, create a shared platform of understanding within your team. Use stories, metaphors and role modelling to express your priority as a manager. Delegate programs of work, not just tasks so that team members are empowered and accountable for results. Align the team, and your work, by asking the following questions, in this sequence …

  •  Is this [program / action / decision / focus / etc.] good for the company?
  • Is it good for the team?
  • Is it my priority or should I engage someone else on the team?

Remember, most people love to know the why’s behind the work. By focusing your team on consistent and congruent priorities, aligned objectives, and the bigger picture of accountability across teams, you will create many leaders within your group who understand your vision, and how they make a difference every day within the organisation. You will also, by default, increase productivity and satisfaction with the job.

Listen

The main intend in most conversations is to create a safe space to create and exchange ideas. One of the most important tools a manager has at their disposal to do this is questions. But asking good questions requires you to be able to listen to the answers and check your perspective at the door, at least for a few minutes.

Listening is not just sitting silently while someone talks … or drones on. Neither is listening asking hordes of questions in rapid succession – this is called an interrogation. Listening is an elegant fusing of asking questions, understanding the answer from the speaker’s perspective and synthesizing the information into meaningful bites – sometimes leading to more questions. Listening is also being open to new ideas, concepts and yes, from time to time, answers.

To be a good listener, prepare yourself for the experience. Consider the person you are about to talk to and become curious about them … and their ideas. Plan ‘open questions’ that lead to discussion. Avoid ‘closed questions’ that lead to ‘yes / no’ dead-ends.  Open yourself up to hearing what the person has to say and considering deeply how that idea or concept might change the way you think, work or do business. Be prepared to reciprocate. Share your feelings and ideas freely as well.

Think Quality – Fast!

Nothing sets a department apart like their ability to produce top quality work quickly and efficiently. To do this, you must have processes and tools in place that enables the team. There are innumerable processes that your people use every day that have similar inputs and / or outputs. Standardize your reports, data collection, and other management tools to accelerate your processes. By working with your team to create templates and standard structures, you take about 30% of the effort out of almost everything they touch. The time saved can be spent on checking facts, improving analysis, etc. In other words, anything you standardize can be used to improve the quality of your team’s work and reduce small errors that impact your people’s credibility.

Make every Interaction Count

It goes without saying that if your team respects and enjoys working together they will be happier and more productive. Here are a few things you can do to embed positive behaviours for everyone. Set up meetings that are guided / managed by your direct report. Don’t give them the answer; let them problem-solve to come up with three possible solutions. Praise individuals and your team in public but provide constructive feedback or let them vent in private. Consider non-work issues that may be impacting performance and be sympathetic. Be aware of what each person’s ‘communication drivers’ are and try to accommodate their needs.

Promote

Many managers hold their power close to the chest; guarding their decision-making ability and contacts closely. The problem with this type of behaviour is it limits your growth too. A manager that doesn’t have three staff waiting to take their place in the next level of the organisation is weak and constrained. Grooming is easy; allow your individual team members a chance to prove themselves and then reward them with more responsibility; talk to your team about your goals for your department or area and ask for their participation in problem-solving and planning, and give your team the chance to take risks and support them if they do not always succeed, and give them a chance to ‘show their face’ through presentations to more senior managers with you.  Your team will:

  1. Respect you & your dedication to their growth
  2. Take more responsibility and shine
  3. Talk about you to other staff
  4. Be able to stand in when you are away
  5. Have individuals that are ready and able to fill the gap when you are promoted

and you will …

  1. Have a great reputation for developing people within the organisation
  2. Be able to recruit more top talent
  3. Rest easy when you are away, knowing your team can function without you

Have 1 to 3 people who can take over for you immediately if a promotion comes up

By grooming your top talent for your job, you accomplish a variety of goals and are always ready to move up in your organisation.

Selling Yourself with Style! Personal Branding!

By | Personal Power, Sales | No Comments

business, people and teamwork concept - smiling businesswoman making handshake gesture with group of businesspeople in office

In a recent Stanford study on body language, researchers have discovered that we can predict both the ability to learn and level of creativity using body language analysis. The Seven Second rule is quoted so frequently that it appears in Forbes, Business Insider and the Association for Psychological Science as warning that impressions can be made in the blink of an eye!! Personal branding isn’t just about how you look, act, and speak, your beliefs and even your mood influence the impression you make and how you will be perceived in the long term.

Personal branding takes your life philosophy (fundamental beliefs), personality (character, nature, temperament and psychological disposition) and aspirations (career, social, family, community), and turns them into something that is systematic and defined. And don’t kid yourself, even if you have never spent one minute thinking about your personal brand, you have one!! It is seen and felt by the people around you every day.

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Selling Yourself … and Your Talents!!

By | Personal Power, Sales | 6 Comments

When people say “We are all in Sales”, do you hear something that has nothing to do with selling yourself? You might be translating what you hear into, “everyone in this organisation plays a role in making the sale.”

While that is true, that tired phrase is also a reminder that you are working to achieve an end goal, and no matter who you are or what that goal is, sales techniques are valuable. Regardless of your professional responsibilities, during your career you will have goals that sales techniques can help you achieve. Whether it is a great idea for a new project or concept, or your preferred choice for vacation time – achieving these goals is sales.

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Elements of Good Health in Growing Organisations

By | Innovation, OCM (Org Change), Org Health | No Comments

Read in pdf format

I believe that almost any growing company can make a go of it without too much fuss. As long as management keeps their eye on the bottom line and customer satisfaction, most organisations will chug along. There are, however, organisations that shine. They are organisations that are growing and exceedingly healthy. Just as it takes certain things for an individual to be fit, these thriving organisations show signs that someone is maintaining an effective balance of control and freedom. Here are a few of the things I see in these organisations.

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