It’s been a long while since I read ‘Eat that Frog’, Brian Tracy’s famous book on time management. It advises us to do the one thing we’ve been dreading or putting off, reckoning that things can only get easier once we’ve done that. It is a policy I often use, but maybe not regularly enough – like many good ideas, they gradually slip away from our consciousness until we need that sharp reminder. Mine came last week.
Since last August, I’ve had ‘Get ITIN’ on my job list. An ITIN is an identification that you need from the IRS (the USA’s HMRC) if you sell ebooks, which means you can escape paying 30% tax. It’s not hugely important as we’re talking very small amounts of money, but it is one of those things you need to do to keep your house in order. Continue reading →
I married a creative genius, who constantly comes up with all kinds of ideas, sometimes practical, sometimes not. He just doesn’t see the boundaries that most of us are hidebound by, so his imagination roams unfettered. At times, I really appreciate his ability to see things in a different light, in ways that I would not have thought of in a million years. At other times it drives me nuts.
We all have to give feedback from time to time – or do we? In my experience, it’s common to feel that you ‘have’ to tell someone something that has come to your attention. What is a lot less common, is taking the time to think what will be gained from giving the feedback. Yes, I know Ken Blanchard said that ‘feedback is the breakfast of champions’, and that we need it to learn, grow, and sort out our personal development – but that doesn’t mean that giving it is always a good thing.
My challenge to you is to see if there is another – or even better – way of getting your message across other than telling the other person something about themselves.
September is a lovely month. Somehow it combines new beginnings (we never forget the new school year!) with abundance and fruitfulness – the harvest that feeds us for the rest of the year. We may be a long way past school age, but you don’t need me to tell you that learning continues – in fact many would say that the pace increases as time goes on, Continue reading →
When it comes to learning and development, the small business owner or manager often isn’t sure where to begin when it comes to people development. Why should they be expected to know? They have a different area of expertise, yet feel they have to cover every area in the business, including how to make sure that their people develop skills so that company can grow successfully. It i a common problem.
What is the answer?
It needn’t be painful to get the wheels rolling – it’s just a question of finding someone you trust who does have the right expertise to help you work out the best way of making sure your people are equipped for maximum productivity.
Here are some ideas to help you make sure that your people grow as the business does.
Lucy is just moving into her first management position. It can be daunting making that step, especially if you are managing a team that were previously your colleagues. It can be hard to know how and when to modify your behaviour, and how to motivate your team while ensuring they respect your new position.
Here are a few tips to help her make the move successfully, plus the top mistake that new managers make!
Caitlin Moran wrote a lovely piece in The Times on Saturday (13.07.13), a first draft of a letter for her daughter to read for advice, should Caitlin ever prematurely shuffle off the planet . Continue reading →
What makes a good question? When do we use them? Why does it matter?
I believe that a lack of questioning skills is one of the most important skills shortages in managers today. Decision making, productivity and relationships are all affected by our ability to ask great questions at the right time.
I’m interviewed here by Jess Green, Digital Diva www.jessgreen.co.uk. We are talking about the skills managers need to be effective.
Why managers must ask great questions
If you have any management questions, please ask and we’ll try to cover them.
A survey out today says that almost half of workers feel ‘actively threatened’ by their boss (reported by CIPD and HR Management magazine) . The professions with the highest level of offenders were the Civil Service, doctors, scientists and retail. No doubt they all have harassment policies, so should we be surprised that staff feel threatened? Continue reading →
Several years ago, I paid to have a Telegraph pole removed from my driveway. The workman knocked on the door and asked me if I wanted it cut up or left in one piece. I replied that it would be lovely if he could cut it into a couple of chairs and a table for the garden. Strangely enough, he declined. I was only joking but I was reminded of it by an article in the press yesterday. It seems that often others ask us to do things that are outside our job role or skills set. Continue reading →
And yet we persist in trying. We drain our energy, banging our head against the wall – and the biggest tragedy is that others, who would flourish with some encouragement ,are neglected because The Impossible One has emptied our tank of empathy and resourcefulness. Continue reading →
Reciprocation is a fascinating topic because we so rarely give it conscious thought. Do you expect others to return any favour you do them? Are you pleasantly surprised when someone does? Be honest, is it sometimes your main motivation for helping others? Continue reading →
How much time do you spend dealing with conflict in the workplace? A CBI reports say that it takes 20% of a leader’s time, – which is 370 million working days! Then there is the cost of stress and resignations on top… Does it have to be this way? Some clashes are inevitable – we need some to challenge stale thinking and provoke progress – but how much time could we save by handling conflicts more effectively? Continue reading →
This is a bit of a departure for me – I usually write about interactions between people, not creativity -but sometimes we need give ourselves a bit of a talking to; we get stale, stuck or just need to find a fresh approach.
I love running courses on creativity and generating ideas, especially seeing participants explore new ways of thinking. I wrote this on impulse in response to something I read online about ideas to promote creativity, and wanted to add my own thoughts. Then I decided to take my own advice and play with it – it’s still a work in progress, but it was fun to do. Enjoy! Continue reading →
At our mastermind group, we recently discussed collaboration. We all agreed that collaboration is a good thing for business, but were maybe a little foggy on exactly how it can help us. We were also concerned that there may be pitfalls to be aware of– some of us had come across situations where we needed to extract ourselves from a collaborative project, for various reasons. Continue reading →
It‘s the season of good will, so let’s capitalise on the lovely festive spirit. Much as you may want to give your colleagues huge bonuses and generous gifts, it may not be possible – business has been tough for us all this year, and we all need to spend wisely.
Fortunately, things other than presents and bonuses can be longer lasting, and appreciated more. Here are Three Top Tips that will motivate and inspire your team more than tinsel and turkey: Continue reading →
One indicator of a good manager is the way they develop individuals in their team. They always seem to have both the time and the inclination to help Topi* improve his skills and problem solving ability, knowing how to coach. How do they do it? In addition to recognising the benefits of investing in people,
They take advantage of opportunities for coaching conversations
This is Bircham Windmill – it’s beautiful, you can understand why people have fought to preserve it. But we know that beauty and heritage isn’t sufficient to meet the demands of our needs today – change is constant.
You could argue that updating technology is a piece of cake compared to getting your staff on board with the new! People don’t always respond well to change, they find it challenging and often resist it. Continue reading →
Do you have a member of staff coming back after a period of sickness? Have you thought about return to work interviews? It can be nerve wracking for them to return to work; All kinds of concerns might be bubbling below the surface.Will they be able to catch up? Will things have changed? Will their health hold up? will their colleagues be supportive if their productivity is slow at first?
If you manage staff, no doubt you are responsible for carrying out their annual appraisals. Does it fill you with dread or glee? This should be a golden opportunity to have a meaningful, motivating conversation, and yet all too often this gets lost in a quagmire of paperwork, a dull trawl over the same old ground, and confusion about what good objectives look like. Continue reading →
We all know that sometimes, saying no is the right thing to do, if we are to manage our time and priorities well. Yet often, we still well, stutter and mumble, which gets interpreted as a yes. Is it time to try a fresh approach?
First of all, analyse why you find it hard. After that, work out your usual approach – and try a new one. Go on, I dare you! Continue reading →
Asking for a pay rise can be one of the trickiest meetings we have at work, so here is some food for thought before you take the plunge – and then some advice on how to have that conversation.
Know what the role is worth. Remember it is the role that commands the salary, not you. Your skills and experience should be a good match for the job, but if you take a role that doesn’t use them, you can’t expect to be paid for them.
Do some research to find out what similar jobs pay, using job ads and job profiles, such as those here that give guideline wages. You will come up with a range; your next step is to honestly weigh up where you think you fit with in the band. If your supervise others, have oodles of experience and above average productivity, you may well deserve pay nearer the top of the band.
Most of us get involved in some kind of goal setting these days, whether it’s personal or work related. The reasons why have long been known by psychologists; we actually thrive and are happier if we have something to aim for – or so they say!
Most of have been taught that goals should be SMART, although a random search online will reveal that we don’t all quite have the same understanding of what it actually stands for. Is R for Realistic or Relevant? Is T for Timebound or Tangible? Not that it matters too much – the essence is the same. A goal should be something specific, related to our lives, and we should be able to see our steps towards achieving it.
This is a lemon crystal. That’s a type of cucumber, you know.
Consider this. A couple of months ago I bought a little cucumber plant at the village fete. I’d never grown one before, but it seemed to settle quite nicely in the greenhouse. A few days ago I noticed that it’s fruit didn’t quite look as I expected. Then I remembered that it had arrived with a faintly written label that said ‘lemon crystal’ on it.
Google came up with exactly 2 million hits. I looked at about the top 25, taking 40 minutes. Maybe I could have articulated my question more clearly, but to be honest, it was a bit foggy in my mind – along the lines of ‘Er…what’s going on here? What do I do with it?’
Power means, very simply, getting someone to do the things you want them to do. One of the few things that irks me in my job as a trainer is the number of times people say they are powerless. Are they really? We all have more power than we could possibly realise.
Types of power
Now, there are different source of power and some are more effective than others. Some you have and some you may not. We’ll have a quick run through the types of power available. You can decide for yourself which ones you have and what might work best to you.
It happens to us all sometimes – another person gets on our nerves, and we feel the irritation rise – sometimes before they have even spoken a word! It happens because we are complex beings - we have different needs, desires and drivers, values, personalities, upbringing and experience… This means there are hundreds of possible reasons why the way someone else operates can be out of sync with the way we would like them to behave. Often this is where problems begin that HR departments end up dealing with.
Feeling irritated? Whose fault is it?
Differences between us are no one’s fault. They are not only allowable, but also a blessing, albeit one that may be in disguise sometimes. How you respond to another person, is, of course, your choice. Here is something to think about, though:
Does the irritating person bother most people? In which case, there is something about there behaviour that falls outside of what is commonly approved. Has it ever been tactfully and skilfully addressed?
Do a lot of people irritate you? In which case, you are probably the one with a behavioural trait that goes against the grain. A short fuse? Exacting high standards? A drive to get things done? Impatience? Have you ever thought about it? Are you the one that needs to be tactfully challenged?
At work, we are all being driven to get results, to achieve, to succeed – and fast. Some of us have personality styles that thrive in this type of environment – even if we haven’t, we learn to operate this and cope with the pressure. It’s the way of the world.
A game of consequences
Of course, there are consequences to fast paced working. One that I have noticed all too often is this: When a piece of information comes along, most managers make a decision and act on it immediately, jumping to conclusions. But what if it is not the full story? What if it is only part of the story? Maybe it is not even fact – it could be assumption, or opinion, or a wrong interpretation. do you jump too soon?