I am not the only one to get a tear in my eye when I see young athletes standing on the podium receiving medals at the Rio Olympics. Go on admit it. It is an incredible achievement. For many a lifetime of hard work, effort, tears and joy have gone in to the success we now see before us as the flag raised myself. As a business coach, mentor and leader in an aspirational sporting pathway it is warming to see others succeed.
The athlete is the standard bearer for the team. There sits behind every athlete a coach, a mentor, a sports scientist, mothers, fathers, guardians, sisters, brothers, sponsors, lovers and extended family and friends all supporting that one athlete achieve an ambition.
Yesterday on the water I saw the women’s and men’s 8 GB rowing team claim Silver and Gold. Behind these 18 athletes sat more athletes in reserve, coaches and a whole network of support to get these men and woman to Olympic medals. However one man stands out the UK national coach Jürgen Grobler. (Pictured above) A German coach who since the 1972, with the exception of 1984 when the East Germans boycotted the games has won gold medals as a coach at every games. Outstanding achievement but what makes Jürgen different than you?
Listening to commentary Jürgen says one thing to his crews as he pushes them off into the water “have a good row” Jürgen knows that his job is not to tell his crews what to do, that work has been done in training but to watch his work unfold on the course and leave those with the skills, training and will to get on with the job. Every rower said exactly the same thing, we “trust” that man to get us right, and the rest is up to us. He trust’s them they trust him. Simple eh?
Replicating that to the business world the creation and maintaining of trust is key to a successful team. However in business we seem to have missed that basic human team trait. Ask yourself the question would any of your members of your team say “I would die for these girls” as one of the GB 9 rowers did yesterday as they were asked to explain their team esprit de corps.
Who is your team would die for you? The development of this team spirit where everyone is equal except the coach who because of trust and loyalty and not fear, holds a unique place is alas unique to sport and not business.
If only this spirit were true in business. The transferable lesson of coach, mentor and train your team should be every leader, directors and managers day job. I was talking to a close friend of mine over the Summer, a National Rugby coach whose exact words were to me, “Nigel if we coach the backside out of our players and tell them what to do in every scenario, what happens when the ball bounces three times, not twice as we trained them to do…. these are professionals they are paid to make decisions, if we trust them to play and earn their keep then we will get better”
In performance sport we recognize that to build that trust we need to ensure:
In 19 years this week as an interim and consultant I have seen many organisations and managers. I have yet to meet the business equivalent to Jorgen Grobler. In business we still control and not lead. In the digital age the need to control has grown to a level I have never known before.
In this analytical age we have created a need for data, reports and knowing everything and this climate has created a climate of over detailed management and fear amongst the workforce. As a leader you role is to train, coach and mentor your team yes evidence based decision-making is key, but do you really to over audit and mange it? Why not trust those you employ?
The key factor to this is trust and openness. In sport there is no place for replacing trust and honesty. If you have had a bad game then be honest with yourself and team mates, pick yourself up and learn from it.
Trust is the key to a successful relationship whether in sport. business or a relationship, without you are doomed. There is a strange term in Soccer called “The manager has lost the dressing room” It is where the players have lost all respect for the manager but turn up each week and in essence do their own thing just to ensure the pay packet at the end of the week. Alas I have seen organisations in this place, it is unhelpful and sad to see teams operating and performing in this way. Invariably the one consistent factor being trust and leadership.
The Olympics have shown that trust is a hard won battle between coach, leader and athlete. It cannot be bought but needs to be nurtured, developed and earned from all parties.
It is a kick up the backside for all of us. If the Olympics does one thing and that being it ensures that we as leaders develop that level of trust in our team that we all row together in the same direction then what a result that would be.
The positive journey can start today, ask yourself the question “who in my boat would die for me at the 1750m mark”
Let us not go the same way as the Luddites, the interim consultancy market needs to transform itself, and quickly.
We are all doomed, don’t panic shriek those in the interim management recruitment agencies and hoards of interim manager types at recent announcements from the Department of Health and Treasury on limiting the pay rates that interims and agency workers can charge. This coming on top of a UK Autumn statement of changes to the way single employee/directors will be taxed and the limitation of taxation benefits from the payment of benefits.
If you listen to them anyone would think they are just about to become the “ Nokia” of the contract market assigned to oblivion with Betamax Videos and PS2’s.
Whilst I accept change is worrying to those consultants who retired with comfy pensions, it is actually refreshing as it will freshen up the market and leave the market leaner and more competitive than ever and hopefully driven by outcomes.
In essence the autumn statement was fairly light on those who work as contractors.
From Section 3.20: “As confirmed at Summer Budget 2015, the government will legislate to restrict tax relief for travel and subsistence expenses for workers engaged through an employment intermediary, such as an umbrella company or a personal service company. Following consultation, relief will be restricted for individuals working through personal service companies where the intermediaries legislation applies.” Draft legislation will be published on 9th December 2015.
I have been running my consultancy company now for 18 years and seen the highs and lows of the business cycle, we have rode out tough times and swam with the tide when needed. The changes to way consultancy/interims work have been changing for the last 18 months when high profile cases of “off book” employees were exposed, quite rightly by a skeptical press packing baying for “noses in the trough” stories. This driving knee jerk reactions from both regulators and clients.
However like most government announcements an element of compromise is reached once the reality of policy decision from Central Government is socialized and people with a real grasp of business and the real World start to frame the final policy with pragmatism and an outbreak of common sense.
In May this year I detected George Osborne had proposed a number of changes to the way small consultancy companies could operate post April 2016 and I took the chance to check out the proposals with my rather Uber efficient MP. This led to a personal letter from the Treasury, which put my mind at rest about the future. However it would be naive to think the future of the consultancy/interim market will remain the same forever. Hence my clear belief that like all businesses you either innovate or fail. I want to be at least an Apple, the current perceptional leader in technology but I really want to be the “BubbleGum” (the fictional leader of technological design which has yes has yet be developed but mark my words will be the future) of the consultancy World.
Consultancies either react to change by changing your business model or you simply fail. You join the mill and pit owners, makers of Betamax VCRs and the retailers who failed to join the Internet generation.
I changed my business model realizing that the traditional model was dying, expecting to rely on the sole provision of service to a client through a traditional agency model on sustainable growth when that client is hamstrung with internal and in some cases external policies or procurement practices. Clients need innovation and added value, not trousering a day rate with no accountability on delivery but a clear outcome base where your delivery is linked to a work package deliverable.
So this Summer I started the process of employing my own project staff, my own project professionals and my own project trainees. The aim by April 2016 to be able to provide not just me but a range of business analysts, project and programme professionals to compliment me and add value to my clients work. It would totally bonkers of me to share the complete model with you, commercially confidential and all that stuff however it is one that offers more than a grizzly old interim, is output based and allows the clients to have control on their costs and manage the quality of their contract staff.
If you are to survive in the 21st century our industry has to change and innovate not become luddites as most or business is built around changing and transformation.
Today I spotted on LinkedIn that one of my former graduate trainees recruited in 2007 whilst interim MD at WSP Knowledge Solutions has today reached the lofty heights of Associate Director. I cannot tell how pleasing this is to read that someone you put faith in has progressed through the male dominated hierarchy of engineering and reached the place you knew she could reach.
There is nothing more satisfying in my career to see and help those who want it reach their full potential. I hold dear to my heart that everyone needs a business mentor or coach, a go to person who can help you get through the good and bad times and help you reach your full potential. I was lucky to have such a mentor.
When I was left with 60 millions calls and £60 million calls to try and answer when I walked in the door at the National Rail Enquiry Service I was frankly overawed by the size of the task. I went to the COO and said Alec we need some help, someone with “big call centre operational experience” what we got was Steve Kenny, a man who until his recent retirement (1997) was responsible for BT 151 fault call centre operation. Steve was a big guy in call centres but also a big guy in statue as well but a man with a big heart. Steve was not your typical management consultant but a guy who became a friend for life. To the extent I even steal his phrases. When I use the phrase “You are pushing against an open door “ and raise my hand to acknowledge it that is straight out of Steve Kenny’s locker. I smile and wink to Steve when I use it the man has a legacy.
Steve had a wealth of experience but also a pragmatic way of working that rubbed off on me, he gave me poetic licence to learn and fail and then with his big grin say “what trouble are you in now Nigel” Steve had no children but coaching and mentoring came naturally to him and quickly I became friends with Steve and his wife Yonis. Steve even moved from Norwood to my native Devon and having not seen him for a few years I was in a café in Crediton and I heard the booming voice in a South London accent behind me saying “That must be Gooding in front of me” I turned around and hugged the man who helped me help myself to get to where I am now. I do not realise it at the time back in 1997 but Steve was my mentor.
Alas Steve passed away a few years and I was devastated that I had lost my “business dad” If it were not for Steve encouragement I would not be doing what I do now. I would still in his words “Nigel, slow down and stop talking in riddles” Steve gave me the confidence to take risks and learn from them and when things went wrong allowed me to understand where we could get it right for the next time. I hope Steve’s skills have rubbed off on me and I am able to transfer my knowledge, skills, experience and one - liners to those who work with me.
As a leader you need to make an impression that allows people to develop and your role is to coach and mentor them to allow them to grow and aspire. This is your legacy. This happens naturally in the workplace if you get it right, people follow you, have trust in you to ask for your help and your confidence to shape their lives. Our job as leaders is to grow our people and form life long relationships with those who grow thanks to you.
17 years ago I left the UK railway industry. I spent 13 years there, joining as a management trainee, leaving in 1997 with the legacy of designing, steering through, choppy political waters and delivering the Uber successful and award winning National Rail Enquiry Service. A service that is still running today successfully a proud legacy from my work there as it’s first employee and project & scheme manager.
This May we will have 5 years of a UK parliament in which no serving MP has been arrested, sent to prison or sanctioned under the new MPs expenses scheme another legacy of my work in leading operational and strategic leadership of the new MPs scheme and operational people, process and technology to deliver it. I with my team delivered a scheme that ensured that the UK Public can have confidence once again that MPs are not putting their hand in the till at the taxpayers expense.
But so what? I hear you say, great legacy but what does it mean. Well for me as a seasoned interim with a track record of delivering change programmes that transformed services and “put things right” I have a legacy. I have delivered the benefits many years after the projects were delivered. The operations are still running and many with the staff that I trained. But can all interims claim a legacy?
An interim’s legacy led nicely to a conversation I had with a dear friend who asked me the question “How should I interview and drill down into the capability of an interim manager”
It is all about the legacy! No tangible legacy? Then why would you touch them with a barge pole? Would Chelsea FC ever appoint a manager with no track record, no legacy in delivery or empowering a team to deliver after they had gone?
So a simple method I devised states that there are 3 things in interview you should probe every person who knocks on your door and says I am an interim manager.
To make it easier for you I call it my 3 “E” approach.
When you left was the organisation/project/product:
Effective: Did you leave it fit for purpose?
Endurable: Is it still going and if not why not?
Empowered: Did you leave an empowered workforce when you left who could run the show when you were gone?
You’re interim resource should be able to show:
Effective: They should be able to prove that after they left that the project, product or organisation their outcomes was effective. It did the job you were asked.
Did the outcome of the project achieve the objectives of interim assignment? If for example the outcomes were to build a team that increased sales by 50%, or saved 50% did it reach those objectives? Challenge the interim to prove that the project succeeded, and if it failed why?
In my case the major objective of the new MPs Expenses scheme was to ensure that there was not a repeat of the MPs Expenses scandal – I can safely say I tick that box.
Endurable: This is linked to an effective conclusion, but more important you don’t want to touch the interim that has left an organisation in a right mess, financially unstable, or not delivering objectives. All too often I see leaders who have led organisations clearly in trouble and move quickly onto the next only to cause havoc elsewhere.
No one wants a present that breaks on Boxing Day after all just after your Great Auntie has left!
So really probe the interims performance either in interim or perm roles and see if the organisation they left is still operating or the product/service they claim to have delivered is still operating.
In the case of the new MPs expenses scheme, and the organisation we established IPSA it is still running and have confidence of the public a key benefit of the organisation.
Empowered: This is a key role of an interim to build a capability within your client’s team to run the operation successfully after you have gone through skills transfer and knowledge.
Probe who took over from them, what was their role in coaching and mentoring staff, what was their leadership style like.
In my own case in Plymouth I handed over my Programme to an internal member of staff, and coached project managers to have the skills and confidence now to deliver projects long after I am gone.
So in conclusion if you want to get it right start asking the right questions:
Show me the Effectiveness of projects you have worked on?
Are the projects/products still going, are they Endurable?
Did you empower the staff you left behind?
These are the three questions you should start asking candidates this week if you want a real measure of Interim performance, rather than “give me an example of when you have to deal with a difficult situation” ….I have been an interim for 17 years how many examples do you need, they are all difficult!
Be brave and I dare you to ask, “what is your legacy” as an interim.
It was Charles Kennedy, the former leader of the Lib Dems, who last week on BBC Radio 4 said, “the trouble with fixed term parliaments is the length of a 4 month General Election campaign which I (sic) and the voting public are in danger of becoming bored”
The prospect of a 4-month General Election campaign should be a real opportunity for competing parties and candidates to create a vision for what the future looks like for business in the UK. As a vision of “what good looks like” is the starting point for any business large or small.
I was lucky enough to attend the Dubai Rugby 7s in December and it was my first visit to the Emirate state and on my return I was asked what is Dubai really like? I pondered for a moment and said, ”Well Dubai works, and it just works without drama or complications”
What I meant, “it works” is that is that the infrastructure, organisation & associated networks all work to make really World class. Roads, Rail and Air are interlinked and transiting through and from is easy 3/4G and Wi-Fi is everywhere at superfast speed, stadia, public spaces are clean and safe, a blend of the old and new, preservation of traditional and new ways or life and the acceptance of cultural diversity. In essence everything worked. It gave the perception, and perception is everything that it is a great place to live, work and do business.
It was clear that Dubai has a vision of what does good look, driven mainly from the top and from Dubai leadership’s, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the United Arab Emirates Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.
Whilst in Dubai I investigated where his drive and vision came from. I quickly established that it came from a “best seller” written by the Sheikh no surprises there, called “My vision…Challenges in the race for Excellence” in that book his Highness presented a vision of the future and what the opportunities and challenges had in store for Dubai and the UAE. In essence a blueprint on how to move in the UAE and Dubai from their role as a regional economic, to play a role vital centre of a global economic, with a focus on the sectors of professional services, tourism and economy of thought and knowledge, and creative human energy.
The book articulated a vision for Dubai, it explained the need for an Emirate that needed to have excellence if it were to compete in a global market and take advantage of it’s unique Global location close to the powerhouses of 21st Century and Growth, India, Asia, Middle East and or course China.
So my challenge to our political leadership over the next 4 months is to give me a real opportunity to see a vision, aka Dubai style rather than sound bites, show me how the UK can create excellence and paint a picture of what good looks likes for business in the future and I and others may lend you my vote.
I would like to wish my clients, colleagues and partners a Happy New Year and an amazing 2015.
I am very excited as Fifth Consultancy my trusted friend for the last 17 years will expand and this year will see well as myself continue working in my capacity as a Senior Interim resource but aided by the recruitment of a team of Project professionals to support clients in the delivery of change programmes. These partners are professional project resources with black type experience and professionally trained with a sackful of qualifications itching to help you and your clients.
The business model in essence means that at my disposal I will have a range for project management professionals from project/programme support officers right the way through to programme managers working for Fifth Consultancy.
There are a stack of benefits to clients and agencies these include:
- Trained and skilled single project management team or individuals able to hit the ground running from day one giving you a new capability.
- Access to a range of proven template of governance models, templates and, risk assessments models, risk logs and project reports.
- One single point of contact for you to ensure delivery of your projects and programmes
- Skills transfer to your in house staff from our experience project and programme consultants.
The model of “pop up” project management resources is not new but with the recruitment of a team of self motivated professionals the future looks bright for my new team.
I am developing a “co-operative” model for Fifth Consultancy whereby all employees are partners and will share in the success and growth of Fifth Consultancy in 2015.
It should be a cracker, feel free to join me on this roller coaster ride.
I have for the last 20 years been involved in some of biggest projects in the UK. Many of these have redefined relationships with customers and led to organisational change. Good organisations understand the need for change to respond to customer changes in the way they want to do business with you, the Internet being a good example of the changes in customer demand and expectation over the last 20 years. Customers expectations are now instant and you need to recognise that quickly.
An example being the National Rail Enquiry Service given the fact that it was appalling bad before the transformation, driven by the need to meet new regulated targets the mainly phone based service is now an award winning web and application based service none of us could imagine, 20 years ago.
In those 20 years I have logged lessons and opportunities that introducing a strategic change on how organisations do business with their customers have evolved and key lessons on each occasion so that I can learn from each implementation.
For the purposes of this paper I have classed a life cycle change in the customer interaction as a Customer Relationship Management programme, defined as CRM.
There has often been a misunderstanding within programmes of change that define CRM as purely a technical solution and technology can provide a “silver bullet” Many CEO rushing off to buy some “shiny” technical software application that will solve all their customer problems.
This approach often missing the point that customer service failure is nearly always:
· A lack of understanding of the needs and wants for the customer often driven by decision making not built on evidence and data.
· A failure to understand that the processes, supply chains which make the customer journey are often at fault.
· That improvement to customer experience, this greater satisfaction and a combination of lower cost comes from process improvement linked to the enablers of technology and people, the latter two being responsible for the change.
Customer Relationship Management is a whole life cycle business approach that integrates people, process and technology to maximize relationships with all customers, through the seamless coordination between all customer-facing functions.
Having been an interim consultant for 20 years I have a little black book of lessons learnt from Customer Service change programmes and it is those I share with you today with a few tips on how to stop them happening in your projects.
The common pitfalls of a CRM programme could include:
1. The change is viewed as a technical, not a business problem and not evidence driven.
2. Driven from the top down and lacks user involvement,
3. Lack of senior management involvement often driven from “silo” mentality.
4. Not targeting the areas of highest adoption.
5. Driven by the IT organization vs. business leaders.
6. Trying to do too much at once.
7. Lack of Organizational Readiness and capability to deliver the change.
Let us look at these areas in more detail with some tips on how to avoid these pitfalls
1. CRM viewed as a Technical Not a Business Problem, failing to address lack of customer data and people and process issues.
One of the most common reasons why CRM projects fail is that the technology was allowed to dictate how customer relationships would be managed instead of the technology being the enabler, as are people. Therefore the strategy would be:
Strategy #1: Analyse all customer interactions, map all customer interactions and each customer journey, measure current processes using six sigma, define your customer relationship and interaction processes, and implement them. Once these are defined consider the appropriate systems solution and people issues associated.
2. CRM Driven From the Top Down
In most cases there is a danger that CRM programs are driven from the top down. The need for management information and understanding of customer interactions is a management function. Typically, when users are asked to put more into a system than the benefits, the results are a low adoption rate. Sure, you will get data entered into the system. However, over time you will discover that the integrity isn’t there as your team continues to follow their “tried and true” ways of developing and closing business. Human nature will prevail, and you will find your users doing the minimal required, to show their “attempts at using a less than adequate system.”
Strategy #2: It is vital in the initial phases of CRM Change initiative to ensure that you “consider” the requirements of senior management, and meet the requirements of your front-line personnel. Management reporting will come, but only after your customer-facing personnel are receiving value from the system. It has been said that users need to obtain 3 units of benefit from a system, for 1 unit of work that they put in to a system. If you don’t acknowledge this, your CRM initiative will struggle getting off the ground.
3. Lack of Senior & Middle Management Involvement across the organisation
While CRM initiatives shouldn’t be driven “just” from the top down, as discussed above, senior management across all parts of the organization involvement is absolutely critical. Without senior management involvement, accountability for ROI (return on investment) will be non-existent, and the programme will experience scope creep as “everyone” tries to get his or her requirements in. Scope creep brings with it cost overruns and implementation delays. Both of these can be avoided.
Strategy #3: Ensure senior & middle management across the organisation is involved in the program, to include all partners and stakeholders. Appoint a "change" champion, flag waver, drum banger and respected agent of change in every department within your business and use them as your "senate" for design.
There is only one way to engage in the change process and that is to include everyone in the process of change. Middle Management are always the last to come on board with change as they feel most threatened as traditionally these “NCOs” of the organisation have clearly defined roles and responsibilities and could see these roles disappearing within a programme that attempts to reduce process failure and perhaps replace people with process change and technology. Less people mean less leaders.
So your strategy needs to identify these key players earlier, senior management need to become “participative” managers and bring managers on board, one way of doing this which worked successfully in a client of mine was to make the managers the agents of change. Retrain them in project managers and allow then the opportunity to lead the change.
However let us not beat around the bush organisational survival often depends upon on this change and whilst a consultative approach to change is always the starting point it is important that managers make hard decisions when the time is right.
4. Not Targeting the Area of Highest Adoption
The programme attempts to improve customer experience, which in turn will drive a reduced cost per transaction, but also establish a raft of interactions, and data collection will allow more targeted marketing and customer centric offerings to potential customers.
A CRM programme tends to target: Sales, Marketing, Service and production outputs. Traditionally CRM initiatives “tend” to address these functions in the order listed.
However, consider the “characteristics” of each group:
1. Sales people are typically not process oriented. They are relationship builders
They tend to demand much flexibility in the way they work, which includes the systems they use.
2. Marketing teams tend to be “more” process oriented, while at the same time they need to be creative and flexible in terms of approaches to develop the business proposition to the market place.
3. Service personnel are highly process oriented and their management structure is typically focused on measures to continually improve "operational effectiveness" reduce cost and follow process and procedures. There is an ops manual somewhere I am sure!
Strategy #4: Target your service functions first, then marketing, then sales. The momentum and value created, in the system, helps to ensure a successful adoption rate by your Sales professionals. In targeting service functions first, the CRM initiative provides for the highest adoption rates. Once a service team has converted to the system there is immediate payback in operational efficiencies, and increases in customer satisfaction soon follows. And, by virtue of managing the service function from the system, customer information is being accumulated. Information is now available to the organisations across broad spectrum of customer interactions.
5. Driven by the IT Organization vs. Business Leaders
It is important that across the organization that the CRM programme is seen a change process that derives change in people, process and technology, though the IT organisation is a critical aspect to the successful delivery of the programme. Therefore it is imperative that it is not perceived that the IT organisation is leading the overall initiative, but that you placed accountability where it belongs at the heart of the University, in a centrally driven programme office.
Strategy #5: CRM projects must be owned and driven by the senior business managers responsible for delivering the customer proposition not by the IT or come to think of it HR.
6. Trying To Do Too Much At Once
CRM is a big initiative. And, a key element underlying all customer change initiatives is the need to integrate access to all customer information. Many implementations have failed simply because the project was too aggressive.
Rest assured the transfer of calls from old calls centres to the new providers answering calls on behalf of the new National Rail Enquiry Service took 18 months as we piece by piece chunked up the country by telephone book area and transferred a tranche at a time. it would have been crazy to have delivered the change in one go, so be sensible in delivery timescales and realistic on what you can achieve.
Strategy #6: Identify the 3-5 highest priority areas to target and implement them. Once implemented, let them “bed-in” to the environment. In parallel with the bed -in period, begin work on the next 3-5 highest priority areas. Continue this cycle.
7. Lack of Organizational Readiness & capability
Business change requires the proper balance of people, process, and technology. CRM initiatives are often technology driven, with plenty of focus on the systems and even the processes to support them. However, one of the most important aspects of successful CRM implementation is Organisational Readiness and capability.
By its nature, CRM projects are usually a cross-functional, organisation-wide initiative aimed at creating a single face to the customer. To present this single face, the multiple groups within the organization must agree on what that face should look like.
Strategy #7: Develop and communicate that the programme should be considered an Organisational -wide initiative, and no one group should have the ability to derail such a broad endeavor. For CRM projects to be successful, the organization must be prepared to compromise, and must always remember that the organisation is more important than any one group.
There is of course one thing missing from my review of CRM projects, which should be obvious, the clear need for one single leader driving and championing the change programme is vital. In essence a programme leader with amazing stakeholder skills, broad shoulders and an endearing personality as it will be a tough journey ahead. Don't be scared to get in expert resources without the likely hood is you will fail.
Nigel Gooding MCMI is managing partner at Fifth Consultancy and a leading business transformation professional who lists the National Rail Enquiry Service, the new MPs Expenses Scheme amongst his impressive CV.