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Founder of Inside Out Image Joanna Gaudoin on Personal Impact and Relationship Management

A group of business people shaking hands.

Who Is Joanna Gaudoin?

Joanna established Inside Out Image in 2011 and helps organizations and individuals master Personal Impact and Relationship Management. She has worked with over 150 individual clients and has worked with corporations such as Mastercard, HSBC and Forsters LLP. She is also the author of the bestselling book “Getting On – Making work work.”

Interview by DesignRush

Have you ever felt like no matter how excellent your technical, digital marketing and social media strategy skills may be, it can seem like something is still missing?

Sometimes it is best to go back to basics and focus on how we interact at work with both colleagues and clients. Personal Impact and Relationship Management has become particularly important when forwarding your career and is often the missing piece to success.

Managing Director of Inside Out Image Joanna Gaudoin recognized that engaging positively is essential and could be the differentiating factor in a highly competitive field. By helping both individuals and companies develop their work relationships and communication skills, she is bringing a “humane” approach back to the workplace.

Spotlight: The global customer relationship management market is expected to grow 245% by 2028. What drives this growth and did you expect this when you established Inside Out Image back in 2011? 

Joanna Gaudoin: Thankfully, I think companies and firms have realised that they need to stand out from the crowd more. Ticking the box of offering a specific service well is insufficient as many others do the same. Therefore, they need to stand for something, find a way to be different and make this clear to clients and potential clients through their marketing and how their people interact with clients and prospects.

I also think as individuals we have shorter attention spans than ever before due to the nature of technology and social media. Keeping in the front of people’s minds is a continual job. It’s not good enough to meet someone at an event 6 months ago for a relationship to start to be built and for the potential service supplier to hope they will be remembered. Work is required to build the relationship, the trust and to stay in that person’s mind. It’s really important that companies and the individuals representing them have a clear proposition and are remembered for something specific.

In all honesty, I didn’t really think about the potential growth in this market; I just knew that people being able to build a strong profile at work and engage positively with others – internally and in many cases externally for the benefit of their careers and the organisation they work for - was important and I wanted to work with clients to make this happen.

“People skills” are often placed on the backburner today compared to technical skills. What are the professional skills in CRM that are essential to achieve success? 

This is definitely the case although I think this is improving. I don’t have to make the case for companies focusing on developing these skills as much these days; it’s more about which development areas to focus on and why they should work with me.

Emotional intelligence is extremely important: being able to manage how we react to things and read others' emotions and adapt to those. We may like to think we’re purely logical beings but we’re not and we make decisions based on how others engage with us, which is why this matters.

Consider for example someone needing some legal help to set up a family trust. This is an important decision that is going to carry some emotion. Naturally, the client wants a firm that can do this effectively but it is how the client is dealt with that is likely to influence the final choice of firm.

Fundamentally, customers need to feel that they will be helped by the people/person they are choosing (that the person actually cares) and that they are going to be able to get on with them well in their dealings. Companies and firms can differentiate themselves in how work is done.

It’s vital that people servicing clients are able to consider the perspective of the person they are talking to – this includes skills such as being able to show empathy and really listening, through to speaking to them in a way that is helpful, so at the right level; jargon can be very off-putting if it isn’t understood. You can take this further to very practical elements such as understanding what degree of detail the customer wants in communication, how frequently and how best to communicate with them. It’s essentially making sure customers are thought of as people even within the context of a well-established process in a company or firm.

To bring in business, people need to be able to go out to meet others and essentially be human – make an effort to connect with people on non-work topics and be able to talk about what they do.

You wrote the bestselling book “Getting On – Making work work.” What led you to write this book and why should professionals read it? 

Several people had asked me if I had written a book and honestly, I put it off for a long time! However, I can see the difference the work I do with clients makes and I wanted to make my work more accessible. Some of the people who have read it are very senior in their careers yet have still learnt things and pulled out actions they can put into practice. They have also commented that it would have helped them a great deal if they’d read it earlier.

The skills I talk about in the book often don’t get considered thoroughly enough, even if many people can see they are important. I wanted the book to be highly practical so it explains what is necessary to navigate professional life and to progress in your career, why it matters and most importantly, how to put that into practice. The book has lots of real-life examples, reflection points, as well as 19 downloadable resources to support people to take action within their own professional lives. It gives people insight into many aspects of working life so that they can move forward.

Some of your clients include Mastercard, Thomas Miller and HSBC. Can you tell us about your collaboration and the goals you achieved for these global companies? 

I have spoken several times for a women’s leadership group at Mastercard. A couple of years ago, I ran a series on building your brand and visibility. They found the sessions very insightful and practical so invited me back and last year I ran in-person sessions for them on constructive feedback which they found really valuable. It equipped them to give feedback more often and be able to seek it out and make sure it was valuable to their career development.

For Thomas Miller, I facilitated a team day as the team leader wanted to look at ways of working and improving how the team worked together. They left with a tangible plan on specific things to change as well as a better understanding of one another.

I have delivered different types of work for HSBC including speaking at their networks, running sessions on personal impact for a leadership team to give people tangible skills and to support their confidence and working with an individual who had moved into a new role and needed to work on specific skill so that she could do her job more positively and effectively.

2022 was nicknamed the year of “The Great Resignation.” How can building relationships at work and investing in CRM boost retention in the workplace? 

People ultimately need to feel valued at work, understood and motivated in what they are doing.

Here are my five top tips for people who manage others to build relationships:

  1. Get to know people’s strengths so you can best deploy their skills and abilities: often people enjoy what they are good at most and therefore do better at it. They can get very demotivated if they feel they are constantly struggling and misunderstood. Getting to know people overall and regarding their capabilities will mean spending significant time with them.

  2. Make sure people are clear what the team is there to achieve and what their part is in that: your team needs to have very clear expectations of what they need to deliver. In this regard, it can be helpful to consider how you and the people you manage respond to expectations. Gretchen Rubin’s “Four Tendencies Quiz” is very helpful to consider how you and your team members respond to both expectations set by others and your own expectations.

  3. Consider others’ working styles and how best to communicate with them: agree with them how best to communicate with one another, especially in a hybrid working environment. If you know your team member isn’t at their best first thing in the morning, then wherever possible avoid having a key conversation with them then. Be open to questions and providing support but agree how this is to happen. It's important to agree on the communication frequency and method.

  4. Give feedback and praise: always make sure individuals get credit for the work they have done, both directly and in front of others, and provide feedback regularly (not just in annual reviews.) If people get used to an open and transparent feedback culture, this will help their development. Make sure you give clear feedback that people can act upon.

  5. Trust people with new and different tasks: this involves sometimes taking a risk but, with the right communication and agreement of check-in points and support, it is important for everyone’s time management and development. People are often more motivated when they are trusted too. Tasks should always be done by the most junior level possible, so that an organization's people resources are used effectively and everyone has the opportunity to grow and develop.

Focusing on these five elements will build the relationships which should also make people feel invested in. This motivates them to develop and perform well in their job, as well as stay at the organisation. If you are in a management role, then I would suggest focusing on one to two of these aspects at a time so that they stick as new behaviours.

What are the top skills people need for a successful career in 2023 and beyond? 

The first thing is to actually make time to work on your career, so many people don’t. If there is a short time slot in your diary each week, it is more likely to happen sometimes rather than never.

Once you have that time, you can think about what is working well or less well at work to help you decide what you need to focus on. It’s also important to consider feedback you’ve been given. For some aspects, you may need to seek out some support, maybe from a mentor or a career expert or simply do some more in-depth reading and thinking. Use your network too as people can often give you ideas and support.

I would encourage everyone to start with thinking about how they behave in the workplace and how they could be perceived, their key relationships and which need work, as well as new ones they should develop. Finally, consider which professional scenarios they need to work on, for instance presenting more effectively or running meetings in a better way for improved engagement and outcomes. My book takes readers through all of this so I hope it will be helpful.

Thank you for your time, Joanna Gaudoin. Best of luck to you and Inside Out Image!

Check out Inside Out Image on LinkedIn and read about other successful businesses here.