From Battlefields to Boardrooms: Finding Good Managers with William Gooderson
Whether you’re clearing out explosives in Afghanistan or managing the finances of a corporation in Australia, you need good managers. So argues former British Royal Engineers Major turned leadership expert William Gooderson on the Beyond Workforce Success Conference stage on the Gold Coast last June. And he speaks from hard-earned knowledge, having first commanded 30 soldiers in Germany at the age of 24.
“It doesn’t matter where you are, or what your business entails, if you do not have good managers, that end mission will fail,” he emphasizes. Given how important good managers are, investing in them is a priority across all businesses. However, laments Gooderson, recruiting and finding decent management is a global problem.
The “joys” of trying to find good managers
“We live in both the most exciting and the most challenging era for trying to find talent,” says Gooderson. Websites like LinkedIn and SEEK have made it easy to reach out to potential managers. But at the same time, websites like Glassdoor have opened managers to anonymous criticism that may affect not just their reputation, but their company’s as well. There is now more information to navigate, and thus more skill required to recruit correctly.
Juggling internal and external hiring makes a difference
The advantages of hiring someone internally include retaining the company’s top talent and saving money on hiring. The disadvantages are having a limited choice and creating tension among those who didn’t get picked. Hiring externally gives you far greater choices, but at a higher risk. The person you hire would come at a higher cost, and would need to adapt to the company’s culture. Juggling these pros and cons will make all the difference.
Half the battle is having a manager’s profile
Any recruitment agency will ask, “What do you want in a manager?” One way to answer that is to figure out who among your current staff you would like to clone. Write down the attributes of that person before you talk to your recruitment agency. This will ensure that you’re on the same page about who you would like to lead your team. Provide the profile of your existing workforce as well, because your new manager should be able to work with all of them.
Challenge your prospective manager on controversial things
A good way to gauge how someone works is how they would address a difficult situation. Ask them what, among the experiences they’ve had, can inform their decisions. Provide them with a scenario from your specific company, organization, or industry. Listen to their answer, and share with them how the problem was actually resolved. Even your interview can be instrumental in making that manager a better one, whether or not you pick them for the job.
Be prepared to make the hard decisions
Sometimes, finding good managers means letting go of bad ones. This becomes difficult when the individual has spent decades in the industry and is supporting a family, which Gooderson himself found out the hard way. Confronted with an erring army commander, he had to make a call most leaders do not want to be faced with. “The lessons I learned from sacking that guy have been with me throughout my entire career,” he says. “And I reflect upon them every single time I’m put in that situation.”
Experience, and reflecting on experience, is everything
Indeed the secret to finding good managers, according to Gooderson, is experience, and the ability to reflect on that experience. The best resource decision-makers have when it comes to making the choice is themselves. “If you don’t leverage your opportunities and experiences, and if your managers aren’t doing that, you are really going to struggle,” he remarks.
The playing field is bigger now, and decision makers have unprecedented access to potential managers who can make or break the business. So if you’re still having trouble finding a good manager, take Gooderson’s advice: dig deep into your own background. And when you’ve learned to harness your experiences, and passed the lessons down to another generation of leaders, you can mark your mission complete.
Industry Insights |
Michael Barnard’s Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Customers for Life
The most important customers are “those that come back consistently and invite their friends,” according to Michael Barnard, General Manager of consultancy firm Customology. A speaker at the Beyond Workforce Success Conference 2018, he specializes in creating customers for life. And there’s a very good reason for that: it costs 10 times as much to obtain a new customer as it does to retain an existing customer. Consider also the fact that a 5% increase in returning customers can translate to profit growth of 150%. This exponential growth will not be possible without a strong foundation that keeps them coming back. And because they share your product to their network, they can also determine how many new customers you will attract. In short, by taking care of the customers you already have, you will be able to secure your business, and even expand to new markets. Ready to create customers for life? Here’s Barnard’s step-by-step guide on how to do it. Get out of the dark and know who they are The first step is getting to know your customers. Knowing precisely the kind of customers you attract with your current marketing strategies will tell you who you should cater to. Segment your current customers according to age, gender, income bracket, and other indicators you might find useful. If you can, indicate what kind of purchases they make, and when they do so. All of this information will help you strategize for your customer programs. Find out what your customers value Not all customers value the same things. Sometimes, it isn’t even about the price of the product or service, but the needs they address. This is where the concept of “value” comes in. Products and services address four kinds of needs, namely, functional, emotional, life-changing, and social impact. Your brand will be judged based on the need you address, and the value you add. Finding out what your customers value will help you create for, and market to, them. Develop an effective customer program Any good retention strategy involves customer programs. But don’t just focus on price, convenience, or service! Instead, take a customer-centric approach to communication and engagement. Take the data you have and put it to good use. Look at who they are and what kind of purchases they make. This will help you figure out what problems they may be trying to address. Solve your customers’ problems and they will keep coming back to you. Capture the right data and learn from it When capturing data about your clients, find a single point of truth that can be your basis for analysis. Generally, information is gathered from three areas: Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Point-of-Sale (POS), and product data from Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. The single point of truth prevents data overload and reconciles different sources of data. It then allows you to see the overall picture and reconfigure your strategies towards better sales. Read more: Maximizing Marketing Analytics to make Cost-efficient Decisions Keep the customer promise Finally, creating customers for life means keeping your promises. Whether you’re selling ready-to-wear fashion or providing technical services, always deliver what you said you would. Keeping the customer promise often involves the little things. Answering the phone promptly and courteously every time it rings goes a long way in creating a bond with customers. And so does going out of your way to find an item the customer is looking for. To make all this happen, invest in your people and truly make them a part of your company. Allow them to understand what the company stands for, and encourage them to take ownership of their work. Every staff member is a brand ambassador. Often, they are what your customers will remember about you. When your staff is equipped with everything they need to perform well, they are better able to make decisions that would satisfy both the customer and your bottom line. Indeed, empowering staff can help your business succeed in more ways than one. But in the everyday grind, it’s easy to lose track of your workforce. Scheduling shifts to match peak hours, and optimizing staff to reach their full potential, all take time, effort, and expertise. Luckily, Tanda has developed a way to do just that, at a fraction of the cost. To find out more about how you too can achieve workforce success, request a demo here.
Industry Insights |
Creating Customer Programs with Customology’s Michael Barnard
How do you make sure customers keep coming back for more? This is what Michael Barnard, General Manager of consultancy firm Customology, specializes in. A speaker at the Beyond Workforce Success Conference 2018, he focuses on creating customers for life. Existing customers and their interactions shape the future of your business, so it’s important to provide their needs and maintain their loyalty. Often, this involves implementing programs, and it can be tricky to get them just right. Read more: Michael Barnard’s Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Customers for Life When creating customer programs, companies focus on price, convenience, and service. However, Barnard emphasizes that these are not enough. Companies need to take a customer-centric approach to communication and engagement. A retention strategy, whether it involves an app, a one-time discount, or a loyalty card, must: Put the customer first. The business should respond to what customers need, and not the other way around. When a business plans a program from its perspective instead of its customers’, it will not be as effective. Recognize them constantly. Simple acts of appreciation, such as a thank you email, can change the way they feel about your business. For The Coffee Club, the thank you message reduced the time between the first and second transactions by 34 days. Reward their behaviour. Brands that only encourage loyalty but do not reward it have a smaller chance of success. According to the resort marketer Mantra Group, rewarding the behaviour of direct bookings increased their customers’ average spend by 26%. Remind them of the benefits. Send customers emails that showcase the benefits they can receive, and make it easy for them to receive it. Multinational manufacturer Bridgestone saw a 36% uplift in frequency by implementing this. Personalise the recommendations. Make sure the conversation revolves around them, their interests, and their purchasing habits. For jewellery chain Michael Hill, suggesting items that complement previous purchases resulted in a 72% uplift in conversion. Establishing a successful business means involving your customers every step of the way. And in an increasingly interconnected world, your customers are your best advocates. Gone are the days of pure word-of-mouth, as many now take to social media channels to express what they like – and what they don’t. Getting your strategy right can reap enormous rewards. Getting it wrong, however, can be disastrous. Read more: Keeping up with the Customers: Why feedback matters for every business Ultimately, putting loyal customers first, and analyzing how you were able to convert them, is key to attracting new ones. Keep your communication with clients strategic but sincere. Consider not only their interests but also larger trends that you can use to elevate your brand. And always remember that by catering to customers’ interests, you are also catering to yours.
Industry Insights |
William Gooderson’s 8 Characteristics of Good Managers
Finding good managers is one thing, but training them to be the best is another. In the second half of his talk at the Beyond Workforce Success Conference on the Gold Coast last June, William Gooderson outlined eight characteristics that good managers in any industry should have. Hint: age is not one of them! Gooderson shares that he has met managers who had been in their industry for decades, but had no leadership capabilities to speak of. Managers who are in their position because they’re not needed or wanted elsewhere are the most difficult. Of an erring army commander, Gooderson remarks: “He trundled along for 20 years getting promotions, because organizations allow that to happen.” Read more: From Battlefields to Boardrooms: Finding Good Managers with William Gooderson The lack of screening and training results in managers who have some experience, but not the kind that enables them to make great decisions. When it comes to decision-making, the key is not years spent in an industry, but the amount of reflection done during those years. Besides being able to reflect on their experience, managers should also be trained to: 1. Know how to delegate properly Good managers know they cannot do everything by themselves. Being everywhere at once is impossible, and micro-management often leads to failure. “You have to be able to rely on your managers to look after you, to support you, to deliver the mission, and to look after their guys,” Gooderson says. This is why delegating is a skill that should be learned right off the bat. 2. Communicate well on all fronts A good manager needs to be able to communicate your vision for the business, but should also be able to listen to the team. Being approachable is key to leading well. Approachable managers understand what the team is doing. “If they’re not engaged,” Gooderson asks, “How on earth are they going to work effectively together?” 3. Inspire trust among his or her staff Employees need to be able to trust that a manager is telling them to do something for the right reasons. Inspiring trust in employees requires leading from the front. Showing them how it’s done is always better than telling them. And at the end of the day, they need to be able to trust that you have their best interests at heart. 4. Remain optimistic in the face of adversity Bad days will come, and you cannot afford to lose morale. Even one disheartened employee can bring the whole team down. Good managers know how to keep morale up, even when they themselves have doubts. Optimism, like any other leadership skill, can be trained into your management candidates. 5. Have empathy for those they lead For a manager to be effective, he or she must be able to relate to employees. He or she must understand the challenges they face, and be able to address them in a manner that helps them perform better. A great piece of advice for most situations is to praise in public, but criticize in private. 6. Hold themselves accountable Good managers always step up to the plate, simply because it’s their job. They don’t do it for any recognition, or treat it as anything out of the ordinary. One way to train your managers for accountability is to give them hypothetical situations in your industry, to see how they would react. The bottom line when it comes to accountability is to own both successes and failures. 7. Have the confidence to do the right thing Confidence is contagious, according to Gooderson. A manager who shows confidence in the company, in the people, and in the work, will have a greater impact than they can imagine. The best manifestation of this confidence is being able to do the right thing, especially during the most difficult situations. 8. Be inspirational because of who they are Once again, leading from the front makes a difference because it translates words into action. Any manager can say one thing, but do another. A good manager is able to exemplify the best the company has to offer, and in doing so, inspire others to follow suit. Gooderson ends his talk with a Richard Branson quote: “Train people well enough so they can leave, but treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” In the end, the most important asset of any business is its people. “Industries spend less money on training its leaders than it does on any other area of development,” Gooderson laments. That fact needs to change, and investing in training managers to have these eight characteristics would be a great start. Ready to find out what Tanda can do for your business? Book a demo today.