Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Welcome to the revolution... what kept you?

Over on his excellent blog today, Doug Shaw has something to say about our habit of taking work on holiday with us, and how we neglect those we're with as a result. When I met up with him last week and we talked about this and the effect on wellbeing, I found myself thinking of one of the key rules of some customer service training I did many years ago as a call centre worker for RBS.

That rule was 'Be There.'

http://www.charthouse.com/assets/library/bt_7215.jpgIn the RBS environment, that meant active listening on calls, giving the caller your full attention. It also meant doing the same with your colleagues, affording people respect by giving them your time and focus. It meant being with them, not wondering what you'd be having for lunch or silently cursing that you'd forgotten to let the cat out this morning.

There were others, and despite this training being some 13 years ago (and having read many 'How to...' business books with varying degrees of interest, disbelief and  since) the rules have stayed with me. They form the basis of pretty much everything I do and I try to work with them in mind pretty much whenever people are involved. So- every day, then.

The tenets we were taught there make up the Fish Philosophy, four interwoven practices designed to improve working relationships and make workplaces happier, more communicative places to be- and have a big impact on productivity, engagement and business culture, too. 

Be There is about being not just physically there, but also emotionally present. Giving your attention and focus makes for better communication and stronger relationships.

Play taps into your natural way of being creative, enthusiastic and having fun. Play is the spirit that drives the curious mind.

Make Their Day is finding simple ways to serve or delight people in a meaningful, memorable way. It’s about contributing to someone else’s life, not because you want something out of it, but because that’s the person you want to be.

Choose Your Attitude means taking responsibility for how you respond to what life throws at you. Once you are aware that your choice impacts everyone around you, you can ask yourself, “Is my attitude helping my team or my customers? Is it helping me to be the person I want to be?”

Trust me- this philosophy is simple but effective. Give it a try.

I learned this stuff 13 years ago and it spurred me into developing skills around company culture, happier workplaces and business relationships; this morning I heard Anthony Jenkins, the new Chief Executive of Barclays finally catching up as he spoke about changing the culture at the beleaguered bank after the LIBOR and misselling scandals that have plagued it in recent times. 

He spoke about his wish to change the culture at the bank, and told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme "It's going to take years to change people's perception of us. I'm not daunted by that". He went on, "I've been very clear that we have to run this business in a way that delivers for customers and clients. There can be no trade-off betwenn delivering business success or working ethically. If you don't want to work in this new way, you can leave Barclays. In fact, we will make sure you leave Barclays."

It seems that big change is afoot for this most corporate and chilly of companies, and that RBS, for all their own flaws, stole a march on Barclays all those years ago. I wish them well and hope they begin with the four rules above. They're a fine start to begin real change.


  1. A splendiferous post, my obvious bias notwithstanding. Those practices you have articulated are going on my wall. What an exciting day!

    Thanks - Doug

  2. Your bias is a) practically invisible and b) entirely earned! Thanks Doug, I am confident the Fish rules can help you and those you meet.