“To be human is to be lazy”

While being lazy is not an attitude we want to encourage in our children, we have to acknowledge that there is an element of truth in this statement.

I see your hackles are rising.  You’re saying “But I didn’t get where I am by being lazy!”.  But even Bill Gates agreed.  He said: “I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because he will find an easy way to do it”.  What he meant is that we are an intelligent species and can figure out ways of saving ourselves effort by being clever.  Read more

Say what you really want to say

Alison is sitting in her office with her head in her hands.  It is becoming an all too familiar position these days, though she is relieved that her office is down a side corridor, so that staff in the main open-plan area can’t see straight in.  It’s such a shame, she thinks, six months ago when she was first given this manager’s role she was ecstatic – a major step up the career ladder.  She was so happy to be singled out for promotion.

But now it is her responsibility to manage Emma, Jeremy and Josh.  Jeremy is quite conscientious, but Emma and Josh giggle their way through the day.  They keep slipping off to the pub at lunch time and they leave the office on the dot of 5pm no matter whether they have finished the day’s work or not. Read more

5 Dysfunctions of a Team and What to do About Them

Having a perfect team is like having a perfect garden – it is never going to be quite right: there will always be things you can do to improve it and work that needs to be done to tidy up after last season and prepare for the future.  However, there is a difference between the team that needs regular maintenance and the one that is dysfunctional at its core.  And too many leaders find themselves trying to improve their team with regular maintenance when fundamental dysfunctional behaviour really needs to be dealt with.
There are 5 types of dysfunctional behaviour commonly seen in a team dynamic.

Absence of Trust

Read more

Coercion vs. encouragement – a fine line

It is a business leader’s job to encourage their staff to raise standards.  It is the leader’s job to persuade people to try new methods.  They should coax staff into working more efficiently.  They need to be an influence for change.

But when does persuasion, encouragement, coaxing and influencing turn into coercion?

Coercion is “the action or practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats”. Read more

Six tips to deal with difficult characters

We are a social species and in general most people find they can get along pretty well with most of the people they meet.  However, when a group of people are thrown together in the workplace sometimes there are one or two characters who don’t fit in as well as the others.  These people are often strong characters and their personal beliefs are more important to them than the quality of their relationships with others.

Difficult characters come in different types.  Here are some common ones:

  • The bully – who gets angry and swears a lot
  • The silent bully – who agrees things to your face and then stirs up trouble behind your back
  • The fault-finder – who is always critical and nit-picking of anything anyone else does
  • The moaner and whinger – who blames others for everything and is persistently negative.

Read more

3 Chairs – Or How to Improve Niggling Staff Issues

Unreasonable discussions?  Unsolved problems?  Elephants in the room?

How can you improve communication issues?

Try this exercise in a quiet room: Read more

The Key to Motivating with your Leadership Style

Motivation can seem a nebulous concept to the busy manager.  Some employees seem more motivated than others and it is tempting to assume it will always be that way.  But then you find some companies where the motivation is high and you have to ask yourself what is the magic stardust that makes it so? So if you are leading a team where you think the motivation could be better, let’s take a quick look at one thing you can do to improve it. Read more

The little elves who thieve my time

I have some naughty little elves which live in a small nest underneath my desk. They are cheeky little devils: cute, friendly and experts at thieving my time.  And however good a job the cleaner does, he never manages to catch them.

Last time I counted I found ten of them there.  My colleagues have some too. These are mine: Read more

How to Diffuse an Argument – a lesson in the knife drawer

Got into an argument with someone at work recently?  Or worse still, have you come away from a discussion feeling furious and crushed having failed to get across your point?

It happens – we all know that.

Normally an argument starts with simple differences of approach, but the reason it gets heated may be something else entirely. Read more

Dysfunctional team? The clue may be here

Why do some teams work well and others with the same abilities do not?

Why does someone excel on one team and not in another?

It was researching these questions that led Dr Meredith Belbin to develop his Belbin team roles. His research, first published in 1981, outlined 8 (and later 9) roles which must be fulfilled for a team to function at its best. Interestingly these roles are universal across all teams no matter what the business (or leisure activity) they are in.

The principle of Belbin’s theory is to do with the way people behave in a team, and it recognises that a team works best when there is a balance of behaviours. There is no right or wrong – just different characteristics in the way people approach their job. Read more