Wednesday, 28 March 2012
Monday, 26 March 2012
For me, it comes down to three things: visibility, credibility and knowledge.
Everyone's worked with someone who appears once in a while when things are going smoothly and flits about being busy. They tend to arrive with a fanfare, and set about establishing themselves as a person of influence - some all but state "Hey! I'm in charge here now!", and some even claim credit for success that's properly due to those who have been there every day, working away to see a great result. They're never around when things aren't going so well. They disappear.
I call those people Bad Smells. They're invisible, they're about as welcome as a smack round the chops when they do make themselves known, and everyone can't wait until they're gone so they can get on with how they need to get the job done.
The key here is to be visible if you want to have influence. You have to be available, accessible and welcome engagement from your colleagues and clients. True influence depends on being around in good times and bad, and being equally engaged and committed in both.
I used to work with someome with whom conversations would regularly go something like this:
Me: "This is a problem. We need to look at our options to get it sorted."
Her: "Yeah, I know absolutely, definitely what we need to do here. I dealt with a identical situation in my last job ten years ago. Of course, that didn't work out so well, but it might be different here. That was public sector, this is private. I don't suppose the law or anything has changed. I think it's the same everywhere. Yeah. I have an idea of how to do this. I understand how this needs to work. I think. I doubt anyone would actually sue us if we got it wrong, anyway..."
She had zero credibility. Nobody trusted what she had to say, because she was so busy jumping in with an answer in an attempt to influence a course of action that she failed to research, consider or weigh up every situation on its own merits. She just wanted to help, but by not tapping in to resources and building a relationship in trust, she did herself a great disservice.
Being able to shout the loudest is not you being credible- you're just yelling. Passion does not equal volume.
Don't be a bully. Assertiveness is one thing, but imposing your will on others isn't influence: it's a dictatorship.
Here's the biggie. A brilliant understanding of one or two specialist areas will gain you greater influence in your organisation than a broad, sketchy, piecemeal awareness of dozens. Be an expert. If you don't know, state that, and agree to go and find out and report back. Then do it. You don't have to be a human version of Google, but demonstrating what you do know clearly and in ways others can connect to and comprehend easily will win you respect and crank up your influence level.
Influence used wisely and with a light touch is a marvel to behold.
Did this help a bit? It did? Oh no, You're welcome.
That'll be £250k, please.
*One for the '70s kids amongst us, there. Ah, nostalgia... it ain't what it used to be.
Thursday, 22 March 2012
These are VHR Peg People, lovingly made by hand by Tori Rosenbaum. Yes, she's my daughter, and yes, she makes me proud. So I thought I'd stick a smile on your faces and share the peggy love this evening.
Oh and yes, she does take commissions, thank you for asking! :-)
Stay credible by being visible.
Care – Don’t assume that everyone will say or feel the same way. Just be human about things; allow them the chance to express themselves.
Don’t talk around the subject - People can generally handle getting bad news. They cope. They like the idea that they’re respected enough to be trusted to handle it ok. What they don’t like is you being vague and feeling they are being kept in the dark. Show them why you need to make the change. Be honest. Demonstrate that there’s really no other option, and so that’s why you have to meet to discuss it.
Remember you’re dealing with grownups – Don’t babysit. Use proper words, not jargon or dumbed-down language. They are adults, and they won’t thank you for patronising them when all they want is a little dignity in dark times.
Talk talk - Encourage them to ask questions. Get them to seek out information rather than letting them make assumptions. Let them voice what they need to- but be careful not to grant permission for them blame you for the bigger problems that led you here.
Lift the lid, release the pressure – they have to release what they are feeling, and better that they do it in a quiet room with you than back in the crowded workplace or even online. They’ll work through this negative state and with the right support they will soon come to realise that they have a responsibility to move on from it and take positive action.
It’s ok to feel anxious – Anxiety over a situation motivates and helps us focus on an answer to the problem. By looking at the risk, we naturally find a way to manage it. It’s self-preservation, and it can be a marvellous thing.
To thine own self be true - Being genuine doesn’t take any more time or effort than being disingenuous or hard-faced. In amongst your efforts to keep the impact on them in mind, bringing a little empathy helps them remember that you’re human too. They may know you well. They will wonder why they are faced with someone they’ve grown to trust and like is being so cold towards them. They may misread this and allow it to create paranoia or a sense of victimisation or unfairness. In their hearts, they know that nobody likes these conversations, but by being yourself, keeping things fair, listening to them and being supportive, you can help retain the humanity that makes such a huge difference in these situations.
Let them see the light- recognising that they’ve done great work before helps them remember that there’s reason to feel great about themselves, and positive about the future. Don’t be afraid to thank them for doing a great job to date- it helps them realise that they have skills and abilities that are attractive to other employers, and that perhaps change could be an opportunity for them after all.
Keep your promises – first up, don’t make any you don’t know for certain you’ll be able to keep. But if you tell them you’ll get a letter summarising a meeting in the post to them, tell them when it’ll be sent- and do it.
Keep talking - Don’t allow things to stagnate through inaction. Don’t let days and days pass with no contact. Check in regularly and make sure they are doing ok. Be available. Be accessible. Don’t be ‘too busy’- it may not be all you have to think about, but it’s sure as heck all they can think about. Make sure they understand what’s happening and what’s next. Offer as much support as is practicable. Don’t overcommit yourself, particularly if you are the sole HR professional in a team and you are consulting with 20 people on this. Seek outside help for them too- outplacement support is a specific skill and not all HR practitioners are au fait with the best way to help those affected. A small investment in a day’s support for your people can make all the difference to their employment prospects in future- and how they speak about your company after they leave.
Monday, 19 March 2012
We've been working with three companies recently who have all recognised risks in their business, and called us in to help handle it.
After 2 years of working hard to prevent downsizing, Company 1 are feeling the effects of the economic downturn and need to reduce the size of one team by 2 members. We've been engaged to manage a redundancy process, ensuring fairness, accuracy, compliance with the law and open communication in order to counter the risk of identifying the wrong candidates, leaving the Company open to loss of skills, accusations of unfairness or even a subsequent complaint or legal action. It's a hard thing to do in any business; we are mindful at all times that this process directly affects lives. The fact is that by the time the word 'Redundancy' is out there, some pretty tough choices have already been taken. You may not always be able to retain staff but you must work to make it as fair as possible, and offer as much support to all affected as is realistic.
Company 3 has some 160 staff, over 120 of whom work on large construction sites. There's been a growing awareness about the suty of care they hold for the health of their people. They have recognised that there is too high a risk of work-related illness and injury leading to days off and longterm sickness absence, costing the business time and money, and making employees unhappy. Obviously, there's also a risk that bad practice or ignoring issues could lead to grievances being raised or even legal action, so there's a need to protect both empoyees and the business.
We've helped all three businesses to negate, reduce and manage risk, and added a little more into the mix too with our unique approach. We've had some great feedback from all and look forward to continuing these working relationships into the coming years.
We call that a good month!
So if the risk factor is something you want to address in your business, give us a call. We'll always be happy to help.