Fiduciary Responsibility Isn’t Just For Finance

Fiduciary Responsibility Isn’t Just For Finance

Customer, Featured, Focus, Leadership

responsibilityBy law financial advisors are required to act with fiduciary responsibility. This means they are required to put the client’s best interests before there own. This is a concept that isn’t just for financial advisors, it should be applied in every industry.

Your customer is the reason you are in business. Your customer is the reason you get paid. You are there to solve a problem for your customer. For these reasons and many others, you should be putting your customer before yourself. It is a step above customer service. It is about trust. When your customer knows that they are taken care of they come back over and over again. They refer more clients to you because they know you will take care of the people they refer.

In an episode of “Mad Men” Peter Campbell is told that Ken Cosgrove is getting a job they were both competing for. The reason he is given is that while he makes his clients feel that their needs are being met, Ken makes his clients feel as if they have no needs. Meeting a client’s needs is about them telling you what they need and you filling that need. Making a client feel as though they have no needs is about building a trust in which they feel they don’t need to say anything because they trust that you’ve already taken care of it for them.

Serving a customer is about creating an experience that the customer feels safe and happy. Building trust is a crucial part of it.

Partnering With Clients

Partnering With Clients

Attitude and Mindset, Customer, Featured, Leadership

handshake“Partnering” has become one of those overused buzzwords that has lost its meaning. Every company talks about partnering with their clients. While it is imperative that you become a partner to your client, without understanding what that means, the term is useless.

  • Partnering is not selling: Selling products or services to your client is not partnering. That’s what every business does. Partnering with a customer does not mean offering discounts. Partnering is not about sales. It is about the service you give during and after the sales.
  • Partnering requires understanding: I get a great many solicitations from companies that claim they want to partner with me. Further reading shows they have no idea what I do and simply grabbed my contact information from a mailing list. To be a partner with your client, you must understand what they do and have an understanding of their industry. What are the industry trends? What are your clients strengths and weaknesses? What is their competition doing? If you can answer these questions, you are partnering with your client.
  • Does your client call you with questions?: The real key to partnering with clients is if they consider you a partner. Do they call you with questions? Are you a source for information? Does your client rely on you for more than just what you sold them? Those are the signs that your client considers you a true partner.

 

Give People Time and Space to Be More Creative

Give People Time and Space to Be More Creative

Attitude and Mindset, Featured, Leadership, Planning

artCreativity takes time, requiring people to struggle down several blind alleys before finding the right solution. That’s why a lot of creative activity may look suspiciously like loafing around until a breakthrough happens. But if an organization truly wants creativity, it has to start by hiring more people than it needs to complete the tasks required for the company to stay afloat. Managers also need to provide some flexibility for employees to alter their schedules when an interesting idea begins to develop. And they need to reward employees for engaging in tasks that ultimately lead to creative solutions, like learning new things, developing new skills, having wide-ranging conversations with colleagues, and trying out ideas that don’t work.

Good Leaders Don’t Ignore Their Personal Lives

Good Leaders Don’t Ignore Their Personal Lives

Featured, Leadership

leadershipGood leaders put aside their own needs for the good of the organization — but that doesn’t mean they completely sacrifice their personal lives. Leaders who subjugate their need for exercise, sleep, and recreation eventually succumb to brownout: the graduated loss of energy, focus, and passion. Brownout is often imperceptible to outsiders, but it affects a significant percentage of the executive population. Today’s superstar leaders supplement their commitment to others with an equally important commitment to themselves. Whether it’s promising you’ll stick to your exercise routine, enjoy hobbies, eat dinner with your family, or reflect on what’s important to you, putting aside time for yourself makes you a better, more fully realized version of yourself. Start by making one small but meaningful promise to yourself — and keep it. If you’re successful, try another promise. It shouldn’t take long for the performance benefits to be obvious.

Your Colleagues Are Not Customers

Your Colleagues Are Not Customers

Attitude and Mindset, Featured, Leadership

Anyone who has spent time in a medium to large organization over the last ten years has probably heard the term “internal client.” The idea is that you should be treating your clients like royalty and your colleagues deserve the same treatment. This is an excellent idea, in theory. There are, however, big problems that develop when the idea is translated to the real world.

When you communicate with a client, you likely have on your “game face” and project a high degree of professionalism. This should definitely be carried over when you communicate with internal colleagues, suppliers, partners, etc. Whether you are talking with an assistant, your boss, or the CEO of a client, it pays to be thoughtful and articulate every time. When you ask a question, make sure it’s a smart one. When you present an analysis, spend a few minutes thinking ahead about your key message, supporting details, and follow-up or action items. This shows your team that you have respect for them. It also shows people that you are smart and competent.

The key word in the above description is not client. It is team. When you work with partners, whether they are in your company or outside suppliers or contractors, you are a team. As a team you share goals, attitudes and burdens. When you start to use the “internal customer” model, an “us vs. them” mentality evolves. After all, if the customer is always right, the give and take of a well-polished team goes out the window. Teammates have to work together to ensure that all their responsibilities are met, all their goals are achieved, and everyone comes out a winner.

Forget treating colleagues like customers. Treat customers and colleagues like team members. This way when one of you wins, all of you win.

To find out how The Modern Observer Group can help your team function better, contact us here.

The Business Coach Advantage

The Business Coach Advantage

Improvement, Leadership, Personal Growth, Planning, Process

business coachWhy should you have a business coach? Every athlete and every top performer uses a coach to bring out their best. Michael Jordan is widely considered to be the best basketball player ever. He has often credited his college basketball coach with turning him from a good player to a great one.  As a business person, you present yourself to your clients as a superstar. If Michael Jordan relied on his coach to get him to the top, shouldn’t you have a business coach of your own.

A business coach is somebody who helps you move from where you are to where you want to be, and does so by solely focusing on your goals. You’ll never really know what you’re capable of until there’s someone to push you outside your comfort zone. If you’re questioning what a coach can do for you, here are some reasons to get one

Gain an outside perspective: Brainstorming is a great tool but when you brainstorm with the same set of notions, you come up with the same ideas. A coach brings an outside perspective to the mix. By including ideas from other industries and coming in without preconceived notions, a coach brings your brainstorming to the next level. At the same time, that new perspective provides an opportunity for you to see the forest for the trees and take a look at the big picture even though you spend your days dealing with day-to-day details.

Bounce Ideas: A coach will listen to your ideas and bring expertise to allow those ideas to be evaluated and improved upon.

Guidance: A coach will make you focus on the big picture and your long-term strategies. Whether it is operations, marketing, or personal growth, your coach will help you develop plans to achieve your goals.

  • Accountability: A coach will keep you on track. Just like an athletic coach keeps a player training and improving, a business coach will keep you on track following your business plan, marketing plan and keep you growing.
  • If you want to grow and achieve your goals, a coach is what you need to step up your game.

Contact The Modern Observer Group to find out what a coach can do for you.

Achieve More By Thinking Strategically

Achieve More By Thinking Strategically

Attitude and Mindset, Featured, Improvement, Leadership

strategyTo achieve more it is important to see the big picture. Because of the amount of work most people have and the pace at which it needs to get done, it is common to put your head down and plow through.  Doing this leads to missing key information that could help you focus, prioritize, and be proactive.

In order to be strategic, you need a solid understanding of the industry context, trends, and business drivers. Here are some methods for improving your strategic mindset:

  • Make it a routine exercise to explore and synthesize the internal trends in your day-to-day work. For example, pay attention to the issues that get raised over and over in your organization and synthesize the common obstacles your colleagues face.
  • Be proactive about connecting with peers both in your organization and in your industry to understand their observations of the marketplace. Then, share your findings across your network.
  • Understand the unique information and perspective that your function provides and define its impact on the corporate level strategy.
What Is Networking?

What Is Networking?

Attitude and Mindset, Communication, Featured, Leadership

handshakeDuring the publicity tour for the book “Captivate,” author Vanessa Van Edwards appeared on CBS This Morning. Discussing her book, she made it clear that she had no idea what networking was. The reporters asking her questions were similarly uninformed. Despite the importance of networking in the success of a business or a career, there is still a great deal of misunderstanding about what it is and how to do it.

Networking is a process. The first mistake most people make is thinking that by attending a single networking event they are networking. The networking event is the first step in the process that has the goal of creating long-term relationships with will connect you to the resources you need. People you networking may never use your service or buy a product from you. They will introduce you to people. This people may or may not buy from you. They will introduce you to more people. Get the idea? You are not networking so that you can sell. You are networking so that you don’t have to sell. Ideally, your network will recommend you to people who want to buy.

Networking is not about trading business cards. Many people  treat networking as though the one with the most business cards wins. This is wrong. Having someone business card is irrelevant. The one who wins is the one who follows up. When you meet someone at a networking event, you need to follow up and meet them again. People do business with people they know, like and trust. While meeting someone once could be considering knowing them, it is by no means enough to generate like and trust. This takes several meetings and the time to really get to know each other. The business card is just so you have the person’;s contact information. It is not the goal and it is not an invitation to sell.

Ultimately, you want to be a superconnector. A superconnector is someone who meets people and introduces them to others who can be useful to them. Real networkers know that you must approach networking asking the question, “What can I do for you?”, not “What will you do for me?” Networking is about helping each other.

Has The “Extra Mile” Gotten Shorter?

Has The “Extra Mile” Gotten Shorter?

Attitude and Mindset, Featured, Leadership

roadWhile many people talk about going the extra mile, it seems that few people are actually doing it.  I had two interactions that took me by surprise, illustrating how short that extra mile has gotten.

Upon  launching a new newsletter, the e-mail system sent the newsletter template out while it was being set up. So a portion of our list received a half done newsletter two weeks before it was supposed to launch. We quickly e-mailed those who received it an apology and explained what had happened. During this I received an e-mail from a woman who was unsure how she got on the mailing list and asked me to contact her, providing her phone number. I called her and had a brief discussion and we figured out what event she had attended that put her on the list. She proceeded to tell me how happy she was that I had called her and how much she appreciated it.

The second interaction was an e-mail from someone who attends our events. She told me she would be unable to attend a particular event and was sorry because she was interested in the topic. I e-mailed her back providing her with a link to a blog post I had written that was the basis for the event and included some of the basic information.  Since I had met this person several times, the e-mail was conversational in tone and included points from our past discussions. She responded how thoughtful I was and thanked me.

What took me by surprise about these interactions was how appreciative both people were to what I considered a very minor thing. The effort on my part to respond to their needs was minimal and took only a few minutes between them. What I learned is that so few people are taking even that minimal effort that it stands out. People talk about “going the extra mile” but so few people are actually doing it that the extra mile has shrunck to a few feet. Any effort is appreciated. It took me no time and cost me nothing to make both of these potential customers very happy.

Go the extra mile. The results are well worth it.

Tips To Help You Become A Better Leader

Tips To Help You Become A Better Leader

Featured, Leadership

LeadershipWhen it comes time to lead people, great leaders know the power of information, information they gather from listening to people they respect. They also know what to say, how to say it and when to say it so that during tough times things get done. Here are some tips to become a better leader.

Build Better Relationships: Great leaders know the value of relationships. They know who people are, what is important to them, and what motivates them. Knowing this will help you understand their goals and how you can support them. When you help people, they will care about you and your goals in return.

Get To Know People On A Personal Level: If you take the time to get to know people you like, they will no doubt come to like you, too. Furthermore, it is always nice to ask people about their families and interests. You will also find that, if people like you, they will be more open to helping you and taking the extra time to get things done.

Be Upbeat And Stay Positive: In the business world, it is easy to criticize what everyone does and to be negative, especially in this economy. As a leader, you need to find ways to stay positive and find ways to do things better, faster and more effectively. It is important to remember that people are not perfect, and while you do need to address poor performance, great leaders know the value of acknowledging when people are doing things correctly. Doing so builds a positive work environment that helps make people feel appreciated.

Know Your Strengths: We each have strengths and weaknesses. That being said, you will find that it is better to spend time working on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. By doing this, you will find that you can rise to the expert level sooner than you would be by working on your weaknesses. Bottom line: Know what you are good at and keep at it.