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
10 Ways to Make Your Organisation More Agile
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
Let’s face it, you can’t get away with flogging the same old product or service over and over again.
One of your competitors has just come up with a new solution; more and more of your clients ask whether you have any “new innovative products”: These are some of the signs you can’t ignore anymore.
The company will soon start losing market share unless you place a lot more emphasis on innovation.
Until now, you have always been the main source of creative ideas in your team. But this is not sustainable anymore. You must build a team that is capable of coming up with new, exciting products.
But how can you build such a team? Here are 7 essential elements: 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
“Information not passed through the heart is dangerous.” (Anita Roddick)
Stories can help you communicate a message that truly inspires and motivates people in your company. Read on to find out how it works.
A story that changed something about me
A few years ago I read a short story that changed my attitude towards forming new habits. Read More
A guest article written by Dr. Ádám Márky
Why is it that in today’s society, a society reliant on and shaped by modern technology, more and more people are showing an interest in a several-thousand-year-old tradition for which you need no gadgets at all?
Mindfulness – or more specifically ‘conscious presence’ and the greatest way to practise it, meditation – has been proven to be an effective as both a preventative measure and remedy to a wide range of illnesses; it also nowadays constitutes an organic part of the organizational culture of many of the largest global enterprises. Western science has presumably reached the level where it can prove what people in the East have known through experience for thousands of years: A daily 10-minute attention practice actually brings measurable and observable positive changes to our bodies. Read More
“What does your job consist of exactly? What are your responsibilities as a leader?”
These are questions I have asked many managers at different levels – team leaders, heads of department, directors – at leadership training sessions over the last ten years.
Listening to their answers I find that there is still a huge focus on “budgeting”, “assigning tasks”, “organising”, “controlling”, and “evaluating” – in other words on the management of tasks. Usually the more senior a supervisor is, the more confidently he manages his tasks.
But when it comes to topics such as motivation, inspiration or empowerment this confidence usually evaporates. “I am the only one who comes with ideas. How can I make the others more proactive?” “How can I make them care more?” “How can I motivate them?” managers complain. Read More
Social network analysis – the management tool that helps you harness the power of social networks
In my previous post I wrote about the significance of managers understanding your own organisation’s informal network in order to make the right decisions.
But how can we draw the accurate map of the company’s social network?
Social network analysis is the method of collecting, visualising and analysing data about informal connections between employees of an organisation.
Managers can conduct a social network analysis by following these five steps. 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
Imagine an organisation…
…where best-practice sharing is part of everyday life.
…where senior professionals freely and openly share their knowledge with junior colleagues.
…where young talents are highly motivated because their skills develop quickly thanks to the guidance of their more experienced colleagues.
Okay, this might the idealistic picture of an organisation with a highly successful mentoring programme, but would it not be great for it to be the case in your own company? 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
It’s is a strange expression, isn’t it? It sounds as if your work and your life were two completely separate arenas. The moment you start working, you also stop living your life.
I know, I know… of course what we really mean by this expression is the balance between somebody’s work and private life, where balance traditionally means that you should be able to have enough time for your non-work-related things (such as your family, friends, hobbies, etc.).
Sure enough, more and more companies have embraced the notions of flexible working hours, job sharing and other “unorthodox” practices, so that their employees have enough time for their private life.
This approach, however, still fails to acknowledge the fact that all of us have got ONE LIFE that can’t be artificially split into two distinct areas: work and life. Read More
Brain surgery or aspirin? Treating a patient without a diagnosis
Medical scenario 1:
Diagnosis first, treatment second
You have been suffering from severe headaches for the last two months. You are worried, so you go to see a doctor and tell him your symptoms.
The doctor listens carefully to your woes and then announces: “What you need is brain surgery.”
What do you think of this suggested course of treatment?
Apart from being rightfully shocked, you would probably be a bit sceptical. How can a doctor possibly know what the cure is without conducting a diagnosis first? How does he know what is causing the problem? What is the justification for this drastic action? Read More
Hands-on or hands-off? – by novishari
Every leader has their own unique leadership style
Some managers are very good at communicating clear expectations, specifying roles and responsibilities, and creating clarity in general. Others’ strengths lie in the ability to motivate and energise their team by giving lots of feedback and encouragement.
Some leaders prefer a hands-on management approach. They are excellent at monitoring how tasks are being carried out and thus they can help out whenever a difficulty arises, giving their team the advice they need. Others tend to let their staff solve problems on their own and try to get involved only when it is absolutely necessary, thus giving their team the freedom they need.
Which of these leadership styles is the best? Read More
Micromanagement – by novishari
The manager buries his head in his hands. He complains: “I am exhausted. I have been working my backside off all year. My team has been hopeless recently. Whenever they write an internal report or a proposal for a client I have to spend another half a day working on it to get it done properly. My boss says that I should delegate more. But I haven’t got time to babysit my subordinates, to keep explaining why something is wrong and how to change it. By the time I’ve explained it all, I might as well have done it myself.”
Have you ever had a similar experience as a manager? Has it ever occurred to you that your team’s perceived incompetence might have something to do with your management style?
“Hands-on” managers who are deeply involved in the operative execution of tasks often complain about their team’s incompetence. They feel that their subordinates’ lack of skills and knowledge makes it necessary for them to get deeply involved in all operations.
On the other hand, when we talk to these very same subordinates they tell us that they feel micromanaged. They say they are capable of taking on more responsibilities. They complain that they are suffocating from the high level of control and a lack of freedom to make their own decisions.
Three reasons why a micromanager’s team gets more and more incompetent
If you are a manager who keeps a very tight reign by maintaining a high level of control, three things are likely to happen in your team: 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
The New Manager’s Big Change Initiative is failing
Go-ahead manager Bob Newcomer begins his position in the well-established company, Slo-Gro products. He is full of ambition and eager to prove himself as the new head of the team.
After a few weeks, Bob can already clearly see that the processes, methods and traditions in the company are totally dysfunctional and in desperate need of change.
Therefore, after less than two months in office, Bob announces his Big Change Initiative. He introduces several radical transformations. He changes the organisational structure; he starts re-engineering processes; he demands new attitudes and new behaviours from his subordinates
Not surprisingly, Bob Newcomer faces huge resistance. Things are just not happening the way he planned. His orders are not being carried out. People don’t follow his new procedures.
He replaces several of his managers, but improvement is still not forthcoming.
He doesn’t understand what is wrong. 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
Quiet disagreeement at a team meeting
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
Relaxing at work – by novishari
Are you stressed at work? Quite probably – even if sometimes you are not aware of it. And it is equally likely that you have heard or been told that you should change your lifestyle in order to relieve this stress. Maybe you should work less. Sleep more. Do more exercise. Or drink less coffee, eat better, and so on.
It seems like a big project. Perhaps this is why you haven’t started yet.
While I strongly believe that long-term fundamental changes to our lifestyles is the ultimate answer to the problem of stress, I also believe that any small step that can reduce stress levels is very useful. In fact, such simple techniques can be the first steps towards some more fundamental lifestyle changes.
In this post we will look at four quick and simple 5-minute techniques that you can try TODAY; four simple methods to give you some relief here and now. Doing them several times a day can help you keep your stress levels down. Read More