How to communicate well

Extra News StoryThis week I want to say something on the power of repetitive communication.

Here it comes.

Something worth saying, should be said often.

This is an important and simple thing that some people overlook.

They forget that repetition is essential for great communication.

So try to remember in your next project that important messages should be repeated.

And if you have any questions about the value of repetition for great communication, please contact me.

Have a great week.

Adam

About the Author: Adam Blackie is a writer and a professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

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Posted in change management, communication, Leadership, leading change, stakeholder management | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Five ways to improve customer communications

Communications

Communicate

How good is your organisation at communicating with its customers? Here are five tests to assess your customer experience maturity.

In many organisations departments are working towards short-term silo based targets. If so, they might behave in the following ways:

  1. Marketing send out prolific communications, because they are measured on the number of leads they generate. Test 1. – Register on your own system as a customer. How easy is that to do? How good are the communications you receive? Are you being bombarded?
  2. Legal hide information in the small print, because the organisation has taken a risk averse approach to customer relationships. Test 2. – Print and read your own small print, as if it related to a purchase you are actually about to make. Would you buy from your own, or any other, organisation after that experience?
  3. IT create complex logins and hard to navigate portals because they are under pressure to deliver quickly. Test 3. Register and use your own portal to find information about the products that you sell. How long did the process take? Would you be happy to give all that information every time you wanted to browse in a physical shop?
  4. Sales information isn’t quite enough to make an informed decision, because the details are unavailable, or some essential technical specification was undocumented or delayed when the product launched. – Then nobody found the time to update the missing information.  Test 4. Search for a technical detail about one of your products – ask “Does widget X connect with widget Y?” . Does this information even exist for your products? If so, how long did it take to find it?
  5. Complaints don’t count in the contact centre KPI’s if it’s the customers fault. This is because the organisation did not do anything wrong and the KPI measures service desk  performance. Test 5. Are you measuring the efficiency your own internal processes or the level of customer satisfaction? (and are you now thinking, “Process is easy to measure, satisfaction is difficult.”?)

A mature organisation understands its customers, recognises that the experience is a sum of the parts and that it is probably not the centre of its customers universe. Its communications are simple, relevant, and timely.

This weeks Blog acknowledges ideas from Jacqui McNish, a customer experience and business transformation consultant. Find her on LinkedIn.

Have a great week.

Adam

About the Author: Adam Blackie is an author and a professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

Posted in communication, customer service, Information Management, service delivery | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The key to an Interim Manager’s CV

http://www.arm.co.uk/job-seekers/job-seeker-advice/cv-tips.aspx

A Good CV?

Interim managers need to communicate well.

Our CV is part of the initial  communication.

I have several versions of my CV developed over 10 years. Now, I am not saying that mine is the best out there, but it is mine, it reflects who I am, it is my own work and I am happy with that.

It has had advice from friends, colleagues and a few professional CV writers over the years. Some of the comments I have ignored, much of it has been very valuable.

Unfortunately, I don’t really know which advice was worthwhile because I know that I cannot appeal to everyone with one CV. The best that I can do is present a summary picture of myself,  in as few words as possible and hope to get the client’s attention.

Here is my experience from the other side of the table, when reviewing applicant CV’s.

If it is difficult to follow or not targeted to the role I am trying to fill, I put aside on a “reserve” pile. If I find a good short-list from the ones that are easier to read then it is very likely that the reserves will never be properly assessed.

A successful CV will have around 20 seconds of attention; and that is the key to writing a good one.

Have a great week.

Adam

About the Author: Adam Blackie is an author and a professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

Posted in communication, Curriculum Vitae, Interim Management, reputation management | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why information and data management is like a teenager

Teenage Information

Hang on, I’ll just Google that.

In my experience, information management and data management are both, pretty much, misunderstood.

End users tend to think of data management as the technology stuff that the guys with the black boxes sort out. They only notice it when it goes wrong. Information management is most often a completely alien concept. Very few managers know or care to know what it means; and usually only pay attention when information in their business is obviously unreliable.

I think of IM as being in its teenage years, because businesses tend to treat information in the same way as a typical teenager treats his possessions. i.e. Mostly piled in the corner of their room in a haphazard fashion, sifted irregularly on a Monday morning (or Saturday evening) to find the really important thing they need right now.

Technology will no doubt help us all to develop and appreciate the advantages of good IM, and offer better tools to do the job. In the meantime, much like the parents of teenagers, Information Managers will have to grin and bear it.

Have a great week.

Adam

About the Author: Adam Blackie is an author and a professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

Posted in change management, Information Management | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Information Assets – What are they?

Information Assets

Information Assets – Hidden pots of Gold.

The National Archives (TNA) has evolved a working definition.

“An Information Asset is a body of information, defined and managed as a single unit so that it can be understood, shared, protected and exploited effectively”

In other words information assets have recognisable and manageable value, risk, content and lifecycles.

So far this is obvious, but what do you do next? I suggest that you spend a few hours to try to define the information assets you have in your business and then record these in an information asset register.

To assist in creating and maintaining an information asset register, TNA developed a template. It addresses these issues:

  1. Who has to be able to find the information?
  2. What resources do they need to be able to access and open it?
  3. How is one able to use or work with this information?
  4. Is it possible for users to understand what the information is, and what it is about?
  5. Can you trust that the information is what it says it is?

An Information Asset Register is valuable to you and to your business because it can help prevent errors, omissions, misunderstandings and any number of blind alleys. As an optional extra, I recommend that you also identify the technical dependencies of your information assets, because future changes to technology will impact how you access and use the information, and vice-versa.

What next?

Once you have worked out what your information assets are, you could also think about:

  1. An Information Risk Register, which can be a simple spread sheet; shared and updated regularly, it could encourage wider interest in Information Management and Security.
  2. An information audit; but starting with an information survey is simpler. This is also an opportunity to map the technology detail for your most valuable information.
  3. Conduct a review of the challenges and costs of storing your information. You might find some obvious savings when looking at your information slightly differently.
  4. Identifying what is redundant, what is out of date, and what needs to change. Why do we hang onto so much information “just in-case”? Often the answer is because we have never taken a moment to think about it.
  5. Reuse and de-duplication of your information. I guarantee you’ll be shocked when you look at the amount of unstructured information on shared drives, and see the amount of wasted effort to recreate that which already exists.

Interested to know more?

The National Archives has loads of guidance on their Website about Information Asset Registers, the role of Information Asset Owners, how to map information to business needs, and how to map technology dependencies.

Have a great week.

Adam

About the Author: Adam Blackie is an author and a professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

Posted in information assets, Information Management | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Why information management is important.

Old Phone

What is the right number?

I have noticed that business managers generally ignore or misunderstand the term Information Management (IM); and when I talk about IM Strategy their eyes glaze over and the subject is changed. So here is a simple example of where IM will save you time if you get it right.

Imagine three systems in your business, let’s say the Intranet, HR system and email. All three contain contact details for your staff. The phone numbers are configured as follows:

 

HR System

Staff Intranet

Email Contact Lists

Work

01727   812673

+44   172 781 2673

01727   812 673

Fax

+44   172 781 2674

Mobile

07941   270640

+44   7941 270640

07941   270 640

Now imagine what happens when you want to introduce a system like Lync from Microsoft, a great product that integrates into a number of applications to enhance communications. When installed, it will occasionally fail in a random way, not because it is a poor product, but because the information across the business is inconsistent.

In a world where information is increasingly connected, it is vital to have robust and consistent information in your organisation and IM helps us to pay attention to this important but dull detail.

Have a great week.

Adam

About the Author: Adam Blackie is an author and a professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

Posted in information assets, Information Management, leading change | Leave a comment

Turning negative thoughts into positive action

Eight Challenges Three Ideas

Eight Challenges Three Ideas

I have been an interim manager for more than 10 years and…

I was recently chatting with a potential client about my assignments.

We identified eight projects where ideas, influence, persuasion and a positive outlook were key factors.

Here is the list.

  • How to improve the control of c600 projects with a £50m spend?
  • What team structure is appropriate to improve ICT service delivery?
  • What do we do next after the failure of a £800k ICT project?
  • How do we prioritise an uncoordinated series of ICT projects, many of which lack sponsorship or clear resource allocation?
  • How to resource and shape an ambitious plan to modernise the way front line services are delivered?
  • In a digital world where paper records management is being replaced by digital information assets, how do we decide what to keep?
  • What behaviours do we need to change to bring together disparate silo-based teams for collaboration on a corporate wide project?
  • How do we identify, analyse and monitor £1.6bn of ICT related spending across the organisation.

It is a pretty diverse list of challenges but I was sure there were some common actions and behaviours. It took a while but here is what I came up with:

  • Close in on an idea that can be understood by all.
  • Create a compelling story of what could be when the idea is implemented and then promote and socialise the values and deliverables. Don’t over-promise.
  • Leadership. Accept the responsibility for making it happen.
  • Persuasion. At all levels.
  • Negotiate win:win deliverables. Support others and trust that they will support you.

It then occurred to me that we all act this way unconsciously when things are going well. This is because we tend to be more positive and collaborative when times are good, but more defensive, suspicious and negative when things are not going so well.

I then realised that if we behave as if things are going well it will have a huge influence on our performance, happiness and success. If we want success we cannot allow a single negative thought or action to undermine our ability to achieve it.

Here are three ideas that can help make this happen.

  • Separate yourself from negativity by looking at it from the outside. Imagine how others would help you address your issue. This instantly reduces your negativity.
  • Use words like “interesting”, “challenging”, “opportunity”. These have an effect on your thinking. The negativity is lessened.
  • Focus on the now. What needs to happen in the next day / hour / minute. Once this is done you are one small step further forward. It is impossible to feel negative if you are truly in the present moment.

Have a great week.

Adam

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About the Author: Adam Blackie is a professional Interim Manager who leads service delivery teams through their change programmes. He works with CEO’s and their Boards in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.

Posted in communication, Leadership, leading change, leading change management, service delivery | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Communicating less is more

How do you communicate?

Extra Communications

This subject has interested me for some years.

As a change manager and a father of two I am constantly surprised by the difficulty we have in communicating effectively.

If I had a pound / dollar for every time a senior manager said “I cannot understand why my staff are not wholeheartedly embracing my changes” I would be a richer man.

Here are some techniques that have helped me as a change leader, (but I have not necessarily always stuck to, because THIS IS REALLY HARD stuff):

  • START BY LISTENING. Let the person or group you are communicating with have their say first. Be supportive and show that you have heard them and will act if necessary. This gives them a chance to clear their minds of their own agenda and then they are able to listen to you.
  • Make sure the listener is READY TO HEAR, are they mentally in a place to absorb what you are communicating? Fear of change, anxiety for their project / team and work overload are typical indicators to look out for. If these exist at the time of the communication, then assume that those listening will not hear.
  • Keep it simple. Communicate ONE IDEA AT A TIME. As soon as we communicate a new idea recipients start to process the implications. This fills their heads with their own dialogue. – Not a great time to introduce another new idea. This takes patience and some bravery (when will you get another chance to communicate?)
  • REPEAT YOURSELF, lots of times, in different formats. A simple message repeated at every opportunity works well. Team briefings, company wide emails, intranet, blogs, wiki’s, notice boards, email footers, etc. In fact anywhere you can repeat the message is useful – so long as you are consistent and simple.
  • KEEP REPEATING the message until you hear that “so and so” has had a similar idea. At that point start supporting their idea.  (It is no longer yours).

Repeating myself  is a technique that I use a lot. Some staff get the message straight away, others take longer, some never really understand. When you are really bored with repeating yourself, don’t stop, keep it up until…..

…..you see team members explaining to each other in their own words.

Now you know that you have communicated.

In short, communicate, less, more. Plant a seed then support and steer any conversations that make it grow.

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This weeks inspiration –  Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show.

“Confused? You need to listen more closely, particularly to what I said second.”

Posted in communication, Implementing Change, Interim Management, Leadership, leading change management | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments