How to avoid being a bossy boss

Are you a natural leader, one your team happily follow to success, or is your position maintained by constant reminders that you’re in charge? A bossy boss – one who demands they are treated with authority – is never in a position of strength. The sole focus of a bossy boss is ‘I’ – the … Continue reading “How to avoid being a bossy boss”

To succeed as a manager you need to encourage failure

When Shizuka Arakawa won the figure skating gold medal in the 2006 Olympic Games, her error free performance marked an achievement beyond the purely personal. The second oldest women to win a figure skating gold medal, she was also the first Asian women to do so. And she quite literally put something behind her on … Continue reading “To succeed as a manager you need to encourage failure”

Creating innovation: be the leader they want and need you to be

[This blog post first appeared in the blog of the World of Learning Conference and Exhibition 2016: further details of this event appear at the end of this posting.] Audiences for leadership advice and guidance have a surprising appetite for simplicity. Despite ample evidence that workplaces, organisations and even that near meaningless phrase, ‘life in … Continue reading “Creating innovation: be the leader they want and need you to be”

Supporting business growth by supporting your managers

While dictionaries might define ‘managing’ as ‘succeeding in surviving or in achieving something despite difficult circumstances’, that is not a definition any organisation should wish to apply. ‘To manage’ must mean more than simply – somehow, despite everything – to cope. But what can organisations do to ensure their line managers do not feel as if their performance falls into the latter category?

While dictionaries might define ‘managing’ as ‘succeeding in surviving or in achieving something despite difficult circumstances’, that is not a definition any organisation should wish to apply. ‘To manage’ must mean more than simply – somehow, despite everything – to cope. But what can organisations do to ensure their line managers do not feel as if their performance falls into the latter category?

Highly engaged, but with yesterday?

Happy, committed and engaged people really do perform better at work, although there is – or at least one would hope – a difference between love and enthusiasm. I’m enthusiastic about Ajax FC, prawn toasts and historic monuments – I’m nothing if not single-handedly diverse – but none of these are relationships that I’m seeking to actively consummate. But what we might call ‘the happiness industry’ seems insistent on wanting to see the L-word as often as possible.

Happy, committed and engaged people really do perform better at work, although there is – or at least one would hope – a difference between love and enthusiasm. I’m enthusiastic about Ajax FC, prawn toasts and historic monuments – I’m nothing if not single-handedly diverse – but none of these are relationships that I’m seeking to actively consummate. But what we might call ‘the happiness industry’ seems insistent on wanting to see the L-word as often as possible.

HR And Big Data: Storytelling or Journalism?

Mastery of a discipline (accepting the use of the term for HR) requires many skills, but also a sure-footed understanding of the raw materials and how to handle them. The raw materials of a Human Resources Manager are primarily, as the job title alludes, people. (Whether ‘human resources’ is a devaluing or derogatory way of describing them – or should I say ‘us’? – is a separate but not entirely unrelated point.) The raw materials of Big Data, by comparison, are more explicitly ‘in the title’: data. Quantitative measures. Numbers.

Mastery of a discipline (accepting the use of the term for HR) requires many skills, but also a sure-footed understanding of the raw materials and how to handle them. The raw materials of a Human Resources Manager are primarily, as the job title alludes, people. (Whether ‘human resources’ is a devaluing or derogatory way of describing them – or should I say ‘us’? – is a separate but not entirely unrelated point.) The raw materials of Big Data, by comparison, are more explicitly ‘in the title’: data. Quantitative measures. Numbers.

Thinking outside the checkbox: why performance needs to be led

Sometimes, our thinking is so governed by habit – a mental checkbox list that we take comfort from – that it takes an unexpected reminder to sharpen our view. The otherwise inscrutably plotted Norwegian crime drama, Mammon (currently showing on Channel 4) provided such a moment in Episode 4. The widow of a mysterious suicide, having … Continue reading “Thinking outside the checkbox: why performance needs to be led”

Challenge or Competition? Taking issue with Gavin Kilduff

By its very nature, the whole concept of ‘fierce rivals’ implies an absence of loyalty, other than to the notion of defeating your opponent at any cost. Having constant competition (albeit that it is not quite synonymous with rivalry) could foster greater in-group cohesion if the group has collectively bought into the notion that they are competing intentionally and that a collective benefit can be gained (ie they relish the competition). The critical difference is of intention.

By its very nature, the whole concept of ‘fierce rivals’ implies an absence of loyalty, other than to the notion of defeating your opponent at any cost. Having constant competition (albeit that it is not quite synonymous with rivalry) could foster greater in-group cohesion if the group has collectively bought into the notion that they are competing intentionally and that a collective benefit can be gained (ie they relish the competition). The critical difference is of intention.

Born or made: talent revisited

The ‘talent – born or made?’ debate is one of those L&D issues that resurfaces from time to time, although it’s not entirely clear in any empirical sense why this should be the case. Perhaps its longevity as an issue is something that we can chalk down to the power of belief: advocates of each side of the argument could be forgiven – or at least understood – for succumbing to the attractions of their case. One would hope, however, that those working as coaches, trainers, educators or developers might be more swayed by the ‘made’ argument. If not, there is more than a suggestion that they are denying the potential impact of their work – and potential is surely the critical word here – or tacitly abnegating responsibility.

The ‘talent – born or made?’ debate is one of those L&D issues that resurfaces from time to time, although it’s not entirely clear in any empirical sense why this should be the case. Perhaps its longevity as an issue is something that we can chalk down to the power of belief: advocates of each side of the argument could be forgiven – or at least understood – for succumbing to the attractions of their case. One would hope, however, that those working as coaches, trainers, educators or developers might be more swayed by the ‘made’ argument. If not, there is more than a suggestion that they are denying the potential impact of their work – and potential is surely the critical word here – or tacitly abnegating responsibility.

Jumping the duck: the merits of involvement

Part of me can’t help wanting to have the audacity to re-write Gandhi. Surely the management/leadership mantra should be “Let them be part of the change that you want to see”? If engaged employees are more committed to behavioural change and the benefits that it promises to bring, taking steps – through finding ways of actively involving them – to enhance their engagement is surely a positive way forward.

Part of me can’t help wanting to have the audacity to re-write Gandhi. Surely the management/leadership mantra should be “Let them be part of the change that you want to see”? If engaged employees are more committed to behavioural change and the benefits that it promises to bring, taking steps – through finding ways of actively involving them – to enhance their engagement is surely a positive way forward.