I have always lived in Budapest. I love living there. I love working there. But being part of a Hungarian-English family, it has always been on the cards that we might move to England for at least for a little while.
In 2018 we finally decided to go for it. We – that is I, my husband, and our two daughters – relocated to the Isle of Wight for a year.
So here I am, 9 months after the move, looking back on the ways this experience has changed all of us, and has changed me personally. It has been an exciting journey for the whole family, one which has certainly tested our tolerance for ambiguity and our resilience in many ways.
But today I would like to reflect on one particular aspect: the discoveries and the changes I have made regarding my own leadership style. Read More
Do you know what your customers will need in two years’ time? In fact, can you even tell for sure who your customers will be two years from now? Can you predict what kinds of products and services will be in demand and which ones will have become ‘old news’?
If you have little or no idea, don’t worry you are not alone. In most industries, customer demands change so quickly – a phenomenon accelerated by relentless changes in technology – that it’s almost impossible to know what the future will bring.
The way for a company to excel in such a fast-paced environment is to build an organisation which is highly flexible and adapts readily to change, so that whatever the future holds, the organisation is ready to embrace new challenges. This is the essence of Agile.
In my previous post I outlined the most important characteristics of an Agile culture. But knowing what it looks like and getting there are two very different things.
In this article I will introduce 10 steps that will help you on your path towards an Agile transformation.
How to make your organisation more Agile Read More
“I can’t get my team on board with the new company-wide change initiative. I keep telling them how it makes sense for us, but I just can’t convince them.. The resistance is huge.”
“My boss seems to rubbish all my suggestions. No matter how hard I try to explain my ideas, in the end they always get rejected.”
“At the yearly budgeting meeting, I get the impression that my department’s interest always comes last.”
If any of these issues sound familiar, the chances are that your influencing skills need some improvement.
Does it mean that you should use better arguments? Should you try to present your points more strongly in order convince others? The answer is, probably not.
Influencing by listening
In my experience, in 90% of cases like these it is not a lack of effective arguments that prevents managers from influencing others successfully, but – somewhat counterintuitively – it is a lack of listening skills. Read More
Everybody who has ever worked in an organisation knows that behind the formal orgchart and the official roles and responsibilities there is an informal network of personal connections.
Who chats with whom during coffee break? Who does someone shares their personal concerns with? Who do people turn to with their professional dilemmas?
These are questions you can’t answer by looking at the orgchart. And yet these informal social links strongly influence how a company operates, how information flows, and how quickly and flexibly an organisation reacts to any changes in the business environment.
Do managers really understand what is going on in the informal network? Read More
Great customer service starts with the right attitude. And from time to time somebody says something that perfectly encapsulates the mindset needed to deliver “excellent customer service”.
During the preparation for a large corporate bank’s “client-focus” training I collected some great quotes that, for me, hit the nail right on the head when it comes to finding the right attitude. These quotes inspired me a great deal. I hope they will have the same effect on you.
“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they do wrong.” – Donald Porter
“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” – Walt Disney
You have been with your company for quite a few years. You believe you can see the issues clearly. And you – being an experienced HR professional – have a pretty good idea how to overcome these issues. So you develop a concept, a great one at that. If the company were to implement your new system in the way you propose, it would have a huge positive impact on the company.
You present your proposal to the management. You tell them all your arguments and…
They just don’t get it. In spite of all the evidence in front of them, they still say no.
This is so frustrating. You do everything in your power to get things moving in this company, but the management is so unsupportive of any new HR initiatives.
Does this story strike a chord with you?
How to make people say yes – the story of the ugly billboard Read More
Do you work or have you ever worked in an international environment? Do you do business with people of different nationalities from yours? If you do, you might have suffered the embarrassment of cracking a joke and none of the “foreigners” even feigning a smile. Or a time when you have offended someone, in spite of your best intentions, only because you were unaware of the unwritten rules of another culture. In theory, we all know that cultural differences exist. But if we are not aware of the exact nature of those differences, we can drop ourselves in some awkward and sometimes humiliating situations. Read More
Tips and tricks for leaders to reduce conformity in their team.
The old saying goes: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” True enough: on one level, conformity – people’s natural tendency to do as the others do – is a great thing. It helps us to be in harmony with our environment. It helps us to form cooperative groups by harmonising our behaviour with others.
On the other hand – as we saw in last week’s article – a high level of conformity can be a great burden in a workplace. It can cause team membersto stay quiet at meetings even when they disagree which can result in catastrophic decisions.
Conformity can also be the killer of innovation. People’s desire to stick to the mainstream opinion instead of challenging it will prevent innovative ideas from surfacing and being implemented.
Therefore leadership techniques that reduce conformity and make people speak up are worthy of any manager’s attention. Read More
At the Monday morning meeting there is a loud, energetic discussion about the new plan. However, Sally, one of your most talented colleagues, is quietly sitting there. She has quite a few doubts about the feasibility of the plan itself. She doesn’t really believe in the whole thing. But she doesn’t say anything. “It’s just not worth speaking up,” Sally might say to herself.
Tom, in the other corner of the room, has very similar thoughts. Yet he doesn’t really feel like contradicting the others. Taking the role of the annoying person who slows down a discussion that seems to be going so smoothly – well, it is not very appealing to him. So Tom just sits there quietly, waiting for the meeting to finish.
Sally and Tom stayed quiet at the meeting. But it doesn’t mean they agreed. Far from it. Read More
One of my clients asked me the other day: “I know why having a vision is important. I get that. But what is the point of a value statement?”
I could see where he is coming from. There are so many companies whose value statements are only a list of mundane expressions such as “customer focus”, “excellence”, “cooperation” etc., which are posted on the walls of the corridors and on the company website.
Regarding these “value statements”, I fully agree with my client – there is absolutely no point to them. Read More
How to spare each other from the overuse of these three simple e-mail functions
In last week’s article I discussed typical ways in which the “CC”, “BCC” and the “Reply to all” functions get misused at workplaces. This week I will focus on possible solutions to those problems.
How can we change our e-mailing habits?
Have we got a problem with our e-mailing habits? Let’s change them. Let’s agree on some simple rules and then stick to them.
This approach often works. It helps people understand each other’s preferences. It helps to harmonise people’s communication habits. In this article I will give you some examples of such rules that can simplify e-mailing and reduce e-mail burden.
But there is a deeper layer to the CC-BCC issue that we shouldn’t ignore. Without fully understanding the root cause that makes people overuse or misuse the CC function, we will only be able to scratch the surface using our new guiding rules for e-mail use. The real problem won’t be solved.
How to drive each other crazy using three simple e-mail functions
Show me your e-mail habits, I will see your corporate culture
The way employees in an organisation use their e-mail can tell us a lot about the organisation’s culture. Is e-mail the main form of communication, or do people prefer calling each other or talking in person? How quickly do people reply to an e-mail they receive? Does the answer arrive promptly or does it take a week to get a reply? Are e-mails typically short and informal, or long, elaborate and very polite?
There are many aspects of e-mailing that would be worth looking at; however, in this article we focus on only one aspect: colleagues’ use of three related functions: CC, BCC and Reply all. Read More
The other day I heard a song on the radio which I haven’t heard for about 25 years.
The thing is, when I last heard this song as a kid, I didn’t speak much English, so all I could understand was “Susana, Susana”. Now, however, I can follow the lyrics and my first thought is:
Why the hell did he pick up the phone?
(For those of you who don’t know the song, or are too professional to listen to it during working hours, here is the short summary of the story: The guy is having the perfect romantic moment with Susana. Just then the phone rings. He picks up only to find out that it was a wrong call. By the time he returns to the girl the “magic is gone, it is a disaster”. In fact, she soon gets up to leave.)
No wonder the magic is gone! You picked up the stupid phone! What did you expect?
I feel like saying the same thing to many managers who keep multitasking, picking up phones, sending texts and trying to hold a conversation simultaneously. Read More
Pickled onions are difficult to make. You are mixing two very different ingredients – vinegar and sugar. Sweet and sour. It is difficult to get the ratio right.
It is the same with assertive communication: it is difficult to tell how much to emphasize your own needs and interests and how much to consider the other’s needs and interests to make the balance right.
No wonder people often get it wrong and go from one extreme to another. This funny video illustrates exactly that.
The big day is tomorrow. You are going to give a presentation and a lot depends on its success. With less than 24 hours left, you haven’t got much time to prepare. But, believe me, you still have the time to use these 5 tools to make your presentation snappier, more fascinating, more compact – a presentation that has an impact. Read More