Foot in mouth or fingers in ears? Feedback is a matter of give and take

David Silverman recently published an interesting article at Strategy & Business about the importance of listening, using a real world example as a metaphor. You can partly guess the example from his article’s title: George Harrison: Now That Guy Knew How to Listen. His essential point – that listening is a vital element of communicating – is important, but we need to remember that working life does not consist of a series of impressive solos.

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A long but broken engagement?

Back in April 2010, we wrote about the MacLeod Review, a government review into the complex and timely issue of employee engagement. Judging by the frequency with which we read about the topic in the HR/L&D press – and are even requested to comment or write for the same media outlets ourselves – it is not in that category of organisational issues that we can mark down as essentially a fad. On the contrary, engagement is the issue that will not go away. But are organisations listening to the sources that provide evidence of the need to make changes (or even the benefits of doing so)? The verdict is less clear.

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Too late for a 2014 Resolution?

So what will put the ‘New’ into ‘New Year’? And what might stop that happening, leaving us living through “2013 – The Sequel”? The first barrier is probably risk: creativity and innovation isn’t a guarantee of success, even if an absence of them might speed up the process of failure. In an environment where resources remain tight, and may continue to do so, a reduced appetite for risk is understandable. But risk is fundamental to success: ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ may be a cliché but it’s also a truism, and risk is one of the major food groups in any organisation’s diet.

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What makes the grunts disgruntled?

One of the long-standing conundrums of life in the workplace is the gap that exists between managers’ perceptions and those of their employees. Some middle-managers also find themselves having to act as buffers between a 'bad boss' and the staff who report to them. Middle-managers may not be natural born tailwaggers, but they do share something with puppies: treat them badly for long enough and they’ll stop loving or respecting you.

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If you’re happy and you know it, you’re unusual

Those of us who will spend Monday morning as CEOs, data analysts or HR advisors might want to spend Sunday evening reflecting that the exact nature of this collision between other’s people’s aspirations and realities lies within their power to influence. We’re not in favour of upsetting work-life balance, but we hope that everyone spends their Sunday evenings wisely.

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