Where managers get it wrong

Many managers have no idea how to treat their staff

Many managers have no idea what their staff really think of them and many simply don’t care very much.

However, if you are one of the former and not the latter then you may want to start seeking some honest feedback.

The ‘rock star delusion’

To illustrate this point, if you happen to observe a group of work colleagues having lunch together, you can very quickly tell who’s in charge from the body language.

You’ll see that the one who looks ‘more popular’ i.e. everyone slightly turned towards this person, responding to their every word, laughing (sometimes a little falsely) at their quips and generally ensuring this person is kept at the centre of the attention, is often, ‘the boss’.

So good have people become at making their boss feel important, the boss often ends up with ‘rockstar delusion’ i.e. they begin to think they are genuinely as popular and interesting as people are making them feel.

The real truth behind the boss’s popularity

The boss’s popularity is often based on a falsehood that is created and perpetuated by the staff who are, frankly, looking after their jobs and protecting their pay packet/lifestyle.

Staff will not let the boss know or see how much they dislike them or their leadership style because of the fear of losing their job or marginalising themselves from the rest of the staff. So they will feign genuine interest in the boss and the boss begins to believe the hype.

This is nothing new. Everyone learns early how to get on the right side of the bully at school.

Why is this a problem for you as a manager?

While there are obviously amazing bosses who have genuinely healthy relationships with their staff who genuinely follow them because they exhibit great leadership ability, being disrespected or disliked by your team can start to get in the way of business effectiveness.

If you’ve ever read The Service Profit Chain: How Leading Companies Link Profit and Growth to Loyalty, Satisfaction and Valueby James L Heskett, you’ll know that the company’s profit has a direct correlation with the level of employee satisfaction, loyalty and productivity.

If these same employees are masking their feelings towards to the boss, there is often no genuine desire to put any effort in to their work or maximise their potential in the company and sadly the manager ends up failing on several fronts; a) they do not understand where they are going wrong and b) their lack of insight perpetuates an unhealthy work environment and c) leads to high staff turnover and ultimately business failure.

Take off the blindfold

If you as a manager are in any doubt if your staff are genuinely going along with your guidance because they are motivated by you or because they fear you/losing their job, then step back and ask for some feedback.

1. Conduct a 360 degree review i.e. ask your team for genuine feedback (ask for some coaching for the best way to conduct this process so you avoid people being too scared to be honest)

2. Ask an independent company to conduct an internal staff audit so that they can manage any awkwardness or potential lack of willingness on behalf of the staff to open up. Companies such as Relationship Audits & Management are experts in this field and will handle the delicate situation professionally and discreetly.

3. Take the time to invest in a coaching course for yourself and learn how to connect with your staff on an individual basis by asking questions and getting to know what makes them tick.

We’ve left the management styles of the 70s and 80s far behind. Don’t be a manager who is blindfolded to the truth that is standing in the way of not only your own career progress but your company’s success.

Do you know any managers who are suffering from ‘rock star delusion’ and would benefit from taking their blindfold off? If so, please leave a comment below.

$4.6 million in his first 18 months?

If you’ve never heard of Brendon Burchard it’s not surprising. He doesn’t appear in the UK’s mainstream media and has only recently begun to appear on US TV.

However, Brendon Burchard is quite a superstar in the online world in the ‘expert’ industry. In fact, if you are an author, coach, speaker, seminar leader or online marketer, you might want to check him out because he is the founder of an organisation called Experts Academy that teaches people how to package up their knowledge and sell it online.

So successful has Experts Academy been for Brendon that it has made $10,000,000 in the last two years alone – with just five staff! That’s one hell of a profit margin!

Before Experts Academy Brendon was a change management consultant for Accenture, one of the biggest consultancy firms in the world working with companies such as eBay, JC Penney and Walgreens.

Brendon takes a very strategic approach to business and applies the knowledge gained from working with these world-class companies to teach people how to succeed with their own businesses.

If you’re interested in taking your business to the next level, here’s a taste of what Brendon teaches. Here are his top ten strategies for online business success and category domination:

1. Strategic content and customer development planning

You have to be forward thinking about your content development, plan how your messaging will evolve over a year/2 years etc. What’s valuable today for customers and how will that content need to change to keep the information relevant and keep customers engaged?

‘Customer development planning’ is working out in advance how your customers will become your fans and followers, how will you ensure that you keep them engaged so they are loyal to you? Plan everything out in advance.

Customer development planning is similar to ‘personal development planning’ in the corporate world ie where an employee is given a development programme on joining a company to help them improve their competencies for their role over months/years. Instead of employees, it’s for the customer and how you want them to evolve their knowledge and understanding of your brand over time.

2. Market leadership messaging

You can demonstrate your leadership in your market space by changing your messaging e.g. using the right tone at the right time and being real and authentic.

Brendon studied organisational leadership and change management and studied what helped companies influence the masses and have the biggest impact. When you overlay these principles on the marketing and copywriting, everything improves and it can have major impact on how your brand is perceived.

3. Integrated product funnels

The strategic development of products that lead to funnels.

Apple understands product funnels very well. First they brought out the ipod, then the iphone and then the ipad. They were strategic with how they developed their product range. In just 7 years, Apple became the number one in their category because of their strategic approach to the development of their product line.

What’s the product suite you’re going to bring out in next 12 months?

4. Automated evergreen marketing sequences

Marketing sequences that are automated so that you can generate income even while you’re sleeping. Automating in this industry is easier now than ever with the use of online tools.

5. Promotional partnership value creation

Forging the right strategic partnerships and relationships within the category you want to dominate is huge. This includes joint ventures, media partnerships, corporations and non-profit organisations as well as affiliates.

6. Recurring revenue training model

Package your knowledge or expertise into a sequence of training modules for your alumni to go through thus generating revenue on an ongoing basis.

7. High level customer services

Ensure you create high level services for your customers and charge a high enough price for them so that you don’t end up burning yourself out.

Analyse what you’re charging for your products and how much effort it is taking you. Would it make more sense to create a higher value product and charge more?

8. Multi-channel prospect acquisition

Many people rely on just one form of prospect acquisition to grow their brand/business e.g. through tv, radio or press etc. and don’t think about multi-channel prospect acquisition. Other channels could include; consulting, coaching, partnerships, blogs, traffic sources etc.

It doesn’t mean to think of all of them but to focus on the efficient ones. What would it take to grow your revenue? Which ones move the needle? Brendon focussed on three channels to create his online empire.

9. Category ownership initiatives

What are the initiatives you need to put into play in the market place and in your business to help you own the category. How you can use strategic rather than tactical thinking so that you take the right actions to dominate a sector or category. How do you introduce a product in order to own a category?

10. Movement marketing

A way to construct your marketing and sequencing over time that will lead to a movement. Branding and movements are important. What is it going to take to create a movement in your industry? For example, does it mean a higher code of ethics? Bringing together the thought leaders in your industry? What other things can you do that will be game changing in your industry and help you own the category?

If these strategies spark you to want to learn more, Brendon Bruchard is launching his 10X NY seminar in Times Square, New York from April 9th to 11th 2012. His seminars are legendary and he promises to teach his step by step strategies for taking your business to a totally different level and completely dominating your market category.

Powerful stuff. Only the serious need apply. Check out Brendon’s introduction here: 10X NY seminar.

His seminars are legendary and he’s blunt when he says it’s not for everyone. Just people who are really serious about learning how to take their own business to a totally different level and dominate the category they are in. Powerful stuff.

Top 5 stylish heels for the office

Looking for office heels? Here’s my top 5 for this winter/spring:

John Lewis Paloma court shoes, grey snake. A classically smart court shoe with a slightly pointed toe and a mid stiletto heel. Perfect for the work to play transition.

L K Bennett Shilo round toe in taupe

LK Bennett Shilo court shoe in taupe. These classic high heeled court shoes in patent leather are perfect neutral colour matching coloured dresses. A nice change from black.

Carvela Avenue suede Mary Jane court shoe

Carvela Avenue suede Mary Jane court shoe is made in a soft suede material with a buckle fastening and features a slender stiletto heel. Perfect for the office. Team with a pencil skirt and dress shirt for a classic look. Heel height: 9cm.

LK Bennett Selina patent bow court shoe

Redefine glamour with the LK Bennett high-heeled Selina patent bow court shoe. The Jewel-like patent leather dazzles, and offers a gorgeous sheen. It’s a shoe with a totally modern silhouette, enhanced by the fresh modern interpretation of the classic bow design. Heel height: 9cm.

John Lewis Freesia bow court shoe in coral

Exude ladylike appeal with this gorgeous pair of John Lewis Freesia bow stilettos in coral. Featuring a peep toe and strong bow detailing, this pair are sure to be a stunning addition to your all black outfit.

Adding another website to your Bluehost account

Recently I bought a new domain name www.trenchlife.com for my dad who has an interest in the first world war and who I wanted to encourage to blog about his experiences of visiting the trenches in northern France.

As I was already hosting my blog www.herworklife.com with Bluehost, I wanted to use Bluehost to host this new site too so I added www.trenchlife.com as an ‘add-on’ site.

If you don’t already have a blog, I’d highly recommend Bluehost as a hosting provider. They are amazingly helpful and have 24 hour real-time chat on their site. As a relative newbie to setting up websites, I can tell you they were fantastic and got me out of a few scrapes.

Check out the short video tutorial to show you how I added www.trenchlife.com as an ‘add-on’ site to my existing Bluehost account.

Five flattering ‘day to evening’ work dresses

If you’re looking for a flattering, stylish, dress that you can wear to the office and that will also look great for an evening out, here are my top 5 favourites. Some are in the sale right now so if you see something you like, hurry before they go:

Megan ruched dress by Phase Eight

This sexy red dress is called Megan by Phase Eight. It’s not for the faint hearted and definitely not subtle, but it hugs the figure in all the right places. Team it up with a black fitted suit jacket, black sheer stockings and black heels for day and some chunky black jewellery for evening. This dress has also just been reduced from £85 to £49 (Dec 28th 2011) so don’t wait until someone else grabs it!

L.K.Bennett Leona Shirt Dress in Black

Why not treat yourself to this L. K. Bennett Leona Shirt Dress, which manages to combine the formal work shirt with a feminine twist. The dress has utility-inspired styling including button tab fastenings at the sleeves, flapover chest pockets and a feminine waist tie to add shape. Wear with high heels for an easy ‘day-to-evening’ look. At the moment (Dec 29th 2011), this dress is reduced from £165 to £95 so hurry if you want to grab it.

John Lewis Collection stripe jersey dress

For a more informal office look, check out this new season (Spring 2012) figure hugging black and white striped jersey dress from John Lewis. The dress has a wrap-style and high round neck to add to the silhouette-defining style. This dress could also be dressed up for extra impact with a pair of red high heels and accessories.

'Julie' sleeveless drop waist dress from Reiss

Ok so this one is definitely a high glam look for the day, but if you have an important lunch appointment followed by an early evening dinner and are looking for something that little bit extra special, this Julie sleeveless drop waist dress from Reiss is stunning. In a lovely steel blue, this elegant grecian style dress offers a dropped waist, a stunning draped wrap-over neckline and a thin metallic detailed wait belt. With a luxe silky sheen and a side zip fastening, this dress scores 10 out of 10 for wearability.

Zeta dress by Coast

The Zeta dress by Coast is beautifully tailored to accentuate your feminine curves. It features a sweetheart neckline, strategically placed pleats below the bust and along the natural waist creating a corset effect, and a pencil skirt. Team with stiletto heels, a clutch and minimal jewellery for a perfect day to evening look.

Check out more stunning dresses at John Lewis.

Four stylish work handbags

While I’m all for scrimping on clothes, when it comes to shoes and handbags, quality rules. So when was the last time you treated yourself (or someone you care for) with a new leather handbag?

Here’s my choice of the top 5 timeless work handbags for the discerning career woman:

Mulberry Evelina Hobo

Mulberry Evelina Leather Hobo Handbag

Mulberry Bayswater satchel

Mulberry Bayswater Small Satchel Handbag

Ralph Lauren Hobo

Lauren by Ralph Lauren Harbridge Large Hobo Handbag

Mulberry Alexa Messenger

Mulberry Alexa Messenger and Shoulder bag

4 steps for successful negotiating

Understanding the principles of negotiating is important for business and life

Whether we are managing a major financial deal at work, haggling for the best price at a market on holiday or trying to persuade your spouse to do the washing up, negotiating is part of our every day life.

Often however too few people know how to negotiate effectively or indeed understand why they should negotiate at all.

There are four steps to most negotiations; preparing, setting up, negotiating and closing. Here are a few tips for each stage of the negotiating process:

1. Preparing

    Aim high. You can always go down.

  • Take time to familiarise yourself with all the details of the deal to help build your confidence during the negotiation
  • Decide three things before going into the deal: a) what your ideal outcome is b) what you’d be happy with and c) the point at which you’ll abandon the deal
  • Work out what the ‘worst case scenario’ impact (financial or otherwise) would be to you/your business
  • If possible, try to get an idea of what’s important to the other side and even try to test their position before you go into the negotiation itself (knowledge represents the upper hand)
  • Always aim realistically high and hold this position as long as you can. You can always come down but you won’t be able to push it back up ;-)
  • Be prepared to justify your starting position and also be prepared to say no
  • Prepare what you have to ‘trade’ with – and prioritise these things in order of value to you.
  • Remember that what you decide during this negotiation will set a precedent for what happens in the future

2. Setting up

  • Try not to be intimidated by the other side’s demeanour, data, facts, stats etc. but try to anticipate what they will begin with and what you’ll respond with
  • Lay out the agenda for the negotiation but try not to be the one who reveals a starting position first
  • Be inquisitive and use intelligent questions to garner more information. Don’t try to convince the other side to come round to your way of thinking and don’t be over-emotional
  • Sound ‘sure’ when you state your position and have the confidence to request clearly what you’re looking for.
  • Anticipate that the other side will be challenging your position/pricing
  • Decide that you will stay strong if the other side decides to play power games such as ‘good cop bad cop’ or aggression to force their position

3. Negotiating

    Stay in control of your emotions and don't be intimidated by the other side

  • Never give something without asking for something in return. Take your time and don’t be too quick to change your position when the other side pushes.
  • If you lower your price then the scope of what you are providing for that fee should change in accordance e.g. ‘if you’d like to reduce the overall cost, we can replace the X element with a cheaper component’ or ‘how about we only allow for one round of amendments rather than two, which will reduce the overall cost by X’ etc.
  • If a question or point comes up that you haven’t anticipated, don’t feel pressured to decide on your response then and there, take time to think before you answer.
  • Don’t be inflexible, aim to be as co-operative as possible throughout the negotiation
  • Ask questions “What is important to you about …..?” “What if we gave you X and you gave us Y in return”? “What is most valuable for you/your company?”
  • Don’t undervalue your position by agreeing to split the difference
  • If you are the ‘supplier’, focus on the value you bring, not the price (find out what the other side values)

4. Closing

    Make sure the other side feel they have got something of value too

  • The end of the negotiation is where most concessions are made, stay logical and don’t be fooled by last minute tactics to throw the negotiation off course
  • Aim for a win/win position but at least ensure the other side feels they have gained something valuable from the negotiation
  • Don’t be forced into a bad deal. It’s better to walk away than accept something that hasn’t been thought through properly
Have you founds these points useful? What other negotiation tips would you offer to someone that you’ve found helpful?

Work hats for the cold weather

Leopard print trilby hat from John Lewis

Leopard print trilby hat

Although it’s been medically proven that ‘losing the majority of body heat through your head’ is in fact a myth, it’s still cosier to go out into the cold and wind wearing a snug hat.

But which hat to choose for work without feeling self-conscious or like a 12 year old child? Which hat will not leave you looking chubby faced and what will complement the style of your winter coat?

Here are my top 5 best classic hats for work this winter fromLeopard print trilby hat

Classic black wool beret

Classic black wool beret

Turn up brim felt cloche

Turn up brim felt cloche

Felt fedora camel hat

Felt fedora camel hat

Ralph Lauren baker boy hat

Ralph Lauren baker boy

So don’t let the cold weather get you down, complete your winter outfit with a cosy women’s hats from John Lewis.

The power of the pause and other top presenting tips

Speaking to a group is our greatest fearMost people will say that presenting to a group of people is their number one fear.

In fact, a survey revealed the following when a group of people were asked about their top fears:

Speaking to a group (41%)
Heights (32%)
Insects and bugs (24%)
Financial problems (23%)
Deep water (22%)
Sickness (20%)
Death (19%)
Flying (18%)

Seinfeld said that given 19% of people fear death and 41% fear speaking to a group, this suggests that the person giving the eulogy at a funeral would probably rather be in the box.

The following video from Doug Jeffreys sums it up very well in this video by highlighting the following six points about presenting:

1. Make the audience comfortable

To impart any new information to a group, you first have to make them comfortable. Nobody listens to anything unless all their basic needs are being cared for. If they’re cold, hot, hungry, want to go to the bathroom etc they won’t be concentrating on what you have to say.

Tip: Ensure these needs are considered e.g. adjust the room temperature, start a presentation after coffee break or lunch time, ensure regular comfort breaks are scheduled etc.

2. Keep them on the same page as you

You have to be on the same page and the same wavelength as your audience all the time. You can’t give them any reason to start thinking about anything else other than your message. Otherwise they will ‘drift off’.

Unfortunately most of the time presenters are guilty of sending their audience off to ‘journeys of self discovery’ because they are not ensuring they engage enough with the audience and keep them with them.

Tip: Usually a quick check of the room or using colleagues planted in the room to signal to you to change tempo will help avoid this.

3. The power of the pause

You have to stop long enough for people to ingest your message. Get a picture of it. Try to put what you’re saying in context for the audience before moving on to the next thing you’re going to say.

Tip: Pace your presentation and record yourself while rehearsing.

4. Body language and hand gestures

Understand what effect your body language has on your audience. Fiddling, moving, pointing, rocking back and forth are all distracting for your audience and will detract from your message.

Tip: Rehearse in front of a colleague and ask for feedback.

5. Lose the podium

Podiums are often used as a prop and can make the speaker feel more ‘protected’. However, it also creates a barrier between you and the audience.

Tip: Get greater connection with the audience by removing the podium altogether.

6. Avoid the long and boring ‘this is us’ section

Many companies insist on sharing lots of detailed information about their company heritage and history which can be mind numbingly boring, not to mention repetitive if the audience happens to be listening to a few similar companies present to them.

You run the risk of losing the audience very quickly if you are not focussing on their needs rather than bragging about your company and achievements.

Tip: Keep capabilities to a minimum and try to draw on relevant case studies to demonstrate how your knowledge and expertise have been applied. Before deciding to include something, always ask yourself ‘So what? Why would this be relevant or interesting for my audience’?

Check out Doug Jeffrey’s quick summary in this video below:

From poverty to multi-millionaire. The story of Marc Allen.

Marc Allen author of 'The Greatest Secret of All'

Marc Allen, author and publisher

I really enjoyed listening to Marc Allen being interviewed in this video clip. Marc is an author and joint owner of the publishing company New World Library.

He started the company in 1977 and grew it to a multi-million dollar enterprise publishing famous books such as Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’.

Marc was more interested in music than work up to 30 years old

However, Marc’s early years were far from being a successful businessman. His story is a remarkable one.

In this interview he talks about how up until he was 30 years old he really hadn’t had any success in his career. He was more interested in his love of music than applying himself in the real world of work.

Marc transforms his future by writing down and focussing on his life goal

He then describes his transformation from a lazy 30 year old with no prospects, barely being able to pay the rent to becoming a multi-millionaire.

The secret to this reinvention he says is that he simply decided one day to write down exactly where he wanted to be in five years time and what he wanted to be doing in his life.

He then focussed on these goals and even turned them into affirmations. And pretty soon his goals came true.

Marc is open about his lack of drive

The really interesting thing about Marc is his candidness and honesty. He freely admits he is quite lazy and doesn’t believe that creating the life of your dreams has to be hard work – unless you think it is (because if you think it is hard, it will be hard!).

The video is around 40 minutes and well worth the time to watch it all the way through, particularly if you are inspired by people turning their lives around.

Let me know if you enjoyed listening to Marc’s remarkable story as much as I did. His latest book is called The Greatest Secret of All.