Management Skills in the Music Business

I have recently had the pleasure of working with an extremely talented vocal coach, Dane Chalfin at the Leeds College of Music.

Dane wanted to improve his effectiveness in giving feedback to his students so that he could more powerfully influence the development of their vocal talents.

In my first session I taught Dane a basic feedback model which aims to:

  1. identify the specific behaviours that need to be reinforced or avoided
  2. describe precisely the impact of these behaviours on the vocal performance, on the long term health of the voice, and on the likelihood of the student having a successful long term singing career!
  3. asks the student what they think they could do differently (assuming we are trying to minimise a behaviour) or just asking them to keep it up – if it is a behaviour that we are trying to encourage.

Unlike many managers, Dane had no problem experimenting with what I taught him, and within days was reporting wonderful results!  He especially loved the way that now students were thinking about what they could change (posture, phrasing, breathe control – so many variables!) and learning to manage their own vocal performance – rather than relying on him to diagnose the problem and prescribe a solution.  Teaching students this ability to coach themselves is the hall mark of an outstanding manager and I am sure will stand Dane and his students in great stead.

Today I got to do a follow up session with Dane watching him work with students and it was a remarkable experience.  I was able to watch Dane work with a couple of talented young vocalists helping them to improve their vocal performance significantly in a matter of minutes.  In the space of a few minutes students would present the piece they were working on.  Dale would listen, observe and then coach them into trying new approaches and styles – which initially took the students well out of their comfort zones (‘this feels wrong’, ‘its really weird’).  However by using  feedback to help the students to recognise the impact of these new habits on their vocal performance and they were soon able to recognise the benefits of the new behaviours and pledge to practice them until they become habits.

It was a real privilege to see the process unfold and great to see some management techniques being used so effectively in the music business.

Management Skills in the Music Business

I have recently had the pleasure of working with an extremely talented vocal coach, Dane Chalfin at the Leeds College of Music.

Dane wanted to improve his effectiveness in giving feedback to his students so that he could more powerfully influence the development of their vocal talents.

In my first session I taught Dane a basic feedback model which aims to:

  1. identify the specific behaviours that need to be reinforced or avoided
  2. describe precisely the impact of these behaviours on the vocal performance, on the long term health of the voice, and on the likelihood of the student having a successful long term singing career!
  3. asks the student what they think they could do differently (assuming we are trying to minimise a behaviour) or just asking them to keep it up – if it is a behaviour that we are trying to encourage.

Unlike many managers, Dane had no problem experimenting with what I taught him, and within days was reporting wonderful results!  He especially loved the way that now students were thinking about what they could change (posture, phrasing, breathe control – so many variables!) and learning to manage their own vocal performance – rather than relying on him to diagnose the problem and prescribe a solution.  Teaching students this ability to coach themselves is the hall mark of an outstanding manager and I am sure will stand Dane and his students in great stead.

Today I got to do a follow up session with Dane watching him work with students and it was a remarkable experience.  I was able to watch Dane work with a couple of talented young vocalists helping them to improve their vocal performance significantly in a matter of minutes.  In the space of a few minutes students would present the piece they were working on.  Dale would listen, observe and then coach them into trying new approaches and styles – which initially took the students well out of their comfort zones (‘this feels wrong’, ‘its really weird’).  However by using  feedback to help the students to recognise the impact of these new habits on their vocal performance and they were soon able to recognise the benefits of the new behaviours and pledge to practice them until they become habits.

It was a real privilege to see the process unfold and great to see some management techniques being used so effectively in the music business.

Marketing Enterprise 5th December, London

A one day workshop looking at strategies and techniques for marketing enterprise projects.

Using both the Change Cycle of Prochaska and DiClemente and the Enterprise Coaching Model this one day workshop will help you to develop ways of marketing enterprise programmes.

The day will focus on marketing enterprise in communities with lower than usual levels of enterprise.

  • Developing Collateral (that might just work)
  • Working with Gatekeepers
  • Building Word of Mouth Strategies

Workshop costs £299 plus VAT.

Super output areas and other ‘deprived’ communities are dominated by a psychology of poverty.

  • Poverty of aspiration
  • Poverty of belief and
  • Poverty of opportunity.

Only by understanding the psychology of the groups and individuals with whom we want to work and by developing focused social marketing strategies are we likely to receive an invitation to do our work.

Marketing in poor communities is different.

It needs a different approach.

You Will Learn:

  • What is Social Marketing and Why it Matters to Enterprise Professionals
  • Developing Marketing Collateral that Might Just Work
  • Learning from Current Practice
  • Developing Market Segments that Work
  • Strangers, Prospects and Customers
  • How to Build a Word of Mouth Strategy
  • Using Gatekeepers to Reach the Market

Who Should Attend?

  • Enterprise coaches, advisers and other enterprise professionals seeking to work with ‘hard to reach’ communities
  • Marketeers and PR professionals charged with promoting enterprise services and project
  • Anyone who is seeking to ‘engage’ a community in enterprise

Segmenting the Enterprise Market

I am often horrified at just how poor many enterprise professionals are at segmenting the market for their services.  It is as if they believe that the ‘enterprise’ segment is already sufficiently well defined to enable them to engage efficiently and effectively.

In my experience there are great returnsto be had from spending some time in developing more effective ways of segmenting the  market. 

One of my favourites, and one of the most powerful models, segments the market place according to ‘Technical Competence’ and ‘Psychological Competence’.  Technical Competence refers to the degree to which the client has the technical skills that they need to develop their enterprise idea.  Psychological Competence refers to the degree of commitment, motivation, self confidence and self belief of the client.

In this segmentation clients may have a high or low degree of Technical Competence and a high or low degree of Psychological Competence.  This gives us four different market segments for our services:

  1. Low Technical Competence – Low Psychological Competence – Lets call this Type E1
  2. Low Technical Competence – High Psychological Competence – Lets call this Type E2
  3. High Technical Competence – Low Psychological Competence – Lets call this Type E3
  4. High Technical Competence – High Psychological Competence – Lets call this Type E4

The E1 client lacks both the psychological and the technical skills to realise their enterprise ideas.   Engaging E1 clients takes care and patience as it can be hard for them to take the risk of trying to make progress.  They need a lot of support with the technical aspects of developing their enterprise ideas and the work needs to be broken down into achievable steps.

The E2 client may be madly enthusiastic and quick to act – but lacking technical skills are prone to making all sorts of mistakes.  They need lots of technical assistance and a lot of emotional support too if the mistakes are not to undermine their commitment and motivation transforming them into an E1 client.  The E2 client may have been motivated to consider enterprise through clever marketing (my guess is that Enterprise Week will have flushed out a good few E2ers), they love the ‘Dragons Den’ type competitions. E2 clients require a lot of careful support over a long time period if they are to succeed.  They are likely to require frequent (if short) meetings with enterprise professionalsto keep them on track and to support them while they go on a very steep and sometimes challenging learning curve.  Their ideal enterprise professional will have both good technical skills and a good grasp of human growth psychology and its application.

The E3 client is a frequently overlooked market segment. They have good technical skills in enterprise – but they are not particularly motivated or committed. They may have been in business for decades, having started off as E2 or even E4, but never making much money in return for hours of hard work they no longer believe that enterprise is going to help them realise their dreams.  It has become just another piece of drudgery.  These clients are everywhere – but they don’t respond well to the ‘Have you got a brilliant business idea’ or ‘Dragon’s Den’ type marketing stunts so beloved of enterprise organisations and policy makers.  I believe this market segment could make a significant contribution to economic development in most communities – if only we could find a way to engage them and help them to get back in touch with their inspiration.  Community based enterprise projects that build a reputation over a number of years can start to engagethis kind of E3 client and produce remarkable results.

E4 clients are in some ways the holy grail.  Much of the effective enterprise professionals work is about helping clients move towards this E4 position.  Although high in both technical and psychological competence these clients still require help and support. They maybe ideal for referral to a good mentor or may benefit from access to a business support service on an ‘on demand’ basis.

Using this type of market segmentation can really help you to think through both your marketing/engagement strategy, the way you design your services and how you train your enterprise professionals.

Barriers to Coaching

Prem Rao writes a great blog and one of his recent posts identifies 7 barriers that prevent managers from coaching their team members as much as they ought.

Now I spend a lot of my time teaching managers how to coach and while I agree with all of Prem’s 7 I would have to add a few more barriers that I regularly encounter!

One is the perception that coaching takes a along time and is expensive.  While coaching can take several weeks to really improve performance it is usually used to address a problem or an opportunity that has existed for months!  Taking 6 -9 weeks to make real progress on an issue that is important but not urgent has to be a great use of any manager’s time.

But this brings us to another barrier to coaching.  Coaching is a classic Quadrant 2 activity in Covey terms – it is itself an important but seldom urgent part of the work of the manager – After all you can always postpone coaching for another day without the wheels falling off.  Secondly the issues that require coaching tend to be Quadrant 2 in nature – they are important but seldom urgent.  So we are caught in a double whammy – not only can we afford to postpone coaching we can also postpone addressing the issue that coaching would be perfect to address.

Another barrier is the perception that it will take up a lot of the managers time if they start to coach – in fact it will nearly always save time – especially if used in partnership with delegation.

Then there is the association of coaching with under-performance.  The perception that coaching is something that is done (certainly at middle and lower levels in the organisation) as a last resort effort to address under performance.  This makes it awkward for managers to broach the subject of coaching with high performers.

Finally I think that many managers fight shy of coaching because they are insufficiently secure in their own technical competence and believe that their own short-comings might be exposed if they start to coach.

The solution?

Set an expectation that every manager will coach every member of the team every week.  Train managers how to coach. Hold them accountable for this expectation and reward those that deliver! 

Not only will you see progress in terms of performance and value creation, you will also start to develop a culture where you really do ‘invest in your people’.

Mediation – More than Flavour of the Month?

So mediation makes it to the front cover of People Management.

Workplace mediation looks like it could be one of the big growth areas for 2009.

With the potential to significantly enhance organisational culture and to reduce the use of formal workplace grievance and disciplinary procedures and industrial tribunals workplace mediation might both add value and reduce costs – definitely a winning combination!

And we still have a few places left on our Introduction to Workplace Mediation Workshop to be held in partnership with Leeds College of Music on December 1st.

You can find out more about the workshop here or book your place online here.

The Power of Praise and the Greater Power of Feedback

“Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free – and worth a fortune.” – Sam Walton

“Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of feedback. They’re absolutely free – and worth a fortune.” – Mike Chitty

You see the thing about praise is that it can tend to be quite general.  When you praise someone for their great work they are not always sure exactly which aspect of the work you thought was so great.  I think praise is great – it just won’t always get you more of the behaviours that you are seeking.

When you give feedback the recipient understands exactly which aspects of their work you value so highly because you describe their behaviours and the impact that they had – specifically – significantly increasing the chances of you getting more of that type of behaviour in the future.

Well being and Enterprise

For a long time now I have been an advocate for enterprise development as tool of personal and community wellbeing.  I have seen it work so often.  However enterprise is so inextricably entwined with entrepreneurship that it is difficult to really engage health professionals (who arguably lead on ‘wellbeing’ in the UK) in the potential of the enterprise agenda.  When they think enterprise they generally think social enterprise and new patterns of commissioning.  Hey Ho! 

I was interested to hear that John Healey has been encouraging Councils to consider using their ‘wellbeing’ powers to help local communities through the current economic downturn.

The wellbeing power permits councils to do anything (except raise tax) to promote the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of their area. While nine out of ten councils are aware of the power, fewer than one in twelve are using it.

As long as the council’s actions are in the interest of local wellbeing, the power is available to enable a wide range of actions – saving councils time, avoiding complex legal procedures and cutting red tape.

John Healey said:

“The wellbeing power could be used to tackle some of the very real problems faced by communities during this economic downturn. Some councils have shown the way, using it to drive investment in their area, get local people into jobs or make savings by delivering more efficient services. I’m determined that more of them see this potential. That’s why I am writing to all councils today highlighting practical advice that will help them put this key tool to best use.”

  • Greenwich council used the power to tackle worklessness in their area, creating an employment agency in support of the existing community training agency
  • in Torbay the council founded a Development Agency using the wellbeing power, which helped to boost tourism, economic development, and the regeneration of its harbour
  • a joint agreement between North Tyneside and Newcastle City Council was facilitated by the Wellbeing power and provided a whole new street lighting infrastructure. The move helped to regenerate the local area, restoring civic pride, improving house prices, attracting new businesses and reducing crime
  • London Borough of Newham used the Wellbeing power as an opportunity to invest in a partnership project with the local PCT. The Local Finance Improvement Trust they created will build new premises and provide social care services in three London authorities
  • using the Wellbeing power the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea improved the safety of their local area. The council funded the employment of fifteen additional Community Support Officers to provide more uniformed presence on the streets, contributing to reduced street crime
  • in Wakefield, families living on an estate blighted by crime and drug-abuse were given a lifeline by the wellbeing power. It allowed the houses to be bought by the Council without a lengthy Compulsory Purchase Order process. The families were able to move away from the area and get a fair price for their homes – and the Council was free to redevelop the estate.

Makes you wonder whether enterprise professionals could sell a case to a local council to use their wellbeing powers to support enterprise projects as a vehicle for progress.  I would like to think that three years into LEGI at least some working models that might deserve replication were starting to emerge. 

Anyone care to work up some ideas?

Changing Habits

The biggest challenge to developing as a manager is not so much learning new techniques and approaches.  That part can be quite straightforward.

The real challenge comes in letting go of existing habits and routines, making ourselves say and do something that we wouldn’t normally do.  Avoiding the knee jerk habitual responses that have worked for us in the past and replacing them with responses that will better for us in the future..

Literally making the effort to be someone who we are not.

A Truth About Enterprise and Entrepreneurship?

So here is my contribution to Enterprise Week.

DO NOT START UP YOUR OWN BUSINESS – UNLESS YOU HAVE TO.

Not the message that is usually put out, especially by national, regional and local government, but after 25 years of running and supporting small businesses, that is my best advice.  Don’t do it – unless you have to. Unless of course you have money to burn.

Because the truth is that small business is a really hard game.  You have to provide a great product or service – and one miscalculation, or one bad debt, can put you out of the game and into the bankruptcy courts. Few people succeed in business the first time they try.

It takes resilience, persistence, self confidence and courage.

The chances of success are slim and the levels of commitment and hard work required are, in most cases, enormous.

Your business will almost certainly steal you away from friends and family at least for the first few years, and many successful entrepreneurs talk about how much their business has cost them in terms of their relationships and health, as well as cash.

This is the reality of entrepreneurship that needs to be taught.  (Policy makers please take note.  If we were this honest about the nature of entrepreneurship we might not get as many people involved in enterprise week – but a far higher percentage that did get involved would go on to be successful entrepreneurs.)

Those that ‘have to’ start a business fall into two very different camps.  The first ‘have to’ because they have no other economic option for survival.  Enterprise is their ONLY option.  It is the only way they can make a living.  For those whom enterprise is a forced choice the outcome is rarely great.

The second group ‘have to’ because it is the only way that they can have the freedom to do what they have to do, to be the person that they have to be and provide the products and services that they really have to provide.  Enterprise provides them with a way of becoming the person that they feel they have to be.  It is about their own identity as a human being.

So the rallying call for enterprise week should be,

‘DO NOT DO IT- UNLESS YOU HAVE TO!

Unless it is the only way for you to become the person that you really want to be’.

And if we invested our energy into helping people to really understand who or what they want to become we might find that all of a sudden ‘enterprise’ starts to look after itself.

Of course for those that ‘have to’ enterprise can be a wonderfully powerful vehicle to achieve remarkable results.  I am not anti enterprise – quite the opposite.  I just wish we could present it honestly as the double edged sword that it truly is.