Looking after millennials in your organisation











It’s thought that around 75% of the global workforce will be made up of the millennial generation (born roughly between 1980 and 1999) by 2025. That might still seem a long while off yet, but it’s actually less than a decade away, so it could be wise to start thinking about how to look after this generation in your organisation.

There’s a good chance a fair number of this cohort will end up employed in your organisation, and you’ll probably already have many of the generation’s first-born already working there. This population is the first to not know what life was like before the internet and who came of age after the 2008 crash, so their expectations in the workplace are very different than the generations preceding them.

If you’re thinking all you have to do to keep these workers happy is to throw a few beanbags around the place, and offer a few trendy coffees at your canteen, think again. Millennials actually care about a lot of the things other workers do, like engagement, trust and being valued. But they also like to know what a company’s values are before they join and would rather have a great working environment (think a home-from-home) than a big pay packet.

It’s also important to understand how these younger workers feel about personal motivation and recognition. Having someone say thanks for a great job and to feel they’ve made a difference is just as important – if not more than […]

By |November 30th, 2017|Employee engagement, leadership|Comments Off on Looking after millennials in your organisation

Don’t over-promise once you get that top new job










Anyone who’s ever had a job interview anytime in their life (probably most, if not all, of you reading this) has more than likely over-egged the pudding a little bit when talking about their achievements during that interview. You know the kind of thing – exaggerating the size of team you managed or the level of responsibility you really had slightly. In some cases, you might even take the approach of ‘I’ll tell them I can do that and figure it out later.’

These kinds of small white lies are pretty-commonplace and, if they get you the job, then you can justify using them. But what about once you’ve joined your new organisation and are asked to present your strategic plan for the next 90 days, should you overpromise here too?

This is a very different situation and one where underperforming matters more than it did during your interview. Here, you’ll be face-to-face with those right at the top of the organisation telling them what you’re going to do for their company, not just trying to impress someone from HR who’s scoring your answers against other candidates.

Getting this pitch right is crucial. You’ll have big ideas you want to start implementing and want to impress the new boss. That’s natural. You’ve worked hard to get here and beaten other people to the job so it’s only right to feel good about yourself.

The key is not to let that enthusiasm and energy get the better of you. If you’ve been asked to talk about what you’ll do for […]

By |November 22nd, 2017|leadership|Comments Off on Don’t over-promise once you get that top new job

Does your culture encourage people to speak out?













If there’s one thing the tidal wave of allegations that have swamped the Hollywood film industry and the FA, BBC, and Houses of Parliament closer to home have shown, it’s the importance of being able to speak out. It seems one of the key reasons people have been able to act as they have done for so long is because their victims are afraid to speak out.

We don’t all work in the glamorous surroundings of Hollywood or the Palace of Westminster though, and some of these examples are very extreme. But if someone in your organisation wanted to speak out about someone or something, like their manager, a team-mate not performing properly or some of the things making the headlines, would they feel confident to do so? Would they be afraid of what might happen to them and the possible repercussions they’d face?

Losing their job, being isolated and not having anyone believe them are all genuine fears stopping people speaking out whether they produce movies, play sport internationally, run the country, or work in an office or factory.

As well as fear, another factor stopping people talking is futility. Too often, people keep quiet because they don’t think there’s any point. They feel they won’t be believed or it won’t make a difference so why bother? They suffer in silence and hope things get better.

Creating a culture where people feel comfortable about speaking freely is one of the most difficult things to achieve. A lot of organisations claim to do it, but […]

By |November 3rd, 2017|leadership|Comments Off on Does your culture encourage people to speak out?

Trump NFL trouble shows importance of choosing battles carefully










There’s a saying in life (as well as in business) about picking fights where it really matters, and not wasting your energy on the ones that aren’t important.

It’s a saying President Trump could do well to take notice of. Not for the first time, he’s found himself involved in a war of words with a group of people he definitely shouldn’t be spending so much time worrying about. Is it really the job of the ‘world’s most powerful man’ to even offer his opinion on how some of the country’s sports stars are behaving, even if he thinks their actions are unpatriotic?

Many Americans think his time would be better spent on things that are important instead of engaging in a personal spat with NFL players and owners, like helping the relief efforts in Puerto Rico and other parts of the world hit by Hurricane Irma.

Great leaders are able to understand what things in organisations are worth their time and energy. They know taking on every problem can be almost impossible and it can actually undermine their authority on something really important if they concentrate too much on something relatively minor.

The first thing they do is work out if they’re fighting against something because it’s one of their own pet hates – something they don’t like or agree with, but doesn’t go against organisational culture or company rules. These things can eat away at you and sap your energy if you let them.

Of course, there’ll always be things worth fighting for – you just […]

By |October 25th, 2017|leadership|Comments Off on Trump NFL trouble shows importance of choosing battles carefully

Who’s your critical friend when you’re at the top?











The concept of the ‘critical friend’ is something that’s booming in organisations, particularly among leadership teams. It’s that person you can turn to when you need someone to be completely honest with you and look at the organisation in through different eyes.

They should be neutral and, although the word critical is uses, this person isn’t there to judge you. It’s more about being truthful and challenging you. They can’t be a ‘Yes man’ who’ll simply agree with everything you say, but they have to feel comfortable enough to be able to speak out.

As the head of an organisation, finding your critical friend is really important, but perhaps it’s more difficult for you than it is for others. They can always turn to someone higher up the ladder they know well or have worked with before to act as a mentor.

So, if you’re at the top of the tree in an organisation, how do you go about choosing your critical friend?

The simple answer is there’s no simple answer. Actual friends can sometimes make good critical friends, but be careful of the ‘Yes man’ situation mentioned earlier. There’s also a chance you might fall out eventually so maybe this is best avoided.

Perhaps there’s a CEO or managing director of another organisation you can ask. Obviously avoid a direct competitor, but if there’s someone you know and trust well enough, this could be the answer. They’ll appreciate you thinking of them and like giving help and advice. […]

By |October 18th, 2017|leadership|Comments Off on Who’s your critical friend when you’re at the top?

To see or not to see – that is the question














Picture the scene – it’s a familiar one in hundreds of workplaces across the UK, if not the world. The boss comes in, says morning and has a quick chat with everyone. Maybe they stop and make a cuppa or a coffee for a few of the early starters. What a brilliant boss.

Then they go into their office and shut the door.

A few hours later the door opens and they emerge. Off they go to a meeting, or they’re on their mobile engrossed in what sounds like a really important phone call.

Then they go into their office and shut the door.

This pattern repeats throughout the day. And the week. Then comes the floor meeting when the boss takes half, or maybe, even a whole hour to give everyone an update, listen to whatever concerns people have and answer a few questions. They conclude the meeting with: ‘You know where I am. You can come and talk to me any time. My door’s always open.’

Then they go into their office and shut the door. (Guess they didn’t mean it literally.)

You get the picture. In a lot of organisations, some managers see having an office as a perk. They get to make it how they want and can work in peace. It’s a symbol of power and they think they’ve made it now they have an office. But the trouble is, an office can be really intimidating for anyone else in the organisation. Especially if the door’s shut.

It’s about being visible and accessible, which are both really important. The boss in this instance has got a […]

By |September 27th, 2017|leadership, news|Comments Off on To see or not to see – that is the question

Getting your organisation Investors in People ready 2










This is the second in our series of blogs around Investors in People (IIP), and why you should get your organisation accredited by IIP. The first blog was a little while ago and talked about leading and inspiring people, which is the one of the three key indicators under the ‘leading’ heading in the organisation’s own standard.

For this piece, we’re going to look at the second key indicator, living the organisation’s values.

Here’s what IIP says this means:

‘People and leaders act in line with the organisation’s values at all times. They have the courage and support to challenge inconsistent behaviours.’

If you’re a regular reader of our blogs, you’ll know this is a subject we’re pretty fond of and have written about before. Even if IIP accreditation isn’t something you’re interested in, living your organisation’s values is still a behaviour you should adopt, and get everyone else to do the same.

What we’re not going to do in this blog is tell you what values your organisation should have. That’s for you to decide. It’s your organisation and it’s up to you how you want people to behave. We’re more concerned with some ways you can make sure you (and your people) are always aware of your values, and act in line with them no matter what.

Let’s assume you’ve got your values in place and everyone in your organisation knows what they are. This could be because they’re on display around your offices and when people log in to your intranet system, plus there’s loads of supporting information to explain exactly what they […]

By |September 16th, 2017|Employee engagement, news|Comments Off on Getting your organisation Investors in People ready 2

Sliding Doors – a true story

This week’s blog is different to what we usually post. It’s written by our MD, Janet Richmond, after something she and her partner experienced recently on holiday in Corfu. The events are true, but the names have been changed – you’ll understand why once you’ve read it.











If you’ve seen the 90s film Sliding Doors, you’ll know that it alternates between two parallel universes, based on the two paths the central character could take depending on whether or not she catches a train, and causing different outcomes in her life.

The reason I’m talking about this particular film is because I’ve been reflecting on the ‘What if’ concept of the film since returning from a holiday in Corfu. The holiday is one I’ll never forget, but not for the reasons you’d expect.

I was with my partner on the island. We were staying at a beautiful location, the hotel was set in the cliff side, high above Ermones Beach, surrounded by lush forest. Idyllic.

On day three of the holiday, as we waited for the funicular to take us up to the restaurant for breakfast, I realised it was on its way back down, so quick as a flash the decision was made to go down to the beach instead.

We found our usual fantastic space and grabbed two sunbeds looking out to sea, with no one in front or behind us. Perfect. That sweet spot had kicked in by now where you’re totally relaxed and we settled down to catch the early morning sunshine.

Everything was about to change.

As I […]

By |September 6th, 2017|news|Comments Off on Sliding Doors – a true story

Keeping your organisation in tune with your employee voice










If there’s one thing employees really value in an organisation today, it’s having a voice. And that voice being heard and taken notice of.

In fact, it’s often the only way they can be heard and get their point of view across in some organisations. This then leads to a workforce that feels more involved and valued because someone’s listening. Engagement then shoots up, as does creativity and productivity. Everyone’s a winner.

But it’s no good having an employee voice that rings out loud and clear if you’re not in tune with what it’s saying. Encouraging people to speak out is great, but it’s equally important to listen to what’s being said and act on it.

So how do you go about doing that?

The first thing to do is make sure your employees are involved in decision making, particularly when there’s changes happening that affect them. Ask them to offer their honest opinion on things. This is getting the employee voice set up.

Next, you need to assure them they’ll be listened to so they’ll open up. To tune into your employee voice, you really need to listen to what’s being said by everyone in the organisation. No-one’s point of view is more important than anyone else’s so take everyone’s opinion into account.

Once you’ve done this, you can see what your employees’ needs are in the organisation, and start to communicate what they are. More importantly – you can also start to talk about what you’re going to do to address them. This shows you’re really in-tune with your workforce and have properly listened to their voice.

It’s this […]

By |August 17th, 2017|leadership|Comments Off on Keeping your organisation in tune with your employee voice

What’s your strategic narrative?










Are you sitting comfortably…then we’ll begin.

You’ll recognise this sentence as the opening to most of your favourite stories. These familiar words let you know you’re about to be told (or read) something wonderful where you can get immersed in the words, and paint pictures of what’s happening in your mind.

That’s what stories do. They help you visualise things and make them real. They capture your emotions and make you laugh and cry – often at the same time. There’s not much else you can think of that you can say that about.

We’re talking about stories because to have an effective strategic narrative for your organisation, you need to know what its story is. And be able to tell it in a way that’ll engage and relate to people.

A strategy is a plan of action at a certain point in time, whereas a strategic narrative is the journey the business is on, so think about the journey your organisation needs to go on to get where you need to. It needs to be authentic and believable, so stick to the truth and don’t shy away from telling it how it is even if that sometimes involves negatives.

To start, try asking yourself these three questions: Where is your organisation now? Where do you want it to get to? How do we get there? This is your journey.

The journey need to be something achievable, so avoid setting grandiose plans no-one in your organisation will think are realistic. The most effective journeys allow for – and even encourage – people to learn and adapt as they go along […]

By |August 10th, 2017|change management, leadership|Comments Off on What’s your strategic narrative?