Do you love your boss?

Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.
Peter Drucker

I just finished reading a blog posting from Daniel Pink, author of the recent book, “Drive”. In his most recent posting he asks the question, “Are you a good boss or a bad boss?” This naturally gets us thinking about two things: 1) Are we a a good boss, and 2) Is my boss a good boss?

While I don’t believe there are very many “perfect’ bosses, I feel very fortunate to have had worked for some amazing people who were very different. I also feel very fortunate to have worked some whom were quite the opposite of amazing. I wish to share with you lessons learned from my observations of a few of those people whom I have worked for.

Amazing Bosses

Mo. I worked in restaurant as a server. The thing about Mo that makes me think he was amazing was that once you declared your standards – he respected them as completely as you respected them. What that means is those people who lived and worked in accordance to core values felt respected, honored, and appreciated. Those who tried deceit and manipulation were rewarded with tough work conditions, and thus left. Mo was amazing because his style attracted those with high integrity, strong team work ethic, and win-win attitudes, and deflected liars, cheaters, and lazy workers.

MJP. I will admit, I currently report to MJP. (I will still say these things when I don’t.) The thing that stands out the most with MJP is this persons capability to appreciate humanity. This connectivity to humanity is more than just compassion and sympathy. It is a deep awareness of what motivates people, what we will compete for, and where we are best suited to contribute in the organization. In summary, MJP has a tapped humanity to drive human behavior that has resulted in intense loyalty to company and team, employee ownership of delivering results, and a unique feeling of workplace camaraderie.

Not so amazing

RS. RS is a friend of mine on Facebook. He might end up reading this and when he does, he will know what I am talking about.  About 7 years ago this organization underwent  serious financial trouble that eventually resulted in it going out of business. At one point this organization had been a consecutive 3-time Inc. 500 company.  During this time of I was called into RS’ office and was chewed a new one because a relative had used the company toll-free number to reach me. (this number which had been plastered by the company in dominate spots on the website, on marketing collateral, and audio CDs). I had never given any work number to this relative, and so when  I recieved this butt-chewing from RS the result was the opposite of engagement.

I think RS was a horrible boss at the time because at a time when the company needed financial growth and stability – it treated its employees as enemies of the state rather than as potential solution holders. This company had loyal and passionate employees and created enemies.  (keep in mind – I love this guy to death on a personal level, one the funniest and most personable people you will ever meet.)

What about your bosses? Have any Dilbert-like stories to tell? Do you have the perfect boss? What makes them ideal? Please share.

Please take the poll below.

Posted in employee engagement, Leadership, management, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Do your customers get Christmas morning everyday?

I think that Christmas morning paints a great visual for how our customers should feel each and every single time they do business with us. For those readers who don’t celebrate Christmas or who have forgotten what its like to be a kid, let me paint a picture.

On December 24th you can’t wait to go to bed because you know that the next morning brings all your wishes of the last 364 days. But you can’t fall asleeep because all you can think of is which of those things you are going to get. You imagine walking down the stairs and turning the corner to see something big, wonderful and that exceeds anything you could have ever imagined. You also imagine all the accessories that adorn your gifts like stocking stuffers, candy, oranges – and all the other traditional things that come along with Christmas. When you finally do fall asleep the morning can’t come fast enough and sure enough, Santa delivered. All your expectations were exceded with a lot of flair.

That my readers is what I am talking about. Do you create a high level of contagious excitement around doing business with you? Do you have the fun flair for surround sound?

Who does this well? We all know that Apple is infamous for creating amazing product launches?  What about every day business not just product launches?

Customer Appreciation Month Gift

Pictured here is a Customer Appreciation Month gift from one B2b company co-branded with one of their clients as a gift to all the other clients. The purpose of the co-branding was to reduce costs, make it fun and not about the giving company, and make sure the recipient received it as a sincere thank you, and not a sales gimmick. This campaign cost less than $12 each, including the $10 gift card not pictured. Not a bad price to say thank you to people spending tens of thousands of dollars with you each year.

Having had campaigns like this for over 5 years now, this companies clientele looks forward with anticipation and excitement to Customer Appreciation Month. Doing business is fun and is exciting.

Of course – this company delivers the business results as well, otherwise fun and exciting wouldn’t happen because you would be having “fix-it” conversations instead of “Thank You” celebrations.

What about you? What can you do to create excitement and energy around your business?

Posted in Campaigns and Promotions, Customer, Customer Retention, Marketing and Advertising | Tagged , , , ,

Are There Rules To Texting?

I admit, I feel a little sheepish writing about this topic. I have recently been reading on some really innovative ways that marketers and businesses can use sms (texting) technology for business.

Restaurants text out coupons or specials, clubs use it to announce guest DJs, event promoters use them to for announcing concerts and pushing ticket sales, many organizations use it to remind people service payments are due. The list goes on and on.

What I want to know is when do people break the un spoken laws?

My mother-in-law recently began texting and treated it like mass email forwards of daily thoughts and inspirational messages. IRITTATING!!!! I told my wife, “Call your mom and let her know if she sends me one more text that goes out to her list of everyone she knows about something that has nothing to with me, I will get a restraining order.”

Have you ever felt that way about an organization texting you? What kind of info do you want sent to you? How often is too much? What would be the big faux pas?

What about B2B? Think about vendors or people you  buy from in the workplace? How could they use text messaging with you?

I want to know. Please share.

Posted in Marketing and Advertising, Mobile technology, Social Media | Tagged , , , ,

I Love Flying First Class

I love flying first class. It’s not just the comfy seats, ample leg room, a beverage before takeoff, and a choice of snacks – it’s also the company. In the very few times I have flown first class I have always enjoyed the company of an executive much higher up in his/her food chain than I am in mine. Usually they are very open to discussion.

Last week was no exception. I sat next to a Senior VP of a national energy company. After the pleasantries I thought I would see how much info I could learn about his company. I learned a lot. That is what I want to share with you here.

Next week the CEO, President, all the EVPS, Senior VPs, and VPs are meeting for an entire day just to discuss the talent of the organization. This was very interesting to me. Why would they spend an entire day just talking talent?

Roughly 2 years ago their CEO hired a new EVP of HR. This HR Executive was hired and almost given carte blanche on leadership and talent development. Too much in the opinion of many in this organization.  This message was voiced by the CEO and translated all the way down to the bottom throughout the entire organization. This was a big change for the company who had deep roots in doing things they way they had always been done. Their previous HR VP had almost no voice at the table. Things are different now.

This HR executive is very aggressive. But despite her aggressiveness it has taken 18 months to receive full support and endorsement from the senior executives of the company. Here are some of the things she is implementing:

  • Consistent and regular performance reviews
  • Public accountability of goal achievement
  • Promotions based on performance and not tenure
  • Creating a leadership pipeline and making a clear stand who is in it, and who is not
  • Allowance for lateral movement for leadership experience, mentoring, and professional growth

It was explained to me that these are difficult things to implement.  Even now, though the executives are fully bought in, middle and lower management is still having a difficult time adjusting.

This has become a new culture. There is now a culture of accountability. An entrepreneurial culture stemmed from performance based incentives. And a culture that is easy to lead because everyone knows where they stand, everyone knows what they are going to be held accountable for, and everyone knows the rules to play by. It’s the same for everyone.

Some of the challenges this airborne colleague of mine expressed were having difficult conversations. One of such was telling a long-time friend and associate that he just wasn’t ever going to be a VP. Another time in a performance review he was giving negative feedback. His report was so comfortable with him that he responded saying the development challenges were not his fault, but the fault of this VP and asked to be mentored by somebody else. This person listened and agreed. Now this director level person is in the pipeline and has a much brighter future than he had had a year ago.

I just want to conclude by saying that this is not a unique scenario. Organizations that are giving voices to HR, focusing on people instead of budgets, are performing well. We have read it over and over again and I agree. People are the lifeblood of any organization. Take the human element out and all you have is a spreadsheet. Focus on the people and your organization has the ability to make leaps and bounds.

So what is your experience? Does HR have a voice in your company? Do you know where you stand? How do you know?

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Replace your marketing strategy with a buying strategy

“The secret of the Sphinx is that it has no secret.  Perhaps the mystery of the advertising business is that it has no mystery.”

– Rosser Reeves

I want to start of by saying I have never built a marketing strategy, nor do I think I ever will. It’s not my right to do so.  You shouldn’t either. You don’t have the privilege of building a marketing strategy for your business. Why should you – you have a bias!

Let me tell you who should write your marketing strategy.  It should be your customers.

Instead of talking marketing strategies we are going to focus on Buying Strategies. Usually when we here the term buying strategy it is in reference to some sort of financial investment; not with choosing the right plumber, accountant, or grocery store.  You could call it a buying cycle, but that term just does not do justice to what a business needs to understand to effectively build an enduring marketing strategy.

Most people don’t think of their buying decision as a strategy…but it is. It is an important strategy. The goal of this strategy is the get the best deal possible at the best price.

If you can begin to think buying strategies vs. marketing strategies you have begun to understand your customers better.

Let me  briefly define the foundation to every buying strategy.

  • At the base of every buying decision is an emotional need. The emotional need is fed by two things: timing and trust. Once we find a solution that we trust we will buy when we are no longer willing to wait.
  • Trust and timing increase as buyers first start talking to people they know who had the same need.
  • What comes next is buyers start casually looking at all of their options.
  • The next step is where most marketers and sales people come in.  Buyers are now responding to marketing advertising, sales calls, and acting on referrals.
  • Lastly they choose the most trust and fork over the cash.

To get beyond the the structure of the buying strategies, and get into the nitty gritty details all you have to do is ask. What do you customers need to hear, feel, see, experience to know they are getting the best deal. Where do they go for that information. What low-barrier invitations are they willing to respond to? It’s an open book test and few pass it. Will you?

Posted in Marketing and Advertising | Tagged , , , , ,