I have a basic tenet that has supported me in all aspects of my personal and professional life – that people, all of us, have within them all the resources that they need to make whatever change they want.
You have all the resources you need to make whatever change you want.
You know when you tell someone your experience, and instead of listening, they tell their own story which caps yours? I have a friend who describes it like this - if you've been to Tenerife, they've been to Elevenerife.
One way in which many people try to demonstrate empathy with someone who has been bereaved is by sharing their own stories of loss. This is not the time for your Elevenerife story.
Does your organisation have space where people can go to be quiet and alone?
WE ALL NEED SPACE
There are many situations at work when this can be useful.
I am particularly interested in supporting people who are grieving, but there are many other times when you might want to go somewhere quiet, such as:
- during periods of overwhelm
- when facing a difficult relationship issue
- when struggling with mental health.
In my research into grief at work, I was touched by the answers one respondent gave me about how organisation's approach...
It pays to be compassionate.
Everyone goes through vulnerable periods at work.
Relationship issues, ill-health, bereavement all take their toll. As a manager, you have certain basic legal obligations towards your staff. But is this enough?
Continuing my series on the compassionate manager's role in helping colleagues who are bereaved and grieving ...
Grief comes in many forms
In my research into the impact of grief on productivity, many respondents told me that their grief was overlooked because it was a pet and not a person who had died. For example, Veronica told me, 'When my cat died, I was inconsolable. I called my manager to say I wouldn’t be coming into work that day, and she said, “pull yourself together, it was only an animal”. Her lack of understanding made it even harder for me to go back into work."
The perception of many people is that it’s not OK, or somehow weak or inappropriate to grieve when a pet dies. However, there are many clear reasons why grief can be profound after the death of a pet.
In our Presentation Skills training, we normally advise presenters to be wary of using slides. Even large and professional organisations too often use their slides simply as a place to write everything that the presenter is going to say. The audience is left peering at impossibly-small text and unable to really listen to or appreciate the presenter. We teach ways to present without slides at all, or to design slides that are punchy, visually appealing, and add to (rather than detract from) the presenter.
We enjoy keeping up with innovations in presentation styles which depart from this thinking, in a really exciting way. Have you heard of PechaKucha, for example?
A client recently showed me a list of top 10 tips she'd been given for delivering presentations. Number one on the list was "keep hold of the lectern".
This got me thinking that I don't ever recall seeing a charismatic or effective public speaker who was holding on to the lectern.
Effective speakers move around, make gestures and even abandon a lectern altogether. So why was she (and others) being given this advice?
An article I read offered up advice for dealing with untrustworthy people. The premise of the article was that untrustworthy people habitually lie to you or let you down, and that it is possible to develop strategies to work with them whether they are subordinates, colleagues or your boss. So far, so good.
What struck in this was the unspoken but consistent assumption that "being untrustworthy" is a permanent and irreversible condition, on a par with having blue eyes, or being colour-blind.
Is that necessarily so? I'd like to offer some defence of untrustworthy people.
Today we are sharing with you 5 of the lessons we often help new managers to deal with, through a combination of their own skills and our training techniques.
Read on for more...
We take it for granted that leaders have good communication skills, can motivate people and get results. This article explores seven advanced competencies that set truly great leaders apart.
It seems to me as though organisations seem to be polarising in to those that follow a traditional "people are resources" model, and those that describe that "people are humans first and foremost".
“I can't imagine a much more challenging situation than supporting bereaved staff & you have my absolute respect for doing something like that (not sure it's something I could do)”
I got this message from a friend of mine recently, which got me thinking.
How well do you know the people who you work with? Who work for you? Who buy from you?
You may feel that you have built up good relationships with the people around you, but too often managers work with a very superficial level of understanding. We often pat ourselves on the back if we manage to remember the names of our colleague’s partner and children, or that they like to go skiing on their holidays.
A prospective client recently approached me using her private email because, she told me, “I don’t want my employer to know that I need coaching because it would be seen as a weakness.”
This is sadly an all too common reaction amongst certain business leaders. It is as though coaching is a kind of remedial class. It is like getting extra help when you are falling behind.
In business, much is made of networking. And yet many of us dread going to networking events because of the pressure of finding new people to talk to, or because we never quite know what to say in our “elevator pitch”.
Networking can be a particular chore if you, like me, are an introvert and hate socialising. Other people make networking into a competition to see who can get the most business cards, or plug their own business at every opportunity.
In this article, I'm going to offer you a different way of looking at networking that can turn a challenge or a chore into a productive and above all enjoyable activity.
Did you know that on any given day, at least 1 in 10 of the workforce is experience a bereavement.
We recently conducted some research into the impact of bereavement and grief on productivity. The results were fascinating...
Confidence is an essential commodity for leaders and managers, and yet many of us seem to lack it in key areas. Even those who outwardly appear enormously confident, will often secretly experience feelings of self-doubt or nervousness.
Would it surprise you to know that confidence is really an illusion?
One of my flagship programmes is called "Grief at Work" designed to help employers understand how grief affects their workforce, and how they can best support bereaved colleagues.
When I tell people this, they often start off by thinking it is something morbid, or doubting that this is even necessary.
However, very quickly, they find a private moment to talk to me about their own losses. Sometimes very raw and recent. Sometimes in the distant past. Always, they tell me how hard it was when they returned to work after their bereavement. Often, they themselves are still grieving and need someone to talk to.
Let's talk about feelings - sometimes managers shy away from discussing feelings, because it makes them, well, feel uncomfortable.
And yet feelings drive us at work just as much as elsewhere:
"Soft Skills" - I don't really like that term, because it gives the impression that these skills are somehow weak, easier or less important than "hard" skills. But that is far from the case.
Soft skills, such as communicating, influencing, or coaching are in fact easy to learn but hard to master. And the benefits of mastering them are enormous.
Our focus at Allen Training Associates has evolved over the years, so I thought New Year's Day would be a good time to set out what we're about.
Our motto is "Soft Skills with Hard Benefits".
What we do: we deliver tailor-made in-house soft-skills training for managers and leaders in your organisation.
It's a common problem for managers - when there's too much to do, or some activities are overwhelming or unappetising, we all have a tendency to procrastinate. There is no single sure-fire way to overcome procrastination, because it depends so much on what is at the root of your issue. Start by working out what is causing you the problem.
In this article I'll show you 4 of the most common causes of procrastination so you can work out which one applies to you. For each one I offer you a tried and trusted procrastination-busting tip.
How often have you asserted something "without a doubt"? But stop and think for a moment; to be truly without a doubt, one of two conditions must be trued:
A real leader knows that doubt is inevitable, and in fact necessary. It is doubt that will drive a real leader to explore alternatives and counter-arguments, and to be respect them. It is doubt that will impel the real leader to step into other people's shoes and to see things from multiple perspectives. It is self-doubt that guards against hubris, and ensures a life-long quest for personal improvement.
Let our leaders have a little more doubt, please.
Collective dreaming is an opportunity for a group of people to construct a vision of their future. With its roots in positive psychology, and appreciative enquiry, it shifts the focus away from problems to be solved, and on to doing what works, and doing more of what is already working. Recently, I was working with a team who had been through a tough time lately. A great deal of organisational change, a couple of formal complaints and high staff turnover risked making this team of exceptional people become disillusioned. They were ready for some positive thinking.
Through a guided visualisation, I had the team envision a point in time one year on, and to think themselves into it, as if it were now. They explored questions like what the environment looks like and sounds like; how it feels to work in this team; how they are behaving towards one another and towards their customers; what they are saying to one another; what a fly on the wall would notice about the team; what skills and capabilities they are drawing on to be successful; what new opportunities are arising to further develop their skills; what the team’s core values are; and how their own personal values are being met by being part of the team.
I asked them each to come up with a metaphor for the team in a year’s time, when it is operating just as brilliantly as they want it to be. The results were richly varied. One person chose a German automobile company as their metaphor, identifying characteristics such as efficiency, innovation, expertise in each unique component part, brought together skilfully to make a high-performing result. Another chose a beaver, because it is industrious, works together with others to maximise resources, collaborates, is organised and at the same time a cohesive social unit. Another chose Brains from the Thunderbirds, because he is the communication hub, with his finger on the pulse, accessing and utilising all the other members of the team to get the best results. The picture above was one person's tree metaphor.
The team needed no further guidance to start to extract the common themes from their wide-ranging metaphors, to create their shared vision of the future. Further thinking created an inventory of resources within the team to generate the planning and momentum needed for the immediate actions. Stimulated by one person choosing Google as their metaphor, they realised that the staff turnover could be re-framed as a positive thing – the natural consequence of being a team of intelligent, talented, young, ambitious professionals. Inevitably such people would be highly employable and much in demand; and the loss of one team member would give the opportunity for the others to step up to the plate, learn new skills and extend their experience.
The day ended with the team buzzing with excitement and a palpable increase in their self-worth. Collective Dreaming may sound like an intangible concept, but it can deliver absolutely tangible results.
Many organisations use psychometric profiling to explore the personality types of their leaders, managers and staff. A popular and well-respected tool often used is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI. Each personality type is accorded a four-letter code, such as ENTJ, or ISFP which summarises the profile on each of four key dimensions. The fourth of these letters indicates whether you are a Judger or a Perceiver, and this code is often much misunderstood, and yet it is very useful to understand how someone makes decisions.
The Judger/Perceiver dimension is sometimes entitled “Structure” – In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided (This is called Judging) or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options (This is called Perceiving)? Judging and Perceiving behaviours are often visible in how a person organises their time. Judgers tend to like to know what’s happening. They may have ordered and regular habits, an efficient schedule and be good at planning and organising their time. Perceivers tend to like to keep room for the unexpected. They may have a flexible schedule, with spontaneous changes, and to be good at living in the moment, or going with the flow.
Broadly, the Judger filters towards decisions, whereas the Perceiver filters towards information. A judger will choose a course of action and the reward is the decision. A perceiver will explore all the alternatives, and the reward is the process of exploring the information. Metaphorically, a judger enjoys the destination; a perceiver enjoys the journey, detours and all.
If you are trying to determine someone else’s preference, you can often spot this when they are different from you. If you are a perceiver, you may find judgers too rigid, inflexible and unwilling to be spontaneous. If you are a judger, you may find perceivers to be chaotic, unpredictable and unreliable. On the other hand, you may value the benefits that the opposite profile has for you. Perceivers value judgers for their ability to organise and deliver on promises, to remember deadlines and to make firm decisions. Judgers value perceivers for their ability to think outside the box, to explore different avenues and to see all different sides to a situation.
Remember also, that this filter describes only what you can see on the outside – a Judger may have a very free-flowing and open-ended curiosity in their inner life, whilst presenting a judging exterior, focusing on pinning down decisions. A Perceiver may be very ordered and structured inside their heads, whilst presenting a flexible and spontaneous exterior, focusing on exploring all the options.
Myers Briggs profiles are based on four dimensions: Extravert/Introvert, Sensor/Intuitor, Thinker/Feeler, Judger Perceiver For more information, visit http://www.myersbriggs.org/
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A miscellany of articles and opinions on communication, leadership and management topics.