Youth Employers – what do we want?

I’ve read a lot lately about millennials and Gen Y and what it is that they’re looking for in terms of employers. What it is that organisations can do, offer, provide to attract and retain this area of the employment population. But I’ve equally been thinking about it from the other perspective given I’m passionate about youth employment and the roles that everyone plays from Schools through tertiary training providers and organisations play in preparing youth for employment. I regularly attend Job & Careers Fests, WorkChoice Days, meet with Universities, host High Schools and the like in my efforts to bridge the gap as a representative of my views and that of my organisation and feel that an area we’re all missing is what the employers are looking for from the situation. Because 99% of the time a completed degree and an eye catching CV alone aren’t going to cut it.

 

So what do companies want from this largely technologically advanced, digitally savvy sector of the market? I’ve complied a wish list of sorts:

Experience: Those who take the initiative to work part time or during holidays undoubtedly have an edge. They’re already somewhat work savvy. They have likely had to stick to hours, deadlines and task requirements and many will have had to work as part of teams, communicate with others and ideally provide some level of customer service.

Resilience: The ability to spring back from adversity, take the knock, get back up and try again is essential. Being able to look at yourself and learn from situations, people and tasks – to rise from the ashes in the face of tough or difficult times.

Initiative / Nous: Understanding the reality/practicality of a situation outside of having knowledge of the theory, and being confident in suggesting improvements and solutions.

Curiosity: A thirst for knowledge; to continually grow, develop and learn in the present and into the future. Being confident in asking questions and developing an understanding of the business, departments and wider market.

Conscientiousness: An awareness of the world around them. Of colleagues, clients, the wider organisation and extending into the world around them. Collaborative and communicative, a team player.

Change Ready: Innovative, creative and forward in the generation of new ideas and ways of working. Comfortable with change and changing tack to adapt to our ever changing world.

 

Having these skill sets under their belts in conjunction with their learning’s will see millennials, Gen Y’s and the like well in their search for employment. Displaying an attitude or outlook that is clearly ready to get stuck in, help out where needed, and putting a hand up for all opportunities offered will definitely all be viewed positively by employers. Having engaged, enthusiastic employees who are innovative and willing to learn is the ultimate goal for organisations.

Millennials / Gen Y – I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions….everyone else, what would you add to the list?

You’ve Got Mail

I recently spent some time out of the office, and pre heading on annual leave tried to reduce the looming experience of a ridiculously overflowing inbox on my return by unsubscribing from the multitude of sites, newsletters and updates I’ve signed up to over the years. At the same time I read a “hack” on reducing the stress of your inbox, that included the likes of mail rules and auto-filling and quietly congratulated myself on how much easier my return to work would be, given I had full intentions of “switching off” for twelve days. It occurred to me at this point how obsessed and overwhelmed by email we have all become.

How many emails a day does your inbox average? How many inboxes do you have? I confess to three personal email addresses, two work ones that filter to the same inbox and a generic work one I hold responsibility for but others’ have access to. Six all up. No wonder I’m reading hacks on filtering email and the other blogs and posts I’ve read in the past on time management, claiming back your work day and the like, largely focused on reducing your email time.

I wonder too whether we’ve come to a point where we rely far too heavily on email as our main means of communication? Are we hiding behind it? Will we lose the art of conversation simply because it’s easier and more convenient to whip out an email than pick up the phone or walk across the office? And have we utter lost the ability to write a letter, falling into the less formal speak of email?

In thinking on all of this I came across some great articles such as this Four Influential People Who Ditched Email which detailed not only the people (who will surprise you), but also their reasoning, alternatives and tips for doing the same. Most featured around work lie balance and being more productive in your working day – gaining hours of time back. However, they almost all used alternatives and usually social media, the likes of facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. I’m somewhat sceptical of this also as surely they’ll take up as much time, but block out the junk, newsletters and the like?

I’m all about social media, so don’t get me wrong here, I love it for what it is. The virtues of which I’ve written about many times over due to the networking, learning & development, true friendships and the like I have benefited from on a global scale that I would never had achieved without it.

I haven’t tried forgoing email, and given my job I can’t see myself being able to any time soon, but I’m intrigued. For right now I’m thrilled with averaging 80 emails a day in the main inbox as opposed to the 200+ I was getting before with the hacks I’ve put in place. There seriously is a lot in sending certain mail direct to folders and unsubscribing from the 101 things you’ve signed up for. But what I’m interested to hear is who else has tried something like this? No email or other hacks – and what have you found works?

Here are some examples of the reading I did in all my thinking about this:

http://99u.com/articles/7274/how-i-gave-up-email-and-reclaimed-3-hours-a-day

http://www.chrisducker.com/7-email-hacks-productive/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/02/05/9-email-productivity-secrets-that-will-get-your-life-back/#40b56d94c5d5

Pass the Purple Crayon!

Did you have a favourite crayon in the box back at pre-school or in your early school days? Is there one you secreted away to be able to use it every day? Or was it a favourite marker pen you used to colour everything, ensuring it ran out twice as fast as the others in the box? I’ve watched my daughter from the moment she could hold a pen make a beeline for the pinks and purples in the container. She prefers if they have sparkles or some sort of glitter shine to them as well, and these are always used first.

At work I’ve noticed people do similar things; I had a colleague obsessed with purple pens and highlighters (you know who you are!) who had a drawer full of them – and this extended to purple plastic sleeves as well. There’s another who will only write in red pen and masses of people with favourite notebooks and folders. Many of us have favourite fonts, and sizes and by the same token there’s some incredibly disliked fonts (comic sans anyone?).

Lighthearted as the subject is it got me thinking. Have you got a favourite colour now? And/or does it extend to a little something in your everyday work life that makes you feel happy, makes you smile or makes your day that little bit better? And is that all there is to it?

We recently printed branded notebooks at work and they are seriously cool – edgy, funky and useful with pockets and preprinted info on our brands & products and other useful titbits like calendars. Everybody loves them, regular beige covered notebooks lie unused in stationary cupboards throughout the building while the fancy new models are coveted. I was recently given a bound pink notebook (by a company who shall remain nameless, but I’m sure many of you will guess!), and I really like it. Now I’m not a particularly girly girl – and certainly no six year old girl (who I had to buy a sparkly pink notebook for to stop her sneaking mine) but it stands out. It’s pretty, functional and no one else at work has one so it stands out as mine if I put it down someone.

So is it colour? Is it having an individual thing or another way to express ourselves? Or is it just fluff? Or is there something more to this that could help teams and organisations come together? Is it a personality thing? Can colour affect mood, productivity and inspiration? On a subject such as this I’d love to hear what you all have to say! But to satisfy my own intrigue I googled it and here are some of my findings:

In terms of office space I found screeds of information on colour schemes in the workplace and how they affect (positively and negatively – or otherwise) the environment Entrepreneur had a basic infographic that some may find useful or relate to. Woods Bagot, internationally renowned architects have some amazing examples of pulling together data, technology and people with design to create office spaces of the future, here is an example of this and we’re seeing it a lot more in Auckland especially where Vodafone kicked off new spacial design for offices, and the likes of ASB, NZME and Fonterra have followed suit with more colour, open spaces and collaborative environments than offices of old.

BuzzFeed has this quiz to take about what your choice in colour says about your personality; and for me it was largely accurate. This article on Bustle I found interesting if only because I’ve always struggled to decide if my favourite colour is blue or yellow…and only 5% of adults claim yellow as their favourite colour! Psychology Today offered this simple exercise to assess the personality types of team members based on favourite colours. StopPress think trendier is happier – what say you?

All in all, I think Fast Company summed it up pretty well in this article, concluding whilst studies may be able to give us generalities, it’s an individual thing, humans visualise 10 million different colours; given “green” can mean or be visualised in many forms by many different people. Love to hear your thoughts…

 

What’s the Point? Finding Your Purpose.

I’ve stolen the first half of the title for this blog from Jonathon Hagger, after reading his post “What’s the Point?” directly after I read David Cullen’s #NZLead tweet chat recap “Why do we work? Meaning in the Workplace”. Both struck a chord.

It’s no secret that work’s been pretty busy for me of late (always if I’m honest!), but the coming together of three of NZ’s biggest media players has definitely been a game changer and one that’s been incredibly exciting to be a part of. The values and purpose of the three individual organisations have changed somewhat, but also remain largely intact within the new, larger group company. We have a new shared sense of direction in our vision and mission as a group. But how has this worked for individuals? Sure, there have been changes and therefore the why has changed for some people and in the course of this I’ve had some very frank conversations with numerous talent within our organisations and asking them similar questions to those posed in the posted linked above has yielded some interesting outcomes, situations and realisations.

For some people their drive and their purpose is to affect greater change. They may not align and be in utmost harmony with the wider group at this point, but they see an opportunity to make a difference and are striving towards that – these are the people who think big, the disruptors, those that will change the face of workplaces in the world. Then there are those who do buy in to the company “way we do things round here” and are if not 100% behind the purpose of the company then they’re close to it. This is something of a seamless alignment in thinking and an ideal, most people would be striving to find in life.

The opposite end of the scale from the descriptions above are the actively disengaged, or aligned and those who are indifferent. A complete disharmony between employee and organisation is a dangerous situation to have in play as these people may be actively working against the organisational purpose and/or attempting to persuade others’ away from it. Those who are indifferent will do less damage internally and externally to the employer brand and culture, but from a productivity perspective are equally bad for business. Hopefully there aren’t too many of these in a business, but if so it’s in these instances that organisations should be able and brave enough to have upfront conversations with people to help them find their point, purpose, why – whatever you choose to call it. Help them recognise where their strengths lie, where their skill sets are better suited, where they will feel happier and more fulfilled in their work. It may be that these people were once “on the bus” – but as technology, business, and the world around us changed they may be surprised to find that they no longer “fit” with the organisation they’re in. They may need help in recognising this, and in finding alternatives and seeking out their point or finding a new environment where their point aligns with company purpose.

If done well people will thank you for these difficult conversations. It may not be straight away, and it may take some considerable time before they’re ready to make a move or to try something new. But in the end it benefits both them, the original and the new organisation.

I’ve found through these processes too, that sometimes people may be unsure of their purpose, but realise in having a conversation with another that they do share the vision or direction of the organisation; so managers, HR and the like need to ensure they take the time to have open dialogue with talent within the organisation. Many times I’ve had people walk into my office feeling uncertain, or unclear, worried about change and the like, but having vented and received feedback, or a different perspective on the situation they’ve left feeling happy and clear in their future direction.

And to answer the questions???

My purpose is people. Communities within workplaces. Open conversations with real feedback. Finding meaning in work. Creating thriving workspaces. Showcasing, developing and attracting talent. Working smarter, utilising technology. Successful change. Growth & future. My purpose is people.

I like to Move It, Move It

I came across a fantastic infographic on exercise and improved productivity in the workplace developed for Wellness Week. It includes some very interesting stats, such as physically inactive people having a 50% higher chance of developing a coronary heart disease as regularly active people. Given my partners father passed away last week after a long history of minor heart attacks and his brother in law was rushed to hospital two days ago with such high blood pressure Doctor’s couldn’t believe he wasn’t having a heart attack – this struck a chord!

We all know that exercise releases endorphins and serotonin that eases the mind and creates feelings of positivity – helping to increase productivity and decrease the mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Exercise also increases mental alertness and energy levels, and, regular exercise has been proven to increase your overall wellness and boost the immune system, resulting in fewer sick days and therefore greater productivity.

I’ve been a runner, I’m currently a walker (hope to get running again!) and fitting my walk into my day be it at 10:30am, 12noon or 3pm dependant on work demands, meetings etc is a priority for me. On particularly busy or stressful days I find the time out to move away from what I’m doing and clear my head often ends in improved results. I’d go along with the infographic stats and be a part of the 60% that claim greater mental performance post lunch time exercise.

In our organisation we have a gym onsite, admittedly it’s not the flashiest gym in the world, but it has one of everything and costs next to nothing at $3 a week (which includes social club membership). We offer onsite Yoga and Pilates classes (at the expense of the attendees), we have fruit baskets on some floors (company provided) – and these are the obvious things I can find. But digging a little deeper I discovered company touch teams, inter-organisation cricket matches, walking and running groups and weight loss support groups. There were also groups supporting each other in marathons, stair climbs and tough-mudder competitions. But I had to ask around to find them.

So does exercise and improved productivity in the workplace also come down to communication? Are we not showcasing, promoting and advocating the importance of exercise enough?

Secondly, I wonder if workplaces are supportive enough of exercise? Or is it treated somewhat like the companies where if you’re not seen in the office you’re deemed not to be working? Do we allow staff the time in their days, lunch breaks etc to make time for exercise and to fit that into their own daily schedules?

It’s in companies’ interests to ensure staff have every opportunity to be heathy and fit and participating regularly in exercise. So why aren’t more of us putting more effort into this? Not only will exercise increase productivity, but culture and engagement would increase along with it. There’s some really simple ways companies could instigate more exercise in their employees’ days and here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Communicate! Let staff know what your company currently has on offer
  • Advocate; make sure staff know you’re supportive of their physical and mental wellbeing
  • Walking meetings
  • Encourage staff to take the stairs (create a stair challenge!)
  • Support company sports teams
  • Provide showers and space for staff to keep fitness gear at work
  • Standing desks (standing burns more calories than sitting!)
  • Organise lunch time walking groups; the easiest way to exercise and will have the added benefits of staff keeping each other accountable and building camaraderie amongst employees

And here are some great ideas for at your desk / in the office exercise (some you can do discreetly at your desk, other you may want to find a meeting room for!):

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/29-exercises-you-can-do-at-or-near-your-desk.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/health/workout-at-work/

Get moving!

Corporate Addictions in Leadership

I quit sugar. For anyone who knows me this was no mean fete. It was after a weekend where I’d eaten 18 mini Milky Way Bars and then snuck two of my daughters Easter Eggs and still didn’t feel satisfied that I realised it was a problem. A huge, sugar addicted problem. I resolved to give it up. First week I let myself have a couple of slip ups, but guess what? It didn’t work, I was straight back to consuming family bags of lollies in no time. So it had to be cold turkey, all or nothing. Now there is one exception to this…alcohol, I have to have one vice right?! I’m already coeliac and dairy intolerant so it doesn’t leave a lot! However I have changed my habits there too, I’m more conscious of my choices – soda water now being my only mixer for example.  The results? Eight weeks on I no longer spend every day wondering when it’s an appropriate time to have that first “hit”. The long term health benefits I think will be obvious, but so too, my skin is better, I sleep better and have lost weight – a happy side effect! Also, I’ve noticed it’s affected my daughters attitude towards sweets, now that mummy’s not having them (for the record I always very closely monitored her intake – easy to tell someone else what to do right?!) she’s no longer asking for them either, so better all round for both of us.

The obvious and wide reaching benefits of giving up this addiction have been awesome, and I’ve resolved to keep it up. But it also got me thinking about workplace, for this post particularly leadership addictions or patterns of behaviour, that currently detrimental, if changed could also turn to work in you or the organisations’ favour.

For example are you the type of manager who has to have the last say? Who won’t ever back down and admit that you may be in the wrong? Do you even recognise this in yourself? For sometimes addictions creep up on us without us even realising.

Are you the type of leader that can do everything yourself? Do you fail to delegate to your staff, or fully utilise them for their knowledge and competencies, complaining that you’re too busy and overworked, but loathe to give anything up for a multitude of reasons ranging from control, through power and blindness?

Or are you the corporate psychopath? The leader who thinks nothing of other’s feelings and emotions, of how what you do and say may affect others? Are you the absentee boss? Do your staff wonder who you are and what you do from the top of your ivory tower? Is bullying your tactic? Do you use this as a way to manipulate staff into your desired results?

All of these scenarios are very real, and in the worst cases there are leaders displaying one, more or all of these behaviours. The results? A disengagement and disillusionment of staff meaning you are not getting the best out of your employees and ensuring an adverse effect on productivity. It’s likely too that a breakdown in culture would ensue, or worse, a reactive culture is born out of suspicion, wariness and fear of the leader or manager.

The good news is many behaviours once identified can be unlearnt. This may take time and hard work, but ultimately the benefits far outweigh any short term pain. In terms of engagement, retention, churn, attraction, absenteeism a positive trending curve would emerge, which ultimately leads to a positive impact on the bottom line.

So whilst your corporate leadership addictions may not be as extreme as these examples, look at yourself. Really look at yourself – what could you change about your behaviours, habits or otherwise to positively impact your organisation and its employees? And maybe you wouldn’t recognise these behaviours in yourself? Is it time to ask for honest and upfront feedback – and if you did, could you `take it? I quit sugar, now the corporate challenge is on…

#HRLeadersSummit

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the HR Leaders Summit in Auckland this week, by the wonderful team at Drake NZ. Described as a high impact day addressing the changing face of HR, there were four speakers who were highlights on the day from me.

 Steve Tinghe, Business Futurist, opened with three key concepts for working back from the future – reimaging business and HR.

  1. Awareness of the emerging change.
  2. A broad and flexible sense of strategic identity. Senior Leaders need to take care to have a broader than internal sense of corporate identity, don’t become too introspective.
  3. A process for strategic design. In the information age we’re acquiring more data to make sense of the changing environment for competitive advantage; firms don’t need more information, just help applying and optimsing what they already have

He further discussed the need for strategy to be seen as a resource that needs time and energy and encompassing five key elements: Future, Creativity, Collaboration, Learning and Process.

The three words left with me after Diane Edwards, Ports of Auckland’s, address were Challenge, Culture and Courage. Entitled Change management and using HR to promote sustainable values, her session described the changes at PoA that enabled them to achieve a five year plan in only three years with some incredible profit and people results. Key strategies included:

  • Leadership courage; large scale restructuring, taking on the unions and chaining the culture.
  • Working together, reinventing relationships through communication, alignment, centralisation and integration. Show consideration and create partnerships.
  • Address poor behaviour head on; including the likes of zero tolerance on bullying and a focus on health and safety.
  • Breaking down hierarchies; such as getting exec’s out working on the wharf monthly.
  • Doing things better; competency frameworks challenging improvements and innovation, weekly WIps in place of annual PDRs and a customer focus on diversity of thinking.
  • Diversity and Progression; focus on moving women up, on progression through merit and job fit, aptitude testing and increasing flexible contracts.

Their results spoke for themselves, in turns of productivity and dividends returned to rate payers.

Kate Nuttal, Air NZ, though from a completely different perspective and starting point also told a pretty impressive story of the transformation Air NZ has been through in the past two years. Her five key takeaways were:

  1. Give people a sense of purpose, and connect to the vision. Small actions can make a big difference to the bottom line.
  2. Measure performance in a meaningful way and clearly differentiate high from low. Stop, start, continue mentality coupled with real conversations and staff development.
  3. Build great leaders and a robust talent framework. Leadership builds culture, creates engagement, promotes performance. Talent matrix hugely important.
  4. Truly collaborative with people (high performance engagement), connect with your people.
  5. Building employee capability in those areas that are a priority for the company. EG: sales capability – reward & recognition, sales cycle, capability model and collaboration.

The points Kate claimed made all of this work for Air NZ were: leadership by example, transparency, having difficult feedback conversations and coaching.

The final speaker also resonated strongly with me; Kylie Holton of Woods Bagot Australia on redesigning the workspace – a creative vision for the future. Kylie described building architecture and interior design in HR terms:

The main trends discussed were:

  • Culture & Brand; be original based on drivers of the business. Be authentic, show who you are and what you do.
  • Flexibility & Agility; re configuring spaces for project based work through furniture & infrastructure. Creating choices over when, where and how you work.
  • Model Shift; hierarchical to project based. Flexible furniture and walls (spaces that move and change).
  • Connection & Collaboration; people come into buildings for different reasons, and want to connect with the building differently, so creating scenarios for people to bump into each other. More break out spaces and virtual tools for engagement. Formal and informal work zones.
  • Innovation; spaces supporting productivity & innovation through freedom of choice and customisation.
  • Health & Wellbeing; natural light, planting and more sit/stand workstations.

It was interesting and incredibly positive to see so much alignment between our future working spaces, and evolving ways of working.

Something else interesting about this conference was that despite the references for leaders, HR and employees to all be more involved with social media, there was extremely little engagement with this during the conference. Chris South, Prominence, even encouraged it at the end of his session on Attracting the very best talent: The latest tips and tricks (which by the way was excellent and I got more tidbits that I missed from seeing him at IT18NZ), but to no avail. Hopefully attendees will take this on board, and hopefully those in Amanda Sterling, NZLeads’, session on HR in the Cloud – Changes and benefits of collaboration were encouraged also, so that next year we might see more sharing, conversations and networking as a result.

Performance Reviews as Coaching Conversations?

On the 11th of June I hosted a twitter chat for #NZLead, as part of a month long focus on performance. You can read the preview and background for that chat here. This post is a recap of that chat:

As discussed in the preview for this twitter chat I see value in giving feedback. And I see value in discussing progress, development and future career paths. So the proposition was implementing an on-going, regular coaching conversation between employees and managers encompassing feedback on performance, discussions on progress, clear expectations of the role requirements, future development plans and initiatives. No surprises, real time conversations that are simple, straightforward and achieved with far less blood, sweat and tears.

The general consensus was undoubtedly that the PDR process needs to change. Some had tried similar methods to suggested coaching conversations in the form of simplifying the process, retraining managers in implementation and others agreed coaching conversations worked well with a lot of staff, but it maybe wasn’t a one size fits all problem / solution. By equipping managers with the skills to conduct coaching conversations some had seen great success, though an education piece was needed for staff and management to get meaningful buy in. There was also the feeling that there are managers who prefer tick boxes and straightforward forms to the perceived ambiguity of the coaching conversation, but also that’s it’s the role of HR to change these situations and expectations.

A substantial communication and education (why and WIIFM) piece would be required in the roll out of any new process within an organisation to achieve success. A transition state or ‘baby steps’ approach to any significant change may make the adjustment more easily accepted by employees. And it’s a cliché, but true – role modelling from the top down, ensuring senior leaders in the organisation walk the walk and showcase the new framework with their direct reports.

Whilst no pitfalls of making this change were identified, it is acknowledged again that managers need the skillset to lead meaningful conversations, ask questions and provide honest, constructive feedback. There was also the recognition that if not done well the conversations would be about as useful as poorly executed PDR’s.

To remain relevant and grow with the changing world of work it seems inevitable that traditional PDR processes as we know them need to change. Laborious and cumbersome in today’s ever evolving VUCA world where the likes of agile methodology are becoming more and more prominent, they simply no longer fit in a modern and developing workplace. Coaching conversations seem like a good alternative moving forward, provided the proper ground work is done with both employees and management alike to equip them for the transformation. Once achieved the potential for coaching to provide framework for more meaningful work conversations in relation to providing constructive feedback to employees and a forum for on-going development is immense.

If you’re interested in joining in on the #NZLead chats you can do so using the twitter hashtag on Thursday’s at 7pm NZ, 8am UK, 5pm Melbourne Sydney. Or you can check out more about what #NZLead is all about on the website.

Thinking on Engagement

This really is thinking on engagement and something of a brain dump – I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on the subject.

Much has been written on the topic of Employee Engagement and rather than being a fad of sorts or the thing to do of the moment it appears this facet of “HR” is here to stay. I put marks around “HR” as I think engagement is so much bigger than a facet of HR and something the business as a whole should be concerned with and should be top of mind for organisational leaders.

According to Gallup’s 2014 research only 13% of all employees are “highly engaged” and a staggering 26% are “actively disengaged” (http://www.gallup.com/services/176735/state-global-workplace.aspx). From this research we also know the following to be true:
·        Engagement makes a difference to the bottom line; Work units in the top 25% of Gallup’s Q12 Client Database have significantly higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, less turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents than those in the bottom 25%
·        Poor hiring and management practices hinder companies’ growth and engagement levels
·        Worldwide, engaged employees regard their lives more highly and experience more positive emotions

So with all we know about engagement and the countless suggestions for improving it from “The 10 C’s of Employment Engagement” (http://iveybusinessjournal.com/topics/the-workplace/what-engages-employees-the-most-or-the-ten-cs-of-employee-engagement#.VNLRd2jLe3A) to the “Four Enablers of Engagement” (http://www.engageforsuccess.org/about/the-four-enablers-of-engagement/) and thereby resolving the disengagement issues in organisations – why are we still seeing such poor results?

I think the solution may be somewhat simpler than the likes of above and other similar other methodologies may suggest.

How about simply? 
·        Hire for role and fit
·        Invest in people
·        Communicate
·        Inspire, include, recognise
·        Be flexible

After putting together the above I found this article (http://www.tlnt.com/2015/02/03/5-ways-to-embed-your-organization-with-a-culture-of-happiness/) “5 Ways to Embed your Organisation with a Culture of Happiness”, these were: Connect, Be Fair, Empower, Challenge & Inspire, and I like this also.

Or perhaps it could get even simpler: People Matter. There’s been a lot of talk lately in HR circles that I follow through blogs and social media about simplifying many facets of HR, largely centred around archaic policies, position descriptions and the use of jargon or “HR speak” in documentation. But how about simplifying something less tangible such as Employee Engagement. How about simply treating all employees as you yourself would wish to be treated? Should we really need an employee engagement strategy – maybe I’m thinking too ‘ideal world’?!

Like I say this is a brain dump and a work in progress – would love your thoughts and comments.

Get On Your Bike!

I’ve never been one for cycling, more of a walker / runner type myself. Even as a kid – I learnt to ride and even obtained a badge for it from school aged 11, but growing up where I did on Auckland’s North Shore there’s very few if any even mildly flat areas anywhere near where our house was. Not living far from there now I still have a serious uphill battle to get anywhere.

But these summer holidays I decided it was time to take the training wheels off Miss Four’s bike. And in doing so bought bikes for the other half and I to ride along with her. My reasoning for this was threefold; a fun form of exercise for the three of us as Miss Four can ride a lot further than she can walk, a way for us to spend more time together as a family unit and thirdly so Miss Four could watch and learn from us once the training wheels came off.

It struck me as we were riding around Auckland’s waterfront together recently the analogy between this and running a team. Teams run best when they are in alignment, working together cohesively, pushing each other to go harder, faster, further than ever before.   Teams with a culture of collaboration and innovation, riding in sync will achieve much greater productivity through increased intrinsic motivation.

Putting time and effort into relationships within teams, working to build trust and open forums for communication where individuals are working towards a common goal are essential elements for success in teams.  Much like us on our bike rides, taking stock now and then and checking to ensure all are on the same path – or at least that their paths are in alignment, and that all are free to express their thoughts.

Creating a coaching culture within teams whereby members feel empowered to remove their training wheels, watching and learning – developing themselves through growth in others will further develop trust among group members. This in turn ensures individuals carry their own weight as well as supporting that of others when required.

Working as a team also ensures you can support each other when the likes of Miss Four has a spill, or the other half gets speed wobbles, and doing it together keeps it light hearted, relaxed and fun.

I can’t wait for my next ride. Get on your bike!