Archive for the 'Talent Management' Category

If I can’t answer… it doesn’t mean I’m stupid

I was interested to listen to BBCs Bottom Line last night to hear the discussion on how CEOs weaknesses

One answer given to “What are your weaknesses?” replied that “understanding weaknesses were really strengths”…much laughter.
However the statement is so true. In my work I’ve met a few CEO’s who suffer from an excess of ego and self-confidence and find it difficult to admit to weaknesses. This reduces effectiveness and encourages those around the CEO to fail to challenge thinking. Having one’s thinking challenged is always healthy and being aware that not being able to answer a question posed by an employee doesn’t mean I’m stupid!

Interestingly I was surprised that none of the people on Evan Davis’ panel (John Molton, Deborah Meeton and David Haynes) admitted to having a mentor of coach and yet they all agreed that a mentor can bring a person “Back to earth”. They also agreed that a mentoring programme should tell you what you “shouldn’t be doing” as well as what you should. It’s certainly part of the Assimilating-Talent mentoring programme.

One of the final lines was “I go to the right people (for advice)”.
I think that’s essential if you are to get a quality mentor.
So perhaps the panel DO have mentors…It’s just that their EGO insists on calling them something else

Stephen Harvard Davis

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Details of Olympic Opening Ceremony Revealed

Last night I attended the Opening Ceremony rehearsal. I guess you’ll be expecting a full lowdown on the show and I promise to tell you all about it in this blog when I’ve come down from cloud nine on Saturday morning. Except to say that it is a FANTASTIC show and you won’t want to miss it!

Chaos behind scenes
Half an hour before the rehearsal started my neighbour received a text from someone in the cast of thousands to say that they were all “very nervous and that there was chaos behind the scenes”. When it began, you wouldn’t have known. All the team’s rehearsals over the last few weeks came together and produced an end result that I will never forget for it’s brilliance.

Hundreds of mistakes
Dountless there were some mistakes, probably hundreds, but the end result was stunning and that’s what was important. The message for business teams and managers is that when delivering a complex result there will be mistakes along the way, individual teams may view the thing as being chaotic, lacking in management leadership and full of errors but what matters is that the result looks superb to those watching.

It’s made the start of my Olympics come sooner and if the sport lives up to the opening ceremony then wer’re in for two weeks of real fun.

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That Goldman Sachs Letter, Revenge or public service?

Greg Smith isn’t the first person to write an article about their past employer that is less than flattering and he won’t be the last. As a Goldman Sachs executive director
and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in
Europe, the Middle East and Africa he’s bound to be listened to and will cause more than a few intakes of breath in Goldman Sachs offices.

What Greg said in New York Times
The firm changed the way it thought about
leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and
doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and
are not currently an axe murderer) you will be promoted into a position
of influence.

What are three quick ways to become a leader?
a) Execute on the firm’s
“axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in
the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because
they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit.
b) “Hunt
Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are
sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring
the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like
selling my clients a product that is wrong for them.
c) Find yourself
sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque
product with a three-letter acronym.

Disgruntled or upset
It’s obvious that Greg is leaving Goldman Sachs a very disgruntled individual. Upset at how he’s been treated or genuinely upset at how customers are treated. Whatever the reason some will support him and others will be “appalled”.

Badly managed exit
Whatever you think of Greg and whether you agree with his point of view or not one can only assume that Goldman Sachs have mishandled his exit from the business. Here you have a senior executive that has potential to harm the business.

In my experience there will have been warning signs and these should have been picked up at an early stage.
Generally these include internal conflict, poor management of the individual, inappropriate blame, confusion over change programme, change in leadership that results in the individual being sidelined, change in corporate direction or values.


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It’s not all doom and gloom

If you listen to the radio or watch TV news you’d be preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Economic turmoil, strikes, food and water shortages are all being predicted. Yet I’m detecting there’s also a huge amount of good feeling about. New business teams are being brought together, projects started and thriving.

Two examples from just yesterday

Riverbanks Clinic
Today I was thrilled to hear that a great friend of mine, Dr Ravi Jain, who set up The Riverbanks Clinic just a couple of years ago and last year won three awards in the Aesthetic Medicine Awards, has won two more awards this year.  After such a short time Riverbanks must be ranked as one of the leading aesthetic clinics in the UK, if not further afield, and it’s not surprising that Ravi’s now travelling all over the world speaking at conferences.

When Ravi started he was focussed and had a great vision of what he wanted and I was delighted to have been able to help in a very small way but thrilled that all his hard work is showing such fantastic results.

Nick Hine Legal
Another great friend of mine, Nick Hine has set up his own solicitors firm Hine Legal in the City of London and specialising in personnel issues. Last night he had his official launch party, one month after he started work. One of the speeches revealed that he’s already landed one of the UK’s leading retail stores as a client. Destined for great success I feel.

There is all sorts of good news out there if we look

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2 ways to increase sales

I was delighted yesterday when I had an email asking if I would speak to a team of retail shop assistants on ways to increase their sales. Apparently I was contacted after one of the team had seen this film on YouTube and discussed it at their sales team meeting.

So here’s the film for you to see for yourself and if you have any ideas for another film on retail sales teams then give me a shout

2 ways to Increase Retail Sales

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25% of my team’s predicted sales end in “No Decision”

“Currently 25% of my team’s predicted sales stall in a NO DECISION”

Was the opening statement of a Skype call I had with a friend last month. He’s a sales manager with a large national firm and was asking me how to restructure his sales team’s working to increase effectiveness, increase sales funnel size and, despite the recession, meet increased revenue targets.

Main problem
With the economy becoming more difficult prospects have learned to distrust sales calls. In addition the prospect has become better informed and will use the internet to check the sales facts or even make the sale on-line. The conclusion we came to was that the sales team was pressing for a fast buying decision and this was a major contribution to a “No decision”.

Solution and result
One of the three solutions we discussed and implemented was that the next team briefing should discuss “time taken to sale”. The discussion produced a realistic expectation of the time taken to make a sale in various circumstances. The effect was to reduce the pressure felt by the sales team to make quick sales. The result was that the team prospected wider whilst ensuring that “No decision prospects” were kept warm for longer. The result is that overall sales have grown. New sales are being made with many of the predicted sales that previously ended in “No decision” and forgotten about being converted later rather than sooner! 

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How To Succeed… Start A Small War!

I was having a Skype video call to a good friend of mine today about the best way to unite a team. “Start a small war” I suggested.

I explained the objective was to focus the team on on threats, dangers, enemies and rivals that exist outside the team. In this instance suggesting that survival of the team might be at stake from an external threat meant that internal disputes would seem less significant as the team focussed on defeating the external enemy. (Think how united countries become when invaded, even when they don’t like the leader)

Sales team rivalry
It’s similar to increasing sales within a team: Split the salespeople into rival teams and have them compete against each other.

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Beware giving Greeks gifts!

My thirteen years of working with teams to make them more effective and profitable has taught me to never “count one’s chickens” as far as agreed team actions are concerned.

The Greek Prime Minister’s decision to announce a referendum on the aid package to solve its debt crisis demonstrates that very effectively. Too often I’ve been asked to help a situation where everyone thinks they’ve come to an agreement only to find that someone has changed their mind. It leaves everyone stunned, perplexed, angry or open mouthed. So I would have loved to have been the fly on the wall in Angela Merkel’s office in Germany when the news broke of the Greek announcement, I bet the air was blue!

Often happens in Board Rooms
But then I’ve seen it happen so often. Team agreements, Board Room discussion or Partnership meeting often agree a course of action and almost immediately afterwards someone changes their mind and does the exact opposite! For some it’s a game, for others it’s “Playing politics”

However, it generally happens when one person has been bullied into an agreement. Often it’s only after the meeting that the individual feels brave enough or angry enough to make a U-turn.

How to prevent it

  • When you think you are helping an individual or team don’t assume you’re giving them “a gift” and that they’ll thank you for it
  • Don’t bully people into a corner where they are obviously at a disadvantage and then assume that you have agreement.
  • Secondly, provide the “loser” with lots of reassurance after the agreement that they’ve made the correct decision.
  • Finally, provide support to take action that makes the individual “look good” to their team and to those being affected.
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Why is no-one accountable?

I was asked last week what I felt was one of the biggest mistakes in sales team management and my answer was “lack of accountability”. Though I wasn’t talking about allocating blame for missed sales targets!

Lack of Sales Accountability:

Blaming poor sales results to uncontrollable forces such as
competitors, the economy, poor marketing or poor management is often the starting point for sales teams that seek to justify poor sales. There will be times when salespeople exceed monthly targets and others when they fail to meet monthly target. There is an urgent problem if the sales team fails to exceed target 80% of the time and when they do fail to reach target the shortfall is greater than 15%. 

Who is responsible for the lack of performance?
However, when failure does happen too often it’s because the business lacks a clear policy of sales
accountability. Sales people that under perform will often not accept personal responsibility, instead they will blame the economy or other reasons. Sales management are often no better and will blame training or marketing and so on.

All good sales teams benefit from an accountability policy. Accountability doesn’t mean having people accept failure as if they were in a confessional. It does, however, involve the whole team as well as any support mechanisms such as training and marketing in determining the aspects that went wrong during a given time period and then the maturity and ability to determine how to improve the situation.

Creating a culture of sales accountability doesn’t happen
overnight but it’s an essential aspect of having a successful sales team.

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“How *!* Much?”

Did you see Simon Swans article in the latest edition of Management Today*? Simon talks about the importance of interviewing and quotes Harvard University research that says that new hire failure costs can amount to five times salary. I thought the costs understated and suspect that Simon’s probably taken a fixed cost of salary and direct expenses but not included the lost opportunity costs that result from a new hire failure.

At this point you probably might discount my own research as being inflated, if I included it here, so let me point to Brad Smart’s book “Topgrading” ,as evidence, where he wrote that his research into new hire failure could amount to 24 times the salary. Much of these come from lost opportunities which, depending upon position, include lost sales, projects not met and so on

I thought it interesting that Simon’s solutions to the problem was to ensure that the Resume (CV) was accurate and that the interview process robust. All good stuff. However, a crucial part of the process is the six months that a company spends integrating the individual into the new job. 

* 5th August 2011

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