Monthly Archives: September 2016

Where are the best Bosses?

Is the American way of life the better managerial culture? Or do European managers and leadership boards make employees feel more comfortable? Questions like this are subjects of a recent study.

Written by Jens Kügler

Dissatisfaction with superiors and workplaces—that is not a local, national or cultural phenomenon. It’s worldwide, as the current “Dale Carnegie Global Leadership Study 2016” reveals. The franchise system for training and personal development, which is present on every continent, asked more than 3,300 full-time employees in 14 countries. Their positions ranged from small employees up to CEOs in a mix of many industries, in companies from SMEs to trusts.

To go into all the results would be too much for this blog article. Therefore, at this point I’ll only mention a few exemplary figures and draw some comparisons between Europe and the US. Globally, only 17 percent of all employees are very satisfied with their job. 44 percent are somewhat satisfied, 20 percent altogether are somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Incidentally, the most satisfied are the Mexicans and Brazilians with 29 percent stating “very satisfied”, while in Asia and Europe, only 21 percent said that. 16 percent of all respondents are currently looking for a new job. Nearly one out of six …

According to the study, the “Top 5 behaviors” of executives worldwide are respecting other opinions, showing sincere appreciation, truly listening, valuing contributions and admitting mistakes. Around three quarters of all respondents said that a leader who gives praise and honest appreciation would be more likely to inspire them than someone who is focused on getting the job done.

The main differences between Europe and North America? On this side of the Atlantic, 81 percent prefer leaders who give praise and appreciation, while in the US and Canada, these are only 76 percent. Only about 60 percent of Europeans want bosses who encourage them and make them believe in their abilities to improve. In North America it’s roundaout 80 percent who stated that. In other topics around praise, motivation or the ability of self-criticism of their bosses, Europeans and Americans indicated quite similar values.

Conclusion: The “best of all bosses”-place does not seem to exist. We face quite the same management deficits in both sides of the ocean.

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Start Franchising. Rent a Successful Brand

Future entrepreneurs, take note: After the summer holidays, franchise systems are again increasingly looking for new partners. So take a chance!

Written by Jens Kügler

Do you dream of being your own boss? But you lack a truly promising business idea? Simply use an existing one that you can implement at your city. “Lease” an established brand name and concept! What I’m talking about is franchising. Take a look at the virtual franchise exhibitions: Now, after the end of the holiday period, many franchisors are actively again and start new advertising campaigns for their systems to find new partners.

Franchisees operate the business of the franchise chain in an exclusively reserved distribution area, for example in their city or district. There they run the hip urban organic salad and smoothie bar, the popular burger restaurant, the fully equipped tool rental, the modern EMS gym, the stylish tea shop or the modern beauty and wellness studio , Their main advantage: Under these brand names and with this specialized offer, dozens or perhaps even hundreds of other franchisees have already been successful in other locations. The business model has proven that it works. And each new founder starts with better opportunities because his brand is well known and he benefits from the nationwide advertising of the franchisor.

Franchising is not branch acquisition: The franchisee builds up his business by himself, buys the goods and finances everything by 100%. He is economically fully responsible and—as free entrepreneur—also has the full risk. Moreover, he usually pays a system entry fee and a fixed monthly or revenue-based franchise fee for using the brand and getting the expertise transferred. Also, the franchisee is not completely free in his decisions. In the franchise contract, the franchisor instructs precisely how he has to produce the goods and how to fulfill his customer service. The corporate design has to be absolutely the same. Every franchisee business has to look like a copy of all others to the customer so that he always knows exactly what he gets.

But the advantages are obvious. It is not only the strong brand and the proven success concept. Franchising means division of labor. The franchisor’s central plant does not only train its franchisees or provides them with promotional materials. It takes many administrative tasks, for example, organization, controlling or benchmarking—and often accounting or bookkeeping. In addition there is almost always a common central purchasing with benefits in terms, because the franchisor orders in large numbers for all the network. Oh, and he takes care of delivering the purchased. Most franchise networks have inventory control systems making everything run automatically.

Franchisors also provide their partners with market and location analysis, the preparation of the business and financial plan and the loan negotiations because they have the contacts and have done precisely this for a hundred or more franchisee companies before. The purpose is to allow franchisees a faster start and give them more time for their core business, the sales and customer services. This means more revenue for the franchisees and mostly also more fee income for the franchisor. This is why an increasing number of apparently branch systems in reality are franchise networks. Because they are more powerful on the market.

Ok, you are not a professional chef? As franchise caterer or restaurant owner, you don’t need this. You are not a certified fitness trainer? Doesn’t matter, you can open your studio soon. Franchise companies usually offer a very special product or a highly specialized service. This is also their unique selling point. And therein you—as a non-professional beginner—get trained by the franchisor for two, maybe three weeks. What qualifies a franchisee, is above all that he’s a good seller and loves the interaction with customers. If then also the financing works, the start to an (almost) safe entrepreneurship has no more obstacles.

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Advanced Trainings motivates, standstill frustrates

How much potential lies the magic word qualification? An example illustrates this, a study shows it in black and white.

Written by Jens Kügler

Imagine you are working as business administrator for event technology in an event agency. Your boss calls you into his office and asks: “Müller, what do you think about this. I would like to offer you to a training course for master of event technology and event management?”. What does this mean to you—Müller? It means that you have the chance to climb the ladder and acquire knowledge that you will use for your benefit and for the benefit of the company. But it is much more. Between the lines, your boss just informed you that he is satisfied with your performance as a business administrator and that he’s sure you can do more. He praised you and offered you the training as a present, too. Saying thank you for your work.

Training is an instrument for motivation and employee retention. What you feel as employee—you have been recognized and encouraged—is confirmed by a study that quasi transmits this feeling in its name. It is called, roughly translated, “Motivation, Retention, Education” and was commissioned by the DUW (German University for Advanced Training). For DUW, the opinion research institute Forsa asked more than a thousand workers. The institute also conducted expert interviews with HR managers, consultants and psychologists.

The result? Overall, 54 percent of workers would like to choose their employers specifically by the offers for training. However, 19 percent are dissatisfied with the offers of their current employer. That means: companies with training opportunities are sought. Thus they are one step ahead in the war for talents. But staggered by age group, the study result revealed a very differentiated picture:

For 43 percent of the 25 to 35 year olds, continuing education courses are utterly important and for 60 percent even a decisive criterion when it comes to take a new job. However, among older workers the desire for further education shrinks enormously. “Very important” was only cross-chosen by 30 percent of the over-36-year-olds. And of the 56 to 65 year-olds, only 17 percent rated qualification trainings important.

What does this mean for a business? Well, bosses should recognize and acknowledge the skills of their staff members closely and promote them. This is best possible by dialogues and specific questions for needs and wishes. Bosses should communicate the vision of the company and the values ​​of their activities to their employees. In any case, for the young workers of the so-called Generation Y, the meaningfulness of their work and their self-realization are usually more important than—say—the salary.

And what about the elderly? Is their less interest in training a reason for the entrepreneurs to save money and not offer them further education? No. Even older employees work the better, the more motivated they are. And the boss has to go in advance. Knowledge is aging, too. And a 60-year-old worker would feel as good as a 30-year-old in a scene like described above.

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Your Customer, the Unknown Being

Entrepreneurs are convinced that we have the best product. And so they communicate. But do they really know what their customers want? The best “products” to check this out are regular feedbacks.

Written by Jens Kügler

In the first quarter of 2009, an agent of mobile phone contracts lost as much as 80 percent of purchasers compared to the fourth quarter of the previous year. There were many reasons, including the weak business after Christmas, the poor economic situation in the euro and banking crisis and the market saturation with mobile phone contracts. Above all, the reputaion of the company’s poor service had spread in the market—via negative blog posts, exchange of customers on the Internet and critical press reports. And there was virtually no complaints management. The customers felt left alone and stayed away at last.

Recently, a survey of Oracle & Harris Interactive revealed that 89 percent of customers have switched to competitors because of negative buying experiences. 86 percent even stated they would pay more if they had a positive buying experience. This means that product features and price are not the relevant purchase criteria anymore. What is important to customers is the experienc and emotion that they combine with the product or brand. For companies, this means that they have to have dialogue. They have to listen and take their customers seriously. Or, as Ute Hagen expresses: They must love their customers.

First, brands and products have to be “charged” emotionally and to be identifiable with values. Storytelling is a way to get there. Steve Jobs has shown us. No one really needs the iPhone, there are cheaper phones with comparable or even better features. Yet, the customers love the gadget from Apple. But what is it that customers want the most? They want the provider to listen to them in regular dialogues. This, of course, goes far beyond the friendly service at the POS. It includes communications on all channels because customers expect this more than ever in an always-on world.

Regular customer feedbacks give companies not only insights into the desires and feelings of their clients. They also allow companies to even anticipate the purchase decisions of their customers and adapt their offerings to it. For customer feedbacks, there is a variety of methods today. They range from questions by the friendly service employee in the store to online or telephone surveys, studies and community-analysis. Modern technology and multi-channel marketing make it possible and easy.

If customers feel a sustainable perception of them and their interests by the brand, they do not only become loyal customers. They also appear as enthusiastic and inspiring brand ambassadors among family, friends and colleagues. So they contribute more to the brand’s image than any advertising campaign ever could.

Speaking of colleagues: Companies today need to listen more than ever to their own employee’s demands, too. This is part of the indispensable employer branding. The own employees can—and want to—contribute ideas and optimization approaches. Meanwhile, about 30 percent of all employees in Germany are “digital natives”. In 2025, expectedly three quarters of all employees will belong to the so-called Generation Y. These young people are used to be flexible, take part in decision-making, identify with their work and conduct open dialogues across all channels. They expect to be taken seriously. Regular feedbacks are therefore indispensable also internally.

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Motivator Multitasking

Last week the blog post was aboout the “motivator stage-fright”. Today, the article deals with another characteristic feature. A feature with a much too bad reputation.

By Jens Kügler

Put up the wireless haedset, dial into the telco, listen to an interlocutor, thereby browse the emails, read the most important ones and even answer them. Meanwhile, you pass over a paper file to your colleague next door who just asked for it. At the same time, you respond to your girlfriend’s Whatsapp, still actively participating in the telco … that’s typical multitasking. Some people get overstrained by it, others get challenged by it to peak performance.

For years, the overstrained have dominated the world of work and media, as it seems. Whether psychologists or coaches, all teach sentences like: Who is doing many tasks at the same time don’t get finished any. Everything has to be done well sequentially—that is the mantra of today. For every task there has to be a slot. Three slots the day for emails, one for colleague’s consultation—and in between just focusing on a job. With a “Do not disturb” sign at the door. “For everything, there is a season” sang The Byrds in their famous song “Turn Turn Turn”. Well, that’s an oldie.

However, recent studies with managers and executives revealed amazing results. They found out that business with lots multitaskers raised higher sales than similar companies with few. Basically our brain can run multiple tasks simultaneously. At any given moment, only one of them is perceived consciously, the others run in the background. But the brain saves all thoughts and results and can easily “zap” from one to another.

Switching between multiple activities can motivate instead of disturbing only. We’re making small breaks from the main activity and thus receive other impulses and inspirations. A psychologist at Princeton University examined the vita of 40 scientists. The most successful of them worked in an average five subject areas—all at the same time and in constant change. Many successful entrepreneurs run several companies and are association presidents and local politicians.

Imperfect as the human brain may be, in one aspect it’s better than any computer. The PC only carries out commands and performs in one single activity. In other words: Whoever does only monotonous tasks and always the same activity is threatened by automation. The robots or driverless metros are only examples. Multitasking is something primal human. Something creative actually.

Last but not least: Multitasking can be trained. The recommendations range from crossword puzzles to Sudoku. Fast video games are also considered as good training if they consist of many levels while processing scenarios. There are also numerous so-called brain calisthenics exercises. If you google you will find them.

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