The Superhuman Boss – unrealistic expectations and how to manage them

Unlimited capacity – wouldn’t it be great to be able to deal with immense volume without experiencing stress or conflict?

Much of the challenge exists from pressure below and above – pressure below comes from a multiple of staff that need to direct information to or access information from their boss. From above, the challenge is “I deal with twice the volume you deal with, so cope”. It presents an unhealthy scenario for all parties, and increasingly I believe provides risk to organisations in terms of the negative health effects of these kinds of jobs.

However, how can you progress if you can’t deal with stress? Can you be Superhuman – it seems that the leader must be someone with greater appetite to work hard, and must be really smart in solving problems.

How do you fix it and focus? Concentrate on a bunch of things you will not do any more – cut, cut, cut and focus on those things that deliver the results that you are measured on. Share the challenge on priorities with your boss and make sure your relationship with your boss stays strong. Take some time out to breathe. Push back on requests for your time – if they don’t add to the goals you have been set, then avoid doing them.

This is partly a time management question, and partly a question of negotiation.

If you have had a scenario where you felt you had to be the superhuman boss, please share your experience – or if you feel your boss seems to be superhuman and your admire them for it – or are worried about them – then share that too. I look forward to your feedback….

Service – I’m not getting any – the dangers of implementing CRM software without understanding the need first

I was speaking with a friend today who was feeling pretty frustrated. You see, he had purchased a CRM software product for his business, but it wasn’t doing what he wanted. The vendor had considered that he had done his part – sell the product, install it on site, provide the user documentation, all thumbs up….

What the client actually needed was:

1. Assistance to clearly understand how to implement CRM as a strategy

2. Get the people on the bus committed to the approach

3. Define the new processes, and define these into an agreed requirements document

4. The vendor to configure the application to meet the defined requirements

5. The vendor to train the users and the administrator in exactly how to make CRM technology deliver on the CRM strategy

6. The vendor to come back and check / realign things after staff have been using it for awhile

My recommendation to you – if you have a complex business environment, or quite a number of people using the platform, be very, very wary of buying any software that runs across your business without buying implementation services (not just technical ones, but solid business analysis). See my post on people, process and technology for more on getting software implementation right.

SAAS CRM software products have been changing the landscape. There are plenty to choose from and I’ve looked at quite a number of CRM Software options including Sugar CRM and Salesforce. For my business I use and recommend Capsule CRM and have implemented it for many of my clients. In some cases for smaller companies and consultants, they have used the product for 12 months or longer without hitting a purchase threshold. It is low cost, from $12 per user per month.

What I like about Capsule CRM is that it is lightweight – it has what you need and no more. Integration with Google Apps is a winner as well, allowing me to get more done and churn through email from Gmail.

 

Capsule CRM
Capsule CRM

 

Talk to me in numbers – applying metrics to business success

If you have ever found peformance issues and the reasons being given seemingly incredibly complicated, then perhaps distilling the essence back to the number only may be the answer you are looking for.

For example, let’s say sales performance is down. A person can provide any number of reasons, incredibly well argued, as to why their sales performance is off. Or why they missed their last deal. And if they are any sort of sales person, they should be able to be pretty persuasive in their argument as they probably have been constructing in their minds for some time!

So how do you reshape the nexus of this? Well, get back to the numbers and the causal factors of success.

Step 1: Fishbone the profit and loss statement to look at where the revenue comes from

Step 2: Drill into the customers spend to determine which customers, what product lines, and which sales when.

Step 3: Determine the causal steps ie activity, necessary to get the success you need. For example, to sell $10 million of a service, you may need to have generated a sales pipeline of $30 million if you close 1 in 3.

Step 4: Determine the metrics that make sense around the steps to get to the target. For example, to get to $30million pipeline, you may need to have qualified $60 million of opportunities. If each deal is $10 million, it is 6 deals. You then track activity to create deals – number of presentations, meetings, sales calls, product demonstrations, roadshows and events.

Step 5: Turn the above into simple numbers next to boxes and track that against performance. This will in turn drive activity that leads to success and also may provide some focus to improve success rates on each successive step.

Used correctly, the above approach can move to an empirical analysis of activity that reinforces the right behaviours, and also how you can help along the way, and quickly ends long and unfruitful discussions.

If you have had a good experience – or a not so good experience – in applying metrics to your business, please leave a comment, I’d appreciate your feedback.

Don’ta worry – Dumb Business thinking to avoid Part 2

Have you ever experienced the debilitating situation of not knowing what decision to make in a difficult circumstance? Or found yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of email and interruptions within your workday?

In case of the former it is caused by uncertainty (not enough facts) and a less than comfortable risk of decision failure.

In case of the latter, in many cases the day to day interruptions really get in the way of the big picture and most important jobs to be done. That type of continual interruption will make you highly ineffective – so you’ve either got to live with it, or change the environment.

I’m a big fan of getting time management in order, and my continual reference book here is by Alan McKenzie called The Time Trap. In this book he identifies the top 20 time wasters, and specifically how to deal with them.

My father would always say “Don’ta worry – what’s the worst that can happen?”. He isn’t Italian, but for some reason this simple sentence would provide some perspective and give the mind some necessary breathing space (distraction if you like) that allows the subconcious to trigger a logical decision.

You can’t get stuck in a rut – dumb business thinking to avoid Part 1

©Mark Eveleigh / www.thewideangle.com

Business and leading people can both be hard and easy.

Getting stuck in a mental rut is also easy, and no wonder as making a similar decision based on past experience makes a lot of sense. It saves time, allows you to move onto the next task. But it also can increasingly become dangerous without some benchmark or checking from time to time.

The Harvard Business School published a book on Decision Making, 5 Steps to Better Results.

After your first step (buy the book) the 5 steps are:
1. Establish a context for success which is about setting the stage for making a good decision and involving the right people in the process
2. Framing the Issue Properly to make sure you are tackling the right question with the right constraints on an outcome
3. Generate alternatives through brainstorming and other techniques
4. Evaluate alternatives
5. Choose the best alternative

The book also covers a range of other issues that are really useful in considering ways to get to a smarter more considered organisation and team.

When I was a child, my father would take us to school. Sometimes he would go a completely different way to normal and make us late. When asked why he was taking the longcut, he would reply, “you can’t get stuck in a rut”.

My children also complain when I take a longcut. When I tell them “you can’t get stuck in a rut” their response is, “yeah, but carts are from the olden days when Grandad was a boy, there are no such thing as ruts now”. I do remind them that my Dad also got to enjoy sealed roads in cars….

Thanks to Mark Eveleigh for permission to use the above pic – ©Mark Eveleigh. Visit his site at for a range of great pics…

How to Stop Smart Businesses Doing Dumb Things

If you are in a professional services firm, then one of my favourite books is called Managing the Professional Services Firm. The book describes what to do when you have extraordinarily bright people, smart consultants, who know what they should be doing – but just simply aren’t doing it. The book covers so much more than that, and you will find it really useful if you are in or trying to move to that kind of role.

Many of the themes in the book talk about ensuring everyone is aligned towards the same goals. For example, remuneration schemes encouraging the wrong kind of behaviours.

It was good to see my post on 3 Reasons Why Smart People in Organisations Do Dumb Things generated some interest, and a colleague of mine Bill Wallance got fired up enough to create a new blog succinctly called Stupid Leadership dedicated to the topic.
I am keen to hear from you – you will have your own ideas, and I’d appreciate your comments.