Vol. 10, No. 16 – Nov. 22, 2010

November 22, 2010


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information
for managers, leaders and entrepreneurs

1. Four Rewards That Drive Employee Engagement

Most of the motivational models used today were developed in earlier eras, when work and workers were different. Kenneth W. Thomas, an emeritus professor of management, says in the Ivey Business Journal a crucial factor today is that workers are asked to self-manage. They must use their intelligence and experience to direct their work activities to accomplish important organizational purposes. That increases the value of intrinsic rewards, which derive from the work itself, rather than extrinsic rewards, like money.

He notes that the self-management process involves four key steps:

a) Committing to a meaningful purpose
b) Choosing the best way of fulfilling that purpose
c) Making sure that one is performing work activities competently
d) Making sure that one is making progress to achieving the purpose.

That, in turn, illuminates the four intrinsic rewards you must help establish for your workers:

  • Sense of meaningfulness. They must feel they have an opportunity to accomplish something of real value — something that matters in the larger scheme of things.
  • Sense of choice. They must feel free to choose how to accomplish their work, selecting the work activities that make the most sense to them and performing those tasks in ways that seem appropriate.
  • Sense of competence. They should feel they are handling those work activities well, meeting or exceeding personal standards.
  • Sense of progress. They should feel their work is on track and moving in the right direction.

2. Replacing The 4Ps

The four 4Ps are the foundation of marketing, reminding us to find the proper mix of product, price, promotion, and place (your distribution method). It has become fashionable to tweak the 4Ps, and while the new schemas can become tiresome, we can also learn from them. Here’s another, from consultant Andy Hanselman, at Management-issues.com, developed for an age of customer control:

  • Permission: Today’s successful marketers recognize they need to get permission from prospects and customers. That means developing products and services that are interesting, and building relationships with people who truly want to do business with you.
  • Participation: Today’s customers want dialogue, so forward thinking businesses are having conversations with their prospects and customers. “When was the last time you actually had a conversation with your customers (about the things that count, not just the weather, TV celebrities or the outstanding invoice!)?” he asks.
  • Performance: This is the real battleground for competitiveness today since half of customers say their customer experiences are “bland.” You must create a remarkable customer experience — and not simply as a one-off. You must perform at a high level continually.
  • Proliferation: Proliferation happens when people start talking about what you do. “Remember, word of mouth only works if there’s something worth talking about. Today’s successful marketers have a strategy for maximizing proliferation — not by overt marketing hype but by energizing their marketplace, becoming part of the community, by standing out from the crowd, and creating that buzz,” he writes.

3. Understanding Is Not Enough

Most managers believe that understanding is the key to getting subordinates to act. Just explain what you want, and then with that improved understanding, people will be motivated to act.

Ohio State University Professor Jeffrey Ford, in his ProfessorFord.com blog, says that formula won’t work. Instead, you must make specific requests and promises.

The intent of a request is to have someone else commit to producing a specific result or completing a specific action by some due date. Here’s an example: “Have the report on my desk by 5pm this Thursday. Will you do that?” When they accept your request, they are making an agreement to complete the action.

A promise is the flip side: You pledge to complete a specific action. Example: “If you need support on getting the report done, I will assign someone to help you by the end of today.”

4. One-Hour Turnarounds

When she found some film from 12 years ago, consultant Patricia Katz took it to her local Shoppers Drug Mart one evening and was delighted it could still be developed. She was also bemused when the clerk apologized that, because of a backlog of previous orders, the film wouldn’t be ready in an hour, but only by noon the next day.

The photos had been taken years ago, after all, so a half-day wait didn’t faze her. But in her Pause newsletter she observes it’s a reminder that we have it in our heads that we must always do things immediately. “Don’t crank up the speedometer in situations where the task is less than urgent,” she cautions. Find out what the real timelines are.

5. Zingers

  • Consultant Guy Harris says one behaviour that almost guarantees our suggestions and solutions will be ignored is when we tell others what to do before we have heard their whole story. Our advice may be valid, but they often won’t care — just as we get uncomfortable when a doctor prescribes treatment before listening to all our symptoms. (Source: RecoveringEngineer.com)
  • If you are a leader, consultant Lisa Haneberg says, your strengths and weaknesses are known to your subordinates. Make sure you aren’t the last to know what those are. And by accepting that everyone already knows, you can be more open about your flaws (and attempts to improve), which will draw respect. (Source: Management Craft)
  • Entrepreneur Auren Hoffman says executives can use technology to find out their business expenses today in real time, with one glaring exception: legal fees. Most corporate lawyers bill clients monthly, usually sending the bill 30 days after the month’s close, making the itemized details in some cases 60 days old and at times a big surprise. “Law firms would be doing their clients a real service if they provided their bills daily,” he suggests. (Source: Summation blog)
  • Want to improve your writing in marketing material? Marketing coach Troy White says slash and burn your first couple of paragraphs. Snip each sentence down by 25 per cent. Break the rules you learned in school: Use clichés, write to a grade 7 level, and use one-sentence, or even one-word, paragraphs. (Source: smallbusinesscopywriter.com)
  • Marketing guru Seth Godin, on The Office: “If we were starting this whole office thing today, it’s inconceivable we’d pay the rent/time/commuting cost to get what we get. I think in ten years the TV show The Office will be seen as a quaint antique.” (Source: Seth’s Blog)

6. Q&A with 8020Info:
Approaching The New Year

Question: I need to undertake a client satisfaction survey. What “homework” should I do before sitting down with research specialists?

8020Info President and CEO Rob Wood replies:

Living as we do in a world with short attention spans and little time for respondents to answer questions, it’s important to develop a sharp focus on what you need from the research. Here are five useful questions to consider before you meet with your research group:

  • What is the real purpose for the research? (For example: to help develop marketing plans, confirm hypotheses about strategy, provide benchmark data, probe competitive strengths, or guide specific management decisions?)
  • What knowledge do you need in order to make a decision and act? (Skip researching what you can’t do, won’t do, or the merely interesting.)
  • Who can tell you what you need to know? (Should your sample include current clients? Prospects? Former clients? Frontline staff? Experts in the field? Similar organizations?)
  • What are the pivotal issues? (Many issues may be important — which pain points, barriers or opportunities could have greatest impact on your operation and make the greatest difference in helping you move forward?)
  • What is your reference point for “satisfaction”? Client satisfaction can be measured in many different ways, and almost all are tricky to interpret. Results using numerical scales such as satisfaction on a 0-10 scale, for example, can be hard to assess. What does a result of 6.2 mean?

If we have a single favourite question, it is probably: “Would you recommend us to your family and friends?” You may want to look to industry benchmarks, comparisons with client expectations, or experiences at similar organizations. You may need to drill down with questions on satisfaction with particular features of your service or product — or not. Or you may wish to look at high-priority customer service “values” such as responsiveness, reliability, access/accessibility, communication, fairness of practices for all, value for money/time spent and so on.

If you can answer these questions with clear, well-defined answers, your researchers should be able to do a good job for you.

7. News From Our Water Cooler:
Short, Snappy Mission Statements

We’ve all seen our share of rambling, vague, ambiguous mission statements, often peppered with inscrutable jargon. Last month on Harvard Business Review blogs, a good case was made for “the eight-word mission statement”, an approach advocated by Kevin Starr, Executive Director of the Mulago Foundation.

He insists that mission statements can be expressed in eight words or less, and must follow the format Verb, Target, Outcome. For example, “Save endangered species from extinction” or “Improve African children’s health”.

Here at 8020Info it might be something like “Help leadership teams think together more effectively.” We do that through various areas of practice — strategic planning, marketing communications, change management and public consultation/research. We also like to say we “work with ideas that have impact” in helping clients achieve their goals. But now we’re running on.

Coming up with an eight-word mission statement involves real discipline and choices: it can be hard to do. How many words does it take to state your mission?


8020Info helps teams develop, communicate and implement their communications, research and strategic plans more effectively. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries at (613) 542-8020, or by email at watercooler@8020info.com.

8. Closing Thought                                                                 Top

“A strategy is a sense of direction around which to improvise.”

— Peter Drucker