The MHC Blog

Powerful Business Insights for Succesful Leaders
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Love what you do for a living

Do you jump out of bed in the morning, ready to face the day and get to work? Or are you lying in bed after the alarm goes off, dreading having to face another 8-hour day, another trip to the office?

Waking up with dread in the morning doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. What makes the difference is having a purpose and finding your passion. Once you have done this, suddenly you can’t wait to jump out of bed in the morning. When you’re following your passion then work isn’t just work, it’s something fulfilling and exciting that you look forward to doing.

You don’t need the demotivation of having a boss looking over your shoulder, your colleague waiting on that report, or the Company politics.  Instead there is a strong internal motivator that helps you get things done. And it’s a lot more powerful than any pressure from your boss or the promise of financial rewards.

But how do you do this?  Here are a few considerations to help point you in the right direction:

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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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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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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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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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Please look up!

Am I the only one who struggles walking nowadays?  Trying to avoid the smombies (smartphone zombies) leads me to screaming internally “please look where you’re going!” whilst zigzagging from side to side to avoid people walking towards me with their noses buried deep into their phones.

The problem is so prolific someone has invented the “The Type while Walk” app which takes over your phone’s camera so that you can see the ground beneath your feet, with an included font colour-changing tool means that whether you’re walking over pavement or grass you can change the colour to contrast for visibility.  In Salzburg, Austria, lampposts are being covered in airbags to stop people bumping into them as they walk around staring at their screens.  Phone handsets seem to be glued to people’s hands, there is even a recognised new anxiety “rinxiety" or "phantom pocket vibration syndrome”, these conditions refer to anxiety surrounding missed messages and phone calls and the more often you check your device, the worse the anxiety will get.

But how does the phenonium affect business?  Here are my 5 thoughts on the matter:

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Are you Keeping your brand promise?

Over the festive period I was a back-seat passenger on a longish journey.  A talk radio show was keeping me company, the topic of heated discussion, the Apple iPhone battery. 

A high school student had recently discovered an issue with his phone and decided to post on Reddit.com giving details of what he had found.  He had discovered the decreased performance in his iPhone 6s handset had to do with the phones lithium-ion batteries. He decided to research into why that might be, and found a suggestion online that he replace his battery. When he did, his phone sped up instantly.

His post went viral, eventually leading to Apple to make a public statement, a confession that is said could end up costing the company billions of dollars in class action lawsuits. Apple had issued a statement that made it clear that changes it had made a year ago were indeed slowing down the maximum performance of iPhones with older batteries.

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Time to plan for 2018

We are close to the end of 2017, where did the year go?

As work starts to slow down in the lead up to the end of year, this is now a great time for business and personal reflection.  Did you achieve everything you planned to do or did the year head down a different route? 

If you feel as though the year didn’t quite pan out as expected, ask yourself why this happened, was this due to not having a written plan or did your plan stayed firmly put in your bottom drawer?   The first step to achieving your visions is to commit to it on paper and then keep reminding yourself of your targets by referring to it throughout the year.

Here are 5 reasons why having a simple business plan will help you achieve all you want to achieve in 2018, they should spur you into action to create your plan now:

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Accountability - Why all the fuss?

I chose to write this piece now as I wanted to share my  findings where, over the years,  I have discovered a growing epidemic of the lack of Accountability within senior teams in business.

The word accountability is often over used and misunderstood and many a time I will ask the CEO if she / he has an issue with accountability in their business and the immediate reply is along the lines of –

“Oh no, we don’t have a problem with accountability here”

Then after a few probing questions it is very clear that actually it is probably one of the main areas that needs improvement.

I have found that there are 2 main aspects to Accountability that require attention:

  1. Holding Yourself Accountable &
  2. Holding Others Accountable

Both of which have huge benefits and because of this great return, tends to be challenging to implement. As I often say, “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!”

Accountability essentially means 'the ability to hold yourself to account' that basically means 'the buck stops with you'.

So, let’s take a closer look at why being able to hold yourself and others to account is important and some tips on how to improve your score (also see below for more details of how you can measure this with our questionnaire)

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Are your internal systems customer friendly?

As a small business owner, we are constantly dealing with complicated, red tape heavy requirements of obtaining and keeping a Company trade licence, personal visas and Company bank accounts.  Even after setting everything up and being able to move forward with our work, we have annual renewals to contend with and after 5 years of doing this, it seems the process changes annually and every action requires at least 5 visits to the bank or sponsoring Company to update everything.

The internal systems and connecting departments all work independently of each other.  Departments that work alongside each other are not able to connect the dots and help us move forward.  Even “Relationship Managers” seem to complicate things rather than simplify and you are often puling your hair out with frustration as you struggle to find a straight answer.

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Time to get your house in order

The summer months are a great time to start getting your house in order.  Even though I wrote at the end of June about summer not being a time for taking things easy, working hard to find new leads and closing out business, the reality is that work does slow down a little bit as you wait for key decision makers to either return or pick up their email whilst on holiday. 

The quieter periods in your working months are a great time to get your house in order, what we call in the UK “spring cleaning”.  Here are some ideas to keep yourself occupied during the quieter months:

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Time to stop the summer excuses!

Let me share something with you that’s got me a little hot under the collar, and I don’t mean the high 40’s temperature or the humidity you can cut with a knife!

Here we are, the day after the long Eid weekend, back at work and ready to get our work done, and already I am hearing the excuses of the summer slowing everything down, phrases such as “last time we will be doing this due to the long summer getaway” indicate that everyone is heading out of the country till September.

Let me try and explain how it seems to work in the UAE to those that are unaware.  We live and work in the Middle East and its hot during the summer months, it’s also peak holiday season as the kids are off and many non working members of families head to the airport with their little ones to spend the whole of the summer out of the country to escape the heat. 

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Company vision boarding

Many years ago, I worked for a large supermarket in the UK.  It was going through its first (of many) transformations, to scope out this transformation it involved pretty much the whole Company in how it should evolve and what the Company should start looking like in order to grow and keep up with the competition. 

All around the UK the Company organised team events of a couple of hours per event for vision planning.  It was not a complicated process, was huge fun for those involved, highly effective and (accidently?) resulted in a great amount of team building.

We were all ushered into a room not knowing what to expect, perhaps another boring training session where we were talked at and not asked our opinion, however we were presented with an arts and craft session! 

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got to have a plan stan!

As business consultants, we spend a lot of time with Company owners helping them write and then stay on track with their Company Business Plan. 

However, the purpose of this blog is not to harp on again about how important it is for businesses to have one (although, its extremely important), the purpose of this blog is to talk about how important it is to have a life plan.

Most of us in the UAE are expats, we came to the region with the beginnings of a plan, usually to find more rewarding work or to escape from some bad decisions we had made back home -  whatever got us on the plane with a one way ticket in hand, we landed and, in most cases, just got on with things. 

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