Being poised; finding our inner diamond.

A simple line drawing of a diamond

What is it to be poised?

If more people felt poised the world would be a much better place. Feeling poised means having balance, feeling secure, being sure-footed, enduring with ease.

It comes from having confidence, mastery and inner strength.

And it allows humility, resilience, serenity, authenticity and wisdom.

Poise is not just about how we stand – it’s also about what makes us stand well.

It’s not just about the words we use – it’s also about the thinking behind those words.

It doesn’t just lead to confident behaviour – it leads to effective behaviour and good judgement.

 

A  simple line drawing of a diamond, illustrating being poised.
We are all diamonds underneath

How do we develop it and why should we?

When we understand how our emotions work, we can control what we do about them.  Fear in particular can hijack us. Getting to grips with our fear allows freedom from it. See this post for more information about how this happens.

Understanding how our brains work gives us the liberty to respond effectively and efficiently. Difficult situations, like giving a presentation, become much easier. Managing staff becomes more effective as we grow a wider management toolkit. The ability to manage change increases as we develop flexibility and agility. Resilience, the ability to bounce back from stress, grows.

 

The perfect version of ourselves is like a diamond; tough but shining brightly and perfectly matched for the job in hand. But we can be covered in stuff that weighs us down.

Being poised is about finding that inner diamond. Through developing mastery, knowledge and confidence. My job is to facilitate that. To teach about our inner workings, how the brain functions and how our emotions impact on our behaviour.

 

Management skills development through mentoring.

West Beach, Littlehampton

Management skills development is essential for organisational development and team success.  It can make the difference between a team thriving or not. But when and how should it be accessed?

The Problem

Staff often get promoted into management positions because they are great at something completely different; the chief widget maker becomes the Head of Widget Making. And then the problems begin. Why? Because management skills are a very different skill set. But they can be learnt.

Traditionally new managers are sent on a course to develop these management skills.  This can be a good starting point. However, there are a number of potential difficulties with this approach:

  1. You might have to wait for a good course to become available.
  2. Such a course covers what it has been designed to cover, when it has been designed to cover it. This may not meet the manager’s needs.
  3. A course doesn’t take into account the skills that the manager already has.
  4. There is little or no support to help the learner develop these skills once the course is over.
  5. There is no on-going advice on specific problems, just general principles

The answer to really effective management skills development is to use a mentor, with a vast array of experience and knowledge, to provide bespoke support and training. Good learning comes with input, practice, reflection and repeat, spaced over a period of time. Bespoke training delivered through mentoring can do this.

West Beach, Littlehampton; a great place for skills development
Mentoring – a place to learn, to reflect and to breathe.

Mentoring can also give clarity and space for reflection. Problems can be dealt with as they arise.

This is one of the services that I offer.

 

A Different Sort of CV

Photo of Janet looking into the camera

Janet Webb, Chartered MCIPD, Learning & Organisational Development Consultant, CV.

Instead of giving you a personal statement, I thought I would let others do the talking – a rather different sort of CV.

If you want to see my work history, then hop over to my LinkedIn profile.  
Photo of Janet looking into the camera as part of her different CV.
Could I be your next wingman?
For a fuller CV then e-mail me: janet@janetwebbconsulting.co.uk

Key Skills

Critical, but objective, partnering.

Mentoring, coaching and training.

Project and people management.

Creativity and energy.

 

Work History

What People Said

Janet Webb Consulting

L&OD and HR services and project management

“Janet really helped me with a new project. She is a great listener and really understood what I needed, keeping me focused and on track. She is a great strategic thinker, just the right person to help with organisational change.”Michelle Gavin, Business Development Manager

“Janet is a joy to work with. She brings high energy and enthusiasm to any project. She is straight-talking, down-to-earth and practical in her approach, yet she also brings tenacity, strategic thinking and an ability to see the bigger picture. Values-driven, generous, caring, fun. Don’t under-estimate her approachable and informal style; you can be sure that Janet knows her stuff.”Sarah Harvey, Leadership, Culture & Conflict Coach

 

East Sussex County Council

Interim Project Manager

 

“Janet was my right hand in the modernisation of the Registration Service in East Sussex. She showed exceptional skills in change management, strategy and vision. She took the staff with her on a very difficult journey. She was so good, I used her again and again and again.”Irene Campbell, Assistant Director, Communities

 

East Sussex County Council

Personnel Manager and Business Partner

 

“I worked alongside Janet at East Sussex County Council when she was managing the projects team in what was then the Personnel and Training department. I’m sure the role wasn’t always easy, but working with Janet was a joy. When times are tough, a smile and a good sense of humour go a very long way! Janet had a well-deserved reputation for being a safe pair of hands as a project lead, a supportive line manager, and a dependable colleague.”Tom Elliott, HR Business Analyst

East Sussex County Council

Training & Development Officer and Training Centre Manager

 

“Janet brings both humour, wisdom and professionalism to her work. She not only delivers to meet the objectives of a project but is flexible and adaptable seeking continuous ways to improve.”Liz Felstead, Head of Corporate Training & Development 

St. Richard’s Hospital

Training Officer to Training Manager

 

“We’ve regraded your role to reflect what you are actually delivering. You’ve gone up two pay grades!”Julie Dodd, HR Director 

Selfridges Ltd

Everything from a temp to Training Consultant and a number of management roles along the way

 

 

After a month of being a Christmas temp “Will you stay on as a permanent member?”Then three months into that role “Will you be team leader?”And after a year “I’m putting you forward for the management training programme.”

Juliet Quinton, Buyer and Department Manager, Greeting Cards

 

Dorlann Productions

Professional Dancer

 

Michou “Would you take a contract in Cairo?”Me “Who will be team leader?”Michou “You!”Michou Dorlann, Director and Choreographer after 6 months of working for her. I was 20!

 

 

 

When The Management Policy Is “Don’t Come To Me …

Orange lifebelt ready for deployment

… with your problems; come with your solutions.”

I hear this style of management quoted often as being great practice; after all, a manager’s job is to coach.

An orange lifebelt ready for deployment by management.
When someone is drowning they don’t need a coach; they need a manager who jumps in.

And I would like to raise an alarm bell. If someone is drowning, they need you to throw a line, or even jump in with them. They don’t need you to coach them to swim.

How Would This Management Policy Work Here?

A few days ago, someone came to speak to me about a very current and desperate issue that they had been struggling with for days. They were at the end of their tether with a problem and were close to tears. If I had said

“and what do you think you should do about that? What are your options? What has worked before?”

I rather suspect that would have finished them off.

They didn’t need coaching. They did need someone to listen but they also needed some help. I wasn’t the expert but I was in a position where I could offer some ideas because I wasn’t the one drowning. I jumped in and offered a life belt. It was just enough to give them some space, take hold of their emotions and see a way through.

So What Is A Great Management Policy?

A manager’s job is to build the environment where individuals can thrive. Sometimes they need telling how to do stuff. Sometimes they absolutely do not. A blanket policy of “don’t come to me with your problems” means you never get to hear about their problems. And that’s not great either. So a policy that decides how you reply before they have spoken is no good. It doesn’t work for them and it doesn’t work for the manager.

Instead, dial up the empathy, listen carefully and then choose the right approach:  Tell, Teach, Mentor or Coach. Be the manager that people can come to and get what they need (which may not always be what they want.) You can only do that if you are empathetic enough and flexible enough to choose how to respond.

If you say don’t come to me with problems, what you are saying is “Don’t come to me, particularly when it’s really difficult” and no employee wants to hear that.

You can find other thoughts on great management practice here:

A Good Manager Asks The Target For Feedback

Help Your Team Find Some Solid Ground

What is Beyond Appraisal?

Management or Leadership Development?

What’s best, management or leadership development? Where should I put my energies?

Good leaders are really important. They give an organisation drive, focus, spirit and hope. But good leadership can’t make up for poor management. If the boss is terrific at cheering on the team, but incapable of dealing with an individual’s poor performance, then the whole team suffers. Or if the boss is great at inspiring followers but hopeless at communicating what actually needs to be done, then nothing gets done. An inspiring vision wont help a team that is at loggerheads.

Peter Drucker is quoted as saying

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Management is often seen as a poor relation to leadership – certainly the price tag of leadership training and coaching would suggest that. But fundamentally managers need to manage well; to do things right. The right things, yes, but in the right place, in the right way, at the right time.

And they need to be able to manage themselves; manage their time, their critical thinking, their communication and their assertiveness.

What’s the Answer for Janet Webb Consulting?

Excellence in management can have a significant impact.

So I have nailed my colours to the mast and decided to concentrate on helping managers be great managers.

Yacht masts decorated with colourful bunting.
Yacht masts decorated with colourful bunting.

How I do that I’ve written about in various places, including here.  They’ll almost certainly pick up some good leadership skills along the way; if they are concerned about managing well, then they’re half way there.

I’ve worked for really amazing managers who were shy and unassuming. And I’ve worked for poor managers who had an excess of charisma and passion. I know which I preferred and I know which environment I thrived in. It certainly wasn’t the one where we got a daily dose of guano; manure is really only good for the roses.

A Good Manager Asks The Target For Feedback

How does a good manager know that they are?

Imagine you were an archer. You fire your arrow and you get feedback immediately; either you hit the target or you don’t. You can adjust your technique and get instant feedback on those adjustments. In time you become better and better as an archer.

Suppose that you can’t see the target; it would be very difficult to hit and you would have no idea of the result.  The only way you could tell how well you were doing was if someone, like a coach, told you.

Archer gets help from a good manager
A medieval archer helps a modern man to hit the target

Now suppose that they also can’t see the target – how can they give you feedback? All they could do is share with you some data about how often you fired the arrows or whether your technique looked OK or not. You might tell them how you felt; probably you would be frustrated.

Eventually the coach would stop talking about it because nothing helpful would be happening.  In turn you would stop bothering and just fire off arrows in the right direction, probably as fast as possible, to get it over and done with.

Now let’s look at managing and coaching staff. How do you know if you hit the target? You probably try various things and look for feedback through outcomes and whether the member of staff looked happy or not. You might even have a discussion with your manager about how you think it is going.

But not directly paying attention to the member of staff and getting their feedback is as hopeless as firing arrows at a board and not knowing whether they hit or not. Ask your direct reports how well you are doing if you really want to improve as a manager.

 

Of course, if you don’t care whether you are a good manager, then that is a different problem altogether.

Help Your Team Find Some Solid Ground

Many businesses are going through a period of great change where the solid ground is frankly now a bit wobbly:

  • some are thriving
  • many are having to adapt business models to provide very different services
  • and some are doing the same thing but in quite different ways

What is true for all of these scenarios is that bringing your staff along with you is vital, whether you are busy or having to start again from scratch. Good supervision of your staff is always important but particularly so during periods of uncertainty; staff need to know what you expect of them in order to feel confident. They need to know what it means to do good work and to do it well. They also need to know that you will support them and the limits within which they can work.

Standing on solid ground
In difficult times we need to stand on something solid.

Helping Staff Stand On Solid Ground

1 – Purpose. Make sure that they understand what the purpose of their job is and how vital they are to your business. Unless they truly know why they are doing what you are asking them to do, they are working blindfolded.

2 – Outcome Focused. Be specific about what the outcome is rather than focusing on the methodology or a list of tasks. Give deadlines and explain why these deadlines matter.

3 – Flexibility. Having explained what you want and by when, give staff as much flexibility as possible to do things their own way. Let them know what the boundaries are, e.g.

  • budget limits
  • house style and values
  • competitive practices
  • policies on customer service, health and safety, IT guidelines etc.

…then get out of their way!

 

4 – Give them credit. Give constructive feedback on what they are doing well. Be specific. “You are doing fine” is not helpful; no-one knows what you mean by that and therefore cannot reproduce it.

5 – Stand in their shoes. Your staff are likely to be feeling a bit distracted: juggling home life and work, worrying about family and friends, concerns about their own health, uncertainty about the future. Check how they are really doing and cut them a bit of slack. In the long run, your empathy will breed loyalty.

6 – Prepare for mistakes. Help them to learn from mistakes rather than make them fearful of ever making a mistake again. Fear shuts down effective working practice like a nasty virus! Matthew Syed’s research on learning from mistakes shows that organsiations that embrace mistakes and learn effectively from them have a super power over their competitors.

There is other help for you and your team here.

Why Are We Feeling Anxious During Lock-down?

Waves crashing against a groyne
Change can feel turbulent, which may be why are we feeling anxious during lock-down

I was speaking to a friend over the weekend who was feeling vulnerable at work before the lock-down and is feeling anxious during lock-down now that she is furloughed and out of any normal communication channels.  The management style in her organisation is pretty aggressive (and sulky) and she’s had no communication from her manager in a month. She’s had two standard letters from HR; the last one arriving to say that she would not be going back to work in two days time as indicated in her previous letter. She feels like she is being crashed about by waves that she can’t see.

This article is based on the e-mail that I sent her; if your work place feels threatening at the moment, and you are feeling anxious, then this is for you too.

 

E-mail to a friend who is feeling anxious during lock-down and shouldn’t be.

According to various pieces of research, there are a number of factors that have an impact on how we respond to situations (for example see anything by David Rock, Amy Brann, Prof Steve Peters, Jan Hills)

David Rock’s SCARF model gives us a structure for thinking about what is happening to us during change.  We respond either with a threat response or a reward response; we either like what is happening and get positive hormones or we feel threatened and we send out fear hormones, preparing us for our imminent death! This is all influenced by our own circumstance and how we view things. Nevertheless, organisations have a responsibility to not harm their staff; mentally and physically.

Status – our sense of personal worth

Questions to askHow does this affect my status? Does this impact on my credibility? Where am I on the pecking order? How do I compare to others?

Certainty – our sense of the future

Questions to askHow well can I predict the future? Do I know what is likely to happen next? Do I have the information that will help me predict the future?

Autonomy – our sense of control over our life

Questions to ask – To what degree can I make decisions and choices? What control do I have? What input do I have over the things that affect me?

Relatedness – our sense of safety with others

Questions to ask – Am I safe with other people? How much do I trust others? How connected do I feel? Am I in or out of the “in” group?

Fairness – our sense of fairness in the system

Questions to ask – Is what’s happening fair? Am I experiencing fair connections and exchanges with others? Is the system intrinsically fair?

Looking at this and asking the questions, you can see that almost every aspect of the current situation is likely to generate a threat response in you at the moment. Each of the areas is likely to trigger stress hormones. If you were on a battle field you could use that to beat everyone up; you would be invincible.  The trouble is that you can’t! So you are left with a mental soup of hormones telling you to run or fight but you can’t use those hormones up. It is no wonder that you are struggling – anyone would! You are in a constant state of alarm which needs turning down.

But there is good news here – what to do about it.

 

Do Your Managers Have The Skills …

…To Ensure That Your Workforce Have The Skills?

I was recently asked to give a presentation on the following topic;

“Appraisals – still necessary or no longer needed, and if the latter how do you replace the role they traditionally play?”

An appraisal form is acting like a coaster.
Do we really need an annual appraisal?

It’s a question that has been around for a while, indeed I first wrote about this on LinkedIn in 2015.

My current thoughts, and therefore the basis of my presentation, are as follows:

Forgive me, but this is the wrong question.

An organisation needs a workforce that is competent and confident enough to do a good job, executed well.  The question is how does an organisation achieve this? And to answer that, there are a number of other questions to ask.

 

 

What are the right questions?

  1. What does great management look like in this organisation?
  2. How competent and confident are the current managers, at all levels, at delivering great management?
  3. What would let the “boss” know that they are?
  4. How do the employees know what a good job looks like and how do we measure how effective they are at delivering it?

It seems to me that:

  • staff need to know what is expected of them and to what standard
  • they need regular feedback and opportunities to discuss what is impacting on their role
  • this regular feedback and discussion needs to be of good quality, good enough that both parties value it
  • and this starts at the top – what objectives do the senior team have for leading, developing and motivating their team? And how good are they at doing that?

For instance, how good are your managers at nurturing creativity in their teams? You can read more about my views on that here. See also what the World Economic Forum saw as the skills demand over the next few years on page 12 or their The Future of Jobs Report 2018.

Does an annual appraisal deliver this?

On its own? No; appraisal as an annual event in isolation will not deliver this but continuous, quality, two-way discussion will, as long as managers have the skills.

And it may well feed into an annual process of reflection.

So the question is, do your managers have the skills?

When It Comes To The EU part 2 –

Is This The Best Atmosphere In Which To Negotiate?

On the 23rd June the country voted in the EU Referendum. We made our decision on gut feel, research based on conjecture and hope. Then someone had to deal with the aftermath.

Some, who thought that they might want to handle the job, just walked away when the time came. Theresa May stepped up to the plate and thank God she did; someone had to and the alternative choices don’t bear thinking about.  She didn’t want to leave the EU and almost certainly still doesn’t but has been handed a task that needs doing; negotiating a deal in such a way that gives Britain the best possible outcome.

For me, the worrying issue now is that everything that the Prime Minister does, every single step, is done in an atmosphere of challenge and turmoil. Each decision triggers hoards to shout at her that it is either too far or that it is not far enough. The papers scream. Each breath, each move, each laugh, each item of clothing is used to stir. The commentary is constant. The noise is deafening.

There will be no pleasing of all of the people. There will be no unification of ideas, hopes and dreams. The best outcome will not appease everyone or be fully agreed on. She will not complete this task and get a sense of success.

This is an appalling atmosphere to work through possibly one of the most complex negotiations of our time. And yet she must continue.

My hope, my prayer, is that she has the strength, courage and willpower to see it to the end. The temptation to walk away must be overwhelming. And that would be utterly disastrous.