Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How to Sell Something New to Team

Gone are the days when men like Dan Draper in “Mad Men” leisurely sipped his Old Fashioned and slowly reeled in a customer with idle chit chat and charm. These days, Draper would be lucky to get someone to read his emails as customers don’t have the time or inclination to be wooed slowly by those hoping to make a sales.
It’s clear that digital is rapidly changing the way customers do business, and that means that sales teams must also change if they want to continue to be viable sources of products and services for those customers.
Still, it can be a tricky process: How can sales teams – or any business team – make the shift that customers demand while still doing day-to-day business?
“It becomes really, really difficult to keep a foot in both worlds,” says Rick Cheatham, co-author with Lou Schachter of “Selling Vision.”
What they’ve discovered is that once organizations recognize the need to sell something new, then they want to do it as quickly as possible. While that enthusiasm may seem admirable, the problem is that these organizations want the sales people to immediately begin selling the new product or service with no transition time to learn about the new offerings.
The lack of transition allowing teams to sell current offerings while moving into selling the new product can create not only resentment and fear, but threaten the long-term success of the new product, they say.
“The important thing for leaders is to make it clear to everyone that this is why we must change and how we must do something better,” Cheatham says. “Good leaders get a really clear vision and talk about who (the company) aspires to be. It must be a purpose-driven culture.”
At the same time, Cheatham says it’s critical that leaders not ask for ideas on how to make the transition or shift in strategy – and then ignore those ideas. Or, bring in outsiders who lay down a new framework and then disappear. The best way to sell a vision and get employees like the sales team on board is to let them have a real say in how to do it.
“The leader says, ‘For this to be possible, some things are going to have to change, and I want you guys to be part of that change,’” Cheatham says. “If something needs to come off the table – and that’s going to be painful for the team – then the leader needs to make sure they understand why it has to go away.”
In the book, the authors provide a roadmap, case studies and research for leaders trying to transition their teams from selling their current offerings into selling something new.  Including:
  • The customer is changing. “People are overtasked and out (read more here)

Monday, June 27, 2016

How a 22-year-old Can Help Your Career

I'll admit I'm not 22 any more, but neither am I so old that I don't know about Yik Yak.

I get there are new ways of communicating every day, and I make it a point to try to understand how they fit into the lives of employees. But again, I'm not 22. So, the way I view Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Periscope may be different than the way a 22-year-old employee views them.

In a recent story, this idea of better understanding the "context" of how younger workers develop and use various media habits is explored. It is noted in the story that while many older employees are pretty tech savvy, they may lack the knowledge that comes from being young in a world where new apps are developed every day.

That's why it is so important that older employees spend time with younger workers, simply exchanging thoughts and ideas. It's not so much that older workers need mentoring, but that they need that fresh outlook that comes from younger workers. Specifically, while older workers may understand how to use apps like Snapchat, it isn't fully integrated into their lives as it is for younger generations.

Successful older workers understand how important it is to network in the business world. Not only can those contacts help you land a new job or a new client, they can help provide perspective and knowledge. Just because someone is 22 doesn't mean he or she can't be valuable to the career of a 45-year-old manager.

The next time you're looking to make a career investment -- a seminar, podcast or certification -- think about including time with the college intern or the 25-year-old who was just promoted to your department. By spending time with them and learning how they use technology and apps in their everyday lives, you'll gain context that can be invaluable.

At the same time, these younger workers can gain valuable knowledge and "context" from interaction with a more seasoned worker.

In business jargon, that's a win-win. What can be better than that?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Why You Need to Embrace Digital Operations

It’s difficult to imagine getting through your day without using technology, whether it’s checking your email, downloading new music or tracking your fitness level.
Just as you as an individual rely on technology every day to run your life, so are businesses going digital to run their operations and disrupt entire industries.  An Accenture report notes digital is upending the way businesses have run in the past — consumer products companies are becoming Internet companies, energy companies are becoming information companies and media companies are becoming logistics companies.

That’s why it’s not a matter of if – but when – companies will embrace digital operations. As the report notes: “If every business is a digital business, then the operations that enable and support the business – whether they’re delivered internally or through an external provider – must be digital as well.”

Still, it’s not going to be an easy transformation.
“There is a common misconception that technology alone can produce magical results. But the reality is the results depend on how people use it,” writes McKinsey’s Markus HammerMalte HippeChristoph SchmitzRichard Sellschop and  Ken Somers in an article titled: “The Dirty Little Secret About Digitally Transforming Operations.”
McKinsey research finds that only 26% of major organizational transformations succeed.  Those who are successful use advanced planning, rely on local solutions to capture value quickly while building long-term solutions and rely on a variety of skills such as production processes and change management, research shows.
At the same time, more than 90% of large organizations with revenues over $1 billion now use outside providers for the operations of one or more of their business processes, finds HfS Research. This provides as additional challenge as “the external sourcing of operations has in many cases continued on an analog path,” and isn’t keeping up with digital in other business areas, Accenture research shows.

For many companies, the dilemma may be whether they are moving quickly enough toward digital operations. In the Accenture study, 49% of those surveyed say they are currently making only simple transfers of processes and people to a service provider with “limited” business transformation. But in about two years, 49% say they expect to be engaged with operations focused on transformation of the business and its processes.

The payoff for companies that embrace digital operations is lower costs, better compliance, more engaged workers, key business insights and better predictions of where the business needs to go, the report says.
With that in mind, Accenture advises these are the keys to success for creating a successful digital operations environment:
  1. Understanding that a digital platform will (read more here)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Study Reveals How to Choose the Best Person to Ask for Help

Next time you're looking for some help at work, you may not want to depend on a close colleague.

A new study from The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business finds that employees are more likely to help co-workers who are "moderately distant" from themselves in status -- both above and below them.

"A lot of attention has been focused on the direction of the relationship -- which employee is above or below the other in the hierarchy and how that affects their work together. But status distance may be more important in some circumstances than whether your colleague is above or below you," says Robert Lount, co-author of the study and associate professor of management and human resources.

Why? He explains that someone near another worker in status poses more of a threat, and any help provided could help one person pass up another.

At the same time, those who are far above or below you in status could mean they have to put in a lot more time and effort to help you, and that could end up hurting their own job performance.

That's why the "sweet spot" for getting help from someone is the person who doesn't see you as much of a threat but won't have to do lots of extra work to help you. Also, those who help you may be looking for a way to demonstrate a willingness to cooperate with colleagues.

Overall, the researchers found that co-workers are willing to lend a hand and aren't just being stingy with their help. "It is more about who are you most likely to go out of your way to help," Lount says.

For managers, Lount says the lesson is that they might want to avoid doing things like asking the most recent hire to train a new employee. "If that relative newcomer is worried about his or her status in the organization, they may be less than helpful with this new person who could surpass them," he says. "Someone who is moderately successful, but not the top performer on the team, might be the most willing to help."

Thursday, June 16, 2016

How to Survive in the Digital Age

Companies with leadership that is determined to do business the way it’s been done for the last several decades and focus only on selling more products to customers may be destined to fail. That’s because the traditional focus doesn’t take into account the new way that value now is being created – through networks of customers, employees and business partners.
That’s the assertion of a new book, “The Network Imperative: How to Survive and Grow in the Age of Digital Business Models.”
One of the problems in the failure of companies to make this transition is “that there’s a pretty significant skills gap among leadership teams, “says Megan Beck, co-author with Barry Libert and Jerry Wind.
“These leaders  are often older and have a really strong skill set, but in a completely different place. They may not be savvy with the right technology, they may not be following the very bleeding edge of their industry. And then there’s the mental piece – there’s just sort of a gap in observation,” Beck says.
Unfortunately for some companies, that lack of awareness of the critical importance of digital is a blind spot that may not be easily remedied.
“I don’t think it’s fear that’s holding some leaders back from making the transition – I think it’s a bit of overconfidence,” Beck says. “These are leaders who have been very successful in the past, and it’s hard for people to believe that the skill sets they’ve had for the last 20 years” are not going to provide the results they need.
“There’s a lack of savvy,” she says. “They think that it (digital) is a flash in the pan.”
Beck says that because of those mindsets and the fact that digital transformations are a big undertaking, many companies will fail as a result.
“That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try,” she says. “For many companies, it means refocusing (read more here)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Coach Workers in Only 10 Minutes a Day

When asked about coaching employees, most bosses will claim a) they don’t have time to coach employees because they’ve got a million other things to do or b) they’ve tried coaching and employees ignore them.
The problem is that while managers may believe these statements to be accurate, they’re not actually true.
While a Corporate Executive Board study finds that the average manager has at least 12 direct reports (compared to only seven before the Great Recession), these managers still can find time to coach because it only takes five to 10 minutes a day, says Michael Bungay Stanier.
As for the second assertion about employees who ignore managers attempting to coach them? Well, that’s simply because managers are often terrible coaches, says Bungay Stanier, the senior partner and founder of Box of Crayons.
“The reason more managers don’t embrace coaching is because from our earliest school days, we are rewarded for having the right answer,” Bungay Stanier says. “So managers think they have to always give the answers.”
The problem is that when managers provide all the answers, then employees have little incentive to think deeper or more creatively to find their own solutions. “It actually feels good to give advice, which is why bosses like to do it,” he says. “They will do it even if it’s the wrong advice or the other person isn’t listening.”
This creates even more dependence on the manager, which leads to bosses feeling even more overwhelmed and disconnected from the bigger picture of what a company is trying to accomplish, he says.
What is more difficult for managers to embrace – but critical to good coaching – is to ask more questions. “It’s tough because it’s more ambiguous and the boss feels like he’s giving up control,” says Bungay Stanier, author of “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way You Lead Forever.”
“The boss may be worried he’s going to get a crazy answer when he asks a question, or maybe (read more here)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The First Thing to Tackle After a Vacation

In my previous post, I wrote about the importance of spending some time thinking (while on vacation) about whether you're in the right job or right career.

Maybe after some soul-searching you've decided you like the job or the career is just fine -- but you do wish you could make some minor adjustments. Perhaps you realize that you hate working late almost every day so that you miss playing ball with your kids in the yard or having a nice dinner out with friends.

That, you may discover, has led to resentment of co-workers who leave every day on time. Or, you may decide your boss is an a**hole because she doesn't recognize your hard work.

But do you see how you've have let this situation snowball? Instead of dealing with the real problem -- you procrastinate beginning your work every morning -- you instead blame others. That makes you resent your job, your colleagues, your boss and the whole darn world. Why is everyone else not working 12-hour days? Why isn't everyone missing time with family and friends?

Once you've pinpointed the real problem to your job unhappiness, it's time to make a commitment to changing your ways.

You can begin, for example, by creating a new schedule for yourself that will eliminate your procrastination every morning. It might mean waking up 30 minutes earlier so you can check Facebook instead of doing it at work.  Or, maybe you go into work early so that you have quiet time to get started on your work and aren't tempted to chat in the break room for an hour.

Make a commitment to change your ways when you return from vacation. Write down a new schedule and try to stick to it religiously for the first week or two until it becomes ingrained. While this may not solve all your problems, sometimes just seizing the initiative to be happier in your job can put a whole new spin on things.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Work You Absolutely Must Do While on Vacation

Vacation season is upon us, and for many people that means heading to the beach for a week or just taking a few days to sit around home and try to chill.

The problem is that many of us have forgotten the point of a vacation. It's to relax. Say it with me now: RELAX.

But as long as we have our phones or laptops with us, that's not likely to happen. We're going to check email (even though we posted an "on vacation" auto response) and we're likely to keep up with happenings in the office.

I'm not going to jump on you for that (although you really do know better), but I'm going to tell you that you can work while on vacation -- just in a different way.

Instead of the short-range thinking about work, such as email or texting a co-worker, I want you to think of your career in the long-term. Specifically, I want you to think about if you're really using solutions that work for you.

For example, maybe you hate deadlines. You like to work at a slow and steady pace, and not face the pressure of someone screaming for you to turn in your work. Or, perhaps you thrive on deadlines -- you like the adrenaline rush and thrive best when pushed to your limit.

If you like the slow and steady pace, why are you in a job that has constant deadlines? If you're more of an adrenaline junkie, why are you in a job that rarely pushes you or provides you with challenges?

In other words, why are you working so hard against what comes naturally to you? Not everyone is the same -- some people work best in the early mornings, while others can conquer the world at 10 p.m.

Often, people complain about their bosses or their colleagues, claiming that these people are the cause of their job or career unhappiness.

But could it be that you are simply in a job that doesn't fit with your natural tendencies? That you will never like working in a job that requires such attention to detail since you really are more of a big-picture kind of person?

This summer, use your time away from the office not to answer emails, but to simply give yourself time to think about what makes you happy. What feels right for you. Make a list of the things you like to do, what energizes you and what makes you excited to get up every day. When you think about specific tasks, think more broadly. Do you like giving presentations because you like the creativity of creating a compelling PowerPoint? Do you like handling tough customers because you like negotiating?

I hope you enjoy your vacation this year and find time to laugh and rest and recharge. But I also hope you'll take the opportunity to better understand yourself -- to step back and truly understand what works for you and what doesn't. Then, embrace what makes you unique and use it to help you be happier on the job.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

How to Work with Colleagues You Don't Understand

What happens when you ask a bunch of left-brain thinkers to work with a bunch of right-brain thinkers?
If you answered chaos, mayhem and a whole lot of frustration, you might be right.
But as more companies begin to merge the creative thinkers in a company with the technical side, they’re finding that if done correctly, such a working relationship doesn’t have to be frustrating or chaotic. In fact, it can lead to higher productivity, efficiency and more innovative solutions.
Recent research by The Creative Group and Robert Half Technology finds that 55% of advertising and marketing executives are collaborating more closely with technology leaders within their company compared to three years ago. In addition, 33% of chief information officers report the same of their marketing counterparts.
Despite the increasing demand for creatives to work with IT, there are ongoing challenges to such relationships, the survey finds. Chief among them: poor communication.
“You have these creatives who are right-brain thinkers who think in a very conceptual, circular way,” says Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. “Then you have these IT people who are left-brain thinkers and have very linear, factual thinking.”
Another challenge is the logistics of getting these two groups physically close enough to work together.  Domeyer says some companies are putting cross-functional teams together in the same area, forming a team around a common goal such as improving customer experience.  She says these groups may use a “bridge” – someone who understands both functions and can ensure their efforts are tied to the company’s strategy.
Further, these teams may come together and disband based on projects. The key is giving them the flexibility to innovate, collaborate and work on a common goal without having to take the time to break down organizational barriers so the groups can work together as needed.
“Working cross-functionally successfully can be much more difficult in a big organization than a small company where you can move faster,” she says. “But those who figure it out will have a competitive advantage.”
Still, Domeyer says that (read more here)