The Apprentice Week 7: Narrow escape for Jade as Azhar fails to influence

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There have been some phenomenally successful retail strategies in the past century. Jack Cohen’s “pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap” strategy is a classic example that helped turned his Hackney market stall in 1919 into the world’s second most profitable retailer – Tesco. In contrast, Jade’s complete lack of strategy was clearly the downfall for Team Phoenix in this week’s retail task.    


Not that it went unnoticed. Azhar raised enough flags about the lack of strategy to make many people never want to hear the word again, and we covered enough about strategic errors in last week’s Apprentice Analysed blog for me to avoid over-egging the strategy pudding this week.  


Jade’s responses to Azhar’s questions were fascinating, however. Unable to answer his repeated requests for clarity about the strategy, Jade obviously felt exposed. Rather than recognise that she needed to think about her approach, Jade instead began a counter-attack, describing Azhar as annoying and indicating that he was doing her head in. This is problematic, because a good predictor of career derailment in leaders is their inability to listen to criticism from their team. 


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Azhar, for his part, clearly needs to develop some skill in the psychology of persuasion. In essence there are three factors to focus on when influencing others: 

  1. Be prepared (for example identifying a few solutions as well as flagging the problem).
  2. Understand the perspective of the person you’re trying to influence (including the pressures they’re under and their motivations).
  3. Deliver your message effectively (by maximising rapport and acknowledging their perspective).  


Azhar missed all three factors. This meant that his attempts to flag the one thing that could have saved the task for Jade instead made it look like he was whining. His broken-record approach simply irritated Jade to the point that she took him into the boardroom, and ultimately contributed to his being fired.  


In contrast, the task was much smoother for Team Stirling this week. A combination of steady project management from Nick, good sales patter from Ricky and product expertise from Jenna meant that the team worked effectively together. Ricky does need a nudge, however, to reign in his somewhat high-handed comments that he didn’t need any lessons from Jenna (a beauty salon owner) in selling spray-on tan product. This was especially ironic given that he complained about the fact that his own skills in selling weren’t being fully utilised.    


Finally, a quick review of how far through the process we are. We started the process with 16 candidates and we are now left with nine. We have just five remaining weeks of this series. Time for a double-firing? 


Nic Hammarling is the Head of Diversity at Pearn Kandola


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The Apprentice League week 7
Duane (fired week 5) 15
Gabrielle 13
Nick 12
Ricky 12
Tom 11
Laura 9
Adam 9
Katie (fired week 6) 9
Azhar – (fired week 7) 8
Stephen 8
Jade 6
Jenna 5
Jane (fired week 4) 5
Bilyana (fired week 1) 2
Michael (fired week 3) 0
Maria (fired week 2) 0

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