Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A story about 2 marketing scouts who to go to Africa to look at the prospects of selling shoes. The first marketeer sends an e-mail back to HQ saying "It's hopeless, no one wears shoes".
The second marketeer sends an e-mail saying "Fantastic, you won't believe it what a fantastic opportunity this is....no one has any shoes !

Both factually right...successful companies foster the positive by allowing people to put forward ideas with no fear of being ridiculed. People do suffer doubt, and doubt brings fear. Fear and belief compete for your minds attention. To ensure belief prospers in your team then demonstrate that you will allow people to learn from mistakes. It is no good telling people that they can make mistakes....what do your actions demonstrate? That will be what you are judged upon...

Monday, February 27, 2006

Forgotton Gems

A challenge for you today.....sit back and think of friends, family, colleagues....go through each one. Is there someone who you have not recognised ?...Those unsung heroes may be quiet, they maybe just come in do their job and go home....but recognise them. They need recognition as much as your dynamic leaders...your extroverts....sometimes they need it more. But they need it in a quiet way probably not a huge public display of emotion.....a thank you card, maybe ? The best gift I ever got was a card saying "Thanks, I was feeling down today and you made me smile and you inspired me. Thank you for being you".....Wow ! Now that's powerful. If there is someone you haven't recognised and you don't feel they deserve it..then ask why and work with them to address the reasons.

Sometimes we spend a lot of money bringing new people in when we have stars already working for us - we just have noticed them yet !

Friday, February 24, 2006

Feeling Overhelmed ?

We all feel as though we can't cope at times...well here are 5 tips on how to regain control.

  1. Bite size chunks - start with basics, a small thing that can build some attention and people will start to follow.
  2. Review - ideas you start will be a mixture...some better than others...review and und understand if it is the idea or that the organisation is not ready for it.
  3. Be brave - When you start small and throwing lots of ideas out there...you need to be ready to stop the ones that aren't working. The more ideas you use, the more ideas will succeed and fail. Be brave, the ideas that are not working are learnings and probably just ahead of its time...don't stop creating ideas. You will gain respect from people for recognising when to stop.
  4. People - success will be based on how people react to it. Spend time to explain and tweak from feedback.....Don't be too stubborn to listen !
  5. Forget perfection ! - Too many people daren't put an idea forward until it is perfect...forget it speed is more important....then get buy in from those people to improve it....you need progress not perfection.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Learning from Primates !

We can learn alot from our forefathers...here are some results from studying the behaviour of monkeys and gorillas that we can use in our working life...
  • The optimum ratio of positives to negatives is 5:1 to ensure realtionships prosper home and at work. Beware if you increase that ratio happiness does not go up...as you are not dealing with the issues. In your interactions are you using a ratio of 5:1 towards positives?
  • Your boss needs positive feeback. If the boss does not sense positive body language or does not get reassurance from you then their confidence suffers ! Now this is you being deferential and respectful not forning all over them !
  • People work better if self-motivated - work out their individual motivation and play to it.

We can learn from all kinds of sources....read widely not just management books....now I will get back to my banana!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

DIfferent Perspectives

A old man arriving at an airport had a packet of biscuits and grabs a coffee to drink with them. He sits down to enjoy when a really rough, long haired bloke sits down and starts eating a biscuit from the packet. The old man tuts and takes one for himself then starts reading the paper. Then the lout takes another biscuit ! The man can't believe it and tuts EVEN MORE loudly and takes one for himself, leaving just one biscuit left. The lout leans forward breaks it in half and offers the old man half of the biscuit. The man is appalled but takes the biscuit, not daring to say anything due to the thuggish nature of the lout. Later as the man goes through the metal detector he empties his pockets and much to his surprise finds his packet of biscuits. At that point he realised he had been eating the rough looking lad's biscuits !!!!! At that point the whole impression changed of that rough looking lad.....from annoyance to caring.
Now how often have you pre-conceived thoughts that cloud your judgement. If you feel you are reacting emotionally to someone...Stop and take a step back...is it really what they are doing or saying...or is it what you think you are seeing or hearing ?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Not Allowing People Off the Hook !

How do you react when someone says "I couldn't do anything abut it" Don't let people use this phrase....it lets people off the hook and it doesn't help the situation.

Instead, help them learn from errors by responding: "If you could have done something, what might you have done?"

When you then get ideas have a monthly Top10 list visible to all so that everyone knows what to concentrate on...at monthly meetings then you can have the TOP10 run down in a chart like fashion ! Movers, new entries, fallers......bringing some fun to proceedings

Monday, February 20, 2006

Looking Back Over Life

A survey was completed asking people over 65 "If you could live your life over, what would you do differently ? The top 3 answers were:
  1. I would like to stop and ask the big questions
  2. I would like to be more courageous and take more risks in work and love
  3. I would like to live life with purpose - to make a difference

I remember asking my dad that question about a fortnight before he died. He looked me straight in the eye and said "Absolutely, nothing." I will never forget that. How good must that feel - even when faced with you last few hours you have no regrets. You have lived life to the full and that you are content with everything you have achieved and the relationships around you. When you look at the way you live your life do you concentrate on how much you have or the things that you would like..... Life is amazingly short in the grand scheme of things so at work, in love and with friends make sure that you think about the wonderful things you have in your life before it is too late.

Live life forward and understand it backward and be happy

Friday, February 17, 2006

Giving Options

Whether you are in sales, a manager, a parent, admin you are always having to persuade people. David Maister gives a great example:
A doctor after doing some tests walks in and says I will be operating tomorrow morning at 6am, I think the easiest thing is to remove your leg. Think what you reaction would be...an extreme situation I know but merely to get the point across.
What you want at that point is for him to identify the issue.....give you some options....advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of each possibility and give his professional recommendation ....right ?
He is altering something and not giving you any say in it...well remember this story when people react badly to one of YOUR decisions. Did they need to understand first and need your help to come to the decision that was going to effect them......Rememebr golden rules
  1. Identify options
  2. Discuss risks,costs advantages and disadvantages
  3. Make your professional recommendation
  4. Let them then agree - if 1-3 are well done this will not be an issue

Remember don't amputate before asking !!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Achieving more

Do you ever feel that you are going round in circles ? That no matter what you do you never achieve everything that you want......sound familiar ?
Well, often people concentrate on who are members of the team/project and what they are individually achieving. To improve productivity, people go out into the country and build rafts etc. Well of course teambuilding is important but as part of the process not as an end in its self. When you spend money on these events an increase in productivity is not a given! It helps to improve your workflow through increased communication. Why...well people often feel closer after that kind of event. This helps in encouraging people to open up back at the office on the issues that can hinder productivity
  • Clarity of roles...who does what
  • Coordinating work ....so the process is as efficeint as possile...as automated as possible and no overlap
  • Ensuring there are standards set and understand in handing over work to others - within the team or to other depts.

Next time you teambuild make sure you get a business benefit from it...otherwise it is actually a social event....not a waste but not as effective as it could be. Do you always follow up a teambuilding event with a brainstorming event on how to increase productivity?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Encouraging creativity

When discussing ideas the use of De Bono's 6 hats is a really useful tool - if anyone wants more info let me know - but for those who use it - have you tried this ?

Get an idea and then give 6 people a different colour to be but then every 10 mins change their colour. It encourages people to think differently.

People often see design or creative sessions as a nice to do...wrong. This came home to me when I read this quote by Brian Collins of Ogilvy & Mather

"Design is not a plan for decoration. Design is a plan for action" Keep that thought at the front of your mind when brainstorming.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Be Do Get

Today I want you to think about how changing from a mind set of GET TO BE to BE DO GET will bring you personal success.

People who are not content often believe "If I get the promotion, then I will do my job better because I will have value and then I will BE a better leader "

It actually works the opposite way round value yourself now, which makes you more confident in your role and then you will get the promotion.....

The single most powerful way to make any change in your life is to act as if that change has already been made....a phrase that will help you remember "Fake it, till you make it !"

Monday, February 13, 2006

Decision Making

How clearly have you defined when people need to run things by you or when they can make decisions by themselves. If not clear it can cause tension. There are basically 4 ways to make a decision and if you use this framework you will ensure your team fully understands how the decision will be made
  1. Autocratic - You are going to make the decision and you only
  2. Delegate - You are delegating the decision and they do not have to come back to run it past you. Be careful here - if you delegate then you can't shout if the decision is wrong !
  3. Consultative - Here you delegate the decision but the person must consult with others(usually defined by you) before they make the decision
  4. Consensus - All people have to agree before a decision is made.

Now think....when you have been irritated it will have been because someone said, for example that it was consensus but in reality it was autocratic....Be clear to your team, they may not always agree but they will understand the process.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Change Management

How many of us have been on courses which tell us you can't stop change ? Well I came across an inventor called Buckminster Fuller who had quite a cute trick to get the point over...
He would hold up his hand and ask "What is it?" People would respond "A hand"
He then pointed out that the cells were continually dying and regenerating themselves.
What seems tangible is continually changing: in fact a hand is completely recreated within a year or so.
Now do you believe there are people who can't change or who won't change....actually they are doing it all the time without noticing. If change is frightening then choose other words like "How do we evolve, grow, improve,develop, succeed....all words which involve change but guess what ? Are a little less frightening...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Team vs Individual thought

Sometimes I wonder whether people are stopped from having ideas because of the team ethic. The drive towards having a great team, means that people sometimes find it hard to be brave and put forward ideas - they need to feel part of the team too much. Maybe I am wrong but I find that the phrase "I don't know - what do you think ?" is becomingpart of everyday life. Now readers of this blog will know I am a believer in teams but what I am adding, is that it should not prevent individuals being encouraged to have independent thought. It is about embracing diversity of thought within the team.
Encourage original thought - otherwise you end up with a team of what I call Powerpoint lovers who regurgitate ideas. Or even worse people who use other peoples ideas for themselves - that is a dangerous situation to be in. Ideas are lacking and trust is disappearing.
I don't know who said this but someone said "The price of being a sheep is boredom, the price of being a wolf is loneliness" The idea is to be wise enough to understand when to be a team player and feel safe enough within the team to be able to put forward original thought.
So are you a wolf or are you a sheep ? Let me know...and also send us examples of how you encourage ideas within your team.....

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Respect is a key ingredient of managing people. People like to respect their boss. Respect comes from making tough decisions which are fair and explained fully so that they can understand the reason. (Not that they will always agree but they can understand !)
Think about it...you don't like bosses you disrespect, we have all seen them - the ones who give in to the wildest demands. Well learn from that and build your own respect levels. If bosses say yes all the time the boundaries are destroyed and people don't know where they stand.

"Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they know
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people all remark
We have done it ouselves"

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mirror Mirror

Fact: In a psychological experiment a person shown a photograph of him/herself and then one of a reversed image of the same picture consistently preferred the reversed picture. Why ? Simply because that was the one they were used to seeing in the mirror !

Familiarity is great but is it hindering your development? - some questions for you....
  1. Do you tend to like similar people with similar opinions ?
  2. Do you tend to go to lunch with similar people ?
  3. Do you like to stick to routine tasks?
  4. Do you like the way you have always done it ?

If so STOP think about it....that is hindering your development. You are in a comfort zone - comfortable Yes....but stretching...NO

Monday, February 06, 2006


Dr David Fleming does a fantastic podcast on ITunes and one I heard recently looked at culture. In simple terms if you feel there is something missing in your team it is probably missing in you ! If you feel you are never recognised - do you take others for granted ? If it is respect then are you giving those people respect ? A team looks to the leader for its culture..if you withhold passion for what you want to achieve then others around you, will lack commitment. So what do you do ?
  1. Look in the mirror - Be ruthless, be honest with self reflection.
  2. Think of a time when your team - or if in personal life, friends - were not committed to you. What was your body language saying ? What were the words you used ?
  3. Become aware of yourself - try to stand by the side of yourself and think about how you are behaving
  4. Ask for candid feedback - but you must take it - graciously. Say "I don't believe the respects me but I wonder whether it is something I am causing ? Am I holding back in meetings ?

Finally an old quote "Be the change you want to be in the world" (Ghandi) But so true in this context. Stop withholding and give out the very things you want to flourish.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Ever found yourself thinking "I wish I wasn't the only person round here who ccan solve problems !" Right now stop there......think about the last lunchtime, the last break how many people did you see doing Sudoku -the new quiz in all the papers...or a crossword....if not today then I bet you have seen it in the past. Those people are problem solving, they have self belief that they can crack the problem. Sure they have had a learning curve and often messed up but they learn and solve the next one - using their previous experiences.
Right there in your crowd are people who want to be challenged, want to be pushed want to learn. Right there, are logical thinkers who love solving problems.....when was the last time you tapped into that potential, when was the last time you thought they love those puzzles because they don't feel stretched in what they do ? Maybe asking them - understanding why they enjoy their puzzles will allow you to understand them better
Difference being that they allow themselves to learn, get it wrong and then learn again.....all you have to do is coach them..allow them to learn...share your experiences of how to approach a work problem and there! A ready made problem solver at your disposal. People need you to believe in them before they will believe they can be successful for you......

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Future vs Past

Albert Einstein said "We had better pay attention to the future, after all that's where we will spend the rest of our lives" Ok well that's obvious isn't it...so here is the question then...if we believe this to be true - and lets face it, it's hard to argue against ! - why do we spend so much time thinking, talking, worrying about the past ???
Today, every time you find yourself thinking about something that has gone wrong or something that has already happened, I want you to STOP and change your thinking to how you will react in the future, or how you can change this to be a positive ?
Today think about what you want, not what you don't want - talk to people in your team about what you like about them, what you want to see in the future - if they try and drag you back to the past then ask them "What are our learnings from this experience ?"
One final thought how much is - Is your team talk aimed at reporting the past or talking about the future ? Keep everyone focused in the past and that's where people will stay...look to the future and funnily enough we tend to get what we expect......

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Feedback is a great way of improving your skills, but if you are like me it can hurt ! One way of lessoning the pain is making it fun and in a team environment - then everyone is in the same boat.
At your next team meeting get everyone to think about what skill they would like to develop e.g listening, controlling temper, being creative, presenting etc
Then get them to write that at the top of the piece of paper. Then allow about 15 minutes for people to mix. What they must do is introduce themselves to their colleagues by saying "I would like to be a better listener (for example), can you give me an idea to help me ?" They thank the person and reciprocate with advice for their colleagues area of development, then go and talk to someone else. In 15 mins people should be able to get round 7/8 people if you have a smaller group ask for a couple of ideas. A prize can be given for the person who gets the most ideas. One rule to remember - no feedback can be given about the past - only ideas for the future - this must be stressed. Why? Well we cannot change the past but we can be part of moulding the future.
Why do this ? Well as a leader of people you are a coach and coaching is all about getting feedback - you can also use this technique to get ideas of how to solve individual work problems or ideas of how to improve systems, communication etc. Remember people love ideas BUT LOVE TO GIVE IDEAS ! Two outcomes you are looking for - to learn as much as you can but also for people to help each other as much as they can