Fijian Life Reminders

August 7, 2018 9:18 am

Fijian

I returned last week from a conference in Fiji and while the sessions were inspirational and thought-provoking, most impacting were the Fijian people.

Out of the fourteen countries, I have visited, I have never experienced such a collective warm embrace. From the trio singing to us as we embarked the plane; the constant happy greeting of “Bula”; the staff at customs making me feel like I was coming home—not an intruder; a people who always wanted to serve along with my favourite bartender who came and gave me a big hug upon my departure— all of these and more made me feel very much at home in a foreign place.

Timely Reminders
  1. Happiness is an internal attitude and is based not on external things. Someone mentioned that in discussion with one of the locals, they said that the Fijian people exude this happiness because they treat each day as if it is their last thus seeking to live the current day fully.
  2. People matter. For the Fijian, relationships and connection seem to be more important than anything else.
  3. Walking with an ease in our step helps us live more in the moment.

While the martinis took longer to arrive than I am used to, the big bartender’s bear hug showed me that the man’s work was much more about human connection than drink perfection. 

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Margin

July 24, 2018 6:29 pm

Margin

The English word margin comes from the Latin word margo which means edge.  Its current usage is also used in the context of the provision of space or room. If there is no margin for error, we are on the edge.

Margin provides us with:
  • breathing room
  • allowances for error
  • calmness
  • greater levels of creative thinking
  • contentment
  • energy
  • physical refreshment
  • the personal effectiveness with others
  • increased work quality

When writing the couple of books that I have I have completed, one of the tasks at the outset was to establish the margins according to the publishers preferred parameters.

I think we were designed in a way as to have preferred margins,  breathing room that is according to who we are and our individual capacities.

And just as I had to manually make the margin adjustments in my writing, so it is in our lives. If we don’t set the limits, the default is often that the words will run to the sides of the page.

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Turning Chaos Into Order

July 5, 2018 6:12 am

The one thing that I have come to understand about turning chaos into order
is to find that one thing.

Fires v3

When you notice spot fires appear in your organisation or when fires have been burning out of control for some time ask yourself (or have your managers ask it), “what is the one thing that if corrected would cause the fires to be extinguished?” This is called locating the cause. Sometimes it is one thing, sometimes more but there is always an underlying cause.

The process goes something like this:

  • List the issues;
  • Validate them. It’s not good enough to go by gut feel;
  • Locate the cause of the matter;
  • Bring correction;
  • Monitor the outcomes;
  • Manage the ongoing changes, inputs and outputs;
  • Rinse and repeat.

At a macro level, chaos can be the result of significant and fast growth thus putting downward pressure on people, systems, cash flow and so forth. Chaos can also be the result of mismanagement.

In any case, too much chaos can be the end of successful seasons, see good people walk out the door and make for a miserable work existence.

And remember my maxim: the one thing is to find that one thing and correct it.

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Lifting Your Head

June 18, 2018 7:26 am

Rainy Night

Walking home on a dismal, cold, rainy night I was focused on getting to my destination as quick as possible. At one point I realised that I was missing out on what the night had to offer. I slowed my walk, becoming present in the moment.

While the awful conditions didn’t change, I did.

I took my eyes off the circumstances and discovered things in the night that helped carry me home.

All of us, at one time or another, go through tough times. The winds and rains seem to come up from nowhere ushering us into the long night of testing and trial.

If you happen to be enduring this long walk of the night, take some time to lift your eyes and you, like me, might discover a richness in the moment that will help you walk the current journey a little easier.

The circumstances won’t necessarily change overnight but you just might.

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Don’t Lose Sight Of The Customer

June 13, 2018 7:01 am

Increasing quality and doing more with less is good business.

Quicker turn-around times; fewer people; less floor space; lighter inventory; pushing processing back onto the customer, e.g. self- checkouts; self-ordering; self-check-ins are part of today’s business world. This positively works on many fronts, but the area that it has the most significant potential for adverse impact is customer interaction.

I ate at a local hotel in Sydney last night and upon my order was given one of the buzzers that would alert me when my meal was ready – self-pickup. While I was ordering wine, the waitress engaged with me. She was real. She was friendly (despite her admission that she feels socially awkward which made the interaction even more significant). And even though there was an electronic process pushing back responsibility onto me the customer, there was a person there who was real and engaging.

And I think this is incredibly important for all organisations. Practice operational efficiency by all means.  Reduce overheads wherever possible but never, lose sight of engaging with the customer.

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The Tough and Tender Of Leadership

June 6, 2018 8:57 am

The Tough and Tender Of Leadership

I have always found that improving a business process is relatively easy i.e. find the waste or the input issues, make the necessary changes and you can with some certainty predict the outputs. When it comes to improving our people, the equation, unfortunately, isn’t quite that simple.

In this past weekend’s Herald Sun, Matthew Lloyd (previous AFL Essendon footballer) wrote a piece about new Hall of Fame legend Kevin Sheedy titled “How Kevin Sheedy Influenced My Career From Day One – Tough and Tender.”

Here are a few insights into Sheeds, that are pertinent to anyone involved in the leadership of people.

“It would take a lot for him to give up on someone, much to the frustration of those around him.

When others’ patience had been tested once too often, Sheeds would always look deeper than just the problem that had surfaced at the time. It was his greatest strength but also a weakness, because it did test relationships…

Building genuine relationships with players and gaining their trust and respect is the greatest challenge of any coach. Sheeds had this amazing ability to hit you between the eyes with what you needed to be told, but still have you believing you could be best on the ground the following week.

His ability to understand, accept and relate to the different personalities of his players was brilliant. Tactics will always be secondary to relationships when it comes to separating the great coaches from the rest. “

Tough and tender

Believing in our people; understanding how long we endure with someone; looking beyond surface problems; being tough when we need to, tender when required; relating to, and coaching the myriad of different personalities in our workplaces on a daily basis…while it can be tough, it can be incredibly rewarding.

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Operations and Strategy: The Two Hats Of Management

May 25, 2018 7:42 am

From Operations To Strategy

I have just completed speaking at a two-day workshop this week with a very astute group of national managers. From delivering approximately 7 hours of content, it gave me a fresh appreciation of just how much we as managers and leaders have to deal with at an operational level on a daily basis. Below is some of the content from one of the sessions that relate to the importance of taking time to lift our eyes to think ‘future’; to disengage our brains from the operational tasks at hand and turn our focus to strategy.

Strategy Operations

The Switch Of Hats

Taking the daily operational hat off to focus on the future can be a challenge for the most adept business owner or manager. The day to day running of our businesses and organisations often demand our all, leaving little energy and focus for anything else.

We tend to get caught up at ground level, fighting fires, dealing with staff issues and meeting budgetary shortfalls. Our minds are on making today happen, often neglecting the future planning and strategic progress that is so essential for success. When this is our ‘normal’, the ideal future gets delayed.

The switch of hats, from operations to strategy needs to be a planned activity as more often than not, does not occur on its own. A study in recent years concerning the disciplines of Australia’s leading CEO’s revealed that of the top three practices, the scheduling of time out for weekly review and reflection along with planning the future were paramount to their success. A further study by the Centre for Management and Organizational Effectiveness (CMOE) that surveyed a wide range of influential US executives indicated that on average 25 minutes per day were spent on strategising.

We would do well to practice the same. Being able to jump off at regular intervals the business or organisational boat we are sailing on; to sit on the sand and stare out at the horizon – thinking, planning, reflecting, will help us when jumping back onto the boat in operational mode. Timeout spent in this manner will enable us to take the ship more directly to its destination.

These are some areas to centre on when practising this:
• Review of progress and results in recent days and weeks – the good, the bad, the ugly
• Key issues requiring immediate attention
• Activities that are irrelevant to the current journey and need to be stopped
• What were the successes and how can we further build on them?
• What is our destination?
• Are we on track as far as the milestones previously established?

Taking time out to Review, Reflect and Plan is essential for managers and owners if they are to effectively lead and manage a growing organisation.

Review
Is about looking back at the past week, month, year or years to see what has ACTUALLY happened in terms of numbers, key indicators, growth or decline, staff, inefficiencies, successes etc.
Reflect
What is the review process and actual data communicating? Taking time to reflect on the meaning of this is essential for the next stage.
Plan
Based on what HAS taken place and in light of your key goals, how do we continue progressing from here to there? From actual to ideal. What do we need to do, change and enact in order to drive this ship forward? Planning is also about scheduling the key activities identified from the above process into your calendar. It assists in taking it from your mind to the page, to the actual operational (action) stage.

If you are similar to me, spending too much time at the coal face of operations can make one a little weary over time. Taking time out in order to think future; while advantageous for our organisations, it can also return significant benefits to our personal lives and can be its own source of inspiration and freshness.

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Brilliant at the Basics

May 9, 2018 6:54 am

Not The Best Referral

If we invest in front-end marketing but neglect the basics of quality and quick turn-around times, we effectively shoot ourselves in the foot. Even the most basic form of respect in acknowledging someone’s call or email quickly is largely neglected these days.

The basics will always be with us so it’s worth becoming brilliant at them.

 

 

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Anniversaries. Celebrating Life In Death

April 27, 2018 10:14 am

Celebrating Life In Death

Today (April 27) is the anniversary of my brother’s death (pictured left). He was killed in a car accident ten years ago.

Anniversaries like these have a way of making us pause – to reflect, to remember, to take stock of the good in life that we experience. It makes us realise that life, like a candle’s flame, can be snuffed out with one fatal blow.

My brother and I were close and regularly worked on each other’s projects. After the initial shock wore off from the news of his death, grief set in. I learned that grief has her own agenda. There are no time frames, no right or wrong ways to grieve. I also learned to allow grief to flow and not to suppress it. Grief over a period of time cleansed and healed me.

One of the significant realisations through this grief period was that I was better off celebrating his life rather than remaining in the mourning of his death for, after all, we had shared 38 years together. That was a change point. Grief took me through the loss and then pointed me to his life – the rich life we had shared together, particularly in the years prior to his departure.

I never forgot this lesson and since that time, with various other losses I have experienced, I have remembered to celebrate life in death.

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Not Another Bloody Phone Call

April 26, 2018 11:51 am

Value Of The Next Call

How many times have you been meeting with someone, their phone rings, they grumble or swear, then answer it?

Customers detect overload.

All of us want to feel like we are the most important person at that time, particularly when we are buying a product or service. When we are treated in a rushed and gruff manner, we think twice about doing business with that person or company again.

If you find yourself on overload, overwhelmed and wishing you could throw your phone against a brick wall, try the following.

  • Give your phone to your receptionist or another relevant staff person for 30-60 minutes at a time so you can concentrate on important work. THEN, return any calls that require you to do so. If the calls that come through are urgent they can always advise you to call them immediately.
  • If you work on your own you can always employ the services of a Virtual Assistant to re-route your calls to.
  • Analyse your calls. I recall working with a General Manager who averaged 80-100 calls per day. A large percentage of those were able to be re-routed to others who were the more appropriate personnel to deal with such.
  • Train your clients. When I was working in finance many years ago, I created a business card for one of my key staff members and introduced her to all my clients as the best person to call, given that she knew what was happening with their files. I also said they I was always available to my key clients. Over a period of time, my calls reduced significantly.
  • Batch your calls. Most calls are not urgent and can be batch to be completed in scheduled blocks of time.

Treating people like they are the most important person in the world at the time of engagement goes a long way to fostering employee buy-in and increased customer sales and repeat business.

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Focused Momentum

April 16, 2018 6:09 pm

Focused Momentum

Focused Momentum

Hosing all the dirt and leaves off my back courtyard and down the side path this past weekend, I observed a few things.

Firstly, that in different sections of the courtyard I was pushing the dirty water uphill as the paving foundation had not been correctly prepared. 

Secondly, that when I was intentional with the focus of the water jet, everything moved forward. When I tried to take shortcuts or lost my focus the dirty water receded.

Thirdly, there was a point that became easier. It was the apex of the path. Once the mass reached that part it all started to flow downhill.

My lessons were these.
  1. Starting a process is just the beginning. Whether it is personal or organisational change, we have to continue to push things through in a forward and focused manner in order to reach the tipping point – the apex of the path. This is where, because of the prior focused work, things become easier and gain their own momentum.
  2. When pursuing change, it’s important to maintain forward focused pressure. As soon as we lose this, the old habits and the previous ways of doing things simply have a gravity about them that prevents forward flow.
  3. Focus and consistency is everything.
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Lifestyle. Getting Your Life Back

April 9, 2018 4:47 pm

Get Your Life Back
Lifestyle. Getting Your Life Back

Many of the business owners I work with struggle to have a life outside of work. They mostly enjoy what they do, but often long for a bit more freedom from the office.

If you find yourself longing for the outside here are ten points that I often use with business owners when helping them get their life back.

  1. Ask: What are the ingredients that (for you) contribute to living full of vitality? e.g. diet, fitness, rest, play, type of work etc.
  2. Understand what your limits are. What agendas and schedules have you living out on the edge?
  3. Clarify the outcomes you want along with some goals you know would breathe life into you. e.g. visit our beach house monthly; a fully systemised business; go to the gym 3 days per week; be home at 5 pm daily to see my children; complete a wine appreciation course.
  4. What are the key changes I need to make that will contribute to obtaining these outcomes/goals?
  5. Take time to design work pathways away from yourself. You don’t have to do it all. This often means a position description review of other employees and/or the recruitment of other key personnel in order to redistribute your tasks to them.
  6. Over time, incorporate into your schedule ONLY that which contributes to your desired outcomes.
  7. Always ask, “who else can do this?” Delegate and then follow up.
  8. Learn to say no to others agendas and yes to your own.
  9. Plan next week this week; tomorrow, today.
  10. When you leave the office, intentionally close your door as a way of mentally shifting gears to the life you are stepping into outside of the office walls.

Lifestyle is all about the style of life we are living. Managing our lives according to the outcomes we desire is a powerful way to live a fulfilled life.

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Meaningful Work

April 5, 2018 5:32 pm

Some years back, a new acquaintance showed up. His name was Depression. A friend of mine at the time mentioned that a psychologist had said that being busy doing meaningful work was one of the best ways to distance oneself from his pestering presence.

I never forgot that.

When I interview employees these days I often ask them, “what is it that you truly enjoy about your work and what aspects of it do you particularly like?” The thing I have noticed is that once they start talking about what they enjoy, both their eyes and their mouths light up.

Enjoyment Performance Theory suggests that “Employees who enjoy at least 75% or more of their job are three times more likely to succeed than employees who enjoy less than 75% of their job. That makes understanding factors like work satisfaction vitally important for making the right hiring decisions, motivating employees, and retaining top talent.” *

Reflecting on our own careers, and the positioning of our team members, the key questions that arise are:

  • what do I/you enjoy most about what I do?
  • what is the percentage of enjoy to dislike?
  • how can I/you increasingly position myself/yourself in the 75%+ zone?

Meaningful work is work that one enjoys and can provide a sense of purpose. And while it can be challenging, disheartening at times and tiring, living in the 75%+ zone stimulates a fortitude, resilience and momentum that is naturally propelled from within (an intrinsic motivation) as compared to the have to’s of external demands and expectations.

* Harrison Assessments

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Releasing Control. If it is to be, it’s up to me and THEM.

March 25, 2018 7:33 pm

You’ve probably heard the saying “if it is to be it’s up to me.” While the quote holds water on some levels it’s quite leaky in others.

For a variety of reasons, business owners, managers and leaders find it hard to let go. “No one can do it as well as me” is one of those ‘reasons’ and an oft-repeated phrase I hear.

Businesses often hit this challenge when they reach growth ceilings. The organisation has grown to the extent where the owner or managers can’t effectively be involved in everything, yet work excessively long hours and weeks in an attempt to maintain control.

The challenge at this point is to reconfigure the above saying to “if it is to be, it’s up to me and THEM.”

Moving from a small enterprise mindset to a larger enterprise mindset; to move from the current operating level to the next; to move through those inhibiting ceilings of growth prevention, we have to release control.

We move from:

  • me doing it, to training
  • others to do it and then,
  • releasing them to do it.

As we release others to take over our previous tasks we then establish checks and balances along with key data reports to ensure the just in time reporting of quality, timeliness, customer satisfaction, financial results etc.

We move from maintaining control through doing it all ourselves to controlling the organisation through effective planning, the utilisation and management of others and progress reporting.

Yes, there will be the pain in the process and yes, others will falter along the way. But if we want to progress upwards, making the shift from me to them is well worth acting upon.

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The Fruit Platter. When Little Things Are Big Things

March 14, 2018 5:47 am

Fruit platter

A few years back, I stayed regularly in the same 5-star hotel on one of my travels. Everything about the place appeared to hum with efficiency. From concierge to the front desk personnel to the cleaning staff – all were pleasant and always willing to assist. Check-in was quick as was checking-out, with an express envelope arriving under my door on the day of departure to get me out of the place quickly. This I expect from a 5-star establishment.

However, I had noticed repeatedly that the process of meeting my preferences was largely neglected. My simple requests for a morning paper left at my door and a fruit platter on my arrival had not been attended to. I always had to ask for the wireless password and was only made aware of the business assistance available on my last visit, which ideally should have been outlined on my initial stay 12 months prior.

While they scored 10 out of 10 in most areas of service, they failed on the small things – those little things that can be really big things to a customer.

What was interesting, is that when I questioned them about my preferences being constantly over-looked, the check-in staff responded that when they get busy they forget to follow through. Surprising though how the bill always arrived, even when at capacity!

For your business, it’s the little things that matter to the customer – the sense of individual care one receives when dealing with your company.  They expect speed and efficiency, these are standard expectations. The small things, on the other hand, can make all the difference in the world, creating repeat customers and word of mouth referrals. These are the some of the feel-good emotional factors that come from interacting with you.

When considering your organisation, create a list of what customers expect, such as quick response to calls and emails, professional service and presentation, expert technical advice etc. Then make a list of what they don’t expect. The little things that would be big things. And often, it’s the little things that set you apart from your competition.

Your invoice won’t necessarily bring them back a second time but the fruit platter just might.

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Timely Reminders

March 6, 2018 5:31 pm

As I fly back to Melbourne tonight after an enriching and busy time away, I thought I’d document some significant timely reminders that came from observations and conversations with quality individuals – both at a business and personal level.

  • Doing short term urgent work is needful when required. Always delaying long-term important work because of the urgent defers solid future growth and profitability.
  • If you are not pushing ahead but merely resting on your past successes, first comes the plateau then the erosion of such.
  • Quality employees like to feel they are making a difference and need to grow and be challenged in their work. If this is absent in their role, they have a higher chance of becoming permanently absent from your organisation.
  • One cause of poor cash flow is not invoicing immediately after job completion.
  • It’s important to expect much from our staff while looking out for them and encouraging them in the process.
  • We tend to undervalue and undercharge for our expertise.
  • The most ‘loyal’ employees could be ripping us off. Allow trust to sit at its highest point of 99%. The remaining 1% is our allowance for the fact that they are human.
  • The stories we tell ourselves about actual events can sometimes be fictional stories.
  • People who feel insecure, inferior and powerless in themselves often promote themselves by various means to feel superior and powerful, compensating for their inner lack. Secure and Powerful people, on the other hand, are sometimes the quietest people in the room.
  • Some of the most courageous people:
    • seek professional help when needed;
    • exercise vulnerability and honesty in their conversations with trusted others;
    • face and deal with their inner demons;
    • continue pushing out of their comfort zones;
    • demonstrate teachability;
    • try new ways and approaches;
    • might stumble and fall badly but always get up no matter how bloodied or bruised from the battle.
  • The more one can systemise their business processes and get the right people in the right roles, the faster one can manage and grow their organisation with greater focus, intent and momentum.
  • Transitions can be daunting times. Extending grace to either ourselves or others in these times assist the transitioner to move forward with greater ease.
  • Two great words in sales are “tell me….”
    E.g. tell me about your greatest challenges, your highest priorities, what these delays are costing you.
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Strong Back Feedback…For The Brave Only

February 28, 2018 12:34 pm

Strong Back FeedbackFor The Brave Only

Strong Back Feedback

Brené Brown quotes in her book Braving The Wilderness a piece from Roshi Joan Halifax:

“All too often our so-called strength comes from fear, not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front shielding a weak spine. In other words, we walk around brittle and defensive, trying to conceal our lack of confidence. If we strengthen our backs, metaphorically speaking, and develop a spine that’s flexible but sturdy, then we can risk having a front that’s soft and open… How can we give and accept care with strong back, soft front compassion, moving past fear into a place of genuine tenderness? I believe it comes about when we can be truly transparent, seeing the world clearly – and letting the world see into us. “

Recently I asked for some personal feedback on a global consulting forum that I have been part of for years. I chose to be transparent and vulnerable. It took courage to do it as I risked getting a ‘virtual slap.’ The response from many of my colleagues was insightful, encouraging and yes, I got slapped. I didn’t take everything on board but overall it was extremely beneficial and needed.

The strange thing is …we think that in order to be strong we need to demonstrate that we have it all together. We think that we are more effective having that ‘defended front shield’ as per the above quote where in actual fact, it can seriously undermine our personal growth, human connections and our leadership effectiveness.

Feedback From Others

When I used to take my kids on regular date nights I would often ask: “what would you like me to stop doing, do less of or do more of?” They ALWAYS gave me feedback and often remind me of it now that they are older.

Asking the people that you lead to provide feedback on your leadership and on how the organisation can run more effectively can be incredibly insightful – but it takes a brave soul to do that.

Dropping our guard with close friends or a significant other, allowing them into our personal worlds – our fears, our challenges, our hopes and aspirations – while sometimes a scary process can promote personal connection significantly. Asking for their perspective can help us see things that we are blinded to.

The more teachable we are; the more we ask for objective insight and feedback; the more we drop our defensive fearful guards – the faster progression takes place at both an organisational and a personal level. The connections we have with the people we love and we lead will be significantly enhanced and there will be a sense of ‘team’, not the isolation that comes from walking with an impenetrable front shield.

“Brené Brown again says it perfectly: “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

Best,
Ray

You might also like Empathy. The Leadership Performance Driver

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The Monkey Bars Of Life. Let Go To Move Forward

February 21, 2018 5:34 pm

Air Force Basic Military Training trainees begin the monkey bars obstacle June 30, 2010, at the confidence course at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. In BMT, trainees learn the critical importance of discipline, teamwork and foundational knowledge needed to succeed as an Airman. (U.S. Air Force photo/Robbin Cresswell)

In order for us to move forward, we have to let go.

Whether it’s a relationship, a career, a business, material possessions, a previous way of operating or the multitude of other possible areas, letting go can be hard. And the longer we clasp our fingers tight around that which we are so desperately trying to keep, it hinders progress forward.

I think some of the reasons we struggle to let go are:

  • Fear of the unknown.
    “At least what I have now provides some certainty, even if I don’t like what is happening.” Letting go of the old means the ushering in of a new state and that can be downright scary.
  • Fear of losing.
    “I have two million dollars in the bank but if I follow my dream that puts all my previous hard work at risk.”
    “There is so much opportunity for us to expand our business and double our sales but in order to do that we have to invest in new systems and people and we could lose big time.”
  • Loss of our identity and status.
    We find validation and thus our identity in what we currently have or what we’ve done. We have over time, become emotionally and intrinsically linked to that state. e.g. “I’m a CEO” or “I work 80 hours a week” or, “I’ve done this for twenty years.” Driving a luxury car or earning a high income, for example, can also provide false senses of identity and status.
  • We are currently gaining something from not letting go,
  • Sentimentality.
    This particularly relates to material possessions and the difficulty we have in letting these go
  • “It’s the ‘right’ thing to stay in the current state.
    A friend asked me 5 years ago, “Why are you still in your marriage?” I responded, “Because it’s the right thing to do.” His response initiated the change: “Ray, it’s not what’s right that counts, it’s what’s best.”

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.” Jon Krakauer. Into The Wild

Sheryl Sandberg wrote: “So please ask yourself: What would I do if I weren’t afraid? And then go do it.”

Exercise the courage to let go your grip on the current bar you’re holding and swing out to the next one in order to propel you forward. Yes, you may fall off and have to attempt it again but, if you stay stationary you will miss the sense of exhilaration and satisfaction that only letting go will give you and, you will miss the new horizons and the lands that await beyond them.

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Employees: A Reflection Of Management

February 6, 2018 5:58 am

Grapes

I visited the Curlewis Winery on the Bellarine Peninsula this past weekend in Victoria. Their wine was the definite go back for more variety. As I drove into the property I could see immediately the high care that was given to the vines. Their website says that the owner “wraps each cordon himself by hand in a process that takes up to three months. This hands-on, detailed approach is applied to every step of growing, nurturing, protecting and eventually picking the fruit.”

And as for the vine so for our people.

Talking to an employee recently they said, “I have learned to just do my job – nothing more, nothing less.” Digging a little deeper it was obvious that this was a case of diminished care of the vine by management resulted in lacklustre fruit.

I have met and worked with other team members over my time who are constantly improving, taking ownership of their roles, attempting new things, suggesting better ways of operating to their managers and so forth. When I see these employees in action  (and particularly a team made up of these types) I don’t have to look far to see that the leader is one that nurtures his vines (people) for greatness.

If you desire to increase both the quality and yield of your organisation, don’t forget that the vines need attention. Take care of them and they will take care of you.

 

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Grateful. Australia Day Reflection

January 30, 2018 5:51 am

Flags

This past Friday, I tuned in to hear and see what was happening across the country for the  Australia Day events and increasingly found myself incredibly grateful for this country I am part of.

I heard stories of appreciative migrants; I saw the invasion marches and the proclamations of “we have survived”; the thousands of people who became Australian citizens;  awards presented to those who are making a difference in this country and across the globe. Watching the Sydney Australia Day concert that night, I found myself quite moved through parts of it. Aside from the actual artists and various high-quality theatrical components of the event, what further fuelled my gratitude was our ethnic diversity (both of the crowd and those who shared the stage) and the heartening sight of both Indigenous and Australian flags being proudly lifted to the heavens, side by side.

It is not a perfect country by any means and while there is much work to be done (and changing the date of Australia Day I think, is one of those changes that would further assist the healing process and unity of our nation) it is a fortunate country. And for that, I am grateful.

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In The Shower With Ray

January 15, 2018 1:03 pm

<‘In The Shower With Ray’ photo excluded due to high possibility of massive unsubscription >

Discussing the year that was, over a beer with a couple of business owners before Christmas, they were commenting how the best ideas for their company had come, not from brainstorming in the boardroom but while making toasted sandwiches in the kitchen.

A few days before this meeting I had been reflecting on where my best ideas were generated from and realised that they come mostly when my brain is not busy processing a million bits of information or trying to come up with good ideas.

And one of those places is in the shower.

For me, the shower is representative of environments where creative thinking comes quite naturally and where I have space for my thoughts to roam.

I remember reading about the founders of Snapchat and how the idea was generated in their college days through discussions around sexting and in the midst of their alcohol fuelled parties. The idea that posted photos not coming back to haunt them seemed a great idea. They took the idea, developed it, took the company public and are now worth just a little more than the average person.

Rod Judkins, in The Art of Creative Thinking, says, “Creativity isn’t a switch that’s flicked on or off; it’s a way of seeing, engaging and responding to the world around you.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, best known for her book Eat, Pray, Love says, “Ideas of every kind are constantly galloping toward us, constantly pass through us, constantly trying to get our attention.”

If you want a boost in creative ideas this year whether for your organisation or your own life here are a few thoughts:

  • Give your mind some additional regular roam time
  • Keep a journal handy to jot down the ideas that come to you
  • Follow the best ideas through. This is the common failure point.
  • If you have employees, create an anonymous suggestion box (to reduce any fear of a bad idea). This way, whenever they think of how the organisation could do things better or there are different opportunities to be pursued, they simply jot down the thought and drop it in the box. You could even go to giving a prize for the best idea of the month. (I am sure that the idea owner will put their hand up if there was a prize at stake).
  • If you want to get your teams together for idea generation days, make sure it’s in an environment that is conducive to creativity and freedom of thought

The Hungarian psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi stated, “Be open to what the world is telling you. Life is nothing more than a stream of experiences – the more widely and deeply you swim in it, the richer your life will be.”

Some ideas will stick and if developed and followed through have the potential to be game changers. Others, (such as my thought about changing my blog site to www.intheshowerwithray.com.au) for the moment, need to wash down the plughole.

May the year ahead be one of the long shower and game-changing thoughts.

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Love Languages In The Workplace

January 11, 2018 9:39 am

I remember reading Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages many years ago. The one thing I took with me and have sought to implement over the years (sometimes successfully and at other times dismally) is that each of us hears love, value and appreciation in our own particular way.

If someone speaks to you in Chinese and you understand only English, there is little, if any chance, that you will have any clue as to what they are communicating. It makes sense therefore that if we are to communicate to someone, in order for them to understand us, it has to be in their language – one that they comprehend.

Some people understand our value and appreciation of them verbally and others don’t. The key here is taking the time to understand what the other person’s particular language (or languages) are.

Gary Chapman lists the following languages:

  1. Gift Giving
  2. Words of affirmation
  3. Quality time
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical touch

How do these play out in the expression of value and appreciation to those who work for you and with you? And note, I always advocate saying ‘thank you’ with each of these.

  1. Gift Giving
    Simply put, these people appreciate the smallest of things. It might be a cup of coffee that you buy for them through to a holiday in the Bahama’s for outstanding performance.
  2. Words of affirmation
    The words ‘thank you’ are powerful words. As I posted in my blog a few weeks back, “Gratitude, particularly expressed in the two words thank you to all in our relational sphere, though taking but a second to express, can reverberate through the receivers psyche for a lifetime – making the journey all the more richer.” This can be expressed both verbally and written.
  3. Quality time
    This obviously is a tricky one for business owners and managers but it might mean instead of having coffee or lunch on your own, you take one of your people with you.  You could include an employee in helping you accomplish a task. If you have a long drive to do or a flight to catch you take them with you. The key here is quality time whereby you are expressing interest in who they and how they are travelling.
  4. Acts of Service
    Your manager’s car broke down on the way to work…you make the call and arrange the towing service for him, paying for it in the process. An employee is struggling with his paperwork and you stay back and help him get up to date. One of the female team members expresses how her yard is overgrown and you organise some of the staff to head over on a Saturday morning for a working bee.
  5. Physical Touch.
    Ahh… where angels fear to tread. This obviously is a tricky one and I’m not referring to the types of sexual touch that the media moguls are currently being called out for. From personal experience here, I have found that when some people talk they automatically touch me on the arm. This has proven to be a good indicator that one of their languages is touch. In turn, when I say thank you to them or express my gratitude for who they are or the work they do, I simply touch them on the arm in the process.

The place to start is to understand what your personal love language is and also those closest to you. Then, in the workplace, start observing and trying a few different languages as you express gratitude and value to your team. Some will hit the mark, others will miss and if all else fails, the fact that you are trying to express appreciation and saying those magical words ‘thank you’ will in themselves, move your workplace culture and team members engagement forward.

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The Desert. A Significant Year

January 3, 2018 3:38 pm

The Desert

Happy New Year!

The rollover into any new year brings with it, for many, the opportunity to start afresh; to make new years resolutions; to draft new plans for a successful year; to eliminate the unnecessary; to incorporate positive changes and so forth. And no doubt by now you would have viewed the many good wishes and the standard new year rah rah from your connections extolling much of the above.

I am aware, however, that for some of you reading this and for some you know, entering the new year is not one of happiness but more akin to experiencing the heat and isolation of the desert rather than the refreshment and promise of the oasis.

  • For the woman who has just left an abusive relationship and is currently in a women’s shelter
  • The CEO who was made redundant two days before Christmas
  • The couple who on New Years day decided to part ways
  • The person who thinks the world is better off without them
  • The business owner who is heading back to work uncertain if they can make it through the next six months
  • The homeless person facing another year of begging for money and cold winter nights
  • <YOU CAN INSERT YOUR OWN OR YOUR FRIENDS STORY HERE IF RELEVANT…>

While not wanting to take the shine off the new year, the above is simply the reality for some reading this and for others you know. Some will enter the desert for the first time; for others, it is a case of same shit different year – same sand, same heat, same isolation… yet all the while searching for that elusive oasis and the end to desert sands.

My Desert Education

I recall a number of years ago, I was so glad that a new year was starting given the hardship of the previous year which included a marriage break up. Little did I know that the new year was to be much harsher than I had ever experienced, ushering me from the edge of the desert into a trudge that was to last for a significant period of time. Some of the things I have learned personally from desert wanderings are:

  • To go with the desert and learn to relax in it (which is extremely counterintuitive)
  • To be kind to me
  • Desert education is needed at different life points and in many ways is superior to all other forms of learning. We learn the way of ‘our soul’ not the well-meaning way of others
  • To let go of all unnecessary baggage
  • To never let go of hope in that one day, I will eventually make it out the other side
  • I hear life-changing whispers in the quietness of isolation that I never heard in the din of busyness
  • I find out who my real friends are
  • I find out who I am rather than just understanding what I do
  • We can become incredibly resilient because we’ve been to the driest place we know. We’ve encountered it, done the journey and made it through. We know that whatever life throws at us, we are more equipped to deal with it.
  • We become more empathetic to others doing it tough

Joseph Campbell wrote, “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”

The desert is one of those places where we find our own path, one step at a time.

If you or someone you know, is on the edge of desert entry or, is experiencing the likelihood of another solitary trudge through the wilderness – my hope is that you exercise kindness, both to yourself and others; to help others on their dark sojourn; that you glimpse incredible beauty you’ve not seen before – both in your life’s landscape and your own inner being; that you find the occasional oasis along the way; that you trust the process and that you never give up. While deserts can stretch for miles they do have an end.

I know that it won’t be feeling like a happy new year (and nor should it) but I do hope that for you, it will be a significant year.

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What I Would Love To Do This Year

December 28, 2017 12:29 pm

I have never been into New Year’s resolutions. Over the years though, I have always listed my goals for the year to come and then kept them handy for ongoing review.

As I have gone on I have constantly been working on both simplifying my life and learning to allow my heart to lead, not just my mind. And this has started to play out in many areas and one of these is goal setting.

This year, I pulled up a blank word document and wrote as my heading “What I Would Love To Do This Year.” The word ‘love’ is the language of the heart. This one word transformed my goal setting from a purely cerebral ‘dry’ exercise to one where I more fully engaged in the process.

In previous years when I completed goal setting exercises, I found that upon honest review, they weren’t things I was really passionate about but more came out of good ideas, others expectations of me or those goals that if achieved, would make me appear more successful. Discarding this previous mind driven process has brought my goals to life.

At the top of a blank page, I wrote: “What I would love to do this year.” Then, I listed the seven major life areas:

  1. Family and friends
  2. Social – fun and R&R
  3. Physical
  4. Intellectual
  5. Spiritual
  6. Career
  7. Financial

Underneath each of these headings, I wrote the things that I would love to achieve this year in relation to the category.

I used to also detail the tactics for how each goal would be achieved. I would end up with multiple pages that gave me a headache.

The last couple of years I have simplified this process also. I simply review the goals; list the key things that I need to do this month to begin moving toward the particular goal and then schedule them for completion in my diary. What used to take days now takes a couple of hours and there is a genuine connection between what I wrote and my personal engagement with them.

Love is the language of the heart. Goals, that are driven by the heart and that reflect our highest values in life are much more likely to be achieved than those that just seem a good idea from the mind.

Click here for the free What I Would Love To Do This Year template

 

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Thank You

December 22, 2017 1:22 pm

As Christmas is just a few days away, I want to say a big thank you to all my readers here.

  • To those, I have worked with this year in either consulting, coaching, mentoring or speaking roles – thank you.
  • To those who have used me as a sounding board in your life and work progression- thank you.
  • To those, I have used as a sounding board – thank you.
  • For the comments and feedback on my writing and video work – thank you.
  • To those who I have danced with, dined with and shared good wine with – thank you.

Running our own businesses, holding key personnel positions and navigating our way through life provides many a scenic lookout, plateaus and valleys. Gratitude, particularly expressed in the two words thank you, though taking a second to say, can echo for up to a lifetime through a persons psyche – making the journey all the more richer.

So, thank you. I trust you have a wonderful Christmas, a happy New Years and a meaningful and abundant 2018.

 

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Confidence. Standing Tall

December 11, 2017 12:50 pm

Standing Tall

Michael (pictured) is a bartender that serves me on a regular basis. He is 29 and somewhat smaller than me in physical stature but is incredibly tall when it comes to his confidence. He is cheeky, always happy, assertive, moves at a fast pace and is a delight to engage with. The smile on his face makes his customers smile. To reach the taps he jumps up on a stool to pour the beers and when he serves people at the tables he is the perfect height – eye level.

What I have learnt from Michael is that confidence comes from within. It is not about what we have and what we don’t have. It’s not about our strengths or our limitations. He has taught me that no matter what we are born with (or without), one can adapt and make the most of this life we’ve been given.

I stand at 185cm. Michael in some respects stands taller than I – a good example for us all.

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Staff Pain

November 28, 2017 8:52 pm

Pain

I was at a restaurant last night and got chatting with the girl who was serving me. While she was very professional in her service and communication, I detected something was troubling her. After two questions and within about 60 seconds, I managed to uncover what her pain was and she talked openly about it.

There are two primary roads we can take in our view of staff.

  1. The Dis-integrated Model. They are here to do a job and they need to leave their personal issues at home.
  2. The Integrated Model. People are whole beings and work and personal are interlinked.

Our staff NEVER leave their personal issues at home. They might function in their role at work but thoughts and emotions still surface and can derail them during their days – thus distracting them, decreasing their ability to engage with customers and co-workers and decreasing their productivity overall. They can compartmentalise but still, complete detachment for most is impossible.

If however, managers treat staff as people, not just workers; if they tune in to those they’re managing; build a culture of humanness and trust and engage with their staff at both a personal and work level then there are higher chances of increased productivity and particularly loyalty. Some staff are closed books but many are open if they know that acceptance prevails.

A supervisor told me today: “I am being totally transparent and open with (my boss) about the challenges I am having.”  That demonstrates the power of an integrated model where the leader treats their people as human beings, creating a culture of transparency and trust.

Staff pain. We can see it as either our ‘staff are a pain’ or that we honour the reality of their pain, using the opportunity to build greater rapport with them, helping diminish fear and driving both the well-being of our people and our organisation. Ultimately, everybody wins.

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The Discomfort of Transition

November 20, 2017 12:08 pm

transition

The discomfort of transition can be a disconcerting time.

  • The things that drove us no longer provide a motivational impetus
  • The answers of the known give way to the questions of the unknown
  • The value and self-confidence we derived from that which was our standard operating mode and environment start to erode
  • Uncertainty replaces certainty
  • Fear blocks a voluntary transition

While transitions can be difficult they provide:

  • Growth
  • Freshness and spark
  • Education and the learning of new skills
  • Mountains to climb rather than plateaus to exist on
  • Personal expansion

Some transitions are involuntary – redundancy, our partner advising us they are leaving or a health report that requires surgery and a new way of caring for ourselves. And many are voluntary in that we choose to take a journey into the wilderness of the unknown. A transition often has no time frame. For some, it might be weeks, others years. Given the uncertainty of change, many choose to stay within the known and never poke their head outside of their current comfort cave. It is safe to stay inside. It’s warm. It’s comfortable and while it might be monotonous at least it’s certain.

  • My relationship isn’t fulfilling but at least I have someone
  • My business is doing OK so we will keep doing what we’ve always done
  • I feel personally stale but at least I know what is happening tomorrow
  • My work is boring but at least I have a paycheck at weeks end
  • Two of my managers really need to be replaced but better the devils I know than those I don’t
A brave and honest transition assessment

Bianca, the owner of a business that I am working with, bravely gave me some of her journal notes this week (and permitted me to publish them) about the discomfort she is experiencing as a result of her business and subsequent life transition – as we move her business from being largely reliant on her to systems and (other) people reliant. She says:

“Today I found myself in a really odd situation and mood. No contact with work at all. Really? Nothing?

“Bad as it is, I am hoping when I go to work tomorrow there are issues for me to deal with. This whole situation is making me feel out of control. I am now starting to look for things I can control or things that I will take back to control. Just say I don’t find something and I let it run its course. What will I do? I need something. My brain is too busy to relax!”

“…lots of questions, all broken down to one thing – AM I NEEDED.”

Bianca is one of the brave souls who understand that there is more to life than work and busyness and is courageously facing transitional uncomfortability head on.  Whatever transition you are in or have been putting off, take heart – there is someone else out there that has jumped off the edge of safety and is now learning to fly.

You can read Bianca’s full journey entry here

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A Brave Transition

November 20, 2017 11:47 am

transition

The following is a journal entry* from one of my clients, Bianca, who is in a transition from working 80 hours a week to a 24 hour week – as we move her business from being largely reliant on her to being systems and (other) people reliant. It provides a brave and honest insight into the transitional discomfort that many of us feel when we are in these situations.

“Today I found myself in a really odd situation and mood. I took the day to take Rocky (child) to a doctors appointment on the Gold Coast – no contact with work at all? Really – nothing? One phone call at 10.40am which was Zach (employee) asking me if I wanted lunch. He didn’t even know I was away for the day. Not sure how to process this. My mind is going a million miles – lots of questions all broken down to one thing – AM I NEEDED?. 

I had great self-control not to call today. Call anyone at work to see where it was up to. I was busy with kids but in the moments I had to think, it was all regarding work. This thought was making me angry and I had no one to express it too. Who would understand? Bad as it is, I am hoping when I go to work tomorrow there are issues for me to deal with.

This whole situation is making me feel out of control. I am now starting to look for things I can control or things that I will take back to control. Just say I don’t find something and I let it run its course. What will I do? I need something. My brain is too busy to relax.” 

For more on this topic read my related blog post The Discomfort Of Transition

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Today I Let Go

November 20, 2017 11:26 am

Bree Hodge

A worthwhile read – reposted with permission from my daughter’s blog – My Upsidedown Journey To Wholeness

Today I Let Go

Today I let go of avoiding pain and discomfort with meaningless distractions and temporary satisfactions, and I welcome in leaning into the discomfort and I welcome in nurturing myself through the fear I feel. Today I let go of the need to fix peoples problems and the need to rescue others’ from their pain, and I welcome in vulnerability and curiosity, exploring deeper into my own fear that surfaces.

Today I let go of this anxiety that sometimes sweeps in when I am enjoying stillness and rest. This fear that sometimes still tells me that I need to be continually working on myself like an unfinished project, editing all my flaws whilst preparing for my future, so that one day I am worthy of love and feel seen, heard and valued. I let this hustle for my worthiness go and I welcome in acceptance and forgiveness and choose grace over shame.

Today I let go of the hype of productivity and the need to fill up my life with to do lists and I welcome in being okay with just being. I welcome in silence and stillness and I welcome in living at a much slower pace, to allow all my senses to drink in the beauty that surrounds me in each moment of being alive. I welcome in the knowledge that all is as it should be in this moment and that I will arrive at each destination of my life at the right time without any force.

Today I let go of conforming to the culture so thick in bullshit that surrounds me, and I welcome in marching to the beat of my own drum. Today I let go of the need of having others approve of me and my life, and I welcome in trusting my own voice and giving myself the approval I seek from others. Today I let go of fear making my choices, and I welcome in courage and all my other values to fill this full-time position.

I’m letting go of the old to allow space for the new. I’m clearing out rooms in the home of my life and with this newly found space. I welcome all those things that match the woman I am today and nourish my mind, body and soul. Today I welcome in living a different way to what I have known, a way that resonates with the truth of my soul and a way that feels damn good!

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A Case For Micromanagement

November 14, 2017 6:35 am

There is a case for micromanaging employees and the only three situations that I think are relevant are:

  • In the very early stages of employment
  • When they are not taking responsibility for their role and failing to meet performance measures
  • When they are making continuous errors

Micromanagement is about managing people at a detail level (as opposed to the larger macro – oversight level) which makes sense in the situations above, however…

The trap in this, for us as leaders, is that we fail to see that this management style should be seasonal, for periods of time – what I have termed as Interval Advancement Management. This style of micromanagement is designed to effectively advance an employee or manager quickly, over a short period of time with the end result for them to be taking full responsibility for their role without our direct involvement at a micro level.

Where managers and business owners fail in this style of management is that they micromanage continuously as a management style rather than utilising it for short-term advancement.

3 Reasons Why Leaders Tend to Continuously Micromanage

My ground level observations about micromanagement in relation to leaders often relate to the following and in many ways are interrelated.

  1. Wanting to maintain complete control
  2. Lack of trust
    “No one can do it as well as I can.” This is often not verbalised as such but in reality, we want quality, we don’t trust our people, and so we have to be in all the details, functioning partly in everybody’s roles, checking absolutely everything (and driving our people crazy.)
  3. The Need To Be Needed
    A very honest business owner client of mine said it this way. “I am scared that when I have everybody in place with all my previous roles fulfilled, I will be no longer needed. What then?”

An Employee’s Comment About Their Boss

During a conversation at a Melbourne Cup party last week a woman said to me “I am looking for a new job. I have been with my company for 12 years and they have had 100% staff turnover this past year. I know my job inside out but they micromanage me and I’m over it. ”

My Recommendations

  • Don’t dismiss micromanagement but do it short term and perform it as Interval Advancement Management with ONLY those employees or management requiring next level advancement.
  • Establish performance measures, reporting, quality checks and balances etc. that allow the person to do their job independently while at the same time, you as the leader understand if their performance is meeting the required standards. If they are, take your hands off and let them do their job. If they are not meeting expectations consider the Interval Advancement method.
  • 360-degree reviews can be useful here to allow employees to rate their managers. Ensure you give your employees a voice as they have the capacity to change our organisations for the better through ground floor understanding and frontline insights.
  • If you are a micromanager and find it hard to let go, ask yourself:
    • Why? What is it within me that drives me into everybody’s role (and drives them crazy and out the door in the process)? Why can’t I trust my people? Why do I have this need to be needed? Why do I derive my personal value from being busy and active?
    • How would you feel if someone came into your organisation and started micromanaging you? How would it make you feel? Would it empower you or disempower you?
    • Who in your organisation needs Interval Advancement Management and how can you best get them to where they need to be?

Micromanagement has its place but only for short periods of time to help people perform at the level required.

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A Lesson From The Birds

November 2, 2017 1:49 pm

I spotted a bird from my back deck this morning with a twig in its mouth. It’s that time of year when they are busy nest building. It is an intrinsic part of their annual cycle.

As humans, our lives are made up of different seasons and just as the birds know when the seasons are changing, we have the innate ability to do likewise. Sometimes, the seasons are those of growth, learning, innovation and fruitfulness; other times it can be those of nesting, deep disappointment,  contemplation, solitude or rest.

Organisations and businesses also go through various seasons. If we are always in the growing season we have the potential to grow too quick, burn our people out and drop off quality and customer satisfaction.  The converse is applicable. If we are always in maintenance mode, not looking outward with a perfect internal order, an entropic state can ensue.

Take a lesson from the birds. They don’t strive, they don’t avoid these shifts through overt busyness and avoidance strategies nor do they use Outlook to know when to nest build – but in this season they KNOW what to do and follow through accordingly. Listening to ourselves and the heartbeat of our organisations;  understanding that seasons change and exercising the courage to embrace these changes are critical to journeying through these times wisely and holistically.

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A Simple Equation For Employee Re-engagement

October 25, 2017 2:53 pm

I am currently working with the owner of an electrical business who has exemplified a simple but powerful method for re-engaging one of their employees in his work and which I thought was worth passing on.

The Employee.
Is an older man who has recently hit a ceiling in his work after having started his new role some months ago. He started dropping the ball, not being attentive to details and was generally letting the broader team down. As a person, he is slower paced in his work processing, people oriented and is indirect in his communication style. He has the skill set for future growth in his role but lacks personal confidence.

The Business Owner.
As a person, the owner is very much the opposite to the employee. She is much younger (approximately 25 years); she is direct in her communication style, fast-paced and adaptive, preferring task completion and managing the business rather than dealing with people. She also has a goal to extract herself from the business so that it becomes others and systems reliant rather than owner reliant.

Re-engagement Approach.

  1. The business owner addressed the situation directly and quickly.
  2. The employee said that he felt like he couldn’t do the job to which the owner countered, “do you legitimately feel like you can’t do the job or are you just sulking?” (Love this question.)
  3. The owner then went on to say that she fully believed in him and that she had no doubts that he could go to the next level, however, if he didn’t want to work in the role any further, she would find him another company to work at immediately.
  4. At this point, the employee got quite emotional and jumped back on board for climbing to the next level in his role.

Summary…
While the above is a brief synopsis, a few things are worth highlighting. While the owner prefers task accomplishment over people involvement, to her credit she took time to understand the employee and then worked with him from beside. She expressed belief in him, took time to talk things through and offered to help him personally to reach the next level in his job role. She also said those magic words “but it’s OK if you want to leave.” I have found over many years that providing this option to employees either helps fully re-engage them or assists them to leave quickly – for both their benefit and the benefit of the organisation.

Understanding the person + getting beside them + expressing belief in them + offering to help them + being willing to let them go…an incredibly simple yet powerful equation for re-engagement.

You might also be interested in…
I gave an 18-minute speech recently entitled “How To Bring The Best Out Of Your People.” Click here to listen to the audio

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Rediscovering The Art Of Play

October 11, 2017 3:48 pm

I love watching children at play. Before they reach a certain age they have no regard for what other people are thinking. They laugh, squeal, run and frankly can be annoying at times – but it’s all because of their inborn natural instinct to play.

I think we were born to play but as we grew older, we were told to restrain ourselves, instructed to act our age. In our teens, we became conscious of ‘cool’ and what our peers thought of us. Then, as we’ve grown older we largely lost the art of play due to the responsibilities we’ve shouldered, the worries we’ve carried.

A few years ago, I discovered the art of play through dance and then that has led to other types of activities where I find refreshment; to laugh, connect with others, get some physical exercise and sometimes just be my playful childlike self and embarrass others. Like the time I asked a girl to dance and she introduced me to her husband. My immediate response was “great, two people to dance with. I’m not bi-sexual but I am a bi-dancer.” For some reason, neither of them were that keen to dance with me…

Play is different for all of us and I think the key is abandonment. Abandoning ourselves in the moment with activities that nourish the soul; where we lose track of time; where fun is the core of the activity; where we lose being ‘cool’; where sometimes we feel guilty for having wasted time having indulged ourselves – guilty pleasure as I like to call it.

If you are not laughing like you used to and feel weary from the weight of responsibility make it your mission to rediscover the art of play.

Ray

PS. And just so you know… I purposefully let go of ‘cool’ with this silly looking video thumbnail of me 🙂

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Seeing Beyond

September 26, 2017 5:23 pm

The recent software malfunction that resulted in massive delays at Sydney airport and beyond, no doubt brought disappointment and frustration to many travellers.

As I was watching the news coverage of the event, one woman said something to the effect of, “I feel really sorry for the guy who pushed the wrong button.” While it doesn’t appear to have been the case, I admired her ability to look beyond herself, appreciate the bigger picture and not be reactive in circumstances outside of her control.

Whether it’s dealing with people in our organisations, confronting challenging obstacles in our paths of progress, navigating relationships or negotiating win-win outcomes – having the ability to see (or question the cause or intent ) beyond our own initial perceptions, inconveniences, impatience and aggravation is wise. What we see with our eyes or hear with our ears may, in fact, be just a minuscule part of the bigger picture.

Seeing beyond. It exemplifies kindness, wisdom and astute leadership.

 

 

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Street Lessons

September 20, 2017 4:59 pm

Travis

I’d like to introduce you to my street friend Travis.

I met this man (through my daughter’s introduction) twelve months ago on the streets of Melbourne and sit with him most Saturday nights. He was homeless, raising money through begging and sleeping in a local car park. He has since been provided with a home and still comes out weekly to ask for money to cover his costs.

Recently at 2 am on a bone-chilling Melbourne morning,  I sat with him on the footpath talking more about his life.  The thing that struck me was his gratitude.  He is no longer a heroin addict, he has a roof over his head and loves his daughter dearly. He is incredibly grateful for his life and for the smallest amount of money or food that people provide him. He is also a very gentle man; always interested in my world, his face lighting up every time he sees me.

When I asked him about why he chooses to come to the street to beg for money instead of working for it (part of my personal quest to deal with my own judgements around this issue) his response blew me away. The workplace is where he got his earlier heroin addiction from and now that he is clean he is extremely hesitant to go back to that situation again. Travis sees a counsellor on a regular basis, is bettering himself through educational courses and is looking at doing voluntary work to help others live better lives.

Travis has reminded me of two critical things in the time I have known him.

  1. Gratitude.
    No matter whether we live in a mansion or a car park, we have much to be grateful for and it’s the practice of gratitude that is the key as opposed to what we have or don’t have.
  2. Acceptance.
    He’s reminded me (and as I wrote last week) that everybody is doing the best they can and how easy I judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a homeless person by their situation. The act of acceptance, with or without words, communicates love powerfully.

The name Travis comes from the Old French traverse – meaning to pass through or cross over a bridge/boundary.

My street friend is traversing his own streets, rivers and bridges as best he can and doing so with grace, gratitude and a big heart. A good reminder from the street for our own life traversal.

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They’re Doing The Best They Can

September 8, 2017 11:37 am

They’re Doing the Best They Can

Over my years of consulting, business owners or managers, in describing their people have sometimes said “this person is hopeless” or “they just don’t get it”. The most memorable was “I work with a bunch of dickheads.”

Brené Brown in her book Rising Strong mentions a concept that I’ve really taken hold of in my own personal journey and in my coaching work with others. That concept is that everyone is doing the best they can. The understanding that people are generally doing the best they can,  given their history, emotional and physical health, current skill set, strengths and weaknesses, habits, life circumstances and so forth.

She says, “It can be painful for organisation leaders to answer this question (are people doing the best that they can?) because…what often comes up is the realisation that instead of prodding and pushing someone, they need to move on to the difficult task of helping them, reassigning them, or letting them go.” [Bracket insert mine]

Brené goes on to say “This doesn’t mean that we stop helping people set goals or that we stop expecting people to grow and change. It means that we stop respecting and evaluating people based on what we think they should accomplish, and start respecting them for who they are and holding them accountable for what they’re actually doing. It means that we stop loving people for who they could be and start loving them for who they are. It means that sometimes when we’re beating ourselves up we need to stop and say to that harassing voice inside, “Man, I’m doing the very best I can right now.” [Italics mine]

A large part of my consulting and coaching work over the years has been to help employees and leaders within organisations to become more productive. The approach I’ve taken is, go slow to go fast.  I take time to get to know who the person is as per the areas I mentioned in the first paragraph. Once I know who I am working with I can steer them appropriately. For some it can happen within the hour, for others, it can take numbers of meetings – dependant on the person. From this approach I get to know:

  • if they have the potential to be a star player
  • if they have reached their capacity in their current role or within the organisation
  • if they need to be demoted or promoted
  • if they need to be released to work elsewhere that is more suited to them.

Once I know the above about a person, having built trust with them along the way and when they know I have their best interests at heart, the process of getting them where they need to be can be rapid. It’s a win for the organisation and a win for the employee. Both parties come out on top.

For you as an influencer and leader of people, taking this empathetic leadership, they are doing the best they can approach, means that you start with where the person is; accept that who that person is now is what you have to work with and then to work alongside them from the ground up as opposed to from the top down.

Everyone is doing the best they can. I am doing the best I can. It has the potential to revolutionise your organisation and your own life.

Watch The Video

 

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Let It Go

September 5, 2017 6:56 pm

 

Edited  Video Transcript
“80% out the door is better than 100% in the drawer.”
Some wise advice I was given many years ago.
One of the things I have realised through life is our penchant for perfectionism and it’s a curse. There is no destination if we live on Perfection Drive – it is one large roundabout.
We strive to have everything perfect, and if it’s not perfect it doesn’t see the light of day. Our in trays are full – good intentions but they’re full because nothing’s quite perfect. We’ve got proposals and quotes, invoices and draft emails that have to be double checked and triple checked before letting them go, creating bottlenecks in our organisations. We have new ideas for business development but because they are not fully formed to perfection we continue with what we’ve always done. We fail to trust others because “no one can do it as good as me.”
Some have got songs that are sitting in the drawer that are at 95% that never see the light of day. Artists – their paintings never see the light of day because they’re not perfect.
Some things need to be given the 100% treatment. Workplace Health and Safety is one that has serious ramifications if we fall short of the mark but much of our output can be let go at less than perfect. The time it takes to perfect something compared to the value received by others doesn’t necessarily correlate.
One of the things I’ve learnt over time is to continually produce, and if it’s 80% or over in my estimation I let it go and I perfect along the way. Does that mean that we shouldn’t strive for excellence? Not at all. Excellence is a great goal, perfectionism, as I said, is a curse.
So in your life, in your work, in your artistic endeavours, in the gifts that you’ve got to share with the world, 80% out the door is a whole lot better than 100% in the drawer.
And it’s up to us to understand what needs to be at 100% and what can be released above 80%. It’s different for everyone and different for every organisation.
Simply said…Let it go.


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The Fresh Breath Of Inspiration

August 25, 2017 10:59 am

Video transcript below…

I’ve just come out to the country and this place is amazing. I always find the country one of those activities and places that deeply refreshes my soul. I’ve been reflecting on this whole concept of refreshment and inspiration. I had a look back at the original Latin of where the word inspire originated from and it comes in two parts. The first part means into. The second part means breathe. Effectively, inspire means to breathe into. I’ve been researching this and thinking through how I can live more consistently in an inspired state and how my clients, those I coach, consult, mentor, how they can do the same because life has a way of sucking the life out of us, leaving us anything but inspired.

I’ve found that there are various connections with people that breathe life into me. Some people are so valuable in my world. There are different forms of spirituality for different people that breathe life into them. There are different activities that also have that work and the converse is true. There are things and relationships that suck the life out of us and it’s really for us, it pays to look at what are the things that breathe life into us, the connections, the activities and what are the things that rob our joy, rob our life, and to start filling our world with breath, with life-giving activities.

I just finished reading the book Tuesdays with Morrie. Great read. Mitch said when he came away from being with Morrie, he felt like he had been rinsed with kindness. My friends, that is inspiration and the more we are topped up and filled with breath, with life, the more we can be an inspiration to others.

My name is Ray Hodge. You can connect with me at rayhodge.com.au and thanks for watching.

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