Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

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I Am Never Right

Business IdeaWhen I first got into the training and consulting business I really believed that it was critical that I demonstrate an exceedingly high level of competence and a strong confidence in my ideas. Often times when a client felt that I was wrong, I would argue with them and defend my position with vigor in an attempt to prove that I was right and they were wrong. Then one day I had an epiphany…

I was not right.
Actually, I am never right.

The truth is there are often multiple right answers. My ideas are based purely on my opinion and every person in my classes has a right to their opinion too. Each of them has a unique background, with unique experiences and they have seen, read and learned all kinds of things I have never been exposed to. No matter what my answer is to a question, it is extremely rare that my answer is the only right answer.

As soon as I realized that, everything became easy.

I no longer had to defend, argue, persuade or attempt to prove that I was right – because I knew I wasn’t. Sure, I’ve had a lot of business experience, read thousands of books, worked in hundreds of different companies all over the world – but still, at the end of the day, I’m just giving a thoughtful guess as to what I think the answer might be. I could be completely wrong, I have been several times in the past, and I will be several times in the future. However, there’s also a very good chance that I will be right, or at least my idea will work well, perhaps as well or better than other people’s ideas.

Adopting this position allows me to be fearless, because it is impossible for me to fail.

I offer my opinion, I give some feedback, I suggest the very best ideas I can possibly think of, and then is up to the other person if they want to accept my idea or reject it. It’s just an idea. If they hate it, that does not matter at all, they are perfectly welcome to think that my idea is terrible. But here’s the most important point: that doesn’t mean I’m terrible or stupid or incompetent, it just means they didn’t like my idea. Big deal.

Luckily, the people that hire me are typically inclined to be interested in my ideas and most often think they are pretty good and even sometimes excellent. Again, that’s nice, but it doesn’t crush my soul if someone feels I’m completely off-base and have no idea what I’m talking about.

It’s just an idea…big deal.

I look forward to your thoughts – do you think I’m right?

Vision, Mission, and Values: More Than Words On Paper

I am happy to say that in this video, I officially address a question I receive all the time. I am constantly asked, “What is the difference between and the importance of vision, mission, and values in our organization?” Therefore, I have dedicated this straightforward video blog to answering. As all kinds of organizations ask me this question — non-for profits, associations, small businesses, startups, major businesses, etc. — all kinds can benefit from the answer.

Good News

Some good news about vision, mission, and values that I would like to share before I define them is this:

  1. Not having a vision, mission, and values will not destroy your organization.
  2. You do not have to keep the same vision, mission, and values forever.

Good Definitions

Therefore, companies without these features can remain calm, but as a vision, mission, and values are very important to the health and success of your business, you should consider implementing them soon, and you should know the basic definitions in order to do so. Here are my explanations of vision, mission, and values:

  1. Vision:

I like to think of the vision as the statement that answers the questions of “Where do you want to go?” and “What do you want the future of your organization to look like?” The vision can be set by the owner, CEO, or director of the organization, but it is usually best to involve the staff, the board, and other key people in the process of shaping the vision. Many companies put metrics in their vision, but these metrics do not have to be superlatives. You do not have to set a vision to be the best in the world! Being a good, profitable, or highly respected company is perfectly acceptable because the price you have to pay to be the best in the world is very high.

  1. Mission:

The mission statement answers the question: “Why does your organization exist? Why are we trying to reach that vision?” One of the best ways to understand the mission statement is to think, “Who would miss you if your organization ceased to exist?” All types of organizations, such as for-profits, not-for-profits, and associations, should use the answer to this question, which should focus on who you are serving and what services you provide, to direct them. The mission promises a company that if they continue to do what they have determined to do every day, then one day, they will achieve their vision.

  1. Values:

Values are, in my opinion, the most important of these three aspects of your company, so it is crucial to make your values exactly what you want them to be. Many people say that values are not made, they are discovered, and while that is true in part — some of them do come about naturally — it is also true that some of your core values should be created. Some core values are discovered through how you behave now, but others can be chosen as inspiration. Whenever your company is establishing your vision, mission, and values, remember that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication: you only need the values that are the most fundamental to who you are. Values can actually have such weight in a company that if an employee violates them, they are immediately terminated. If people violate the values and are not terminated, or are actually rewarded, that communicates to the rest of the world that your company really does not care about your values, and this message will cause you to lose all credibility and leadership.

Good Benefits

These things can be very confusing, but I hope that this video makes them clear and simple. The vision, mission, and values of your company are things that serve value to the marketplace and can drive outstanding business behavior when everyone in your company is excited about them and committed to them.

I hope you found this helpful — John


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Mastering the Art of Workplace Relationships

This is a guest blog from my friend Jesse Ferrell, a very dynamic and thoughtful professional coach and speaker. I hope you find his article of value!

We have discovered 3 easy ways to build great and sustainable relationships in the workplace.  Our research has uncovered a very simple solution to common reasons people are unhappy on their jobs and ultimately quit and find other places to work.  An employee engagement company out of Salt Lake City confirmed that fully 85% of people will leave their job because of poor on-the-job relationships and lack of engagement.  They site unfriendly bosses, frustrated and passive aggressive co-workers leading to a caustic unproductive environment manifesting into a negative unfulfilled company culture.

When we work with companies in an effort to help them improve the cohesiveness of their staff and teams, plus the quality of their company culture, the most common challenge we find as mentioned above is maintaining respectful and proper communications.  Companies of all sizes often experience major communication breakdowns between management and staff, from department to department and among the staff themselves.  As communications breakdown, the professional relationships are imperative in cultivating a successful workplace culture.

MASTERING THE ART OF WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS IN 3 SIMPLE – NOT EASY STEPS

There are 3 simple not easy steps you can adopt in order to take your work environment from good to great.  You may help turnaround a company culture that is negative and divisive in nature to a thriving positive energetic work culture. I highlight them below:

  1. Help your team practice extreme self-knowledge through a good personality assessment like the Color Code
  2. Safe place to tell the truth – this offering will be environment clearing
  3. Diversity and inclusion innovation – use the full range of your company’s talents, backgrounds and perspectives

In almost every case where there is a communication and relationship breakdown, a silo exists.  People tend to work in silos and disregard the value of teamwork.  They forget that not one of a company’s departments is able to stand alone without the support and superior communication from other departments.  Does this sound familiar?  Is this challenge rushing through the veins of a company that you either work with or have worked for in the past?  The top three problem areas that consistently haunt most companies are:

  1. The absence of epic communication (internal and external)
  2. Relationship (understanding self and understanding others)
  3. Value misconceptions of others

Are any or all of these challenges present in your company?  Have you spent sleepless nights stuck in hours of insomnia as you rack your brain thinking about how to resolve and improve your problem areas?

There are times when a company struggles with understanding why their teams don’t communicate effectively and is in need of raising their relationship equity.  So many companies are stuck and unsure of how to foster a company culture that will allow them to retain their top talent, to ensure the fit of diverse individuals, and to realize true sustainable value for those individuals and the organization.

SIMPLE STEP 1 – EXTREME SELF KNOWLEDGE

In highlighting the first of our 3 simple – not easy steps we offer the extreme self-knowledge step. We highly recommend the enrollment of the Color Code personality assessment, as we know that bringing about clarity of one’s own character is a crucial starting point and offers the roadmap to practicing how to use extreme self-knowledge.

As the inventor of the Color Code, Dr. Taylor Harman Ph.D. says, “When you get yourself…you get others”!  This quote is true because when you learn the 4 color distinctions (Red, Blue, White, Yellow) of what motivates your behavior. Why you do what you do, you are simultaneously learning the motives of others and you will be able to speak their language during the communication process.

The best form of internal and external customer care experiences, as well as communication development, starts with self! This is the gateway to improving the communication process and offers sustainability of relationship development. The Color Code personality profile will help you and your teams understand why they do what they do. This strategy will allow for creating better and sustainable relationships, while helping your team learn to speak the language of others.  Mastering the art of relationships is well on its way during this stage.

This will put you on track for creating epic communication.  When an organization becomes aware that epic communication is missing from their environment and chooses to hold themselves accountable for discovering how to develop the basics of creating epic communication, it becomes a positive game changer.  Action must immediately follow the awareness and discovery phases.  The start of this discovery phase begins with asking prudent questions and using the best active listening skills as a precursor to initiate this process.  The other key components of epic communication are nestled in the following sections on Color Code personality assessments and innovating through diversity and inclusion.

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The ultimate goal of mastering the art of workplace relationships lead to high-performing teams while creating a movement whereby your team gains the insight of how to co-create a winning culture. We know that implementing these concepts will raise the level of relationship equity and  leadership growth opportunity.  This is simple, but not easy as it will take discipline and dedication to learning your motives of why you do what you do through your four color distinctions.

 

SIMPLE STEP 2 – SAFE PLACE TO TELL THE TRUTH

You may be amazed by how many companies don’t realize that many of their environments are not encouraging a safe place to tell the truth because of the fear of judgment, shame or blame and feeling like they don’t fit in.  The best way to create a major shift in this area is by taking a top down approach.

 

Insure that senior management fosters a safe place to tell the truth with their direct reports.  Insist that those same direct reports create the exact same environment within the staffs that report to them.  Establish monthly check ups from the neck up where you share the best discoveries within the company as a result of exercising the “safe place to tell the truth” campaign.

Be willing to be vulnerable enough to share the breakdowns and problem areas that are not working.  Lastly, be willing to ask for help from colleagues, mentors, board of directors, bosses and co-workers. This final piece is the part that is not easy for most, because so many people do not like asking for help.  However, this is where the best growth happens when you offer faithful well-intentioned help from a diverse community within the workplace.

SIMPLE STEP 3 – INNOVATE THROUGH DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

Setting a strategy to innovate through diversity may be the most exciting piece to the equation of mastering the art of workplace relationships!  Choose to hire and maintain top talent and give them the room to grow.  You may ask yourself what is the best way to attract and retain our top talent to insure the fit of diverse individuals in your company?  The answer is simple, innovate through including those diverse individuals.  Capitalize on the strength of their differences!  Help them embrace the first two steps mentioned earlier, which are to promote the effort of practicing extreme self-knowledge and offer your diverse workforce a safe place to tell the truth.

The Salt Lake City based employee engagement company conducted expansive research gathering meaningful statistics and have proven that 70% of college graduates leave their first job within two years of starting it because they don’t feel the job is a goof fit for them.  85% of people fired last year were fired because of relationship problems at work.  Approximately 65% – 85% of mergers and acquisitions fail to deliver the desired results for which the companies come together, largely because of company culture clashes that cause top talent to exit the organization or lose focus and energy.

Being able to attract and retain top talent brings bottom line benefits to any workplace.  Giving these staggering challenges related to workplace culture, the best question is, how do we foster a company culture that will allow us to retain our best talent?  We want to ensure the best fit of diverse individuals and to fully realize real sustainable value for our companies.

The answer lies in our ability to use innovation through diversity and inclusion by understanding and valuing differences in a way that allows each person to contribute his or her best within the organization.  Choosing to master the art of workplace relationships through these 3 simple, not easy steps will bring sustainable value for individuals and companies!

What will you choose today in terms of developing a solid plan for mastering the art of relationships in your company?

** From John: If you enjoyed this blog I strongly encourage you to take a look at Jesse’s website, he is a true professional and always does a superb job for his clients. Here is a link to his site:  http://www.jesstalk.com/


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

To Sell Well…Don’t Sell!

defining-it-project-successI know that sounds odd, especially coming from someone who spent ten years as a top-level sales trainer to major corporations around the world, helping them close 100 million dollar deals, but it is the truth.

The best salespeople don’t sell, they serve. They don’t push products, they offer highly focused and very helpful solutions. They don’t worry at all about quota, they worry themselves sick about how much value they are offering to their clients and if they are being proactive enough in coming up with ideas and solutions before the customer even has a problem. It is my firm belief that to position yourself as a Trusted Adviser, a partner and peer to your customers, you need to focus on this equation:

Competence + Concern + Curiosity x Character = Sales Success 

 

COMPETENCE

To be successful in B2B sales you must be exceedingly competent in five areas:

  1. General business acumen, you have to understand how the business world works and keep up with local business trends, trends in local and national economics, international business trends and other key business ideas.
  2. You must be an EXPERT on your company and your products and services.
  3. You need to be an expert on your industry and your major competitors and their products and services.
  4. You must deeply understand your customer’s business – and your customer’s customers!
  5. Finally, you must be expert at anticipating your customer’s needs and offering products and solutions that are highly focused on adding maximum value to them and allowing them to serve their customers better.

This is sort of a Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in competency and customer focus, if you don’t take care of the base requirements there is no way to achieve the top level expertise.

CONCERN

To be successful in any kind of sales, B2B or B2C, you must show the customer that you are putting their interests first. You have to demonstrate genuine concern for the customer and show that you are totally focused on helping them get the absolute best solution, even if that means not buying from you!

CURIOSITY

As part of showing genuine and sincere concern in your customer you need to demonstrate a high level of curiosity in trying to understand exactly what is most important to your customer and what solution would be optimum for them. This means asking lots of questions…excellent questions, focused questions, probing qustions…and then being an intense listener in order to understand what is said and what is not said so that you can bring the very best options to the table for your customer – again, even if that means not buying from you.

You then take the first three elements: competence + concern + curiosity and multiply it by the power of character… 

CHARACTER

Tell the truth all the time –PERIOD. The single most important thing in being a Trusted Adviser is to base all of your advice and help on being honest, straightforward, frank and transparent. The very best salespeople are brutally honest – with their customers and with themselves. Without character there is no way to ever be a truly successful salesperson.

So there it is, my formula for sales success…

Be extremely good at what you do, genuinely care about your customer, be incredibly curious about how you can help them, and always tell them the truth.

There are a few other things you could do to increase your sales success but I believe with all my heart and soul that if you do these four things exceedingly well, you will be a highly successful salesperson.

I look forward to your comments and feedback – John

 

** If you liked this blog – please share it with your network – thanks!!!!

Building a High-Performance Team

shutterstock_46846525I was recently asked to work with a team of 12 mid-level managers in an organization of about 250 people. As individuals they were an incredibly bright, competent, diverse group that are clearly dedicated to the success of the company, as a “team” they were a disaster. Prior to meeting with them I had everyone fill out a “Team Effectiveness Audit” and the scores were…not so good. However, we had a wonderful day together and I thought you might find value in some of the things they developed for turning their workgroup into a high-performance team.

The first workshop we did was to create a model of who they felt would be an “Ideal Team Member” to serve on this team.

Ideal Team Member

·         Excellent Communicator – superb listener

·         Highly competent

·         Action oriented – proactive – sense of urgency

·         People/relationship focused

·         Balanced view: strategic & tactical

·         Team-first attitude

·         Strong, self-aware leader

·         High integrity

·         Personal and mutual accountability

·         Delivers business results

After we created the above list I pointed out to them that in order to attract a team member like this, they would first have to be like this themselves. It’s one of the key ideas for effective teams; A-players only want to be on a team with other A-players.

We then worked on creating a set of rules, or a charter, for how the team would treat each other. I think they developed a pretty good list…

Team Rules for Behavior

NO games

Be fully present – no technology/be engaged

Be flexible/consider

Hold each other 100% accountable

Use retrospect and focus on the effectiveness of this team and adherence to the rules

Offer inspiration

Be constructive/solution focused

Treat each other with respect

Focus on the success of the company – not your individual departmental team

Over-communicate with honesty and transparency

Prioritize each other and this team

ONE voice

Deal with facts

Effective / valuable meetings

Have FUN!!!

Lastly, we developed a few action steps that they could begin taking immediately to start the slow and steady process of shaping them into a more effective team and hopefully, eventually, a high-performance team.

Action Steps:

Create team vision/purpose (in progress)

Define key goals that align with the team purpose and that strategy / guiding principles of the organization

Define key metrics for those goals

Define how to hold each other accountable to those goals / metrics

Create ways to force collaboration

Evaluate team effectiveness quarterly

Once they finalize the vision/purpose of the team, and define their goals and metrics I will be creating a survey to measure their effectiveness in implementing their goals and continuing to adhere to the team rules of behavior. I will be administering the survey every three months so that we can constantly adjust as they develop as a team. Based on the quality of the people on this team I have a lot of confidence that things are going to go well.

I welcome your thoughts on what this team created; do you feel that there’s something missing?


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

How to be a Trusted Advisor

If it’s important for you to position yourself as a “Trusted Advisor” to your clients, then you’ll want to take a few minutes and watch this brief video that describes the formula for source credibility from Charles H. Green and his co-authors David H. Maister, Robert M. Galford and Andrea P. Howe. It is an elegant formula that superbly illustrates the four elements needed to truly be a trusted advisor.

Click HERE to takes John’s very brief survey