Everyone wants to do “strategy.” Everyone wants their stuff to be “strategic.” Strategic Plan Strategic Facilities Expansion Strategic HR Sourcing Strategic Restroom Cleaning Schedule The word “strategy” is being abused so badly it needs counseling. Wikipedia says “A strategy is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, most often ‘winning.’” Everyone wants to win. And sometimes winning means increasing financial performance by 10%. The problem is many organizations use the end metric to define their strategy. To be clear – financial or numerical results FOLLOW from strategy (they don’t drive it). Strategy and the defined tactics and initiatives for executing it result in financial performance (hence the more oft used term “financial RESULTS”). Why am I harping on this point? Simple. Define your strategy as “budget +10%” (or some other such ROMA-based number) and your team will have no idea what they’re supposed to do to achieve it. Instead, provide them a goal and vision then clearly lay out the competitive environment, how you’ll compete, what initiatives you’ll pursue, then execute. Doing this means your odds of hitting your magical budget +10% goal go up dramatically.
I forget the comedian but I remember the skit. He asks why it is that when we speak to a foreigner who doesn’t speak English, we do stupid stuff like speak more slowly and LOUDER. “Excuse me. Where’s the nearest gas station.” “Yo no hablo ingles senor.” “I SAAIID WHEERRRE IS THE NEARREST GAAAS STAAATION?” You know what the response will be. It’s funny. Thing is, we do it all day long. We speak to people in languages that are foreign to them. We talk to them about what we care about – not what they care about. We use terms and speak of goals that are incomprehensible at worst and uninspiring at best. There’s only one solution – learn to speak their language. As a consultant, I was fortunate enough to serve a non-profit hospital system. They were affiliated with the church. Their hospitals were having significant financial troubles. Of course, we came along and found all this money just lying on the floor waiting for someone to pick it up (at least that’s most of the world’s view of consultants – we actually busted our butts crawling through their general ledger looking for places to remove costs without hurting quality of care. Immediately after that, we took the CEO’s watch, took it apart, reassembled it, gave it back to him and told him what time it was). We found money. A lot. We went into the board meeting and pitched a plan for closing one of the underutilized facilities and saving a bunch of fixed costs. Millions of dollars. It was a no brainer. We got tossed. Excused. Asked to leave the room immediately.
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-01-14 21:44:002018-06-20 15:41:55Communicate Clearly - In Their Language
That’s right. You heard me. Want to build your team? Get rid of the people who are on it. Of course I mean to do so in a good way. Become what I call a “net exporter of talent.” What exactly does that mean? You need to develop your people to the point that they’re ready for new challenges. Build their skills. Make them more valuable to the organization. Grow them and their responsibilities. And once you can stand back and admire the fruits of your labor, send them somewhere else to work. Actually, if you’ve done a good enough job developing them, others will be trying to poach them from your team. Madness you say? Not so fast my friend. The benefits of becoming a net exporter of talent are many. Before we get into them, let me elaborate on how to become said exporter. First, recognize almost everyone on your team wants to grow (just check out the survey below that highlights people want growth opportunities). Your obligation as a leader is to provide those opportunities and help people succeed in them (check out “But he’s never done that job.” “I know.”). Once you’ve expanded the skills and scope of your team members, you’re ready to begin. Start by talking about how great your people are. Let other managers know you’ve got a fantastic A-player on your team. Give your team members opportunities to shine (see “He knows more than I do”). You’re advertising for them. You’re creating new job opportunities for your people. Once others see how great your people are, the ball is in motion. Simply sit back and wait. The next part is interesting.
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-01-10 15:23:002018-12-21 13:44:26Leading Teams: Build Your Team! Get Rid of Them!
As a hiring manager, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing more resumes than I’d ever care to count. I’ve also hired my fair share of people over the years. One thing I’ve noticed during that time is there is no lack of bad resumes out there. “Okay… so why should I listen to you Mike versus any of the billions of online resume resources out there?” One simple answer – ask yourself how many people like you have those people writing the articles interviewed and hired? Sure, they’re dispensing incredibly deep and meaningful resume advice (like “make sure they’re ar know mispelings in yor resuma.” Thanks Captain Insightful!) but how many analysts, managers and junior executives have they actually interviewed or hired over the years? That’s what I thought. I’ve interviewed many. I’ve hired fewer. Your call on who you want to listen to. A resume is nothing more than a knock at the door. You will never be hired on your resume alone. All it does is gets a recruiter’s interest and influences them to invite you for a phone call or a cup of coffee (at best). Boo Boo #1 – Being too loquacious Given the need to generate interest, write your resume as a summary that covers your accomplishments but only enough to generate interest. It’s a teaser. To be blunt – if it’s more than two pages, I stop reading. Seriously. I don’t care what’s on page three and beyond. Why? If you have trouble communicating succinctly on such a critical paper, I can only imagine what your memos or presentations will be like – loooooong and booooooring. Two pages. No mas. I’m not the only one who believes this approach on brevity.
It’s all well and good to pontificate about “the customer comes first” or “deliver outstanding service” but oftentimes it’s hard for your team to wrap their heads around what that really means. You can say these things until your jaw muscles are sore and post all the “customer service rules” you want on their cubicle walls but only a small percentage of the teachings will stick. I come from the school of learning by doing. When you see something first-hand or participate in the activity, retention of such information is exponentially higher. Training your people this way provides them a situational context to refer back to. They can articulate and remember the concepts and precepts you’re teaching much better than if you talked their ears off in a classroom. If you want them to retain the information, let them live the lessons. It’s sort of like telling a kid the stove is hot. They kind of understand the concept “hot” but don’t have context around that. Let them touch it and they’ll never forget the definition of “hot” let alone the event. I was helping an organization move from mediocre service levels to trying to provide outstanding, individualized service to over 400,000 customers. We’d bring our managers in for training and talk AT them all day. Some of the information stuck. A lot bounced off and fell on the floor. I wanted them to truly understand what “customer-focused” means. I had a choice – I could either talk AT them first thing in the morning in a classroom or I could show them and have them live it. I obviously chose the latter.
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-01-06 08:01:002018-06-21 13:35:19Hands-On Customer Service Training
“Thank you for calling XXXXXXX customer service. How may I provide you with excellent customer service today?” I cringe when I hear those words. Especially before I’ve had my second cup of coffee (that’s the rule – no one is allowed to talk to me until I’ve finished that second cup. It’s ugly if that rule gets broken). So here’s the situation: I opened a new credit card account because the card had some wonderful product features. As soon as I received the card, I went online to the card issuer’s website and set up for automatic payments so I wouldn’t ever be late and trigger penalties and repricing of the account to an exorbitant rate. Their website confirmed I was set up for autopay with due dates of the 30th of each month. So I look at my account today to find a $39.00 late fee. Ouch. I figure it’s not possible given I signed up for autopay, right? I promptly made a payment online (minimum payment plus the late fee) then I called customer service and was greeted with the above (the issuer’s name has been hidden to protect the less-than-innocent). I explained the situation. The customer disservice rep said “I’m sorry sir. When you set up online payments, it takes two billing cycles for that to take effect. Your account has been repriced to 24.97% (double ouch).” “Ummmm yeah. Your site says nothing about a delay of two billing cycles before payment posts. I’d like the fee waived and the original interest rate reinstated.” I said this in my nicest, semi-frustrated customer voice. “I can’t do that sir until you make your payment.”
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-01-03 06:19:002018-06-21 13:43:23Delivering Customer Service vs. Customer Disservice
I’ve led and been led in many situations. The military as a tank platoon leader (one of the funnest jobs you can have as a 22 year old man – four tanks, fifteen soldiers and a job description that reads “blow stuff up and run stuff over.”); as a director of a large call center organization; as a consultant team leader; as an executive in premier organizations. I’ve also been fortunate enough to learn from and work with many leaders and followers in all those organizations (both good ones and bad ones). Sure there are plenty of leadership books out there (available at fine book stores everywhere!). The thing is, I haven’t come across any that are down to earth and practical in the advice they give. To that end, I see a problem and therefore I own it (one of the principles on the list). I’d like to offer the following basic principles as a perspective on some of the things it takes to be a genuine leader. Knowing and leading yourself: You see it, you own it “He’s under the tank, sir” “I’m going home. You’re doing my job so you don’t need me and should take the cost savings.” “He knows more than I do” The Human Crapshield Knowing and leading your people: His name is Angel He drinks 7Up “But he’s never done that job.” “I know.” They know what I know Kick up, kiss down The thank you note Yes. Many of the above points are cryptic. Some are self evident. I’ll expound upon each of these principles in separate posts. – Learn more about how to create your own set of leadership principles in my book One Piece of Paper. Buy your copy here. – Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC
(This is Part 3 of Leadership Principles) I like keeping my “to do” list on a big whiteboard so I can have all the work I haven’t done staring me in the face. Constantly. Shaming me into doing more. I’m odd that way. My boss walked in one day and stood facing me (with his back to my whiteboard). He started rattling off (endlessly) all the things I should be thinking about. All the projects I should be doing. All the analyses I should be conducting. After he got to about the twentieth item I should be thinking about or doing, I calmly picked up my briefcase, put it on my desk, put my portfolio in it, closed it and shut off the light on my desk. “What are you doing?” “I’m going home. You’re doing my job so you don’t need me and should take the cost savings.” High risk? Yes. A possible career-limiting move? Definitely. A pointed way to define boundaries, responsibilities and preferred management styles? Absolutely. We all take some measure of satisfaction from being competent at our jobs. None of us enjoy being micromanaged. One good way to prevent that from happening is to clearly articulate and agree upon responsibilities and boundaries with your manager. Second, understand your manager’s “update frequency” (how often they want to know what’s going on in your world and what level of detail they want on those topics). Establishing boundaries and adhering to a regular update frequency will help your manager be comfortable with your competence (i.e., they’ll stay out of your hair and have less of a tendency to micromanage). In some companies, they call this “managing up.”
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2007-12-30 18:37:002011-09-14 06:40:27"I'm going home. You're doing my job." - Leading your boss