Archive for January, 2012

Queen’s Jubilee…better in 1952 or at the end?

As the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee approaches we are likely to be bombarded with comparisons of the “then and now”. Commentators will be lecturing us saying how much better off we all are than in 1952!

People worked harder
Doubtless they will mention that people worked harder in 1952. Yet in reality communication and technology mean that we work faster and more effectively now than sixty years ago.

There will be statistics showing that more women are employed than ever before and regrets that “company loyalty” has disappeared. Forced redundancies, company closures and so on have meant that people are prepared, often out of necessity, to change jobs and careers more often than sixty years ago.

Is comparison pointless?
Yet comparisons are rather pointless. During the past sixty years the world has changed beyond recognition for most in the UK and the USA and it’s undeniable that the general standard of living of Briton’s has improved.

The real issue
The real issue for discussion with commentators, politicians, business leaders and bankers should be not whether things are better now than in 1952 but instead if things will be better at the end of the reign than they are now?



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“Policies” can damage a reputation

Over the last week I’ve had some correspondence with the Automobile Association (UK) which has demonstrated to me, once again, that too many companies make process and policy decisions that are harmful to their reputation and income. In this particular instance there’s a happy ending but it’s not always the case.

In December my Mother died with eight months on her AA membership paid for on an annual contract. Rather than waste the subscription I thought it would be a nice idea to have the membership transferred to a younger cousin so that they could benefit from the eight months of her subscription.

An expensive policy
On phoning the call centre I was told that “Your Mother’s account account is closed and it’s our policy that no refunds are made by the AA”. I asked to be transferred to discuss the issue with a manager to be told that “the call centre can’t transfer calls”. At this point I was annoyed believing that the policy of “no transfer” under these circumstances was unfair and, in reality, poor business practice.  I even pointed out that this policy decision was damaging to the AA because as well as losing my Mother’s subscription, the AA was now likely to lose mine (on renewal) and possibly my sister’s future subscriptions. Three subscriptions for the cost of administering a slight change. An expensive policy!

The power of social media
After a tweet in frustration (re-tweeted by some) the AA contacted me by direct tweet message asking me to detail my grievance in an email. After a couple of emails the issue is resolved and the AA will provide eight months membership to a person of our choice. The organisation now has the potential of a new long-term member. A good result for them and satisfactory conclusion for myself and shows the power of multimedia.

But my question is this:
Having a policy of “No refund” if fine under most circumstances and I can think of lots of reasons why the policy is in place but those that design such policies need to also think through the possible damage it could do under certain situations. The potential to the AA for lost opportunities and lost income over many years could have been costly!

When making policy rules…think of the exceptions that might be beneficial to the corporate reputation and create policies for dealing with exceptions.

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“They’re just not pulling their weight”

In the last few days I’ve encountered three teams where individuals within the team are disgruntled because they feel the work load isn’t fairly distributed. The individuals feel they are being taken advantage of, doing more of their fair share and delivering more of the results and for the same rate of pay than their “work shy” colleagues.

Perhaps it’s part of the economic times we are in but the risks are very real that teams can lose good staff, partnerships fold and businesses even start trading where colleagues and partners disagree.

Tips to resolve the problem

Having been asked my advice I thought I’d share some tips with my blog readers:

  1. Don’t brood on the injustice of it. Set a date and time to speak to the person or people about how you feel.
  2. Write down exactly how you feel and the FACTS about the situation. Avoid emotion and attaching blame
  3. At the start of the meeting state your position and then ask the other side for theirs. Allow them to talk through how they feel, without interrupting (it may be difficult but stay quiet until you’re sure you have all the information). The objective is to learn as much as you can about how they see things.
  4. Ignore personal criticisms of yourself. This is emotion speaking and an argument will result if you rise to the bait and don’t reply emotionally. Stick to the facts.
  5. Ask the other side “What they would recommend to resolve the situation” before you ask for what you want. It allows you to understand the breadth of any possible agreement.
  6. Be prepared to compromise.
  7. Kiss and make up if appropriate

If you would like the free e-book on “Negotiating for what you want” email me and place FREE e-book in the title

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Do qualifications mean employability?

Have you noticed there’s a lot of discussion from employers on how eduction is failing to provide people with the skills and knowledge needed. IT companies complain that graduates can’t understand background programmes, Senior executives despair that new hires don’t know how to communicate, employers shake their heads at qualifications that don’t provide the skills for work that employers are seeking.

Mission Critical opportunities being lost
Yesterday I was contacted by a CEO who told me that a “new hire” he had employed last year “wasn’t working out”. It seemed that the qualification and some experience hadn’t given the new hire the skills the job required and mission critical opportunities were being lost. 

What to do?
Larger companies are sponsoring education programmes to ensure they are
able to hire the skills they need but smaller businesses can’t afford to
do that. So what to do?
When recruiting it’s worth investigating the content and syllabus of qualifications if they are critical to the job skills. Then test them. If computer skills are required test them as part of the interview process. If communication or management skills are required for the job then these too can be tested at the interview stage.

Where skills are being recruited it’s a matter of “Employer be aware”

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Full of good intentions!

I always find January in my gym difficult. It’s packed with people with good intentions that have made New Year resolutions. However, generally, by mid February the status-quo has been restored and I can find exercise machines, mats and weights easily available. I guess the same goes for other resolutions such as stopping smoking or saving more money.

Team resolutions
Resolutions that do seem to succeed are those made where the results are also monitored by other people and one can be held to account. I was thinking last night if it would be more sensible to make business team resolutions that would improve team effectiveness?
Some I might consider:

  • Arriving on time for meetings
  • Replying to e-mail within 24 hours
  • Providing more support to other team members
  • Holding more regular meetings
  • keeping meetings to time

What would be your ideas?
Happy New Year to all

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