Friday, September 30, 2011

Recognise, Reward and Celebrate Great Service

All organisations need to be able to recognise how they are performing with regard to their Service Strategy.

They also need to have the capacity to recognise and reward their staff for their great service.

Celebrating milestones and achievements is a critical aspect of a service culture and sends positive messages to staff about the value that great service holds within the company.

Establishing programs that recognise and reward staff for great service are essential tools for re-enforcing what really matters in your organisation.

I have been fortunate enough to both lead and be part of teams who have been nationally recognised for their achievements in providing great service. To watch those team members shout with joy when their organisation's name was called out has been a delight. Think about it - these people were shouting for joy as if they were at a football match and their team had just scored a goal. Well their work team had just scored a goal - a goal in providing great service!

The energy that the recognition created was tangible - you literally could 'feel it' and the benefit for staff engagement and continuing on the continuous improvement journey was well worth the effort to enter the awards competitions.

How do you recognise, reward and celebrate great service?

Whether you are big or small, you cannot give good customer service if your employees don’t feel good about coming to work. (Martin Oliver)

Please feel free to use this article as a catalyst for Conversations That Matter® inside your organisation.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

If you treat me like a number I'll behave like a human!

Why would any company let a member and long term customer worth $1,000s of dollars to them every year try out the opposition for $70?

Yet that is exactly what the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) did with me recently. I have a full range of personal and company insurances held with the RACV. Upon contacting them to set up a new policy for a company asset I was informed that only my company business mattered in terms of this new policy.

Technically the RACV consultant was correct even though she informed me that she could see all of my information, both personal and business on her screen. When it was clear that 'nothing can be done' I reluctantly searched for contact numbers from the RACV's competitors.

When I then contacted a competitor I discovered that not only could they beat the price that I had been quoted by the RACV but they were able to beat it by over 25%!

The reason that I was even talking to a competitor was because the RACV was not able see me as a human being. Rather I was two membership numbers. One for me as a private person and the other for me as a company. Despite their admittance that they understood the individual 'me' and the 'company me' are one in the same they refused to provide me with the same level of 'discount' that I normally receive as an individual.

The actual dollar figure I am talking about in this example is $70. If the 'normal' discount that I receive was applied to this new policy, my new policy would have been $70 cheaper than I was quoted. I know that it isn't much, but it is the principle of the matter that counts. In one experience I very quickly went from being a human with a long term relationship dating back to 1986 to two sets of numbers. When I explained that it seemed crazy to me that the RACV was happy for me to speak with their competitors for a matter of $70 which could potentially lead to the defection of policies worth $1,000s of dollars over the next 12 months, the consultant, while sympathetic told me that there was nothing she could do.

Upon going to their competition, in this case AAMI I was provided with a quote that was more than 25% better than the price quoted by the RACV. 25%! Can you believe the difference? I couldn't. So I accepted it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Webinar Recording - Leadership Insights Series Interview With Michael Lewis

The Leadership Insights Series is a webinar based program that provides access the successful developing and senior leaders and their stories about their journeys.

In particular the Leadership Insights Series highlights the development activities beyond the classroom that successful leaders did to create their success.

The series also highlights the current views of leaders regarding employability and transferable skills - the sorts of skills they look for when recruiting people to join their teams.

This is a webinar recording of Gary Ryan interviewing Michael Lewis, Director of accounting firm Proctor Major.

Michael shares lessons from his journey particularly as they relate to his development throughout his formative years. Michael also share his thoughts on the qualities and attributes that he seeks in prospective employees.

If you know people who you believe would be great candidates for interviewing as part of the Leaderships Insights Series please contact Gary at .

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Building High Performance Business Relationships Interview With Tony Lendrum Webinar Recording

As part of the Leadership Insights Series for the OTM Academy Gary Ryan interviews Tony Lendrum Founder of 0 to 10 Relationship Management® and author of three books including the recently released "Building High Performance Business Relationships".

In this interview you will learn about the StoryBoard approach to Relationship Management and the 6 Principles and 5 Themes that underpin successful relationships.

Look for the special offer that Tony provides at the end of the webinar - it is terrific value!

Sam Stosur Achieves Success Through Lessons From Surfing

Congratulations to Sam Stosur who on Monday morning (Australian time) won the US Open.

Below is a copy of an article that I published on April 3rd 2009. While almost 2 and a half years ago Stosur reveals the key lessons she learned from Layne Beachley, a seven time World Champion surfer.

Given Stosur's US Open success the article is re-published in full to provide some insight on her journey.

My experience with listening to talkback radio is such that I rarely choose to listen to it. However I was flicking through the radio channels while driving to on my way to a meeting recently when I tuned in the start of an interview with Layne Beachley, retired 7 time World Surfing Champion from Australia. Lane is currently having a positive influence with another current Australian female athlete, Samantha Stosur. Samantha has recently entered the Top 30 list of the world's best female tennis players and has had a string of recent victories against higher ranked players. In a recent interview Samantha named Layne Beachley as the person who has helped her most to enable her to make the most of her ability.

Which takes me back to the interview with Layne Beachley. Lane said that all she had been doing with Samantha was sharing some of the most significant lessons that she had learned throughout her highly successful surfing career. As I was listening to Layne speak, her words seemed so familiar to me. We have be teaching and practising a version of what she was saying for some time. However I would like to share Layne's version as it is sometimes useful to explain a similar concept from someone-else’s perspective.

Layne mentioned that up until the age of 26 she had not won a world championship. When in competition, Layne recognised that she had natural surfing ability, she was a good surfer. But what she wasn't was a natural winner. When she had to compete against the top surfers in the world, Layne would 'self-talk' herself down. She would compare herself against these world Top 10 athletes and think to herself, "Gee, isn't she good. She is much better than me. I'm not as good as her." Henry Ford once said, 'If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right either way!"

Layne had been talking herself into defeat even before she caught her first wave in competition. To compensate for her negative self-talk, Lane would then, as she describes it, 'surf the wave' before it came. This meant that when the wave actually did come along to surf, while she was physically riding it, her mind was focussed on the outcome rather than staying 'in the moment'. The result: she would lose.

Losing did not fit with Layne's personal vision of being a World Champion. One day she recognised that she was her own worst enemy and the only thing that was stopping her from being the best she could be was herself. So decided to do to two things.

1) Layne decided that she would teach herself to speak positively to herself. She knew that she trained hard and she that she did the work required to be a World Champion, so she had to believe that she really could be a World Champion. So Layne changed the focus of her self-talk to become positive,. Rather than saying things like, "Gee I stuffed up that wave", Layne would say to herself something like, "When I'm focussed my skills enable me to surf to the best of my ability. I've done the training!"

2) Layne also recognised that she had to train herself to become excellent at executing her skills 'in the moment'. So, rather than surfing a wave before it came along, or being mentally 'stuck' on a wave that she had already surfed, Layne decided to train herself to be able to focus on her processes and what needed to be done 'in the moment'. Through training in this way (this is an important point - Layne didn't just use training to perfect her surfing skills, she used training to 'perfect her mental approach'). In this way, negative self-talk at training became unacceptable. Being distracted by the wave that was yet to come or the wave that had just been surfed while she was training was also not acceptable - she could do that when she was out of the water and reviewing her session. Instead, she trained herself to execute her processes is the most focussed way possible; by 'staying in the moment' and surfing each wave (which, by the way, is always unique!) the best way that that particular wave was demanding to be surfed. And she did this at training.

Samantha Stosur reportedly said that her capacity to play each ball for what it was, rather than worrying about the outcome for each shot, was the skill that she was developing and was the key skill that was making the biggest positive difference to her results. But, like any skill, this had to be trained.

Clearly the majority of us are not elite athletes, certainly not World Champions. But we can be the best that we can be at whatever it is that we want to be good at. I know that in my work it is critical that I 'stay in the moment' for my facilitating, in meetings with clients, colleagues and peers, and most importantly when I am with my family. I have my structures in place in terms of my plans etc. but it is still important that I execute those plans and listen to what is being said and don't get 'ahead of myself'. When I do (which I sometimes do) I can miss an opportunity that was calling out for my attention.

We advocate that it is critical to have goals and to have plans (processes) that you need to execute to enable your goals to be realised. It is important that you believe that you can achieve the goals that you set for yourself. I had to believe that I actually could complete the first marathon that I ran. I had to believe that I could facilitate the first workshop that I facilitated on my own. I had to believe that the service areas that we operated could become National Award winning teams. I had to believe that if we provided good people with the right support they could take the organisation we were in to become nationally recognised for its service excellence. So goals and self-belief are critical. But, when you are executing your plans, and you are in the process of 'doing them', 'staying in the moment' and getting the best out of that moment while you are executing your plans is the level of focus that can bring everything that you are working towards into reality.

The recent Forum topic  within the OTM Academy High Performing Teams - The Oxfam Trailwalker 100kms Event highlights the power of focus, of having goals and plans, but of also 'staying in the moment' while your executing your plans so that you can make the right decisions at the right time for the right reasons. When these things are done, more often than not, the result looks after itself.

As a final note, Layne Beachley mentioned that when she started to perfect her focus she failed many, many times. She failed at training, and she failed in competition. But she never lost the faith that, through practice and continuous learning, she could improve her focus and achieve her dream. Over time, as her 'focus' skill developed, Layne's results started to look after themselves and the rest, as they say, is history. Surfers themselves have commented upon Layne Beachley's capacity to handle pressure. It is now clear why she is able to handle pressure. She had trained herself to focus.

I'm interested in hearing from you about your experiences regarding self talk, goals, focus and 'staying in the moment' and how you might see such a skill being applied throughout your career?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Memories of 911 - a personal connection

Nine eleven.

Those two words are powerful. They evoke deep emotions of awe, fear, anger, devastation, astonishment, concern and many more of which I am yet to find the words to describe.

I was awoken by a ringing phone which is always a little nerve rattling as night-time calls have often been accompanied by bad news. As the phone was closest to my wife Michelle she picked up the receiver. It was my youngest brother Wayne.

"Turn on your TV. America is under attack." is all he said.

We rushed into our living room and turned on the TV to see the North Tower on fire, smoke billowing from the 93rd floor and above.

It was an incredible site.

Michelle and I were watching trying to make sense of my brother's statement.
And then we saw it. Live. The second plane flew into the South Tower. I literally jumped out of my chair and stood up.

"Oh my God!" Michelle and I uttered.
"Where's Denis?"

"About 300 miles away in Washington DC".

You see my twin brother Denis was a manager in the security team at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC. On 911 Denis was in charge of security and the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard was on an official visit to the US.

After seeing the second plane fly into the South Tower Michelle and I were convinced that the US was indeed under attack. And we assumed Washington would therefore be on the list of whoever the attackers were. The Australian Embassy is less than a mile from the White House. So I was genuinely concerned for my brother.

We were also genuinely concerned about our world. As our eight and a half month old baby slept, we wondered, "Is this this the start of World War III?".

Then the news flash occurred that confirmed our fears. A plane had flown into the the Pentagon.
Surely the White House will be targeted we thought. Denis isn't far from there.

This was not just some news event on TV. It was personal. It was 'Realer than real'.
When was this going to end?

As futile as I expected it to be I tried calling Denis. I didn't get through.

Michelle and I sat and watched as the TV coverage captured every moment, including what was later to be seen as vision too gruesome to be shown again. To my knowledge, it hasn't.

It was the sight of people jumping to their deaths from above the impact zone. The number of 'jumpers' was more than one's mind and soul could bare. Yet we kept watching, desperate for news of what was happening in Washington.

Michelle and I continued to wonder how bad it was up above the impact zones that the better option was to jump. This question and the images of what we saw still haunts me.

The TV coverage flipped between New York and Washington DC. What was going to happen next?
Then the South Tower collapsed before our eyes. To see such a thing happen on live TV was horrific. It was clear that we had just witnessed thousands of people losing their lives in a matter of seconds.

We wondered about the motivation of people to do such a thing as to deliberately fly a jet airliner into a building. The evil of such an act was impossible to comprehend, and still is today.

The whole night we watched and watched. Terrified of what might be unfolding in the US. I desperately kept calling Denis.

When morning broke we received a phone call from my mother. Denis had called her. He was okay. He'd been assisting the US Secret Service who had taken over the Australian Embassy to look after Prime Minister Howard and his entourage. Our relief that he was okay was enhanced by our knowledge that four planes were involved in the attack, and all had been accounted for including the plane that had crashed in Pennsylvania.

Wow. My twin brother was directly involved in protecting Australia's Prime Minister. Who would have thought that a plumber from Clayton in Melbourne's south eastern suburbs could have been directly involved in such a thing. But he was.

As we later discovered when I was able to speak directly with Denis, the gap between the media reports and what really happened was immense. The media here in Australia had reported that Prime Minster Howard had been taken to a 'bunker' in the basement of the Australian embassy.
No such 'bunker' existed.

Instead Prime Minister Howard was seated on a plastic chair in the 'Maintenance Man's Cage' in the basement carpark of the Australian Embassy. Times were indeed different!

How could we be on the other side of the world yet experience a horror as if we were there? Although it was 2001 modern communication systems meant that we could in fact 'experience' and world event as it was unfolding. I'm sure psychologists would have some idea of whether or not it is a good or bad thing that we have the technology to allow us to experience such events. I still don't know myself.

In closing I have no words of wisdom to offer regarding my experience of 911. Something tells me that it would be disrespectful to do so. Today I accept that I don't understand why such horrific events happened and why, more specifically 911 happened. I just know that it did and I hope and pray that Iand the broader 'we' never experience such personalised horror in our lives again.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Which Business Relationships If Improved Would Enhance Your Performance?

0 to 10 Relationship Management®

If you are involved in any form of business relationships, whether internal or external to your organisation, the quality and performance of relationships - good, bad or indifferent - are critically linked to business success.

Better business relationships will have a positive impact on an organisation on an organisation's financial success, customer and stakeholder satisfaction, sustainable competitive advantage, best practice, innovation and attitude. So how do your relationships rate?

Free Webinar Interview

Join Gary Ryan in this interactive webinar as he interviews Tony Lendrum, creator of the 0 to 10 Relationship Management program and author of his new book Building High Performance Business Relationships .

Tony has over 30 years experience and has previously published The Strategic Partnering Handbook (four editions) and The Strategic Partnering Pocketbook.

You will learn about the 0 to 10 RM Storyboard approach to business relationships - a framework that includes three parts, five themes and six principles.

When: Wednesday 14th September
Time: 11am - 11:40am (AEST GMT+10)


Monday, September 5, 2011

Awkward Workplace Conversations

Thank you to those of you who contacted me because you had seen my contribution to James Adonis' article on awkward conversations in the workplace (which you can read here.).

It is my strong view that many, if not most awkward conversations in the workplace are made significantly easier if agreed behaviours have been created (and kept alive) throughout a team's journey. It really does make discussing inappropriate behaviour so much easier because you have your agreed behaviours to which you can refer.

An important point to note is that often we have to experience our agreed behaviours before everyone really does establish a shared meaning for them. As an example some teams that I have worked with have included 'having fun' as one of their behaviours. Clearly this can be open to a lot of interpretation. What is fun for some, may not be for others!

This means that you have to experience your agreed behaviours and every once in a while, say once a month, discuss explicit examples of your agreed behaviours in action, including behaviours that you aren't sure if they fit the intention of your behaviours. These 'Conversations That Matter®' don't have to be long. They can be around 10 minutes which is a small amount of time given the benefits to a team of being on the same page from a behavioural perspective.

Please give the concept a go and share your examples and challenges with our community.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mastering 'Effortlessness'

My good friend and colleague Jock MacNeish has recently written a short article about effortlessness. He describes the scene of an old solo sailor manoeuvring his way out of a Flemish seaport.

Jock describes the important role that practice and experience have in enabling people to work out the best way to do what they are doing. I'd also add an openness to learning because without that you won't keep looking for better and more effortless ways to do what you are doing.

You can read all of Jock's article here.

What would you add?