Thursday, 20 August 2015

Do something different!

I’ll be engaging with a business from Finland this month on behalf of a client and that will be a first in my lifetime. Business never stops throwing new things at you if you approach in the right way and for me that is one of the main reasons for getting involved.

It doesn’t have to involve exotic overseas travel either although a little of that naturally helps to keep the store of experiences topped up. You don’t have to leave the shores of this tiny island to get more variety than anyone could deal with in a lifetime. Simply altering your perspective is often the key to keeping fresh and engaged.

Business has a name for this – Unique Selling Point, or more commonly USP. By developing a unique approach to business you can give yourself a USP.  This is important as we all need to achieve a certain degree of stand-out but for me it masks the really vital element of difference. The truly rich and diverse difference is going to come from the people you engage with and not yourself.

By asking questions rather than putting forward possible answers on a continuous loop, you will soon build up an information bank which will be the envy of others. You will build up an enormous pool of contacts who are keen to help you and you USP will no longer be an isolated phenomenon.

For me, subtlety is everything in business today and by allowing others to define you to some extent you are lessening your dependence on a personal USP. This in itself is beneficial as it takes away the painful noise of someone continually banging on their drum. Rather than being heard as you shout from the rooftops, you will be seen through the filter of all your experiences which will always give you an interesting colour, texture and feel.

Of course, this is not an easy option. It can be messy, complicated and time-consuming. Despite appearing to be random, engaging with a wide spectrum of people requires effort and a plan until it becomes second nature and almost a way of life rather than simply a way of doing business.

 For this reason, it’s often a good idea to make sure your interaction is fun on occasions and even a little self-indulgent. Richard Branson famously said that the number one objective of all businesses should be fun and I can see clearly what he means by this. Introducing fun into the equation means the process becomes sustainable over long periods of time. With recent developments in pension rights in the UK that sustainability is clearly going to become ever more important to our future business people.

So good luck with your hunting and keep on keeping on, as they say!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Act now!

How often have you said – “if only I’d known how you felt, I would never have acted in that way”? If we’re honest we can probably all answer, without exception – “only too often”.

I was reminded forcefully of this truism over recent weeks by some major personal events going on with family members in my life. As chapters closed and new ones began on several different fronts and in different parts of the world they were all drawn together by a common thread. As people prepared for the new circumstances, they instinctively reminded themselves of what good had gone on before and what good was waiting round the corner in the new phase.

In business we don’t all have the advantage of major new events to help us crystallise our thoughts and remind ourselves of the inherent value we are leaving behind in order to progress. So maybe it’s a good idea to dwell on this phenomenon for a few minutes and see if there are useful parallels to be drawn. You can probably guess my view already but relate this to your circumstances and I hope you would come up with the same conclusions.

Telling someone what you think of them as you are required to do when a major personal event happens almost inevitably forces you to be positive. You look back on shared experiences, very often including a few negative ones, and you stress the positive in both what’s happened and what’s yet to come. This is beneficial for both the giver and the taker as it reinforces good points and looks forward with optimism.

This is perfectly possible to do in a business environment but what’s often missing is the pretext to do it in the first place. So why not invent a pretext? Why not just do it “spontaneously”?  Avoid the embarrassment that often comes with personal reviews when two people shuffle through a form-filling exercise together in a kind of coma. Just do it because you think it might help all round.

It’s a well-known fact that a vast majority of the workforce in the UK is suffering daily because they don’t feel engaged with the process they’re part of. So whatever your position in the organisation, why not have a go at forcefully suggesting a new forum for communication that will help everyone. You will doubtless have to invest time and/or money to achieve this but the benefits will be very real and there for all to enjoy.

If we each of us set more time aside for genuine communication we will massively increase our chances of success in whatever venture we’re engaged in. Act now and get a process going that only needs a little nudge every now and then in order to keep the proverbial flywheel spinning.
If anyone in business catches themselves or others saying “I didn’t realise how much I was valued round here” then there’s work to do and we may as well start the job right now!