Archive for the ‘Influencing’ Category
Like countless others in the UK and elsewhere, I have been following reports of the closure of News of the World, the allegations of phone hacking and the apparent corporate cover-up of News International. I am genuinely shocked by the tactics of intimidation, the extent of collusion between politicians and media and the perceived inability or lack of will of anyone in power to change the status quo. I have clearly been highly naive about how things truly operate..
This type of topic is way out of my blogging comfort zone and others are far more qualified, knowledgeable and insightful than me on it (check out Flip Chart Fairy Tales and the Pub Philosopher to name a few). But there are many aspects of the events which make me truly angry: not least the fact that the Editor at the time of some of the worst alleged hacking incidents, remains in her very senior post within News International (at the time of writing!) whilst 200 current staff are losing their jobs.
This afternoon I heard David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ on the radio and it really struck a chord with me about the power and courage of ordinary individuals to make a stand. The News International saga has a few of these, without whom the full extent of what has been going on would never have been widely publicised: Tom Watson and Chris Bryant both Labour MPs and Nick Davies, a reporter for the Guardian newspaper in particular.
The song inspires me to think about how we as people, as business leaders and as HR professionals can make a difference, to challenge the status quo, to make sure we bring our values to work. To ensure that we prevent anything like this happening in our organisations and on our watch.
I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will
Drive them away
We can beat them
Just for one day
We can be Heroes
Just for one day
My children are coming to the end of their first year in Reception and have learnt a huge amount since they started school…their reading, writing and general knowledge have come on in leaps and bounds. More than anything though, I see them starting to manage relationships with other children, learning how to navigate friendships, deal with conflict and resolve disagreements.
One of my daughters has been periodically troubled with the relationship with her “best friend” and things came to a bit of a head last week, when the friend would not let her play all day. Not unusual at this age (particularly with girls!) all fixable and resolvable. But after talking it through with my 5-year-old, I was struck that many of these skills she is learning now, are precisely the ones that adults also need in the workplace, or any other environment where you can’t always choose who shares your space.
Here’s what we covered…with some of my follow-up thoughts
- Actions speak louder than words
Listen to people’s actions as well as their words: if someone says they are your best friend, expect them to behave like it. As an adult, if someone’s behaviour doesn’t correlate to their espoused values then there is a trust issue and you will inevitably question their authenticity. Remember the flip-side too that others will judge you in the same way and always be consistent and deliver on what you say
- Sometimes people don’t change
Sometimes we can change our behaviour; at other times it is so ingrained that we can’t. Change has to come from the individual and unless they want to change and are committed to doing so, things will stay the same. Find a way to get on with each-other and have a reasonable working relationship, but assume that they won’t change the things that annoy you. It’s not your job to make them change
- Have lots of friends, not just one
Placing all of your eggs in one basket is never a good idea, either as a 5-year-old in the playground or as an adult who has a close working relationship with only one colleague. Try and branch out, ‘play’ with other people and be open to ideas, opportunities and challenges from all sorts of different people. Be inclusive of all friends or colleagues, so that you can share the learning and develop further
- Remember what you have control over
Other people can only influence you as much as you let them. Don’t ever do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or that you know you shouldn’t. If you don’t want to do it, say no, explain why and if they still insist then walk away and find someone else to play with
- Resolve your differences
Agree to disagree, find a way to rub along together and still be friends even if it’s no longer “best friends’. 7 years is a long time to be in a class with someone with whom you have irrevocably fallen out…people can remain colleagues for even longer! Much as I wanted to step in and ‘protect’ my daughter, I also realised that she had to deal with her friend herself and that they, between them, had to find a way to resolve the situation. Whilst mediation can help some workplace disputes, the individuals still need to be wiling to sit down and engage with each other and find a way to continue working together…better to learn these skills early
- The ripple effect
A relationship turned sour never only affects the two people involved…there is always a ripple effect out to other friends, colleagues, families… The Mum of said friend is equally keen to make sure our daughters play nicely and we have had a couple of fairly lengthy chats with each other, trying to do all we can to ensure that they are both happy and contented. It’s hard work! But undoubtedly more simple in this situation than colleagues who refuse to work together and have a negative effect on those around them who stubbornly refuse to accept that their behaviour has a wider sphere of influence.
In my daughter’s case, peace has been restored…for now at least ;). For me, I’m going to be thinking about the relationships I have at work and elsewhere and making sure I practice what I preach!
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
This week I was present during a tough conversation with an internationally remote team of three people, in which the UK manager told them their roles would be made redundant. For a number of reasons, everything that could have gone wrong in the lead-up to this conversation did: a local Finance colleague took it upon himself to email the most senior person affected to say he was sorry she was leaving (she didn’t herself know at this point….!), the local HR person got held up and was late for the meeting, which meant we had to go ahead and explain the situation without her. And the process felt brutal delivered over the phone, with the members of staff having to leave immediately, hand over all their work assets and be gone out of the building with immediate effect. All in all it was shabby and both the manager and I knew it. That the individuals concerned accepted the news and did not berate us, was a credit to their professionalism and conduct. The values we tried to bring felt shallow, inadequate and insincere in this context.
So, what to learn from this? People are people and should be treated consistently and humanely, regardless of where their office is based and how many of them there are there. Sure, we have to adhere to local employment law, but if we as HR can’t find a way to influence the process so that it is done compassionately and appropriately, then shame on us. More homework should have been done, more consideration given to how the news would be delivered and what the follow-up would be and whether there was room for negotiation in influencing the local HR team’s guidelines to bring them more in line with our own.
Influencing remote HR teams is one of the hardest part of my role, as I have no direct management control over them and they often sit in entirely different divisions. The basics such as payroll and benefits happen smoothly and well, but there is so much room for improvement in sharing best practice and building closer relationships to truly understand how each other work. The simple truth of this is that you don’t know what you don’t know…until you put it to the test and find out the hard way, as I did yesterday.