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At Toner & Associates we offer the following services:

Cognitive Bias Training

At Toner & Associates, our approach to the training of staff to mitigate cognitive bias (both conscious and unconscious) can be summarised as follows:

Many organisations are arranging for their staff to undergo unconscious bias training to reduce or remove cognitive biases which affect decision-making by individual staff members. There is a common view that this training will allow staff members to realise associations and beliefs in their unconscious minds which are relevant to their judgements and decisions, and that these realisations will automatically reduce or remove these biases.

Unfortunately, there is little evidence that consciously realising an unconscious belief or association is sufficient to mitigate it. It may do so do so in some cases and it is certainly useful for an individual to realise as many of his/her unconscious associations as possible. But there is also some evidence that unconscious bias training can reinforce cognitive biases. Bringing an unconscious belief or association to the conscious level does not necessarily remove it from the unconscious mind or change it. In fact, if the unconscious belief is aligned with a conscious belief, it will reinforce the unconscious belief, so that if someone who is consciously racist discovers he/she is unconsciously racist as well, his/her beliefs at each level are unlikely to change and could be strengthened. It is also possible to have conscious and unconscious beliefs remaining unaligned with each other, which will cause confusion in the mind of the person when a relevant situation arises.

Also, unconscious bias training ignores conscious bias which affects all of us. Certainly, unconscious bias training is useful but is insufficient on its own to bring about greatly improved decision-making and employment practices in organisations.

So in our presentations and workshops, we cover the causes of cognitive bias by explaining how our unconscious and conscious minds work and their characteristics, we identify the many common biases that can affect our regular decision-making processes, and we review the best methods for mitigating these biases. In our more detailed workshops we examine current decision-making practices in organisations to identify improvements, particularly in HR processes like staff recruitment, career development and promotion.

Sales training, forecasting and sales management

It is normal for businesses to concentrate on cost reduction and margin improvement when faced with difficult markets, but longer-term profitability needs top-line growth.  Higher revenue depends on increasing sales, which requires improved sales methods, good sales forecasting and management, and astute marketing.

At Toner & Associates we help organisations increase their sales, using proven methodologies that are very successful overseas but not commonly used in Australia.  These methodologies are explained below.

“As a former CEO of both public and private companies, I have engaged Mark Toner to implement business development processes that have considerably lifted win rates for new and repeat business. The level of success encouraged the widespread adoption of these methods.”

— Adrian Kloeden, independent Chairman and Director

Competitive tendering using Strategic Selling® and the Myers Briggs Personality Type System

Deliberately targeting a customer's buying process can significantly improve the likelihood of winning their tender through competitive bidding.  We advocate Miller Heiman's Strategic Selling® as a basic methodology, to which we add in-depth analysis of not just the professional needs but also the personal needs and behaviour of each member of the customer's buying team.

We help you identify the actual roles of the real decision-makers in the customer team, and understand both the buying requirements of your customer's organisation and their actual decision-making processes at individual and team levels.  This methodology covers what, why and when people buy.

At Toner & Associates we use Myers Briggs theory to help determine how individual members of the customer team are likely to make their buying decisions.  This theory shows that people buy in one of only four basic ways, and in one of only two fundamental ways.  This method explains how people buy and how important price and relationships are to them, allowing you to sell to buyers in a way that fits with their preferred buying style.  This makes each buyer more comfortable with your personal approach and with that of your organisation.  These buyers are therefore more likely to see the benefits of your proposal, to recommend your bid and to develop longer-term relationships with you personally and with your organisation.

Using your knowledge of both Strategic Selling and the psychology of buying when preparing a competitive bid or tender is the best way to sell at an advanced level, and markedly increases your chances of winning that contract.

This methodology is also applicable to organisations buying products or services through the letting of competitive tenders.  It can be used to improve buying policies and practices, by understanding better how the organisation actually buys and how suppliers are selling to its personnel.

Finally, effective sales forecasting is an important function of sales management and is needed by all organisations so that they can make timely and appropriate business decisions.  A probabilistic forecasting methodology using "go/get" probabilities is the most accurate forecasting method when a number of prospects (e.g. more than 10) are in the sales pipeline.  This method can be used to produce likely future sales (measured by revenue or margin or both) by week, month or year.  In addition, the individual prospect lists of each salesperson can be rolled up for each sales branch, and branch prospect lists can be rolled up to the sales director level to give a total company view of likely sales.

Management and Leadership

Executives can significantly increase their capabilities as managers and leaders by understanding the separate theories which underlie each role.  Management is about getting work done effectively through the actions of other team members, whereas leadership is about causing change to happen to achieve the leaderís new vision.  There are different models and theories for both, and emotional intelligence is a key characteristic of both high-performing managers and leaders, as is influencing skill.

Understanding Myers Briggs personality theory is an excellent way to increase your emotional intelligence because it allows you to understand yourself much better, eg. it tells you your dominant cognitive function and the order of its supporting functions.

We offer presentations and run seminars and courses on management and leadership for a wide range of personnel, e.g. University undergraduates, corporate staff, senior executives and board members.   We also facilitate strategic and business planning sessions for boards and senior management.

Organisational and line-management effectiveness

In current difficult markets, Chief Executives must improve their own personal effectiveness and that of each member of their executive team.  We provide well researched and designed methodologies for leadership and management which result in:

  • executive team members personally committing to the Chief Executive's vision for the company, leading to focussed team commitment
  • effective team processes which improve communications, problem-solving and decision-making within the team
  • implementation of a well-designed “Management Framework” which requires clear accountability of managers for their own KPIs in an appropriate organisational structure.  When implemented, the Framework provides staff with strategic direction and a common set of principles linked to business objectives and values.  It comprises three elements: an effective organisation in terms of strategy, structure and operation, competent management and leadership, and good people skills in each member of the team.  Implementation of such a Management Framework is especially necessary in “technical” companies (e.g. businesses in engineering, construction, accounting, law, IT, science, medicine, etc.) which may not previously have implemented these foundations for an effective organisation.

Advice to organisations on gender equity issues is provided by an associate company, Gender Matters, which offers a unique approach to organisation development, aimed at the equitable career development of female staff.

Applications of Myers Briggs theory to leadership, management, teamwork and organisation design

The Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Majors PTI instruments are part of the most widely-used personality typing system in the world, and are based on Carl Jung's famous work on the different psychologies of every person.   Myers Briggs theory can be used to describe and demonstrate people's preferences for:

  • where they get their personal energy (from themselves or from the outside world)
  • how they perceive the world (through facts and details or overall)
  • how they make judgements and decisions (impersonally/objectively or personally/subjectively)
  • how they organise their lives (with considerable planning or flexibly and spontaneously).

The Myers Briggs system is therefore an extraordinarily useful tool for analysing and increasing a person's level of Emotional Intelligence, which is a determinant of their leadership and management abilities and styles.  Myers Briggs theory is used to improve the design and effectiveness of teams, to predict how an individual will respond to change, to suggest how individuals might develop their careers to satisfy their personal interests, and is useful in many other areas of organisation structure and operation, especially sales.

Marketing and licensing of intellectual property and technology

The commercialisation of new intellectual property (which may include technology) can be a significant challenge for owners.  We can help you manage your IP effectively and develop appropriate approaches and strategies for both local and overseas markets.  Preparation of business and marketing plans, protection of your IP, external funding and resource planning are typical key activities.

Coaching and mentoring of executives

Chief Executives and senior line managers are usually under pressure to achieve tough performance targets while at the same time needing to properly develop their own careers and those of their staff. They can be supported on a personal level by an external coach who has the experience to help them achieve their KPIs while developing their careers. Use of such a coach allows the line manager to gain useful business and personal insights, adopt new techniques and have a confidential “sounding board” for resolution of difficult issues.

At Toner & Associates we offer a choice of coaches with skills and experience covering leadership, general management, business strategy, sales and marketing, strategic HR, organisation development, teamwork and career planning.

© Toner & Associates 2015. All rights reserved.