Category Archives: Business Development

Time out is good for the journey


Taking time out of your busy life is vital if you want long term success.

Sit back and allow yourself time to relax and enjoy the view. To rest both the body and the soul is an important task you, as the leader, need to undertake. I would also say to make sure your team has the right and ability to do so as well.

To be rested means you can give your focus and full strength to the task at hand, but if you are weary errors and mistakes happen.

Do take some time out and refresh yourself so you get on with doing what you needs to be done.

Rest is not a waste of time.

Paul S Allen

Paul S Allen

Poor Management Culture

The WatersideI have recently read an article re-published by Manufacturing NZ (a part of Business NZ) with the title of “Three types of people to fire immediately“.

It would have to be one of the most appalling articles on how to manage staff I have seen. To suggest you should immediately fire an employee because they disagree with you or have their own opinion, is not only poor management practice, but in NZ would leave the employer open to a personal grievance case being lodged against them.

To have this practice endorsed by a supposedly leading business organisation reveals how deep-seated bullying behaviour is in some organisations.

I note that on the page where that article is posted there is no legal disclaimer, so could they be held responsible if someone just followed what was proposed there?

There are ways to manage/lead difficult people and doing it well can win loyal staff out of strong objectors. Even if you can not win them over you can not, in any way, sense or form, just dismiss them on the spot. There is a formal procedure to follow to manage staff performance and in New Zealand the Department of Labour has clear guidelines to follow. The Department of Labour  also operates under the guiding principles of  good faith, good reason and fair process. Get it wrong as an employer,  prepare to face the Department of Labour for mediation or legal action.

My advice to you if you have difficulties with staff is this… Follow the Department of Labours guidelines if you don’t know what they are call them  0800 20 90 20 (in NZ) … get independent assistance, get legal advice, be honest, factual, objective, tactful, allow time to think (for yourself and the employee) before decisions are made, allow for the employee to also have representation(support or legal) at any meetings. At all times respect the staff member there is no excuse for putting undue pressure on someone to resign, in fact this could also lead to personal grievance case to be laid.

There is no place for bullying in the workplace from peers or from employers.

Paul S Allen

Please note my disclaimer on this page as well

The information supplied here is not meant to replace professional legal, financial or health advice. By using this information supplied you acknowledge that it is done at your own personal, legal and financial risk.


The information and comments on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of any organisation that I am employed by or that I am associated with.

What ever happened to quality?



This has been a bad year for us especially in the area of some of the purchases that we have made.

We are careful shoppers; we investigate before we spend our hard-earned money on almost everything. We use the principle of “buying the best you can with the resources you have at the time”. Yet, some of the bigger purchases we have made, we have needed to return because of manufacturing faults, part failures or damage, and these products returned were what would have been considered quality products. They have ranged from suits and shirts to cameras.

For the most part these goods have been replaced or repaired smoothly and quickly, with the exception of my camera that I am still waiting to be fixed under warranty 45 days later.

The main issues I have, is that these returned goods have all been items where there is an expectation of high quality and durability.  It is a complete waste of my time to take a faulty/damaged product back to be fixed or replaced by a supplier. In the case of the camera there have been so many photo opportunities missed that can never happen again.

Great brands can be tarnished by poor quality products and poor after sales support.

Will I buy another product from a manufacturer who has supplied a faulty product?
Will I buy a product from a store that treats me, the customer, as the problem?

Probably not.

Now don’t get me wrong, the customer is NOT always right, but if the customer has used a product for a while and knows how something behaves normally, when something does go wrong the expert is the customer not the retailer or the manufacture, or at least they should be made to feel like that. To be told by the manufacturer the item is acting normally when you know it isn’t, demeans the customer, causing the trust in the entire brand and the retail outlet to be lost.

If the customer has a problem, you as a retailer/manufacturer have a problem, so listen to them carefully.

I understand that it is difficult to make sure that every product is perfect in every way, but if something does go wrong it should be rectified quickly. If retail/manufacturer staff attitude towards the customer is poor, blaming or just downright rude, it may be time to consider retraining  the staff or closing the doors on your business as word of mouth reviews travel quickly, this is especially so in the age of social media.

Customer service is not just about “selling” it is about an ongoing relationship with your customer. Great after-sale service can make a bad experience a positive one for both the customer and the manufacturer. The solution all comes down to the attitude of the staff dealing with the customer directly and the manufacturer providing technical support.

There is no substitute or shortcuts to the following…

  • Great products that people want (not what you want to sell them)
  • Great quality control and quality assurance
  • Qualified customer support team (knowledgeable, understanding and approachable)
  • Great after-sales service and support

Get these simple steps right and you are well on your way to having happy customers.

The best action to take is to get quality right first time, check and check again before an item goes out the front door and if something does go wrong fix or replace it quickly.


Paul S Allen

Article also published on idealog 



Technology versus the personal touch

Paul S AllenThere’s an assumption – be it in government or enterprise – that people have the understanding and the skills required to use technology.

For example, filing company returns has to be done online, and accessing assistance in some cases can only be done via a website. So many services require people to have an internet capable device/smart phone to get the best value or benefit. But what about those who for one reason or another do not or cannot get access to the internet? Should they be penalised or disadvantaged?

This is a reminder to all:

* Not everyone has access to the internet! Of those who do, not everyone has access to quality broadband infrastructure. New Zealand has one of the poorest broadband infrastructures in the developed world.

* Not everyone has a mobile phone! Not all mobile phones are smartphones.

* Not everyone has a Facebook account or is connected to the world via social media.

Now don’t get me wrong: I love technology. It can be a fantastic tool for social interaction and productivity. I love my gadgets and hardware, I love broadband connectivity. I have met (virtually) many people both here in New Zealand and all over the world because of social media. But these virtual networks will never replace real, personal and physical interactions that are important for normal human life experience.

The more I use technology, the more I start to value walking into a shop and interacting with the staff or picking up a telephone and talking to someone, rather than sending emails or status updates to each other.

The online experience should enhance offline personal interactions – not replace them.

I have been shopping around for a walking stick for my wife who has a long-term debilitating illness (Myalgic Encephalopathy / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). I did not just want any walking stick; I wanted one that was practical and most importantly looked good.

We had seen a few around and found a great selection on the Disability Resource Centre website, but the small thumbnail gave no impression as to how it felt or how true the colours were. It was only when I called into the showroom in Auckland on a recent trip and spoke with the staff that I chose the right size and colour. The staff were incredibly knowledgeable, helpful and friendly, especially important for the type of purchase that I was making.

Now I have seen how this organisation works and who the staff are, I would have no problem using their website for other orders, but if I lived closer I would still prefer to call in person.

Technology can be a great benefit for many and even provide a way to communicate with the outside world, but to assume that everyone has access or adequate services is a mistake.

No matter how good your website is or how accurate the information, people often need someone to talk to, to bounce ideas around with and who can give an immediate response to questions.

Making the assumption that everyone will use your app, visit your website, read the information, or even know where to start looking, could alienate the people you need to connect with.

Social interaction doesn’t just mean setting up a social media account – it means a real person connecting with a real person.

Paul S Allen 

Also published on Idealog Magazine 


Keys for the Journey: Thoughts for the leader

The role of a leader is to take people to a new destination whether that is literal or figurative. Planning is critical as to the success of the journey and can solve many problems before setting out.

Here are ten things that you need to know.

1. Know where you are now.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

This is a commonly used saying but it can be translated “The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.”

I prefer the alternative version as it emphasizes that we need to have an understanding about our current situation and circumstances. Taking stock of where you are and being self-aware and community-aware is a vital component to understand before launching on a new project or adventure.

2. Know where you are going.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Lewis Carroll

You need a map, or at least some navigation tools (and know how to use them). To have a goal to achieve or to have a destination to get to is important as you ca use it to measure progress.

3. Know why you are going.

The “why” is the thing that will keep people motivated when they lose sight of the goal. It creates purpose and buy-in. Sometimes the reason for a mountain to be climbed is just because it is there, but to achieve victory on a great journey you need to know why you are traveling. Columbus did not travel into a big blue ocean for no reason, his purpose was to find new trade routes to Asia, discovering the Americas along the way was a by-product.

4. Know how you will travel.

The method is important and how you start a journey may not be how you finish it. There will be times when you will have to adapt to new environments to get there.

5. Know who you will travel with.

The team is important, they are not just the workers or minions, they are vital in achieving great things. They may be (and should be) better than you, highly skilled, technically minded people, people who get things done. They may be stronger leaders than you. They may annoy you, question you, disagree with you; you need them to. “Yes-men” will allow you to fall into a chasm because they won’t challenge you.

Some people may not stay for the whole journey but they will be always part of the story.

6. Know when to rest.

The journey may be hard, long, wearying, and dangerous, so know when to stop and rest.

Enjoy the scenery as this has two effects… 1 you and your team can refresh and re-energize themselves. 2 It gives you an opportunity to assess the situation, take stock, and plan the next phase.

Rest is vital to avoid burnout. If you do not rest you will make mistakes that may mean you will not succeed to your destination.

7. Know when to change direction.

very rarely in life is the path from “A” to “B” a straight line. you will need to change direction and even travel in the apparently wrong direction to reach your destination. There are obstacles to avoid unnecessary dangers to steer around, the terrain may be too hard to travel in that direction.

You may have gone down a dead-end. The only choice as a leader is to swallow your pride, turn around and backtrack until you can move in a better direction.

It is essential at these time to hold on to the map and to reiterate the “why”.

Humility will need to triumph over ego in these circumstances.

8. Know what the dangers could be.

Constantly be aware of the changing world around you (environmental, political,social etc). Listen to your team, what are they saying, they may have seen something you haven’t. Investigate and take seriously any reports of danger and after investigation act accordingly. Know what is real and what is fear.

9. Know what you need to take.

Provisions, skills, equipment, expertise, the old scout motto is all important here “Be prepared”.

10. Know what to do when you get there.

Plan the celebration, learn to recognize and celebrate achievements on the way. Remember the team got you there they should all be recognized. Don’t rest at the summit that is not the end of the road. this chapter may be finished but there are more to be written.

At this point go back to my first point know where you stand  then decide where you are going.

The only thing to know left after you have thought about all of this and have taken time to prepare is…

Know when to start.

Paul S Allen 

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