Recently the Minister of Finance declared that Government Departments will need to become more lean and mean and make do with what they have.
This “freeze” is bound to affect consultant income. Times are going to be tough and Government are certainly going to be cutting costs and re-evaluating consulting relationships and contracts.
Professional Service Providers are going to have to do the same. Re-evaluate their practices and how they do things.
In this process there are two approaches that can be followed:
- Focus on what to cut or reduce or,
- Focus on what you need to do to continue doing well.
In 1984 I was in a situation where I joined a new organization, when after one week with the company, the CEO asked me in a meeting, so “What extra value are you going to add. I started rambling about my tasks, when he said, “No – no that is the minimum, what extra do you have to offer”. I have never forgotten that lesson. That’s sound counsel, regardless of the economy.
So, here’s some advice that could help you with name recognition and your own reputation externally and internally in a tough economy.
Re-examine your Core Value Proposition – What made you successful in the first place? Sometimes we start to focus on turnover and forget about the small things, such as the personal attention to detail that made the practice successful in the beginning.
Stick to your knitting but embrace New Principles. Teaching an old dog new tricks is possible. Learn better, faster and more efficient ways to do things. My secret weapon – Reading the daily tips from Lifehacker.
Balance innovation and your past successes. Stay relevant. Constantly review your service offerings. Is it still in touch with customer needs? Along those same lines, an internal or external service provider needs to stay relevant. If you constantly prove your value, you’re more likely to remain a partner in the business”
Think and sell strategically and tactically. During a recession, value is going to be more deeply examined; clients are going to demand that you add extra value.
How do you do that – attend my new and revamped 1 day How to Market and Grow a Consulting Practice workshop on the 10th December in Johannesburg.
As we all know, perception is everything. Do you treat all people with respect? Not just senior management! Relationships are built at all levels. Often senior management will turn around and ask junior staff members about their perception of you. What would you like them to say?
Market, Market, Market yourself. In the book “High Income Consulting” by the late Tom Lambert, the author had the following to say: “The so – called window of opportunity is open only briefly as an organization’s priorities change. When a potential client recognizes the need for services which you supply, yours must be the name they know. Your marketing, therefore, must be CONSISTENT and INDIRECT, aimed specifically at making you well known to ALL your prospective clients”.
To be a recognized name means that you have to find methods that will work for you in the long term and in the short term, using vehicles ranging from public speaking engagements to suitable audiences to being listed in directories.
The lesson is clear. You should find ways and means to ensure that yours are the name customers remember when that window of opportunity arises.
Social Media has now become the preferred tool of choice in this strategy. Learn more on how to best market your consulting services using many different approaches and techniques on the 10th December.
Register now and avoid disappointment.
What do consultants bring to the table?
This is a question often asked by management & staff.
How can they charge so much? Do they really offer value?
Well let’s consider first of all the Aslan phenomenon which was first mentioned by Dr. Roger von Oech in the ground-breaking book on creativity – ‘A Whack on the side of the head’. Von Oech writes that where all men think alike no one thinks.
This is interesting as it links on to study results by Deloitte that indicates that patterns of decision making can result in reputation risk.
Now you may immediately question this assumption by saying that you are a free thinker – especially in meetings. However, subtly and often subconsciously you are being manipulated by the corporate immune response – the corporate culture.
From the first day with an organization you soon learn what is necessary to fit in, to manage perceptions and expectations and to get on with your manager. This acculturation is part of the immune response.
This is why we frown upon those with novel and new ideas. We call them helicopter pilots, we call them rocket scientists. In fact, at one stage of my career, I was told by the then HR Director to stick to my knitting – which was to be a trainer.
We frown upon whistle blowers (look at the furore of Wikileaks), we frown upon people who do not conform. In fact, armed forces around the world actually operate on that principle – using discipline to ensure execution of military strategy.
1. They bring a different frame of reference. A different set of knowledge, skills and attitude set. They have worked in many industries and that is what they bring to bear upon your problem or issue.
2. They bring an expanded knowledge management capability. They have read the books, white papers and reports that you have not seen nor had time to read. They often belong to networks and institutes and associations that give them access to connections and access to resources you don’t have.
3. They bring 3rd party, objective insight – an ability to ‘see the woods from the trees’. They have seen the signs of war and have dealt with casualties in many trenches. They bring this unique insight to the table.
It’s a similar example of the difference between doctors who work in 1st world countries and those who have worked in both 1st world and impoverished countries where the same level of medical and hospital care do not exist. Their skill sets are vastly different.
Unfortunately this knowledge and ability does not come cheap. You cannot equate a daily rate with the amount of investment & time that it has taken to develop that skill set.
Let me illustrate:
Years ago there was a factory in Northwest America that would for some unknown reason; go into shutdown mode at the most inopportune times.
Eventually a group of consultants was called in and they resolved only part of the problem at a cost of about 40,000 USD. Although the incidences dropped, the problem persisted.
One day at a brainstorm meeting, someone remembered that there was an old- timer who used to work at the plant, and that he had a way to get the system up and running instantly.
So, they decided to bring him back as a consultant. One day he arrived with a small black suitcase. Inside this suitcase, was a small silver aluminium hammer. As the plant went down in shutdown mode, he opened his case, went up to one of the pipes, smacked it with his small aluminium hammer, and the system restarted instantly.
Very happy, his customer asked him to bill them. Which he did, only for the bean counters to return the invoice asking for how the bill of 1043 dollars was made up.
This was the answer they got.
43 dollars for hitting the pipe, a 1000 dollars for knowing where to look.
It’s that ‘look’ that costs so much. And, that is what consultants bring to the table.
Now is the time to lay the foundation for the new year. Why? So that you can hit the road running after the festive period.
Here are some ideas as to what you need to take a look at:
- Review your Business plan. Business plans are not set in concrete. Does your original assumptions still ring true? Adjust and amend where necessary.
- Clutter destroys energy according to Feng Shui experts. Go through your office with a fine comb. Go through every pile of documents – Decide what is relevant,necessary to keep, otherwise dump it. Go through your filing cabinets – Remember a filing system should not be like a goldmine, where you have to move mountains of ore to get to the pieces of gold.
- Update your media and mailing lists, your Rolodex. Your online social network lists. Re- evaluate your relationships with those in your network. Who should you be spending more time with?
- Re-evaluate your Consultancy’s Marketing and Publicity Plan. Are you still reaching your target market? If you are not, change what you are doing and
plan something new. Remember the words of Richard Saunders: The only way to get a significantly different result is to do something significantly different.
- Re-evaluate your elevator speech. An Elevator speech is a 10-15 word statement of what you do and why it is valuable to a client. Are your message still in synch with what you do?
- What about your working environment? Is it set up for efficiency? Are your waiting room chairs comfortable? Are your magazines current and appropriate? Your office is a reflection of who you are.
- What was your customer service levels like? Did you promise less, but delivered twice what you promised. If not, make that your goal for the new year.
- What about balance in your own life? How’s your health? A healthy mind resides in a healthy body. If you need to make dietary and other lifestyle
changes, plan for it now. And include it on your New year resolution list.
The bottom line is this: Set yourself up now for success. That way you can enjoy the New Year with the assurance that you are in control.
There are resources out there that can really assist you to become more effective and efficient in your consulting work, including:
These resources fulfil two criteria, as follows:
- They use the concept of Modelling. Modelling is a Tony Robbins concept. In his book “Unlimited Power” he speaks of the concept of modelling i.e.” To become successful, you need to model yourself on the knowledge, skills and attitudes of successful people…By role modelling them you can shorten the very expensive learning curve and become successful far quicker yourself”.
- The concept of Leverage Points. Researchers in systems thinking speak about leverage points – those small, well-focused actions that can, when used at the right time and in the right place, produce significant, lasting benefits exponentially beyond the effort required to take the action step itself.
These are the steps needed to start to work ON your business, not just IN your business.
Here is a story that resonated with me. It reminded me a lot of the crisis consulting I do….
A man is flying a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts, "Excuse me. Can you help me? I promised my friend I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am."
The man below says, "Yes, you’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above this field. You are at approximately 42 degrees North latitude and 60 degrees West longitude."
"You must be an engineer," says the balloonist.
"I am," replies the man. "How did you know?"
"Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost."
The man below says, "You must be a manager."
"I am," replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?"
"Well," says the man below, "you don’t know where you are, or where you are going. You have made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now it is somehow my fault."
When I speak to managers about the need to plan for crises before they happen, they treat my information sparsely and then when the paw-paw strikes the fan, then they want help.
Only when they are lost.
Each client represents a relationship, and is also another boss. The consultant has many bosses—clients—that must be satisfied. A Manager has many clients to satisfy and many of them are internal. Building a reputation with all clients, external or internal are vital. That’s why it’s so important to consider how client relationships are managed. Each relationship is influenced by both the consultant and the client.
Here are some of the tips that I believe the consultant or staff member can do to impact the relationship —to make the client, internal or external – happy.
1. Provide regular progress reports so there are no surprises at the end of the assignment. Clients deserve to be well informed about your work’s status at all times.
2. Avoid internal politics. Your client has to deal with organizational politics and does not want you to get involved. That would make his or her life more complicated. So avoid internal issues like a plague.
3. Emphasize the benefits of your work at all times. Clients are busy, and they often forget the value of the work you are doing. Note the benefits of the work in tangible terms as frequently as possible.
4. Define what you mean by quality work as frequently as possible. Defining quality outcomes gives you some degree of control over the work.
5. Establish channels of communication with everyone involved in your work. Where appropriate, schedule regular meetings, provide written progress reports, have frequent phone conversations, and take notes, regardless of the communication channel. An effective consultant is a great communicator!
6. Discuss small problems before they become major problems. Stay on top of the job and it won’t get the best of you.
7. Be prepared to deal with delays caused by the client that impair your ability to meet deadlines. Be extremely sensitive to deadlines and what is in the way of meeting them. Inform your client early about what is getting in the way.
8. Put yourself in the client’s shoes at all times. Know your clients and you will know what makes them happy!
What I am saying to you is that each and every one of us are marketing ourselves and building our reputations all the time. Building a resilient reputation is an everyday task.
Did you know that you are sitting on a goldmine?
Yes, your contact database is a goldmine from an information & sales point of view. I am sure that you have heard the saying that it is 6 times more expensive to get a new client than it is to get a new client.
So here is a technique and a tool that you can use to your own advantage.
The Ladder of Loyalty is an useful technique used to move contacts along a continuum from where they are mere contacts to where they become an advocate of what you stand for.
The idea is to go through your database and determine which of your contacts fall into the following categories:
- Advocates – These people love what you do and tell everyone
- Clients – Those people who will naturally call you when they have a need
- Customers – People who have already used you
- Prospects – People who can definitely use your services
- Suspects – These people might be able to use your services
You then develop strategies to move these categories starting with suspects becoming prospects, and so on. You move them up the ladder of loyalty.
Apart from doing this manually, I also found a brilliant piece of software called Xobni the other day. Xobni is the Outlook plug-in that helps you organize your flooded inbox. Xobni’s Outlook add-in saves you time finding email, conversations, contact info & attachments.
Apart from its lightening fast search capabilities and ability to link to other social network sites, it provides Xobni Analytics — its powerful tool for analyzing your own email behaviours over time.
What day of the week are you slowest to respond to email? What time of day do you send the most email? Was this January or last January busier with new email contacts? Who reacted fast to your requests? Who haven’t you contacted lately?
Who are the top 10 people you send emails to? Do you send more emails to your boss than your spouse? Xobni exposes all of this data and more about the people you communicate with — in Outlook, and automatically.
Check it out – http://www.xobni.com/
It might be a good exercise to first of all complete the ladder of loyalty exercise, then combine it with Xobni. It may just show you where you are lacking in engaging with your database.
Who knows what sales opportunities it might reveal.
I am so excited today. I just found out that my blog is one of the links on Dr Leslie Gaines-Ross’ blog – reputation Xchange.
The reputationXchange blog is intended for those interested in news, information and observations on building, sustaining and recovering reputations. This blog comment on all matters related to reputation – company reputation, CEO reputation, board reputation, country reputation, industry reputation, you name it!
Dr Ross is Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist. She is the author of the books CEO Capital: A Guide to Building CEO Reputation and Success (John Wiley & Sons) and Corporate Reputation: 12 Steps to Safeguarding and Recovering Reputation (2008, John Wiley & Sons).
Visit www.corporatereputation12steps.com for more information about the book.
Weber Shandwick is a leading global public relations agency with offices in over 79 markets around the world and is a unit of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG), which is one of the world’s leading organizations of advertising agencies and marketing services companies.
For more information, visit http://www.webershandwick.com/
Individuals sometimes forget that they themselves have a reputation- just like their organization.
Countless studies show that Corporate Reputation is an organization’s biggest asset , yet most dangerous risk in the marketplace.
It is no different for a person. In fact depending on your chosen career, position and stature, it becomes your stock in trade and a lever for success. For consultants and professional service providers reputation is sacrosanct.
It boils down to three crucial elements:
1. Know-how (Your intellectual capital i.e. what you know);
2. A Network of contacts (Social Capital – who you know);
3. Your Reputation (Reputational Capital – who trusts you).
The key for any person who is interested to build their own reputation is to work on these 3 elements as part of your own career development plan.
Many years ago someone shared the concept of the 3 E’s with me. I think it is a Dale Carnegie concept that I am sure you will find valuable in the building of your reputation.
The Three E’s:
The First E – Earned the right. You can only address a person or a group if you have earned your “stripes” be it through qualifications, experience, and preparation. Doing research, reading and studying your chosen field adds to this. It is about what you know.
The Second E – Be Enthusiastic. Will you buy from a salesman whose product does not generate enthusiasm in himself?
The Third E – Be Eager to share. Are you eager to share your knowledge, the gem or nugget of wisdom that you have with the person you are talking to or the audience?
In my own life experience I have found the concept of the 3 E’s incredibly helpful.
If you go to my personal profile at http://www.linkedin.com/deonbin and read the recommendations by other experts you will see how the three E’s have manifested themselves in my career and how they added to the 3 key elements of building a reputation. You will have to register, but it is for free and Linkedin is probably the world’s best known site for professional networking.
The picture above first appeared on the website: http://www.geekarmy.com/geeks/Nasty-Keyboard.html
What does your desk look like? Your keyboard?
Is your desk a filing cabinet, a trophy case or a museum?
Did you know that your desk is not just a worktool, but also a reflection of your work habits?
A clean desk falls into a category of Health & Safety called Housekeeping.
Housekeeping is more than just sweeping the floor and wiping dust off a desk, machines and equipment. Cleanliness is only a part of housekeeping. The most critical and most overlooked part of housekeeping is ORDER. A work area is in order when there are no unnecessary objects in the area and when all necessary items are in their proper places.
A workplace is not considered to be in order simply because “there is a place for everything and everything is in its place.”
Do you use your desk area for storage? Do you keep supplies in the area because “they’ll be needed one of these days?” If there is one item in an area that is unnecessary or not in its proper place, then you do not have order. ( Just examine the average offices ).
Order is maintained, not achieved. You cannot put an area in order and then forget about it. A daily conscious effort by everyone working in the area is necessary to maintain order. Order also must be obtained throughout the day. If you wait until the end of the day and then place everything in order, what good did it do you during the day? Disorder wastes time, energy and materials.
Just saw a quote by John Kenneth Galbraith that “Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.”
Are they really that wasteful?
There is often a lot of humour thrown around the issue of meetings. Especially words such as ” It is unfair to compare a Business meeting with a funeral. Funerals have a definite purpose” or ” a meeting is a place where they take minutes and waste hours”.
Research shows that many staff meetings are nothing but boring report back sessions. For the other attendees the meeting is boring, because they are already familiar with the topic or it simply doesn’t involve their work.
The problem with most meetings is that they are seldom assessed in terms of accomplishments other than the money expended in terms of time consumed. Sometimes there may be a tendency to meet on a regular basis as opposed to “as needed” basis.
The question that needs to be asked is how much more effective meetings in the company can be if chairmen and attendees are trained in how to use the medium as it needs to be used. For instance how many Chairmen of meetings know what to do, know how to keep their meetings effective? How many secretaries can take appropriate minutes?
Who trains inexperienced managers to make the most of meetings? Who trains secretaries in minute taking? Given the experience of most people at meetings, these types of gatherings are ready for an overhaul.
Meetings that are effective and does not waste unnecessary time. In the Wall Street Journal a few years back, an article commented that US managers would save 80% of the time they invest in meetings if they would do two things right: have an agenda, and start on time/end on time.
Any training intervention dealing with meeting management training needs to emphasise the following:
- The purpose of holding a meeting. Questions such as the following should be asked:Do you need to hold the meeting? Is the meeting schedule appropriate? Every meeting must have a purpose. If the purpose is to share information as opposed to discuss, make a decision, ask questions, reach consensus, and so on, the meeting was unnecessary. The info could have been shared without taking attendees time.
- The need for having a desired outcome of the meeting before the meeting so that the meeting can be steered toward the outcome. Outcomes, as an example, are decisions; determine next steps in a project, the evaluation of a current work system and so on.
- When to hold a meeting. This includes meeting schedules and agenda preparation – and will include frequency and duration, sample meeting agenda and minute template forms.
- The purpose of minutes. Note taking should be brief and emphasize decisions reached, and actions committed to. Unless it is a legal or company requirement I prefer handwritten minutes that are photocopied and distributed on the spot. This reduces organizational resources invested in typing, rewriting, and polishing.
- The roles, responsibilities and authority of:· The Chairperson, Committee members, Managers and attendees
- Skills needed by the Chairperson – including how to discern between task and interpersonal issues.
- Specific tips on how to make meetings work including tips on how to plan and conduct meetings to maximise participation and achieve desired outcomes, organise, and conduct productive meetings.
Here are some tips to prevent meeting mismanagement in your sphere of influence:
For traditional meetings (which are usually discussions), ask the following:
1. What is the purpose of the meeting? If there is no purpose, then cancel the meeting.
2. Is there always an agenda? If not, then don’t attend the meeting.
3. If the meeting is only to disseminate information, then send a memo and cancel the meeting.
4. Eliminate general business from all meeting agendas – if it is not on the agenda then it is not discussed.
Another useful tool is to cost the meetings i.e. work out the cost of running each meeting, wages, on-costs, venue, catering, relief staff, etc. You’ll probably find that it is quite high. Then ask what return you could get on that money if you invested it. The point is that you would expect a return on your investment if it was cash, so expect a return on your investment from every meeting. In other words, there has to be a tangible output. That’s why facilitators are useful for some meetings – to keep everyone focused on producing an output.
For non-traditional meetings (which encourage dialogues):
1. Use the team briefing approach – this greatly facilitates the purpose of meetings.
2. Hold stand-up meetings on the shop-floor and even in administration areas – no chairs.
3. Hold meetings directly before lunch – the participants become very efficient then.
4. Daily/weekly review meetings should not last more than 15 minutes.
5. Make meeting sizes between 5 and 7 members – greatly enhances productivity.
6. Establish group “norms” for each meeting group, otherwise “groupthink” can occur.
Some other tips:
- Start on time
- Stay on track
- Make sure to accomplish something. There is nothing worse than attending a meeting where nothing was decided or accomplished.
- Don’t beat a dead horse. The worse thing to do is discuss the same topic for 15-20 minutes and not come up with a solution if a solution is needed.
- If certain topics go over then shorten the less important topics to help stay on track.
- Try to make sure everyone has a chance to speak if they want.
- Always finish on time or early. People love it if meetings end early.
What about the Web 2.0 and meetings? Perhaps you can use Windows Live Messenger (Instant Messenger) instead of calling an unnecessary meeting.
What technologies do you use to alleviate your meeting load? Please let me know!
For the past two days I ran my Stakeholder Reputation workshop.
For the final exercise I used a concept called Collective Wisdom which is an exercise where the groups have to come up with their suggested guidelines and ground rules for working with stakeholders, reflecting from their own experience.
Here is a partial list that the delegates presented at the seminar:
Ground Rules & Guidelines for working with Stakeholders
1. Ongoing customer research is vital.
1. Respect their needs especially when it comes to payment terms.
2. Be credible & ethical.
1. Inform them timeously.
2. Treat them with mutual respect.
3. Consult & involve them.
4.Educate & Train.
Activists & NGO’s
1. Proactively inform them.
2. Consult them.
3. Separate emotions from facts.
1. Inform & communicate with them on a regular basis.
2. Return on investment.
1. Observe Protocol.
2. Proactively engage with them timeously.
3. Monitor Policy & legislative environment.
4. Register on both the Procurement & Database for Interested parties.
1. Profile them including the traditional leaders.
2. Inform & Consult.
1. Inform them and keep them in the loop.
2. Solicit their opinions.
1. Proactively inform them.
2. Research & Know your Media.
3. Be accessible 24/7.
4. Package & Present information in a user-friendly manner.
Here are the details of my next events:
17 – 18 June: Stakeholder Reputation : http://www.bizcommunity.com/Event/196/11/12108/pi-510.html
26 June: Recession-proof your Consulting Practice: http://www.bizcommunity.com/Event/196/11/11730/pi-510.html
One day a master was walking across the parade ground when he overheard two people arguing whether the wind was moving or pulling the flag. He walked up to them and said:”It does not matter what the wind is doing, the POINT is you are thinking!”
Are you ready to rethink your efforts? Both these workshops will MAKE YOU THINK!
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
How does a 100 year of company destroy its reputation, trust in it as well as its market capitalization?
Simple , really! It allows practices like price fixing and collusion to operate and flourish and become part of the way things are done in the company.
As a keen observer of organizational development (OD) and behavioural practices I am disturbed:
- Where were the OD experts in all of this? The outside consultants who should advise? Surely there must have been rumours, incidents and talk about these types of behaviour?
- Where were the Reputation Managers or was PR just another activity based exercise in the company?
- Where were the Compliance Officers in all of this?
- Where was the Internal Auditors and Risk Managers?
- Where were the internal employees who should be questioning unethical practices and conduct?
Surely there must be processes in any organization to determine smoldering risks. Smoldering risks are those risks that can result in unplanned visibility and reputation damage should it go public (Technically, a smoldering crisis is any serious business problem which is not generally known within or without the organisation, which may generate negative news coverage if or when it goes “public” and could result in fines, penalties or unbudgeted expenses). Surely there must be a process in any organization to act on those small insignificant issues that can potentially cause harm when they come into the open.
The Sunday Independent of today reports that Tiger Brands is continuing a company-wide review to root out anti-competitive behaviour, after a R53 million rand fine for collusive tendering was slapped on its medical supplies firm, Adcock Ingram, on Friday. And this, just after another fine because of price fixing in the bread industry.
Peter Matlare, the Chief Executive of Tiger Brands, promised journalists on Friday that ‘’We are intent on rebuilding our reputation through a culture of compliance and strong ethics, engagement with all of its stakeholders and the adoption of world class business practices’’.
Do I have a message for Mr Matlare!
Dear Mr Matlare, How are you going to do this?
Dear Mr Matlare, The means to do this starts with raising awareness and education and training.
The means to do this have existed for years. It just so happens that I have been addressing these issues the past 12 years, facilitating workshops in more than 8 countries. In the 12 years I have regularly sent notifications to companies like Tiger Brands and interestingly enough to Adcock in particular.
In 12 years only one delegate from Marketing attended one of my workshops. In fact I was told a few years ago by a then Adcock PR person to stop bothering them, they have got things under control. Sure, they did.
Oh, the fallacy of assumptions. As if a few people in a PR department can manage the reputation of a company.
There is clearly a misunderstanding by management teams in South Africa. Managing and protecting a company’s reputation is a multi-dimensional and holistic management function. It cannot be managed linearly by any one department.
In the case of Tiger Brands, their behaviour was the pivot to damage, and that behaviour was influenced by the thinking practices in the organization.
The Thinking practices within an organisation is defined as the mental activity of every member of the organisation….all the idea generation, learning & skill development, exchange of information, development of strategic directions, project planning, communication, market research, problem solving, process improvement and quantum leaps that make up the total intellectual activity of the organisation.
(Source: Transformation Thinking by Joyce Wycoff).
How come all of the above experts did not identify or do anything about these practices? Is it because of our tendencies to only identify tangible asset risk?
It surely is time for organizations to take a closer look at the intangible performance drivers in the business and how they interact with the tangible drivers.
What Mr Matlare is speaking about is called Radical transformation. Not transformation in the BEE sense, but real transformation. The thing is that transformation can occur in any organisation when every member of the organisation becomes an important, participating part of the whole….when every member is taught fundamental but powerful thinking skills and the dynamics of how to think together.
What is going to be necessary at Tiger Brands is a radical a change of direction on all levels within an organisation, a change of not only how they work, but how they think, interact, participate and perform.
Reputation makeover is not a short term process, but they can bounce back, provided they have the impetus to do it.
Dear Mr Matlare, here is a formula that you can apply to the Tiger Brands group.
Change == D+V+S+C
For change to happen a business has to:
- Be dissatisfied with its present state
- Have a clear Vision of where it wants to go
- Take the necessary steps to get there
- Create enough energy (or tension) to overpower the COST required (in terms of money, time and energy) to make the change happen
I hope that you all cherish your Reputation enough to make this change happen. Good Luck!
I am intrigued by how often I read that management express their commitment to Health & Safety Practices in an organization AFTER an accident had taken place.
I think it is time to take a look at why Health & Safety Practices in an organization becomes problematic.Years ago there was a book called Fishes rot from the Head – it had to do with governance practices.
However the title is apt and points to where it starts. Waterfalls flow top to bottom.
It does start at the top. Senior Management are normally exposed to the Occupational Health & Safety Act through a rudimentary overview session. Sometimes this session last only a few hours, because management cannot attend a longer work session since they are always so busy. Fair enough. But how come they can always find the time to pay attention to it after an accident had taken place? Now when it is too late!
Training Managers in Health & Safety is also affected by the traditional view that senior management do not need thorough training. I mean they are highly skilled, often MBA qualified graduates and after all Safety is just common sense.
Is it? What is so common about it?
Perhaps the problem also in the What, Why and When of training. Once-off training is like going to church, once only. After all if you get the message, why go again? No, you go over and over because Repetition is the mother of skill.
Golfers practice their swings over and over, they often go back to basics BUT for senior management it is not necessary after all their job is just to direct. Isn’t it?
In Defence Forces around the world they use a basic principle when training new soldiers. I would like to take just two aspects of this and apply it to the South African situation.
1. Proper Job Instruction – What methods of training are you using in your organization? Competency based training or just awareness sessions? How are you measuring transfer and application of learning? The traditional Sit by Nelly approach is fraught with dangers.
2. Proper Job Indoctrination – This is similar to what the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town call the Immersion principle. For instance you carry your rifle around with you, you sleep with it, go to eat with it for at least a few weeks before you are even given bullets to shoot with at the shooting range. They make sure that you are able to handle your rifle in all types of situations before letting you loose.
In many organizations, PROPER and THOROUGH induction is non- existent. All you get is a vague overview.
I recall that about 15 years ago Xerox released the findings of a study that showed that there can be a loss of up to 98% of learning if there is no follow up, such as refreshers, mentoring and coaching back on the job.
Perhaps I need to share a practical example with you. My job is to advise companies on how to build, sustain and protect their organization’s reputation. Some time ago I was off to a meeting at a client when I walked past a paint spraybooth. In the booth a young man was working with oil veneer paints spraypainting an object. Now these types of paint is dangerous and the young man is supposed to wear a certain category of respiratory mask to protect himself against hazardous chemical exposure, except his mask was sitting on his forehead.
Since I like to use humour to get my points across, I shouted at him saying: ”Hey man, put your mask over your mouth – a women does not wear her bra on her forehead!”. He laughed and shouted back:”It won’t help, the damn thing is blocked’!”
Now, I could not leave it, because it was important to ascertain whether he knew why he was supposed to wear a mask. He did. When I asked him why he had not reported it, he said that he did so on many occasions, but that apparently there were no money in the budget.
So here is a young man, taking his life into his own hands and where are the managers who so succinctly wrote in the annual report – We care for people?
So now I was concerned. So off to management I went.When I asked the line manager to see his PPE register, he went blank.What is that, he asked.
Ok, to cut a long story short – the young man in the spray booth last got a new mask +/- 2 years ago. So where was senior management? Why were they not reinforcing standards, taking action. After all, they are the ones walking past him every day!
AND this was a branch of a listed company, one of the JSE Social Responsible index companies. Sitting on a time bomb. Sitting on a Reputation Risk time bomb.
The company was clearly non-compliant with the Occupational Health & Safety act. It clearly was not consistent – its actions, behaviours and communication was not aligned. For me an outsider it was clear that their values was not being demonstrated.
This may sound like being naive, but on my first visit to any company I can get one hell of an impression of the company just by looking at the state of the bathroom facility. In the Bible it is stated that if God cannot trust you in the small things, how can he trust you in the big things.
It is quite interesting that if you go and do root cause analysis of accidents, that it is often the small things that cause major damage.
Perhaps it is time for organizations to review their public commitment to Health & Safety, to do introspection and to rectify what is wrong. And that process can be started by senior management being willing to submit themselves to retraining and ensuring that they are up to date with the latest thinking in the field.
After all, waterfalls DO FLOW TOP to bottom.
Years ago, ISM (IBM in South Africa) had an advert that said ”If your failure rate is one in a million , what do you tell that one customer?” The same applies to other companies. If your death rate is one in a”million what do you say to that person’s family and loved ones?
On Tuesday the 1st April I celebrated 12 years as an independent speaker, trainer and consultant on Corporate Reputation matters.
During the past 12 years I have worked on projects ranging from OD to Training. I have consulted and spoken at more than 60 conferences in 8 countries on how to build, sustain and protect reputation. I have facilitated programs on Reputation & Crisis Management & Communication & Stakeholder Management and many of my articles have been published. I have consulted and rendered advice on a variety of issues. My own newsletter’s subscriber base hovers at the 8500 member mark.
Most important , my family have been supporting me.
So again, many thanks to you…my clients….for listening to me, trusting me and using me.
The latest version of Powerlines, my strategic reputation newsletter is now ready for your reading pleasure. The 76th edition contains a number of articles that will be of real interest to you, if you believe that reputation is your organization’s largest asset and risk at any one time.
First of all I feature an article on Credit Reputation, then I provide some interesting thoughts on reception areas and front entrances of buildings, there is an article examining Stakeholder Management, finishing off with an input on how people and organizations react in a crisis.
There are also details of my latest round of popular public workshops. This may be of interest to you, if you are keen to add to your existing competencies, and finally there are some interesting links and stories that you may find useful.
If you would like to receive a copy, just send me an e-mail. If you are on Facebook or Twittering or even Instant Messenger, please send me your details, so that we can start to communicate in real-time, that is if you are interested.
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I was assisting a colleague in the Banking Industry yesterday with a Stakeholder Reputation strategy formulation and I thought that my readers could benefit from what I shared with him.
To reduce reputation risk throughout the organisation the message regarding reputation as an asset and risk will need to be addressed at three levels:
The company needs to develop a clear and convincing need for managing stakeholder reputation. The best way is to embody the company’s approach in a policy document and strategic plan that states clearly that the Board of Directors recognizes the tremendous value of intangibles and stakeholder relationships and undertake to manage it strategically.
This policy must be followed up with executive support that is demonstrated through the commitment of time, personnel, money. The policy needs to be rolled out using communication efforts that is planned, channeled, and acted upon. At the same time tracking and feedback systems should be developed that can include media scanning (external)and closer working together of the PR, Risk and Internal Auditors department in a vehicle such as a Reputation Committee*. Reputation needs to be included in performance management initiatives.
At Departmental level department heads should ensure that staff are informed, educated, train and supervised to foster and build the department and organization’s reputation amongst its stakeholders. Department Heads need to make Stakeholder Reputation a meeting agenda item which means that progress and obstacles and perceptions will be discussed and acted upon.
By department heads factoring in stakeholder reputation every time decisions are made, reputation will move from being a strategic concept to something more real. Department Heads can for instance focus on the concept of the internal customer service and through that focus improve perceptions of their own departments by external and internal stakeholders.
To foster reputation throughout the organisation will require a balance between affective, behavioural, and cognitive learning. This will necessitate a three-pronged approach: fostering attitudes, developing and practicing of skills, and promoting understanding of the concepts and models behind reputation and stakeholder focused thinking.
In short: you need staff to not just know about reputation but also to be able to act and think in a reputable manner. Employees should receive information, education, training and supervision in what personal and organisation reputation is, why it is so important and what they could do to contribute to it. By selling the personal benefits to employees, attitudes will be affected and will eventually manifest through increased attention and personal service. People will learn to weigh up their actions in the context of their own personal reputation; i.e. "If I do this, what will people say, and feel about me".
By using a multidisciplinary and multidimensional approach companies can go a long way to influence the value of its reputation and ultimately its share price.
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Remember the days when you read in the newspaper about the rave opening of a new restaurant. Desperate to go there, you try to get a table, only to be told that there is a six weeks waiting list. So you wait and finally the day arrives, only for you to be bitterly disappointed with the standards of customer and food service.
Why does it happen?
Well, most times it can be ascribed to the fact that the high initial standards were not maintained. I remember years ago of reading that the longest running theatre production in the world was Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. For more than 30 years it ran at London’s West End Theatre. It had rave reviews, new actors, new directors over the years, yet the high standards remained at all times.
It was therefore encouraging to read that Dimension Data was named SAB’s leading supplier for 2007. SAB-Miller is one of the leading Beer producers in the world. The article stated that Dimension Data South Africa has been awarded SAB’s Supplier of the Year Award in the non-production spend category for CONSISTENT HIGH STANDARDS OF DELIVERY AND SERVICE in the provision of outsourced services to the company. The award is made by SAB in recognition of those companies which consistently exceed and outperform their service level agreements.
This is commendable and should be a lesson to all of us. So often standards are negotiated by principals and the physical actions executed by others. This tells me that this is a company that has realized what their reputation is built on.
It also has to do with a Profit attitude. Many times the word profit has been seen to have negative connotations. Yet, it actually means getting more out of a situation than you put into it, and in order to make a profit you have to invest something first, be it your time, your skill or your capital (money) etc.
Investing something before you get something is a basic business and natural principle, i.e. to get interest you have to invest some capital and that interest you get in return for making the investment is called a return. Businessmen call it ROI or Return on Investment. Studying is another example – If you want your certificate, you must put in time and effort.
To become a success in business, you have to develop a Profit Attitude. Many people have problems with the word "Profit" – thinking it means all sorts of immoral things or attitudes. The fact is profit can be linked to a person’s pulse rate. If your pulse rate is too fast, the doctor can determine that either you are too unfit or unhealthy. Profit is the barometer of a Business. Through it you can measure its success. At the same time whilst making a profit you have to watch your reputation. After all you want stakeholders to say good things about you.
I like what David Freemantle wrote in his book "The Profit boss" many years ago.
"The eyes of a Profit boss focus only on profit".
It is an obsession with him; he sees profit in every business situation. He seeks a profitable opportunity every second of the working day:
A profit boss sees no profit in breaking the law. Nor bending it!
The profit boss sees no profit in treating his people badly. Nor suppliers. (Now that is stakeholder thinking)
The profit boss sees no profit in neglecting his customers.
The profit boss sees profit in every business contact he makes.
The profit boss sees profit at 8.00 in the morning when he drives into the Car park and at 6.00 in the evening when he leaves for home.
When you see a Profit boss, you see profit. To be able to increase your Company’s turnover and profits you will have to cultivate the same attitude. Cultivating HIGH STANDARDS OF CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CONSTANT DELIVERY is based on the same attitude.
Congratulations to Dimension Data for reminding us of this.
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STAKEHOLDER REPUTATION (7th & 8th November 2007)
This 2 -day course shows business leaders and managers how to establish and maintain positive, mutually beneficial stakeholder relations. Based on a synthesis of ideas from community relations, marketing, strategic communication, reputation and stakeholder management, organizational change, sustainability and CSI thinking, it offers an integrated framework, as well as practical tools for developing new kinds of collaborative relationships and will cover areas such as stakeholder identification & profiling, stakeholder communication, stakeholder engagement and relationship building strategies and tools.
REPUTATION RISK MANAGEMENT MASTERCLASS (30th & 31st October 2007)
This practical two day course provides delegates with an in depth working knowledge of why reputation is an asset and how risk manifests itself to destroy relationships, market share and trust and credibility. (The financial industry is a good current day example). The course demonstrates how a business can avoid the consequences of damaging its good name and reputation by adopting a range of internal and external strategies designed to identify potential vulnerabilities at the smouldering assessment stage and by improving reputation management procedures such as Crisis Management & Crisis Communication.
MARKET YOUR FINANCIAL CONSULTING PRACTICE (25 October 2007)
This one –day workshop is focused on financial advisers & planners and will enable them to create a noteworthy reputation in an aggressive and very competitive marketplace. A Reputation that will serve as a magnet to attract clients!
MARKETING PROFESSIONAL SERVICES – MARKET YOUR CONSULTING PRACTICE (5th December)
This one day training course is open to all professional service providers whether they are medical practitioners, management consultants or involved in the provision of specialist advice. It (now in its 7th year) enables prospective and existing consultants and professional service providers to develop strategies to market themselves and build their reputations in a competitive knowledge economy.
I build internal capacity through training, presentations and coaching. Contact me should you have a need. If I cannot help you, I will act as a signpost to someone who can.
Other courses that are available for internal use include Crisis Communication & Management Response, Strategic Communication as well as Media Reputation – How to build your reputation with the Media (Previously called Media Survival Skills).
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As a consultant I have always known that my only stock in trade is my reputation (and intellectual capital).
I have also known that time is my most precious commodity and that (after being in private practice for more than eleven years) that managing and marketing a consulting practice is a very time intensive exercise. It has thus always been my quest for tools and techniques that would enable me to do what I do – faster and more elegantly.
Ten months ago I read a brilliant book called Getting Things Done by David Allen. This book really got me thinking about how my own levels of efficiency were impacting on my own reputation.
However thinking is never enough. Since I liked some of Dr Morita Masetake’s Constructive Living theories this book added a fine dimension to my understanding of Morita’s work. The essence of Morita’s method is often summarized in three rules: Accept all our feelings, know your purpose(s), and do what needs to be done. When once asked what shy people should do, Morita replied, "Sweat." The match between some of his work and the Getting Things done philosophy worked for me. I then took it further and invested in the GTD software. Personally I rate this purchase as probably the MOST important business tool purchase that I have ever made.
Since I implemented his system I have never felt so much in control and this system has allowed me to become so organised that I can now spend a lot of time with my family and on my own self-development.
If you have not yet explored it, I urge you to visit the following sites to bring you up to speed:
The thing is you do not have to buy the software but once you understand the system, it is absolutely brilliant.
Here is a cheat sheet: http://lifedev.net/2007/02/gtd-cheatsheet-the-workflow/
See details for the Getting Things Done Outlook Add-In : http://www.davidco.com/store/other.php – If you use Outlook, this Add-In designed by NetCentrics in collaboration with Allen can turbo-charge your GTD implementation. Taking advantage of powerful Outlook features, it customizes your personal application with the right buttons and views to put the Getting Things Done methods at your fingertips.
But GTD is also a philosophy and not just a system. If you start to apply it to all parts of your life it will become more meaningful, be it fitness, business or health.
Your business will FEEL it! Your Reputation will be enhanced!
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