La Rentrée: this time of year we all go ‘back to school’

My children have been back at school a few weeks now and we have just about settled back into the routine of it all. My eldest son is now at secondary school and has been subjected to various assessment tests to determine which sets he goes into for the key subjects.  This process of working out his strengths and areas for development reminded me, of course, of my ‘day job’.  However, it struck me as no coincidence that my360plus saw a marked increase in demand for 360 degree profiling in September.

I think that it is has been ingrained in us that this time of year we all go ‘back to school’. In the world of work there is often a shift from the slower summer mindset to a more focussed attitude.  The French even have a word for this: ‘La Rentrée’.  Many French people are on vacation for all or part of August, which means that la rentrée, in September, is when everyone is returning home and going back to work.

So as we look at the year ahead, it is a good time to analyse what additional skills or training might be useful, so what should we be considering?

  • Talk to our managers and discuss any available training that is related to the job we are doing, or future projects we will be involved in.
  • Do we have a good self-awareness regarding our skillset?  We should talk to our managers, peers and teams to gain their views.
  • Consider what we are naturally good at and would like to develop and use more, rather than just the things we need to improve.
  • Another option is mentoring or being mentored, providing the chance to share skills and experience with colleagues.
  • If appropriate, talk to our managers regarding changing some responsibilities in order to develop new skills.
  • Create a clear development path for the months ahead with distinct goals.

So how could my360plus profiling help you now?

  • It creates a simple, straightforward, easy-to-understand profile of strengths and areas for development.
  • Our 360 tool is straightforward, quick and easy to use online.
  • It is an efficient and cost effective process.
  • Our approach does not stop with the production of a report.  my360plus sets up ongoing real-time coaching with plain English suggestions on what to work on and how.
  • The development is measurable and is directly linked to improved performance.
  • The approach is proven, and is underpinned by robust science.

 

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Inspiring Leadership. Richard Branson breaks the rules again!

“My philosophy is, put your employees first, your customers second and your investors third and, in the end, everyone will be happy.”

Virgin Boss, Sir Richard Branson, has nailed another PR coup.  Setting the cat amongst the pigeons and challenging employers to discard the traditional holiday contractual allowance, he has dared to suggest that staff should be able to take as much holiday as they like.

At first glance this is a great way of empowering the workforce and trusting them to have more ownership of their work-life balance. I will watch his ‘experiment’ with interest as he has initially rolled out this new policy to 170 of this staff (his total workforce has more than 50000 employees around the world).  The clever proviso is that any absence should not damage business or ‘their careers’.

Sir Richard Branson is a great case study in modern leadership, and we often cite him at my360plus as a great example when we are discussing the ‘involve’ and ‘inspire’ clusters of high performance leadership behaviours:

Involving Leadership Behaviours:

  • Encourages a ‘hands-off’ approach to management so that employees make their own decisions.  Branson trusts and empowers his teams.
  • Makes employees feel truly valued and appreciated. This increases company loyalty and provides a true sense of purpose.
  • Encourages communication and feedback. Did you know that he even gives out his phone number to all employees encouraging ideas, suggestions or comments?!
  • Actively listens: he is very approachable, and is able to connect with people at all levels.  Feedback is truly encouraged and valued.
  • Seeks to always look for the best in people.  He moves people into different jobs within the organisation to transfer, develop and maximise skills.

Inspiring Leadership Behaviours:

  • Encourages his employees to be innovative and take risks.  Branson himself is not afraid to make mistakes, taking on challenges, demonstrating determination and persistence to bounce back and learn.
  • Promotes a clear vision that is consistently and clearly communicated – the ‘Virgin Brand’.
  • Builds confidence in the company’s potential for success.
  • Is a role model. Branson is motivating, energetic and ‘walks the talk’.  “If you love what you do and if you believe in what you do, others will share your enthusiasm.”
  • Has an innovative approach to business: likes to break ‘rules’ and do things differently.
  • Values and rewards truly exceptional customer service.

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules,” Branson says. “You learn by doing, and by falling over.”

 

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The Scottish Referendum highlights the pros and cons of complex decision making.

The big decision faced by the Scottish dominates the news at the moment; as the outcome of the impending referendum currently appears too close to call.  The answer each individual has to give might just a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but the complexity of the decision making process makes it far from black and white.

The basis of any good decision is the depth and breadth of the information available.  In this instance it is not for lack of relevant information and advice, but because of all of the unknowns. Politicians are scurrying around making firm ‘promises’ regarding Scotland’s future, but they can’t escape the key factor: the future is certainly unknown. Therefore making a decision seems risky.

Complex decision making, full of unknowns, is prevalent in the business world.  It is accepted that often there is no ‘right’ answer.  However, business leaders recognise that with uncertainty also comes opportunity and, for Scotland, whichever way the vote goes, change is now inevitable.  The issues that are the most important to the electorate have been shaken to the surface and won’t be allowed to continue on in the same ‘old’ ways.

So that’s a good thing – surely?!  To sweep away the old cobwebs and refresh; to identify the critical issues and review better or different ways to address them; to regularly adjust the direction.

We know that businesses that constantly review and adapt are more likely to succeed.  Armed with rich information and strong diagnostics, a good leader will encourage flexible thinking and scenario planning throughout their business.  This is all about seeing things differently, trying new ways, and looking at things from a different perspective.  My360plus encourages businesses to challenge the ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ mentality.  The ability to acknowledge alternatives is a vital leadership skill, proven to increase performance, and that is why it is one of the key high performance behaviours that my360plus rates and coaches.

The Scottish people have been discussing the pros and cons of Independence or Union for the best part of 300 years. They are a well informed electorate.  Whatever the result on 18th September, Scotland will move forward with a clearer, cleaner vision, with a more engaged population.  This can only be positive.

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10 steps to better decision making

How do we get our heads around all that is going on around us, so we can create powerful ideas, solve problems and make decisions?  Effective decision making involves three high performance leadership behaviours: ‘information search’, ‘idea creation’ and ‘flexible thinking’.

These are the ten key steps involved:

Information Search:

  1. Clearly define the situation or goal.
  2. Create a value for research and knowledge gathering throughout your team.
  3. Collect as much information as possible from a board range of sources, from both ‘within’ and ‘outside’ of the situation to get a wide rich viewpoint of what’s going on. Governmental regulations, legal developments, market conditions, economic factors, market research and technological developments can all affect the situation.

Idea Creation

  1. Form ideas and judgements from the information available.  Link in the information from the wider environment to make better sense of the situation.  Don’t get bogged down by the details – look at the ‘whole’.
  2. Involve others to encourage the generation of ideas. Brainstorm all alternatives.  Entertain all ideas at this stage.

Flexible Thinking

  1. Consider at least two viable solutions or options.  Hold options in ‘parallel’ not ‘in series’.
  2. Compare the pros and cons of all solutions simultaneously.
  3. Consider the consequences and impact of each option.  Who does it impact?  Is it achievable? Are the timescales realistic?

Decision Time

  1. Based on your analysis, choose the best possible option, form an action plan and implement your decision. Be specific and set measurable targets.
  2. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.  Always have a backup plan.  Implement a process for continuous review so, if new information arises, you are ready to revise and adapt.

 

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Influence and mastering the art of the Win-Win.

A classic case of win-win.  This morning, as I booked a courier online, I noticed the option to select ‘drop at post office’.  Clever – I don’t have to wait in tomorrow for the collection, the parcel is on its way a day earlier, and the courier has one less pick up in his already busy day.  Everyone is happy.

This is just one example of how win-win solutions are woven into our day to day lives: look around you!  The branded  sports players providing the clothing companies with marketing; BBQ food discounted at the supermarkets in the hot weather; contractors rewarded with a bonus if they complete a project on time – I am sure you can think of many more examples, which show how advantageous a truly beneficial supplier-customer/ business-business partnership can be.

One of Schroder’s High Performance Leadership Behaviours is ‘Influence’ and it can be very powerful, having a positive impact on individual, team or organisational performance.

So what is influencing?

  • It is the art of developing ideas and solutions that are mutually beneficial.
  • The ability to affect another’s attitudes, beliefs or behaviours.
  • Persuading without using exertion or force of formal authority.
  • Allowing the ‘influencee’ to believe that they are acting in their own best interests. 

What are the benefits?

  • Strategic alliances, joint goals and shared interests which foster a positive climate of co-operation rather than domination or imposition.
  • It builds confidence and excitement for the project or goal
  • The formation of alliances to ensure long-term buy in.
  • Socialised power (as opposed to centralised around one or a few people).

How to Influence?

  1. Define the situation and identify the goal.
  2. Identify who needs to be influenced and determine what makes them tick. The High Performance Behaviour ‘Empathy’ plays a key part here as it is vital to find out what is really important to the other party.
  3. With this knowledge the next step is to work out the most appropriate way to get their buy-in, and to know which skills or behaviours are best to employ: reason, friendliness and bargaining are primary strategies. Back up strategies include assertiveness, higher authority, coalition or sanctions.

Work today gets done in an environment where people don’t just ask “What should I do?”  But “Why should I do it?”  To answer this question effectively is to persuade.” Harvard Business Review

Empathy and Influencing are two of the behaviours that we rate and coach at my360plus.  For some more information please contact us.

 

 

 

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