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Your Business Has 99 Problems and Communication is All Of Them.

communication

Your Business Has 99 Problems and Communication is All Of Them.

Businesses face a multitude of vexing situations every day.

Sometimes these are quickly remedied, such as a missed phone call that must be rescheduled, or an unhappy customer who needs to be soothed. At other times, there’s a total breakdown and turmoil erupts, as in the recent GM strike where 50,000 auto workers walked out, venting their anger over a number of decisions by the company.

But, small or large, of minor importance or potentially ruinous, every cause for concern that a business encounters originates from the same place.

“All problems are communication problems,” says Bill Higgs (culturecodechampionspodcast.com), an authority on corporate culture and author of the upcoming book Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. 

“How well you communicate is tied to your organization’s culture, which raises the question: What is your current culture costing you?”

Higgs says it’s common in the business world to be in a situation where someone asks or tells you to do something, you think you understand what they want, but when it’s done, it’s not right.

“When you both review what happened, you realize there was a communication breakdown at the outset,” he says.

Higgs recommends a few ways businesses can improve communications – and in the process avoid everything from minor mishaps to major disputes:

Seek and value input from everyone. A lot of rework could be avoided if leaders in an organization would empower their people to speak up if they see a problem, Higgs says. “Often, people remain silent even when they see something that does not seem right,” he says. “Why is that? I believe these problems happen because a person might notice something seems wrong, but he or she isn’t comfortable challenging someone who they see as more expert on the subject than them or who has more authority.” That’s why it’s important to foster an organization-wide culture where people feel comfortable challenging things, no matter who they are or who they are challenging. That way you increase the odds that things will be done right the first time.

Cross-train people so they better understand what others do. When employees have no idea about their co-workers’ areas of expertise, work slows down, as though everyone on the team is speaking a different language. “You want to get your people to broaden their knowledge and expand the scope of what they normally do in their own jobs,” Higgs says. As people learn more, they become more efficient and, for example, could handle questions from a vendor without bringing in other members of the team, saving everyone’s time. Higgs says cross-training often can take place when people have downtime, but if that’s not possible, it may be necessary to schedule time to make it happen.

Bust silos. Many organizations group people together by function. Marketing people work in the marketing department, finance people in the finance department, and so forth. Departments also are often separated physically. “This can create a number of problems and inefficiencies,” Higgs says. “For example, it can lead to lots of rework because silos are not conducive to communication.” Other problems silos cause include competition rather than collaboration among teams, and finger-pointing and blame-shifting when things go awry. He suggests that, instead of separating people by their functions, group them together in teams that are working on the same projects.

“Don’t let your people shut themselves off in their offices or workspaces, and don’t create such a hierarchy that people can communicate only through pre-approved channels,” Higgs says. “Effective teamwork requires good communication – and lots of it.”

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Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture, is the author of the upcoming book Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. He recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast (culturecodechampionspodcast.com). Higgs is also retired CEO of Mustang Engineering Inc., which he and two partners started in Houston, Texas in 1987 to design and build offshore oil platforms. Over the next 20 years, they grew the company from their initial $15,000 investment and three people to a billion-dollar company with 6,500 people worldwide; since then, it has grown to a $2 billion company with more than 12,000 people. Higgs is a distinguished 1974 graduate (top 5 percent academically) of the United States Military Academy at West Point and runner up for a Rhodes scholarship.

 

visionary

Are You A Visionary? 6 Traits Every Strong Vision Shares.

There’s a reason many of the most successful businesses in America – Apple, Amazon and others – had a visionary leader behind them, propelling them to achieve their goals at the highest level.

“A vision pushes people not just to do more, but to do more than they think they are capable of,” says Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com), a global thought leader and consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and is author of the new book Leaderology.

Yet, even though everyone does a lot of talking about the importance of vision, he says, it’s not easy to fully grasp just what it is.

“I’ve discussed vision with CEOs of big companies, serial entrepreneurs, creators of unique software, and many others,” Konovalov says. “Every single person with whom I have spoken viewed vision differently. But in the course of all these discussions I discovered that there were some properties of a strong vision that remained constant.”

Vision reflects the highest purpose of leadership. A leader’s vision should include actual benefits for those affected by the vision, such as employees, customers, the leaders themselves, employees’ families and society at large. “A main stimulus of vision is people and the care of their needs,” he says. “If a vision is not formed around people and their needs, then it is not vision but personal ambition.”

Vision doesn’t lead to dead ends. A vision is always scalable and should show multiple potentials for expansion, Konovalov says. “But to be able to scale the vision you should maintain an appropriate cognitive distance from it,” he says. “This allows you to see the broader picture while keeping the important details in sight. Stand too close and you see the details, but lose the whole picture. Stand too far away and you lose the important details from which the vision is created.”

Vision reveals a path to success. As you pursue your vision, watch for the signs and clues that will help lead you to success. “They will be easy to follow if the vision is strong,” Konovalov says. “Those signs are always around in different forms – words of encouragement, expressions of real need from strangers, and answers to critical questions coming from unexpected perspectives.” Paying attention to such signs helps people spot opportunities while crafting the most effective path to success, he says.

Vision means taking on responsibility. If you’re the person with a vision, you are taking on a responsibility that will have an impact on people’s lives.  “And the greater the vision is, the greater the responsibility,” Konovalov says. “But this huge responsibility also comes with incredible opportunities, the kind of opportunities available only to pioneers. It may be intimidating to take on all that responsibility, but it will reward you in return.”

Vision should be easy to understand. “Vision involves elegant thinking about complicated things,” Konovalov says. But that doesn’t mean the vision itself should be so complex that everyone is left puzzling over what you’re saying. Just the opposite. “Great vision is genuinely easy to understand,” he says. “The simpler the vision is in its core meaning, the easier it can be shared with employees, customers, and partners.”

Vision generates excitement. A person with a vision isn’t nonchalant about it. Strong vision is always accompanied by excitement. “Actually, vision is a strong emotion itself,” Konovalov says. “If someone tells you about his great vision and he sounds ho-hum about it, then most likely he is lying to himself and others. Such a person might have a goal, but they don’t have a vision.”

Vision is a great leadership ability and success instrument, Konovalov says.

“Vision defines and explains why and where effort should be focused,” he says. “And while vision is normally created by a single person, it quickly becomes the property of many, and that’s important.

“No one can accomplish something great on his or her own. Vision is what attracts the people needed to take what you want to accomplish and turn it into a reality.”

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Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com) is a thought leader, author, business educator and consultant with over 25 years of experience operating businesses and consulting Fortune 500 companies internationally. His latest book is Leaderology. His other books are Corporate Superpower, Organisational Anatomy and Hidden Russia. Konovalov received his doctoral degree from the Durham University Business School. He is a visiting lecturer at a number of business schools, a Forbes contributor and high in demand speaker at major conferences around the world.

 

business

Business Betrayals: Protecting Yourself From Workplace Treachery

Betrayal in business can come in many forms.
A supervisor who gives specific directions for a project, then lays the blame squarely on you when things go awry. An employee who fails to inform you of a high-end client’s unhappiness, leaving you blindsided and feeling the CEO’s wrath when the client cancels a contract.
In such scenarios, the person betrayed can feel angry, devastated and perhaps unsure whether to ever trust anyone again, say Elaine Eisenman, PhD, and Susan Stautberg, co-authors of Betrayed: A Survivor’s Guide to Lying, Cheating, & Double-Dealing. These two successful business women say they themselves have experienced betrayal professionally and personally.
“In all relationships we trust others, believing that while they will look out for their own best interest, they will also respect ours,” Stautberg says. “Unfortunately, that’s not always so.”
In business, there’s no guarantee that even a good friend or family member deserves your confidence.
“Regardless of how well you know someone, treat any business arrangement with due diligence,” Eisenman says. “Motives can be hidden, even with the best of friends.”
So, how can business leaders and their employees avoid betrayals that can harm them and their organizations? And how should they handle the fallout if they are betrayed? Eisenman and Stautberg offer a few suggestions:
Learn to trust wisely. Blind trust can make you an easy target because you ignore the potential for human nature’s darker side, Stautberg says. But it’s also ill-advised to assume no one can be trusted ever. What you’re after, she says, is “wise trust,” which allows you to weigh each situation, assessing whether there is low or high probability of betrayal.
Listen to what your gut tells you. So-called “gut feelings” act as an early warning system. “Ignore those feelings at your own peril,” Eisenman says. She shares the story of a woman named Ingrid, a chief finance officer in the public sector who was involved in the recruiting of a comptroller who came highly recommended. Ingrid preferred to handle reference checks herself, but that was HR’s job so she backed off, even though something told her this job candidate’s credentials were too good to be true. She shouldn’t have ignored her instinct because after he was hired the comptroller was charged with white-collar crimes committed in another state. For Ingrid, this became a triple betrayal – by colleagues who tried to make her the scapegoat, by HR, who didn’t perform a thorough background check, and, of course, she was betrayed by the man she hired.
Don’t seek revenge immediately – if at all. Planning revenge continues to provide the betrayer with power over you rather than allowing you to take that power into your own hands. It’s more productive to distance yourself from the betrayal and shore up your emotions with rational thoughts. That will help you begin to derive lessons from the traumatic event.
If you are betrayed, there is no need to beat up on yourself. “It is critical to recognize that what you are feeling is completely normal,” Eisenman says. “If you blow the event out of proportion, exaggerating its impact on all aspects of your life, you’ll only postpone your recovery.”
“The key to moving forward is self-compassion,” Stautberg says. “Get yourself to a safe space, both physically and emotionally, and get some sleep. Being rested will help you think clearly and you’re going to need your wits to survive.”
Reactions to stress differ. So, don’t worry if your immediate reaction includes anger. Try to balance it  and take the energy to hold onto your power. Surround yourself with friends. Have the courage to move forward and leave the past behind. Learn to pivot. Eisenman and Stautberg discovered that the formula for success is creating a new positive, self-confidence about work and informed risk taking.  Learn how to BOUNCE – Be Bold, Optimistic, Undaunted, Nimble, Courageous, and Empowered.
Elaine Eisenman, PhD, co-author with Susan Stautberg of Betrayed: A Survivor’s Guide to Lying, Cheating, & Double Dealing, currently serves as an independent Board Director for DBI, Inc. (NYSE), as well as for AtmosXR and Miravan, both privately held companies. She is the Managing Director of Saeje Advisors, LLC, an advisory firm for high growth ventures. Former Dean of Executive and Enterprise Education at Babson College, she works closely with CEOs and their executive teams to create cultures that accelerate growth. She is a frequent speaker on the topic of turning risk into opportunity.
Susan Stautberg is Governance Advisor to the portfolio companies of Atlantic Street Capital, a private equity firm. She is also President and CEO of PartnerCom Corporation and Chair Emeritus of the WomenCorporateDirectors Education and Development Foundation (WCD). Susan addresses groups around the world, including leading business schools and CEO conferences. She has written or been featured in numerous articles including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Financial Times and her on-air experience includes Oprah, The Today Show, CBS Evening News, CNN and many others.