Entrepreneurial businesses do not trust their bank. True? Threat or Opportunity?

It is said that most business owners don’t believe that their bank understands their business or, worse, even cares about them. Is this even true? And if it is, is this a crisis – or an opportunity for the banks that get this right?

We brought together top entrepreneurs, leaders from the main lending banks as well as from insurgent ‘challenger banks’, academics, journalists and thinkers in a no-holds-barred debate to get to the truth, find out what entrepreneurs really want and what the smartest banks are already doing to deliver it. You can read here the startling revelations and brilliant ideas that emerged from this lively and searingly honest debate.

 


What we can learn from Mark Zuckerberg about communicating a purpose with authenticity

Recently, Mark Zuckerberg published a strong defence of both globalisation and Facebook’s business model. In a nearly 6,000-word letter, he argued persuasively that Facebook thrives under a globalised socioeconomic system, where barriers to information, labor, capital, and products are minimal.

Not everyone agrees with him on that, but it is difficult to argue with his attempt to articulate a purpose for his creation.  There are many examples of research suggesting that purposeful organisations outperform their competitors; but research also suggests that people have a large degree of cynicism toward business leaders who speak about purpose. Senior management tends to have a greater sense of purpose than middle management, who in turn have a greater sense of purpose than lower-level employees. Senior management may try to cultivate a sense of purpose, but employees are generally not buying what they are selling and often regard the stated purpose of their organisation as nothing more than buzzwords and consultant-speak.

In a recent article in HRB, George Serafeim argues that Zuckerberg’s letter offers a lesson in how the purpose of an organisation can be communicated in an authentic way and provides a great checklist.  You can read the full article here and a summary of the checklist is below.

A good statement of corporate purpose should:

Be organization-specific. It needs to bring some clarity or differentiation, compared to other organisations, and to reflect the reality of the organisation.  Vague phrases such as teamwork, leadership and innovation just don’t cut it.

Articulate the how. It needs to provide some clarity on how to achieve that purpose.

Point to a void in the market. Dose it identify the market void that an organisation hopes to fill. What do people desperately want that the organisation aims to provide?

Explain your competitive positioning. Why is your company is uniquely positioned to achieve their purpose?

Provide a way to measure success. How will you know whether your activities are focused in the most productive direction?

Think of purpose as a continuous process. Are you embarked upon a search for mastery?

Admit the challenges.  Admit the challenges head-on, and at the same time describes actions to mitigate them.


The trust dividend – how to build trust in a VUCA world

Building high trust cultures is a key concern for most organisations in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world.  Trust has shot up the CEO agenda in the last 12 months, as reported by the PwC CEO Survey; in the recent 2017 poll 58% of CEOs believe a lack of trust will damage their business.

58% of CEOs believe a lack of trust will damage their business

The impact of a high trust environment has been widely demonstrated on a range of business drivers from staff motivation, discretionary effort, innovation, engagement and retention. The 2016 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list measure a staff turnover rate half that of industry peers.

We are also familiar with what happens when a culture lacks trust.  Gallup recently reported that 70% of Americans actually hate their job. Only 8% of employees feel their job enhances their wellbeing.  It’s easy to imagine the impact on productivity if that statistic could be turned around.

The question is how to create this environment of trust at work? There is an enormous body of research and many methodologies seeking to address the challenge. Stephen Karpman’s seminal 1968 work on Transactional Analysis stands out in this field.

Only 8% of employees feel their job enhances their wellbeing.

Karpman’s contention is that, in the absence of a trusting environment, most of us will automatically react to life in what he refers to as ‘victimhood’. And this reaction is damaging to our wellbeing and mental health, our relationships, and our creativity and productivity.

Karpman describes this dynamic in his ‘Drama Triangle’ Model. Every dysfunctional interaction takes place on this Triangle between one of three roles: Persecutor, Rescuer and a Victim. Karpman described these as the three aspects of victimhood. Each person has a primary or most familiar role, based largely on unconscious core fears and beliefs acquired in childhood; the fear of rejection and the belief that we are not good enough in the eyes of our parents or peers. 

  • Rescuers resolve those fears by seeing themselves as helpers.  They hold unconscious beliefs that they are valuable because of their support for others. Seeing their actions as helping or protecting others, the Rescuer can tend towards control and can be manipulative but their motivation is actually to defend their self-worth. Rescuing is an addiction that comes from a need to feel valued. Their reward is to feel good about themselves. Their greatest fear is that they are not needed.
  • Persecutors repress these deep-seated fears and feelings of worthlessness behind a facade of anger or detachment. They can intimidate others to feel powerful and in control. Persecutors must always be right. Because they deny their own inadequacy and vulnerability, they will need someone to blame. They need a victim. Their reward is to deflect blame away from themselves and to feel strong and secure. Their greatest fear is powerlessness.
  • Victims respond to their subconscious sense of inadequacy by allowing themselves to believe that they are powerless and by reassuring themselves that they are therefore absolved of blame. Victims are open to both persecution and rescue by others and, at extremes, are open to self-abuse, addictions and mental illness. Their reward is to receive attention from others and absolve themselves of blame. Their greatest fear is that nobody cares.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 13.09.46

In the Karpman triangle, people’s responses are based on fear. Fear that exists in the absence of trust. Any position taken on the Triangle requires someone else to react by adopting an opposing role. This leads to dysfunctional relationships, a loss of empowerment, creativity, discretionary effort and fun.

Fear exists in the absence of trust.

You will see this played out in your own teams. Under pressure, an individual will communicate to a colleague in a way we have come to accept as normal in a business environment along the lines of ‘I can’t believe you haven’t finished that report yet’ or ‘how many times do I have to explain this’. This aggression, however, is essentially masking his own sense of inadequacy with a verbal assault. His team-mate will react as a victim, blaming other parts of the business (‘I’m a victim of forces out of my control’) or trying to shame the persecutor by complaining about how much pressure they are under. Someone else in the organisation will inevitably step in to rescue the victim. This may result in the original team member persecuting the rescuer (‘I can’t believe you always take her side’) or, now feeling persecuted themselves, adopting a new tactic of victimhood of their own (‘don’t gang up on me, I’m just trying to get a job done here’). And round the Triangle we go.

This is both destructive to relationships and a huge waste of energy dispersed in endless conflict instead of being directed towards a common goal. It can be so ingrained in our cultures we scarcely notice the damage. So much modern management is built on either controlling or ‘supporting’ employees; in other words, in persecuting or rescuing them. In either case we remove their autonomy and ability for self responsibility. The subconscious response is for people to react in victimhood – blame, internal bitching and jobsworthiness – which results in unhappy and unproductive cultures.

This is so much a natural part of our psychology that we don’t even need another person involved to operate in the victim triangle. We are perfectly capable of doing it on our own. We can move around the triangle in our own heads as we do in external relationships.  We criticise ourselves for being not as clever, or slim, or well-paid as someone else. When the criticism gets too painful we luxuriate in the story we tell ourselves that it’s not our fault, it’s not fair; it’s the economy, or our employer, or our genes; and we rescue ourselves by justifying, minimizing or engineering some form of escape.  

And where the damage can be greatest is with our closest relationships. It’s true to say most couples and families expend an enormous amount of energy, and generate a significant amount of pain playing the victim triangle. Just consider how often you’ve heard or said the words ‘you always..’, ‘why haven’t you..’, ‘don’t blame me..’, ‘it’s not my fault’. It’s uncomfortable to reflect on how often we play victim and force our partners to play persecutor. Or how often we rescue our children in the mistaken belief that our job as protector is to make their life easy.

But there is another way. And that is to recognise our behaviours and reactions for what they are and to take responsibility for the choice of how we respond. We have the choice to move away from the victim ‘Reactor’ paradigm of behaviour, driven on our fears and old beliefs, and towards a Creator paradigm based on trust. What bridges these two worlds is self-responsibility; the ability to take genuine responsibility for our feelings and actions.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 13.11.25

In our observations of high velocity and entrepreneurial cultures we see that the combination of alignment and high levels of trust create cultures that are creative rather than reactive. What makes the difference in entrepreneurial cultures is the demand for, and willingness of people to accept, true responsibility, and the willingness of the culture to embrace mistakes as a learning and not to disempower people through fear, blame and control.

What makes the difference in entrepreneurial cultures is the demand for, and willingness of people to accept, true responsibility

To make this choice, to become more entrepreneurial, we must become our own internal ‘coach’ and to train ourselves to notice our conversations and our reactions, especially those that make us feel wary or uncertain at work or at home.  

For a Rescuer to maintain the illusion of being needed there must be a victim. To feel better about themselves, the Rescuer creates dependency of colleagues, friends or family. To move towards the Creator world, those with a tendency to rescue must accept that authentic helpers act without expectation. They empower rather than disable. They encourage self-responsibility rather than promote dependency. They believe that everyone has the right to make mistakes and learn.

It can feel very threatening for someone stuck in the role of Persecutor to be honest with themselves and acknowledge that their behaviour is sourced in their fear or sense of inadequacy. It requires them to give up the easy option of feeling angry with others to mask their own fears. In the same way that the dependency of others can be an addiction that energises a rescuer, anger can act as a fuel for persecutors. It is a drug that can be hard to give up. But without accepting genuine responsibility and acknowledging the true causes of our behaviour, a persecutor cannot cross the bridge into a creator paradigm.

In order for a Victim to get off the triangle, they must acknowledge and understand that they are choosing to be dependent on others or simply on an interpretation of circumstances. Those who play a Victim role must learn to assume responsibility for themselves rather than seek to blame circumstances or look for someone to rescue them. It’s important to focus on what you can control and not blame what you can’t. How often do we blame the traffic for being late rather than acknowledge that we didn’t allow enough time? How often do we blame a meeting over-running for our lateness rather than accept our responsibility for choosing to stay at the meeting?  By blaming others, the victim disempowers himself by pretending he has no responsibility, whereas he could have the courage to politely leave an overrunning meeting or choose to stay and have the honesty to subsequently explain this choice to those he will be late to meet. By acknowledging that you have a choice, you stop the cycle of victimhood.

Whenever we fail to take responsibility for ourselves, we end up on the triangle, we are unconsciously choosing to react as a victim. To quote Lynne Forrest in her article The Three Faces of Victimas long as we chase ourselves and others around the triangle, we relegate ourselves to living in reaction rather than creation. Instead of living spontaneously and free through self-responsibility and personal choice, we settle into dull and painful lives ruled by the agendas of others and our own unconscious beliefs”.

Changing this is a gradual process; behaviours take time to change. Trust takes time to build. To quote Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn “Trust equals consistency over time. There’s no shortcut for either.”

“Trust equals consistency over time. There’s no shortcut for either.” Jeff Weiner

It takes a lot of practice and some patience. You may want to create some strategies as a team to help each other in gradually crossing the bridge to a Creator world. One major global financial institution we are working with has adopted the phrase “I just feel like saying..” before individuals embark on any conversation with colleagues that might normally – in a fear-driven, reactive world – create a victim or persecutor response. Those words are code for ‘what I am about to say is without blame or judgement and does not undermine the central trust in our relationship’.

It’s also a choice. You may conclude that you and your team will be happier, healthier and more productive in a more self-responsible, Creator world. But, inevitably, some situations will drag you back to Reactor. In some situations you may even achieve more of what you need in that old world. Just observe what happened and why, how you behaved and what reaction it created and choose again next time. When you don’t feel good about how you have behaved with a colleague, ask yourself what position you took and the reaction you caused and learn from this.

Remember, how others see us is not what we should focus on. How we see ourselves is what creates change. With awareness it’s amazing how quickly you see victim behaviour all over the place. But you can’t force others to comply, even with a Creator world, without yourself being a persecutor. You can only take responsibility for your own actions. As Ghandi said ‘be the change you want to see in the world’.

Ultimately, this is a choice. For most of us we interact with others through old, unconsciously held and limiting beliefs of our own inadequacy. These core beliefs combine into the stories we tell ourselves. Trust and openness that are the core of all great teams requires vulnerability and honesty. Believing at heart that we are unlovable or defective makes it impossible to reveal ourselves, impossible to build trust-based and productive cultures at work or at home.

We are not victims unless we choose to be so.  As we liberate ourselves through self-responsibility and trust, we transform our lives – and the organisations we spend our time within.

A high trust culture is critical to building the adaptable, innovative and entrepreneurial teams  and businesses that will prosper in a volatile and ambiguous world. Trust engages and emboldens talent, fosters ideas and innovation and attracts customers. And trust starts with the individual and their willingness to take responsibility.

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash


How entrepreneurs manage when they don’t even know what the question is

What drives agility in large, complex organisations?  Most have spent a great deal of time, trouble and money creating and communicating a clear Purpose. And most are finding it’s making no difference to the behaviours in the organisation. There is a gap between the purpose at Board level and the experience of employees and customers.

Entrepreneurially-minded organisations achieve agility not by having a purpose but what they do with it.  These agile and entrepreneurially-minded businesses exhibit a clearly defined set of drivers within their cultures that are the secret to bridging the Purpose Gap.

The first two of these, TRUST and OWNERSHIP  have been discussed in previous articles.  The final driver of entrepreneurially-minded businesses is the skillset of managing in CONTEXT.

“High performance people do better work if they understand the context…the best managers figure out how to get great outcomes by setting the appropriate context, rather than by trying to control their people”.

Reed Hastings, Netflix

Whilst trust drives a culture of agility, and ownership drives behaviours of engagement and autonomy, the ability to manage in context defines how effectively and efficiently management behaves. In my previous article I suggested that ‘with consistent and effective management the transition from control to self-responsibility will be a natural process and the behaviours of engagement, autonomy and shared commitment will emerge”. The question now is what the source of that effective entrepreneurially-minded management actually is.

Entrepreneurial management has long been adept at navigating a volatile, uncertain and ambiguous world.

The answer lies in developing in the management community the awareness and skills of contextual management. In a world of increasing complexity and speed, if management at every level learns the skills to be able to use ‘context’ and not ‘content’ to make decisions it greatly speeds up the decision-making process and allows for clear-headed management, able to communicate decisions clearly to others. Much has been written recently about the business environment becoming volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA). Increasingly, people are required to manage in an environment where not only are the answers not clear but even the questions are not easily understood.

This requires a significant amount of adaptability; and that is something that entrepreneurial management is all too familiar with. Whether because of the speed of development, newness of the market or paucity of resources, entrepreneurial management has long been adept at navigating a volatile, uncertain and ambiguous world.

The key skill entrepreneurial management demonstrates is the ability to make decisions contextually to create clarity and direction, ‘keeping the main thing the main thing’,  rather than getting bogged down in the content. And this is a skill that can be taught.

Reed Hastings at Netflix is a passionate proponent of contextual management as the only way to motivate and retain talented people and maintain the velocity and agility required to keep up the pace of growth Netfix has experienced. “High performance people do better work if they understand the context” he says and adds “the best managers figure out how to get great outcomes by setting the appropriate context, rather than by trying to control their people”.

Contexis Purpose Gap_v3_5

Where management uses a clearly articulated purpose as the context for key decisions, within an environment of trust, and where the whole team is willing to take responsibility, it creates real clarity of thinking and far greater adaptability in management.

An understanding of context allows management to pivot and creates the kind of ‘speed with direction’ or velocity typical in entrepreneurial management teams. Referencing to purpose creates flexibility in a dynamic and changing world.

Put simply, contextual management is agile management equipped to deal with a volatile, uncertain and ambiguous world.

 

You might also be interested in these articles:

‘Most big companies won’t have the velocity to see out the decade’. Survival tips from the ones wearing the running shoes.

Purpose transforms performance. But if you can’t measure it how can you implement it?

How one bank is creating radically different relationships with the small business market by teaching their relationship managers to understand the mind of the entrepreneur.

 

Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash


The entrepreneurial idea that management theory and practice has just spent a generation trying to suppress

Entrepreneurially-minded organisations achieve agility not by having a purpose but what they do with it. These agile and entrepreneurially-minded businesses display a clearly defined set of drivers within their cultures that are the secret to bridging the Purpose Gap and making purpose work in an organisation.

“trust equals consistency over time. There’s no shortcut for either”.  Jeff Weiner

Contexis Purpose Gap_v3_4The first major difference in these organisations is a strong cultural assumption of TRUST. These cultures tend to be open, compassionate and creative rather than inward looking, fearful and controlling.  Purpose is able to live in the organisation and create value and impact because people implicitly trust in its authenticity.

In more traditional cultures based on control, people are instinctively distrustful of the purpose and hence it has no power to change things for the better. We once interviewed, across global markets, 600 middle Managers of a global Bank whose CEO had created and communicated a compelling and authentic purpose, strongly supported by the Board. Yet, the percentage of Managers who identified with or even believed the purpose was in low single digits.

What drives trust, allows purpose to thrive and transforms cultures is a marked difference in the organisation’s approach to people. Whilst it’s not always perfect, people tend to feel valued and trusted because management from the top to bottom is encouraged and supported to consistently act and behave differently. This is about managing compassionately, using a specific skillset that gives managers the knowledge and confidence to understand another’s point of view and take more time to listen and understand.

Trust allows people absolute confidence in their expectations of how they will be treated which means everyone’s energy is focused on making good things happen in the company rather than on protecting their own positions. People feel confident to try new things and go the extra mile which makes these cultures open and creative outwardly-facing. People strive for self improvement and mastery because the default setting tends towards learning before blame.

Compassion isn’t simple empathy; it requires action and gets results.

There is nothing soft or altruistic about this. Compassionate management isn’t simple empathy; it requires action and gets results. It is about creating exceptional productivity and efficiency. It is about building agile, responsive and highly effective cultures.

These cultures do not happen by accident but as the result of a conscious choice to manage people differently. It is also not an instant fix. As Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, who has consistently built a culture based on compassionate management, says  “trust equals consistency over time. There’s no shortcut for either”.

To create a culture built on trust requires a conscious and courageous choice for senior management, backed up by consistent and sustained focus. In our experience, an entire culture can be transformed only when enough people are working, thinking and feeling differently to reach a tipping point. As a rule of thumb, 15% of the organisation’s management at every level must develop a fundamentally new way of thinking for change to become permanent and self-sustaining.

As Jeff Weiner says “compassion can be taught” by which I think he means the techniques and methodologies can be taught. Compassion is a core part of the human condition. Management theory and practice has just spent a generation trying to suppress it.

Perhaps it’s time to release people’s natural compassion in the workplace. As Linkedin has discovered, the rewards of creating Cultural Agility in terms of building cultures that are innovative, open and always learning can be extraordinary.

To find out about the other key drivers of entrepreneurial agility in large organisations, read here and here.

You may also enjoy these articles:

‘Most big companies won’t have the velocity to see out the decade’. Survival tips from the ones wearing the running shoes.

How thinking like an entrepreneur could make corporate organisations 26% more productive

Purpose transforms performance.  But if you can’t measure it how can you implement it?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


The Neuroscience of Trust

We’re big on trust here.  We believe it is one of the fundamental ways for an organisation to bridge the gap between its Purpose, as articulated by the board, and everyday reality for its people.  You can read more about our experience of how fast growth businesses use trust to help bridge that gap , about how entrepreneurial organisations harness trust and about the crisis of trust between big and small businesses.

[pullquote]55% of CEOs think that a lack of trust is a threat to their organisation’s growth[/pullquote]There is a lot of data that validates the importance of trust in an organisation. Employees in high-trust organisations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate better with their colleagues, and stay with their employers longer than people working at low-trust companies. They also suffer less chronic stress and are happier with their lives, and these factors fuel stronger performance.

Yet organisations frequently approach the development of their culture in an ad hoc way, and do not focus on the behaviours that help to build a high trust culture.

[pullquote]Ultimately, you cultivate trust by setting a clear direction, giving people what they need to see it through, and getting out of their way.[/pullquote]Paul J Zak has been researching the relationship between trust and economic performance since 2001, both mathematically and behaviourally, and his latest article for HBR summarises the last ten years of neurological research as well as identifying eight management behaviours that build trust.  The full article is well worth a read and there is a summary of the behaviours below.

Recognise excellence.

The neuroscience shows that recognition has the largest effect on trust when it occurs immediately after a goal has been met, when it comes from peers, and when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal, and public. Public recognition not only uses the power of the crowd to celebrate successes, but also inspires others to aim for excellence. And it gives top performers a forum for sharing best practices, so others can learn from them.

Induce “challenge stress.”

When a manager assigns a team a difficult but achievable job, the moderate stress of the task releases neurochemicals that intensify people’s focus and strengthen social connections. When team members need to work together to reach a goal, brain activity coordinates their behaviors efficiently. Conversely, vague or impossible goals cause people to give up before they even start.

Give people discretion in how they do their work.

Once employees have been trained, allow them, whenever possible, to manage people and execute projects in their own way. Being trusted to figure things out is a big motivator. Autonomy also promotes innovation, because different people try different approaches.  (Read our article on how a sense of ownership, which has nothing to do with stocks and shares, drives performance)

Enable job crafting.

When companies trust employees to choose which projects they’ll work on, people focus their energies on what they care about most and take accountability for the outcomes.

Share information broadly.

Uncertainty about the company’s direction leads to chronic stress, which inhibits the release of oxytocin and undermines teamwork. Openness is the antidote. Organisations that share their “flight plans” with employees reduce uncertainty about where they are headed and why.

Intentionally build relationships.

The brain network that oxytocin activates is evolutionarily old and when people intentionally build social ties at work, their performance improves , not least because they don’t want to let people down.

Facilitate whole-person growth.

High-trust workplaces help people develop personally as well as professionally. Numerous studies show that acquiring new work skills isn’t enough; if you’re not growing as a human being, your performance will suffer.  Assessing personal growth includes discussions about work-life integration, family, and time for recreation and reflection. Investing in the whole person has a powerful effect on engagement and retention.

Show vulnerability.

Leaders in high-trust workplaces ask for help from colleagues instead of just telling them to do things. Asking for help is a sign of a secure leader—one who engages everyone to reach goals.  Asking for help is effective because it taps into the natural human impulse to cooperate with others.


Entrepreneurial businesses know a simple truth; people who own also care

What drives agility in large, complex organisations? Most have spent a great deal of time, trouble and money creating and communicating a clear Purpose. And most are finding it’s making no difference to the behaviours in the organisation. There is a gap between the purpose at Board level and the experience of employees and customers.

Entrepreneurially-minded organisations achieve agility not by having a purpose but what they do with it.  These agile and entrepreneurially-minded businesses exhibit a clearly defined set of drivers within their cultures that are the secret to bridging the Purpose Gap.

The first of these, TRUST, we discussed in our previous article The second is a feeling of, and desire for, OWNERSHIP.

Unless everyone in the organisation feels – and feels allowed to feel – a powerful sense of ownership of the business, it will not flow through into agile employee behaviours.  Organisations in which everyone feels an emotional investment exhibit employee behaviours of alignment and engagement. If you feel you own something you can’t but care strongly about its success, and work enthusiastically towards that goal.

And there’s something even more powerful. People who feel ownership will also act autonomously to serve the good of the company, rather than wait to be directed. Autonomy is the source of agility in a world in which there just isn’t time any more to always be asking the boss.

[pullquote]If you feel you own something you can’t but care strongly about its success, and work enthusiastically towards that goal.[/pullquote]

These cultures find employees going out of their way to service customers beyond the call, find innovative solutions, and protect the company from harm.

Entrepreneurial businesses know a simple truth; people who own also care. Without ownership people agility is weak and customer value compromised.

So, how can complex corporate organisations, in which employees don’t meaningfully own the company, replicate the feeling of ownership typical in entrepreneurial businesses? How can they create Employee Agility through that desire for ownership?
[pullquote]Autonomy is the source of agility in a world in which there just isn’t time any more to always be asking the boss.[/pullquote]

Contexis Purpose Gap_v3_3The critical point is that a feeling of ownership has little to do with who physically owns the stock. It has everything to do with belief. And the simplest and most compelling route to creating a culture of ownership with its attendant benefits of Employee Agility is to create a belief in the ownership of the purpose the organisation serves. In doing so, everyone in the organisation will develop the mindset of the owner and have a sense of responsibility for outcomes.  

So, how is this achieved? By creating a critical shift in how people at every level of the organisation think and behave. The first step to creating a culture of ownership is to develop a culture of TRUST described in my previous article.

It’s then a matter of reframing the relationship between the company and the employees from one of control to one of self responsibility. It’s about creating a new adult-to-adult relationship in which every employee is given the opportunity to accept responsibility for outcomes and in which, in every team, people are acknowledged and rewarded for taking this self-responsibility. The critical building-block of this is in the relationship between each team member and their immediate boss and the way to do this is to provide managers with the skills and awareness of a new way of working. A way much more akin to entrepreneurial management.

This may sound a lot harder than it actually is. Assuming the purpose the business serves is authentic, compelling and well articulated, most people will instinctively feel a sense of ownership. If the business operates in a paradigm of trust (see article), most people will feel empowered to take responsibility. With consistent and effective management the transition from control to self-responsibility will be a natural process and the behaviours of engagement, autonomy and shared commitment will emerge.

And for those who don’t? Well, they leave.

To find out about the other key drivers of entrepreneurial agility in large organisations, read here and here.

You might also enjoy these articles:

‘Most big companies won’t have the velocity to see out the decade’. Survival tips from the ones wearing the running shoes.

How thinking like an entrepreneur could make corporate organisations 26% more productive

Purpose transforms performance. But if you can’t measure it how can you implement it?

 

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash


The Bank that doubled new business in its SME division. Just by asking the right questions.

There is a crisis of trust between small companies and their Bank.  74% of small businesses don’t believe that their Bank understands their business and, worse, even cares about them.

[pullquote]Does a whole generation of relationship managers simply not care?[/pullquote]

And the gap in understanding isn’t getting any narrower; in a recent survey of corporate CEOS 80% confidently believed their companies offered excellent service. Only 8% of their customers agreed.

[pullquote]Those who seek a sustainable relationship with fast-paced small businesses need to demonstrate that they understand their business and care about it[/pullquote]

This is a crisis. The small business market represents the key area for growth globally. There are 5.2 million ‘SMEs’ in the UK alone.  Banks who want to retain their share of that market need to act fast to transform how they approach the market.

“We made a decision to invest in the people, not the product,” says the head of a UK Challenger Bank. “In recruiting relationship managers we looked for people who were good listeners and were patient, who were willing to understand the needs of the business. We attribute our 700% growth to the relationship approach not the products or the price”.

Yet most UK Banks don’t seem to have really got the message. In interviewing mid market CEOs, positive stories of banking relationships are rare. As one CEO explained “we recently acquired a business and needed new banking facilities. We interviewed a few Banks. I was shocked. Only one stood out; they came at it from a different angle. They weren’t interested in where we were now. They were interested in where are you going? What’s our next move?”

In other words, they took the trouble to understand the business and demonstrated that they cared.

Another CEO was blunt in his exasperation“Here’s what I don’t understand…. The first thing I would do with MY client is to actually understand their business!”

So, what’s the problem?  Does a whole generation of relationship managers simply not care? It hardly seems likely. Instead, in our experience, it’s simply down to how corporates train and reward their people. To turn this around requires a radical rethink of how their people understand small companies. The alternative is to watch as ‘challenger’ businesses that understand this steal this lucrative market for good.

Put simply, those who seek a sustainable relationship with fast-paced small businesses need to demonstrate that they understand their business and care about it. And that requires two distinct, and currently generally poorly developed, skill sets.

[pullquote]CEOs of fast-paced businesses crave thought-provoking conversations, perspective and real challenge.[/pullquote]

The first is a range of human intelligence, listening and coaching skills. Rapport is not good enough. To be effective, client-facing teams must have the skills and emotional intelligence to step into the client’s shoes. As one CEO said “The best relationships are when the advisors are solely looking at things through my eyes.”

Secondly, the relationship manager needs a much more holistic and strategic set of business intelligence skills. Without those he or she offers little value and will probably default to a product conversation. CEOs “hate dealing with companies who are trying to sell a product”.

In fast-paced businesses, CEOs don’t care about products and propositions and are not much impressed with ‘rapport’. What they crave are thought-provoking conversations, perspective and real challenge. That is what creates the greatest value. As one CEO put it  “good relationships challenge my thinking. You’re never going to get anywhere if you don’t challenge your client”.

And that takes the kind of broad business knowledge and confidence totally lacking in most relationship managers.

So, what’s the answer? Recruit MBA students? Send all of your people back to college? Not really. Quite apart from the cost, most MBA and business programmes don’t address the reality and experience of running a real private business. What is needed is a business education programme designed by entrepreneurs and delivered by entrepreneurs; a programme that teaches corporate relationship managers how to engage with business owners emotionally and how to offer real business challenge and perspective.

Frustrated by their experience of relationship management, a group of entrepreneurs set out to design and deliver just such a programme. And the results have been remarkable. In research on 600 global banking relationship managers who had experienced just a two day programme (with on-line learning support), 95% had won business from new customers and, remarkably, 93% had uncovered significant new business from existing customers simply by learning to asking the right questions.

These results have been replicated again and again around the world. The impact on the relationship between Bank and client is profound. One banker reports clients asking ‘have you just been on an MBA?’ as a result of his new skills. Another reports on the impact on his relationships ‘I would describe in one word the effect of the programme as ‘MAGICAL’.

And this success is almost universal with relationship managers commonly reporting clients emailing them to say ‘that was the single best meeting I have ever had with a Bank’ or  ‘this is first time I’ve ever experienced a meeting like this with a Bank.’

And the impact on the confidence and enthusiasm of the RM is just as profound. Managers are left enthused by the programmes which, because they are delivered by entrepreneurs, regularly score an NPS of 100. As one banker said ‘this is the best programme I have been on in my working career’ and another ‘this has been mind-opening, game-changing, I have so much confidence in myself’.

In an age when barriers to entry have never been lower and challenger businesses are rampant, 74% of customers feeling their Bank doesn’t understand or care about them is unsustainable. We’d love to show you how some simple human intelligence and business education can turn this around for your business and transform the effectiveness of your relationship management teams in the SME market. Do please get in touch.


The Contexis Round Table Series: Catalyst or Catastrophe? What’s the role of shareholders in purpose-led businesses

We thought we’d find out by getting leading lights from the pensions and investments industry around the table with global corporate leaders, academics, charity heads and a sprinkling of entrepreneurs to have a no holds barred debate.

What we found out was a complete surprise.

I thought you might be interested in the outcome which you can read here; it’s a short Slideshare and well worth 3 minutes of your time.


Bridging the crisis of trust between big and small businesses

There is a crisis of trust between small companies and their big business suppliers. 74% of small businesses don’t believe that the banks, tech and utility companies that seek their custom care in the least bit about their business.

And the gap in understanding isn’t getting any narrower; in a recent survey of corporate CEOS 80% confidently believed their companies offered excellent service. Only 8% of their customers agreed.

[pullquote]Those who seek a sustainable relationship with fast-paced small businesses need to demonstrate that they understand their business and care about it[/pullquote]

This is a crisis for all large corporates. Whether in banking, accountancy or technology, the small business market represents the key area for growth globally. There are 5.2 million ‘SMEs’ in the UK alone.  Big companies who want a share of that market need to act fast to transform how they approach the market.

“We made a decision to invest in the people, not the product,” says the head of a UK Challenger Bank. “In recruiting relationship managers we looked for people who were good listeners and were patient, who were willing to understand the needs of the business. We attribute our 700% growth to the relationship approach not the products or the price”.

[pullquote]Does a whole generation of relationship managers simply not care?[/pullquote]

Yet most UK Banks don’t seem to have really got the message. In interviewing mid market CEOs positive stories of banking relationships are rare. As one CEO explained “we recently acquired a business and needed new banking facilities. We interviewed a few banks. I was shocked. Only one stood out; they came at it from a different angle. They weren’t interested in where we were now. They were interested in where are you going? What’s our next move?”

In other words, they took the trouble to understand the business and demonstrated that they cared.

And it’s not just a problem confined to banking. Another CEO was blunt in his exasperation with all his corporate relationships. “Here’s what I don’t understand about big corporates. The first thing I would do with MY client is to actually understand their business!”

So, what’s the problem?  Does a whole generation of relationship managers simply not care? It hardy seems likely. Instead, in our experience, it’s simply down to how corporates train and reward their people. To turn this around requires a radical rethink of how their people understand small companies. The alternative is to watch as ‘challenger’ businesses that understand this steal this lucrative market for good.

Put simply, those who seek a sustainable relationship with fast-paced small businesses need to demonstrate that they understand their business and care about it. And that requires two distinct, and currently generally poorly developed, skill sets.

[pullquote]CEOs of fast-paced businesses crave thought-provoking conversations, perspective and real challenge.[/pullquote]

The first is a range of human intelligence, listening and coaching skills. Rapport is not good enough. To be effective, client-facing teams must have the skills and emotional intelligence to step into the client’s shoes. As one CEO said “The best relationships are when the advisors are solely looking at things through my eyes.”

Secondly, the relationship manager or salesperson needs a much more holistic and strategic set of business intelligence skills. Without those he or she offers little value and will probably default to a product conversation. CEOs “hate dealing with companies who are trying to sell a product”.

In fast-paced businesses, CEOs don’t care about products and propositions and are not much impressed with ‘rapport’. What they crave are thought-provoking conversations, perspective and real challenge. That is what creates the greatest value. As once CEO put it  “good relationships challenge my thinking. You’re never going to get anywhere if you don’t challenge your client”.

And that takes the kind of broad business knowledge and confidence totally lacking in most corporate ‘sales’ people.

So, what’s the answer? Recruit MBA students? Send all of your people back to college? Not really. Quite apart from the cost, most MBA and business programmes don’t address the reality and experience of running a real private business. What is needed is a business education programme designed by entrepreneurs and delivered by entrepreneurs; a programme that teaches corporate managers how to engage with business owners emotionally and how to offer real business challenge and perspective.

Frustrated by their experience of corporate relationship management a group of entrepreneurs set out to design and deliver just such a programme. And the results have been remarkable. In research on 600 global banking relationship managers who had experienced just a two day programme (with on line learning support), 93% had uncovered significant new business from existing customers simply by asking the right questions.

In an age when barriers to entry have never been lower and challenger businesses are rampant, 74% of customers feeling their suppliers don’t understand or care about them is unsustainable. We’d love to show you how some simple human intelligence and business education can turn this around for your business and transform the effectiveness of your sales and client teams in the SME market. Do please get in touch.