Converting knowledge to wisdom

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“What use is it to have a bellyful of meat if one can not digest it? If it cannot transform us, if it cannot improve us and fortify us?”

Wrote Michel de Montaigne back in the 16th century in one of his many rants against a French school system that “requires you to just parrot back everything you are told”.

So how do we actually convert knowledge into leadership wisdom?

The key word here is experience, experience not as in breathtaking customer experience, but learning from experience.

Because we all agree that we learn from our experiences, or do we?

If you have ever made the same mistake twice, you will have to agree that we do not consistently learn from our experiences.

When then do you learn from your experiences?

Elementary my dear Watson: Whenever you take the time to reflect on your experiences, you make deeper learning possible.

Reflection can be a personal reflection, or it can tackle the form of a team reflection.

Our reflection can be a surface reflection:

  • What happened?
  • Which actions were taken?
  • What were the consequences that we observed?

Or we can choose to do a deep reflection:

  • What did I learn about myself through this experience?
  • What are we learning about how this team functions and handles conflict through this experience?
  • What broader issue can we see arising from this experience?

Surface reflection helps us understand past actions and behaviours. Deep reflection helps us examine underlying beliefs and assumptions.

Both are important. But even more important is to start developing a practice of reflection. Make a habit of having a regular end of day/week or month reflection session with your team. Develop a personal particle of reflection. The best way to do that is to start a journal and spend just 10-15 minutes a day nothing dow your answers to:

  • What has been my focus today?
  • What have I observed?
  • What am I learning?
  • What will I focus on tomorrow?

Now your are on track to convert knowledge into wisdom.


BestThis blog post is the second in a series of blog posts where Mike is exploring: Why is it important to develop not just yourself but also the people around you?

Building capacity is at the heart of the Service Profit Chain. If you are not familiar with the intricacies of the Service Profit chain, we have a special treat for you:

For this month only, you can download Mike’s book Best! No need to be cheap if … for FREE using this coupon JLXW8P9QSE. It is only available for the first 50 people so first come first serve.

Download the book here!

Why developing others should be high on your agenda

Learning

When implementing the philosophy of the Service Profit Chain, we often look at three core parts:

And all three are driven by the continuous development of your team.

Employee engagement is closely linked to job content. What do I get to do at work (the other part of a job is job context which is all about the condition you get to do your work in)? A key component of job content is the perception that I am growing and developing myself.

Any book or article you read about creating a customer-centric approach inevitably will talk about value. If we are not providing value, we do not have a business, not for very long at least. But values in a service business is a result of employee competencies. This has to do with the notion that services are asymmetric in their nature. What the client buys is not what we sell. The client has a need and we translate that need into our product. If you are going to do that better than your competition, it requires competent people.

And finally, customer loyalty is developed through skillful interaction that produces an emotional connection with our customers. Delivering the basic product according to specifications just ensures satisfaction; getting to loyalty requires so much more.

So you can do what many organisations do, hope that they will improve as they go.

Or you can do what the top performing service companies do, you can develop a culture of continuous improvement and learning that drives everything that you do.

If you are wondering what works best, let me help you…

Think about any type of human endeavour where we can observe that high performance is vastly different from just ordinary performance. Playing the piano, ballet dancing or competitive swimming just to name a few. In virtually every arena in which we observe excellence, we also see a commitment to continuous improvement…

We also know from research on learning that if you are good at something and you just do what you are good at every day, your performance will gradually deteriorate and get worse. Don’t believe me? So if you have had a drivers licence for more than 5 years, do you think you could pass a driver’s test tomorrow? See what I mean?

Only if you continue to practice can you maintain or even improve your performance.

So how do we build continuous perfomance into our day to day work? What can we do to make sure that our people are always learning and developing? That is going to be the theme for my next series of blog posts.


BestDuring the months of April, May, and June, we will be focusing human development. Why is it important to develop not just yourself but also the people around you? And what are ways to do it when we already have plenty on our plate as it is?

Building capacity is at the heart of the Service Profit Chain. If you would like the full concept served up in one go, you will find Mike’s book Best! No need to be cheap if… HERE.

For this month only, you can download the book for FREE using this coupon JLXW8P9QSE. It is only available for the first 50 people so first come first serve. Download the book now!

If it is all about loyalty, does satisfaction matter?

Consistency

It is true that in the Service Profit Chain framework, there is a huge emphasis on establishing loyalty; loyalty is the key driver of profit and growth.

Before we can even hope to establish a relationship that will lead to loyalty, we must ensure that we have a firm grip on the basics and that we can deliver on our promise every time. The keyword here is consistency, the key driver of basic satisfaction.

Consistency or lack of consistency is also one of my pet grievances. Consistency is the flip side of reliability. If as a customer I had a great experience last week, you as a service provider have implicitly promised me that I will have the same experience when I return next week.

If not, you are not only unreliable in my eyes, but you are also performing below my expectations, and we all know that meeting expectations is the first key to customer satisfaction.

This is a balancing act because, on the one hand, we would like to see creativity and initiative on the part of our teams, but on the other hand, we need to deliver a product that is as expected.

The name of the game is to generate repeat business. Customers return to get more of what they enjoyed the first time. If they don’t get that, then they could just as well have gone somewhere else.

Just think back for a moment about how many times in your life you had a great experience somewhere, and then went back only to find that what you had last time was not what you got the next time. Did you go back a third time just to make sure?

Probably not.

Where do you go frequently? Most probably to a place that is very consistent in some aspect of their service delivery that is important to you. That consistency is what brings you back.

Requiring consistency in the delivery process is universal across all types of services. It is the foundation of your success, and that applies to all service businesses, the way your insurance company processes your claim, the way the consultant interacts with you, how your auditing firm performs the audit. You return to the same supplier in all of these situations because you liked the way he or she did the work.

Together with emotions, consistency is an important element in our ability to recall one service experience more easily than others. You remember the consistently good experiences. They stand out. You have a much harder time remembering inconsistent experiences because you easily confuse them with all of the other inconsistent experiences that you have had.

Customers come back to experiences that consistently live up to their expectations. When that happens, we call it loyalty. Loyalty is built on consistency. Never forget that.

So take a good hard look at your basic processes, are they consistent?


This blog post is part of a series of answers to frequent questions that I get around the concept of the Service Profit Chain. In future’s posts, we will continue to explore other key points. If you would like the full concept served up in one go, you will find Mike’s book “Best! No need to be cheap if…HERE.

What is the difference between satisfaction and loyalty?

Loyalty and Satisfaction

In a world of abundance, too much of everything, what we also sometimes describe as hyper-competition, understanding the difference between satisfaction and loyalty is also the key to profits and growth.

There are many different ways of defining loyalty out there but this is my favourite one (not one invented but I can’t for the life of me remember where I found it): A loyal customer is someone who is willing to pay a bit more for your service than they would have to pay somewhere else for a similar experience.

Think about that for a moment…

If they are paying the same price to you as they would pay anywhere else, they are not loyal. It is just convenient for them to do business with you. And if they are paying less, you have just bribed them to stay with you.

So there you have it, satisfaction is manly about avoiding dissatisfaction: Delivering on the primary results in a consistent and reliable way, what Tom Peters so famously called Ho-Hum.

There is no loyalty in satisfaction. It is just Ho-Hum.

Loyalty is about a connection. Loyalty is emotional, not rational. Loyalty is Wow! You have this ‘feeling’ about a place, a product.

Just think about all the stuff that you own. Of all the things in your possession, which ones are in your eyes brands and what are just products?

It’s quite simple: A product or service becomes a brand when you have a feeling for it.

And then we are back full circle to the Service Profit Chain because things do not create emotions, people do. When I think of a certain hotel or café that I am very fond of, it’s the people. They have some people who have made an effort and established a connection with me, and yes I will gladly pay a premium for that emotional connection. It makes my day.


This blog post is part of a series of answers to frequent questions that I get around the concept of the Service Profit Chain. In future post, we will continue to explore other key points. If you would like the full concept served up in one go, you will find Mike’s book “Best! No need to be cheap if…HERE.

 

Why my fear of roller coasters does not keep me out of amusement parks

Helix - Liseberg - Gothenburg
Helix – Liseberg – Gothenburg

They scare the living daylight out of me those roller coasters.

Intellectually I understand that they are safe, probably safer that taking a taxi to the airport, statistically… but still. It’s always been like that, so maybe in a previous life I was traumatised by a roller coaster gone wild. Anyway that is not the point of this final blog post of the year. The reason I mention it is because paradoxically this year I have seen more incredible roller coasters and heard more delighted shrieks from thrilled crowds than at any time previously in my life. More on that in just a minute.

Yes I am in a reflective mood.

You see, technically, this week is just like all the other weeks, but somehow in our mind it’s quite special. It marks an ending and a new beginning and we all get in this mood of yearly review and even more importantly setting new bold goals for the coming year.

All my lovely blogging colleagues are probably bombarding you with: The ten best books you should have read, the eight new trends that you must understand or (flavour of the year) the twelve point action plan that will make this your best year ever!

So why the roller coasters?

Well believe it or not, this was the year that I got to spend considerable time in amusements parks!

Seriously!

As always I have been doing work with my loyal gang of regular hotel clients, but I also got to spend time at Efteling in Holland introducing the Service Profit Chain for IAAPA. In Copenhagen, we introduced a new approach to leadership development at Tivoli gardens and I had the honour for 16 weeks to take a group of seriously enthusiastic managers from Liseberg in Gothenburg through the GROW leadership program.

So what am I learning?

I think my key takeaway this year has been confirmation that at the end of the day, being a great manager is deceptively simple on the surface, and incredibly hard to do well in practice. It’s like juggling. You see the guy rotating 5 oranges in the air and you think: “That’s neat. I can do that.” You pick up the oranges and you understand that there is a gap between knowing and doing.

The 5 oranges of management that you need to juggle have been elegantly formulated by the Gallup organisation based on their extensive research of hundreds of business and managers.

Great managers have these talents/skills/abilities:

  • They motivate every single employee to take action and engage them with a compelling mission and vision.
  • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
  • They create a culture of clear accountability.
  • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency.
  • They make decisions that are based on productivity, not politics.

That’s it! But again this is just more information, and I am sure you don’t need more information.

What you need is probably execution, the HOW part.

So that brings me to next year. Early 2017, we will be launching the Team Leader’s Toolbox – a training program aimed at helping busy mangers learn quickly how they juggle their ‘oranges’. Leave me a note here if you would like to be notified when we launch that program.

We have been exploring this theme of Leadership and Management over the year on the blog as well and if you missed some of the posts you can download a compilation in the form of ebook HERE.

Thank you for reading my blog. If there is anything you would like to see more (or less) of next year, don’t hesitate to drop me a line. I love hearing from my readers.

Merry Christmas and my best wishes for the coming year!

team-leaders-toolbox2Enter your email address below and we will notify you when we launch the Team Leader’s Toolbox!

_________________________________________________

This post is one of a series where we are exploring the notion of leadership and how this is different from management. Our starting point is the Service Profit Chain and the understating that the management part of our job will only take us so far. If we really want to create an organisation that is capable of delivering outstanding customer experiences, we need to develop an organisation that delivers outstanding employee experiences – and that requires leadership. You can check out other articles of the series below:

  1. Are you an inspiring leader to work for?
  2. What does it require to be an inspirational leader?
  3. The something for something system is at the heart of the uninspiring workplace.
  4. How is team management different from team leadership and why should I worry?
  5. Teams are organic systems, and therefore, by definition unstable.
  6. How you can help you team manage their states
  7. Do you understand the stages that your team goes through?
  8. What the h… went wrong?
  9. Who gets the last chef?
  10. Progress drives engagement – So how do you focus on progress?

Progress drives engagement – So how do you focus on progress?

Progress

Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run. Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high quality product or service, everyday progress, even a small win, can make all difference in how they feel and perform.

The Progress Principle

This quote which makes so much sense to me brings us to another aspect of not just why we need to focus on developing the people around us, but also how we can do it.

Focus on progress

In order to progress, we need a baseline to progress from. Once we have a baseline, we can start thinking about what we need to learn or practice in order to get better.

For learning actually to happen, there must be a gap between your current capability and the results that you desire.

So in order for our people actually to learn they need to:

  • Have an awareness of the gap
  • Be willing to declare their incompetence (I don’t know how to do that.)
  • Commit to learning

(I have written about this in a previous post some time ago.)

So if I sneak into your business and tap any one of your team members on the shoulder and ask them: “What are you working on at the moment in order to get better?”, or I ask them: “In what ways does your boss feel you have made progress last month?”, do they know?

Or is progress something that is randomly observed and then celebrated: “Oh look isn’t this nice!”?

Focusing on progress is an important part of your leadership role. And your most important tool for this is not a dashboard in excel but conversations, one-on-one conversations (According to Gallup research, team members who have no or very few one-to-one sessions with their direct supervisor are 67% more likely to be disengaged at work. I mention this just in case you have the notion that one-on-one is a waste of time and it is easier to tell them all at once.)

If you happen to be a manager of managers, this is even more import – you are the role model. If you are not having one-to-one conversations (about progress) with your direct reports, there is little chance that they are having them with their team members. In fact, if you are not talking to them about how they are progressing with their approach to manage progress with their team, I am pretty sure it is not happening at all.

How to structure an engaging conversation

What would be a good way to structure these conversations?

Establish the gap. Once we have a gap, we can establish a goal. Moving toward our goal is what progress would look like. Then we can have a chat about so what is going on now compared to that goal. Once we agree on how what is going on is different from the goal, then we can talk about what options there could be in order to make progress towards the goal. Finally, we pick an action and commit to doing that.

The following conversation will be a follow up / feedback on how this is going. If you are familiar with coaching, you will have recognised that what I have described here as a framework is in fact the GROW coaching model – you can check it out in more details HERE.

In any case, in my upcoming course The Team Leaders’ Toolbox, we will be exploring this model more in details. If you would like to be notified when we launch that, sign up with the link below!

team-leader-toolbox-1Enter your email address below and we will notify you when we launch the Team Leader’s Toolbox!

__________________________________________________________________

This post is one of a series where we are exploring the notion of leadership and how this is different from management. Our starting point is the Service Profit Chain and the understating that the management part of our job will only take us so far. If we really want to create an organisation that is capable of delivering outstanding customer experiences, we need to develop an organisation that delivers outstanding employee experiences – and that requires leadership. You can check out other articles of the series below:

  1. Are you an inspiring leader to work for?
  2. What does it require to be an inspirational leader?
  3. The something for something system is at the heart of the uninspiring workplace.
  4. How is team management different from team leadership and why should I worry?
  5. Teams are organic systems, and therefore, by definition unstable.
  6. How you can help you team manage their states
  7. Do you understand the stages that your team goes through?
  8. What the h… went wrong?
  9. Who gets the last chef?