Archive for the 'Executive failure' Category

We’re Doomed…Doomed I tell you!

I had a long breakfast with a friend and Company Director this morning. Over the bacon and eggs we talked about some senior and unexpected departures from one of his competitors. He was identifying the opportunities these senior departures presented for his own company.

In short he categorised these as:

  • Available talent might be available and useful to his own comany (possibly on a consultancy basis)
  • The competitor’s clients might speculate that they might need to shop around for alternative suppliers (Just in case!)
  • Loss in staff morale and as a result loss of productivity
  • Gap in leadership until new leader can be appointed and begin to succeed
  • Possible further departures which could increase problems
  • Cost to competitor of rehiring and lead-in time for newe job holder

Too often, when senior management departs staff look to the future wondering if the business is doomed. (Even if the leader had been unpopular) and wonder if they should consider finding another job before it’s too late. My friend and I speculated that the benefits for my friend’s company could last between six and nine months and be worth many clients and an increase in sales income.

Bernard Matthews as an example
One only has to look at Bernard Matthews, the turkey company, to see how the loss of top people can benefit competitors. Last week the Chairman, Davis McCall, stepped down. Then the Chief Executive, Noel Bartram left and follows Rob Mears the Managing Director’s ealier departure.
The company employs 2200 people with a further 1000 staff in Germany and Hungary. In recent years Trading conditions have been poor for the company with bird flu and increase in costs. In addition staff morale has been hit and sales have slumped. Profits on a turnover of £341m amounted to just £2m.
With the departure of senior people it could be expected that morale and productivity will further be affected unless the latest appointment of David Joll (former CE) can secure a rumoured investment of between £20 and £30million. In which case he could end up as a hero.

A Strategy

My friend and I worked on plans until lunchtime on ways to manage possible, though unlikely, senior departures in his own company.

Stephen Harvard Davis

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Coping with BIG egos

I was thinking today of some of the egos I worked in past jobs. Like Sales Director that at their first team meeting announced, “I’ve come to save the company”, which came as a surprise to all who didn’t think that the business needed saving.

And the HR Manager who, on being appointed, introduced herself to her well qualified team by saying “I’m a fellow of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development) and I’m a professional!”

Tricky things to handle
Huge egos are tricky things to handle and handle them we all have to do. Teams that are expanding want
strong characters, who are self-motivated and who have a 
desire to win! But too often the appointment of a new leader can go to their already big
heads and makes them tough to deal with? So I was fascinated to come across this article in Management Today that addresses the topic. Not in much the detail and doesn’t provide too much that’s of help but the article makes you think.

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UK Business Leaders Aren’t Impressed

A survey has found that UK’s leaders aren’t impressed with the work that their own companies are doing to develop their next generation of managers.

Management Today writes that figures by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, just four in 10 leaders think the measures their company has put in place to coax out their employees’ inner CEO is ‘highly effective’ – which means six in 10 don’t.

The survey asked 367 leaders about their leadership development programme and found that two in 10 actually think the LDP’s in their own company are downright ineffective. As MT so rightly asks: “Considering they’re the people in charge of their companies why they sort it out?

In the long run it’s likely to be a costly error but then again few people in charge have the vision to find and develop the person who will eventually replace them. Instead the tendency is to get rid of the threat!

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Stages to Sales Team Failure

I had an interesting Skype conversation with a friend of mine in California last night who has just taken over a new sales team after the departure of the previous Sales Manager.

First stage
I asked him about the indicators that told people that things were “going wrong” before the departure of his predecessor. The process began, he said, with the Sales Team saying things like “It’s just not working” but being unable to agree on exactly what “It” was.

The second stage
was people outside the team saying things such as, “The sales team’s sucking in loads of our time”, “the restructure’s not working” and “We’re not going to meet target”

Third stage
Was when senior management started to get involved. This was about four months after stage one. It then took another six months for the sales manager to be dismissed. Total time when opportunities were lost amounted to ten months and further delay is likely to occur before the new manager gets a grip on the situation.

Result and main reason
Estimated lost income is hundreds of thousands of dollars!
One of the main reasons for the failure, and one that is so common, was that The Sales Director felt unsupported by the senior management and the sales Director was not willing to say that he “was struggling”. 

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Don’t ask “Can I Help You?”

Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking to some managers responsible for teams of sales assistants in large retail shops. The task was to show them how they could restructure their team’s approach to customers that would generate an increase in sales.

In this videoclip I tackle two main problems.
The first is the problem with asking “Can I help you?” that too often destroys a sale.
Secondly, how to generate multiple sales

Contact Stephen by email:

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The Paralysis of “You’re Brilliant”

Yesterday I had a great time with some business friends discussing the scandal of the NOTW and Rupert Murdock’s business empire. We all agreed that there have been lots of occasions when businesspeople believe their created image that they then become paralysed when things start to go pear shaped.

“You’re brilliant”
Director paralysis isn’t new. This often comes from having people around you that always tell you how brilliant you are. The more a business leader hears it the more they come to believe it. Murdock’s thousands telling him how brilliant he is seemed, at the start of the scandal, to create a paralysis of understanding of the seriousness of the situation. This, as is so often the case, was translated by the UK public as being arrogance.

Then again I’ve observed Directors of much smaller companies believe their own image and create similar problems for themselves. Like the Sales Director who joined an insurance company saying he had come to “save the company” when most people didn’t know, or believe, that it needed saving.

Or the Managing Director who told me that in twenty eight years at the head of his business he’d not made a “New hire mistake ever”. In fact he told me that he could identify a success when “they walked through the door“. His staff turnover was very high and continually created problems for his sales.

“Remember you are mortal”
As generals drove through the ancient Rome after winning a war a slave at the back of the chariot would whisper in their ear “Remember you are mortal” in case they believed the crowd’s adulation. I wonder how many CEO’s would consider hiring someone to continually question their thinking, just in case they thought themselves infallible?  

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Hiring Good Sales People and Avoiding Ordertakers

I’m continually asked by businesses how they can interview and recruit good sales people whilst avoiding the order-taker that eats up valuable management time and resource.
So here’s a video I’ve just uploaded and hope that you find it useful

Hiring salespeople, avoiding ordertakers

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What To Do When It All Goes Pear Shaped!

News International closing down the News of The World after the various scandals that’s gripped it has probably left a majority of staff wondering what their future is. Even though the majority will be entirely innocent of any wrongdoing there will be the fear that future employers will view with scepticism those that have “The News of The World” on their CV.

There is a future
Assuming that one is innocent of any wrongdoing then there is a future. The thing to consider that in the past there have been many other people who have worked for discredited companies that have gone on to greater career success.

Think of the thousands of innocent staff who worked for BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commerce) who suffered the Banks closure and yet who moved on to find other jobs.

Confusion, anger and a sense of betrayal
Naturally, as with many redundancies, there will be confusion and anger and a sense of betrayal directed at the Directors and management. There is, however, little point in brooding on it. It’s happened. If you’re good at your job and can show a good track record then most future employers will make a judgement on the facts and the earlier one considers the areas of work that will “look good” and include them on the CV the better.

What’s next
Apart from thinking through how to construct the CV it’s worth ensuring that previous connections and maintained with other employees and anyone who can provide a reference. Keep copies of work that can be shown to future employers and make contact with new people as soon as possible and network hard. Most people leave this part far too late!

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No consensus on Olympic stadium …why I’m not surprised

Is it any wonder that the decision on the future of London’s 2012 Olympic stadium has had to be delayed. The Olympic Park Legacy Company says it needs more time to study rival bids from Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham.

The problem is always the same when there are too many people with differing outcomes that need to give their approval. According to the BBC Any OPLC recommendation will have to be ratified by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department of Communities and Local Government, and the London Mayor’s office.

Each of these groups have a different perspective but they also want to be able to claim any success for whatever decision that’s made. Then again they will also wish to deflect any criticism if it all goes wrong!

In my experience any business team with such diverse outcomes is destined to fail and the result can only result in more expense to Londoners who will be expected to pick up any bill.

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“Quick wins” in a new job don’t always deliver results

I have watched with some amusement the mess that the UK’s coalition Government have found themselves in over their announcements to “Housing benefit” changes. We’ve been told that this will be capped at £400 per week. It reminds me of the situation that many business leaders and executives in a new job find themselves when introducing a “Quick win”. The reason is that to often “Quick wins” fail to deliver the expected results.

Let’s consider the UK’s proposal to cap housing benefit to reflect average earnings. On the surface it would seem sensible and would certainly reduce costs. But the (hopefully exaggerated) image of hundreds of thousands of families and children, particularly in London, being made homeless and trudging up the the road with their belongings as they are forced out of their homes to find cheaper accommodation has generated claims of “Social cleansing” from Mayor Boris Johnson and concern from many MPs.

Too often  a new team leader or senior executive in a business will introduce a “quick win” because they understand that they have little time to prove themselves and want to demonstrate that they are “hitting the ground running”. It’s also seen as a useful tool to create a positive reputation for being a forward thinker or innovator.

The change that’s generally selected has often worked for the individual in the past. However, what the new leader fails to consider is the new team, new culture and new management style. In communicating the “quick win” great emphasis will be placed on instant results (saving money) without analysis of the long-term consequences in other departments of areas of the business.

This often causes a storm of protest, the executive is wrong footed and either has to revise their plans with the consequence of “loss of face” and reputation or stick to their guns and be accused of being unfeeling, autocratic or worse. The problem is that a “Reputation” has been made and it’s a negative one and that reputation is often difficult to change.

I judge that we can expect some “Good news” from the coalition Government within the next few days

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