More about Employee enlightenment

During these uncertain times it’s worth exploring how organisations can work together and maximize the contribution of everyone

employee-engagementLatest blog from bookboon about my book follows on from the February newsletter and continues to explore the engagement as a management device or as a tool for growth

Employee Engagement: Organisational Brain Washing or Enlightenment?

What do you think of current trends on problems for companies and people?


For organisations
Larger organisations are looking for more tailored and integrated ways of driving action. When trying to marshal large scale diverse and remote work forces the one size fits all doesn’t work. Localized, targeted and aligned programmes have a far higher chance of success.

Sometimes organisations rely on shuffling the pack to solve the organisational ills, this form of illness shows itself in dysfunctional behaviours, over competition, in fighting and empire building, which results in a lack of trust and a huge waste of resources.

Looking for a magic bullet has long since been a recipe for failure, so what is driving the lack of progress within organisations?
The same old gets the same old
Being covert instead of explicit
Following a process blindly without full examination of the risks; being a robot not a human. Allowing senior people to work by cliques and head / horns approaches; everyone must be like my own image, speak the same jargon and not be a threat to me in any way.

Organisations need to regenerate a sense of belonging and re-establish trust and integrity levels. Having open and clear conversations has an enormous pay off. Collaborative and collective forms of leadership are the key a common message in a common way with personalized emphasis

To use a football metaphor, when the team doesn’t perform there’s always another manager with a great reputation ready to step in and save the day. The boss stays for a shorter time, the MD is on the line, too, and their time may be short. Some organisations are becoming skeletal in nature; too thin to survive. Therefore, there is no room to anticipate or deal with any fluctuation of the plan.

Risks and experimentation are at a minimum. Innovation is marginalized and the same old gets the same old. Change is not getting any slower and shortages exist at all key levels, so perhaps getting the best from people is not such a costly idea and practice after all. The world is small and big at the same time; speed and flexibility are the key.

So how can these patterns be avoided? Clarity and trust are the keys; clarity about what the organisation is about and trust of the people to be involved, engaged and a part of the organisation.

For individuals
Resilience is the key. Keep learning, take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. Look for the good in what’s happening and have realistic expectations. Enjoy the now.

Many of these approaches sound simple to do, but often the complexity and pressure of organisational life means that we are distracted and unable to focus because of fears, real or imagined, and in this position of weakness people are expected to give of their best? Really?

Be self reliant, self motivated and self developmental, because in some strange way this is what the organisation wants from you, and it’s what you want for yourself.

Learning is the key. Keep being open to new and different things; give the brain something to work with.

The more we express our concerns and see the reality of them, and the more we develop our dreams, the more they turn into reality.

Time is finite, most other things can be adjusted.

Let me know what other problems are holding your organisation back from within.

Five Top Tips
1. Encourage your staff to voice their opinions and thoughts.

2. Reward creativity, even if at first it seems like a mad idea.

3. When reaching consensus give time to overcome obstacles or you will only come back to them later.

4. Recognize that learning takes place every day and encourage everyone to share what they have learned this week or month.

5. Start with trusting yourself and finish with trusting the team and the organisation.

Is cooperation collaboration?

A belated August newsletter with some further September thoughts

FCI launch 1

What is the biggest barrier to cooperation?

Old style treating people as resources, keeping people in the dark, not admitting when things go wrong, pretending that you have all the answers are all factors in a non-cooperative organisation. But the biggest single barrier to cooperation is thinking that only one person has all the answers.

Cooperation is based upon the ability of people to give and take and to understand each others points of view. Sometimes I think this simple fact gets lost in all the management speak, leadership gurus or specialist coaching systems that people use to help them to adapt and communicate with one another

Does speed equal effectiveness?

What seems to get in the way is time, we don’t have enough of it, and we need to do other things? We start to take short cuts in what we say and how we say it, hoping that the other person will magically understand what’s inside our heads.

Unfortunately this doesn’t often work.

Sometimes we need time to check out what is being said, sometimes we need to ask questions, and sometimes we need to understand the intention behind what is being said, even if it isn’t stated explicitly. This takes time. This contradicts the old adage ‘speed equals effectiveness’. Speed does not always equal effectiveness; in fact speed can be very ineffective, especially where it hinders understanding.

The more we understand and seek to understand each other the more the barrier gets lowered and the ability to cooperate increases.

Another factor in cooperation is that both sides need to have something that is useful for them; this is bit of an extension of ‘what’s in it for me’, it now becomes ‘what’s in it for us’. Getting people to cooperate creates a shared mutual benefit.

What drives and motivates us is there all the time in our language, in our emotions and in our thoughts. I have often worked with teams and individuals to bridge a divide and scale a barrier and it always starts by carefully drawing out what they really mean.

So the biggest barrier to cooperation is simple really: it’s you and me.

This is often born out by being not only being unclear about our goals but also even more unclear about our intention which sits beneath the  goal and adjusts it in our thinking.

So collaboration s much more about having aligned intentions way of thinking beliefs and values

How have you turned things around?

July 2015 newsletter
In my line of work I often meet organisations and teams where things are not working well.  Having been recommended to a senior executive from a public sector agency by a private sector manager from a local networking group, I met with him to talk about the issues he had with his team.After describing how his team was acting and reacting to one another and how some of the issues were to do with specific individuals, he then explained how difficult it was to change their behaviour. Typically, these issues were the surface reactions and through some further discussion I discovered that some team members avoided each other, some set each other up to fail and some competed over everything or simply did their own thing and generally acted very unlike a team.

Change can be liberating

I suggested it would be useful for me to meet each team member and talk through the situation and how it was affecting them. During these discussions we talked about what it was like to work for that company, what they got out of it, what they enjoyed, what frustrated them and how they saw themselves. A common problem in situations like this is that everyone sees others faults and problems and the need for change, but few are willing to make the change themselves.  This proved to be true in this situation.

To get things started, I did some individual profiles.  This allowed them to have a common language to describe how they worked with one another, what their preferences were and why they saw the world differently.  These profiles were conducted individually and privately so they could challenge and discuss freely.

Then I brought the team together to display the results (anonymously) and talk through where they were now and where they wanted to be. During this process it became apparent that the team was very used to playing ‘the away day’ game; where everyone was nice to each on the day, but once back in the office reverted to their previous behaviour.What they hadn’t realized was that other parts of the workshops would be about them having paired discussions and that these discussions would form the basis of their action plans. I think for the first time in a training session they were required to commit to change and this would be followed up by mentoring from their boss with some coaching from me.

Everyone understood that they could speak without fear of recrimination.  At times emotions and concerns were highly charged and often very vocal.  The focus was on moving forward, not reconstituting the past. It proved to be a liberating experience for them all.

At the end of the workshops (held over several days) the team created a ‘team charter’ detailing how they would work with each other, how they would behave during their group meetings and how they would be mindful of each others’ feelings. They also agreed that they would exchange information and teach each other about their diverse roles and how these interrelated.

This process released the trapped potential of the team, with team members and the team leader now being energized and committed to a common and shared future. The way they worked with one other changed dramatically. In terms of results they went from being mid-table and on a downward trajectory for their type of agency, to being in the top five in the country