Just because I’m young, blonde and quiet, doesn’t mean I’m stupid

What do we lose by making assumptions? What are safe assumptions? Is there a cost to being softly spoken – don’t you need to be able to be heard? What hair colour do the most effective leaders have? Is it grey…

Learning to Fly

I was once asked by a recruiter in an interview how I could expect to stand up to senior leaders because I was too soft spoken.

I’m reminded of this after a black jack dealer in Vegas said that ‘I couldn’t comprehend how to play black jack and there was no point him helping me learn how to play’.

I didn’t realise he was having a go at me until one of the American’s at our table starting ripping into him for calling me stupid and that that wasn’t very nice.

As with the recruiter, it only felt like the wrong thing after I’d left the room and thought about it.

At the time my mind was firmly in thinking the best about what was happening.

I don’t do confrontation, I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, I’m not forceful and I’m not prone to talking just…

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#cipdldshow – I love flipcharts

Organisations are both complex and simple. They are rarely ‘stable’ and they are increasingly reliant upon their ability to adapt in order to survive.

The economy is not necessarily becoming a more accurate weighing mechanism, but it is becoming a more rapid one. You only have to look at the change in the fortunes of RIM/BlackBerry in order to see how swiftly market domination can be overturned.

At the heart of any organisation you’ll find people. Complex, confusing, evolving, changing people. An old MD of mine once said that if you want to grow the organisation 10 per cent the first thing you need to do is work out how you are will grow your people 10 per cent.

As a nation (and in the global economy the same holds true) – the key to growth is having people who can enable it. That is where L&D sits, not as a ‘support’ function, but as a crucial enabler to business and economic growth. We can shape careers and experiences. We can help shape leaders of the future. That is an incredible responsibility, accountability and opportunity.

I’m excited about the L&D show for a number of reasons

i) it is energising to be surrounded by so many people committed to making careers and businesses more successful.

ii) I’m excited about glimpses of the next big thing. Not because we need to jump on the next buzzword, but because the more that our toolkit expands the better equipped we are to help businesses and people grow.

iii) I’m excited on seeing the maturity of the last ‘next big things’. You know the ones…

iv) I’ll be supporting the CIPD with some blogging and social media pieces – which means I get to read plenty of observations from others on their experiences. I get to learn from them. Some of the people I meet will disappoint me, I’ll (doubtless) disappoint some of the people I meet – but I’ll learn.

I like learning, I like development. And of course, I’m old skool – I like flipcharts.

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The #cipdldshow seems a good place to be.

CEO’s prefer blondes

Gentlemen prefer blondes. Which is why so many entry positions in HR are filled by attractive women. Possibly. Great angles and observations from Angela and Richard. More on this here… http://www.payscale.com/career-news/2012/03/beauty-and-salary

Up the Down Escalator

This is a discussion that has turned into a post. I was challenged to write it and I do like a challenge, so here goes!

I am joined in this post by Angela Atkins. You can follow here own awesome blog here. In a recent conversation with Angela about how HR needs to change, she said “we have to get the business to want HR to deliver and know what to ask for. Too many CEO’s still hire young blonde girls into HRM/HRD roles because they don’t have the experience to challenge them.”

Now I know this is a provocative statement. And of course, it is also a sweeping generalization – actually, many of them are brunettes.

But in a country the size of New Zealand where many people find themselves in sole charge HR positions in small to medium sized businesses, there is more than a grain of truth…

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Anti-binary

Leadership isn’t the big things, it’s 1000 small actions
Business is all about the people
If it can’t be measured then it can’t be improved
If you aren’t on social media you aren’t embracing change
There is no place for hierarchy anymore
Everybody should be working flexibly
The future is online
The world is a different place now

Leadership is not sweating the small stuff
Business is about the bottom line
Not everything that counts can be counted
It doesn’t matter how you communicate and learn, just that you do
People appreciate freedom within a structure
Face to face will never be replaced
People still want what they always wanted

image

We are so used to dealing in attractive absolutes – and so keen to find a right answer – that we lose track of necessary complexity.

We find comfort in eliminating the confusion of mixed motives and striving for ‘root cause’. What is the one thing that caused…

Next time somebody asks you to give them just one reason… just refuse. Life isn’t a courtroom where you can be forced to answer that question. It isn’t binary.

It isn’t yes or no.

It is yes and no.

Did you do it because it was right or because it was easy? Yes, you did. It’s as simple and complex as that.

Please consider joining us at https://ddsouzadotcom.wordpress.com/humane-resourced-the-book-of-blogs/

The Productivity Problem

I was in my early twenties and managing a team of shelf stackers for Marks and Spencer. It was my first role managing people and I looked after a shift that operated after the store shut. I was on my own, looking after about 40 people. A mixture of students and working mothers.

I had 3 disabled members of staff. Officially.

On my first shift I was introduced to Tarquin by his mother. His mother worked in the same store and had done for 30 years.

Tarquin, it was explained to me, ‘wasn’t disabled’ he was just a very special boy who was ‘slow’ and ‘occasionally lost track’ – but definitely wasn’t disabled. It was my job not to let anybody use any words like that. He was ‘special’ and it was my job to look after him and his mother trusted me as ‘everyone says you are a nice polite young man’.

Over the new few weeks it became clear that Tarquin really couldn’t do the role as well as anyone else. He couldn’t follow any instructions with any level of complexity and had a habit of getting distracted and just going for a walk around the store. So even if he was placed on a simple task he couldn’t do it without being accompanied.

The only thing I ever did with Tarquin was swallow the hit for his productivity to keep his mother happy and because it sort of felt right. Everyone else was required to step up to cover his work and everyone appreciated that fact. Occasionally they were frustrated – but they got it.

Everybody in that environment cared for each other. HR used to occasionally chat to me about it. It was a nod and a wink conversation that avoided any reference to the subject of disability.

How is Tarquin getting on?
Well, you know…
We do – his mother really appreciates it and we appreciate you looking after him

I’m glad I worked for a company that took that approach. 15 years on I’m still not sure if I did the right thing.

I’m not sure if the option I took would still be open to me. I don’t know if I’d be as infinitely and openly human as the HR team that advised me (or avoided it on purpose).

I don’t know if I did the right thing commercially or ethically. I don’t know if I’d have done the same thing if my shift was struggling or in a recession. I don’t know if there is a right answer.

I just know that sometimes we can’t be all about the productivity. Sometimes people can all agree, together, that it can just be about the people.

Please note: Tarquin obviously wasn’t called Tarquin.

Please consider joining us at https://ddsouzadotcom.wordpress.com/humane-resourced-the-book-of-blogs/

25 Leadership Quotes you’ve never heard

A few weeks ago I checked my timeline on Twitter and the entire page was just leadership soundbites.

Some had been put onto an attractive background to make them look more important, some had been attributed to Aristotle or Einstein to make them seem more important – but essentially it was a hint that there was nothing new to share – unless you count new tweets from this guy.

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I tweeted that what I thought modern business really needed to drag it completely out of the mire of the financial crisis was #moreleadershipquotes. This is a selection of how people responded.  Take them and do good in the world. Put them above your desk, turn them into calendars – there is more honesty here than you will find in most.

  1. “People don’t resist change, they resist being changed… so let them dress themselves”
  2. “I always maintain that no one person is bigger than this organisation. Although I am about the same size”
  3. “Leaders need edge – that’s the bit they stuff with cheese in pizza these days and I get first dibs” Jack Welch
  4. “Culture isn’t part of the game, culture is THE only game. If we don’t count Scrabble or Monopoly or Hide and Seek”
  5. “You find the most successful leaders at the back. It’s easier to avoid blame if you keep away from the actual action”
  6. “Don’t swear the small stuff. Actually don’t sweat at all. No one likes a stinky leader”
  7. “You don’t need a title to be a leader… anyone from any class in society can be an omnipotent CEO with real power “
  8. “We must design workplaces that foster collaboration, places to pin up the notices banning social media”
  9. “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, automate it and I really don’t care unless it breaks”
  10. “The best leaders create more leaders. But not through cloning, because that’s illegal”
  11. “Hire for attitude, train for skills. Unless your trainers are idiots with a good attitude”
  12. “You don’t need a title to be a leader. But seriously, it better start with Senior and end in VP”
  13. “Leaders take the risks other people wouldn’t. Ask anyone at Enron”
  14. “Leadership is the art of getting other people to do work. Because that golf won’t play itself”
  15. “feedback is the breakfast of champions, making culture a total loser as it eats strategy”
  16. “you can always spot the leader in the room, if you can’t just get an org chart out”
  17. “a good leader never takes the credit (except at bonus time, they aren’t idiots)”
  18. “leaders aren’t born, they are made. Although obviously they are born”
  19. “A good leader is like a conductor- he orders people around with a stick”
  20. “managers do things right, leaders do the right things, management gurus write things”
  21. “Do not lead from the front. Lead from the back, where it’s easier I see if people are on their smartphones”
  22. “culture eats strategy for breakfast – and then market forces eat culture as a snack
  23. “not everything that can be counted counts, but check out my pivot-table anyway”
  24. “Teach a man to fish, and he might quit and become a fisherman, so don’t teach anyone how to fish. Ever”

And remember…”Leadership isn’t a metaphor; it’s forging iron of resilience in fires of complexity”

thanks to plenty of people – in particular Neil Usher, Andrew Jacobs, David Goddin, Simon Heath, Broc Edwards and the brilliant Jane Watson

Skyfail – a secret service

Please share and RT this in the hope that Sky try and improve their service

I moved house on Thursday and Sky Broadband was supposed to be up and running on Friday. I’m posting this using the signal from my phone.

With the exception of the removal of my password details everything else is a straight cut and paste from the Live Chat Service. I have not altered anything to make it funnier….

Welcome to Sky Live Chat Service. A Sky Advisor will be with you shortly. Your chat may be monitored and recorded for training, legal and compliance purposes. info 7:47

** Please do not share your full credit card information, security code or CVV during this chat **

Hi , you’re through to Sky Live Chat, how can I help you today?

my broadband wasn’t connected as expected yesterday. I’d like an explanation and an update please? Me 7:49

Hello? Me 7:50

Hi you are chatting to a home move advisor is this a new account that was set up Nancy 7:50

it is…can you put me through to someone that can help? Me 7:51

I am sorry that you were incorrectly transferred to me Nancy 7:50

my fault, clicking vainly to try and get someone who can help 🙂 Me 7:52

I am sorry you had to do this Nancy 7:51

Please wait – we are transferring your chat to a Sky Advisor who can help you. info 7:51

** Please do not share your full credit card information, security code or CVV during this chat **

Hi David DSouza, you’re through to Sky Live Chat, how can I help you today?

Please wait – we are transferring your chat to a Sky Advisor who can help you. info 7:52

** Please do not share your full credit card information, security code or CVV during this chat **

Hi David DSouza, you’re through to Sky Live Chat, how can I help you today?

I’d like an update to explain why my broadband wasn’t connected yesterday please Me 7:53

Please wait – we are transferring your chat to a Sky Advisor who can help you. info 7:52

** Please do not share your full credit card information, security code or CVV during this chat **

Hi David DSouza, you’re through to Sky Live Chat, how can I help you today?

I’d like an update on why my broadband wasn’t connected please? Me 7:54

Are you having issues with Sky Broadband? Clinton7:56

yes,,. having issues with being randomly transferred between advisors… Me 7:57

and sky broadband Me 7:57

Please wait while your chat is transferred to Nancy . info 7:58

** Please do not share your full credit card information, security code or CVV during this chat **

Hi David DSouza, you’re through to Sky Live Chat, how can I help you today?

Hi – is this the same Nancy I started off with? I’m a new customer – my broadband isn’t working, I’d like an update… Me 8:04

Please wait while your chat is transferred to Nancy . info 8:03

Please wait while we connect you to a Sky Advisor, then ask your question. info 8:03

** Please do not share your full credit card information, security code or CVV during this chat ** Hi David DSouza, you’re through to Sky Live Chat, how can I help you today?

this is the sixth time I’ve been transferred, is anyone there? Me 8:05

HI I am sorry this is happening to you Nancy 8:05

thanks Nancy – but I’m starting to get more than a little frustrated Me 8:07

Please wait – we are transferring your chat to a Sky Advisor who can help you. info 8:06

Please wait while we connect you to a Sky Advisor, then ask your question. system 8:09

Please wait while we connect you to a Sky Advisor, then ask your question. system 8:09

Please wait while we connect you to a Sky Advisor, then ask your question. system 8:09

Please wait while we connect you to a Sky Advisor, then ask your question. system 8:10

** Please do not share your full credit card information, security code or CVV during this chat **

Hi David DSouza, you’re through to Sky Live Chat, how can I help you today?

could somebody please tell me what is happening or what you are trying to do? I just keep getting told I’m being transferred. Nobody even says they are going to transfer me so that I know what is going on? Me 8:11

I’m a new customer. My broadband hasn’t come online. I’d like an update Me

I see that you were chatting with one of my colleagues. Please give me a minute while I go through the chat to identify the query. Sunil 8:10

Thank you for you patience. Sunil 8:15

I understand that you looking to access your Sky account and unable to verify the Sky iD with the account details. I’ll ask you a couple of questions to gain some more information and then advise you what needs to be done next. Sunil 8:15

What’s your Sky iD(username)? Sunil 8:15

no – I’m after an update on my broadband status. Me 8:17

it should have been connected yesterday and wasn’t. I don’t know how I can be clearer on this if you’ve read this chat? Me 8:18

Please wait – we are transferring your chat to a Sky Advisor who can help you. info 8:19

** Please do not share your full credit card information, security code or CVV during this chat **

Hi David DSouza, you’re through to Sky Live Chat, how can I help you today?

I see that you were chatting with one of my colleagues. Please give me a minute while I go through the chat to identify the query. Rajesh8:19

I’ve been on this chat 30 minutes now. I’ve been transferred without warning multiple times. Nobody will own my problem. I should have had broadband connected yesterday – it wasn’t, I’d like an explanation and an update please. Me 8:21

Thanks, you’re chatting with Rajesh and I can certainly help you with your query. Rajesh8:20

Hi David, I will certainly help you. Rajesh8:21

I am sorry to hear that you are on chat for 30 minutes. I apologise for any inconveniences caused. Rajesh8:22

I am sorry to know that your Sky Broadband is not active, Let me access your account and help you with the number for the correct team. Rajesh8:23

Let me access your account first. Rajesh8:23

To access your account details, I will need to ask you some security questions. If, for any reason, this chat ends before we finish our conversation today, any changes we discuss that have not been confirmed will not be updated on your account. Please contact us back if this happens, and we can make sure everything is updated for you. Is that ok? Rajesh8:23

are you actually able to help or am I going to answer security questions for you to give me a phone number Me 8:25

David, Let me check this accessing your account and I will help you with the correct number, so that you do not have to wait for the long time Rajesh8:24

ok Me 8:26

Are you the named Sky account holder? Rajesh8:25

yes Me 8:26

Please confirm the full name/surname for the account along with the full home address including postcode. Rajesh8:25

(removed) Me 8:26

Thank you. Rajesh8:25

Please also confirm the first and third characters from the password on the Sky account. This is not your My Sky password and please do not supply your password in full. Rajesh8:26

(removed) Me 8:27

Excellent! Rajesh8:26

Thank you for confirming those details, please bear with me a moment while I access your account and get the information I need. Rajesh8:26

Thank you for your patience. Rajesh8:26

I have accessed your account and checked that you have Sky Fiber optic Broadband. Rajesh8:27

I will help you with the right number to contact, I request you to contact our dedicated team at  08444964571. Rajesh8:28

As we are from Live chat TV help team, There is no chat support for the Fiber optic, I request you to call our dedicated team, they will help you. Rajesh8:28

Before I recap on our chat today, is there anything else I can help you with? Rajesh8:29

I accessed and checked my account already – I know what I have ordered. It hasn’t been connected and I want to know why it hasn’t and when it will be. I couldn’t have made that clearer. I told you not to take me through security and then tell me you couldn’t help. You ignored me and wasted my time anyway. Feel free to recap the chat if that feels different to you? Me 8:30

I told you specifically – don’t take me through security if you are going to give me a phone number to contact. Me 8:31

Yes, I have accessed your account and checked that your services should go live on 11/04/2014, Rajesh8:30

As the Fiber optic is taken care by the BT engineer, they help in provisioning this. Rajesh8:30

The delay is due to the BT engineers, as they have to active this, and Sky will activate this from the Exchange. I am sure when you contact this number, They will help you to activate this services. Rajesh8:31

You say ‘should go live’. That was yesterday. Have you any conception of what it feels like to experience this as a customer. Thanks for your time. I’ll try and work out how to get 45 minutes of my life back Me 8:33

Yes,  this services should go live yesterday. I understand your concern, I will provide a feedback to the higher management team , regarding the Fiber Optic customers. I am sure this will be taken care further. Rajesh8:33

I will complaint on behalf of you, so that no customers should face this going further. Rajesh8:34

thanks, have a great day Me 8:35

You too… Rajesh8:34

Have a Great weekend. Rajesh8:35

It was pleasure chatting with you today. 🙂 Rajesh8:35

Before I recap on our chat today, is there anything else I can help you with? Rajesh8:35

This number is free from your Sky phone. Rajesh8:35

MY PHONE DOESN’T WORK, YOU HAVEN’T CONNECTED IT Me 8:37

Alright. Rajesh8:36

Are you able to hear a dial tone on your phone? Rajesh8:36

I have accessed your account and checked that your phone line is active. Rajesh8:36

Look, no offence, I’m stopping now. This has been a huge waste of my time. Have a good day. Me 8:38

Please stay connected. Rajesh8:37

I will transfer the chat to the Sky Talk team, they will help you to fix the phone fault. Rajesh8:37

Thanks, but a transfer is the last thing I want. Have a great weekend. Me 8:39

I am sure the phone fault will be fixed. Rajesh8:38