About the blog

Welcome to 3minuteleadership.org and thanks for visiting.
Over the last few years, I have been observing different forms of leadership and management and thinking about what works in today’s workplace.

Striving to be a good leader myself and create an environment where individuals can thrive, I have spent much time pondering how to help people to achieve and deliver to the best of their ability.

Through this site, I plan to share leadership lessons in bitesize chunks of 3 minutes or less.  I hope that the blog can provide a space for likeminded people to share thoughts and ideas on leadership for the 21st Century.

By doing this, I hope that we can change the way we lead and transform the workplace, developing people that are inspired and empowered to make a difference in the world.

 

About the elephants…

I’ve chosen the elephant image because the matriarch influences the herd more than any other.  With a quiet and confident leadership style, she sets the direction and allows others to follow.

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Featured post

Humanity, courage and integrity: how Winters inspires values-based leadership in HBO’s Band of Brothers

From the very first episode of Band of Brothers, I have wanted to write about the leadership theme within the series and this need has grown ever stronger as the series has progressed.

In Episode 1, ‘Curahee’, we meet Captain Sobel, Commander of Easy Company whose drive for excellence makes the group of paratroopers stand out from the crowd.  The way Sobel achieves this though is through misuse of power rather than respect.  The soldiers of Easy Company think he hates them because of the way he pushes and tests them to do better all the time.

It’s also clear that the Captain is useless in the field, putting the lives of the men at risk and trying to cover up for that by exerting his authority.

An early scene shows Winters’ values, courage and integrity as he is unfairly disciplined by Sobel and rather than accept a punishment when he has done nothing wrong, he requests trial by court martial which leads to the platoon demonstrating strong support for him and really is Sobel’s downfall.

As the series progresses, we see a contrasting leadership style in Winters who starts the series as platoon leader and finishes as a Major which is demonstration of his skills.  It is the values of Winters and how they inform his actions that have inspired me to write this post. 

What you can see in Winters is that he cares about the men he is responsible for, so much that he is willing to put his own life on the line.  From the beginning, he demonstrates great courage and as a result, they trust and follow him.

In Episode 2, ‘Day of Days’, Winters charges ahead and tells them to only follow on his command.  In Episode 7, ‘The Breaking Point, he can see that the Officer in charge – Officer Dyke – is being completely ineffective and putting lives at risk so he starts to run towards them to take over only to be reminded of his post at which point he promptly orders someone else to go and takeover.

The ultimate example for me was in Episode 8, ‘The Last Patrol’, one of the later episodes when he effectively disobeys orders to prevent needless deaths.  At this point in the series, they are extremely close to defeating the Germans and ending the war.  The night before, they had been asked to send a patrol to capture German soldiers that they know have based themselves in a building the other side of a river in the French town of Hagenau. 

A patrol is chosen and they complete the mission with just one life lost.  Because they achieved a good outcome, Lieutenant Colonel Sink commands that another patrol be scheduled for a second night.  All are dismayed and Winters cannot see anything further to be gained from sending a patrol for a second night.  They have taken prisoners from the first mission and capturing more would not give them any additional intelligence.  When Winters brings the men together, he gives instruction of the mission in line with his orders. He then goes on to tell them to get a full night’s sleep and report to him in the morning that they went on patrol but were unable to take any prisoners.  This to me is evidence that he cares about the men and values their lives.  So much that he is willing to risk his own career by disobeying what they all thought were unnecessary orders. 

Many of the men at Hagenau had been on the frontline, in battle, many times and Winters believed it was a high price for them to lose their lives so close to the end of the war when there was nothing to be gained from the mission.  To me, this act showed courage and integrity, saving the lives of his men.

Whilst I’m sure there may have been some artistic license used in making this series, the characters portrayed are from true life and provide narrative around the drama.  Richard ‘Dick’ Winters was recognised many times through awards for his contribution.  Despite this, Winters remained humble about his military service.  At the end of the series, Winters quotes a passage from Sergeant Myron “Mike” Ranney: “I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day when he said, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ Grandpa said ‘No…but I served in a company of heroes’.”

Whilst I read extensively about human rights and the effects of war, I was unsure about whether this series would be for me.  What I discovered was an inspirational story of humanity, courage and leadership which I felt compelled to share with others.

END NOTE: This blog post marks Remembrance Day 2020 and is published in memory of all those who gave their lives so that we can be free.

This year, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the Royal British Legion is relying on digital donations to support their annual Poppy Appeal which supports members of the armed forces and their families. If you have something to spare, please donate here.

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How to avoid ‘car crash’ conversations and make sure your feedback lands well every time

Have you ever received feedback that you reacted badly to?  Or tried to give someone else feedback and found they have flown off the handle? 

Feedback can be something people avoid because it can go in lots of different directions with so many of them not the route you wanted to take!

And yet, timely, constructive feedback is essential for the successful management of teams. It is also be critical for professional development so it is important that we create an environment where we can have open and honest feedback conversations which lead to better performance and development.

After a few car crash feedback discussions, I decided to find out more about the theory of good feedback and how to make sure I can deliver this effectively each time for the benefit of those in my team.


Types of feedback

The first thing to notice is that there are 3 different types of feedback.  All are important and you need to know the appropriate type to use in different situations and ensure that in your leadership practice, you are employing a balance of all types on a regular basis.

  1. Coaching – this type of feedback aims to help the receiver ‘expand knowledge, sharpen skill, improve capability’.  If you want to have a conversation about how an individual can improve, then coaching is a good way to go.  Beware though, a coaching approach is about asking questions (and the right kind of questions) to support the individual to explore the issue for themselves and come up with their own solution.  You can guide, you can support but you cannot ‘tell’ in a truly effective coaching conversation.
  2. Evaluation – this is to ‘rank against a set of standards’.  An example might be the classic performance review conversation where you are discussing how the individual has delivered against what was agreed.  It requires someone to rate an individual so for this to be effective, there needs to be agreement at the beginning about the measures they will be assessed against and support to help the individual meet expectations.  If you don’t provide this clarity and the individual scores badly, they will feel angry and frustrated which will lead to a difficult conversation and probably more to follow.
  3. Appreciation – this is feedback where effort, commitment and achievement is recognised.   You might also call this type of feedback ‘praise’ or ‘gratitude’.  Some leaders find this uncomfortable but it should be used often to motivate.  Appreciation encourages the   
    release of oxytocin which is important for connection and vital for building relationships and strong teams.

When feedback goes wrong…

We have to give feedback at times and even in the very best relationship, it can sometimes go wrong.  If you find that the receiver reacts emotionally, you can be sure that one of these triggers has been activated:

Truth trigger – it may be that the feedback appears untrue to the person on the receiving end. Maybe they think you don’t know what you are talking about and if this is the case, you could perhaps consider whether they are right and what you could do to build your own knowledge (being honest about your own weaknesses can also improve the conversation). 

The other possibility is that you have hit on a ‘blind spot’ which means they genuinely don’t see that the issue you raise is true of them.  It is not in line with their perception of reality and in this instance, a coaching approach could be beneficial to support them to explore the issue for themselves and allow yourself to understand it from their perspective.  If you are the receiver, you could test the feedback on people you trust which may help you to understand your blind spots in a safe space.

Relationship trigger – have you ever been in a relationship that has turned bad and everything you or they say leads to a negative response?  This can happen in work too. Having a good relationship is critical for successful feedback conversations.  If there is an issue with the relationship such as a lack of trust and respect, it is likely that the feedback will not land well.  Relationship triggers can create ‘switchtrack’ conversations where the receiver will retaliate by raising another issue they feel is related.  In this instance, it is important to recognise all issues and discuss them separately.  This will ensure both parties feel heard and respected.  If you notice this trigger, it might be worthwhile taking a step back, acknowledging the problem and taking steps to address the relationship issue.

Identity trigger – in this instance, the feedback is not in line with the individual’s perception of ‘self’ and challenges how they are wired.  For example, the receiver may be told that their actions were unfair when they believe that fairness is their core value.  An identity trigger can cause real distress so needs to be talked about openly to find out all points of view and help the individual understand how their actions have been perceived and if there is anything they could do differently in the future.   


How can you ensure feedback lands well every time?

Firstly, for feedback to land well every time, you need to have a good relationship where both parties feel comfortable to talk openly about their thoughts and feelings.  It is important to create a safe space for discussion where there is no judgement, only acceptance and constructive intent. 

Few people want to create conflict but sometimes the thought of giving feedback can lead to a situation where those involved enter the discussion already on the defensive.  The best attitude for a difficult conversation is a positive and constructive one which allows the problem to be discussed, addressed and resolved in partnership.

Whist a good relationship is important for feedback, so is feedback important for good relationships and strong teams so should be something we engage in at all levels on a regular basis.  If you create an environment where this can be shared constructively at all levels, you should have a space where everyone can thrive.

Do you have examples of good or bad feedback?  How have you ensured an environment where constructive discussions can take place?  Share your experiences in the comments below.


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Photo credit: Gary Scott from Pixabay

How praise and positivity can make your organisation fearless

When I was growing up, I remember my mum having difficulties with the head teacher in the school where she worked.  He was mean and enjoyed making people feel intimidated which stifled creativity and made everyone miserable.  My mother would come home stressed, depressed and wondering how she could go back to work the next day. 

Sadly, there are many bosses like this in the workplace and far too many employees who are unable to reach their potential because they are held back.  This means that organisations are limiting their own capacity.  To survive and thrive, especially in the current climate, employees need to be given space to deliver to the best of their ability.  They need to be encouraged and supported to make a full contribution and grow from their experiences.  If we can achieve this, organisations will truly know success.

If I asked you what makes a good boss, you certainly wouldn’t respond with the qualities displayed by the head teacher in my story.  More likely, you would say a good boss is someone who is trusting, supportive, listens to your views, believes in you, shows appreciation and so on.  Which boss are you likely to go out of your way for?  And therefore, which would you say is able to get the best out of people?

In his work on ‘fearless leadership’, Richard Varey explores the importance of kindness in leadership.  It isn’t about the leader being brave which is what I thought at first, but about creating an environment where people feel safe.  The foundation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is security. Individuals will not reach the lofty heights of self-actualisation if the organisation’s culture is based on blame and fear.

Varey says ‘if you are kind, people feel safe; if they feel safe, they can grow’.  And actually, it’s better for everyone because kindness increases the levels of oxytocin for all involved which increases optimism and makes everyone feel physically better.

Compare this with an environment where people are scared to do anything wrong.  In a culture of fear, people shut down because the stress response is triggered when they sense danger.  When this happens, cortisol floods the system which creates a fight, flight or freeze response.  This literally shuts down the rational mind and short term memory.  In a culture of kindness, no conversation is off-limits because people feel secure and are more open to discussing whatever you need to address.

In this work, I really like the idea of ‘emotional collateral’ and it reminds me of something else I read in relation to ‘difficult conversations’.  It’s basically about the emotional bank account.  This needs to have enough in it for some to be taken out of the account.  If an individual’s emotional bank account is depleted, they are unlikely to receive any ‘constructive’ feedback positively.  It’s a bit like getting your bank statement and seeing it in the red… especially if you have just been paid!! You feel panicked immediately and that is not a good place from which to deal with the problem.

So what do you need to do as a fearless leader?

  1. Offer praise – if you want to inspire people, you need to tell them they are good. In a study of praise and effectiveness, the most improvement was achieved through praise (71%) compared with criticism (19%) or being ignored (5%).
  2. Focus on the positive – make sure you get the ‘balance’ right with at least 3 positives for every negative. Basically, every time something good happens, say so.  That should give enough credits for when you have to talk to them about improvement.
  3. Praise for effort rather than ability – telling someone they are good at something is not effective. The trick is to praise for effort rather than ability so notice when individuals try hard and tell them they did well.

 

Praise builds people up and makes them resilient.  Resilient people lead to resilient organisations and we have never needed that more than now so go ahead and tell everyone you work with that you see them and they are amazing.

Have you created a culture of kindness? Have you experienced the limitations of fear?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Understanding ‘happiness’ as the secret ingredient for successful teams

In the teams I lead, the happiness of individuals is something that matters to me and the reason it matters is because people spend a lot of time at work and I want that time to enhance their lives in some way. 

In a previous blog post, I wrote about helping people to experience ‘flow’ and I acknowledged that we would all probably prefer to be at home, in a sunny garden, with our friends and family, enjoying our time.  Instead, we probably all spend more time than we would like at work with many of us racing the clock to get everything done and the sad fact is that too many people have jobs and managers that make them miserable.

Figures show that ‘over half of the British workforce are unhappy at work which is both a tragedy and a waste of potential’.  The stress that unhappy workplaces create seeps into our personal lives, leaving us in a situation where, even at the weekend, that time with friends and family cannot truly be enjoyed.

So often, I have talked about the importance of happiness in the workplace and I know that many senior leaders misunderstand why this is important and think happiness is a ‘nice’ thing rather than something critical for success.  They see happiness as a concept that is too soft and fluffy for a serious working environment.

It’s understandable that they think this to a certain extent but if they fully understood the concept of happiness, they might well take a different view.

Happiness and Change Coach, Samantha Clarke, describes happiness in the workplace as being something which allows people to ‘bring their whole self to work’.  When I speak about the importance of people being happy at work, this is what I am referring to.  It isn’t happiness for happiness’ sake, it’s about making work satisfying so that they are not stressed and miserable for a start but more importantly because if they are happy at work, then they are likely to be loyal, committed and productive.

In measuring staff engagement, one of the indicators in the Gallup q12 index is whether people ‘have a best friend at work’.  This doesn’t seem like an important question for satisfaction at work but Gallup say their ‘research has repeatedly shown a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort they expend in their job’.  Really, it’s about connection.  We spend so much time at work that when individuals feel a greater sense of belonging, it makes them feel more engaged.

What we need to realise to understand this fully is that happiness has two components:

Hedonic well-being is the feeling of pleasure in the moment.  It’s the kind of happiness you might get from going to a party.  It’s a feeling of heightened enjoyment which is sensory and short-lived.  It’s like a dopamine hit – a high that feels immediately satisfying but quickly fades away.

Lasting happiness is what we gain from having meaning and purpose in our lives. In positive psychology, this is known as eudaimonic well-being and is about fulfilling our potential and feeling we are part of something bigger than ourselves.  It’s about having a purpose and links to a range of work on leadership and motivation such as Dan Pink’s ‘Drive’ and Simon Sinek ‘Start with Why’.

The key to understanding happiness is noticing the difference between pleasure and satisfaction.  Most probably, those who have been less convinced about the importance of happiness at work, connect the concept of happiness with that of pleasure.  The concept of satisfaction however, is what you need to consider for this to make sense.  For an engaged workforce, these feelings of happiness need to be encouraged.

If you are asking yourself now how you can create this in your organisations?  This blog is founded in positive psychology so if you look through, you will find lots of ideas for motivating and engaging individuals.  My top 3 articles to read next if you want to increase the levels of happiness in your teams would be the 80/20 balance, results-only working environment, how ‘warm and fuzzy’ motivates teams.

If you have successes to share or questions about how to raise the levels of happiness in your teams, please add them to the comments below.

 

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

What ‘The Post’ tells us about the role of intuition in decision making

Have you watched the film ‘The Post’? If you haven’t, I recommend you do. It’s a true story in which Meryl Streep plays Katherine Graham – this first female publisher of a major American newspaper. It’s an interesting watch if you are interested in women’s leadership and it also reminded me of the role of intuition in any decision making which is the main thing that inspired me to write this blog.

Firstly, I want to consider the experience portrayed of her as a woman in a senior role. The film shows her having difficulties showing her authority in a world dominated by men. She had inherited the paper; her father passed it down to her husband and when he committed suicide in 1963, she found herself at the helm. A situation she was not prepared for.

One of the first scenes of her in a work setting was at a Board meeting. She had done all the right things, had read all the papers and knew her stuff but struggled to use her voice and let her male colleagues undermine her. I guess this wouldn’t be unexpected in the 1960’s but I still see plenty of this happening now which is disappointing for the 21st Century.

Anyhow, the paper is struggling and the Editor is keen to do something that would claim their place as a player in the news industry. They struggle to get their break and Graham is cautious at first, not wanted to create waves or rock the boat. However, an opportunity arises to uncover some uncomfortable truths about the Vietnam war and it is time to decide how bold they ought to be.

They seemed to constantly be one step behind the rest and to stand out as a leader takes something cutting edge. In a fortuitous turn of events, one of their main competitors was prevented from printing anything on the war while they waiting for a court ruling after they printed a controversial story.

The Post had managed to get hold of the same document and were writing their own stories in the hope of filling the gap. It became clear though that they could find themselves in hot water if they went ahead so at crunch time, Graham had an extremely difficult decision to make.

The risk was that she could be found to be in contempt of court if she allowed the story to be published. Her advisers wanted to leave it and her Editor could completely understand why she would but she wrestled with her conscience, weighed up the risk and opportunity and made her decision.

It reminded me of the importance of intuition in decision making. Certainly for me, I find that intuition is not a good justification for a decision when I am trying to persuade someone to take a chance on something. However, the right choice isn’t always the obvious or most sensible choice.

We see Graham go through the process of decision making:

  1. She is made aware that there is a problem.
  2. She is briefed on the situation and asks questions to fully ascertain the extent of the risk.
  3. She considers the alternatives and evaluates all options.

At this point, she knows that the logical thing to do is to pull the story. When you look at the facts and information, it is the only option.

However, she then takes a step back and asks her gut. This is the ultimate decider and the point at which she knows what she has to do.

When she considers the role (or mission) of the media and the paper to inform the public and guard the national interest, it tells her something different.

When she considers her role as publisher and business leader to be viable, innovative and cutting edge to ensure their place in the market, it tells her something different.

When she weighed up the risk and opportunity, drawing on how it made her feel, it told her something different.

She made the decision to publish.

Her decision did see her in court but after The Post took a lead in publishing the story, so other titles followed. On June 30th 1971, the court ruled in their favour. In 2013, the Graham family sold the paper for $250m.

It was bold, it was brave but it was intuition told her was the right thing to do. Never underestimate that.

Does this story chime with your own experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Does the Humble Inquiry have a place in a culture of collaboration?

This is a guest post by @Gemma_Lelliott


I joined the
@Doers_Improvers in Autumn 2019, after connecting with some amazing, passionate and engaged people at GovCamp Cymru. The group are interested in ‘wellbeing, sustainability, doing things differently & improving stuff … learning & sharing together’.

When the group chose Humble Enquiry as their December read I had no opinion on the book – I haven’t read any of Schein’s other books and I am always interested in learning and improving my communication skills, so I was happy to get stuck into it.

I was surprised to find I had quite a visceral reaction to the book, almost physical. I found the language and tone of the book a challenge – words like subordinate, respect, and hierarchy litter it throughout. I am lucky to have experienced very few examples of an autocratic, dictatorial management style of what Schein refers to as ‘the culture of tell’. Being managed by people who use this approach has universally left me feeling like I need to find a new job!

I found it quite hard to make myself read beyond the first few chapters. I felt that Schein was encouraging readers to use Humble Enquiry as a way of manipulating relationships, to feign an interest in the other person’s point of view in order to complete a transaction – if I humble myself to you then you will feel more positively disposed towards me, you will feel more inclined to help me/do what I want/tell me what I want to know.

Speaking to those working in more process-driven environments I find that my reaction to the language and the approach is not universal – other people don’t have the same visceral reaction to the word ‘subordinate’ for example, seeing it purely as a descriptor rather than as a pejorative term. While I find the implied power dynamic problematic, for others it simply describes a chain of command which makes clear where the responsibility lies and who allocates tasks.

Living and working in Wales, there is much more of a culture of collaboration, of community, and of shared purpose than the author describes in America. I am also very fortunate to have largely worked in environments and for managers who have seen and expressed the value of collaborative approaches to tackling problems, and have worked with me in a way which recognises my knowledge, experience and value. Perhaps part of their strength as managers was down to their effective use of Humble Enquiry?

On reflection, once I had discussed the book with the group and others I was able to pull out some useful things to think about – if nothing else, I have taken some time to reflect on my preferences around language and how that might differ for other people. I also took some time to think about how I could use some of my natural curiosity in a more purposeful way, to help others feel more comfortable and to ensure I understand their perspective – potentially even improving relationships along the way.

Finally, would I recommend the book? Maybe, if you work in a very process-focused role or traditional hierarchy model. I’m not sure I would go out of my way to read Schein’s work again personally. I might, however, revisit an old favourite, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits – I feel like ‘seek first to understand, before seeking to be understood’ might have tackled this question in a way that sits more comfortably for me and could help me in my quest to communicate more effectively!

 

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The essential reading list for women who want to get on

A friend approached me the other week wanting to talk about a couple of experiences she had recently had in work that had surprised and concerned her. She has recently moved into an executive role and had come home after her second negative experience with a male colleague, saddened by the realisation that there are things she is likely to experience and will need to deal with purely on the basis that she is a woman.

She came to me because she knows I have spent years promoting gender equality in the economy, supporting women leaders and working with employers to ensure workplaces that allows them to succeed. She was shocked and disappointed by what had happened and wanted to know what she could do to prevent it in the future.

Sadly, gender stereotypes are entrenched and we still have a long way to go before the cultural and social ‘norms’ which hold women back are fully addressed. Whilst gender equality has come a long way, it is far from done and there is still a lot that needs to change before women can truly succeed.

In response to my friend’s anguish, I provided her with an essential reading list for women who want to get on.

These books don’t have all the answers but they do allow a better understanding of what is at play allowing us to better understand the dynamics and therefore how to respond when your male colleagues say or do something that weakens your authority.

  1. Executive Presence, Sylvia Hewlett – in this book, Hewlett identifies what it takes for others to perceive you as a leader. You might have got there as a result of qualifications and experience but to be successful as a leader, you need to have ‘executive presence’ which is a mix of appearance, communication and gravitas. You can buy the book on Amazon or find out the key points in this presentation.
  2. Your body language may shape who you are, Amy Cuddy – this work shows how body language can change people’s perceptions and also how you can change your own chemistry through different positions. It shows how men and women use space and how women can increase their levels of testosterone and therefore confidence. Cuddy’s ideas reached the world through this TED talk.
  3. You just don’t understand: Men & women in conversation, Deborah Tannen – this is one of the most useful books I have read because it increases our understanding of how men and women use language differently. In this book, Tannen shows us how women use language to build relationships and men use it to preserve status.
  4. Lean In, Sheryl SandbergThis book was huge in 2015, sharing valuable insight from Facebook’s COO who draws on her own experience as a women in business, sharing tips that will ensure you are taken seriously. Key takeaways for me from this book were making sure women have a seat at the table and having the confidence to speak up.

 

Is there an essential book on your reading list that we should know about?  Please share in the comments below.

 

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[Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay]

Why a bit of ‘warm & fuzzy’ is important for motivating teams

How to motivate people has been a topic of conversation which has come up several times for me over the last couple of weeks.

Previously, I have written about the principles of autonomy, mastery, purpose which Dan Pink promotes in his book ‘Drive’. The theory set out in the book is one I believe in strongly but talking about it with others has made me realise that there is a further aspect that needs to be considered.

I’ve also written before about the value and importance of the ‘cuddle’ hormone oxytocin and I think there is something important here that helps to motivate people to come to work and give their best.

It’s a complex environment we are working in today and technology has sped up the pace of change. News is instant and we are expected to be able to respond and change direction very quickly. Certainly, working with lots of small charities, I see leaders and staff delivering in tough conditions, trying to push on forward despite high levels of uncertainty.

It takes a lot of resilience to keep going under these circumstances and I think that there is some ‘warm fuzzy stuff’ that leaders can easily implement which helps to keep people motivated.

Recognition – firstly, when people work hard, they want to be recognised for their efforts. This doesn’t have to take the form of big awards but just something to show that they have been noticed, whether that is an individual or the whole team, sometimes both probably, just let them know they have been seen.
Appreciation – say thank you! In whatever form you are most comfortable with and preferably often. A common view seems to be that work is transactional i.e. people come to work, do the job and get paid which should be thanks enough. It isn’t enough though if you want a motivated, high performing team. For that, you need to give a bit more which means saying and doing things that make people feel appreciated.

Celebration – celebrate often, let staff enjoy being at work and feel good about what they have achieved. Far too often, we finish one thing and move straight on to another with no looking back. If your team works hard and delivers success, encourage them to take time out to reflect and celebrate their achievements however small.

Whilst I believe these things are important all year round, I also think that Christmas is a point in the calendar where we should take a moment to reflect on what’s gone well, thank people for their contribution and celebrate the achievements of the year gone by.  So this year, why don’t you think about how you use these ideas to ensure you have an empowered and motivated team for 2020.

 

Like this article? Have your own experience to share? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

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(Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay)

Why putting people first pays dividends for employers

A few articles have come to my attention recently around flexible working and in particular the challenges for working parents in what can sometimes be a fight to get employers to recognise the value in supporting employees to achieve a good balance.

Beginning my career working for myself, I was able to see the benefits of flexible working, being able to fulfil my professional responsibilities at times that worked for me and also manage personal commitments. Since then, I have championed flexibility in the workplace and heard both employers and staff challenge this over the years.

One article that really spoke to me recently shared the story of a woman who had returned from maternity leave and requested flexible working arrangements. As part of a restructure, her line Manager decided that all roles needed to be full-time and her application was turned down. A legal case decided that the employer had made this decision without evidence and the tribunal resulted in a finding of Unfair Dismissal and Indirect Sex Discrimination.

Another article that I came across yesterday, shared the story of an employer who came into the office and found a woman crying at her desk. When he asked why, he discovered that she had been up all night with a sick child and had come into work because she had no leave that she could use and needed to be paid.

Now, I’m guessing that many employers feel wary of giving an inch in case people take a mile and before you know it, you are paying for staff who are never there. I do think though that parents especially can be in a difficult situation, trying to pay high costs of childcare, deliver for their employer and meet the needs of their offspring.

It reminds me of a quote I saw the other week: “We expect women to work like they don’t have children and raise children as if they don’t work.” This isn’t exclusively women anymore but the pressure is still the same and I do hear strong opinion from other mums against women who choose to work full-time.

What I find in managing my team is that they want to be in work and do their jobs well. It’s a fact though that sometimes home and family commitments need more immediate attention in the same way that some days they need to work late or over the weekend. They don’t mind giving their own time for work commitments so why would I make it difficult for them when they have issues at home they need to deal with? If their car had broken down, I would let them take the time they need to fix it so why wouldn’t I let them have the flexibility they need when their child is sick?

Companies that have a flexi-time system can be useful in these situations but I still see so many of these systems based on initial theory from the model’s inception which fails to offer genuine flexibility. And I hear of even more employers that say ‘flexible working is great but it wouldn’t work here’. These are most likely the same employers that want their staff in the office late every night or working on demand.

What I’m saying here is that many people with caring responsibilities want to work and it’s often even more important for this group because they want balance but for very practical reasons, it needs to be both ways.

Also, I think that it pays dividends when employers put people first because it returns a level of loyalty and commitment that money can’t buy.

Do you manage people flexibly with positive results?  Do you have experience to share on flexible working requests? If so, please share in the comments below.

 

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(Image by William Iven from Pixabay)

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