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Archive for June, 2011

How Well Do HR Treat Their Own “Resources”?

I am deeply concerned when HR in certain firms treat their own fellow HR employees badly. I have come across too many examples of underhand treatment and sudden removals without chance of improvement. Some love the “putch” approach of removing HR bosses and whole teams associated with them in a couple of days.

Others cut staff levels significantly, while simultaneously increasing work volumes and run a culture of fear and intimidation. Unsurprisingly employee engagement suffers. Yet these HR employees have to look after others and engender HR best practice in their global organisations.

Let’s strive to lead by example and have HR mean the highest integrity and quality in treating others not ” Human Remains”.

Warm regards

Are You Really With Them?

“If you are going to be in the room, then be IN the room. Don’t be mentally somewhere else!” This is a favourite challenge of mine. How often as a leader are you not present or giving respectful attention to those you lead?

Worse still perhaps you have caught yourself listening well at work, yet not being present with your partner or children. I confess to resembling that remark, on occasions.

I am focussing more now on mindfulness. The art of being present. This moment NOW is the only moment we have. Let’s make the most of it. I worry less now about the past and the future. See others as truly fascinating. They have something to teach us.

All we have to do is listen and be present. That is the hard bit!
Do listen to the audio book, “The Full Catastrophie” by John Kabbat Zinn. It will enhance your life and others too.

Good luck
Warm regards Jonathan

How Brutal is Your Work Environment?

Some work environments are brutal macho bear pits. In such environments alpha males and females slog it out intellectually and emotionally. The cover story is that ” we encourage a competitive winning spirit”. The sub text is “do unto others before they do it to you”. There is so much cutting and thrusting that no one trusts each other. Even a pat on the back is seen as an early check to establish which rib to slip the stiletto knife under.

How do you survive in such a war zone?
Firstly remember that the leader sets the tone. They are the first ones who must change and must want to change to build a creative high performing workplace.

We know that high stress environments like this generate too much adrenaline and cortisol. The fight of flight parts of our brains are activated and people’s intelligence drops 20% in the fear fuelled boiling pot.

Don’t get out of the pot if you are the leader; change the temperature. Make it an environment where you look for other’s talents. Catch people doing things RIGHT. Remember the motto “if it’s going to be; it’s up to me”. You set the leadership tone.

Warm regards

Do you work for an Autistic Leader?

Autism is a complex medical syndrome. We need to be careful in how it is stigmatised. The National Autistic society defines it as difficulty with social communication, interaction and imagination. On the spectrum is Aspergers syndrome where individuals find it hard to read body language, signals, or tone of voice.
Some leaders who do not have autism appear to display similar traits and may have children who are diagnosed with autism. You may find they are less able to read other’s emotional cues and constantly unwittingly cause “collateral damage” for those who work around them. It may be that they are high in IQ, yet unaware how to develop their emotional intelligence (EQ).

Never judge others too harshly; you do not know their backgrounds, life experiences or medical conditions. Try walking a mile in their shoes.
What you can do is enhance your own Emotional Intelligence; find a coach to help you measure and develop it so you can be more successful with less effort.

Good luck
Warm regards

Friend or Foe?

In his audiobook ” your brain at work” David Rock shares some helpful insights about why we act as we do in meetings at work. Our initial brain wiring sees new colleagues as threats, initiating the ” fight or flight” response.
Building trust comes from shared hardships and opening up on common challenges and past experiences. Then these individuals become business friends rather than foes and more can be achieved together.

Good luck in turning foes into friends
Warm regards Jonathan

Pause to Avoid Email Misunderstandings

Think twice before pressing “send” on that email. Even in drafting this blog I accidentally sent it before I had finished! Many of the executives I know have unwittingly offended colleagues or clients by sending emails which were misunderstood.
How can we avoid this unintended blunder? The consequences are severe and take months to unravel an email which took 5 minutes to write and send.
1. Speak to someone face to face rather than email.
2. If they are in another country call them rather than email.
3. Find a critical trusted friend who can read it and explain to you how they might perceive it.
4. Be clear on your intention and the outcome you are seeking from the recipient.
5. WIIFM – take the recipient’s perspective and ask yourself “What is in it for me?”
6. WAMI – take their perspective and ask yourself ” what is against my interests?”


Warm Regards Jonathan

The Real Reason People Won’t Change

I really enjoyed a Harvard Business review article on the “competing commitment” between what people say they want/ believe in and their actions. Often there are untrue limiting assumptions which they are living believing them to be true.
For example one board member claimed he wanted to aggressively grow the business, yet his actions kept his department’ profits and sales strong but static for 3 years. In reality he wanted to keep the high quality relationships with his clients. He feared accelerated, aggressive growth with make his into a volume “stack them high and sell them cheap” business. He didn’t want to be associated with that.

So identify with your coach what are your big assumptions which make your rhetoric and reality conflict. Then take action and check if the assumptions are really true. Replace them with true and liberating assumptions (see the “time to think” techniques).

Refers to HBR article Nov 2001 Kegan and Lahey

Good luck. Jonathan Bowman-Perks

Are you ready to learn?

The “critical difference between classes” as Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman pointed out on his recent UK tour, ” is not so much intelligence, as readiness to learn”.

The key seems to be the environment in which people are brought up and work and the amount of appreciation compaired to the amount of negative criticism they receive.
To learn more about appreciation read my new book “Inspiring Leadership”. If bought from this website all profits go to the charity Help for Heroes.

You learn and the charity benefits. Put something back and pay these ideas forward to others.

To read more on this theme see the article by Jenni Russell in The Sunday Times

Good luck! Warm regards Jonathan

Snakes in Suits

Do you work with or for a business psychopath? How would you ever know? How can you manage them, or mitigate the risks they can cause you and your organisation? This excellent book by Paul Babiak and Robert Hare is illuminating and chilling. Some early indicators:
They are absolutely charming when they need to be
They know how to read people like books
They are scheming and duplicitous
They know how to win over sponsors who love them
They have absolutely no genuine emotion or remorse
They can cause chaos and divisiveness in teams
You don’t see them coming
They move on without any blame sticking
If cornered they make it your or other people’s fault

Sound familiar?