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Monday
Dec022013

Is Your HR Department a Black Hole?

A black hole is phenomenon where a celestial body like our Sun gets compacted into the size of a tiny dot. Because the gravitational force of such an object grows in inverse proportion to its size (the square of the size, to be exact), the pull of such a body grows so strong that even its own light can’t escape it. This gives rise to a phenomenon that can only be detected by the force it exerts on other bodies around it. Because it can’t be seen, it’s called a black hole. Originally theorized by Albert Einstein, scientists have now confirmed that black holes do exist. In fact, it’s assumed that a black hole exists at the center of our galaxy, Milky Way.

So why on Earth do people call their Human Resource (HR) departments a black hole?

“It’s where everything goes in and nothing comes out,” explained a colleague when I asked her the question. She was referring to the phenomenon where job candidates never see a response from HR departments after sending in their resumes. But the same phenomenon has also been described in the context of how useful - or useless - the HR departments are to the rest of the organization, such as its employees seeking information or the managers looking to fill positions.

The complaints of bad service are not confined to HR departments. Information Services (IS) is another department and Marketing and Accounting occasionally also show up in the mix.  

Why is this a universal complaint? For one reason: They don’t have a customer (or so they think).

Let me explain. Most organizations could be thought of as split into two parts: 1) That which serves their external customers and 2) that which serves their internal customers.

Examples of the departments that serve your external customers are sales, marketing (often, not always), customer service, manufacturing, product design and development.

Examples of departments that serve your internal customers are HR, IS, and parts of Quality Assurance, Accounting, Marketing and Legal.

(If you sell to businesses, this is also a powerful way to think about the prospective clients’ internal decision-making process and pinpoint who the real decision makers are in their organization. More about that another time.)

The reason why most HR and IT departments seem unhelpful is that they think they don’t have a customer. The fact is, of course, they do have a customer: the employees of your company. When it is communicated to them convincingly that the employees of your business are their customers, they will do a much better job of working with your employees and treat them with the respect and attention they deserve.

Try the following with your head of HR (or your HR person if you have only one). You might want to do this in private to avoid embarrassment that may result if they struggle.

Ask them this question: Who is your customer? Most of them will struggle for an answer, which is ok. But if they can’t ultimately come to the conclusion that the employees of your business are their customers, you have some work to do.

In the latter case, you may want to follow up with another question: Do you think that the employees of our company are your customers? Their response, verbal and non-verbal, could tell you volumes about their mindset and how they view their job. 

HR is just as important as all the other functions in a business. A well-designed HR department could serve as a source of support and inspiration for the rest of the organization. 

Want to find out how your HR, IS and similar functions measure up against other functions? Take Awayre, LLC’s FREE Business Health Check. Click here to find out more and get started. 

Copyright 2013 Bhavesh Naik. All rights reserved.


Bhavesh Naik is the Founder and Creative Director of Awayre, LLC, a management consulting and human resource development firm specializing in activating the hidden power of a business process by engaging its people’s awareness. Awayre, LLC is a pioneer in bringing human awareness to the field of management and human resource development as its structural and fundamental component.

Thursday
Nov142013

Are You Developing Your Service or Product in Vacuum?

It’s said that General Mills does not just manufacture cereal and then put it in a box. Their product teams first design the box and then bring in their manufacturing department to figure out what goes inside the box.

Please note: For the purpose of this article, I have used the terms “products” and “services” interchangeably with the assumption that all services could be defined as products and all products need to be seen as a service to the customer. 

One of the mistakes many businesses make is that they develop their services in a “vacuum” that is disconnected from the people who will benefit from them: their customers. As a result, they end up building the proverbial “mousetrap” with the possibility that the prospective clients may never come (or worse, it attracts lookie-loos and tire-kickers who are the wrong prospects for their product).

Perhaps a better way to view product development is as “concept” development. With concept development, a service or a product is built from the ground-up with the customer in mind. It integrates what the service exactly does for the customers, how it stands out as a unique solution to their problems and includes motivators that make them want to buy it. 
 
Think about your product or service, even if it’s something that’s not a prepackaged product like a box of cereal. How can you design your service as a concept? If it’s an existing service, how can you redesign it so that it’s not just a matter of pride in your business but also something that your potential clients will feel compelled to engage with?

A good way to look at a product concept is as a marketing message, which is often expressed as a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). What do you tell your potential clients about your products or services? Believe it or not, there is a formula for that. The best marketing messages have a few things in common.

First and foremost, a good marketing message clearly defines who your potential client is and how your product or service helps that person. This is true even if your business sells to other businesses. After all, businesses are made of people and your product or service will ultimately get used by people. A good message starts with WIIFM - “What’s In It For Me” - from your client’s standpoint.

Second, the message brings out and communicates - explicitly or implicitly - at least one thing about your service that sets it apart from other similar services being offered in your marketplace. This will eliminate those people who are not your prospects. But it will also attract and engage those prospects who truly are your prospects and will pay a little extra and try a little harder to do business with you.  

And third, it lays out the reasons why your prospects should believe your claim enough that they will take an action to engage with you in a meaningful way (click a button, request information or make a phone call, for example).

I have written a series of articles that goes in-depth into the mechanics of writing such a message. You can read them starting here. (They also include links to other related articles.)

I have also developed a template to help you develop just such a concept. You can download it here.

Copyright 2013 Bhavesh Naik. All rights reserved.

Bhavesh Naik is the Founder and Creative Director of Awayre, LLC, a management consulting and human resource development firm specializing in activating the hidden power of a business process by engaging its people’s awareness. Awayre, LLC is a pioneer in bringing human awareness to the field of management and human resource development as its structural and fundamental component.
Monday
Oct282013

Why Systems Don't Work in Selling

“A consistent thinker is a thoughtless person, because he conforms to a pattern and thinks in a groove.” ~ J. Krishnamurti
You’ve already heard the cliche’: People love to buy, but they hate being sold. It’s true.

One thing that exacerbates the problem of an already distrustful relationship between a buyer and a seller is the fact that many salespeople use step-by-step systems for selling. While such systems can help the salesperson, up to a point, they don’t help the buyer much. That’s why, most buyers see a system being used by the salesperson with a sense of trepidation and distrust.

I should know! Not only did I use a system for selling for more than 15 years, but I also taught one for five years. One that was designed, from the ground-up, to eliminate such mistrust between the buyer and the seller. 

The real problem with using a system in selling is that it views the buyer as a mechanistic entity that is predictable and controllable. If you have been in the selling field for a while, you will agree that nothing could be further from truth. Human beings are a dynamic entity that is hard to predict and control. That’s why, it’s only a matter of time before the system that sounded so great on paper falls apart in the real world. 

What’s needed instead is an “Un-system” that allows the salesperson to be in the moment while selling and responding appropriately to what the buyer does. This does not mean that you forget or unlearn what you already know about selling and selling systems. It simply means that you begin to graduate to a more advanced level of selling where you are not trapped into a system you know but transcend it and allow yourself to do what needs to be done in the moment of selling that’s best for both parties.

I have written a white-paper on this very subject which you can download here

If you want to find out how your Sales and Marketing department stacks against your business’ other functions - Operations and Customer Service, for example - take Awayre, LLC’s Business Health Check AQ (yes, it’s free). 

Copyright 2013 Bhavesh Naik. All rights reserved.

Bhavesh Naik is the Founder and Creative Director of Awayre, LLC, a management consulting and human resource development firm specializing in activating the hidden power of a business process by engaging its people’s awareness. Awayre, LLC is a pioneer in bringing human awareness to the field of management and human resource development as its structural and fundamental component.
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