Monday, 23 April 2012

Don't be dragon your heels...

Happy St George's Day to all our friends around the World.

The story is that a warrior of Roman and Palestinian descent took on a mighty dragon and killed it, ensuring his place in the pantheon of Saints and his adoption by the English (and a few other nations too) as their hero of heroes.

No, we don't really get it either. Animal cruelty is never a good thing, whether you think the animal in question ever existed or not.

It does amuse us though to think that here in England we celebrate one man's apocryphal victory over a mythical beast as though it were somehow relevant to what's going on right here, right now.

There's a contingent that bemoans the fact that the English national day is not a national holiday, and more widely celebrated. The patron saint is not lauded and recognised with countrywide parties or events. Nobody seems willing to say that clearly, nobody much cares about an umpteen-centuries old legend involving a fairytale creature meeting a messy end. 

Perhaps just perhaps, the majority can't connect to George and his triumph because a) it's like, well old and b) nobody believes in dragons anyway. So why not adopt a new patron Saint or national figure we can rally behind and make a proper effort for?

We'd like to see more modern heroes celebrated: we're not suggesting it be declared 'One Direction Day', but perhaps recognise a respected and celebrated figure from the last 500 years. Say William Shakespeare, who was supposedly born and died on this day. (Unfortunate. Maybe he overdid the birthday cake.) 

Sitting back and allowing the pro-Georgers to rattle on year after year that "nobody makes an effort" and the dissenters to sneerily retort "thats because an ages-old legend  means nothing to me" is getting boring, and it's not good for the national psyche.

Things regularly need an update, or nobody will connect to it, understand it or celebrate it.

The point is this: today is a good day to ask whether things are current, up to date and relevant.

What's wrong with tinkering with how you do things to inject a little humanity?

Where's the risk in bending the rules of how you normally do things to allow a little light in?

What's the harm in making your policies and your staff handbook fun and accessible?

Why should your policies and processes be written by lawyers, for lawyers?

That works great if you're hiring lawyers. (Not so well if you want personalities, or for people to understand what's expected of them.)

So have a look at your company's paperwork. Does it reflect your culture? Does it fairly represent how you do business? Is it a 'good read'? Do your people enthuse over it? (OK, that may be taking things a little too far, but you get where we're coming from.)

Or are they dusty, dry, tedious and incomprehensible things that were last relevant sometime around the time St George was wandering about looking to pick a fight with a big lizard?


Monday, 16 April 2012


It's a horribly clumsy word, but I believe that 'resourcefulness' is a desirable (perhaps even essential) quality that should appear in every job ad. 

Why? Because the resourceful man or woman will always find a way; they will think strategically, and they will DO, rather than wait to be directed or instructed. They are generally enthused, energised and motivated. They motivate others by their activity. 

They don't let the grass grow under their feet. They are creative and flexible. They are skilled at making a little go a long way- great when you need them to maximise the impact that can be achieved on a small budget.

They build good relationships because they always love to know someone they can trust to fix an issue or whose brains they can pick. They can be great at leading teams and bringing out the best in others.

They are possessed of a determination and focus that sees them grow and develop beyond fulfilling a single aim or function. They bring value. 

I feel that organisations should always prize resourcefulness in its members and potential hires.

Being resourceful often sees people accomplish amazing things.

Friday, 13 April 2012

It's Friday the Thirteenth- not National Procrastination Day

It's Friday the 13th. Go on, shudder if you must. But don't use it as an excuse for inaction or indecision.

What are you excusing yourself from on the grounds that "It'll just be bad luck to do that/ sort that out/ start that on Friday the thirteenth"?

What are you putting off til tomorrow or even Monday? 

And what will be your excuse for not doing it then? Lack of time? Lack of funds? Lack of energy? The wrong type of leaves on the line?

If it's important, stop making excuses and do it regardless of the date. Take a risk. Be brilliant.

Just imagine how much better you'll feel for overcoming an obstacle AND that daft superstition.

Good luck! ;-)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Objectives - and why behavioural focus is probably more important

I'm all for having a goal, and even more so for having SMART ones. I love the sort of goals that involve stages of achievement, meaning you feel yourself making progress towards the bigger objective and it motivates you. I agree that objectives need to be set regularly, to ensure clarity and fulfillment in both your role and sense of self.

What I think REALLY delivers is having a behavioural Focus.

Without that, how do you know your objectives are right? How can you even start to meet them?

Focussing on your behaviour and how you're going to set about tackling a task is essential. Without that, you've got no map.

It's all well and good to say "I will achieve X Y and blah-de-blah" but this can be a box-ticking exercise and often people choose soft, easily attainable goals. Often too, you get to the next meeting and nobody remembers what they said they'd do.

What's harder is setting yourself a behavioural focus, something that changes the way you work for the better. This may be "I will be more aware of my temper," "I will use my email more effectively", or "I will take more time to plan my working week". All these and the billion other variations you might consider involve a shift in thinking that goes beyond just completing a task, and delivers a real result.

Try setting a behavioural focus when you hold an appraisal. People tend to remember more about how they've said they'll be rather than what they've agreed to do.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The power of chat

When was the last time you held a proper conversation with your employees, colleagues or manager?

Not a 'meeting', or an "Alright?" that receives a non-committal grunt, but a real conversation, with both sides playing their part and sharing information and energy.

This might be about their dog, their kids, how their team got on on Saturday, their upcoming wedding, their new shoes... anything at all, just so long as it isn't directly work-related, and it's just about spending a few moments building that relationship.

It doesn't have to take an hour; often the power lies in regular five minute chats as you wait for the kettle to boil. Do this properly by engaging fully with that person, and you'll learn something new about Bob from Accounts (hey! He's not really called Bob, but Rob- who knew?) or Linda on Reception (she's got a parrot and is a web design wizard, so why are you using that firm that drive you crazy?)

You probably spend more time with these people than you do your spouse or partner- so why are you holding them at arm's length? A company where every employee thinks of themselves as the only human being present results in a fractured, fractious culture where there's no common understanding or shared aims.

A few minutes remembering that you're not surrounded by 'colleagues' but fellow human beings works wonders for the culture of a business and the strength of a team.

AND enjoying their company makes the day go faster.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Evolving Office

Delighted to share the news that I've been asked to speak to a room filled wih business leaders who are either in the thick of change in their orgainsations, or who plan to make changes in the next 12 months.

The free, half-day event is being run by Evolving Office, a venture set up to advise business people on change management - everything from sorting your IT in an office move to keeping everyone informed and supported through a sale or merger via getting your office refurbished and your branding looking spanky.

It's being held at Trident Court in Chessington, Surrey, on 24th April 2012. If you'd like to attend please drop me a line- you'd be most welcome.

My fellow speakers will be Dominic Jones, MD of Barton Technology, Paul Evans of Yellow Jersey Design and Ian Williams of Indigo Office Design. Once they've set you straight on technology, the working environment and corporate image, it'll be down to me to talk People... specifically how you can not just support and manage them through change, but maximise the opportunities a revamp offers and do some talent-spotting.

It promises to be an interesting and (dare I say it) fun event; the other speakers are informative, informal and infamous (that last bit may not be entirely accurate) and I am thrilled to be invited to share the day with them and our attendees.

You can register and get more info here.

Hope to see you there.

Now I just have to write a kickin' piece to deliver and avoid the pitfall of piling in with Powerpoint...

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

I started something I couldn't....

Help. No, seriously- HELP. I've started a blog post without inspiration and preparation, and I have no idea what to do next.

The risk is that I'll panic. This will lead to waffle, assumptions, poor delivery, bravado, inaccuracy, blatant thievery of others' ideas and points, 'out there' statements made because I feel I have a point to prove and eventual meltdown, leaving you disenchanted, confused, bemused and about as energised as a week-old lettuce.

You'll walk away wondering why you bothered. Why you invested time and effort in coming here and reading this. You may never come back again and even criticise me to your friends.

My reputation and credibility will take a hit, my blog traffic will fall off, and I'll be left kicking myself.

OK, I'll stop. I DO have a point. You'd never start a blog post without some idea of what you wanted to discuss and achieve. You'd no more go into a post with no spark of inspiration or 'va-va-voom' than stick your hand in a blender.

So then why would you go in to deliver a presentation with no inspiration?

As I type, down the corridor in another room I can hear a man preparing for delivering a keynote speech to a group of CEOs in around a week. The man is Frank Bastow, CEO of Bastows, longtime mentor and newish blogger over at Make Business Beautiful. His speech is about setting the context for your business, and managing the energy in your organisation. (What? Oh, best you talk to him about it, he explains it far better than I can right now.)

The point here is that to be a great mentor and speaker, Frank goes in prepared, and with inspiration, not just statistics and a flipchart. The energy you bring to a room when you're truly inspired is a marvel to behold.

Try looking around for your inspiration right now. Let it inform your decisions and how you behave today. Anything that helps you feel prepared and dynamic and is utterly infectious has to be worth a go, right?

Plus, you won't fall on your face, nick anything you shouldn't, or turn your audience into limp salad.