Author Archive

Who can you trust?

Last week I took my car to a tyre garage to get two new tyres on my car. Whilst they were putting them on they said my front brakes were completely worn. I would need to spend £260 to get them fixed because the car was unsafe to drive. I was a bit wary about what he said, because I haven’t had any problems with them in the past. So I decided to take them to my mechanic who I have known for years and trust. It turned out there was nothing wrong with my brakes and they didn’t need fixing.

Why am I telling you this? Because the guy at the tyre garage who lied to me made me think, who can you trust? That one person at a garage has made me question the whole reliability and trustworthiness of all mechanics. Now I know that isn’t fair, and there are many trustworthy mechanics, but that’s what happens. Once someone has eroded your trust you start questioning everything around it, and put people into boxes.

Let’s put this into a business context.

Have you had one leader in the past that you didn’t trust, and then this made you question other leaders/the whole organisation. Distrust breeds distrust. According to CIPD research 1 in 3 employees say their trust in senior management is weak. The training zone research shows that less than 30% of UK employees have complete trust in their manager. In order for a business to thrive people need to work together, if there isn’t trust it makes it almost impossible.

A few things to think about

  • Have you ever done anything to erode trust, what happened as a consequence? – We have to take a look at ourselves and what trust means to us before we can start looking outwardly.
  • Who don’t you trust and why? – Sometimes when we look at why we don’t trust others we can make sure that we don’t make the same mistakes that others make to us.
  • Who do you trust and why?

This is just a starting point, to get you thinking about what trust means to you. To build trust you need to demonstrate competence, integrity, care and when you say you are going to do something – do it. Eroding trust isn’t as black and white as my experience with the mechanic, trust is a tricky thing.

If You Were a First Time Manager Again, What Would You Do Differently?

As we grow and learn as human beings we come across things in life which make us wonder how different things could have been if we knew then, what we know now. Working for a leadership company now, I often think about my first time manager role and how I really wasn’t as good of a manager as I could/should have been.  I wasn’t equipped with the right skills that I needed.

I want to share with you my experience about becoming a first time manager, here goes…..

I was 21 years old and worked for a very well known UK bank insurance call center,  I managed a team of 10-15 employees. I had previously worked as part of this team before I went to university and during  my holidays, so the team were my friends. I climbed up the ranks from individual contributor to team lead. When I became a manager of the team, needless to say things changed.  I was still everyone’s friend and I still went out with my close friends on the team Saturday nights, but at work there was a bit of “them versus me.” When people were performing I thought things were great, but when they weren’t being a first time manager was really tough. I remember many a night, going home and crying wondering what I had done to deserve people being so horrible to me, and thinking I never want to be a manager again.

Looking back, I brought some of it on myself. Below are some of the mistakes I made…..

  • I thought I needed to have all of the answers
  • I thought I needed to be authoritative and hard otherwise people wouldn’t respect me
  • I followed all of the rules & guidelines the company set to the T, 100% of the time
  • I never really listened or was open to be persuaded
  • I shied away from conflict, until it blew up in my face
  • The company set the goals which were very day-to-day focused, e.g., call handling times, etc. I never as a manager set any long term goals for my team or development goals, I simply followed the script, mainly because I didn’t know any different.
  • We didn’t celebrate achievements enough.

Knowing what I know now, there are lots of things I would have done differently in my first time manager role. I won’t write them all, because I could be here for days but I’ve noted just a few a below.

  • Breathe – You don’t have to answer everybody’s questions straight away. Take five minutes to reflect and stay calm even when stressed.
  • Listen – Not just for the sake of letting others talk, but really listen to what people are saying. Be open to being persuaded.
  • I wouldn’t have pretended to be something I wasn’t. I am not hard faced and authoritative, quite the opposite. People see through masks, I would have told my truth about who I am, and what I expect from the team.
  • I would have set clear expectations and goals for my team, to help them grow and develop. Worked hard to create growth opportunities for my team.
  • I would have told myself – Don’t take things so personally! I know that’s easier said than done but I used to beat myself up about not being everything to everyone. Remember you are only human.
  • When things weren’t going to plan with the team or team member, I would’ve dealt with the situation there and then and thought about my words very carefully. Asked them about what went wrong, ensure no judgement or blame.
  • Asked for help. Quite often in life, we are ashamed to ask for help. I don’t know why, because everyone in life at some point needs direction and or support.

My experience of being a first time manager, and feeling completely overwhelmed happens all of the time. People are promoted because they are good at what they do, many forget that a manager’s role requires a completely different skill set to that of an individual contributor.

What would you have done differently in your first time manager role?  Or if you haven’t been a manager yet, but looking to become one, what is your greatest concern about being a first time manager?

Sarah-Jane Kenny – EMEA Channel Solutions Consultant at the Ken Blanchard Companies

Is Patience a Virtue?

3030000-poster-p-1-3030000-first-isnt-always-best-when-patience-pays-off

 

Definitions

Patience (noun)– The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious

Virtue (noun) – Behaviour showing high moral standards

Is patience a virtue? We have all heard the story of the hare and the tortoise, where slow and steady wins the race, but is that true in real life? I don’t know why, but I have always thought that if I am not quick at something then I will miss out, I want everything now. Problem is, I also have these speedy expectations from others. I respect people who have patience enormously, but this isn’t something I am very good at and probably links to the fact I am a control freak.

So why am I impatient?

Technology and our surroundings have sped up our lives. We live in a world with instant gratification – maybe I am impatient, because as a millennial I have never had to be patient?! If I want to buy something, I can click on the internet and get next day delivery. If someone want’s a promotion/pay rise and isn’t getting it they can get a new job. If you want a new car or new house, there is finance and so on and so on……

Just a few little examples of scenarios that make me impatient – Sound familiar?7897454-Man-Angry-in-a-Traffic-Stock-Photo-car-cartoon-angry

  • Getting frustrated because I haven’t lost weight when I have been eating salad for 2 days?
  • Shouting at the computer screen because it takes 10 seconds to load a page?
  • Getting angry when you have asked someone to do something 100 times, and it still isn’t done.
  • Asking for a simple task to be done, and it’s not done right.
  • You are waiting for someone and they turn up an hour late, and your blood is boiling. You say you are ok, but you know that your tone of voice says otherwise.
  • I buy things now, even though in 2 days time it will be cheaper.
  • Moaning and ranting about getting stuck in traffic

We need to try to be just a little more patient

Less people today are patient and Anderson & Rainie findings show that under 35’s have a need for instant gratification and have a loss of patience. This has had damaging affects for companies, because many just create a quick fix rather than accessing the situation and finding out more information. Shorter attention spans will be detrimental in solving large complex problems which need time. Our organisations, colleagues and loved ones need us to have patience. More importantly our health needs us to have patience, it’s not healthy for us to get anxious and angry over every detail.

Ever had someone on the phone or in person that sounds anxious and irritable? It’s not nice and people might be thinking that about you. Do you think people get promoted that are all over the place, quick to judge and always talking over others? I am going to try and start being just a little more patient and here is how I am going to do it.

  • Not everyone is like you and me! Some people are slower, some are faster. Access the person you are dealing with on the task you have given them. Are they competent at the task you have given them, do you need to check in with them?
  • Identify triggers to come up with strategies to tackle them.
  • Think about the bigger picture. What is going to happen if what I want doesn’t happen when I want it to? Will the world end???
  • Take that extra 10 seconds to think before acting.
  • Try Yoga – I hear this is calming.
  • Meet people 1/2 way, instead of moaning. If someone (not mentioning names in case he reads this) is generally slower than you are at doing things, explain the situation and come up with a mutual solution together.

Some things don’t and won’t happen overnight. I think Patience is a virtue, it is something that isn’t as highly regarded nowadays as it should be. Does this statement mean patience is easy? No, not at all, like everything in life to be good at something you have to work at it. I believe what level of patience you give should be assessed for the task at hand, delve a little deeper into the reasoning’s for delays or problems. Is it worth getting annoyed or anxious about?

Sarah-Jane Kenny – Channel Solutions Consultant at the Ken Blanchard Companies

Listening – Easy Right!?

Ever been in a really bad mood , you air some frustration and everyone wants to give you advice? You don’t want to hear about what ‘they would have done ‘or ‘in their experience’. Sometimes you just want to vent and be heard.

bigstock-Zipper-Emoticon-14624360

Not sure whether it is because I am an extrovert or that I love the sound of my own voice (probably a bit of both),  but I just can’t help but talk. When someone tells me a problem, I find a way of talking about myself and my experiences. I try so hard to stop myself but it just comes out. I am not alone I pick up on a lot of others doing exactly the same. I am not a natural listener,  but I do try and make a conscious effort when listening. I find the below help’s gear me in the right direction.

When you are listening

  • Listen intently and ask yourself what are they asking from you? Sometimes people just need to air their thoughts, sometimes they want some direction from you.
  • Make it about them not you! Ask questions to get a better understanding, show you are listening.
  • Only speak and share your experiences if it adds value to them. Think, is what you’re about to say going to add value or is it just a way for you to talk about yourself.

When you want to be listened to

  • Firstly no one is going to be able to listen attentively to someone who is highly emotional and talks all the time. Emotions can alter the way people listen to you. So if something has immediately annoyed you, take 10 minutes to gather your thoughts before talking about it.
  • What do you want to achieve from the conversation? – Tell the person you are speaking too ie.) ‘I just need to vent’, or ‘I need your advice’.
  • Ever been in a meeting , walked out and forgotten to say something really important. Write down a couple of key bullet points that you want to discuss to make sure you don’t miss something out.

One last tip – With the world at our fingertips it’s easy to get distracted and try and http://cliparts.co/cell-phone-clip-artmultitask when someone is talking to you. Don’t do it. There is nothing worse than talking to someone and they are typing away or checking their phone. It’s just rude.

Listening isn’t easy, the first step is awareness: Ask yourself, colleagues, friends and family – Are you a good listener?

Sarah-Jane Kenny – Channel Solutions Consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies

Can women have it all?

Millennial+working+woman+xxx

When is it the right time in a woman’s career to have children? Is there a right time, and can women (dad’s too) still have a career? (I am very much counting on it).

To set the scene, I am a 30 year old woman who recently finished my MBA currently working in sales for a leadership consultancy firm. I would say I’m career driven, and really like what I do but I am only really at the start of my career journey. I am getting married next year, and the first question everyone asks is… When are you having babies? I would like to have them straight away but what does that mean for my career? Is there a right time for me to have a baby/babies, will others judge?

One of the best articles I have read recently around this subject is by Katharine Zaleski’s . In this article Katharine confesses how she used to criticize working mothers, and mentions about firing women before they ‘got pregnant’. I have also heard from friends that they have taken off their engagement rings so that companies don’t know they are engaged, as they felt companies wouldn’t employ them if they thought they were getting married soon.

Then you read about superstar women like Marissa Mayer taking 2 weeks maternity leave, is this what women need to do to ensure they stay on the career path? In reality she has a nanny who can help her out, with rising childcare fees if you have more than 2 children it often isn’t cost effective for both parents to go back to work.

When talking to working mothers (and fathers) they often feel like they can’t give 100% to their job and 100% to their child. Why not? In this day and age surely working parents can have it all? I think a large part is companies setting the environment to retain working parents and top talent.

What do companies need to do to retain mothers/fathers who want to give 100% to home and 100% to work?

  • Create a culture where people don’t feel uncomfortable about asking for flexibility or taking time off for their children.
  • Managers need to have open/honest conversations about supporting new parents.
  • Focus on results/productivity rather than the time spent. Just because some people work extra hours, it doesn’t mean they are more productive.
  • Make it easier for fathers to have time off to support their children too.
  • Be flexible – This is give and take from both sides. For example if you have a 35 hour week, make those hours count for work and for home life. We work in a global world with multiple different time zones, it would benefit the company and home life to flex the working hours throughout the day/night.
  • Allow working from home days.
  • Flexible benefits – Childcare help.
  • Social events during breakfast meetings or work lunches rather than evening events.

With a supporting partner, and a company who are willing to look at the work you do rather than when you do the hours I think women can have it all.  It would be great to hear of your experiences in the workplace, having a baby is daunting enough without the worry of your career.

HR’s Seat At The Table

Many moons ago the HR role was seen as an administrative role, looking at the rules and processes that govern the organization. Nowadays HR is much more than that, HR is (or should be) a strategic partner to an organization and can help an organization leverage human capital to the maximum. However some organization’s still see HR departments as cost centers and refuse to give them what is needed. HR are a core part of any business and should occupy a seat at the C-suite table.

OccupyTheTable-300x219

So how does HR get a seat at the table?

Get to know your business – Understand your business and what makes it tick. What is your organization trying to achieve? What constraints are managers under? The structure and decision power in your organizations. Learning about what is important to the business will help you plan and prioritize what needs to be done in HR.

Knowledge is power – HR professionals need to have a vast understanding of the world around them. It’s not only important to understand what is going on in the world of HR but also to understand the environment, the industry. HR skill-set’s also need to be evaluated, are the team equipped with the necessary skills to work at a strategic level?

Develop key relationships – Network within your organization, drop in ways the HR department can help with problems people might have. Offer advice to managers informally. Be present!

HR tools – Research what tools are out there to help you show how you turn results into meaningful actions. Google’s HR division (at Google HR is called People operation’s) is tuned in with what the business needs and provides it. It has a data driven HR function, that works with analytic’s and data rather than subjective decision making. If you want to learn more about how Google use this data please check out Dr. John Sullivan’s blog post (Click Here).

Bottom Line – HR need to link their strategic plans to the organizational goal and business needs. If HR actions are linked to a business need it will be easier to demonstrate how it has contributed to the bottom line. Until this happens HR will continue to be seen as a cost center.

Unfortunately when budgets are cut, it seems to be the HR budget that is hit first. HR need to prove their worth to the organization in order to gain a seat at the table.

Are MBA’s worth it?

studyingI have spent the last two years of my life completing my Masters in Business with an Emphasis in Strategic Human Resource Management. I spent on average around 15 hours a week studying, writing essays and completing exams. If anyone has completed an MBA part time whilst working full time you will appreciate how tough it is.

As my MBA is coming to a close, my question is, was it worth it?

I suppose I need to ask myself, what did I want to achieve from an MBA?

Did I learn a lot? – Yes

  • I received a well rounded view of various different aspects of business. I can now liaise with different departments at a higher level.
  • How to work in a team of peers when there is no authority.
  • Most importantly my masters taught me about work ethic, discipline and striving to do well.

Will it help my career? – I’m not so sure.

People keep asking me, so what are you going to do with your MBA when you finish. Will you get a promotion? Will you get another job? Will it earn you more money? I honestly hadn’t thought about it. So I thought my trusty friend the internet would help me out.

Ronald Yeaple’s study found post MBA pay was 50% higher than pre MBA pay. After 5 years of completing an MBA pay increased by 80% compared to post MBA Starting pay. This data is from a well ranked university in the Forbes top 50. However looking on the internet a lot of high paying jobs do state on the applications that an MBA is desirable.

In 2013/2014 539,440 were enrolled in postgraduate degrees in the UK. Although that is less than a third of undergraduates, it shows there is still fierce competition. In the US 100,000 MBA’s are awarded annually. Jobs remain relatively constant, so if you are doing an MBA to stand out, there are a lot of other people doing it too.

Do you think MBA’s are worth it? Please share your experiences on how your MBA has helped you or hasn’t.

%d bloggers like this: