Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lack of Truth To Power at the core of Hastie Group collapse

"It was a culture of 'no bad news' within this company that was at fault". Hastie Group CEO Bill Wild is quoted as saying in The Age .

Truth to Power is reflected in the regularity with which people lower in an organisation's hierarchy provide honest opinions and/or data to more senior people in the hierarchy. When it is low, danger looms. It can even cause the loss of at least 2,300 jobs which is the current scenario at the Hastie Group.

Just yesterday when I was working with a management team I asked them their view on whether or not it is easy for people to provide Truth to Power. "No" was their collective response.

"Is that a potential problem for you?" I asked.

A resounding "Yes" was the reply.

If you consider a multi layered organisation, imagine if Truth to Power is low at the 'lower' levels of the organisation. Imagine if it is also low at the middle levels of the organisation. Then imagine if it is low at the more senior levels of the organisation.

If you were the 'head' of such an organisation, how much truth would you be hearing? Very little!

And that is dangerous - it could even sit at the heart of an organisational collapse.

Candor lies at the core of Truth to Power. This means that at all levels of an organisation people are encouraged to say when they believe is going on, understanding that there perspective is only part of the picture. But an important part none the less.

Truth to Power is diminished when the 'messenger is shot'. When 'bad things' happen to people who provide an honest opinion or highlight 'scary' data in an organisation, other people learn very quickly 'not to put their head up'.

This means that managers and leaders have to learn how to handle hearing things they don't like to hear, especially when the 'truth' might relate to an issue that the manager believed had been resolved some time ago. Managers also have to have the courage to speak with their colleagues when they see evidence that they are damaging Truth to Power through their lack of engagement with their direct reports. Saying, "Bob's always been like that, he never listens to his people" is not satisfactory. In fact it highlights managers accepting the unacceptable behaviour of their colleagues and the simple truth is that such behaviour can place everyones jobs at risk, including the managers themselves.

Truth to Power does not mean it is 'open slather' for employees to say what they like just for the sake of saying it. Part of truth to power includes the messenger taking responsibility for what they are saying, so their view is genuine and not an effort to 'have a go' because they can.

How healthy is Truth to Power in your organisation?

Gary Ryan works with Senior and Developing Leaders to enhance their capacity to achieve high performance through fully utilising the talents of their team members.

Read this article here inside the OTM Academy.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Communicate effectively through multiple channels

The use of email is still a main driver for miscommunication within the workplace. People simply rely too much on it for their communication, or rather they rely too much on it as the main channel for workplace communication.

Given that up to 90% of the written word is interpreted by the recipient of the message, email is a risky channel of communication especially when the author of the message suspects that it has a high chance of being interpreted negatively.

Yet people continue to press 'send'. And again and again and again. And they wonder why their workplace relationships suffer. And they wonder why performance suffers when negative energy is wasted on unnecessary miscommunication.

Communicating any message by a single channel is risky business. And even riskier when the message has a high probability of being misinterpreted.

Unless you are deliberately intending for someone to read a negative message from your email, then it is best to use multiple communication channels to send your message.

A communication channel is a means through which a message is sent. It could be verbal, a text message, an email, a video, a presentation, an audio recording, a website, a blog - the list of possible channels is virtually limitless.

When you have a potentially difficult issue to convey speak to the person or people to whom you wish to convey your message first. This can be in person or at least over the phone. It is after you have conveyed your message via a verbal format that you should then follow up with an email, simply highlighting the key aspects of your verbal conversation.

This simple technique of using multiple channels to convey your message will significantly decrease the chances that the recipient of your message will misinterpret your intentions. Business relationships won't suffer and performance won't be reduced. A little care and forethought goes a long way.

What is your experience of using multiple channels to more effectively communicate your messages in the workplace?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Virgin Australia - A brand damaging event

I fly a lot so that I can fulfill my client commitments. For the past year I have flown consistently with Virgin Australia and to be fair their overall service delivery has been very good. Most importantly my flights have been for the best part on time and I have felt safe on every flight.

Except for one of my flights late last week.

A return flight from Brisbane to Melbourne. The first 100 minutes of the flight had been effectively uneventful, which is what you actually want on a flight. I was sitting in a window seat in row 7, with another passenger in the aisle so we had a spare seat between us.

After the Captain had announced that we had commenced our decent and the Seatbelt sign had been switched on, a crew member approached the gentleman in the aisle seat in my row and asked him if he could move so that another passenger could be moved up toward the front of the plane from the rear of the plane. He stated that he didn't want to move and would it be okay for the passenger to seat in the spare seat between the two of us. The crew member agreed and headed toward the back of the place.

Moments later she returned with a female passenger appearing to be in her early 30s. It became immediately clear that at the very minimum this women was extremely intoxicated and possibly under the influence of other substances as she literally fell into the seat bumping hard into my left side. She then proceeded to repeatedly swear at the top of her voice using swear words that start with the letters 'f' and 'c' in most sentences that she spoke. She was rude and obnoxious to both myself and the other gentleman and the other passengers in the rows around us.

She refused to put her seatbelt on and tried to make a phone call but was unable to punch out the number on her phone and gave up.

My peaceful trip had well and truly been interrupted.

It was quite an unusual experience as the woman's behavior was unpredictable and dangerous from my perspective. It really felt as if she had been placed between the two of us by the crew and she had then effectively become our problem to deal with. Only once did a crew member check on her and he continued down the aisle after she gave him a 'verbal spray'.

On more than one occasion when were were deep in our decent she attempted to stand up which is clearly dangerous behavior. Throughout this ordeal I kept telling myself to remain calm and not to do anything that could provoke further dangerous behavior. I also kept thinking that it would only be 25-30 minutes before we would be at the gate and she would be arrested and she would have to deal with the law for her unacceptable behavior.

After landing we had a long taxi back to the terminal. She got up out of her seat, climbed over the gentleman in the aisle seat and stood up. The crew called to her to sit back down, an instruction that she partially followed by choosing to sit in the lap of the gentleman in the aisle seat. He didn't look as if he was happy about what was happening.

Again I thought to myself, "Well at least she will be arrested and have to explain her actions."

Upon stopping at the gate and the seat belt sign went off she rushed toward the front of the plane. As we stood to collect our own bags from the overhead lockers the agreement from the passengers around me was that, "At least she will be arrested.".

To our complete shock and disappointment this did not happen. Instead she was allowed to alight the plane just like the rest of us. We simply couldn't believe our eyes!

I can only imagine what it must have been like for the passengers who had to sit next to her for 100 minutes.

From my perspective safety is the No.1 service issue for plane travel. This woman for whatever reason had chosen to put hers and the safety of other passengers, including myself at risk and there was no consequence for that behavior.

Frustrated by Virgin Australia's inaction I called their frequent flyer program to register my concern. I was informed that if I wanted my feedback to be actioned then I needed to go online and type in my feedback. I asked the staff member handling my call if he could see all of my details on the screen in front of him. He informed that he could.

Despite having validated my membership number I was again told that my feedback would only be registered if I went online and typed it in. I was again frustrated, "Why would I go online to type in my feedback when I am already telling you and you have my details in front of you?".

It seemed that Virgin Australia was making it hard for me to have my issue properly heard.

Due to the safety nature of this issue I did go online to report my experience. Have a guess how long the automatic reply informed me that it would take for someone to contact me regarding my issue?

I quote, "...we aim to contact all guests within 21 days where possible." 21 days!

Surely Richard Branson would be shocked to hear such a period. I really was astonished. It seemed that Virgin Ausytalia really did fail us both at the gate and beyond.

The key service issues for me were that the Virgin Australia staff on board the plane did not provide any assistance to myself nor the genetleman in the aisle seat with regarding to managing this woman's behaviour. Whether we liked it or not she had become 'our problem'.

With regard to the lack of consequences for her behaviour I am concerned about Virgin Australia's saftey procedures with regard to passenger behaviour. Was 'turning the plane around' more important than passenger saftey?

Thirdly, it is extremely frustrating when you verbally contact an organisation to provide feedback about their organisation, (feedback that could help it improve) and you are requested to 'go online and type in your feedback'. Great service organisations make providing feedback easy. Why couldn't the call centre staff member record my feedback and offer to have it followed up? Why couldn't my call even be recorded (which is something that I requested).

Finally, a response time of 21 days simply provides the message that Virgin Australia really isn't serious with regard to hearing feedback from it's customers. In the year 2012 does anyone actually think a response time of 21 days is acceptable?

Service organisations are tested when things go wrong. How they recover is what really sets service organisations apart from each other.

I'll keep you informed with regard to what eventually happens.

Learn about the OTM Service Strategy® here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mobile App for the OTM Academy released

The OTM Academy is the resource library for clients of Organisations That Matter.

Due to demand a new Mobile App has just been released.

Access the App here http://mobileroadie.com/m/otm-academy

Please let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A genuinely great service experience!

If you travel a lot for business or pleasure you may be able to relate to that annoying feeling that you have forgotten something important, only to have it dawn on you as your plane is about to land at your destination that you have forgotten your phone charger (again!!!).

As your brain scans quickly for solutions you scamper off the plane only to discover that the airport is effectively in shut down. It is, after all after 8.30pm and you are in Australia. So the opportunity to purchase a charger isn't going to present itself to you at the airport.

Catching a taxi to your destination you ask the driver if, by any chance does he have the same phone charger that you require? "Sorry, I don't have that type of phone", is the reply.

"Damn!", you think yo yourself.

"I'm up here for two full days and my phone won't last that long. It'll be lucky to see the morning. Oh well, maybe I'll get lucky at the local corner store."

If you're wondering why I haven't suggested that you check if reception has a spare charger I need to explain that the particular hotel in which you are staying doesn't have a reception service after 7:30pm, so you have accessed the key to your room via a secure key lock.

You look at your clock and notice that it is nearly 9pm. What are the chances that the local convenience store will still be open? "Hmmm, I might be able to make it it if I'm fast", you think to yourself.

So you quickly race down the stairs and walk to the corner store that you discovered on your last visit. It's still open, but they are bringing all the signs inside in preparation for closing. You pick up a few things for breakfast in the morning and search around for a phone charger, all the while thinking that it is a 'long shot'.

You get to the the counter and say, "I'm not expecting your answer to be yes, but it can't hurt to ask. Do you sell iPhone chargers?"

"No we don't." comes the reply.

 "But I can lend you mine if you like?"

 "Are you serious" I said, I mean you say (yes if you hadn't guessed this whole story is about a real experience that I have just had!).

 "Yes I am serious. You are obviously away on business and I guess you would really need your phone. I have two phone chargers so you can borrow this one."

What a wonderful gesture. I had never before met Andrew from Tuppy's Riverside Convenience Store, (85 Deakin Street, Kangaroo Point Queensland Australia, just down beside the Storey Bridge) yet he was willing to help me out, for no other reason than he could. What was also wonderful about his gesture is that it was made both genuinely and purely. He made the offer with no expectations of me doing anything in return (except of course to return his charger.).

Great service experiences are characterised by little things. In that moment when Andrew heard my question, his response was to a fellow human being in need. Wow that made me feel good.

I explained to him that I write a lot and asked if it was okay for me to write about this experience and he gave me his permission. So if you are ever in Brisbane, check out Tuppy's Riverside Convenience Store, I'll certainly be going back - and that's a promise!

By the way the 'tagline' on its simple brochure says, "More than a convenience store!". Well, unlike many taglines out there, I can say that my experience of this one is that it is an accurate expression of the experience that you will have a Tuppy's Riverside Convenience Store.

Thank you Andrew for providing a simple, yet genuinely great service experience for me. I genuinely appreciate it.

What are your genuine service experiences?


How do you bring genuine service experiences into the work that you do?


And finally, how do you bring your 'tagline' to life, just like Andrew did?

Visit here for information on how you can bring the OTM Service Strategy to life inside your organisation.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Insights for Senior & Developing Leaders ebook released

What Really Matters! Volume 4, Number 1, 2012 complimentary edition released.

What Really Matters! Volume 4, Number 1, 2012

This complimentary ebook is for Senior & Developing Leaders who share our view that organisational success is created through enabling people to be the best they can be, was created from a selection of articles published on the OTM Academy from January 1st 2012 through to April 30th 2012.
Please feel free to join the OTM Academy - it's free!

In the ebook you will discover:

* Why you should know what is on your corporate website

* How to conduct 'Meetings That Matter'

* How clutter detracts from your service levels

* A great opportunity that results from Changing What's Normal

* How to use illustrations to create Conversations That Matter®

*Why you should use the What Makes People Tick personality profile tool
* Why thinking like a chicken is not useful if you are an eagle
* How four extraordinary women have inspired many other people to contribute to a higher purpose

*And much, much more!
Order this free ebook to download here.
Contributing authors include:
  • Gary Ryan
  • Ian Berry


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Conversation Starters Catalyse Conversations That Matter®

Conversation Starters are generally single page documents that are designed to catalyse Conversations That Matter.

Through using a combination of text and illustrations, Conversation Starters provide focus for conversations that otherwise might not be able to occur.

Through enabling people to focus on something other than another person, Conversation Starters allow people to talk about things that matter to them without fear of offending anyone - after all it is the document that can be blamed rather than a person.

Access a complimentary Conversation Starter 'Who is the Customer' here and please let me know how you have used it.