Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Communications 101

Whether working for a charity or for profit, and whatever the sector, good communication skills are a vital element.  A million years ago when I started with Procter & Gamble as a Salesman we were drilled on communication skills - so some of the techniques have actually stuck with me!

For your use prior to your next performance meeting with one of your staff, an introductory meeting with a prospect, or just at the dinner table tonight, I offer what we were trained on...

This aspect of communication skills was all about eliciting more input from the "buyer" and had five elements, and they went from techniques that were "least sensitive" to potentially "most sensitive":
1/ General Lead (e.g. "go on", "say more", even "yes...")
2/ Pause (a little more sensitive since it could lead to an awkward silence)
3/ Restatement (in my old world that would be something like the Buyer says "it's not selling", and you reply with "it's not selling?")
4/ Probe (e.g. "how is that selling?")
5/ Interpretation (e.g. "so when you say it's not selling, you mean the Marketing plan isn't working?" or something like that...)

Learning more about prospective donors, buyers, or just one another is always helpful, so maybe this will make your next conversation just that little bit more productive!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Not Lost in Translation

In a meeting this morning I scribbled down a quick diagram to try and illustrate a point I was making around leadership, and strategic development in particular.  The people I was chatting with seemed to like how it captured some key concepts in a simple way, so I'm sharing it with you.

Obviously there could be more "pros" for each end of the diagram, but for simplicity's sake I've limited it to two.  At the top is "Top Down" leadership, the model of do-as-I-say and autocracy.  At the bottom is the opposite, a purely democratic, consultative and consensus-driven style.

To the far left lurks "Seat of Your Pants"; a pure gut-feel style of passion and hunches, while its opposite extreme of "Analysis Paralysis" patiently crunches numbers off on the far right.

Clearly there are other variables to consider, and where you sit on each axis is based on context or the issue of the day, but I'm glad my little scribble proved a helpful model for our conversation... And what struck me was that this sort of model applies in both the charitable world as well as the for-profit world.  A definite case where nothing is lost in translation!