small change: your operating board

 

CiaranLinkedIn

small change 

by 

Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs.

Blog 1 small change: seven principles

Blog 2 small change: your career is a unique business

Blog 3 small change: your soft balance sheet

Blog 4 small change: your D Liability

Blog 5 small change: your timeline

Blog 6 small change: your formative years

Blog 7 small change: your A asset

Blog 8 small change: your career equity

Blog 9 small change: your curriculum vitae

Blog 10 small change: your emotional intelligence

Blog 11 small change: your reputation

Blog 12 small change: you, three years from now

Blog 13 small change: your purpose, strategy & behaviour (PSB)

Blog 14 small change: your soft p&l

Blog 15 small change: your 7 career options

Blog 16 small change: your relationship grid

Blog 17 small change: you are not a human capital asset

Blog 18 small change: your 7-step job search plan

Blog 19 small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)

Blog 20 small change: your 3-step interview plan (2)

Blog 21 small change: your 3-step interview plan (3)

Blog 22 small change: your job search funnel

Blog 23 small change: your reactive job search

Blog 24 small change: your proactive job search

Blog 25 small change: your first 100 days

Blog 26 small change: your operating board

small change

Seven principles

Principle 4

A shared Organisation PSB

  • shared purpose,
  • strategy
  • and behaviour in your organisation
  • is key to its success

 

Blog 26  small change: your operating board

your operating board

Your operating board, as opposed to your main board, leads and manages your organisation on a day-to-day basis.

Sometimes it’s called “the management team” or “the executive committee”. I prefer the term “operating board” because members of boards take decisions; those of teams and committees may or may not.

If, on the other hand, your operating board is not taking decisions using a robust decision-making process involving all members of the operating board then you may as well call it the executive committee or management team – sometimes code for the CEO’s committee or team where most of the decisions are taken by the CEO and at which members are regularly told off.

Once upon a time, I sat on an executive committee and after my first meeting “a lifer” in the organisation whispered to me conspiratorially that “you always know the new people on “the exec” – they’re the ones smiling”. Chilling but true as I learned after my first public “b***acking”. I stopped smiling.

Your operating board must lead and manage the following discrete functions, even if one person is responsible for one or more functions. In my business, as a “one-man-band”, I cover all the functions. When I fail to attend to one, my business suffers.

The following functions MUST be led and managed by one or more people on your operating board:

  • CEO:  people, growth strategy, stakeholders
  • CFO:  the numbers
  • COO:  keeping our promises (“delivery”)
  • CRO:  the sales number
  • CMO: the 4 Ps: product, price, place & promotion
  • CTO:  enabling strategy using technology
  • The GC: (in attendance) an Officer of the Court enabling better decisions through legal counsel & process
  • The Chief of Staff (in attendance) also known as HR: supporting the CEO in his or her responsibility to create an environment in which people thrive

Most of my work now is facilitating main and operating boards. I have found that in respect of operating boards:

  • board members often forget that they are unique career businesses
  • they ignore their unique career equity: CV/EQ/PR
  • they frequently are not clear on their own Purpose, Strategy, Behaviour (Personal PSB)
  • operating boards frequently do not have a shared view on organisational purpose, strategy and behaviour
  • consequently, strategy and behaviour is neither shared nor robust
  • the interdependence between personal purpose and organisation purpose is ignored
  • finally, and crucially, therefore, conflict is commonplace because members don’t go through the pain of agreeing on behaviour or “soft contracts” with each other

These are the issues I facilitate on a daily basis.

Which of them resonate with you regarding your operating board?

 

Ciarán Fenton

 

 

small change: your first hundred days

CiaranLinkedIn

small change 

by 

Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs.

Blog 1 small change: seven principles

Blog 2 small change: your career is a unique business

Blog 3 small change: your soft balance sheet

Blog 4 small change: your D Liability

Blog 5 small change: your timeline

Blog 6 small change: your formative years

Blog 7 small change: your A asset

Blog 8 small change: your career equity

Blog 9 small change: your curriculum vitae

Blog 10 small change: your emotional intelligence

Blog 11 small change: your reputation

Blog 12 small change: you, three years from now

Blog 13 small change: your purpose, strategy & behaviour (PSB)

Blog 14 small change: your soft p&l

Blog 15 small change: your 7 career options

Blog 16 small change: your relationship grid

Blog 17 small change: you are not a human capital asset

Blog 18 small change: your 7-step job search plan

Blog 19 small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)

Blog 20 small change: your 3-step interview plan (2)

Blog 21 small change: your 3-step interview plan (3)

Blog 22 small change: your job search funnel

Blog 23 small change: your reactive job search

Blog 24 small change: your proactive job search

Blog 25 small change: your first 100 days

small change

Seven principles

Principle 2

Organisations are more likely to hire you if

  • you’re the least risky
  • not, necessarily, the best

 

Blog 19  small change: your first 100 days

your first 100 days

Your first 100 days in a new role are special because you:

  • can’t have a second first 100 days in the same role, they are unique days
  • start with hopes and fears; so do “they”
  • hope  that all will be well; so do they
  • fear that you’ve made a mistake; so do they
  • take personal risks and exploit opportunities as the days progress, or not
  • make first impressions in/at
    • your first email
    • meeting
    • follow-up
    • and especially in your first decision

Then they – “the jury” will stay out for variable lengths of time.

I have facilitated scores of First 100 Days Programmes and I have found that on average you will probably encounter your first “Amber” or “Red” relationship in your Relationship Grid by Day 15, latest. Although, on one occasion, a client encountered “a Red” by Day 5 because a decision which was taken before he arrived caused a “risk event” in his first week and was now “his baby”.

So be prepared to encounter a troublesome relationship from, as our American friends say, the “get-go”.

When “the jury comes in” you’re stuck with their decision. It will be hard to shift. So make the best of this so-called “honeymoon period”.

Here are 7 Steps to reduce risks and maximise your opportunities in your first 100 days:

First 100 Days; 7 Steps

  1. Be crystal clear on your purpose,  and “theirs” and the link between the two
  2. Communicate your purpose and the link to theirs in every initial conversation
  3. Say what you intend to deliver in your first 100 days; under-promise/over-deliver
  4. Take this unique and fresh opportunity to “small change” your behaviour
  5. NEVER send a material email/text BEFORE you speak to the recipient
  6. Listen 70% of the time; speak 30%
  7. In your first “amber” or “red” encounter ask someone to help you work through your feelings, your needs in relation to those feelings, and your options on how to handle “the amber or red”. Screw this up at your peril.

You will be judged, and “the jury” will make a decision about  you at the end of your first 100 days on one primary issue:

  • how you dealt with your first amber or red relationship and not on what you delivered. You will receive some leeway for that because of the honeymoon factor.

Your character will be judged on how others felt when you interacted with them

Remember you are judge and jury on them also.

In extremis, you can decide to leave at the end of your first hundred days without too much damage. We all make mistakes. Better to take that tough decision then, when the market will understand. Otherwise, and ideally, you should stay at least two years (in misery) or lose some credibility in the job market.

An even tougher decision is for “them” to accept that they made a mistake in hiring you and ask you to leave before the end of your first hundred days.

I find more often than not that more hiring mistakes are made by hirers than by applicants.

How many people in your organisation do you feel were “poor hires”?

Why?

Your answer will be as much a statement about you as about them.

 

Ciarán Fenton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

small change: your proactive job search

CiaranLinkedIn

small change 

by 

Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour will have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs.

Blog 1 small change: seven principles

Blog 2 small change: your career is a unique business

Blog 3 small change: your soft balance sheet

Blog 4 small change: your D Liability

Blog 5 small change: your timeline

Blog 6 small change: your formative years

Blog 7 small change: your A asset

Blog 8 small change: your career equity

Blog 9 small change: your curriculum vitae

Blog 10 small change: your emotional intelligence

Blog 11 small change: your reputation

Blog 12 small change: you, three years from now

Blog 13 small change: your purpose, strategy & behaviour (PSB)

Blog 14 small change: your soft p&l

Blog 15 small change: your 7 career options

Blog 16 small change: your relationship grid

Blog 17 small change: you are not a human capital asset

Blog 18 small change: your 7-step job search plan

Blog 19 small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)

Blog 20 small change: your 3-step interview plan (2)

Blog 21 small change: your 3-step interview plan (3)

Blog 22 small change: your job search funnel

Blog 23 small change: your reactive job search

Blog 24 small change: your proactive job search

small change

Seven principles

Principle 2

Organisations are more likely to hire you if

  • you’re the least risky
  • not, necessarily, the best

 

Blog 19  small change: your proactive job search

funnel 2

Your proactive job search refers to job search activities which you originate and control:

  • Researching target organisations that match your criteria
  • Longlisting targets
  • Shor-listing targets
  • Researching main and operating board members and key decision-makers
  • Researching introductions to or direct approaches to target decision-makers
  • Arranging introductions or making direct approaches
  • Arranging meetings
  • Preparing your pitch for meetings
  • Follow-up meetings

 

Allocate 70% of your energy to your proactive search.

Don’t worry if there are no vacancies.

Your approach may create one and if it doesn’t your meeting may well lead to another introduction.

Remember that you are a professional service firm on legs (PSF on legs). All the art and science of selling professional services apply to you.

You are the McKinsey of yourself.

And McKinsey doesn’t hang around waiting for business. Does it? No.

Then neither should you.

 

Ciarán Fenton

 

 

 

 

small change: your reactive job search

small change 

by 

Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour will have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs.

Blog 1 small change: seven principles

Blog 2 small change: your career is a unique business

Blog 3 small change: your soft balance sheet

Blog 4 small change: your D Liability

Blog 5 small change: your timeline

Blog 6 small change: your formative years

Blog 7 small change: your A asset

Blog 8 small change: your career equity

Blog 9 small change: your curriculum vitae

Blog 10 small change: your emotional intelligence

Blog 11 small change: your reputation

Blog 12 small change: you, three years from now

Blog 13 small change: your purpose, strategy & behaviour (PSB)

Blog 14 small change: your soft p&l

Blog 15 small change: your 7 career options

Blog 16 small change: your relationship grid

Blog 17 small change: you are not a human capital asset

Blog 18 small change: your 7-step job search plan

Blog 19 small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)

Blog 20 small change: your 3-step interview plan (2)

Blog 21 small change: your 3-step interview plan (3)

Blogg 22 small change: your job search funnel

Blog 23 small change: your reactive job search

small change

Seven principles

Principle 2

Organisations are more likely to hire you if

  • you’re the least risky
  • not, necessarily, the best

 

Blog 21  small change: your reactive job search

funnel 2

Your reactive job search is that proportion of your job search which is reactive to headhunters and job advertisements.

I call it “reactive” because you have

  • No control over it
  • Headhunters call you or they don’t
  • Jobs relevant to your needs are either advertised or not during the term of your search
  • If you are called for an interview you must react to the needs of headhunters and interview panels
  • You must win against the competition
  • The interview process can be capricious at best and unfair at worst in that fallible headhunters and interview panels prone to unconscious bias make life-changing decisions on your life in a few hours.
  • Much hangs on your performance. If you have a bad day, you’re toast.

 

Finally, and most importantly, you are not the headhunter’s client. Their client is their client. They, even the best, haven’t time to care about you.

 

For these reasons I recommend you allocate only 30% of your energy to your reactive job search and de-risk it as follows:

  • Register with all the appropriate headhunters, job boards and alerts
  • Make sure your CV contains the relevant keywords so that you will be found on their systems
  • Build personal relationships with headhunters if you can
  • Understand their needs
  • Your first task is to get a meeting with them
  • Your second task is to persuade them to put you on their shortlist
  • At this stage, they are the gatekeeper. Focus on them, not their client
  • Make sure your cover letters start with the job needs, not with you
  • In other words, don’t start your cover letter with the word “I”
  • Remain patient

Finally, the reactive process if done properly is very, very, hard work indeed – endless applications, emails and research. I find that many successful, otherwise very hard-working people who find themselves searching for a job are reluctant to put in the hours. It’s a psychological reaction. I understand why. They resent having to do it. They feel angry. Especially those who’ve “had a difficult exit” from their last job. If you are in that bracket, spend some time grieving (don’t laugh, it’s a process) for your lost job, and commit to the fact that your job now is to find a job. Then work hard, but only 30%, on your reactive search because the process is almost a lottery. But hard work will maximise your chances. For sure. Ciaran Fenton

 

small change: your job search funnel

CiaranLinkedIn

small change 

by 

Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour will have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs.

Blog 1 small change: seven principles

Blog 2 small change: your career is a unique business

Blog 3 small change: your soft balance sheet

Blog 4 small change: your D Liability

Blog 5 small change: your timeline

Blog 6 small change: your formative years

Blog 7 small change: your A asset

Blog 8 small change: your career equity

Blog 9 small change: your curriculum vitae

Blog 10 small change: your emotional intelligence

Blog 11 small change: your reputation

Blog 12 small change: you, three years from now

Blog 13 small change: your purpose, strategy & behaviour (PSB)

Blog 14 small change: your soft p&l

Blog 15 small change: your 7 career options

Blog 16 small change: your relationship grid

Blog 17 small change: you are not a human capital asset

Blog 18 small change: your 7-step job search plan

Blog 19 small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)

Blog 20 small change: your 3-step interview plan (2)

Blog 21 small change: your 3-step interview plan (3)

Blog 22 small change: your job search funnel

small change

Seven principles

Principle 2

Organisations are more likely to hire you if

  • you’re the least risky
  • not, necessarily, the best

 

Blog 22  small change: your job search funnel

funnel 2

Since 2002 I have assisted in scores of executive and non-executive job searches across all sectors from Oil & Gas through TMT to Legal Services and I found that most job search failures or unsatisfactory outcomes were caused by only one issue:

  • failure to understand that a job search is a sales & marketing process.

Most applicants are inexperienced at selling and marketing themselves, even sales and marketing professionals.

This problem would not be so acute if applicants would accept that they don’t know what they don’t know about sales and marketing.

Lawyers, much as I love them, are the worst offenders.

One equity partner at a law firm once said to me: “What’s all this fuss about marketing? Eh? All one needs are forty tickets to Wimbledon!”

Poor Philip Kotler.

If you want to succeed in your job search start out with humility.

Use “creative visualisation” (see below) and imagine signing your new contract and starting your first hundred days and work backwards in your mind’s eye through the various stages, connecting with these deeply. 

Is creative visualisation necessary? Does it work? It’s necessary because it helps you connect with an unfamiliar process. It works for that reason.

Think of your job search process as a funnel: start at the wide end and end with a job and your first hundred days and the narrow end.

The funnel is about narrowing your approach as you proceed. it’s about focus. You start with leads.

Leads

Leads are potential job opportunities. They come from two activities: your proactive job search process and your reactive job search process.

Your proactive process is one in which you approach targets or find targets through networking on and offline.

Your reactive process is driven by headhunters. You are not in control, they are.

Opportunities

Opportunites are leads which you have “qualified in” and have a percentage possibility of turning into a role:

  • 10%  Qualified in
  • 25%  First meeting
  • 50%  Interview process
  • 75%  Short-list
  • 90%  Negotiation
  • 100% Job offer

Don’t self-deceive on the percentages, especially at the 10% stage. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself.

Your pipeline

Your pipeline = leads + opportunities.

Keep it full, especially when you are on a short-list. There’s nothing more depressing in the process than being blind-sided by an unexpected rejection to find that your pipeline is empty.

The interview process

  • First interview
  • 2nd and further interviews
  • Due diligence
  • Offer or rejection

Contract negotiation

It’s helpful if any issues are flagged by both sides early in the process so that the negotiation phase can be kept short.

You first 100 Days

Your job search is not over in my view until you have survived your first hundred days.

It’s all very simple, isn’t it?

Not.

Ciarán Fenton

References

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

small change: your 3-step interview plan (3)

small change 

by 

Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour will have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs.

Blog 1 small change: seven principles

Blog 2 small change: your career is a unique business

Blog 3 small change: your soft balance sheet

Blog 4 small change: your D Liability

Blog 5 small change: your timeline

Blog 6 small change: your formative years

Blog 7 small change: your A asset

Blog 8 small change: your career equity

Blog 9 small change: your curriculum vitae

Blog 10 small change: your emotional intelligence

Blog 11 small change: your reputation

Blog 12 small change: you, three years from now

Blog 13 small change: your purpose, strategy & behaviour (PSB)

Blog 14 small change: your soft p&l

Blog 15 small change: your 7 career options

Blog 16 small change: your relationship grid

Blog 17 small change: you are not a human capital asset

Blog 18 small change: your 7-step job search plan

Blog 19 small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)

Blog 20 small change: your 3-step interview plan (2)

Blog 21 small change: your 3-step interview plan (3)

small change

Seven principles

Principle 2

Organisations are more likely to hire you if

  • you’re the least risky
  • not, necessarily, the best

 

Blog 21  small change: your 3-step interview plan (3)

yoru three-step interview plan

Step 3  Close the gap between the buyer’s objections and “a deal”

Having established, accurately, your buyer’s needs and demonstrated, rather than asserted, your ability to meet those needs and in doing so surfaced the gap between the buyer’s objections and “a deal”, the next step is to close “the gap”.

And, I repeat, there is always a gap. If they say they’re isn’t they’re lying.

Here’s how to close the gap using this imaginary dialogue:

You: “As I understand it, you need a, b & c and I have, hopefully, demonstrated how I can meet those needs, so if 10 is I’m hired and zero is I’m not, where am I on that scale now, taking the other candidates into account?”

Them: “You’re at about seven”. [They almost always say seven if you’re in with a chance.]

You: “How do I close the gap between seven and ten? What is it about my pitch that has you still concerned that I may not be the best on the list?

Them: “Well, you say you have international experience but you have only led one team outside of the UK, and that was in Amsterdam. That’s not precisely “global leadership” stuff, is it? Other candidates have led teams on all five continents.”

You: “Oh. I see, so international experience is a deal-breaker then, is it?”

Them: “No, we knew the extent of your international experience from your CV of course, but when it comes to deciding on a short-list – it’s tricky because there’s often just a Rizla between the finalists – and, you know, we have to base our decision on something”.

You: ” I see. So you feel I could do the job despite my narrow international experience, which I acknowledge – [nb. always accept their take on you; don’t push back unless they are factually wrong and to a material extent]  – which means that the other candidates with extensive global leadership experience may be weak in areas I’m strong – is that fair? [This is a “closed question” – Yes or No. Don’t use these unless you know the answer in advance]

Them: “Yes”

You: “So, if you could be persuaded that the risk associated with appointing me with my narrow international experience is less than the risk of appointing my nearest rival on the list with extensive international experience but weaker than me on another criterion you would choose me?”

Them; “Potentially. There are other factors, of course…”

You ” Ok, so let me deal with the international experience issue first: what for you [an open question] is the most essential quality required of a global leader in your organisation?”

Them: “For us, it’s about the ability to lead, motivate, and manage a team remotely using mainly video because we keep tight control on travel costs and in any event, we are very ESG  conscious, and our carbon footprint is top of mind.”

You: “I understand. So if I could demonstrate that I could learn to lead in that manner, my score would increase beyond seven?”

Them: “Well, potentially…” [That’s code for “definitely”]

You: “Ok. Over three years in my last role I managed high volume supplier and client relationships, not dissimilar to managing teams I hope you agree, across the world. We also had restricted travel budgets and an ESG agenda. In addition, if you call my former boss, she will confirm that I was thrown in at the deep end with these key relationships and learned quickly how to deal with the tricky issues associated with managing remote relationships on video, which both sides can find very frustrating.” [You are now back into a demonstration loop because the need is clear]. Is there anything else? [Always ask another question before making a statement].

Them; “No, that’s our main concern.”

You: “Do you feel I have addressed your main concern enough to nudge my score above seven towards a ten? [Closed question]

Them: “Yes”

You: “Is there anything else?” [Open question]

Them: “Well, there’s always personality issues…” [This is the elephant in the room. Do they like you or not?]

You: “What kind of personality are you looking for?”

And, so, off you go around the open question/demonstration/closed question cycle.

 

Over the years clients who have the courage to use this process said that this process works but it can be difficult to work up the courage to do so.

WARNING: Obviously, you must read the room and if you feel that a dim view will be taken of your taking such a proactive approach don’t do it. If so, however, you should consider whether these are people you want to work with if they can’t operate on a high EQ basis.

Those of my clients who didn’t ask the question for whatever reason and didn’t make the short-list never knew why not, except of course if I called the headhunter to ask. Bizarrely, the headhunters would tell me the truth knowing that I would tell my client. Frequently headhunters would give me different feedback to the feedback they gave my client.

Recently when pithing my own services to a consultancy I had to eat my own dog food and I asked the “zero – 10” question. My heart rate soared as I waited for the answer. “Four,” they said! I thought I was going to faint. That’s not what I was expecting.

But I was glad I asked. It turned out that their view of leadership consulting and mine was very different. We were not right for each other.

And that’s what you are doing, in summary:

Looking, in an adult fashion, for a win-win, or not.

And if not, move on.

Ciarán Fenton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

small change: your 3-step interview plan (2)

CiaranLinkedIn

small change 

by 

Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour will have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs.

Blog 1 small change: seven principles

Blog 2 small change: your career is a unique business

Blog 3 small change: your soft balance sheet

Blog 4 small change: your D Liability

Blog 5 small change: your timeline

Blog 6 small change: your formative years

Blog 7 small change: your A asset

Blog 8 small change: your career equity

Blog 9 small change: your curriculum vitae

Blog 10 small change: your emotional intelligence

Blog 11 small change: your reputation

Blog 12 small change: you, three years from now

Blog 13 small change: your purpose, strategy & behaviour (PSB)

Blog 14 small change: your soft p&l

Blog 15 small change: your 7 career options

Blog 16 small change: your relationship grid

Blog 17 small change: you are not a human capital asset

Blog 18 small change: your 7-step job search plan

Blog 19 small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)

Blog 20 small change: your 3-step interview plan (2)

small change

Seven principles

Principle 2

Organisations are more likely to hire you if

  • you’re the least risky
  • not, necessarily, the best

 

Blog 19  small change: your 3-step interview plan (2)

yoru three-step interview plan

Step 2  Demonstrate, not assert, you can meet needs

Once you establish, accurately, buyer’s needs, you can move to Step 2 as follows:

  • Taking each need, in turn, tell a story that demonstrates rather than asserts your ability to meet that need.
  • When you have finished telling your story ask the buyer if that story demonstrates that you could meet that need, or not.
  • If  yes, move on to the next need and story. If not, ask “in what way does that story not meet your need”. Find the gap.

 

Examples of assertion:

  • “People tell me I’m a visionary leader”
  • “I don’t suffer fools”
  • “There’s very little in this sector I don’t know”

 

Examples of demonstration:

  • “If you call x, y and z I believe they will say they felt well led by me. Do you want their numbers”
  • “An example of how I successfully motivated my team is when I involved them in a by doing b”
  • “I’m pleased to say that I’m frequently asked to speak at conferences because I believe event organisers feel that I have deep knowledge of d,e & f. Last year, for example, I spoke at…”

 

When you get to the end of the buyer’s list of needs and your demonstration stories there will be a gap or gaps between their needs and your pitch.

There is always a gap.

Always.

No one gets a 10.

Ever.

If you do, it’s either a lie or a mistake.

If you haven’t found the gap you can’t move to Step 3.

If you do, you will “miss a trick”.

Most interviewees who fail, fail because they are afraid to ask the gap question.

Mind the gap.

 

Ciarán Fenton