Tag Archives: Negative

How Do You Survive a Maelström? Seven Strategies

Situation: Edgar Allen Poe’s “Surviving the Maelström,” is a tale is of three brothers whose fishing boat is caught in a monstrous whirlpool, and how the reaction of each brother determines his fate. Similarly, in times of uncertainty, our ability to react with either panic or a rational, reasoned response determines our fate. How do you survive a maelström?

Advice of the CEOs:

  • Based on Poe’s story, you need to replace fear with assurance, uncertainty with boldness, and doubt with conviction.
  • There are several potential financial bubbles forming including student loans and negative interest rate loans to sovereign governments. Both, in their own way, pose a threat to the international and domestic financial systems and could rapidly impact borrowing costs for companies. The solutions are to stay in ongoing contact with customers, and to stay light and flexible as companies so that you can adapt to market changes.
  • For Internet companies, the shift to Freemium offerings (a base product for free with pay as you go functional add-ons) makes it more difficult to design viable business models, and means new competition for established companies in low capital cost businesses. Again, a solution is to stay in ongoing contact with customers, constantly reinforcing your value proposition and the reality of switching costs.
  • Creative Destruction – particularly the emergence of new companies that threaten large customers and can change the value perception of suppliers’ core competencies. Solutions include ongoing communication with customers seeing what they see as “the next big thing,” focusing on continually improving our own core competencies, and possibly teaming with the more promising emerging companies.
  • The illusion that advertising will pay for everything – in reality, advertising dollars are a scarce resource like all other resources. Solutions include testing our own value-adds as an ongoing process, and creating fast-fail models to cost-effectively test our own promotions.
  • Definitions of value and productivity are no longer stable; all depends on the method of measurement. A solution is to remain aware of the innovator’s dilemma and to continually renew our value propositions.
  • A workforce in flux where young people don’t want to work for what they perceive as “old line” companies, as well as early-retiring baby boomers who may learn in 3-5 years that they can’t afford retirement. Solutions include focusing on employee engagement, building more flexible and “liberating” business models, and teaming younger with more experienced workers to cross-train each other.

How Do You Find and Focus on Your Promoters? Five Factors

Interview with Richard Owen, CEO, Satmetrix Systems

Situation: If you are not creating promoters of your product or service, you are inhibiting your own growth. Growth is challenging and if you don’t have positive word of mouth it becomes more expensive. How do you find and focus on your promoters?

Advice from Richard Owen:

  • Calculate and understand your “Net Promoter Score” – the percentage difference between “promoters” and detractors.” Promoters are those customers who would highly recommend your business, detractors have a negative perspective.
  • It is important to attend these two audiences – “detractors”, who create negative word of mouth, and “promoters” who create positive word of mouth. Detractors can be targeted for service recovery. At the same time, you must identify your promoters and find ways to get them to actively let others know about your business. Both negative and positive effects are being amplified today by social networks.
  • Understand what your business does that creates detractors and promoters. Gather and analyze root cause data to provide insights around the actions you and your team should take to change the balance in your favor.
  • Hold employees accountable by “stack ranking” the customer performance of each of your teams or employees. In part, this helps you to understand areas of strength and weakness and allows you to create individualized or group action and coaching plans. There is also a tendency for groups below the average to improve performance because they are being measured.
  • These are simple ideas, but making this work in practice can be a challenge. Setting up an effective system takes more leadership than leaders typically realize and is often counter to the short term realities of most companies. Success requires a long-term perspective and an external versus internal focus. And, of course, the right systems!
  • While the leadership of many mid-market companies are as sophisticated as that in large companies, mid-market companies lack the resources of large companies. A focus on action around promoters and detractors allows a company to get 90% of the value for 10% of the effort in customer experience management.

You can contact Richard Owen at richardo@satmetrix.com

Key Words:  Promoter, Growth, Word of Mouth, Positive, Negative, Cost, Data, Customer, Metric, Coach, SMB, Perspective, Effectiveness, Resources

How Do You Focus on Positive Responses to Stress? Ten Techniques

Interview with Janis Pullen, Transformational Coach

Situation: When we encounter stress, like financial, economic or business stress, we may respond positively and proactively or negatively. Negative responses include drinking, smoking and comfort eating which can damage our health. How do you focus on positive responses to stress?

Advice from Janis Pullen:

  • It is important to understand that there are two aspects to stress management – the ontological or being side and the facilitative or doing side. These are different but related.
  • When people experience stress they seek comfort in activities that they associate with relaxation. This includes alcohol, tobacco and eating. These reactions are automatic, habitual and predictable and can lead to unhealthy consequences.
  • Ontological techniques to counter habitual, automatic reactions and to positively respond to stressors include:
    • Recreate our relationship to time. In the US we are deadline oriented and multitask. These increase stress.
    • Arrive at meetings 5 minutes early so that we give ourselves time to get settled instead of entering the meeting in a rush.
    • Plan time for nothing – even a 5-minute break with no pressure to “do” anything increases ease and relaxation.
    • Become more aware of our needs and what we have to do to meet them. Often we are not in tune with our needs and operate on top of them. The positive alternative is to slow down, notice more of what is within and around us, and have the courage to fulfill our real, deeper needs.
    • Take responsibility. When we blame external causes for situations, we give up power and control. The alternative is to be “at cause” rather than “at effect” to produce constructive results.
    • Realize you are not alone.  Employ assistance/guidance/mentorship to lighten your load.
  • On the facilitative side, these practices can alleviate or reduce stress:
    • Simply take a few deep breaths when we become aware of stress. This increases blood oxygen, helps us to relax and cools our reaction.
    • Exercise – even a short walk – does wonders for changing moods from negative to positive. Under stress, the body releases cortisol and adrenalin – the fight or flight hormones. Exercise increases endorphins, which help us to relax and reduces cortisol and adrenalin levels.
    • Consciously eat whole versus processed foods and drink more water to help our bodies to function more efficiently and to respond more effectively to stress. Berries and nuts are much healthier snacks than sugar or other simple carbohydrates.
    • Sufficient sleep is critical to effective physical and mental function. Alcohol impairs sleep by reducing deep sleep cycles so we do not wake up refreshed.
  • The effective solution to stress is to focus on our real needs and to replace destructive behavior patterns with constructive alternatives.

You can contact Janis Pullen at Janis@CoachJanisPullen.com

Key Words: Stress, Response, Positive, Proactive, Negative, Alcohol, Tobacco, Eating, Food, Ontological, Facilitative, Comfort, Habit, Healthy, Unhealthy, Real Needs, Time Management, Deadline, Act, Control, Responsibility, Blame, Breath, Cortisol, Adrenalin, Endorphins, Whole Foods, Sugar, Carbohydrates, Focus

Are Negative Incentives Effective? Four Perspectives

Situation: A company has been struggling to meet objectives. Financials aren’t completed on schedule, limiting the ability of the CEO to manage by the numbers. Milestones are behind schedule. The CEO was advised to consider stringent measures, including financial penalties, to force compliance to performance goals. In your experience, are negative incentives effective?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • There are at least three potential roots of this problem. Have your hired people who lack the skills to perform their functions? Is there a clear plan and set of priorities in place? Or are you as the CEO being consistent in your demands of the team? You need all three to meet your objectives.
  • Be sure to set SMART objectives: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. In addition, make sure that everyone understands how their performance impacts not only the plans of the company, but their salary and benefits as an employee. Be sure that everyone has the resources to complete what is expected of them.
  • Be careful if you are considering financial penalties, and negative incentives.
    • Many studies have shown that positive reinforcement is more effective than negative reinforcement.
    • If an employee is chronically behind on deliverables, ask what is happening and why they are not getting the job done.
    • If the response is not satisfactory, and performance doesn’t improve, you are better off terminating the employee than using negative incentives.
  • Often the question is not one of motivation but one of focus. Focus has to start at the top, and has to be maintained through departmental and team leadership. Make sure that there is proper training in setting and monitoring achievement of objectives throughout your leadership team. It helps if everyone clearly understands what the company is trying to achieve.

Key Words: Objectives, Achievement, Failure, Schedule, Manage, Numbers, Penalties, Compliance, Positive, Negative, Incentive, SMART, Resources, Achievable, Motivation, Focus, Training, Great Game of Business, Jack Stack, Understand