Tag Archives: leadership development

Habits and personal success

 

Creating life balance and personal success requires that you master your habits. The start of the entry for the definition of the word ‘habit‘ on Wikipedia reads, ‘routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously.‘ Daniel Pink in his book Drive references many research papers that show that humans are regularly irrational from a behavioural perspective. Your motivation for doing what you do doesn’t always make sense from a rational perspective. You buy things that you cannot afford. You stay in an unhealthy relationship. You accept the poor behaviour of your boss. You don’t save for your retirement even though there is ample evidence to suggest that this is the smart thing to do if you wish to have the same level of living standard in your retirement years. You hold on to bad investments long after they have gone sour. You continue smoking after you have had a heart attack.  I think you get the picture.

Much of your behaviour is irrational and subconscious. You don’t really know why you do what you do but you do it anyway. In other words, your behaviour is driven by habits and these habits are often irrational.

Crethe traffic lights on white background, Gary Ryan, Yes For Success, life plan, plan for success, life balanceating life balance and personal success requires that you raise your awareness of your habits. To do this you need to become more conscious of your behaviour and/or ask a trusted friend to point out the habits they see you doing. Give them permission to tell you things that normally you might not like to hear. Not everything they say will be bad. A number of your habits will be good.

Once you identify your habits you need to assess whether they should be kept or whether they should be stopped. The task of categorising your habits should always be done in the context of whether or not your habits are taking you toward your definition of life balance and personal success, or whether they are taking you away from that definition. Keep doing the habits that are taking you toward the success you desire and stop doing the habits that are taking you away from what you desire.

Stopping habits isn’t easy but it is necessary for the third category of habits to be commenced. This category of habits are the ones that you need to start. The time and effort that is required for this category of habits is obtained from the habits that you stop. So you don’t have to find more time to create more life balance and personal success.

Keeping, stopping and starting habits all require that you know what life balance and personal success looks like for you. If you don’t know then check out the Yes For Success Program here.

 

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Customer mistakes are your problem

If you are in business then you know that customers make mistakes. They get things wrong. They don’t read the information that you have provided them. If they have read the information they mis-understand your message. They don’t turn up when they are supposed to. They miss bookings. This list could go on forever!

Gary Ryan, Yes For SuccessAs service providers we can either see these mistakes as a pain in the neck and wish for the day when our customers will no longer make them. Or we can see these mistakes as opportunities to innovate so that the mistakes are either eliminated, reduced or mitigated.

Recently I flew to the USA with my wife and five children. International travel with five children can be a stressful experience. Anything that the airlines can do to cut the stress is a blessing. Anything they do that increases stress makes the travelling experience more challenging.

Despite being an experienced traveller I forgot to arrange our visas for entry to the USA. This error, my error, was surfaced while we were checking in.

“I’m sorry sir, but you can’t check in until your visas have been approved. Here is a card with a website address for you to quickly complete your application. Please move your bags to the side so that I can check in the next customer. There is an internet cafe just down the foyer past gate 60.”

I made the mistake. The airline, in this case United Airlines was not to blame for my mistake. It was my fault. That said, at that moment, how do you think I felt about United Airlines? The error wasn’t theirs, but in that moment I felt that somehow they were responsible, even though they weren’t.

I ran through the airport to find the internet cafe. I then spent over fifty minutes completing my online applications. Each application took about eight minutes to complete. You can imagine my stress levels rising. As each minute passed we were getting closer and closer to being excluded from being able to board our flight. Twice through the application process the computer I was using crashed, meaning that I had to reboot it and I had to restart the application process again. Everything around me became a blur. All I was focussed on was completing the applications so that we could check-in and board our plane.

Finally all seven applications were complete. I ran back to the check-in counter. We were the last people to be checked in. The staff were wonderful as they helped us through this process as more forms needed to be completed and we still needed to clear customs. As we were checking in the staff told us that it had been one of those days where multiple people had not completed their visa applications. My mistake as a customer had also made life for the staff more difficult as they too were frustrated by their inability to complete the check-in process in a timely manner.

When we were finally on the plane and I had some time to catch my breath, wipe the sweat from my brow and reflect on my mistake, it dawned on me that the staff had indicated that there had been a pattern of customers making the same mistake that I had made.

From a business perspective I find patterns interesting. They can often lead to opportunities. We had waited in line for over an hour before being checked in. A United Airlines staff member had been ‘walking’ the line asking us if we required tags for our luggage. Many people found this service useful. However, what if this staff member had also been asking customers if they had completed their visa applications? If I had been made aware of my mistake earlier I could have completed the online application process while my wife and children were waiting in the check-in line.

United Airlines also had access to a system that informed them about our visa status. I know this because the staff member who checked us in accessed this system to check our status. I wonder whether this information could have been used to contact me three days before our flight. Imagine if I had either received an email, a text message or even a phone call three days before our flight informing me that I was yet to complete my visa application. Imagine if I had received this information by all three communication channels. I could have been pre warned of my error so that it didn’t become an error. People missing flights isn’t good for anyone so anything the airlines can do to reduce the chances that flights are missed has to be good for both the airlines and the customers.

Flight Centre was our travel agent and once again, in this self-help world that we live in a travel agent is an expert in international travel, not me. Imagine if Flight Centre had also had a system in place to help me to help myself? After all, as experts in travel the very thing that they would know that could negatively impact my travel plans is not having appropriate visas. In fact my wife had spoken with our travel agent a few days before our departure and this issue had not been raised with her. An opportunity missed!

Once again I want to make it clear that I am not blaming United Airlines nor Flight Centre for my mistake. Rather, I am using this personal experience to highlight that organisations need to be aware of the common mistakes that their customers make and to do whatever they can to help their customers reduce those errors. Whether we like it or not, most customers will blame the organisation for mistakes that they (the customer) has made.

Customer driven mistakes are the service provider’s problem. Looking at the patterns of mistakes and then seeing these patterns as opportunities can definitely enhance an overall customer experience.

What common customer errors happen in your world and what are you doing to reduce them?

 

Learn about the Yes For Success Platform here.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Power and management behaviour

 

Watching university students role play salary package negotiations is fascinating. Without question the student who acts as the manager negotiates from the perspective that they have the power in the negotiation. The student acting as the prospective employee, who is trying to negotiate the best possible outcome for themself also adopts the perspective that the ‘manager’ has the power.

Several minutes in to the role plays I interrupt and tell the ‘manager’ that their CEO has a memo for them. The memo informs them that, due to the war for talent, they must do everything they can to secure the services of the prospective employee while maintaining responsibility for their budget.

Gary Ryan, Creator Yes For Success personal development programThe negotiations continue with a changed dynamic. The power has shifted. No longer does the ‘manager’ see that they have control. While having adopted an initial distributive bargaining strategy, they quickly shift to an integrative bargaining strategy. Even their body language changes. As I said this is fascinating to watch.

What is also fascinating is that the students involved are yet to begin their professional careers. Many of them have part-time jobs and/or volunteer roles and the majority of them have never had a manager’s role. Yet they follow this pattern of behaviour.

The role play is conducted as part of a Communication For Business program. In it I teach the students about the power of their mental models; their theories about how they believe the world works and how these theories directly affect their behaviour. Their perception of having or not having power affects the mental models they adopt in the role play which in turn affects their behaviour. As soon as the power is ‘shifted’ by the memo, they adopt a different mental model and their behaviour changes.

I have conducted this activity over a seven-year period and the observed behaviours have been consistent over this period of time. The perception of power has a direct implication for behaviour. This is not right or wrong. The challenge is that your mental models often act at a sub-conscious level rather than a conscious level. Either way they will affect your behaviour.

Reflecting on the activity students report that they were aware of the position they were taking in the negotiation but not aware of the deep mental models that were ‘driving’ their behaviour. Their view of the power they had or didn’t have had a direct impact on their behaviour.

What lesson does this activity surface for leaders and developing leaders alike?

Let’s assume that you value talent. If you are not aware of the influence that power has on your subconscious mental models and ultimately your behaviour, you are unlikely to treat the talented individuals you are working with as talented people. You will treat them as people who have less power than you. You will not be equals who have different roles.

Raising your awareness of your mental models is a key element for success. What is your experience of mental models and how they drive your behaviour?

Learn about the Yes For Success Platform here.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.