Tag Archives: change management

Making 2017 Better Than 2016. Part 1 : Coming Back From Nowhere.

In very brief summary, 2016 was a poor year.

A look back shows me I didn’t plan sufficiently and didn’t take enough action. I also took my eye off some important things, and spent too much time worrying about things which had passed and/or I had very little/no control over. The lack of control thing will always exist so I need to be and will be more comfortable with that. The rest, I can and will do better at.

I am making changes to my approach, starting with working through ‘How to Have Your Best Year, Every Year’ a workbook by Ann Hawkins. This workbook asks ten questions, the first of which is this:

‘What was your biggest accomplishment last year?’

My work comes from several sources. I’m going to start by acknowledging those sources and grouping accomplishments accordingly. I will then choose what I consider to be the biggest accomplishment of the year from each source.

Direct Sourced Work. Work which I source/attract through my network, and which I am primarily responsible for designing and facilitating, sometimes as part of a bigger event/program.

  • Art for Work’s Sake making it to the finals in the 2016 Learning Awards.
  • Leap Day 2016.
  • My improvised ‘Art of Better Learning’ ignite talk at the CIPD L&D show.
  • Opening the All About People conference in Bournemouth with The Art and Soul of Better Work.
  • Curating the graffiti wall at the Social Age Safari in Bristol.
  • Presenting and facilitating a master’s session at Ohio SHRM.
  • Opening Elmbridge Borough Council Manager’s conference with an art based learning workshop.
  • Facilitating a Leap Day for NHS North West.

Biggest accomplishment : Opening the All About People conference in Bournemouth with The Art and Soul of Better Work.

Why? Having resharpened and adapted my ‘live’ skills earlier on the year at the CIPD L&D show (recovering from misadventure) and at the Social Age Safari (my first time in an artist/curator role), I was given complete creative freedom for this session by Andy Swann, the event organiser. I’ve known Andy for a while, we had the privilege of doing a short European speaking tour together in 2015. There is a high level of trust in our relationship. Andy gave me the space, and the confidence to go all in on this session. This may sound cheesy, but I was at my best, most honest, wholehearted, imperfect self for this adventurous presentation, which combined a 20 minute talk at the start of the event, with a huge piece of cocreated art, made by our guests during the day.

It was an amazing event to be a part of, and led directly to me being invited to do something similar with Elmbridge Borough Council later in the year. This connection shows me that people see something in what I do that resonates with them. I believe I give generously of myself, and that what goes around, comes around. This event and the present and subsequent joy it brought to others and to me, matters. I need to make more people aware of this, and build on it.

Partnering Work. Work which we source/attract through our network, and which I have a role in designing and facilitating, sometimes as part of a bigger event/program.

  • Fringe events at PPMA annual conference with Meg Peppin.
  • Fringe events at CIPD annual conference with Meg, fourth year running.
  • Preliminary design of the Confer product.

Biggest accomplishment : Our fourth year of fringe events at the CIPD annual conference.

Why? Over the past three years, Meg and I have developed an excellent working relationship with Stephen Pobjoy and his team at the CIPD. This coalesced into a highly confident series of fringe events in 2016, which still retained their slightly edgy, experimental feel of previous years. Meg and I worked really well together, and we made great use of the trust the CIPD place in us. This enabled the delivery of some enjoyable, useful work with a creative and gently challenging edge. It’s well worth noting and acknowledging that the work we did at the PPMA conference arose from a positive experience at the 2015 CIPD fringe – so once again, good things are connected. I need to make more people aware of this, and build on it.

Associate work. Work which I do for and on behalf of other legal entities.

  • Becoming a partner at EthosVO and finding a useful and enjoyable role as a member of the People Group, a bit like an HR department, but so much better!
  • Signing an associate agreement with Smith+Co, and supporting a customer experience project with and for a key client.

Biggest accomplishment : Being a part of the EthosVO People Group.

Why? EthosVO is unlike anywhere else I work. It’s a partnership which has “The ability to build multi-stakeholder ecosystems that deliver trust and engagement at the individual level” Whether for customer, citizen, employee. Whether for their work, living or well-being. Building engagement and trustworthiness is the crisis of our current times that needs more attention, leadership and enabling technologies. The People Group, of which I am a member, is a loose approximation of an HR department, though unlike any other I’ve seen. This is partly due to the operating nature of the business and partly due to our desire to experiment with different ways of working.

It’s hard work – we face thorny challenges around recruitment, retention, performance and more. It’s real work too. Sometimes as a freelance consultant it can be hard to stay grounded. Lofty ideas and aspirations are useful and have a place – and they need to knit with the client reality, the day to day grind. Doing this work as part of EthosVO is an enjoyable challenge and gives me something which few freelancers have. I need to make more people aware of this, and build on it.

Artist (Yes. I am an artist)

  • Starting and establishing the We Are All Artists free art project, resulting in over 60 pieces of original art given away at random.
  • Selling over 20 original artworks.
  • Seeing the total donation from my art related work to Arts Emergency, rise over £300.

Biggest accomplishment : The We Are All Artists free art project.

Why? Imagine you could develop a hobby into one of the greatest learning opportunities of your life. An opportunity which would connect you to your community in ways you couldn’t begin to imagine, an opportunity which would see you featured in the local newspaper, see you and your project covered by ITV London Evening News, an opportunity to make new friends, develop your practice, and win a community award. Need I say more?

To conclude part one.

I mistakenly subtitled this section of my plan ‘Coming Back From Nowhere’, that was too harsh. I’m definitely coming back from somewhere. Somewhere interesting, useful, curious, challenging and enjoyable. I’m going to leave the subtitle in to remind me not to be so hasty next time, not to be so down on myself, and to acknowledge and focus more on the good things. Recording this feedback has been enjoyable and useful, it has reminded me that even in a poor year, many excellent things happened. It has also shown me how connected many things are. I need to raise my awareness of this less in review, more in the moment.

More please!

Stretch it don’t break it

I’m having learning pains this week.

My agility is not always matched by those I work with. And I need to learn to slow down a bit. I visualise the relationship between a customer and me as being connected by a rubber band.

In order to serve effectively, I must be patiently impatient.

It’s my job to stretch that band.

It’s not my job to break it.

What is your top tip for improving employee engagement in 2010?

I’ve been asking this question a lot lately. Why?

Well I’m seeing lots of research indicating that people are drifting from the fixed grin of relief at being glad to keep their jobs, to a position of wanting to feel more engaged with their work.

Organisations therefore face challenges in engaging and trusting a workforce which is motivated and willing to deliver the service needed to help create and sustain a profitable and purposeful business model.

This feels like a time of great opportunity for people and organisations who can create a sense of trust and autonomy in the workplace. I’m interested to know how you would help to achieve that?

Been receiving some very interesting and useful replies fro across the globe. Here are a few, many thanks to all the contributors and there will be more to follow soon:

Neeraj Sharma wrote:

I suggest employees be given a week or two to work on whatever they wish to work on – and document what they did, what was achieved and how much they enjoyed doing it as compared to their regular responsibilities. The salesperson may design a logo, the accountant may decide to deal with customers etc. It will shake things up, they will feel refreshed as well as challenged, and develop a new perspective and an appreciation for what others do. Some may find their calling.

Ulco Landheer wrote:

I’d have as many employees as possible rotate through an organization (or department or business unit) a few (1-2) hours per month to somewhat random positions. For example, during a meeting of one team, you’d have their work done by random selected people from other teams. That way you’d make sure that the right hand actually knows what the left hand is doing. It’s something I found out to increase the respect between different bloodgroups and the understanding between employees.

Phil Johnson wrote:

Gallup has identified a link between the amount of authentic leadership (leading without a title) within a company and it’s level of employee
engagement. Employees have been shown to increase their level of “discretionary energy” and engagement if they are inspired by the actions of others around them.

Kevin Hardern wrote:

In my experience with large and smaller organisations, the steps are very similar:

– define an end vision and organisational structure to support it which clearly demonstrate value to the workforce and its clients;

– engage some people in the workforce to help define the steps on the way to achieve that end goal, ‘transition states’ which themselves deliver vale along the way

– resource the implementation plan sufficiently but not excessively

External help may be needed to deliver, but the focus should remain equally balance between the tasks and the people, communicating with them regularly and honestly, even when problems occur. People are not stupid and if they are trusted, see value in what is being attempted they will help achieve the change rather than push against it.
The difference between having the people on side and helping achieve a goal is the single most significant factor in achieving successful change in my experience. Most organisations fail because they focus on the tasks in hand and do not tap into this massive resource which is available and if asked, willing.