Caribbean Interviews

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I am in the process of conceiving a Caribbean Thought Leader Interview series to be placed on some different places — CaribHRForum.com and on this blog for example.

I would be looking for managers, executives, consultants, speakers — anyone from around the region with a unique point of view that can be shared in an interesting, informal way.

Who are some people from around the region that you would be interested in hearing from?

Francis

Executive – Culture Fit

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This is quite an interesting article, “Culture Club” taken from BusinessWeek, having to do with matching the culture of the company with executives to be hired.

The best executive for the job will have an impressive résumé, but should also possess the right skills to best maneuver the organization’s culture

by Joseph Daniel McCool

Cultural Matchmaking

One reason for a poor fit is that too often executives are hired based on where they’re coming from without enough thought given to where they are going. A candidate who impresses the board or the boss with his or her credentials might get the nod because on paper he or she appears to have the right range of experience from a respected, market-leading company. Yet an impressive résumé doesn’t guarantee an individual will be able to elevate a company’s performance in a new environment and/or a new role.

Click to see the article in full: Culture Club

Rudeness and the Jamaican Workplace

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Here in Jamaica, we put a lot of stock in manners — the worst insult that can be made about a manager is that they don’t respect people.

In a recent issue of Harvard Business Review, the following excerpt makes the point that the Jamaican worker is right — rudeness has been found to be correlated with productivity.

Rudeness and Its Noxious Effects

Grumpy managers who have a tendency to lash out are sometimes tolerated in businesses if their direct reports are thick-skinned types who don’t complain about anything. But beware of more distant effects: It’s likely that other employees are harmed by these incidents, even if they only hear about them secondhand.

The mere thought of being on the receiving end of verbal abuse hurts people’s ability to perform complex tasks requiring creativity, flexibility, and memory recall, according to Christine Porath of the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and Amir Erez of the Warrington College of Business Administration at the University of Florida.

In studies involving separate groups of university students, the authors tested the effects of three forms of exposure to rudeness: In one study, the harsh words were directed at participants by a researcher (“What is it with you undergrads here?…[you] leave a lot to be desired as participants”). In another, the cutting remarks came from someone ostensibly outside the study—a professor whom the participants had to interrupt (“You preferred to disturb me…when you can clearly see that I am busy. I am not a secretary!”). In the third, the participants were asked to imagine that those incidents had happened to them.

In all three cases, participants’ ability to perform tasks such as solving anagrams and suggesting uses for a brick was impaired. As for why this happened, the researchers say their studies indicate that after exposure to rudeness, people think hard about the incident—whether just ruminating or trying to formulate a response—and those thought processes take cognitive resources away from other tasks. As the authors put it in their recent Academy of Management Journal article, verbal abuse affects more than just those who experience it directly; it apparently “can harm innocent bystanders.”

Reprint: F0803D

Creating the Customer Experience – Practice

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The idea of training customer-facing personnel in the Caribbean to create specific experiences might seem like a tall order, and a highly subjective goal.

Can a company charge its front-line workers with doing whatever it takes to create experiences it decides are important for its customers?

For example, what if a bank decides to create an experience of caring, careful and creative with its customers? How would it train its employees to produce that experience reliably?

Well, they could begin by allowing the employee to internalize the definition of the experiences: caring, careful and creative. They would need to do so by looking in two places — their own experience as customers in day to day life, and their experience as employees in the company.

Surprisingly, the latter is perhaps more important than the former.

Employees who don’t look for the experience of caring, careful and creative in their experience in the workplace are going to have a difficult time delivering it to customers. Workplaces that rarely produce the experience will simply fail, and should instead look to implement a culture change programme that results in a different customer experience altogether.

Without it, employees will not have what it takes to produce the experience with their customers, as they will be too busy trying to have some of it for themselves.

Once the experience is internalized, and distinguished clearly in the experience of employees, the company can go the next step and train them to deliver it. The assumption here is that employees who are overflowing with an experience need do little at some level, because their experience will naturally overflow into the customer’s experience. In this sense, customer experience is quite a contagious phenomena.

How do employees get trained to deliver a set of experiences such as caring, careful and creative?

Do they receive a set of rules to follow? Do they follow a script?

Some companies have tried this approach, but it is imply insufficient.

In addition to guidelines, what employees need more than anything else is time to practise.

Producing a specific experience is not as simple as merely mouthing the correct words, or going through the right motions.

Instead, it requires an element of emotional intelligence, due to the need to quickly appreciate the experience that another person is having in any moment. This ability to “read experiences” can be developed through consistent practice.

“Reading the experience” can perhaps be as easy as carefully observing the changes in someone’s face. Some interesting research into couples, and their communication, has revealed that a trained observer can predict with 90% accuracy, the future of the couple’s marriage, after only a couple of minutes.

They are trained to observe the minute changes in muscle motion that we tend to overlook each day.

Perhaps the same kind of training could be given to front-line customer-service workers, so that they can discover the clues that tell them the experience that a customer is having. This of course, would take some amount of practice in order to master, but it sure seems like an interesting place to start.


There are three sources of information that I can recommend on this topic– one is the book Blink by Macolm Gladwell, and here is an excerpt from the book: http://www.hachettebookgroupusa.com/books/68/0316010669/
chapter_excerpt24301.html

In the December 2007 issue of Harvard Business Review, there is an article entitled: Making Relationships Work by John Gottman. He is the psychologist who is the originator of the University of Washington study.

e-commerce Solutions – Jamaican Lifestyle

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It’s till very early to say what shape Jamaican e-commerce will take.

One important service to consider is a one-of-a-kind service offered by JamaicanLifestyle.com.

I used the service recently to send out an email message to its 24,500 odd email address database that a new e-book that I had written was available — for free. The response I received was a decent one, with some 150 or so downloads. By international standards, this was not a bad response — testimony to the kind of members they have on their database.

It’s entirely an opt-in database, which means that their members are a part of the list because they chose freely at some point to receive their emails. Most of the email that gets sent out is static — there are merely e-flyers with no call for action, and no clickable links that do anything other than take a user to a web page with a graphic of the same e-flyer.

Most of their content seems to be party and product advertisements. I believe that I was the first to try what I tried — here was the ad I sent.


Here in Jamaica…

Can professionals obtain

Time Management, Productivity and Stress-Free Results?!!


In the last 7 days…

Has more email come into your already filled Inbox?

Have you missed an appointment?

Were you late for more than 2 meetings?

Did you feel a slight loss of peace of mind?

Was a sense of accomplishment missing?

If so, this free e-book for Jamaican professionals might help.

Available now, and for the next 72 hours ONLY

E-book:
“2Time Capturing — A Time Management Fundamental for Jamaican Managers”

Click on this page to claim your free copy, or follow the link below: http://fwconsulting.com/e-bookja


Clicking took a respondent directly to my landing page, where they could sign up to receive the e-book from my auto-responder. Apparently, I was the first customer to try something like this, testimony to the paucity of e-commerce activity in Jamaica.

Unfortunately, not everyone got the mailing — and I don’t know how many received it. My wife didn’t get it on her Gmail account, and neither did a friend of mine. On the other hand, I got it promptly, as did another friend of mine.

There were actually four emails that my wife didn’t get from the service, that I received, all within a 24 hour period. I’m still waiting to hear back from Jamaican Lifestyle after 3 weeks of emails and calls to account for the “blackout” that apparently happened. It could be due to any number of factors… was there a glitch in the matrix?

So, it’s not a perfect service, but I did get better than average results, which tells me that those who received it found it at least unique.

A recent broadcast I received had someone offering coaching services, along with her phone number and email address. We are truly in the early days of e-commerce in Jamaica!

I expect that there will be increasingly sophisticated offers by companies in the future, including the first webpage that allows for the use of a local credit card for purchases. PayMaster seems to be ahead in the game of accepting online payments — we shall see how things develop.

Doing Business with Internet Strangers

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Here in the Caribbean, there has always been this tendency to want to meet someone before doing business with them. We want to “look dem in dem face” before deciding whether or not we can trust them or not.

We “don’t know them from Adam”, and we can’t imagine putting good money at risk with a stranger. After all, we have no idea what school they went to, who their parents are, or what their friends are like. It all makes sense in a small-town kind of way.

However, this same kind of thinking keeps networks small, and professionals suspicious. It ensures that one’s circle remains tiny, relative to the kind of network that is needed to operate a global business.

For example, in a small business, as soon as too many strangers get involved, an owner is likely to slow things down by insisting that he/she needs to meet the people involved himself.

When it comes to doing business on the internet, such thinking is damaging.

In this new era, business-people MUST become comfortable doing business with people they have never met, will never meet and who may not even speak the same language. For older business owners, this is quite difficult to do, having grown up in a time when everyone knew everyone else, and the fact that they lived on an island kept them away from much of the world.
For anyone starting a new business, however, this skill is critical — knowing how to create partnerships via electronic means.

The sister skill of creating an online presence (by design versus by accident) is just as important., as people need to know whether or not you can be trusted, and are someone to do business with, without ever meeting you.

There is a systematic way of determining who can be trusted, and who can’t. The easiest way is to learn who they are by knowing their friends. Facebook is a must in this regard.

Other ways include getting to know them through their content — what they have written, composed, photographed, listened to, painted, blogged, created, started-up, accomplished, failed at — anything that is a product of their efforts.

Malcolm Gladwell talks about “think-slicing” — a way of understanding complex ideas in a moment. Figuring out whether someone you meet on the internet can be trusted can be built on that same skill.

Perfectionists Are Losers

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I just read a most inspiring and wonderful post from a fellow blogger — Pamela Slim — from the blog “Escape from Cubicle Nation“.

It’s entitled “Perfectionists are Losers” and it builds on the idea that anyone who starts a project with the goal of getting things perfectly right is planting the seeds of their own destruction from the very outset.

I can relate… the past few months have seen me venturing into the world of e-commerce, testing out numerous landing pages, publishing my first e-book, putting out my first podcast, using Facebook for marketing purposes… plus more.

I keep telling my wife that “I don’t know what I’m doing…!” I am happily making things up as I go along, which is only saying it a little better than the way she puts it… “pulling things out of my butt”. The truth is that sometimes I have felt that way, and I wonder at different times whether or not I am wasting my time,. I imagine that someplace out there people are laughing their asses off at the nonsense I am doing!

(If you are laughing your ass off right now, STOP IT — this is a serious post…. 😉 )

All this proves Pamela’s point, fortunately. She says, very wisely:

What highly productive and successful people do is spend as little time as possible at the edge of opportunities, agonizing whether or not to move forward.

Hey, this puts my typos, ugly designs, hellish grammar, non-radio voice, too-many-ads — well, all of it — in perspective!

She quotes a book — “Bird by Bird” – when speaking about writing….

“For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really sh*tty first drafts.

The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page. If one of the characters wants to say “Well, so what, Mr. Poopy Pants?,” you let her. No one is going to see it. If the kid wants to get into really sentimental, weepy emotional territory, you let him. Just get it all down on paper, because there may be something great in those crazy six pages that you would never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means. There may be something in the very last line of the very last paragraph on page six that you just love, that is so beautiful or wild that you now know what you are supposed to be writing about, more or less, or in what direction you might go- but there was no way to get to this without first getting through the first five and a half pages.”

This is SUCH good news!

She also says that who you hang out with IS important:

Tip #3: Hang out in the right barbershop

A friend of mine said “If you hang out in a barbershop, sooner or later, you are going to get a haircut.”

This is SO well said… now I know why I like the company of certain types of people, just because…

She is SO inspiring!!!

You can read the entire article here.