Gimme Some Respect

It’s a word we have been hearing a lot about lately but is it in short supply?. CNN journalist Jim Acosta was accused of disrespecting the office of the president at president elect Donald Trump’s first press conference after winning the election race.

Although at same press conference many commentators said Trump had brought the office of president into disrepute because of his barracking style. Trump supporters and detractors, Brexit leavers and remainders, student unions and MP’s to name a few have all been accused of being disrespectful.

Lets examine what the dictionary meaning of the word respect is it’s :

“An admiration felt or shown for someone or something that you believe has good ideas or qualities”. Also:

“I have respect for his ideas, although I do not agree with them although many others do”.

There’s not much respect going on on either side of the debate in my previous examples

Many who accuse others of disrespect are being disrespectful themselves but refuse to accept this fact. It’s a mad world but of course it always has been and their will always be those who think that their opinion is right and everyone else is wrong. So it’s OK for them to be disrespectful in their minds.

In business relationships we need people to be respectful but questioning and on occasion challenging both are very important life skills. If we can’t debate and sometimes agree to disagree but still work together on other projects and issues then we will fail to learn and grow.

What has dismayed me over the past year is that people on either side of many debates I thought were level headed, reflective thinkers who used reason, logic and debate. Have shown a side of themselves I have never seen and its not a nice side. They have become argumentative, sulky, bullying, disrespectful and worse. Maybe it’s time we all looked in the mirror and found our self respect and respect for others. Hopefully then we can have useful discussion and argument that engages and is productive.

I do hope that 2017 ends up creative, energetic and productive and not more divisive and disrespectful. I live in hope. Well that’s a rap and I’ll leave it to the kids to teach the adults.

The Respect Rap

Trump Berates CNN Reporter

Meaning of the word respect

Business Rocks Update Jan 2017

 

BR 2016 achieved its objectives The event trended 2nd on twitter all around the world for a couple of weeks only the Queens birthday and Prince’s death kept it from the top slot. Saying there was no marketing budget that was pretty remarkable. It also shows the passion people had for the event.

 

For BR 2017 which takes place on May 3 & 4th at Manchester Central SKY Swipe will be covering the event, the start-up pitch battle cash has increased to £100,000. The number of stages increases from 5 to 8 with a dedicated music stage, Also a virtual reality and thought leadership stage. The event will hold 5000 delegates compared to last years 2000.

 

The top Virtual Reality developers and those who design Batman comics are flying in. On the thought leadership stage junior developers can rub shoulders with and run ideas by CEO’s and government strategy tech advisor’s

 

Last year as a new and untested start-up BR founder Jonny Cadden said we were unbackable from a city perspective. After a successful event we now are and we are getting more regional backing and support from the council. The head of innovation for one of the major banks had said he didn’t understand the music piece in BR. But he attended SLUSH in Belgium which is their biggest tech festival with 16000 delegates attending, and when it starts it’s like a rave. He came back and said I now get it and it works.

 

We are trying to get creativity and entrepreneurship and get those at the top to inspire those further down and the next generation of tech innovators. In addition 500 Generation Z kids from 8 -19 old years from across the UK will be here designing apps, being inspired and learning what diverse careers are open to them in the Tech sector. It’s a cool world working in the tech space and especially in Manchester as we do things differently here.

We concluded the January update with a truly inspiring and uplifting song from Mica Paris which sums up the ethos of Business Rocks.

Mica Paris – Contribution

One world united all shades invited, we all have a contribution to a tech revolution.

 

What can business learn from the Rugby World Cup?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few weeks you’ll know that England is hosting the Rugby World Cup. Maybe your not at all interested and indeed I posed the question “ The Rugby World Cup. Does it matter?” on Salford City Radio’s Sportszone programme recently. We’ll come back to that a little later.

Even if your not into Rugby Union here are some statistics from the 2015 Rugby World Cup that should interest anyone in business. These are from the IRB report from Ernst & Young. The Economic impact of the Rugby World Cup 2015. Plus my own research.

  • The RWC is the 3rd biggest global sporting event after the Olympics and Football World Cup
  • In Single sport events only the football world cup has a bigger paying number attending
  • 95 Countries have been involved in 2015 RWC. Rugby is now played in 119 countries, supporting an estimated 6.6m players worldwide
  • The sport is the national game for many of these countries, Fiji, Samoa etc in context Samoa – Population 190,372 (Salford 218, 000) Fiji – Population 881,065 (Manchester 2.6M) – New Zealand 4.5M (North West England 7M)
  • Rugby World Cup 2015 is expected to attract around 466,000 foreign visitors to Britain
  • Visitor spend on matches and visiting tourist attractions of approx £869M
  • Investment in infrastructure for the Tournament is around £85 million, bringing lasting benefits to the Host Cities
  • In total, Rugby World Cup 2015 is expected to deliver £2.2 billion in output to the economy, translating into an additional £982 million of value added to Britain’s GDP
  • The number of jobs created approx 41,000
  • Global TV audience is estimated to be 800Million – 1.2 Billion
  • In the first two weeks of the tournament almost a million people attended matches

If your business is in one of the host cities for the RWC has it benefited? If not maybe you should be asking why and look at your marketing plan as there are some pretty impressive statistics in that list.

Regardless of England being the first host nation who have failed to get out of the group stages the International Rugby Board (IRB) can claim with confidence that the RWC has lived up to expectations both on and off the pitch.

The marketing has been superb and creative. The use of worldwide local rugby clubs and celebrities from different industries to tell stories to enhance the experience before matches has been masterful. As has taking the sport from it’s traditional southern heartland and bringing it north. Also the connections with local communities to engage them in health initiatives and the support for local businesses looks like it will bring lasting rewards.

It’s also helped that their has been some fantastic moments on the pitch. Are their negatives of course their are. Here are a few.

  • Tickets are extremely expensive and freeze out those on lower incomes
  • Not enough matches have been played north of the M25
  • Many foreigners have been dismayed by the lack of public transport co-ordination – although it did get
  • Some games should have been played at larger stadiums
  • Did the head coach pick the right team – that one will run and run

The IRB has been working on those and other issues as the tournament has progressed and managed to resolve some of them. Others will be worked on post world cup and it will remain to be seen if the team make an impact in the next 6 nations competition.

So what can business learn from this if anything?

First that planning is everything and even then things won’t go to plan and you have to be flexible and fast enough to implement fixes on the fly. Even if they are temporary and held together with sticking plaster.

Second your marketing and communication has to create a buzz around the event. So that even those who don’t necessarily want to partake at least take notice and remember your product/service/name.

Third create a spectacle for your product/service/event. Make it memorable. Enlist local celebrates to endorse you.

Finally when the event is over whether it was successful or not go through the steps and see what worked and what didn’t and why. This will give you great base information to use for future events.

So what was the result of the Sportszone question “ The Rugby World Cup. Does it matter?” arguing the yes case were rugby union supporters Lewis Hughes and I. In the no corner were football supporter Colin James and Rugby League supporter Rob Parkinson.

We had a lively and interesting debate but didn’t persuade Colin and Rob to become RU supporters. But they agreed it was a spectacle and that it has so far been a success and Colin even went to a game. So you can persuade people to become customers if only for a specific event or promotion.

If that’s left you feeling nostalgic here’s a couple of videos from the world cup to sing your heart out too.

Ella Eyre–Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Paloma Faith – The World in Union

Sportszone – Discussion “ The Rugby World Cup. Does it matter?”

Free Presentation Webinar 22 April 2013 – 1.00 – 2.00 PM

 

Join this FREE lunchtime webinar with Caroline Hopkins ‘How To Make Your Business Presentations Rock!’  1.00 –  2.00 pm today Monday 22nd April. You can join at http://www.lovepresenting.com/

Caroline is a master at presentations and has many years’ experience helping people to present with confidence and engage their audience and gain the results you want.

Also check out her E-Book “Help I’ve Got A Presentation Coming Up” which is a great resource for anyone who has to give presentations.

I also have an interview with Caroline for Everybody’s Business on Salford City Radio this Friday 26th April 12 noon to 1.00 pm UK time. Caroline will be taking us through her journey and giving us some tips to help create a memorable presentation.

 

 

Real Performance Management how do you perform?

In a recent interview with Personnel Today the Pensions Minister Steve Webb told employers that Age should not be an excuse for “inevitable or excusable” under performance.

You can read the full interview and make your own mind up on this issue.  I am more interested in performance by all which means able bodied, disabled and everyone else in the workforce. More specifically how that performance is managed and how those “hard” conversations are approached and carried out by managers.

It seems that no matter how much training is given a significant majority of managers do not like having those “hard” conversations.  This is bourne out by many studies and reports from the Chartered Management Institute the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the Institute of Leadership and Management.

Instinctively many people do not like conflict and will avoid it like the plague and this includes managers. Many other issues also come into play here including lack of knowledge or skill, fear of getting it wrong, familiarity and favoritism to name a few.

Is it the fault of HR or the learning and development section in an organisation; was the wrong training procured or the delivery poor? In most cases it was the right training delivered well but here’s the rub. It’s OK going through role play based scenarios in a training room but it is totally different carrying out a performance review in practice. Especially if that review has lots of negatives in it.

The first question is why are there so many negatives if performance is supposedly managed well and regular 1-2-1’s are carried out along with timely return to work interviews? Surely everything’s been discussed along the way and relevant training and development opportunities put into place or help and support?

There are more management books on the subject than ever and an expanding number of management training organisations. Yet survey after survey shows a lack of confidence by employees in managers. Part of a manager’s job is to have “hard” conversations but many struggle with them for various reasons. Some reasons I have mentioned previously but the real skills needed to carry out those conversations need spelling out. They are listening and hearing what the person is telling you, empathizing and understanding their situation and supporting them in whatever way you can.  This shows you care about them as a person and not just as someone you have to move through the corporate process.

Of course at some point that “hard” conversation may mean you have exhausted every option and the options that remain may mean a reduction in salary as the person needs to reduce their hours it may mean termination of their employment because even with extensive training and support they cannot perform to the required level.  It is at this point that guilt kicks in for managers and indeed some employees will blame you personally.  Because they are now going to lose their house or cannot pay for a child’s wedding or support them though university.

Those circumstances are tragic and if you fail to be moved by them then in my personal opinion you should not be managing people. But you have a responsibility to the rest of the team, the organization, customers and shareholders in the private sector or taxpayers in the public sector. Performance management needs to be effective no matter what the person’s physical or mental ability or their age.  It should be relevant and individualistic to them.

So what do you do?

Can Government learn anything from Branson’s Employer Brand?

In the recent article “Branson’s employer brand Jessica Collingwood

Group People Director at Virgin explained why the organisation was an employer of choice. It’s down to the company ethos which is take care of your staff and they will take care of your customers this is embedded in the company culture. It delivers profits and higher shareholder value and everyone is relevantly happy company is described as a “funky” and “young” place to work.

Along with this effective ethos being human when dealing with staff, stakeholders, suppliers and customers is key.  As is allowing staff some flexibility and independence to work outside the script and understanding that one size does not fit all.  Whether that’s with staff or customer groups another factor is a relatively stable management team over a long period. Virgin does have problems like any other company and the average age of it’s workforce is higher than the funky young label might make you believe.  Collingwood describes it as a young at heart company.

So how does this relate to branding and employee engagement in local government? Many surveys from government and professional bodies have highlighted that very few councils are good at getting across the benefits of working for them.  It’s not rocket science so why is it so? First most HR&OD departments have been dealing with legislative implementations, various reviews leading to higher numbers of appeals and grievances.  This at a time when the workload is increasing and the staffing and budgets decreasing. In short they are wanting to get around to it, understand its importance to the business but there is just to much other really really important stuff to do.

Second and more importantly the minute you start to talk about the benefits of working for local government the unions and some disgruntled staff will immediately point out what has and is going to be taken off them. Which is a disincentive that does need addressing so let’s do that now.

In the last three years large numbers of local government staff have seen the following:

Reductions in pay due to restructures or job evaluation

No pay rise for a third year running

Increases in pension contributions, and having to work longer before getting a lot less than they thought they would on retirement

Loss of holiday entitlement  – up to 5 days by 2014

Loss of other benefits such as free parking

Reduction in training and development

No clear career path or promotional prospects

What is going to happen in the future?

The chancellor has signalled 1% max pay rises in the next two years

Significant budget reductions after 2015 meaning further job losses, pay cuts and loss of more benefits

Local pay which many believe is a means of reducing pay further

One other thing I must mention as I am sure someone else will if I don’t is that redundancy pay is not usually as generous in local government as it is in the private sector.

So why would anyone want to work for local government?

 

The pay is comparable or above local rates for some types of work

The pension although being reduced is still better than many private companies offer

Even though holiday entitlement is being reduced it is still better than many private sector companies

There are some good jobs and great careers in local government

The work life balance and flexibility is generally better than the private sector

There is a sense of doing something that matters for society and the community

There is often a good team spirit

Some of the problems local government face are similar to the private sector but others mean that it is not possible to stay as stable for such a long period like Virgin.

Private companies generally have a number of products they sell and a board responsible for funding strategy and direction.  Local government has a plethora of funding streams which are often conditional, the number of products and services they are responsible for is also wider than those of private companies. There are also many more political considerations and obstacles for local government Chief executives and their management teams.

These things do make it a challenging and often frustrating environment to work in.  Lack of funding means creative and innovate methods have to be found to deliver services.  It would be helpful to local and central government employees if our political masters would refrain from making it sound as though all the country’s ill’s are public servants fault. Like most other working people local government employees are trying to cope with the recession the best they can.  When was the last time you heard Richard Branson or Bill Gates denigrate their employees?

We keep hearing of a crisis of leadership and that management in this country is failing. Maybe it’s time our political classes learned how to motivate and enthuse instead of playing the blame game. Positive dialogue will increase the brand image of local government  and make it an employer of choice.

Statistics are they useful, meaningless or are they there to be manipulated for your own ends?

Not a week goes by without another government department , union, institute or consultancy releasing a plethora of statistics about almost anything you care to think about.  The economy, manufacturing, the service sector and employment; the number of jobless is one area where a government minister will tell us it’s great news the total number of jobless has fallen.  Sounds great doesn’t it we can all take a sigh of relief can’t we?

On the surface that is fantastic but then we get the statistics from the Office for National Statistics which confirms what the minister said. You are dumbstruck at this point aren’t you a government minister actually told us the truth. Yes he did but a version of the truth that suited at the time for that televised soundbite. The real truth is a mixed bag that paints a slightly different picture.  Let’s look at the figures in more detail;

On the Plus side

  • The number of jobseekers dropped by 13,700 to 1.59 m in April
  • The number of people with jobs rose by 105,000 to 29.23m
  • The number of self employed rose by 89,000 to 4.1m
  • Exports rose to a 36 year high

The Government is also putting incentives forward for firms to take on apprentices and the long term unemployed.

On the minus side

  • The number in part time jobs who want a full time job rose by 73,000 to 1.4m.  The highest total since records began in 1992
  • The number unemployed for more than a year rose by 27,000 to 887,000
  • Youth unemployment is very high and a concern
  • The number of self employed rose by 89,000 to 4.1m

 The IMF is telling the chancellor that Britain is not out of the woods and interest rates need to be cut along with the severity of austerity measures There are still significant job cuts to come in 2102/13 in the public sector Another cohort of School, College and University graduates will join the job market in July. The Euro zone crisis will more than likely have a further negative impact on Britain

The picture doesn’t look quite as rosy after reading those statistics as the initial soundbite would make you believe. The figures for the next quarter should prove to be interesting and I wonder what they will show if the above exercise is repeated?  We have all ignored statistics that don’t fit our view so how do you use statistics?