Uncategorized Jul 09, 2019

The other day I was having a chat with my Uber driver. He was an electrical engineer who was on a student visa from India so that he could improve his employment position by studying project management.  He had completed his studies and wanted to get some work experience here in Adelaide before he returned to his home town in 2021. This would give him the best opportunity once he returned home to India. 

I asked him whether he wanted to stay in Adelaide?  He said no.  He thought the social life in his village in India was better. There are only a thousand people in his village and they have a better social life.  Fair enough I said. 

I asked him about the differences between Adelaide and the cities and villages in India.  He said that he has a very good life in India except for the corruption. He said that in Australia if you go to the police, you know that they will obey the laws. He said he couldn’t necessarily feel that police in his...

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Conflict is a communication issue

Uncategorized Jul 09, 2019

Every time I deal with a new conflict I go on an exploration of what is not being said.  Sometimes I discover people are holding on to secrets, but more often than not people are holding on to assumptions.  

Assumptions about what the other person knows or thinks. They're nearly always wrong or misguided.  

And the conflict usually gets worse because no-one is prepared to start a conversation.  

So people worry about what the other person is thinking. They create stories in their head that are not based in fact. They get distracted by these stories and don't focus on their work and they become less efficient. And this costs the company or the organisation a lot of money and time. 

If you want to improve the efficiency of your team, teach them how to communicate effectively so that they don't have to deal with unresolved and expensive conflict. So that they can start a conversation which might be a little bit uncomfortable. Every time. 

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Things I learned from Sadie

Uncategorized Jul 09, 2019

Sadie is my 16-month-old granddaughter.  She is adorable. She is wickedly funny, cheeky as, incredibly assertive and the second coming of her mother.  

I am in awe of this toddler. Despite her limited vocabulary, we have no issues communicating. She is very clear.  

She smiles, kicks her feet or claps her hands when she is happy.  She laughs loudly when she gets the joke. However, she will not smile when she is not happy or if she is in a bad mood.  

Sadie is very clear when she has had enough of being at our house or the playground.  She literally grabs her parent and starts heading for the door.

When she wants something she asks for it - she doesn’t always get what she wants but she is more likely to get it from Grandmama than anyone else.  

She likes to do her own thing but she will regularly come up for a quick hug or cuddle and then get back to exploring her environment again.

When she is tired she gets quite grumpy...

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My team don't respect me

Uncategorized Jul 09, 2019

I hear it over and over again. The leader, the boss says: "my team don’t respect me.  I do all these things for my team, I pay them well, I provide them with opportunities and still, they don’t respect me."

What I also hear over and over again from their teams is: "my boss just tells me what to do, they don’t talk to me. They don’t listen. They don’t care how their decisions impact on me and my team. They don’t check in with me. They don’t ask my opinion on important decisions that are going to impact on the way I work. They don’t follow through with the things that they said they would do."

I hear of so many teams that have almost no structure. They are totally reactive. They don’t plan and work out strategies as to how to deal with likely issues that will arise; they just react and everyone is really stressed. 

I hear of bosses who always say yes. Yes, we can do that for you, dear client (despite the fact that we...

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Leadership is hard

Uncategorized Jul 09, 2019

I've been working with a lot of "new" leaders recently.  They are not new to their industry, in fact, they're usually very experienced practitioners; they're just new to leading people. 

One of these leaders said "you need a degree in psychology to do this job" and he meant it. 

He said he had never learned so much so quickly in his life.  

Leading people is hard. It's particularly hard because you have to learn on the job (which is super scary) and you have to be successful at the same time.  It makes for high stress levels and possibly strained relationships (at home and at work) whilst you find your feet. 

Leadership is about leading and not doing. It's about delegating and setting boundaries with your team; being really clear about what you want to achieve and what the rules, policies and procedures are so that you can achieve those goals. It's about managing everyone's stress levels, always calling out inappropriate behaviour whilst being a...

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Dishes in the sink

Uncategorized Jun 12, 2019

This situation highlights 1) if it’s everyone’s responsibility, then it’s no-one’s responsibility and 2) what you tolerate becomes the norm.

If one person doesn’t wash, dry and put away their dishes and no-one says anything about it, then that has just provided consent to everyone else to do the same.  So the dishes generally don’t get done.

The only person likely to deal with this situation on a regular basis is the office martyr. And really, do we want the office martyr to deal with these issues? You’ll never hear the end of it.

What if we were to use the same approach in more important elements of the business? What if we don’t call out inappropriate comments when we first hear them; or we allow people to use their phones in meetings or let people rock up to work late every day?  What if we allow our team to be disrespectful to each other?

If we tolerate disrespectful behaviour then we are saying it is okay and it will...

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I've fallen off the wagon

Uncategorized Jun 12, 2019

I am writing this in June 2019. I am feeling very sorry for myself. I am tired, bloated, short of breath and I have higher levels of stress than I have had in years.

I am also frustrated and disappointed in myself.

I have fallen off the wagon.

Not the alcohol wagon. I haven’t had a drink since 19 January 2014 but the health and fitness wagon.  Life has been so crazy busy and/or stressful for the last few months that my early morning routine has gone to the dogs. As a result of not getting up early and going for a run, my eating habits have deteriorated and my sleep is all over the place. I feel slow and flabby and my energy levels have nose-dived.

I have also picked up a terrible cold and I constantly cough and sneeze and blow my nose and look terrible. Being a good self-employed martyr I have continued to work through ill health because apparently, you can’t take a day off.

So I am feeling very sorry for myself.

On the upside, I have finally taken myself off to see...

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Who sank the boat?

Uncategorized Jun 12, 2019

There is a great children’s book entitled Who Sank the Boat by Pamela Allen. All these big animals get on the boat one by one. The final animal to hop on to the boat is this tiny mouse and the boat sinks.

It looks like it was the tiny mouse that sinks the boat – but obviously, this is not true.

I often see leaders blame the ‘mice’ for the woes of their business.  They say things like “I just can’t find good staff” or “if only my staff would listen” or “that team leader is useless.” They throw around blame like there’s no tomorrow.

They keep forgetting that they are the ones that have the most influence on how the team functions.

So often I see the owner or CFO of a business transfer enormous responsibility to the General Manager or CEO, but they don’t give them any authority.  They make them a toothless tiger.

“We need to achieve 6% growth in the next twelve months” they demand - but...

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When is it real?

Uncategorized Jun 12, 2019

My psychologist said to me the other day that I was burnt out.

I have done some contract work for a Government Department for nearly 20 years.  It’s difficult work. The parties are usually very stressed, the decisions I make have a direct impact on people’s lives and I have had to be a bearer of bad news over and over again for 20 years. It’s reasonable to assume that it would take its toll.

I was so relieved for my psychologist to say that I was burnt out. I was glad to hear from a professional that there was a reason for why I was feeling so awful, so tired, so stressed.

I told my family and some other close friends and they all said – we have been saying this to you for ages. They said, “this is not a surprise to us.”

So why couldn’t I hear the same information from other people? Why did it take a psychologist to confirm what was as obvious as the nose on my face?

  1. I wasn’t ready to hear the information.
  2. I needed someone with...
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The perfect storm

Uncategorized Jan 09, 2019

I deal with a lot of perfect storms.  A series of events that escalate to a mighty crescendo of almighty conflict, loud and cruel words and hurt feelings.  It’s like watching a movie; event after event leading to this incredible moment in time.

As an outsider looking in it is obvious that this moment is going to occur if not today at some time in the future; but not so for the parties involved in the conflict. They are so absorbed in everything that is going on that they don’t see how close they are to this defining moment in their relationship.

The parties to the perfect storm always want to tell me about what happened on that eventful day when the crescendo hit. They want me to believe their version of the events. They want me to understand how “reasonable” they were in that moment.

I always believe what people tell me about those events. They are telling me their truth. And it is imperative that they get an opportunity to vent and tell...

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