Friday, 15 December 2017

Behaviour Diligence - Avoid Apathy

I have received much comment and feedback following my Post on Tuesday highlighting the issues raised by Women in the music industry.

Most of the feedback was encouraging and supportive, and was all much appreciated.

I was however concerned by one alarmingly common feedback theme.

About a dozen people commented not having seen or been aware of the letter signed by 360 women from the music industry drawing attention their experiences of harassment, discrimination, exploitation and generally bad behaviour.

With the events in America and United Kingdom and now in Australia, the danger is the mounting number of revelations will start to become routine and either be passed over by the media, or in this case, not noticed as it perhaps blends in to the ordinary “news of the day”.

We are desensitised to so many events; Natural disasters, violence, detention and extraordinary actions of several world leaders hardly raise an eyebrow.

We must avoid becoming desensitised to matters of harassment, intimidation and exploitation against Women in the workplace, or against Men. We perhaps don’t look at entertainment and sport as being a workplace, but it most certainly is.

In the meantime, as the number of shopping days until Christmas reach single figures, make the most of it.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Technology - More or Less?

Just about everyone I have spoken to these last 2 weeks is referencing relief that 2017 is drawing to a close.

Across the board, it seems 2017 has been a more stressful, demanding and exhausting year than ever before.

Why?

The advance year by year in technology means that never before have we had so much help and support in the workplace.

Data that once took a few days to extract and compile, we can now consume in real time. Decisions can be made and an advantage exploited or a measure corrected, in real time.

How much easier and less stressful is that?

Information can now flow directly from the client in to the business data base whereas once there was a need for a manual intervention. The client information is now updated in real time, whereas not long ago it would be an overnight process.

Transactions and enquiries now take place on-line, taking out the stress associated with the personal interaction of a face to face or phone based staff member.

Again, a far less stressful situation, allegedly?

And, no longer do we need to get up from our workspace and move to another place for a meeting. We can click a couple of times at the pre-arranged time and all connect via computer and have a virtual face to face meeting on our screens.

None of the stress of walking, catching a lift and finding the domiciled meeting room.

How about those pesky phone conversations, where individual expression and personality shone through? Thankfully, there is little need for this stressful activity now as we use the inhouse instant messenger system.

Is it any wonder as 2017 draws to a close there are more expressions than ever of exhaustion, stress, frustration and desperation?

Again, with all the technological assistance, it is meant to be easier, not harder.

What we no longer have is the same level of personal interactions with colleagues and customers.

Further, the personal conversations we do have be they face to face or by phone will tend to confrontational.

The customer complaint or service failure will be addressed by way of a direct communication.

The staff or people issue will be resolved by face to face negotiation.

Both are "confrontational".

We no longer have the “water cooler” conversation or the easy banter that accompanies the routine discussion. Discussions conducted via messenger or e-mail and meetings via video tend not to include such personal, perhaps trivial associated chat.

The removal of many of our personal interactions changes the way we feel about our workplace. We may not realise it when it is happening but I suggest it contributes to our overall sense of stress and fatigue.

Unknowingly, we may feel the work we do is less meaningful than it once was. My take is the increase in our electronic interactions in place of personal communications has resulted in our workplaces becoming less personal.

I usually aim to conclude observations such as these with some remediation action recommendations.

Efficiency and cost demands dictate an ever increasing drive for technological innovations, not less.

Our workplaces are changing rapidly and the common belief is many of the jobs currently in vogue will not exist in 10 years time.

Perhaps it will take this transition to “new work” and "new jobs” not yet envisioned to resolve the overall problem however until then, it may well be that it gets worse before it gets better.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Five Months - Two Graduations.

Today was one I often doubted would ever arrive.

It is also only the second time in 5 months, 1 week and 5 days that I have worn a tie, and only the third time I have endured a collar on my shirt.

Having graduated a Lawyer in July, tonight, a Bachelor of Business with a couple of majors also graduates. Two ceremonies, one tie for each.

Two out of two Son's will have completed University, at least for now.

Both are working be it not necessarily in their ideal roles, but hey, many of us are like that.

It does seem to have taken forever, and in both cases, University years exceeded secondary years by number.

As Parents, there are many milestones and today very much feels like one. It also means no more University fees.

Let the show begin, followed by the celebrations.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Bad Behaviour Towards Women in Business - It Stops Now (#meNOmore)

I had a very different article all but prepared for today. It can wait.

I have just become aware of #meNOmore.

360 Women from the Australian Music Industry have combined to end sexual harassment in their Industry including many providing an outline of their experiences by way of an open letter to the Industry.

The letter is as disturbing as it is shameful.

We may have a perception of the music industry a being “sex, drugs and rock and roll”. We may see the industry as being more promiscuous than others. However, the cold hard reality is the Music Industry is like any other. It is a business and it takes talent and hard work to achieve success.

The music industry is similar in another way to all others. It is dominated by men. We occupy most of the powerful and influential positions in most, if not all businesses.  

I suspect any group of 360 Women Lawyers, Accountants, Retailers, Factory Employees, Education, Academia, Medical and any other industry could write and sign a letter telling similar stories to those expressed by the Women of the Australian Music Industry.

The #meNOmore group represent all Women in all walks of life by taking advantage of access to a public forum afforded them by way of their hard-earned public profile. They have the ability to generate publicity that others do not.

Their efforts today, intentionally or otherwise, are on behalf of all Women, everywhere, most of whom do not have a platform from which to speak and be heard.

It is now time for us Males to stand up and be counted. It is actually well overdue.

High profile Women may have the ability to achieve exposure of shocking behaviour but we, males, have the power and ability to change it.

I am confident in suggesting men behaving badly is representative of the minority.  

Assuming this is true, the remaining majority of us have the opportunity to make a huge difference.

We must will no longer turn a blind eye to poor behaviour being perpetrated towards women. We will call it out and we will make the victim of poor behaviour aware they have our support should action be necessary.

We must will no longer allow degrading conversation towards women, or about women to take place or continue when talking with other men. Despite there being no victim present, allowing such conversations to occur without check is representative of an attitude that needs to change.

We must will educate our sons and grandsons about the equal entitlement of women in all walks of life, including what is acceptable behaviour.

We must will ensure our daughters and granddaughters have our support to reject inappropriate behaviours and to take necessary action against the perpetrator.

Finally, we will support #meNOmore and demonstrate that Men also find the behaviour experienced by so many Women to be disgraceful, unacceptable and unable to be continued.

Australia granted the LGBTI community equal marriage rights last week. Now it is time to grant Women an equal right of respect and dignity.

#meNOmore

Monday, 11 December 2017

Our Frantic Race.........To be the same

Ours is a faced paced world.

Immediacy is demanded everywhere.

Not feeling well? Give me a pill.
I need an answer – Google it.
A new fashion - click, I own it.

Whereas once we would refer to the library or an encyclopedia, now we rely on Wikipedia and without total foundation, we trust what it says. It is fast and it is easy but is it accurate? Oftenish.

We consume our information on the run; while driving and while doing what used to be called relaxing. 

We walk and talk; we used to just walk, or just talk.

Immediacy of news comes via Twitter, our news feeds, other social media where the factual nature or otherwise of this news is not necessarily proven, but we form our opinions just the same. 

We now feel compelled to respond with immediacy to electronic communications and to have the answers to questions at our fingertips. Messenger, Whatsapp, instagram, Status Updates, PM's, DM's, SMS e-mail and many other derivatives of electronic communication.

We have far more options available to us in this new day and age.

Theoretically, our options are without limit or so we are told.

We lament the loss of the “personality” or the “character” be it in the workplace, family situations or sport while at the same time chastising those who choose to be different. The counter thinker is discouraged, the challenger, creator, the individual with the courage to suggest a different approach or new way of looking at a matter is sidelined or labelled "difficult".  Adopting the latest fashion occurs quicker than ever and “I just must have the new phone” is a real syndrome as demonstrated by the queues of people outside an Apple store the day of new model release.

The only thing worse than being wrong, is being different.

But thankfully, our options are limitless.

The instantaneous nature of the information available to us results in us seeking to follow the latest trend or idea and to do so immediately. Whereas once we may have considered a decision overnight or longer, we can now scroll, click and execute a decision, seemingly before we have made it. Note the crashing of the website selling the coat the soon to be new Royal wore for the engagement announcement. She wore it, and thousands wanted to wear it too.

Is it any wonder credit card and other forms of immediate debt is causing issues and family breakdown?

We can now slavishly express our individuality by more quickly following what others are doing..

But, our options are limitless.

Our journalism is compromised by a lack of time and resources to apply the same fact and process checks of the past. The priority is to get the story on-line so the clicks can start to be counted.

Our internet based lives may well provide us with the limitless options of our generation however in effect, we are exercising this capability by being quicker than ever, to be the same as everyone else.

How much faster can we become at being the same?

Time of course, will tell but the main thing is, our options are limitless.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Jerusalem

Maybe Donald Trump is what he says he is; smarter than everyone else.

By no means do I understand the ins and out of Middle Eastern politics.

I have a broad understanding of the Jerusalem issue in that all of the City is considered “Holy” by 3 separate religious groups.

Therefore, any formal recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of one, will upset the other two.

President Trump has recognised Jerusalem as the Capital City of Israel and will move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem.

The current dispute over the City heightened following the 1967 Arab/Israel war when Israel gained territory and have refused to include its return as part of any subsequent peace negotiations.

Donald Trump is the 4th United States President to make an election promise to recognise Jerusalem as the Capital. The other three did not go ahead although President Clinton set things in motion.

I understand why Israel is pleased with the decision by the United States to recognise Jerusalem as their Capital.

I also understand why the Palestinians are most upset by this.

I note that no other country has followed the US lead and in fact, the decision to recognise a new capital has been widely and comprehensively condemned.

Donald Trump makes one sound point in support of his decision. Over a 50-year period, the tinderbox nature of the region has not improved. Each administration has basically repeated the actions, or lack of action of the past and the outcome is the same. President Trump is doing something different and while this appears to be a high-risk approach, who knows, the Middle East tension may end up being resolved.

Perhaps he will confound the critics and prove to actually be a true International Strategist and resolver of historic issues.

His election platform was to Make America Great Again supported by the mantra Put America First.

I understand why many close supporters of the President will be pleased with this decision.

I understand why some of his immediate family will be happy too.

I don’t understand how recognising Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel progresses America back to Greatness or is an example of Putting America First.

Not for the first time, understanding what motivates the actions and decisions of the President is hard to understand and even harder at times to believe.

Have a peaceful weekend.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Time to Remove Client and Customer Service

It is time to overturn the concept of customer service.

It is time to do away with the idea of client service.

Further, our businesses need to stop recruiting (recycling) experienced customer interface people.

We can also abandon the pursuit of the great customer experience, the engaged member, the advocate and the promoter. All the buzz words and hot phrases used by marketers in meetings up and down the line can be eliminated. There are predominantly excuses anyway.

And then there is my favourite pet dislikes: partnering and mutual success.

“We don’t see you as a client, we see you as our partner” or “your success is our success”.

Why do I dislike these?

Has the entity purchasing the product or service ever entered in to the transaction saying they want a partnership? The seller of the product or service wants to sell something, and then do it again. The notion of a partnership suggests equal rights and this simply isn’t the case.  Hence Caveat Emptor.

As for your success and my success, I assess how successful I am by how much you and everyone else buys from me.

Let’s finish the job – lets remove the words and concepts of the customer and client from our business lexicon.   

Now we are making progress.

We no longer have a customer or a client, we no longer require the experienced customer/client servicer officer and that means their manager/leader is out too. There is a flow on impact to the recruiting industry who are kept busy as the previously referenced customer/client service officer was inclined to move on to a new employer every few years or so.

I hear the question coming loud and clear – We still have a product/service to sell and we need to look after those who buy it?

Yes, we do, but customer service as we currently practice it, is not the avenue.

Education isn’t either.

Increasing, we demand higher and higher educational levels for those on the front line. We have degree qualified employees, some with multiple degrees, dealing with basic questions of fact via the phone and internet based interfaces.

Some organisations even go so fare as promote the education levels of their staff as evidence of quality customer service, or use education to defend complaints when customers are dis-satisfied.

So, what am I proposing?

I am proposing an about face in terms of service and sales interface.

Instead of looking at the users of our services and products as clients, build a culture where everyone is a ‘person” to be communicated with by way of the courtesy and respect we should always apply to our dealings with people.

Further, we transform the staff we recruit to conduct these interfaces and place the absolute emphasis on their natural people and communication skills.

I have witnessed customer service training programs aimed at removing natural communication skills from those who are natural communicators. With this, we also lose flair and energy. I have seen highly scripted answer provided for staff to parrot repeat, word for word.

The natural communicator, the team member who enjoys talking to people will deliver the outcomes people want, need, enjoy and come back to, for more.

So much of what occurs in business is people to people. It should not be staff member to customer, or client service officer to client.

Recruit people who love communicating and remove sales training and pay them based on this ability and not the listing of letters after their name.

Moving on:

When there is a sale to be made, it establishes a contest and puts the person being sold to on edge.

Replace sales training with great recruiting of the correct people and arm them with the product and service benefits to be communicated in the individuals style.

Or to put it another way, let my PEOPLE to talk to the people who use our product, and let them do it as a person, talking to a person.