18 tips for Better Partnership Working

I have just completed a 2 day workshop with a great group of partnership managers.  Here is what I learned!

  1. Get really clear and comfortable about your self interest. Your personal  reaction to the opportunities and possibilities offered in your role.
  2. Communicate this powerfully in language that the recipient will understand and value.
  3. Develop your professional self interest – the overlap between your individual/personal and professional/organisational response to what REALLY matters.
  4. Build your power to influence what really matters through investing in person to person relationships. Invest in a series of 121s. Share what really matters to you. Be clear on how they will perceive you.
  5. Use the allies/opponents/adversaries/fencesitters/bedfellows model to help you structure this.
  6. Become power hungry (why wouldn’t you want power to make what you believe in happen? Don’t leave power for the bad guys of this world to grab!)
  7. Building a powerful coalition around your ideas inside the business is as important as building one externally.
  8. Know your reputation – find ways to find what people REALLY think of you and your agenda – but are too polite to say!
  9. Don’t be busy fools. Work on the most powerful relationships. That is the relationships that give you the most power – this has little or nothing to do with the ‘authority’ power of the other party. Think leverage. Think goals.
  10. Think ‘enlightened self interest‘  and here.
  11. Ring fence thinking time – 2 lots of 90 minutes a week – to develop your agenda – rather than respond to the needs and agendas of others. This will increase your sense of control and reduce your levels of stress – as well as making you much more effective and creative. GUARANTEED.
  12. Agree on the ends.   Be different, challenging, creative and risky when it comes to the means. You don’t always have to play by the rules. Think Mandela.
  13. If you play by the rules of bureaucracy it will find ways of stifling change.
  14. Don’t let years of socialisation in being helpful and humble result in you being a selfless partner. Nobody wants to partner with Uriah Heep – but they may just take everything you have.
  15. Resist the safety of bureaucracy – maintenance, safety, dependency (external locus of control).
  16. Pursue the entrepreneurial way – greatness, courage and autonomy (internal locus of control).
  17. Don’t waste too much time and energy on the difficult people. Invest it in those who share your self interest – life is just better that way.
  18. Always take your own chalk and be cautious in your selection of cues….(this is not a mystical metaphor – just a statement of fact).

Anything I have missed?

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

Carl Jung

Web 2.0 – What’s the Fuss About?

Great piece by McKinsey that does a top job of explaining why Web 2.0 is getting so much attention.

In essence – its quick, cheap, extends your reach and provides you with insight and feedback.  It can definitely give you an edge.

It is not all up-side – there are issues of time management and the digital divide – but that’s life!  Nothing’s perfect.

I have been blogging for a couple of years now as well as twittering (a lot) Facebooking (a little), using wikis for collaborative writing and product development and forums for community building.  My interest started a bout 10 years ago when we took on a post grad student studying knowledge management for a year.  That got me into the theory of and practice of knowledge management – especially communities of interest and practice and the facilitation of large groups – both online and face to face.

Read the McKinsey piece here.

Also happy to share what I know.

If you want more than the occasional blog post from me you can follow on twitter at www.twitter.com/mikechitty

More Customer Service Craziness?

Mobile phones and insurance policies.

I like NEITHER.  Yet renewal time comes around and we dutifully spend hours on web sites to ‘compare the market’ and get great prices.

So this morning, after a mammoth web-surfing session I rang KWIK FIT Insurance Services to tell that we were not renewing our existing policy because we had found a better price and insurance coverage elsewhere.  I was put on hold while they transferred my call to someone who could ‘cancel down’ their renewal quote.

In fact I was transferred to someone who was trained to stop me placing my business elsewhere.  He asked me why I hadn’t rung them for a quote as they can offer better deals over the phone than they do over the net!

Not what I wanted to hear!

Mobile phone companies are the same.  They only offer you their best deals once you have already decided to place you business elsewhere!

Bad psychology and bad business!

So – in spite of all the recommendations to use web-based comparison sites to get the best deals and safe money – the best bet is to use those sites to find the best deal you can – and then ring up call centres and haggle to see who will beat the deal!

Hardly model customer service though is it?

So much for progress.

If you read my HP rant then you maybe interested to hear how it finally got resolved!   Eventually they told me they would issue me with a letter to authorise the seller to replace the machine. Yippee!  Then two days letter I got a call from an engineer telling me he was outside my house wanting to repair the machine!  I am the other side of the city about to go into a meeting.  No-one has mentioned this change of plan to me – or that the engineer was coming!!

Eventually without any further dealings with call centres I was able to get the engineer access to the machine and he replaced the motherboard.  Should be back in busniess soon!

Conscripts, mercenaries, and volunteers

Willing volunteers outperform conscripts and mercenaries every time. They are more innovative and creative as well more diligent and disciplined.

Volunteers have bought into a mission and a purpose rather then been bought into it.

Much of the private sector is struggling with how to turn salaried staff from conscripts and mercenaries into volunteers. Finding ways to engage them in the work of the organisation. To provide them with fulfilling and rewarding work.

Much of the public and third sector seems to be taking almost exactly the opposite path. It finds ways to turn passionate and caring volunteers (people who have bought into the mission) into conscripts and mercenaries. This is achieved by:

  • making them servants of the system rather than servants of their customers
  • imposing performance management systems that often fail to recognise quality service delivery
  • entering into inflexible and output related contracts for service delivery that shrink opportunities for innovation and improvement
  • managing them as if they are units of production rather than as caring and compassionate people full of insights into how to improve performance.

It is a strange paradox that many private sector clients are making genuine efforts at developing employee engagement in pursuit of profits while so many third sector and public sector organisations are developing processes and systems that alienate employees and volunteers in pursuit of efficiency.

Imagine…

An organisation where:

  • people on the frontline make operational decisions that help to better serve customers
  • pressure to perform comes from peers and a sense of shared purpose rather than from a boss
  • teams, not managers, decide who to recruit
  • everyone knows what everyone else earns – and what they do to earn it
  • where ‘top’ pay is limited to 20 times average salary (the norm in private sector if 400 times!)
  • employees think of it as a community on a mission to make a difference in the world, rather than a employer
  • mission matter as much as the bottom line – and BOTH matter a lot
  • every employee feels that they are running their own small business and takes day to day decisions accordingly

What could you do to make your organisation more like this?

Would the effort be rewarded?

Are you Getting the Gifts?

Initiative, creativity and passion are gifts.

They are benefactions that employees choose, day by day and moment by moment, to give or withhold.

They cannot be commanded.

Gary Hamel – The Future of Management

Nor can they be bought.

You can’t get these gifts from employees by challenging them to work harder.

Nor by exhorting them to ‘beat the competition’ or ‘care for the customers’.

You will only get these gifts from employees when you give them a purpose that merits their best.

Using the Right and Left Brain at Work

Most organisations are designed to maximise the contribution of employees left brains to the pursuit of success. Targets are set, plans are laid, logic is deployed, progress is measured and accountability is maintained. Such ‘left brain’ activities fit nicely the milieu of meetings, time pressures, deadlines and procedures that form the social system of most organisations.

However most of us choose an employer based on ‘right brain’ criteria in pursuit of ‘right brain’ goals.

  • Will the work be fulfilling?
  • Will I part of a great team?
  • Will my efforts help to make the world a better place?
  • Will the job give me a lifestyle that works for me?

It is the ‘right brain’ that is the seat of creativity, imagination, innovation and passion. Unless we build a social system that feeds, stimulates and enables right brain contributions we should continue to expect as many as 1 in 4 of our employees to be looking to leave in the next 12 months, while 2 of the remaining three will be in survival (‘count the years, months and days until I retire’) mode.

Take a quick audit of your social system (meetings, processes and procedures) at work. How many opportunities in the average week are there for meaningful ‘right brain’ conversations that are likely to lead to the successful pursuit of right brain goals?

Of course it is easy for our left brains to rationalise away this paucity of ‘right brain’ opportunity in the name of efficiency and the pursuit of effectiveness. To overcome this tendency just remind your left brain of the critical importance of enabling good people to do great work, and of the need for frequent and regular innovation and renewal, if your organisation is to survive never mind thrive in the next few years.

You may find that it gives your right brain just enough time and space to do some big picture thinking.

Building a High Performing Team – Part 1 – The Same Page

The first stage in building a high performing team is to get everyone on the same page.

Every team member must master the basics of organisational performance:

  • What are we here to achieve and how do we recognise success?
  • What are our markets and how do we segment them?
  • Who are our customers and what are their buying patterns?
  • Who would we like our customers to be – and why aren’t they buying from us now?
  • Who is our competition and what are they doing?
  • What drives or inhibits our ability to deliver on the mission?

In high performing teams each team member is able to answer these questions – not just from their own perspective but from a collective team perspective. There is a shared analysis that provides a platform for coherent action.

In mediocre teams the members can usually answer these questions from their own siloed perspective. However there is little or no shared analysis and the actions that flow from each silo at best lack coherence and at worst compete with each other for resources and prestige.

Getting everyone on the same page is best done through a group session that has sufficient openness, candour and respect to ensure that the all of the ‘elephants in the room’ are recognised and addressed.