Monday, 29 April 2013

Behaviour and Results

We were speaking recently at a sales conference in Kiev on the subject of sales management, and one of the important decisions that a sales manager has to make is whether to direct behaviour or results.

If you direct behaviour then you have to be sure that your directions are perfect and that the world doesn't change in between you deciding what your sales people should do and them actually doing it.

Directing behaviour is the sign of a controlling sales manager who essentially says, "I'm perfect and I know how to do your job so just do what I tell you and it will work".

The biggest problem is that when your directions don't work - and they definitely won't - your sales people will hold you accountable. By trying to take control, you actually lose control.

In Genius at Work, this approach creates Rituals and Incantations; magic spells which must surely produce results. Except they don't work.

The alternative is that you direct results. You dictate what the end result needs to be, such as the sales target, and you leave the sales person to decide how they should achieve it.

However, this approach has its problems too.

When you don't specify any conditions for hitting target, your sales people may employ questionable methods in getting there.

Therefore, the ideal option is to specify the end result and set rules for how to get there. Once you've done that, you need to regularly measure activity and refine your rules as you go along. It's no use waiting until it's too late and then saying, "I didn't want you to do it that way so I won't pay your bonus". You have to bite the bullet at every measurement stage, accept responsibility for the targets you've set and then refine them for next time. The shorter you make those measurement periods, the more quickly you can make changes. However, short measurement periods doesn't mean weekly targets and bonuses, it just means that you review the results that the sales people are achieving and adjust activity as necessary to get the right result in the right way.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

The Unsticker is Back!

My unique and, frankly, amazing problem solver, The Unsticker is coming back!

An Android and possibly iPhone app is being developed as I write this, and it will be available very very soon through the Google Play Store (and obviously iTunes if you are an Apple fan and if we decide it's worth the extra trouble).

The Unsticker is a problem solving tool. Not only that, users regularly report that after only 4 or 5 questions, they can't even remember what their problem had been, and they certainly feel very differently about it.

You'll be able to use The Unsticker with yourself to solve everyday problems and dilemmas, you'll be able to use it with your team for creative problem solving sessions, and if you're a coach, you'll be able to use it with your clients to literally unstick them.

We'll also be sending the app to some carefully selected reviewers so if you have an Android phone and you would like to be considered, get in touch.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Genius at Work joins BI Worldwide for Learning at Work Day 2013

This year's Learning at Work Day is on May 23rd and Revelation Consulting Ltd will be supporting the Campaign for Learning's annual celebration of workplace learning by spending the day with BI Worldwide, helping a number of their managers to understand how to use the modelling toolkit from Peter Freeth's book Genius at Work.

Karen Minto, BI Worlwide's Head of HR & Development, said, "I felt the offer was very topical for us as we are in the midst of some real growth in the business and are on course for a stretching set of targets and goals in 2017. Going hand in hand with this, the managers have been so busy managing the work and operational perspectives, the people side may have been overlooked, or not running as efficiently as could be. This is confirmed in some of our Best Companies results we are just starting to review."

Peter Freeth of Revelation says, "All too often, companies look externally for knowledge and skills, bringing in consultants and trainers to provide easy answers. However, the most valuable knowledge of all is already within your business, and it's evolving every day as staff interact with customers, solve problems and make business processes more efficient. Getting access to this tacit knowledge means that the whole business can benefit from this ongoing process of learning that always takes place within any organisation, and the skills to do so can easily be learned so that staff don't just know 'what' to do, they also know 'how' to do it successfully."

Revelation's research over the past twelve years shows that the performance of an individual is the result of a unique combination of their attitude, their practical skills and the culture within which they're operating, so part of the Genius at Work modelling process also involves mapping the organisation's culture so that it enables high performance rather than getting in the way.

"One thing that we have consistently found about high performers is that their results are achieved in a counter-intuitive way. They rarely set out to achieve the result that they are recognised for, and so it's understanding these hidden thought processes that is at the heart of the Genius at Work approach.", adds Peter. "When organisations work so hard to develop intellectual property and business processes, it's absolutely vital to protect and develop that knowledge so that it continues to serve as a valuable asset, supporting current and future staff and helping the business to deliver real value to its customers".

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Culture Transplant?

"There have been a lot of stories written over the last few days analyzing the departure of former Apple Inc. executive Ron Johnson from the top post at J.C. Penney Co... The New York Times cast Johnson’s stint as a clash between fast Silicon Valley ways and the stodgy culture of a 111-year-old retailer."

In researching high performers in different industries for the past 12 years, we have always found that high performance is not solely down to the person, it comes from a combination of a person within a culture. Put a person in Apple and they get results because their attitudes and behaviours are aligned with the culture. Put them in JC Penney and you see the opposite; the culture becomes a barrier.

I agree with someone who commented on the above story; that the problem is related to attribution error. When people perform badly, it was the culture's fault. When they perform well, it was all down to their personal excellence and, surely, they can apply that anywhere, right?