The stories that can ruin your business (part 1)

3 years ago 0 0 777

I was presenting on culture and leadership at a recent conference (#100millionimpacts, for B1G1), and whilst facilitating a panel discussion, a common theme that emerged was the importance of the stories in business. In response to many questions after the session, here are a few thoughts on stories in business to extend that discussion further: Stories are powerful means of communication. Often, people believe that storytelling ends when the kids grow up. However, there are stories being told within your business – and about your business – that can either take it to new heights of success or lead it to ruin. What stories are being told about your business? People communicate through stories. As people communicate, they engage each other through analogy (this is like that), metaphor (the army of sales reps) and stories. Humans are always using these processes to engage their listeners, develop shared meaning and convey

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12 steps to tactful communication

3 years ago 0 4809

“What we have here is a failure to communicate” –Cool Hand Luke. (Paul Newman) How often is performance derailed by a failure to communicate? We lead and work through others, collaborate and seek to influence beliefs and behaviours. These all take quality communication to achieve. However, communication is perhaps the greatest single opportunity for increased efficiency and effectiveness in any business, organisation or system. It simply does not work well enough, often enough – because although we are taught to talk, we are rarely truly taught to communicate. Communication, at its heart, is about ‘transmitting’ a message of some kind to one or more recipients, in such a way that the message they understand is equivalent to the message that was transmitted. This transmission requires pre-processing by the communicator (translation) and post-processing by the receiver (reception and decoding). The transmission is conducted through a medium using known symbols (language, hand

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Beyond logic to effective communication

3 years ago 0 0 850

Have you ever noticed that sometimes- even when there is no logical reason for it- your staff or your customers simply won’t take actions that are clearly in their best interests? They have made their minds up about what is happening before you have had a chance to explain it, or they agree with what you propose, but just don’t seem capable of taking action. Regardless of the best intentions, our brains have a ‘fast’ decision circuit that leaps to conclusions before we can logically process information. If we don’t help our customers or staff to make the right ‘leaps’ and conclusions, their cognitive processing will often make a decision to avoid change, and therefore to not take the action which would be in their benefit. Beneath all of the logical processing that occurs in our minds runs a much deeper, almost primitive evaluation system. It is this system which

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you get what you deserve

Your culture – you get what you deserve

3 years ago 0 0 1205

It is interesting when working with organisations that are struggling with culture issues, poor performance and less-than-desirable behaviours, how often the leaders believe they are ‘victims’ of some sort of cultural ’virus’ to which they can just seek a cure. The truth can be a little more confronting. The culture of the organisation is the culture that the leadership deserves. Either the leadership allows the culture to form by chance, and be controlled by others (making them the ‘victims’), or they create a culture consciously, developing the elements of the culture with clear direction and intent. The effort to do so will provide the organisation with the culture it deserves – one of high performance behaviours. As a leader, how do you contribute consciously to developing and maintaining your culture? Culture can be defined as the social pressure that shapes an individual’s behaviour in the context of a group. It

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The trust advantage (building and leveraging trust, part 2)

4 years ago 0 0 754

Trust is such a critical thing in business. Understanding what trust is, and how to develop it and leverage it is critical to success. Often an even more important question is “how do I rebuild trust when it is broken?” In part one, we looked at what trust really is (predictability of behaviour), its value and its costs. In part two, we explore the concept further, and how it can be leveraged for maximum advantage. How is trust built? We develop ‘trust’ in something or someone in highly personalised ways. In fact, many people would not be able to describe how they know who they can trust, except for a vague statement like “I get a feeling about them”. Feelings and emotions (or ‘intuition’) are often poor methods for deciding who to trust. It can mean that some people, when faced with the same situational cues, will be too trusting,

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Do they trust you? (part 1)

4 years ago 0 0 822

A number of recent experiences remind me how important trust is in business – and how little it is really understood. In this two part series, we will take a look at what trust really means, what value and costs it has, how to build it, how it is lost – and what we can learn from these elements to better utilise trust in business. Consider some recent conversations I have had helping individuals, teams and organisations enhance their performance: • A sales team struggle to connect into a market where ‘companies like theirs’ have broken trust in the past. • A marketing manager is frustrated because he works for a CEO he just doesn’t ‘trust’. • A company wants to be seen as the ‘trusted partner’ in their industry, and believe this offers a competitive advantage. • A team faces performance issues and the trust established over a year

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7 ways you are screwing up performance reviews (and what o do about it)

4 years ago 0 0 1008

I get calls at this time of year from leaders in organisations who have left the mid-year assessment to the last minute (or their managers have). Regardless of which side of the review they are on, they all say something like: “Phil, I hate these things. They are such a waste of time. They just do more harm than good”. They seek help to make the performance appraisal process more palatable for them, and more valuable for the organisation. It raises an important question- should organisations do away with performance appraisal processes? My simple answer is an emphatic NO. Performance reviews are critical on a number of levels, and simply because people perform them poorly is not a signal to ditch them, but rather a signal to somehow do them differently. Why are they critical? Performance reviews are important for individuals and for organisations. They provide the link for learning

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Creating creativity- overcoming the corporate blocks to innovation

4 years ago 0 0 1374

In a two part series, Phil Owens explores the concept of creativity in organisations.  In part one, Phil looks at what makes innovation and creativity difficult, and in part two proposes some new ways to approach creativity to make it a core part of your differentiation and success strategy. Creating creativity:  Part 1 – what gets in the way? Why do organisations struggle with creativity? How often do you attend meetings that have lofty ambitions to reach agreement, but simply fail?  How many ‘innovation’ or ‘creativity’ sessions have you been a part of, only to walk out with the same ideas that always seem to come up? Creativity is such a vital asset for business.  Peter Murphy, design instructor in Melbourne points out “Apple is a classic example – they put design at the centre of their business rather than the periphery.   As you build an organisational culture around creativity,

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Organising behaviour – learning from Zappos shift to holacracy

4 years ago 0 0 1483

We create structure and process in a business for only one purpose – to organise behaviour so as to create efficient and effective ways of getting things done. With Zappo’s in the news for instituting a ‘holacracy’ model of organisation, it raises some interesting questions about how we can – and should – organise behaviour. How well does it work when you tell someone with depression to “Be Happy”? The paradox implied in the instruction “Be spontaneous” should be clear – how is spontaneity spontaneous if you have ordered it? This has never been better demonstrated in the corporate world than is currently happening at Zappos: “You will become a holacracy”! Forcing the organisation to become self-organising has an ironic paradox buried at its heart. However, as the organisation pursues this idealised structure, it will provide a fascinating case study over time. With it reported that one in seven employees

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Great leaders ask great questions

4 years ago 0 0 1222

Too often we look to leaders and managers to ‘tell’ the staff what to do, or how to do it. This is a habit of management and leadership left over from the ‘command and control’ model of management that we left behind last century. It assumes that all of the knowledge resides in the leader or manager, and ignores what the staff member knows. It also fails to account for the collaborative potential of what may be discovered or created during a quality conversation. If we believe that individuals can bring motivation, intellect, experience and innovation to the business, then rather than simply ‘telling’ them what to do we may engage them in appropriate conversations on the topic. This allows the leader to realise the inherent potential of the person or people they are leading, and enhance overall performance. The best way to encourage such quality conversations is for the

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