Archive for the ‘Relationship Management’ Category

Great information on women leaders in the workplace

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

The HBR Blog last week provides, in its own words:

‘startling glimpses into what work and leadership is like for women around the world’. The post is titled: Tell me something I didn’t know about women in the workplace.  It quotes recent research across a broad range of issues and links to a host of  HBR archives of relevant articles on those issues. There’s also a series of slides quoting very interesting data on the issues.

Go look at it and ponder! Not all of the research is depressing and some of the information provides pointers for women and talent managers in our workplaces.



The right question can be the key to a person

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

We finally made it! Most weekends we go biking in a local seaside park and then relax at a cafe. The woman at the cafe has always intrigued me because she doesn’t interact with the customers, or even make eye contact.  It’s fortunate the cafe combines a lovely environment with  great coffee, or no one would go there.  A person like this is a challenge for someone like me. I love to know what makes them tick. In this case I’ve made no progress and neither has my husband.

But last weekend – breakthrough!  In yet another attempt, I asked how she manages to take a break over winter and yeh!  Enthusiasm leapt out. My barista is also a marathon runnner, she’s off to do her 12th marathon and now what I don’t know about her running career, isn’t worth knowing.

What a buzz!  Made me think about the power of questions and the importance of enthusiasm.  Okay, she’s pretty self-absorbed, and for me,  I really didn’t care about her 12 marathons, but what I loved was the transformation in her. Enthusiasm won the day and swept me up with it too. Of course we may not still be NBFF, but I am sure there’s a chink opening up.

In your communication, seek to communicate your own enthusiasms, or better still – connect to the other person’s passions.  And never forget the power of the right question.

It’s a bit scary out there! How to cope better with the after-shocks

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

How many of you in Wellington New Zealand have felt more than a little disconcerted with the recent spate of earthquakes?  It really knocks your equilibrium…golly, the earth isn’t meant to move!

Of course we are so lucky in comparison to Christchurch and the enormity of their disruptions.

I’m fine. Our building seems stable enough, but we can still find ourselves suddenly startled into thinking “Was that a gust of wind, or another one?”  It has certainly made me think about what we can do when we really have no control over the land we live on.

Well, obviously the first thing to do is to make sure you have your earthquake emergency kit easily accessible.  But what about our own resilience?

Control what you can:

  • Do less of the OMG !
  • Do more exercise – go for a walk (some of you are having to walk because your lifts are out!)
  • Chat with your colleagues abouthow they are managing, much as you would with your neighbors.
  • If your concentration is a bit shattered, work in short bursts
  • Do your breathing exercises

Share and care, but don’t get bogged down with stuff you cannot control.

Don’t be afraid of being scared …it’s a sign of commonsense







How to get some good out of the earthquake

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Phew, the weekend was a wake up call for us Wellingtonians.  Did you find you were immediately involved in frenetic texting directly after the bigger one, then a flow of  ‘Thinking of you ‘ emails later?

Israeli friends have told us of this same behavioural pattern: They hear of a bomb and immediately contact family in the nearby area, then  close friends, then a while later the wider friendship circle.

The need to reaffirm bonds, is clearly an instinctive reaction to threat.  Such jolts make us realise how much our important connections matter. In some ways,  drastic events can enable us to reaffirm our key bonds -much like the importance of a wake after a funeral.

The sense of belonging is crucial to human mental health. It’s why at the new millenium, so many people preferred to be with family rather than in the expected massive parties.  Relatedness is key to us as humans and we now know that the pain of being excluded is very similar to the pain of physical injury.  Beth Mount (expert on Personal Futures Planning for people with disabilities) has said: “Loneliness is the only real disability’.

It was heartwarming to receive emails from old friends across the world and it put us more closely in touch once more.  So what do we take from the weekend? Make contact with friends and family, even when you have lost touch.  Use this sharp reminder of the fragility of life to strengthen your connection with the people you care about.

Spare a thought for the people in Christchurch as well. What we went through doesn’t remotely approximate their shock at the time and their on-going problems. Think too oif the countless ordinary people trying to live in war zones.  They live with this fragility every day and it is the result of human decisions, not just a random result of  geology.

All the best out there. Keep communicating with those you love!


Is old fashioned courtesy all that's needed?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

I often remember the basics that my grandmother was so keen on. Those old fashioned things called ‘manners’.

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They are well ingrained into my fundamental practices.

Some of the ‘rules’ are now very out of date for example a male walking on the outside of a female (I think it as to stop her gown getting splattered by mud from on coming carriages) . However some are well worth thinking about and probably putting into practice.

Many of us have changed the way we work.We are now in shared open plan spaces often ‘hot bedding’. The old idea of owning our office space where we can scatter our personal belongings is fast disappearing. Now we need to be mindful of others that are sharing office space.

For introverts the interruptions can be very irritating.For extroverts it is a welcome change.For those who love a clear desk policy having to clear a space to work is infuriating.

The conversations you have on the phone are not for sharing…if you need to have a conversation take yourself to another area where you can’t be heard.

I guess the secret of working in close proximity is to be conscious of others and be aware it’s not the big things that drive people nuts but the little things that cause havoc with working relationships.

No man is an island .We all need to work together and maybe all it takes is courtesy.

Pride: An unexpected angle on for women in leadership

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Have you ever thought about the role of pride in executive presence?  The   HRM Online  earlier this week quoted German research in Germany showing that women who adopted a proud approach to their personal performance were seen as more willing to take the lead.

Pride has a rather negative press, but when soundly based, it can be a powerful motivator.  As we acknowledge our achievements we build our confidence and that will comes out in a multitude of subtle ways.

I suspect that NZ women find it very difficult to communicate their pride in their achievements. We’d be great at being cheerful, but unfortunately the German study shows that cheerful women are seen as less willing to lead.

Jon Katzenbach has an interesting article  in the website for The Centre for Association Leadership, titled: Instilling Pride: The Primary Motivator for Peak Performance. It is talking about pride in an organisation, but it’s comments would equally well apply to personal performance.

Ten ways to modernise your performance appraisal

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

It’s performance appraisal time for many of our clients.  Coincidentally, in the last few days the UK Training Journal Digest has had an interesting discussion thread on the value of performance appraisal. Views have varied widely.

Few of our clients are thinking about getting rid of the system, despite its difficulties. We find that good managers, who actually manage performance, can make most appraisal systems engaging for employees. When managers just see the system as a matter of ticking the boxes…well, that’s another story!

If you want to encourage managers to make appraisal more meaningful, the Digest discussion included this very constructive article from Rob Bacal: Ten Ways to Modernise Performance Management and Appraisal for 2013. 

Rob Bacal is a UK consultant and writer, whose books include ‘Performance Management: 24 Lessons to Improve Performance’.  He’s one of the speakers listed in World Class Speakers and Entertainers, where his bio includes the fact that one source of his experience has been working with multiple murderers at a mental health facility, so we should presume his ideas are well tested!

What do you think of the value of your current performance appraisal system? How much of the mediocrity is to do with the system and how much to do with the managers’ application of the system.


How to persuade people they need to improve their presentation skills

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Do you cringe when you see senior managers and staff making inadequate  presentations?  It’s difficult to challenge people on these important skills, even when the problems are glaringly obvious.

It is a difficult issue to confront, unless there is strong support from high level executives, who often are the worst offenders.

Ellen Finklestein’s useful PowerPoint Tips blog has a good post on just this issue and includes a couple of less common tips.  She views it through the PowerPoint lens, but PowerPoint does reflect many of the symptoms of boring presentations.