The MHC Blog

Powerful Business Insights for Succesful Leaders
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From Founder to CEO

You took the decision to quit your full time corporate job to become your own boss.  To make this life changing plan, you probably had an entrepreneurial sprit that was restrained in your salaried job - you took the risk and it worked out!

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HIGH STANDARDS OBSESSION

Recently Amazon founder Jeff Bezos published his annual letter to shareholders.  After commending Amazon employees for their commitment to excellence and Amazon customers for pushing him and his team to continue raising the bar, he delivered a lesson in how to stay ahead of customer expectations. 

It all comes down to maintaining high standards. 

In fact, Jeff seems obsessed with high standards, reading his memo in full, he repeats this phrase so many times I lost count!  But you cannot argue with facts.  As Jeff states:

“The American Customer Satisfaction Index recently announced the results of its annual survey, and for the 8th year in a row customers ranked Amazon #1. The UK have a similar index, The U.K. Customer Satisfaction Index, put out by the Institute of Customer Service, for the 5th time in a row Amazon U.K. ranked #1 in that survey.

Amazon was also just named the #1 business on LinkedIn’s 2018 Top Companies list, which ranks the most sought after places to work for professionals in the US. And just a few weeks ago, Harris Poll released its annual Reputation Quotient, which surveys over 25,000 consumers on a broad range of topics from workplace environment to social responsibility to products and services, and for the 3rd year in a row Amazon ranked #1.”

Results to be proud of, but how does Amazon do this?

 

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Employee engagement drives great customer service

 

When you think of marketing, you more than likely think of marketing to your customers, how can you persuade more people to buy what you sell? But another “market” is just as important are your employees, the very people who can make the brand come alive for your customers through their engagement with their Company.

Why is employee engagement so important? It is the best way to help employees make a powerful emotional connection to the products and services you sell. Without that connection, employees are likely to undermine the expectations set by your advertising.

When the purpose of your company is "to help create a world where you can belong anywhere", your employees ought to feel they belong in your Company. At least that's what the leaders of Airbnb believe. And this belief explains why they place so much importance on the Employee Experience (EX).

EX is the critical strategy that Airbnb relies on to build its brand and pursue its purpose. In 2016, the company adopted the slogan "Belong Anywhere" to express its brand identity and launched the "#belonganywhere" brand campaign. Airbnb’s leaders believed these efforts needed to represent more than an external idea, the concept of belonging needed to apply inside the company as well.

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Keeping your promises

Promises matter to customers. If your brand doesn’t deliver what you promise, in time you won’t matter. More importantly, in our social media crazed world, disgruntled customers have open media to spread the word over resulting in instant ramifications to the credibility and trajectory of your brand’s perceived value.

Have you ever been promised a level of service from a Company only to be hugely disappointed when they don’t follow through?  The Company may even have incorporated the brand promise into their corporate advertising which may have been the reason why you choose them over the competition. How did you feel when that promise was broken? Upset, disappointed, angry?

For the Company involved, is a broken brand promise that big a deal? You got the business, does it matter if you didn’t quite come up to expectations?  What’s the worst that can happen if you delivered a bit later than you said you would or your customer didn’t quite get the results they expected?

Why is a brand promise so important?

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Personal data management

In an age of social media, our new ease with over oversharing and giving personal information to complete strangers without thinking about it, never has personal data management been more in the spot light.  

We think nothing of shouting to the world what used to be deeply personal information.  How many of us have posted how excited we are to be at the airport heading on holiday for 2 weeks, giving no thought to the fact that we may have previously posted photos of our homes or may even have put into Facebook set up screens our home address, homes that are now empty and open to social media searching burglars to empty at their leisure – they know where you live, where you are now and when you are back, by the time you are posting that you are back at the airport heading home your house is an empty shell.

 When was the last time you checked your social media security settings and just how safe is the data we give to sites and Apps?  How much data can Companies gather from our innocently accessing Wi-Fi in coffee shops? Will the introduction of GDPR close down data mining loopholes?

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Attracting and retaining Generation Z

When I was 10, I thought 25 was old.  When I was 25, I thought 50 ancient.  Now I am in my 50’s, I believe you are as old as you feel, however, last weekend I felt every year of my age.  Why? A friend shared with us her 14-year-old daughters YouTube channel where she was eloquently and thoughtfully discussing her thoughts and perspectives on gender equality.

Here was this delightful 14-year-old girl confidently speaking on a highly topical subject which she self recorded, edited, then uploaded to her own channel!  When I was 14 I was devoid of this level of confidence, I found it difficult to string a sensible sentence together in a public situation let alone do all this (not that any of it was even invented then!).

Generation Z are making me feel very old as they adapt to new technology naturally, technology that takes me many hours of reading and watching YouTube tutorials to work out how to use.   

This will have an impact on how we, as potential employers, should behave towards them.  Read further to understand why and how.

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Time to get your ducks in a row!

Where did quarter one go? 
It feels like only last week we all headed into the new year with a bright and sparkly 2018 business plan, looking to hit the ground running, but here we are, two weeks into quarter two, in the midst of business plan reviews, planning for the second quarter and then of course, for most of us, it’s now time to forcibly look at the achieved financials of the year to date in order to complete our VAT return.

For many of us this will be the first time we have completed this exercise, its new for us and also for the UAE Government, we are all taking our first steps into the unknown. 

As I start the process of committing numbers onto the FTA online VAT return form and discuss the process with friends and colleagues from other Companies, I am finding the process educational from a business point of view, and I wanted to share this learning with you as you may find them useful;

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I’ve been replaced by an algorithm!

In our blog “Why we need an exit strategy” we wrote about the problems facing the current working population and the issue we face with our pension schemes not predicted to comfortably pay for our planned retirement.

One solution we all have is to stay working longer.  A great idea, however, as recently reported in the national media, traditional jobs of the past are being replaced by automation making it much tougher to find a job to see us financially through to our new extended retirement age.

I remember many years ago this issue being brought to the forefront of my mind whilst I was still at school, with the replacement of humans on car assembly lines. Ford Dagenham opened its doors in 1931, and at its peak in 1953, employed around 40,000 workers, most of whom lived in Dagenham itself.  Slowly, to speed up the accuracy of car manufacturing and to hit high consumer demand, they started introducing robotics to the assembly line, reducing the need for human contact with the car being manufactured.  

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Workforce attrition, good or bad?

The employee attrition at the White House under President trump is the highest ever seen.  Forbes recently reported that during the President’s first year the administration saw a 34% turnover rate – that’s more than one in three Trump administration staffers, and it's not just any sorts of departures, a large number of these were Trump's senior-most staff, some of these senior roles have seen the incumbent replaced multiple times.

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The only constant is innovation

For anyone following the issues facing high street brands, it feels like weekly shock and awe as big names start announcing profit warnings and store closures – Carpet Right, B&Q, Moss Bros, New Look, Toys R Us – the list keeps growing. 

Recently I read the completely shocking news of the brand loved by little girls of all ages, Claire's Accessories has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US as part of a move to reduce its debt by USD1.9billion.  Although Claire's Stores said its shops will remain open as it presses ahead with a financial restructure it remains in danger of closing.

Claire’s is the “go to store” for anything to do with, well, accessories – their products suit all age groups, their price point low, they have diversified their product range to include games, phone covers, ear piercings, make up – the product margin is low, the store footage small, store staffing minimal and yet it finds itself is financial trouble.

Claire’s is not an unknown small brand, they have been trading for many years (Claire’s was founded in 1961) and trades worldwide, so what is happening?  What is effectively taking down huge dinosaur brands resulting in emptying high streets and large losses of jobs? And what can every Company learn from these failings?

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The BC employee trap

Anyone who has had responsibility for a team will probably have had to deal with a BC player at some time.  A BC player is someone that is performing in their role at the right level, potentially performing over and above your expectations, however, they are a square peg in a round hole.  They just don’t fit for whatever reason and because of this they are rubbing you and the rest of the team up the wrong way. 

 BC players are difficult characters to manage but manage them you must, or you will fall into the trap of showing that results are more important than the culture of your Company.

 Here are 3 traps that show how it’s easier to retain than deal with a BC player:

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Why we need to have an exit strategy

At some point I am sure you, like me, see a lovely healthy and financially comfortable retirement in your future.  Mine sees me living close to a beach with no concerns at all apart from a daily quick look outside the door to make sure the sun is shining and today is indeed a beach day (I don’t trust weather apps!).

My parent’s generation and the generations before were very confident that they had this future planned out financially.  They tended to stay with the same Company from leaving school till retirement, diligently saved into their Company pension scheme and retired somewhere between the ages of 55 and 65 with a good income to see them living comfortably. 

Statistically this was all possible.  In the 1950’s it was reported that for every person over the age of 65, there were 7.2 people between the ages of 20 and 64 that helped pay for older generations retirement plans with their own pension contributions.  

However, it is predicted in 2050 that this number will have decreased to 1.8, the combination of increased life expectancy, a fixed retirement age and a decrease in fertility rates are having a detrimental impact to our Company pensions schemes.

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How to get your CV to POP!

There are currently a huge number of people looking for a new job.  This may be down to their being made redundant or needing a new challenge, but suffice it to say, Companies are being inundated with CVs. 

So just how do you get your CV to POP to the top of their short list?

This blog is written in conjunction with Deborah Appleford, the amazing CV and LinkedIn Guru and Managing Consultant at Vignette Consultancy.  As an ex Recruitment Consultant, Deborah is well versed in sniffing out a good CV and as an ex HR Director, I can assure you that I did not get beyond what I could see on my laptop screen, if you hadn’t given me what I was looking for on approximately 1 third on your front page, then I moved onto the next CV.  I also have to say, I complete agree with Deborah’s comments on photos on a CV!

If you need help updating your CV, here are Deborah’s ideas and suggestions:

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When do you deal with poor performance?

Over my 30+ years of experience within the HR field, I have often been confused by Managers frustrations over their poor performing employees.  In my experience, Managers tend to hold off dealing with poor performance, keeping the issues to themselves in the hope that the employee will miraculously improve saving them the effort to have the tricky conversation to deal with it. 

The first HR tend to hear about a non-performing employee is when their Manager has been pushed to the limited of their patience and wants “them out immediately”, pushing their frustrations onto HR who simply ask about the performance management or disciplinary processes they have followed to help support this request. 

HR don’t tend to write these policies and processes for the good of our health, they are there to help deal with situations like this, protecting the Company from tribunals and the Employee from discrimination.  However, I admit these processes do require some effort from the Manager, I’ll also admit that conversations like these are not easy to have.

Here are 5 ideas on dealing with poor performance as soon as it rears its head:

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Act in haste, repent at leisure

Have you ever put your head in your hands and uttered the words “why does every business mistake cost me money!”.  Its always the way isn’t it, the chances we take or even the most thought out business decision that goes wrong costs you financially.  

Of course, the opposite is also true, the business opportunity you didn’t take but should have done that would have netted you significantly financially.

You are not alone, imagine if you were the top management team at Blockbuster video, who in 2000 laughed out of their office the management team from a newly formed Company called Netflix. 

Netflix proposed that it would handle Blockbuster's online component for it, and Blockbuster could host its in-store component, removing the need for mailed DVDs. According to an interview with former Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy, "They just about laughed us out of their office." Blockbuster later closed shop (literally) and Netflix went on to thrive.

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