Why do we still manage like amateurs?

Article by Graham Wilson - meet Graham and get more insights at TLG network

It’s easy to slip into working like you know what you are doing, a little knowledge is dangerous! And as senior managers we feel we have to appear confident. Fake it till you make it can be dangerous.

I have said in previous blogs how perverse it is that the higher up the ladder we climb the less we spend and time we take on our own training, yet we undoubtedly have the greatest effect on value and culture, for better or worse?. Hence a client recently commented “why do we still manage like amateurs” when so much is at risk.

He was frustrated at having learned more about something he thought he knew how to do and realising how much time and effort had been wasted. That’s OK it’s the power of Coaching and Mentoring, full credit to him for realising he could use help.

We all fall into this trap at work and play. Our standards are set by past experiences and how we learned, the question is how good was the early learning, how thorough and is it current? My good friend Paul Johnston talks about the POOOE effect, how we are “prisoners of our own experience”

Let’s talk about driving; I get this, as a semi professional Rally driver. Lots of people that drive with me think they are fast drivers, based on friends and perhaps a track day, then they drive with me and come to realise they are not fast [ I never get to full speeds on a main road] they are amazed at what a car can do, without getting anywhere near a danger point. It isn’t just a natural skill, I had lessons with Pentti Arrikala former world number 5, what he knew was amazing, he was a different level and threw much of my understanding on its head.

The same goes for Golf, Tennis; any sport where having a coach is common practice when people want to reach professional status and be the best they can be. You have heard this before so let’s look at business and let’s consider that sports people who are good at one sport are usually not good at all sports and tasks.

First, do you really know what your job priorities are? And which of the skills that got you here are still being used to the full extent? Or are you typically pulled into broader areas where you become an amateur again? Or are you suddenly an expert in Mezzanine debt management, tax management, compliance and H&S and HR, or perhaps marketing and suddenly a great sales person. Of course not and as a non expert in some of these be careful about how you select people you think might be experts! You need to know where you really add value, for your own sake and that of the business. You will be a much more effective leader when you recognise the need to bring in a team of experts and you should constantly question yourself and those people to be sure you are at the top of your game, unless you are happy amateurs, which is OK if that’s what you want.

Here’s one you probably think you know about, Word of Mouth marketing. Everyone seems to recognise WoM as the lowest cost highest return marketing there is. What's scary is they believe they do it, is this you? There are scores of excellent books that support the benefits of WoM, they have data, facts and stories. Yet research shows only around 8% of marketers believe they really understand it and they are the experts! What happens in reality is people talk a lot, which isn’t WoM. They ask for referrals, however because they don’t have a process or tell customers what to say, they are often ineffective and customers make up their own story, that’s good message and brand control then! We worked on delivering and researching WoM for over 15 years to understand and develop the process that makes it work. It becomes a cultural thing, the way you do marketing. It’s a skill that needs to be learned and when it’s done properly it’s a winning formula, Zappo’s used WoM as its primary marketing tool and sold for over $1 billion, they didn’t achieve that without understanding the process.

When it’s consistently written that around 80% of all business comes from WoM, I have to ask why 80% of your budget and effort isn’t there, as a priority. Do we fall into the digital trap, digital noise is everywhere creating fear [you must have it and your website isn’t good enough] and expectation [1000’s of percent increase in leads], constantly generating new methods and a lot of cost and work that’s hard to measure. Digital people are clever and if you get a good one can offer huge value, as long as you do get a good one and how and when will you know? Perhaps through WoM? Yet still it appears most of your business will come from WoM, which has been around for 1000’s of years. Shouldn’t you learn how to do it properly and control it alongside digital with the right balance and focus?

So when it comes to growing your business it seems 80% of it will come from a process you probably don’t realise exists, Imagine the change if you did. You can drive faster and safer, hit a golf ball straight, return a serve and so much more. Question is, on such a key business driver as WoM, do you want to be an amateur or a Pro??

By Graham Wilson at www.womtwo.com