It costs nothing yet means so much so why is there so little of it?

How many managers do you know walk around with a frown on their face?  In fact some I have known frown all of the time because they do not know they are doing it, they are having a hard time themselves or need their eyes testing.  There is also the other reason; they think it will make others do what they ask them to do because they are scared!

Frowning and other unfriendly behaviour either brings out aggression or negativity in the other person, or in some case intimidates them.  If you are a frowner what ever their reaction you will not be getting the best out of them and you will not be able to develop them as it will not allow you to communicate effectively.

Smiling however can have a wonderful effect on morale, a smiling manager creates a positive atmosphere, one that people thrive in and infact due to the infectious nature of a smile other are more likely to smile back. 

Smiling is in no way a sign of weakness it indicates openness and confidence, so long as the smile is not a sickly grin of course.  It makes you feel better, reduces negative stress and creates the right atmosphere for others to be attentive and listen.

With all of these benefits and rewards that cost nothing why do we not give feedback to those that walk around with a frown – they may not know they are doing it!

You owe it to them, their colleagues and your business to ask them to turn their frown into a smile and enjoy the rewards that will soon come their way.

Is your bicycle going in the right direction?

At times as a team we loose sight of our direction and what we want and need to achieve, this often causes us stress and unhappiness. Stress being a lack of clarity, not knowing where we are going or how we are going to get there.

Get your team to take a look at this picture, imagine the team is the Bicycle, and ask yourselves the following questions to help you head back in the right direction:

Is our bicycle going in the right direction?

Where are our steps leading to?

Which steps do we need to take first?

Is our bicycle maintained and in the right condition for the journey?

Do we have any flat tyre’s?

Is everyone in the team on board?

Does anyone else need to join us?

By taking these steps your journey will be so much easier, together you will get your bicycle heading back in the right direction, you will know what needs to happen to get your team on board and who else needs to join for the journey you to make it happen.

Enjoy the journey!

How to gain the maximum return on investment from networking

Do you have people in your teams who you know need to network more? For those of us who are slightly more mature we will recall this meaning a trip to the golf course, corporate hospitality or a long lunch, however the world today has changed – for most any way!

The primary focus of any networking must be its effectiveness for both parties – will both get what they want and as a result save both time and money.

My first experiences of networking still bring a smile to my face and a shudder down my spine. I was in my teens; my manager told me I needed to network as it was a good source of business.  It sounded like a great idea but I was a novice and therefore had my own idea of what happens.  That idea was lots of friendly people in the same room, all coming up to me (I didn’t need to go and find them), a good lunch, time out of the office – all sounded fantastic and yes I know very naïve. If only my manager had gone on to explain what he really meant he would have achieved a greater return for the investment of my time!

My wide eyed innocence meant I booked myself on the first event available, on the day put on my best suit, I needed to impress all of these people who were going to give me business, picked up my large pile of business cards, arrived early and waited around nervously by comparison a rabbit staring into headlights!  When things eventually got started I gave out and gathered business cards, left thinking I had been successful. It was only when back I got back to the office I sat down and looked at the cards in front of me my thoughts were – where is the business I should have got, had I done something wrong?

All a long time ago and not something I repeated being a fast learner, but oh could my manager have saved both of us time in doing so.

Whilst I accept much of networking is now done using sites like Linked in, there is still a valuable place for face to face networking and if you manage someone who as part of their role is required to network I am confident this will help.

Firstly explain what networking is, it’s about mutually helping one another and being prepared to give. This may seem obvious but don’t leave it to chance. Now ask them the following 10 questions.

Why are you taking the time out to do this? …make sure they are clear on the outcome they want.

What do you want to achieve from attending this event? …could be they are looking for buyers or suppliers make sure they know who is expected to attend.

When in the day do you have most energy? … if they are a morning person – go to breakfast events. Also remind them to book in time after to follow up on the people they have met.

What are you considering wearing? …you only get one chance to make a first impression and time costs money that you can only spend once.

How much do you really believe you can do this? …allows you to explore any fears they may have.

How will you introduce yourself to others? …encourage them to create a memorable introduction e.g. if they are an accountant it could be I am Jane Webb I help people pay less tax and make more money” it needs to stimulate interest and make people want to find out more.

What will you do to follow up immediately after the event? …it could be an email or phone call.

Is there anything that will stop you from doing this? …networking takes time and is often devalued when things get busy.

What have you learnt from the networking you have done before? …will it help you to guide them on what they need to do more or less off?

What will you do first? …for example book the right type of event or find out who else is attending that they want to meet.

Questions you may also encourage them to use after their introduction could be …

Why did you choose to come to this event today? 

What are you hoping to achieve from today?

Who else do you know who would be interested in what I do?

To maximize the return for your networking investment consider – networking is similar to speed dating, if there is a mutual interest take your time, if not move on you can only spend your time once!

You never know who your audience might be..

Having listened to Lord Digby Jones speak last night in Leicester, he personified the straight talking, grounded, evidence supported  approach to public speaking that every one of the 300 plus people there found refreshing and insightful.

That response was to be expected as the room was full of lots of suits, grey hair, no hair…it was after all, a charity fund-raising event.

However something intriguing went on during Digby’s note less speech.. I was fascinated to see that the waiters and waitresses were lined up along the back wall – waiting to clear plates in their eyes “as and when the old duffer in the grey suit sat down”.

In the ensuing 40 minute trip round the world that is Digby’s nomadic corporate life,  their demeanour changed…gradually they stopped staring at their shoes, the ceiling, in fact anything other than the stage……

Sentence by sentence they became more active listeners…after the 39th minute, when Digby sat down I witnessed the majority of them [girls, boys, white, Asian, African] simultaneously join in the applause.

Wow…..the power of telling it as it is.

If only our leaders [“ the Metropolitan Elite “ as Digby described them!] and the Politicians could convey their ideology in a similar way.

One does…and his name is Boris…

14 May 2013

What will you and your people be doing for Learning at work Day 23rd May 2013?

Learning at Work Day is a Government initiative intended to inspire people in all types of roles to embrace learning.  It’s a great way for your people to learn something new and amaze themselves with new skills.

Maze suggests that before you and your people decide to leap into doing something new and exciting in response to this day, that you ask yourselves ‘why have you chosen to do this?’ Maze Research can reveal that if you ask yourself ‘why you are doing something’ 7 times you are much more likely to arrive at the real reason – one that is sustainable, reveals your true motivation and therefore why you are more likely to succeed.

All too often people pick up on something they have read in a book, seen on the TV or on a website that they think is worth trying or something they should do, however the all to familiar reason that it does not last is that they were not really clear on ‘why’ they had chosen to do it in the first place and what difference it will actually make to them.

To learn something new, achieve some real momentum and make a difference in your organisation on ‘Learning at Work Day 23rd May’ get your people to start asking themselves ‘why’ 7 times before they decide to start a new initiative or way of working – you will be amazed at the results, people will be doing the right things, those that make a difference and they will be seen through to the end.

Before you do this, ask your self ‘why’ and if you truly believe it will help them and you will get more of the right things done – go for it!

To meet or not to meet ….that is the question?

On an average weekday there are 1 million meetings happening in the UK, a scary thought considering 48% of employees feel that unfocussed meetings are the largest workplace time waster! The simple maths tells us they feel 480,000 of those 1 million meetings waste their time and your money!

Do we ask them why they feel this is the case, in most instances the answer will be no because ‘this is the way we have always done things’ and they are one of the 80% of business leaders who have never been trained on how to manage meetings.

Before you chair your next meeting ask yourself

  • Does the meeting have a clear objective – what is the purpose?
  • Is there a clear agenda – what are we going to decide?
  • Do we have the people we need – can decisions be made?
  • Is there information we can share before hand – to save time?

If you have all of this covered your questions ‘to meet or not to meet’ will be answered loud and clear – if not consider this – if nothing changes, nothing will change and your meeting will be one of the 480,000 that are seen as a waste of time!

How to grow time in one day!

Have you ever noticed how much you achieve the week before you go on holiday?

For many years I thought it was purely because I came in earlier and went home later, having given this further consideration I realised that yes I did add some extra hours to my working week however what I was actually doing was becoming a more effective leader and in doing so preparing for a holiday was no longer such a shock to the system!

Each month for at least one day I started to imagine I was going on holiday the next day (nice thought sun, sea and palm trees) I started to think more creatively about how to get things done in less time and by doing so grow time for myself.

These are some of the questions I started to ask myself:

  • Does this task actually need to be done at all?
  • If it needs doing am I the best person to do it, do I have the most experience and skills required, if not who is the best person?
  • If I don’t know who is the best person who in my Network could help me?
  • Would this actually develop others if they were involved?
  • What information will others need to complete the task and who can support them if I am not here?
  • Are there any better ways that we can make this happen – if we always do it the way we have done it, the result will always be the same and it will take the same amount of time?

It’s not about delegating more it is thinking about how you can do things differently, by doing different things.

Try it for yourself – treat one day a month as if you are going on holiday the next day, you will be amazed about how much you achieve and how much it will empower and develop others what’s more you will most definitely grow time for yourself!