Authenticity and the Leadership Mold

Posted October 20, 2009 by azjogger
Categories: Management, Technology, Workforce

Stressed Over MoneyBy Kelly Hannum

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It’s and old question; how much of “you” can you reveal at work? I don’t mean dress code, but acting and saying things the way you would outside of work. Where’s the line between inappropriate and inauthentic?

With social networking, flexible schedules, and hip-mounted technologies that keep us connected to people and places all over the world—separation between work and non-work is no longer the default way of doing things. Most workers have to figure out and manage their boundries—-by reinforcing them, blurring them, or whatever makes sense in the moment. Switching from one’s “work-self” to one’s “non-work self” is something we have to do more frequently. 

To blend or not to blend?

Many folks blend work and non-work “friends” on social networking sites.  That could be a good thing, but is it? The idea of an integrated self is appealing—it’d make life easier, but is it a equal option for everyone?

Being authenic is bound to be easier for folks who are part of the leadership “in” crowd (aka folks who fit the leadership mold—who look, walk, or talk in a manner consistent with dominant images of leadership). As we collectively embrace more inclusive images of leadership, I imagine the option for everyone to bring their full self to work will increase.

Are we beging challenged?

In the meantime, we may have to ask ourselves is this inappropriate or is it something that challenges our image of leadership — and thereby places an expectation that someone else has to be inauthenic in order to fit our leadership mold?

Printed with permission from the Center for Creative  Leadership blog, Leading Effectively.

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Has Your Business Stalled? Better Rethink Your Strategy

Posted October 12, 2009 by azjogger
Categories: Management, Operations

By John Riley

Rethink Your Strategy

Rethink Your Strategy

It’s axiomatic that a business plan or business model should be a dynamic document, i.e. revisited periodically and revised as necessary to reflect new realities. When its neglected, bad things happen such as the business may stall and the market share tumble.

 When a company stalls, there is usually more than one reason and its essential all the reasons be quickly identified.  If the problems linger too long, the company will find it increasingly difficult to restore its position in the marketplace. The concept of continuous improvement needs to be instituted and ingrained in employees as a normal part of the business process.

 First,  analyze the competitive situation to see if any of the players have changed their strategies or if any new companies have entered the arena.  Most often, new players will cut prices to establish themselves and gain a toe hold in the market.

 \Next, core customer relationships need to be examined to make sure customers have not found fault with your products, services or pricing. Because they are core accounts, you want to make regular contact at the management level so you can quickly determine any change in attitude.

 You also want to be sure existing products and services are continually being upgraded and new products are being introduced. You never want to be without a new product/service development program. New products are emerging continuously to replace products whose normal life cycle has not expired and you want to be ready to replace your own current product/service with a new and improved product/service rather than letting a competitor do it.  That will make life more difficult for the newcomers and enable you to preempt the established competition.

Finally, there needs to be a recognition of the critical skill jobs in the company. You want to be sure you have your best people with the right skills in those jobs. You also need to recognize the competition may buy a few of your good people so a succession plan should be in place to insure competent replacements are ready to step into those jobs. Finally, there may be a need for training of the other incumbent employees and provisions should be made for them.

 Any or all of these issues can affect how well your business is performing and when a stall occurs, that’s a danger signal that cannot be ignored. Swift remedial action can often restore your lost position, but any delay may create irreparable damage. It’s an easy choice to make.

FTC Toughens Ad Rules

Posted October 9, 2009 by azjogger
Categories: Marketing

Advertisers, celebrities and online bloggers in the US will now be considered liable for any false claims they make while promoting products and services, new guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission state.

In its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, the FTC laid out a number of updated rules governing both online and offline ads, amending some procedures that had not been modified for almost three decades.

Executions featuring consumer testimonials must now explicitly state the average outcome customers can expect when using a product, rather than focusing on the results that are the most impressive, but are also atypical, and then adding disclaimers.

Bloggers will be required to disclose any links they have with brand owners, who often provide web users with financial or other forms of reward to review or comment on their goods.

Similarly, these online authors will be held liable if any such statements are misleading, and they are then found to be connected in some way with manufacturers.

Celebrities will be subject to similar provisions regarding the disclosure of their relationships with companies when appearing outside of traditional forms of advertising, such as on social media platforms or when on talk shows.

These high-profile spokespeople may also be held responsible for erroneous comments they make about goods they are officially endorsing.

Printed with permission of World Advertising Research Center

Just How Different Are You?

Posted October 6, 2009 by azjogger
Categories: Marketing

By Cidnee Stephen
Just How Different Are You
The other night, I was out at my favorite Sushi restaurant. We go there quite regularly because both my son and I are in love with their rolls, especially their Signature Dynamite Roll.

Being the marketer I am, I couldn’t help but notice as the little boats floated around with various dishes, that others must share our passion. The boats were full of our favorite rolls.

Yet oddly enough, the sign outside, promoted their excellent service. Now don’t get me wrong, their service is second to none! But the problem with boasting quality and service is that these are EXPECTATIONS, not DIFFERENTIATIONS.

It is VITAL as a small business you find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition.  If you don’t, you quickly become a bit of a commodity, which allows your customer to go to price.  

Let me explain.  Awhile back I was shopping around looking for a housekeeping service.  So I began listing the attributes important to me in such a service and out came the boxes.  In the first box or column was whether the cleaners were bonded, secondly I wanted to know how many were in a team, thirdly was how long they thought it would take and then finally came the price.  As I called around I began getting very similar answers to the first three questions so began comparing to price.

About my fifth call, something very unique happened.  As I was rattling off my criteria, the representative asked if she first explain their process before she answered my questions.  Of course, I was intrigued.  She began outlining EXACTLY what their cleaners do EVERYTIME they visit a home.  She started wooing me with dusting my doorframes, and perimeter cleaning all the rooms.  As she carried on I fell in love and price was NO LONGER an issue.

What she had done so effectively was pull me “out of my boxes” and began outlining what they saw themselves as their key difference.  

So how do you effectively pull your prospects out of the box? In other words, how do you define what makes you TRULY different.  Having done many surveys for my clients asking their customers this very pointed questions, I can tell you this. 9 times out of 10 it is in the little things.  

Ask Your Clients
No one can articulate your strengths better than your clients. So ask them (about 5 – 10 of your ideal clients).  Ask them why they chose you in the first place. Ask them why they continue to do business with you. Ask them how they would explain why you’re great to others. Ask them outright; what they think makes you unique in the marketplace.  The scariest thing we can do is assume we know what makes us special.

Identify Industry Frustrations
Here’s an eye-opener and a very humbling experience. Ask people (and your clients) what frustrates them about people in your industry. If they remain incredibly polite, then take yourself out of the equation and ask them what frustrates them about your competitors. If you are great at probing and uncovering the root of an issue, you will find ways to turn this frustration into a strong differentiation.

A lawyer for a large company here in Calgary asked his clients why they enjoyed doing business with him. He heard over and over again, that they felt he kept them in the loop.

Interestingly enough, one of the major frustrations this client had with other lawyers in general, is this feeling that they were keeping them a bit in the dark. Now this may have come out in various ways like, “I don’t trust them,” or “their service is poor.” It takes further questioning and probing to uncover the root of the distrust and poor service to realize it’s a communication issue. This lawyer had identified a “little thing” that made him VERY different in the eyes of his potential clients.

Survey Your Competitors
Finally, shop around with your competitors.  Pretend you are your ideal client and that you are looking for their product or service.   Ask them some typical questions that your clients would have in their “boxes” and then just before you finish, ask them these questions:

    Why should I choose your company over a competitor?
    What is your company’s unique strength in the marketplace?

Here is the good news.  You will find most of your customers DON’T differentiate themselves!  So go forth and discover what makes you TRULY different. It is one of the least expensive ways to gain an edge on your competitors and strengthen your position in the marketplace.

Printed with permission of Cidnee Stephen of Strategies for Success
www.strategiesforsuccess.ca

Regulators Ponder Boost in Capital Requirements for Banks

Posted October 5, 2009 by azjogger
Categories: Financial, Management

Tags: , ,

By John Riley

 The word on the street has been confirmed: FDIC regulators are considering an increase in the capital reserve requirements for banks.  No effective date has been set yet.

 Currently, the reserve requirement is 12%. If the new regulations go into effect, the reserve requirement would move up to 12% and then a year or so later, it would go to 14%.

 Following the financial crisis of the past year or so, federal regulators seem intent on taking steps to tighten financial controls on banks. While the increase in the capital reserve requirement would normally seem appropriate,  these are not normal times and such a move can be a serious impediment to the economy’s recovery.  Banks will need to take more of their money that would normally go for loans and investments and set it aside in their reserve fund.

Economy No Deterrent; You Need a Retention Plan

Posted October 1, 2009 by azjogger
Categories: Jobs, Management, Workforce

Tags: , , ,

 

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 By John Riley

 After months of a wrenching economy, the generally accepted philosophy is that employees have hunkered down and  put any notions of changing jobs on the back burner, at least until economic conditions improve. A study by Salary.Com, a payroll and compensation consulting firm, earlier this year reveals exactly the opposite is true.

 The study reports 80% of employers believe it will be a few months before employees start a job search, however 65% of the employees have already started searching passively or actively and say they will be intensifying their efforts.  Over 7,000 employees and 363 human relations professionals were covered by the survey.

 According to Nicholas Camelio, senior vice president, Salary.com, “Employers were out of touch with their employee’s satisfaction levels and were over estimating the tough economic environment as a deterrent to job seeking. Consequently, many employers have not placed enough emphasis on important retention strategies. This could lead to their best employees defecting during the next year, just when this talent will be most needed to help turn  businesses around.”

 When employees were asked about various industries, financial services, construction and retail were at the top of the list of extremely dissatisfied employees.  The Internet, education/government, non-profit and software and networking came out on top with extremely satisfied employees.

 In another study, this one by Career Systems International  in 2005, over 7,400 employees from diverse industries were asked about things available in organizations that engendered commitment and a willingness to stay.  The most influential factors:

1)      exciting work/challenge(48.4%)                                       

2)      career growth/learning (42.6%)

3)       relationships/working with great people (41.8%)

4)       fair pay (31.8).

 

With the economic and employment uncertainty, it is no longer easy to plan a career path. As a result, employees, especially the top performers, may rely on mobility as the solution to increased compensation and a better title. Recognizing the situation, many employers are starting to focus on professional growth and skill development as retention tools.

 However, that may not be enough and policies may be incorrectly implemented.  For example, an employer may interpret the employees’ desire for exciting work/challenge as an opportunity for management to reassign a laid off worker’s responsibilities to the employee. For management, it is a logical step in several to help the business survive.

 Then the employee learns that the work isn’t sufficiently different from what he is already doing and neither his compensation nor his title will be changed. So rather than motivate the employee, the transfer of responsibilities becomes a millstone.

 Employee retention is the most critical element in the future success of the business and a strategy to survive should not conflict with a strategy to retain the company’s most important asset. It’s not too soon to revisit your strategies for the future and make sure employee retention is not only on your list, but at the top.

Ageing Consumers Key to the Future

Posted September 26, 2009 by azjogger
Categories: Jobs, Market Research, Marketing

LONDON: An ageing population and an increasingly inter-connected world are two of the main factors companies will have to consider when making their long-term plans, according to the speakers at an event looking at the key developments which will shape societies over the next few decades.

Hosted by Intelligence Squared, the event – covered in more detail here – featured speakers from the James Martin 21st Century School, a “unique collaborative research effort with the goal of formulating new concepts, policies and technologies that will make the future a better place to be”. 

Dr Ian Goldin, the school’s director, said we are now living in what could be a “golden age” of possibility, although while there is much “potential”, the choices that are made every day will shape what life will look like in 2050.

More specifically, he suggested the internet is an example of the inter-connected nature of the modern world, but the movement towards true globalisation could also have negative consequences, such as an increase in the number of pandemics.

Professor Sarah Harper predicted that the advances in medical science could lead to an average life expectancy of over 120 years old in many countries in 40 years time.

Indeed, Japan already has over 40,000 people over 100 years of age, and this development, combined with falling birth rates, will have profound implications for brands, governments, and societies.

From a purely commercial perspective, it was argued the ageing population is badly served by manufacturers at present, and this must change when almost a third of the population is made up of consumers over the age of 50.

The dangers of climate change also mean there will be a need for new green technology to transform the automotive and energy sectors, and this is an area which will receive a heightened emphasis in both the short and long term.

Printed with permission of World Advertising Research Centere. Data sourced from WARC Sept. 24, 2009