Whose truth? – whose reality?

As Seth Godin said in his blog recently “Someone faced with doubt rarely brings her best self to the table.  Doubt undermines confidence, it casts aspersions, it assumes untruths.”

In the UK many business people are filled with doubt and fear following the Brexit vote.  That means that many of us won’t be bringing our best selves to the table at the moment.

With such deep divisions exposed Read more

Staff reactions to the EU vote? – A time for reassurance

Business leaders across the country will be arriving in work this morning wondering what to say to their staff about the result of the EU Referendum.

You guys have got a tough job.  Whichever way you voted there will be plenty of people on your staff who voted Remain and are very worried for their future.  And even the Leave voters, while possibly jubilant, will be wondering what they have let themselves in for.

There is a huge amount of uncertainty now, with the financial markets diving, Cameron’s resignation and key figures giving their reactions.  And still ringing in people’s ears are comments such as those made by Donald Tusk (EU Council President) last week predicting the end of western political civilisation on a Brexit vote.

We have to stay calm and remember that this initial reaction will dampen down, but the issue of uncertainty is not going to go away quickly.

So your job today and over the next few weeks is to reassure your staff in any way you can.  Of course it is neither right nor fair to be unrealistic, but while staying in the real world, try to reassure them about the company’s ability to ride out whatever may happen.

It is all too easy for people in this type of situation to talk their way into a hole: for us collectively to talk our way into a recession.  And the way to counter that trend is to look for constructive ways to move forward, to be creative and to find ways to protect the organisation against the more dramatic effects of the Brexit process.

It is unlikely that western political civilisation will end.  That has to be a massive overstatement, but let’s not make things worse by wallowing in fear and uncertainty when there is great work to be done.

“Can’t do” – “won’t do”

Sometimes when managing staff you come across tasks that just don’t happen.  You keep asking but they get squeezed out or rushed through so you don’t get the result you need.  When this type of problem persists it often needs some careful thought about how to deal with the employee concerned.

Take an example.  Perhaps a situation where Jamie is expected to make phone calls to customers to check whether some support problems have been resolved.  It is on Jamie’s job description to do it, but he consistently doesn’t get around to it.  This situation comes up regularly and you keep asking him about it and yet it still hasn’t been done.

Why not? Read more

10 common causes of absence and how to respond

  • I’m sick
  • My child is sick
  • My car won’t start
  • My car’s been vandalised
  • I have to wait in for the plumber
  • I’ve got a doctor’s appointment
  • My cat died
  • I’ve got a family emergency
  • I’ve got food poisoning
  • I’ve got a gas leak

As an MD of a small business, I came to dread that time of the morning between 9 and 9.15am.  I’d sit at my desk with one ear listening for the phone to ring with the excuses of why my staff were going to be late or absent.  It was a depressing start to the day and probably a good thing that they couldn’t see my eyes rolling at the variety of excuses I heard. Read more

Business Relationships

Relationships are delicate like flowers.

With some people a good relationship comes easily, with others you have to work at it.

Sometimes it can take years to build trust, and it can be undone in a moment by a careless act. 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