Category Archives: Professional Service

Necessary but not sufficient

In 1950’s Fredrick Hertzberg introduced his two-factor model of motivation.

Hygiene Factors

Pay, Working Conditions, Status etc – don’t motivate but demotivate if missing.

Motivators

Responsibility, Challenge, Control over own work etc. – Turn people on and fire them up.

Whilst this has come under critical examination in recent years and is now considered simplistic, his basic notion that what satisfies does not motivate can be useful in guiding management thinking and action.

The structure of his idea, that what is adequate at one level is not enough for the next level is an approach with broad application.

Many of us focus too much attention on what is necessary for success in our field of interest. We don’t always concern ourselves with whether this is sufficient to ensure we reach our goals.

In the education field, meeting the criteria for passing a course is unlikely to be adequate to obtain a high mark and more importantly may not be enough for real learning.

What gets you a job is usually not sufficient to make you a star performer.

In football [and other sports]  the team that gets you promoted out of one division is rarely good enough to allow you to succeed or perhaps even to survive at the higher level.

Management Competence

IStar Vs Goodn his work on management competence, Richard Boyatzis pointed out that the skills necessary to be appointed to a particular job were not enough for success at that level. He went on to describe how the star performers were not necessarily better at these  core or “threshold competences” but had an additional set of “differentiator competences”which set them apart them from their peers.

In broadly technical roles, the differentiator competences are likely to be personal, interpersonal and communication skills – people with this skill set stand out from their [potentially] more technically competent colleagues. These additional skills are frequently crucial for business success.

What does this mean for you?

Think about this from your business’s perspective:

  • Do you promote people for being good at their current job or for being well equipped for the next.
  • How do you prepare them for the transition?
  • What is it that makes your star performers stand out and how can you spread these capabilities?

If you don’t think this through and put plans in place to deal with it, you will promote the wrong people to the wrong jobs. I’ve seen this happen many times, with companies losing good engineers, accountants etc. and gaining poor managers in the process.

It can be a lose:lose strategy!

Encouraging Enterprise

Encouraging Enterprise StructureIt doesn’t have to be this way, you can develop these stand out skills in your people. Our Encouraging Enterprise approach is an integrated programme of:

  • Training
  • Coaching
  • Guided Work Experience and
  • Senior Management Support

The programme is specifically designed to help professionals with technical skills make the transition into business and management roles.

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Being “Best in Breed” may not make you “Top Dog”!

In services it is very difficult to differentiate yourself from your competition and it is even more of a problem for professional service organisations. It is very difficult to be distinctive, memorable and stand out from the crowd when everybody is qualified, capable and seems to be the same.

One route you can take is to become the very best at what your business does – what you might call a “Best in breed” strategy – but is this the best way forward?

“Best in Breed” Strategy

In a dog show, such as Crufts which has just finished, the best in breed winner is the dog which most closely matches the “breed standard”, it ticks all the boxes and has no faults but you have to ask whether the fine distinctions which gain favour from the judges are noticeable let alone memorable to the general public. And of course, there is only room for one “best in breed”.

Moving into the business arena, being “best in breed” may be a useful approach if you have a very narrow niche or have the resources to get ahead of and stay ahead of the competition but it won’t work for most businesses. You need to be different, you need to have personality and you need to build a community of customers who value who you are and how you do what you do. That’s what makes you “you”, makes you distinctive and makes customers [and employees] come to you.

Distinctive and Memorable?

Family DogYou need to have the key elements of the “breed standard” demonstrate capability but it is the other factors which make you distinctive and memorable. Unless you want to compete in Dog Shows, you don’t pick your family dog because of how closely it matches the standard!

All your competitors will have similar:

  • People [qualifications and experience]
  • Processes
  • Experience

Or they wouldn’t be in the business. You need to find a way of being different and that is best achieved through your people and your processes [what you do and how you do it]. To turn some customers on you may have to take the risk of turning some off, not everyone will like what you do and if you try to please everyone, you will end up being bland! You need what my friend Andrew Thorpe calls a “Marmite Pitch”

Very good but very ordinary

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you can’t be ordinary and it is very easy to be very good but very ordinary. Barry Gibbons then of Burger King was quoted by  Tom Peters’ as saying “Even when we did it right, it was still very ordinary”

Ordinary is not memorable and it’s not distinctive.

Extraordinary Expertise

Whether you are in:

  • Accountancy
  • Law
  • Architecture
  • Engineering
  • Project Management
  • Financial Services

You and your people need to be extraordinary and that means paying attention to how you do things and how you interact with your customers, it’s not about getting better at what you do. That is obvious and easy to copy – if you can do it, everyone else can do it. To be distinctive and memorable and maintain this, you need to get brilliant at things that your competition doesn’t take seriously.

This means building outstanding customer care, building strong customer relations and giving your team extraordinary expertise by developing what are often called “soft skills” but they are not soft, they are hard and they are crucial to your business success. You need to encourage enterprise and build distinctive capabilities.

You don’t get to be top dog by being best in breed!