Friday, 15 December 2017

Behaviour Diligence - Avoid Apathy

I have received much comment and feedback following my Post on Tuesday highlighting the issues raised by Women in the music industry.

Most of the feedback was encouraging and supportive, and was all much appreciated.

I was however concerned by one alarmingly common feedback theme.

About a dozen people commented not having seen or been aware of the letter signed by 360 women from the music industry drawing attention their experiences of harassment, discrimination, exploitation and generally bad behaviour.

With the events in America and United Kingdom and now in Australia, the danger is the mounting number of revelations will start to become routine and either be passed over by the media, or in this case, not noticed as it perhaps blends in to the ordinary “news of the day”.

We are desensitised to so many events; Natural disasters, violence, detention and extraordinary actions of several world leaders hardly raise an eyebrow.

We must avoid becoming desensitised to matters of harassment, intimidation and exploitation against Women in the workplace, or against Men. We perhaps don’t look at entertainment and sport as being a workplace, but it most certainly is.

In the meantime, as the number of shopping days until Christmas reach single figures, make the most of it.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Technology - More or Less?

Just about everyone I have spoken to these last 2 weeks is referencing relief that 2017 is drawing to a close.

Across the board, it seems 2017 has been a more stressful, demanding and exhausting year than ever before.

Why?

The advance year by year in technology means that never before have we had so much help and support in the workplace.

Data that once took a few days to extract and compile, we can now consume in real time. Decisions can be made and an advantage exploited or a measure corrected, in real time.

How much easier and less stressful is that?

Information can now flow directly from the client in to the business data base whereas once there was a need for a manual intervention. The client information is now updated in real time, whereas not long ago it would be an overnight process.

Transactions and enquiries now take place on-line, taking out the stress associated with the personal interaction of a face to face or phone based staff member.

Again, a far less stressful situation, allegedly?

And, no longer do we need to get up from our workspace and move to another place for a meeting. We can click a couple of times at the pre-arranged time and all connect via computer and have a virtual face to face meeting on our screens.

None of the stress of walking, catching a lift and finding the domiciled meeting room.

How about those pesky phone conversations, where individual expression and personality shone through? Thankfully, there is little need for this stressful activity now as we use the inhouse instant messenger system.

Is it any wonder as 2017 draws to a close there are more expressions than ever of exhaustion, stress, frustration and desperation?

Again, with all the technological assistance, it is meant to be easier, not harder.

What we no longer have is the same level of personal interactions with colleagues and customers.

Further, the personal conversations we do have be they face to face or by phone will tend to confrontational.

The customer complaint or service failure will be addressed by way of a direct communication.

The staff or people issue will be resolved by face to face negotiation.

Both are "confrontational".

We no longer have the “water cooler” conversation or the easy banter that accompanies the routine discussion. Discussions conducted via messenger or e-mail and meetings via video tend not to include such personal, perhaps trivial associated chat.

The removal of many of our personal interactions changes the way we feel about our workplace. We may not realise it when it is happening but I suggest it contributes to our overall sense of stress and fatigue.

Unknowingly, we may feel the work we do is less meaningful than it once was. My take is the increase in our electronic interactions in place of personal communications has resulted in our workplaces becoming less personal.

I usually aim to conclude observations such as these with some remediation action recommendations.

Efficiency and cost demands dictate an ever increasing drive for technological innovations, not less.

Our workplaces are changing rapidly and the common belief is many of the jobs currently in vogue will not exist in 10 years time.

Perhaps it will take this transition to “new work” and "new jobs” not yet envisioned to resolve the overall problem however until then, it may well be that it gets worse before it gets better.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Five Months - Two Graduations.

Today was one I often doubted would ever arrive.

It is also only the second time in 5 months, 1 week and 5 days that I have worn a tie, and only the third time I have endured a collar on my shirt.

Having graduated a Lawyer in July, tonight, a Bachelor of Business with a couple of majors also graduates. Two ceremonies, one tie for each.

Two out of two Son's will have completed University, at least for now.

Both are working be it not necessarily in their ideal roles, but hey, many of us are like that.

It does seem to have taken forever, and in both cases, University years exceeded secondary years by number.

As Parents, there are many milestones and today very much feels like one. It also means no more University fees.

Let the show begin, followed by the celebrations.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Bad Behaviour Towards Women in Business - It Stops Now (#meNOmore)

I had a very different article all but prepared for today. It can wait.

I have just become aware of #meNOmore.

360 Women from the Australian Music Industry have combined to end sexual harassment in their Industry including many providing an outline of their experiences by way of an open letter to the Industry.

The letter is as disturbing as it is shameful.

We may have a perception of the music industry a being “sex, drugs and rock and roll”. We may see the industry as being more promiscuous than others. However, the cold hard reality is the Music Industry is like any other. It is a business and it takes talent and hard work to achieve success.

The music industry is similar in another way to all others. It is dominated by men. We occupy most of the powerful and influential positions in most, if not all businesses.  

I suspect any group of 360 Women Lawyers, Accountants, Retailers, Factory Employees, Education, Academia, Medical and any other industry could write and sign a letter telling similar stories to those expressed by the Women of the Australian Music Industry.

The #meNOmore group represent all Women in all walks of life by taking advantage of access to a public forum afforded them by way of their hard-earned public profile. They have the ability to generate publicity that others do not.

Their efforts today, intentionally or otherwise, are on behalf of all Women, everywhere, most of whom do not have a platform from which to speak and be heard.

It is now time for us Males to stand up and be counted. It is actually well overdue.

High profile Women may have the ability to achieve exposure of shocking behaviour but we, males, have the power and ability to change it.

I am confident in suggesting men behaving badly is representative of the minority.  

Assuming this is true, the remaining majority of us have the opportunity to make a huge difference.

We must will no longer turn a blind eye to poor behaviour being perpetrated towards women. We will call it out and we will make the victim of poor behaviour aware they have our support should action be necessary.

We must will no longer allow degrading conversation towards women, or about women to take place or continue when talking with other men. Despite there being no victim present, allowing such conversations to occur without check is representative of an attitude that needs to change.

We must will educate our sons and grandsons about the equal entitlement of women in all walks of life, including what is acceptable behaviour.

We must will ensure our daughters and granddaughters have our support to reject inappropriate behaviours and to take necessary action against the perpetrator.

Finally, we will support #meNOmore and demonstrate that Men also find the behaviour experienced by so many Women to be disgraceful, unacceptable and unable to be continued.

Australia granted the LGBTI community equal marriage rights last week. Now it is time to grant Women an equal right of respect and dignity.

#meNOmore

Monday, 11 December 2017

Our Frantic Race.........To be the same

Ours is a faced paced world.

Immediacy is demanded everywhere.

Not feeling well? Give me a pill.
I need an answer – Google it.
A new fashion - click, I own it.

Whereas once we would refer to the library or an encyclopedia, now we rely on Wikipedia and without total foundation, we trust what it says. It is fast and it is easy but is it accurate? Oftenish.

We consume our information on the run; while driving and while doing what used to be called relaxing. 

We walk and talk; we used to just walk, or just talk.

Immediacy of news comes via Twitter, our news feeds, other social media where the factual nature or otherwise of this news is not necessarily proven, but we form our opinions just the same. 

We now feel compelled to respond with immediacy to electronic communications and to have the answers to questions at our fingertips. Messenger, Whatsapp, instagram, Status Updates, PM's, DM's, SMS e-mail and many other derivatives of electronic communication.

We have far more options available to us in this new day and age.

Theoretically, our options are without limit or so we are told.

We lament the loss of the “personality” or the “character” be it in the workplace, family situations or sport while at the same time chastising those who choose to be different. The counter thinker is discouraged, the challenger, creator, the individual with the courage to suggest a different approach or new way of looking at a matter is sidelined or labelled "difficult".  Adopting the latest fashion occurs quicker than ever and “I just must have the new phone” is a real syndrome as demonstrated by the queues of people outside an Apple store the day of new model release.

The only thing worse than being wrong, is being different.

But thankfully, our options are limitless.

The instantaneous nature of the information available to us results in us seeking to follow the latest trend or idea and to do so immediately. Whereas once we may have considered a decision overnight or longer, we can now scroll, click and execute a decision, seemingly before we have made it. Note the crashing of the website selling the coat the soon to be new Royal wore for the engagement announcement. She wore it, and thousands wanted to wear it too.

Is it any wonder credit card and other forms of immediate debt is causing issues and family breakdown?

We can now slavishly express our individuality by more quickly following what others are doing..

But, our options are limitless.

Our journalism is compromised by a lack of time and resources to apply the same fact and process checks of the past. The priority is to get the story on-line so the clicks can start to be counted.

Our internet based lives may well provide us with the limitless options of our generation however in effect, we are exercising this capability by being quicker than ever, to be the same as everyone else.

How much faster can we become at being the same?

Time of course, will tell but the main thing is, our options are limitless.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Jerusalem

Maybe Donald Trump is what he says he is; smarter than everyone else.

By no means do I understand the ins and out of Middle Eastern politics.

I have a broad understanding of the Jerusalem issue in that all of the City is considered “Holy” by 3 separate religious groups.

Therefore, any formal recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of one, will upset the other two.

President Trump has recognised Jerusalem as the Capital City of Israel and will move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem.

The current dispute over the City heightened following the 1967 Arab/Israel war when Israel gained territory and have refused to include its return as part of any subsequent peace negotiations.

Donald Trump is the 4th United States President to make an election promise to recognise Jerusalem as the Capital. The other three did not go ahead although President Clinton set things in motion.

I understand why Israel is pleased with the decision by the United States to recognise Jerusalem as their Capital.

I also understand why the Palestinians are most upset by this.

I note that no other country has followed the US lead and in fact, the decision to recognise a new capital has been widely and comprehensively condemned.

Donald Trump makes one sound point in support of his decision. Over a 50-year period, the tinderbox nature of the region has not improved. Each administration has basically repeated the actions, or lack of action of the past and the outcome is the same. President Trump is doing something different and while this appears to be a high-risk approach, who knows, the Middle East tension may end up being resolved.

Perhaps he will confound the critics and prove to actually be a true International Strategist and resolver of historic issues.

His election platform was to Make America Great Again supported by the mantra Put America First.

I understand why many close supporters of the President will be pleased with this decision.

I understand why some of his immediate family will be happy too.

I don’t understand how recognising Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel progresses America back to Greatness or is an example of Putting America First.

Not for the first time, understanding what motivates the actions and decisions of the President is hard to understand and even harder at times to believe.

Have a peaceful weekend.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Time to Remove Client and Customer Service

It is time to overturn the concept of customer service.

It is time to do away with the idea of client service.

Further, our businesses need to stop recruiting (recycling) experienced customer interface people.

We can also abandon the pursuit of the great customer experience, the engaged member, the advocate and the promoter. All the buzz words and hot phrases used by marketers in meetings up and down the line can be eliminated. There are predominantly excuses anyway.

And then there is my favourite pet dislikes: partnering and mutual success.

“We don’t see you as a client, we see you as our partner” or “your success is our success”.

Why do I dislike these?

Has the entity purchasing the product or service ever entered in to the transaction saying they want a partnership? The seller of the product or service wants to sell something, and then do it again. The notion of a partnership suggests equal rights and this simply isn’t the case.  Hence Caveat Emptor.

As for your success and my success, I assess how successful I am by how much you and everyone else buys from me.

Let’s finish the job – lets remove the words and concepts of the customer and client from our business lexicon.   

Now we are making progress.

We no longer have a customer or a client, we no longer require the experienced customer/client servicer officer and that means their manager/leader is out too. There is a flow on impact to the recruiting industry who are kept busy as the previously referenced customer/client service officer was inclined to move on to a new employer every few years or so.

I hear the question coming loud and clear – We still have a product/service to sell and we need to look after those who buy it?

Yes, we do, but customer service as we currently practice it, is not the avenue.

Education isn’t either.

Increasing, we demand higher and higher educational levels for those on the front line. We have degree qualified employees, some with multiple degrees, dealing with basic questions of fact via the phone and internet based interfaces.

Some organisations even go so fare as promote the education levels of their staff as evidence of quality customer service, or use education to defend complaints when customers are dis-satisfied.

So, what am I proposing?

I am proposing an about face in terms of service and sales interface.

Instead of looking at the users of our services and products as clients, build a culture where everyone is a ‘person” to be communicated with by way of the courtesy and respect we should always apply to our dealings with people.

Further, we transform the staff we recruit to conduct these interfaces and place the absolute emphasis on their natural people and communication skills.

I have witnessed customer service training programs aimed at removing natural communication skills from those who are natural communicators. With this, we also lose flair and energy. I have seen highly scripted answer provided for staff to parrot repeat, word for word.

The natural communicator, the team member who enjoys talking to people will deliver the outcomes people want, need, enjoy and come back to, for more.

So much of what occurs in business is people to people. It should not be staff member to customer, or client service officer to client.

Recruit people who love communicating and remove sales training and pay them based on this ability and not the listing of letters after their name.

Moving on:

When there is a sale to be made, it establishes a contest and puts the person being sold to on edge.

Replace sales training with great recruiting of the correct people and arm them with the product and service benefits to be communicated in the individuals style.

Or to put it another way, let my PEOPLE to talk to the people who use our product, and let them do it as a person, talking to a person.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

In Cricket, as in Life - Sadly

The second Ashes cricket test has just concluded with a decisive victory for Australia over England.

If you had listened to the experts these last 24 hours, you could be excused for thinking the least competent team, captained by a fool has somehow achieved a decisive victory.

Cricket and Baseball are games drenched in tradition and endlessly analysed through the prism statistics and empirical evidence.

The game is covered on radio and TV by a plethora of former players, all enthusiastic about having strong opinions, primarily of what they think is wrong rather than what is right.

Is it negativity or is it jealousy? Naturally, the current crop of players are not as good as in “our” era.

“The pitches are flatter, the bats bigger, the pay better and training methods more precise”. All are expressed as criticisms.

Australia elects to bat again towards the end of day 3 and it doesn’t go well. Former Captains, and one in particular heavily criticise the decision, after the event.

Sport is an activity where past players who gave their all for the team, and were paid handsomely for doing so, seem to celebrate the failure of those that follow more than their success.

We will be waiting a long time for the critics to apologise; we will be waiting forever.

Why is it the true greats of our sports tend not to gravitate to the media? There are exceptions, however if you look at the Commercial Media coverage of our sports, most commentating experts never feature in “best of teams” and are rarely mentioned as great players.

The great players also hold dignity and decorum as qualities in life, just as they did when competing.

Unfortunately, we default to the ease and intellectual vacuum of criticism and negative appraisal in all walks of life.

Well done Australia, well done Steve Smith.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

New Business Perils - A Tuesday Conversation (On Saturday)

We are forever being reminded an extraordinarily high percentage of new businesses fail in the first year.

Overestimating revenue while underestimating costs is a common reason. Or to put it another way, simply not having enough cash to sustain the initial operating costs while building the brand.

Panic may well set in and the clear image and direction initially planned is changed in the hope of generating quick, or increased revenue.

It is tough. The dream, the passion, the endless hours preparing for opening day are replaced by even more hours once the business opens. And every decision, large and small is made alone.

Most new businesses are born from a passion and an idea. The driver will be to do something already being done, but to do it differently. The difference may be an ambience, atmosphere, trend, lifestyle, product or service.

Ideally, the new business will have a clear differentiator in order to allow a consumer to make a decision to support the new enterprise in preference to an established entity.

And finally, they need to get the message out there; “We are open for business”.

Or do they?

On Saturday afternoon, I met and had a conversation with the owner of a Café/Bar in Jindabyne.

He broke all the rules.

He explained how they opened with a total of $70 cash left after set up costs. “Not enough for the float”.

The promotional activity was zero, and was planned to be such. “I wanted to be discovered by word of mouth. I wanted to be special, somewhere you could come and have a conversation and a great coffee, glass of wine or special single malt”.

He went on to explain that despite the significant tourist trade during the snow season, first and foremost, he wanted to cater to the locals and be somewhere they could drop in and enjoy.

He explained that during the high season, we ensure the door is closed and the curtains drawn so no one can see inside. You also cannot hear any noise. “if you find us it is because you are looking for us and usually because someone else has told you about us”.

He referenced having over 80 single malt whiskeys in the cellar however only 6 on the drinks list. “If you want something from out the back, you will know to ask for it”.

“We want to be special, we want to be unique and we want to be somewhere people come back to because they know us and like being here. If you know and like us, you will know others who will like us too and will pass on the message.”

He also explained that they don’t “do lifestyle milks”. They certainly do health related milk such as Soy and Almond but if you want skim or light, we cant help. And if you want syrup in your coffee, there is a great Gloria Jean’s franchise down the road.

I asked what brought him to Jindabyne and he explained his journey from growing up on the Gold Coast and then living and working in Melbourne.

“I was taking a break and visiting a friend who was living here. I first saw this venue while in a very hungover state one Sunday morning and immediately thought it had potential. Six weeks later we opened.”

Five years and a few months on, the business is thriving and the atmosphere, service, food, coffee and drinks quality plus a discernible point of difference suggests a successful and sustainable business has been born.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Giving Too Much Of A F*ck

What do you do when you find yourself at an airport with an hour to kill and the Airport Club Lounge is not very appealing?

Head for the book shop.

One of life’s pleasure activities is browsing in a book shop, looking at the new releases, recommendations from staff and identifying trends in the various categories of books.

Two trends were evident as I absorbed the array of titles in front of me at Canberra Airport.

Both are examples of correcting what might be called the failure of current lifestyles. They may also be a sign we are desperately looking to solutions to our increasingly unbalanced, high pressured lifestyles.

More than ever, there is pressure to be all things to all people and in all circumstances.

Social Media is full of Instagram photos of magnificent happiness, updates on Facebook showing what wonderful activities are filling our life and Tweets of entertaining wisdom. Add the exercise pressure of Strava, MyAssics, Garmin Connect and whatever other fitness App you choose to share your active life via and we have a recipe for unrelenting competition with largely little known friends and acquaintances.

The new car, amazing weekend escape and master chief meal prepared after a day’s work mesmerising the innovation committee with our latest creation.

The school event and our highly engaged children are shown excelling at all things academic, sport and music. We hear with monotonous regularity how the minds of children are being “mashed” by way of the time spent in from of screens however there is hardly a photo of a 12 year old playing games on their IPad> Does that seem strange, or perhaps the “screen time” problem is non existent?

We must show off our new gym gear, light weight running shoes, and if you are a cyclist, any new piece of gear or clothing will get a showing

“Quick, I need a photo for Facebook – and one for Instagram too”.

Our Social Media profile may well be described as a version of “The very, very best off the Days of our Lives”. However, we then measure the worth of “This life of ours” by way of the number of “Likes” are clicked, re-tweets made or comments received. And, if we pick up a new follower or follow request, the day is even better.

How do we feel when we receive little or no reaction to our photo of the latest kale inspired organic ginger, tofu infused shake? Deflated, incomplete, insecure?

Do we care too much about the reaction?

Are we searching for a methodology to care less about the reaction to our social media sharing’s, or perhaps even how to withdraw from our Social Media activity?

Do we simply care too much about many things, we simply should not care about

The following 3 books were on the top 20 recommended list at the Canberra Airport Bookshop:
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  • Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight and
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck also by Sarah Knight*

All the above have achieved “Best Seller” status.

A quick check of other titles authored by Sarah Knight indicate this is a highly popular subject genre as another of her book titles is:

How to not Give a F*ck at Christmas

The success of these books indicates we are collectively well aware of caring far too much about things that do not really matter.

We care about cultivating a perfect image and we know it is counterproductive. We are well aware there are very many things in life we “Give a F*ck” about when we know we shouldn’t. It also suggests we are desperate for a set of skills and actions to extricate ourselves from our self-destructive habits.

As for the other trend, there were two books addressing “Gut” health but more about this another time.


*I purchased and read this book some 9 months ago.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Finding the Performance Zone

Occasionally you find yourself in a very special zone. Depending on the circumstances, you may feel totally connected with the internal and external environment. It is a zone where everything physically and psychologically just seems to merge as one. It is effortless.

It is a state where your senses are heightened, where everything around you feels like it’s moving in slow motion. You notice everything.

There are several situations where such an experience may occur.

It may be a business meeting where you have all details at your finger tips and your powers of communication are such that complexity is explained as simplicity.

It may be a presentation you are giving, where you can feel the engagement of the audience and the follow up questions enhance the event as you answer with authority and clarity.

It may even be the dinner party you are giving. The menu is perfect, food preparation is exactly as it should be and the dinner conversation demonstrates the mix of guests is intriguing and complementing of each other.

Often “The Zone” I refer too comes at the most unexpected time or in response to an unusual event.

This was my experience today.

I am writing, sitting in my room in the Snowy Mountain town of Jindabyne. It is raining, as it has been for much of the last 24 hours. The wind has died down, unlike for most of the last 24 hours.

Earlier today, I participated in the 2017 edition of L’Etape Australia, a 127 ride through the Snowy Mountain region which from its name, can be assumed to include a lot of downhill, and equal amounts of uphill.

Recreational cyclists tend to avoid wet weather riding. As a result, we have little experience in such conditions and skills are honed from a text book rather than practice.

I had been nervous about starting the event from the Ski Chalet summit of Crackenback. Starting at Crackenback meant a 15 kilometre decent on water washed roads much of which was exposed to the wind.

The night before, I was unsure if I would subject myself to the risk.
 
When I loaded my bike on to the transport truck, and loaded myself in the bus at Jindabyne at 4.30 am for the commute to Crackenback, I was still not sure I would start. I also had it in the back of my mind that if I did start and felt uneasy, I would slow right down on the decent and pull out after 24 kilometres as we went through Jindabyne.

We received information that the rain was easing and it did appear to be doing just that.

With this in mind, I rolled out of the start zone in group 4.

Of the 3500 entrants in the event, 900 were allocated group 4 and it was fairy obvious that quite a large number had decided not to start.

With my plan in place to corner conservatively, feather the breaks and avoid road paintwork, I set about the decent. I was also intensely concentrating and focusing my vision as you do when riding a motorbike.

Coming off the mountain was a relief but I felt good and 10 kilometres later shed leg warmers and gillet.

All but a small section of the event was conducted in rain, and some of it was very heavy. But I was in the zone. It was a day when it felt like I was one with my bike. We picked good lines and legs and pedals combined perfectly and almost effortlessly.

It was a day where despite the weather and the challenges and dangers this presented, I was acutely aware of the countryside, the views and the spectators on the roadside.

It was a day when despite the rain, hills, wind and water, I did not want the ride to finish.

The secret is to discover how to replicate such a feeling at will.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Difference Between Males and Females - A Simple Sporting Example

The rain started the moment I pulled in to the car park at the Crackenback Ski Village.

I was there to register to ride in the second edition of L’Etape Australia, competing on 127 kilometres of closed roads through the beautiful Snowy Mountain Region of New South Wales, Australia.

I completed my registration, collected my pack and joined the audience gathering for a session on stage hosted by the voice of cycling, Phil Liggett and local cycling commentator Matt Keenan.

They introduced and spoke to the event organiser and Parliamentary Secretary representing the appropriate Minister in the NSW Government.

There were also two professional cyclists, both of whom are riding L’Etape tomorrow, Saturday 2 December 2017.

Chris Froome is the reigning Tour de France Champion and overall 4 time winner of the greatest stage race. He also won the Tour of Spain this year. He is the best stage race cyclist of the generation.

He is also charming, self effacing, interactive and humble. He speaks well and is generous in his interaction with the audience, posing for many photos and engaging in easy conversations when the formalities concluded.

Amanda Spratt was also welcomed to the stage. An Australian and Pro Tour winner, her 5th place in this years Women’s Giro was unexpected. She is also a two times National Road Race Champion.

Like Chris Froome, she is articulate, entertaining and humble and equally as generous when formalities concluded.

 

Both are true ambassadors for the sport of cycling and are respected by all cyclists and cycling fans, and cross gender divides.

They are both well paid be it in proportion with the vastly different budgets available to Men’s and Women’s teams.

Chris earns substantial income from the product endorsements he elects to accept whereas Amanda’s manager is spending as much time seeking endorsement opportunities as Chris’s manager spends rejecting them.

The true illustration of the difference between the two was evident about 90 minutes later.

I was shopping in the local Jindabyne supermarket and here was Amanda with a shopping basket, buying her groceries for dinner and her sports drinks. I imagine she is preparing her own dinner tonight and pre race breakfast tomorrow, Probably lunch today and tomorrow too.

Chris Froome is, by all accounts a down to earth and unpretentious person. I may be wrong, however I very much doubt Chris Froome will have to do his own shopping and food preparation.

My thinking is, this is representative of the difference between male and female professional cyclists, and many other sports as well.
 

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Travel - Is it From a Positive or Negative Emotion?

It is a few days short of 5 months since I removed myself from the rigours of daily Corporate Life filled with Finance, Investment, Funds and Egos, plus some excellent people too.

I probably enjoyed 60% of what I was doing and happily tolerated another 10%.

I did not enjoy the petty politics, fragile egos free of substance, pretence of care and meetings without purpose. I did not enjoy integrity and honesty practiced without conviction, messages of convenience or working with Leadership colleagues who operated in subservience at the expense of honesty and ethical conviction.

On the whole though, I have worked with many excellent and professional colleagues.

I will shortly embark on my 4th travel adventure of these five months and it has occurred to me just how different travelling is now I am out of the day to day clutter of the Corporate World.

Prior to my European departure back in September, I wrote about the difference having a less stressful life made by way of having proper time to pack and consider what was needed.

But it is much more than that.

I have realised I now look forward to travel opportunities more so than ever. I get to  better plan my travel and already have three trips organised for next year and only this week said no to an opportunity to go to London in April.

I was contemplating today just what it is that makes travel feel so much better now and more looked forward too.

I have come to realise travel now comes from a purely positive perspective.

I now look forward to going to my destination or destinations. I look forward to the experience of the journey as well. I look forward to what I will discover and learn and what I will see, hear and smell. I am also more open to who I will meet and the conversations I will have.

My focus is wholly on travelling too somewhere; it is a positive emotion.

My realisation is that previously, it was more about travelling away from something. It was about escape and recharging. It was about re-energising in order to come back and do it all again, and again.

In other words, the emotional driver was a negative one.

My self-promise is, if I return to a more structured or more formal work life, I will maintain a positive travel perspective. Further, I will encourage, coach and mentor others to do the same.

I do hope my flights are on time.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Bad Workplace Behaviour Resolved - A New Approach Needed

I have a question for every Board of Directors, Executive Management/Leadership Team, Board of Trustees and Business Owners.

Just one question:

Are you absolutely confident that any member of staff who feels victimised, bullied, harassed, assaulted (verbally, physiologically, emotionally or physically), racially or sexually vilified or subjected to inappropriate behaviour has a totally safe avenue for raising it ensuring proper investigation and if need be, necessary action will follow?

It is a “Yes” or “No” answer but before you do, the key issue is your confidence it can happen, not satisfaction there is a process for lodging a complaint.

I am not interested in your vision statements, behaviour policies, anti-bullying or anti victimisation procedures. I am not interested in the corporate values doctrine hanging on the wall or the training modules for new employees or annual reinforcement training about behaviour standards.

While policies and procedures are necessary, they are also a cop out.

I am not suggesting for one moment the Corporate entity. the Employer is not seeking a safe, a fair and an equitable workplace.

However, I am suggesting that a key motivation for such policies and procedures is to ensure a defendable position in the event any incident or incidents of poor behaviour become public.  

Sadly, in too many cases, the employer is concerned about reputational risk or brand damage when the first, second and third priority should be the welfare of an impacted employee.

All the processes, vision and values statements, policies and behavioural training are pointless if there is a lack of trust in what will happen after an incident is reported.

I am aware of Human Resource Areas that refuse to consider an issue raised with them if the complainant is to scared to formally lodge an official, documented complaint.

I recall raising just this with a Senior HR Manager only to be told that they have to be very sure of their legal standing. My response was to question the responsibility to the distressed employee and the impact on their life and career. The HR Manager shrugged their shoulders and looked at me blankly.

From my experience, very few employers enjoy the confidence of their staff that allows matters to be raised and properly investigated. Furthermore, there is lack of confidence that if concerns raised are authenticated, that appropriate action will follow.

The accusations raised in recent days about a successful, high profile media personality read as vile, disgusting and extraordinary. I hasten to add, they have been aggressively denied by the accused.

It has been suggested the financial value of the accused had much to do with the lack of action when concerns about their behaviour was raised often over many years.

During my many years in business, I witnessed a numerous cases of inappropriate behaviour. I can console myself with the knowledge that I have fronted the offender face to face on each occasion. This includes confronting Executives several levels above my level of management.

Perhaps I have been reckless in my actions and I certainly have not been popular on occasions. However, on other occasions, including the most recent example, my frank and open communication has been greeted with appreciation and thanks, if not exactly at the time of the conversation then certainly at a later time.

However, not everyone is as reckless as me.

If an employer is serious about having an avenue whereby complaints and concerns about behaviour can be made with total confidence and where if necessary, an investigation follows, a new approach is needed.

The process for lodging a complaint needs to be outsourced to an independent entity. It needs to be taken out of the hands of a Manager, Supervisor or Human Resources Staff Member.

Further, a decision as to the need to counsel the accused or conduct a proper investigation needs to be an independent decision, totally separate to Management.

Finally, the Employer must commit to executing whatever course of action is recommended by the Independent Entity, without exception.

If you are a Leader reading this suggestion, you will be outraged. You will be concerned that your reputation will be tarnished by way of a disgruntled employee making a frivolous or vindictive complaint.

You will be concerned that this is an easy way out for an employee you have had cause to discipline or to discuss poor performance with.

I say RUBBISH.

If you have followed due process when having such discussions, recorded the issues appropriately, you will have nothing to fear.

However, for the sake of the argument, let us accept this is a risk.

In my opinion, it is a risk worth taking because at the moment, careers are being sacrificed, mental and physical health is being compromised all while the Employer is protected.

Besides, a professional independent arbitrator of complaints will very quickly weed out the frivolous or vindictive matter, and the innocent will be protected.

Does your employer have the Courage to move from the protection of defensibility to one of meaningful care for employees and behaviour, or will it be “business as usual”?

Monday, 27 November 2017

Dear Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten

Dear Messrs Turnbull and Shorten,

As much as you repeatedly say you are hearing the message the electorate is sending you, nothing changes.

We continue to see voters flock to minor parties and independent candidates.

To many of us, there is nothing about One Nation and The Greens that we find appealing. We are actually voting against the Liberal/National Parties and Labor and not for the others.

It would also be wrong to believe Labour is bleeding votes to The Greens and Liberal/National to One Nation.

In last weekends Queensland election, I know of many traditional LNP voters who voted Green and many rusted on ALP voters who voted One Nation. 

In one case, a 50 year ALP voter gave his vote to One Nation prefrencing in order, the independent, ALP and LNP.

I also know of a long term Liberal voter who voted Green, preferencing Independent, LNP and ALP in that order.

The vote is against you, not for the minor parties.

Mr Turnbull,

We welcomed your second ascendance to the Leadership with great optimism. We looked forward to a return to conviction based leadership and took comfort from your stand on Climate Change issues during your period as Opposition Leader. You had conviction.

I understand the desire for power however surely it must be far more satisfying to be true to yourself and your beliefs and achieve long term "power" based on substance.

It is difficult to believe you are truly committed to a policy setting that prolongs coal fired power generation. It is easy to believe this is a Right Wing compromise.

You have an interest in technology and an understanding of what it can do for us in the future. Take us there. 

As long as you continue to pander to the far right and the resulting neutral policy settings, you and your Party are doomed.  

Mr Shorten,

You are viewed as an opportunist, taking a popularist position to most things and a neutral position on others.

Sure, the banks have had some poor practices and people have suffered however compensation has or will be provided in most, if not all cases.

We, the voters have a poor opinion of banks, except for the bank we are with which is ok.

Banks are an easy target, but are also well regulated and we have the necessary legislation in place to prosecute poor behaviour. If you think we don’t, set a policy position outlining what you would change and what regulations you want to implement.

Your background suggests a passion for helping the cause of working people. Concentrate on this rather than corporate bashing.

Your acute understanding of industry from an employee viewpoint means you can best prosecute policy positions to prepare us for working class jobs of the future. 

I could go on and on, but I really have a few basic messages.

1.       Get back to conviction based politics and policy positioning and prosecute your beliefs.
2.       Be prepared to argue your case rather than simply criticise each other.
3.       Take a leaf out of your predecessors, Hawke, Keating, Howard, Costello. They believed in what they were doing and argued it accordingly. Like them or not, they displayed conviction.
4.       Ignore the short termism of social media banter. It is just that, short term

Finally, both of you and your front bench colleagues come across in the media as being indecisive and shifty. You all refuse to address the subject matter or if they do, it is in the negative.

For example, when asked a question about a position on a topic, answer it rather than saying, “we certainly do not have the position of the other".

In the meantime, we have no definitive policy position on most things and no clear alternative position of the opposition, at least on things that are important.

Alternatively

We will continue the trend of one term Governments or of Governments where the numbers in the second term are so tight, little gets achieved.

You both pander too easily to the extremes of your party. Stand up for what you believe in or hand over to the extremes, because they will stand up for their beliefs.

Alternatively, resign yourselves to the inevitable decline of your primary vote and cobbled together compromise coalitions, and coalitions where you may find yourself Leader of the Junior party.  

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Coaching For Confidence in Business

Pretend for a moment you are a very good golfer. You have a reputation for hitting every approach shot closer than 120 metres to within a metre of the hole. You always manage to execute the shot no matter what the lie and always judge the perfect elevation of the ball and the run of the green.

Then without explanation, you start missing the green.

What is the business equivalent?

It might the IT expert, the one who is sensational at solving user problems, quickly, accurately and happily. They always seem to understand the problem and guide you through the solution.

Then without explanation, questions asked are greeted with confusion and solutions are delayed and ultimately incomplete.

It may be the Financial Adviser who is highly skilled at discussing financial and investment strategies with clients, simplifying the seemingly complex and in doing so, achieves consistently high Nett Promotor Scores.

And without obvious explanation, their high scores start to drop and complimentary letters are replaced with the occasional letter of complaint.

In all three cases, we can expect some time in a coaching situation will follow. In the case of the Golfer, it will be the club coach and for the IT Expert and Financial Adviser, it will be their immediate Manager/Leader.

The first point addressed may be to look at process. The grip on the club, the online information being accessed to resolve the IT issue or the flow of the Adviser s appointment dialogue.

The IT expert will be “double jacked” on the phone, the Adviser will have an observer and the golfer will hit endless shots under the watchful eye of the coach. The golfer may also start with a conversation.

Is this all complicating the solution, particularly the Business cases?

There is a high probability, everything looks and sounds fine. Chances are, all three appear to be doing what they have always done. However, given the results of late, the Coach will suggest changes, because surely a change is needed.

Very quickly, the problem compounds as new, unfamiliar practices are implemented that do not necessarily align with the coaching subject’s physical abilities or personality traits.

If someone has always, up to a point performed superbly, the first thing we should look at is their confidence.

Elite sportspeople always reference the importance of confidence in their decision making and skill execution.

The coach of a sporting team will often reference the need to restore confidence and self-belief, however we rarely if ever reference “confidence” when dealing with a non-sporting situation.

Consider how easy it may be for a negative impact to arise from a simple conversation, or even the most casual of comments may have on a staff members confidence?

What might the impact be on the IT expert if he hears a comment that a new system is needed, and it is one he has no experience in or knowledge of.

There may be no intention of such a new system and if there is, it will be years in development anyway, but their confidence is rocked regardless.

The Financial Adviser is subjected to ever increasing governance and compliance scrutiny. A throw away line from a colleague suggesting they all need to be very careful to fully explain product technicalities may have resulted in them questioning, and then changing the way they illustrate the benefits of a product or strategy. Their explanations have become highly technical and therefore confusing.

The Adviser will be questioning themselves and changing what doesn’t need to be changed.

The Coach of the elite sportsperson will start by talking about events or occurrences that may be impacted their players thought process and confidence. This is often the starting point to remediate a problem. The result is often to mutually arrive at a physiological, and quick solution to what appears to be a physical problem.

By reinforcing the robustness the sportsperson skills and their ability to execute their skills, they are restoring their confidence. In the elite sporting world, there are few if any matters that are more important to consistent elite performance.

In our workplace coaching, we should also consider commencing a Coaching process with a discussion aimed at confirming the person’s ability and track record and discovering what has changed.

Our elite staff members have similar needs to elite sportspeople.

In business it is rare that we consciously address matters of confidence. Whether it is sport or business, confidence is king.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Project 100

Back on 17 April 2017, I issued myself the challenge of writing a Blog Post each day for 30 consecutive days.

This morphed in to a Post per day for 140 days and subsequently, I have published an article on all but about 10 days since.

Last week, I issued myself another challenge. My new project is to take at least 100 photos with my camera (not phone) per week for 6 weeks.

My objective is to better understand my camera, its features and what it will allow me to do. I also need to improve my editing and my ability to asses a photo. Finally, I want to improve my skills at deciding on the topic to write about and then set out to take a photo or photos to compliment it.

With all that in mind, refreshed with details about ISO, Aperture, Camera functions and lens options, this week I set off on several photography excursions.

And of the 135 photos, this is my favourite.


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Basketball, Meat Pies, Politics and Citizenship Woes.

Ben Simmons Pie Controversy.

So, an American Sports presenter has consumed a Four N Twenty pie using a knife and fork and Australian Twitter users have gone berserk.

Four N Twenty have signed a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers to sell pies at Philly home games. The 76ers are the team of Australian Basketball sensation Ben Simmons,

A Fox Sports presenter decided to review the product and committed the sin of eating it with knife and fork.

Fortunately, we in Australia always honour international food by always eating it in the means of the country of origin. Put the forks away everyone and get out the chopsticks when next you serve a rice dish.

Citizenship

I have to wonder at the intelligence of our Federal Politicians. It seems that only our Federal lawmakers have so little knowledge of their family history that they do not know where their parents were born.

How can John Alexander take so long to discover his Father was born in Scotland and now Skye Kakoschke-Moore has made the discovery her Mother was born in Singapore.

Lets get this sorted before we have zero international credibility left.

Politics in the USA

Roy Moore is a Senate candidate for Alabama on behalf of the Republican Party, the same Party of President Trump.

Roy Moore is vehemently denying accusations levelled against him of inappropriate behaviour towards girls.

The Republican Party Leadership have distanced themselves from Moore, in some cases advocating a vote for the Democrats candidate.

However, the President continues to support Roy Moore.

The disunity within the Republican Party is unheard of, that is unless you listen to the carrying on of our own Federal Government.

In the meantime, in Australia, the Government are so concerned about having a tough time in parliament, they have moved the sitting days back a week. It is not unheard of for the parliamentary sitting days to be re-scheduled, however this has always been done in consultation between the Government and other Parties and independents. Seems a little Trump like?

This will end badly, for Trump and Turnbull.

And in other news, there is the story of the overweight Kookaburra.

We really have our priorities right.

Happy hump day