Professional courtesies cut

It's surprising sometimes to find basic courtesies missing from daily business interactions. The sort of things like being on time for scheduled meetings, replying to telephone calls or emails in a timely fashion (as in 1-3 days), thanking people for what they've done for you; acknowledging people when you see them and passing on referrals and information when needed. These things take so little effort to do and they're important. Not doing them makes us memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Toxic workplaces time bombs

It always horrifies me when I encounter a toxic workplace. You know you're in one by how it feels and how it sounds, when staff talk about their experiences in the workplace. By toxic I mean a workplace that has disgruntled, unhappy employees as well as happy ones; good managers as well as very poor ones, at all levels within the place; an overriding culture of fear or concern for speaking out about what's not alright in the place; bullies who undermine and threaten others, tell lies and do whatever they can to misrepresent or disadvantage others; deeply entrenched cliques or factions; a culture of rumour spreading and gossiping; and people who talk the talk yet don't walk it in any way. Toxic workplaces are difficult to work in and damaging to the people in them. These places are only changed through an awareness of what's going on within them; having strong leadership committed to demonstrating key values and embedding them throughout the organisation; the development of systems to monitor the performance and behaviours of all managers and all staff, so the inept and the bullies are identified and dealt with and the good and the great are endorsed and supported; developing a zero tolerance to rumour mongering, gossip spreading, cliques and poor performance; conducting annual audits of the organisational culture, to monitor organisational health; determining who the formal and informal power brokers are and ensuring the use of personal and role power isn't abused…and time… for just as it takes a fair amount of time for a workplace to become toxic, the detoxification process, done well, may take years.


Change starts in the mind, says management trainer

At a seminar recently, a speaker said "change the way you see things and what you see will change". It is a pithy, useful statement and gives food for thought. For how often do we find ourselves talking about the things we couldn't do, for a whole raft of reasons, and then find ourselves, sometime later, doing something on that list we thought was beyond us and being delighted that we had? How often do we hold onto our own interpretation of things, without considering the same things from another's perspective and seeing how everyone's take on things is equally valid?

Corporate black bleak

I'm no fashionista by any means but have you ever noticed the Vivaldi four seasons working wardrobe for many men and women is a relentless black? I was stuck at the airport last week and had ample opportunity over two hours to do a fashion police check on those who streamed in and out of the departure gates and it was a dull sight. Black certainly is a serviceable colour but trouble is, it doesn't suit everyone and in winter especially, it does little to lighten things up. If you haven't done so already, get your colours done and wear what suits you and your skin tone. And if you can't wear black, because it makes you look sallow, yellow and ill, then leave it well alone. A professional corporate look can be made equally well with other colours.

How happy are you? personal management trainer asks

A marvellous saying about happiness was given to me just recently – "Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do, are in harmony" – Mahatma Gandhi. It's deliciously simple yet complex and may be challenging to answer. How happy are you, in your personal and working worlds? How congruent are your thoughts, words and actions? What can you change, if you are out of alignment somewhere?

Coaching myth no. 4 dashed by management coach

Coaching myth number 4, that coaching is beneficial for everyone, is simply that. A myth that's mythed the mark. Coaching doesn't benefit everyone for a number of good reasons, for example: if a coach or coaching has been imposed upon someone and they don't want a bar of it, then they will resent the imposition, resist the opportunity and get little value from the encounter; if someone believes they have no need of any coaching, regardless of feedback to the contrary, they'll resist the process every step of the way; if someone has no trust or confidence in the coach, then the coachee may simply go through the motions of coaching and avoid discussing issues of substance. Coaching isn't a magic fix, it's a support system that works for people who want to work with another, in partnership and in confidence.

Organisational prostitution a crime of our times

Organisational prostitution is alive and well in most organisations today. By this I mean organisational prostitutes are people don't want to be in their role anymore because their heart has gone out of it; their personal values clash with the organisation's values; they feel they have few choices open to them; they continue to stay and receive their pay cheques feeling they've sold their soul to make a living and feed their habits, such as maintaining a lifestyle, the children's education, the mortgages; and they increasingly feel lifeless and dead inside. Shocking as it may seem, it's very common and if people were honest, they may acknowledge they've been there, done that, at some time or other in their working lives. It takes courage to acknowledge your heart's gone out of what you do for a living and more courage again to change the circumstances you're in. But it's definitely doable. 

Prepare for tomorrow today, says management trainer

It's a simple system, but a good one. Take five minutes at the end of every work day to tidy your desk, put stuff away and prepare for your tomorrow, by: opening and checking your diary to see what appointments you have and where you need to be at a particular time; what important tasks you need to do and chunk and label specific time in your diary to do them (thereby making an appointment with yourself); what telephone calls you must make. Jot down your appointments, important tasks and telephone calls on a piece of paper so you have an easy, quick visual aid to your day (especially useful if you find you are too busy to open your diary, electronic or otherwise, during a day). Keep it on your desk, so that first thing in the morning when you get to your desk, you can begin work straight away and follow your plan.

Systems organisational oil that keeps the wheels turning, management trainer believes

For many, the thought of systems, system development and using systems in their workplace constitutes the height of dreariness. Free spirits often like to do their own thing with systems and sometimes develop their own and ignore the organisational ones. The trouble with this approach is that good systems are designed to process information and/or material in the most efficient and effective way and ideally, the systems themselves have been well developed to eliminate any processing gaps, duplicated effort and bottlenecks. So any do your own thing approach tends to cause problems eventually. Systems need to be monitored to ensure they're working in the way intended and staff also need to be monitored, to ensure they're using them. Time invested in systems development is time well spent, as systems are the organisational oil that keep organisations working. If you do needs systems developed, use people who can see all the component parts of a system, as well as the overview of the system in its entirety and how it interrelates with other organisational systems.