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Talent Dynamics RSS Feed Blog Archive: July 2012

Jans Corner: Steven R Covey and individuals who make a difference

In many organisations an individual can be viewed as a little easily replaceable cog in a large machine. He or she can apparently hardly make any difference and that’s how many employees relate to their jobs.

I often see enthusiastic people who have great ideas, see great possibilities, and are eager to share their insights with other in their team or organisation. Yet they get stopped by the questions that might go something like this: “Who am I to think I change anything? Can I have any significant and lasting impact? I’m just an employee or a manager, I’m not a major decision maker. I am just a name in the box on the third, fifth, n-th level of the organisational chart. Who would even listen to me?”

Indeed, the power of the individual in companies – large or small – is greatly underestimated and underutilised. Mostly by the individuals themselves. They frequently look more at what they view they cannot change by their decisions and actions rather than what they can already influence now, however small it may seem.

18 years ago, there was one person who inspired me to think differently. It was Steven R. Covey through his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Instead of thinking I can’t make a difference, I realised that I cannot not make a difference – if I focus on the right people and actions, and if I take the initiative. Ever since, I have studied and applied Dr. Covey’s thinking and principles and have been amazed by the impact of proactive empowered individuals in the interconnected world of business.

A regular employee will not be able to change the organisational strategy or culture but can greatly change his or her effectiveness and the contribution he has to others around him. By understanding them and their pressures and aspirations, by knowing oneself and learning to add value to others where it counts and where it makes a difference to their effectiveness, success and experience. The difference of us stepping up and taking on this personal leadership, however small our circle of influence might be gradually yet palpably leaves a mark around us. It engages our own vision and talent in service to others and only requires the willingness to start wherever one is and a little patience along the way.

A team or department managers can step up in a similar fashion. Slowly, proactively focus on adding more or better value to other departments and making them more effective and successful. The same spirit of service and empowerment applies. It doesn’t require others to change. It only demands the willingness to adjust to contribute better and more. One can start with question like:

:: What is our value to the other departments and how can we increase it or provide it better or more effectively?

:: How can we best leverage what the others bring to the table in our work so that we are all more successful as an organisation?

Often, small things make the biggest difference.

Ultimately, organisations are a lot less like machines with moving parts and more like organisms consisting of highly interdependent living organs and cells where each one has a great responsibility to and impact on the whole.

Rather then doubting our ability to make a difference, I invite you to consider the impact you are already making and proactively, intentionally and gradually grow it. Remember, you cannot not make a difference.

Steven R. Covey passed away recently but his legacy lives and so it his inspiring message for the workplace and life. So live, love, learn and leave a legacy – and watch the difference you make in the relationships and results… at home and, yes, at work, too.

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Unas Spotlight: Telling lies and Barclays…

Never mind Barclays, lies could be costing your organisation money too

In case you haven’t heard Barclays Bank is accused of fixing rates and BBC News Business Editor Robert Preston asks if it’s ever acceptable to lie? (

You may think so if asked by a loved one, “Does my bum look big in this?” but what about in business? Lies have a tendency of snowballing if not nipped in the bud, you need only watch pretty much any soap or drama on TV to see that!

Some time ago I worked with a client who had a major major issue with a project that was I believe completely avoidable. This mess threatened his career and was costing the organisation lots of time and money.

It began with one person who was not performing to standard, who interacted with everybody else on the team, let’s call her Jane for sake of anonymity. Jane didn’t provide information on time, didn’t complete tasks on time, and and when my client was brought in to get the project back on track, Jane started playing political games to make them look bad. Jane was adding no value and because of her interaction with everybody else was actually negatively leveraging!

Team members began to realise what was actually happening, Jane started to do everything she could to make others look bad, even lying and giving others false information – no doubt in an attempt to take the focus off herself.

Let’s look at the impact of Jane’s behaviour:

  • The project was behind schedule
  • There was little trust in the team
  • Team members had clocked up hours, days, possibly even weeks talking about the situation and complaining to each other
  • Actions to mitigate the situation (such as emailing to ensure everything in writing to cover their backs) took extra time and therefore reduced productivity

Clearly this organisation did not at the time have a culture of effective performance management in place or this situation could have been picked up as part of it.

How much of what Jane did was conscious or unconscious I’ll never know, however the impact on others and the organisation was just the same.

Often when people’s key accountabilities take them out of flow, it causes them to feel insecure because they find it really hard to achieve what they are meant to. Even if they performed well in the past they can loose faith in their abilities.

Add into the mix an environment of restructuring and redundancy and many will find it hard to speak up and say “I’m no good at XYZ” because they are concerned with losing their job.

Can you see the potential negative impact of not having a team in flow? There are situations like the one I described above going on all around the world, in all kinds of organisations. The cost must amounts to millions, let alone the hours of misery endured by people out of flow and those around them…

The three key mistakes made in this situation were:

  • The project team was not selected for flow in the first place
  • No teambuilding work took place to help the project team build trust and work together instead of against each other
  • The issue of non-performance was not addressed with people skirting around the issue when attempting to recitify the situation. This is likely to lead to similar issues happening again

You see what is really required in a situation like this one is honesty. Honestly addressing the issues at hand, ideally in a way that takes the personal sting out of underperformance. It’s amazing how when somebody comes face-to-face with their strengths and weaknesses in a supportive environment how nine times out of ten they really want to address things and fast!

For instance those with Creator profiles who suddenly understand the impact of their lack of delegation and communication on the team. Or those Lord profiles who realise how micromanaging has driven away perfectly good employees in the past. Or the Trader manager who discovered they were buried in the detail and dragging their team down with them.

Leaders knowing what activities and roles build – or destroy – trust and flow for the different profiles, allows them to structure teams and accountabilities accordingly so that everybody has the chance of great performance.

Perhaps if Barclays had done this too, building trust and flow from individual, team, to division, enterprise and stakeholder levels, it would have been a very different story!

* Flow: Put simply is the path of least resistance. In Talent Dynamics terms a team is in flow when you have the right people doing what they are naturally talented at and love to do. Team members working to their strengths to add value in a way that can be effectively leveraged by the team and organisation.

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Inspiring the Future

Have you seen the film, pay it forward? Here at TDHQ we love to use our resources to do things that make a real difference for the future generations. That’s why we joined B1G1. We particularly like to invest in helping young people to experience Flow and we do a lot of work with schools and colleges.

June was a great month for celebrating with some of the organisations we have been helping.

I was really excited to be invited by the Prime Minister to a reception at 1o Downing Street, that he was hosting for one of our clients New Entrepreneurs Foundation 

NEF was established last year, to develop a new generation of Entrepreneurs who are going to be playing a large role in the growth and prosperity of the British economy. The reception was to celebrate the successful graduation of the first 40 Entrepreneurs who have completed a super cool year long programme (including Talent Dynamics) with some really awesome host companies.

We were delighted to have provided scholarship places for a half day session for all of the Young Entrepreneurs, including TD profiles along with a full day strategic team day for the Leadership Team.

All of the sponsors, volunteers, young people and host companies were invited to the reception and I was lucky enough to get a few minutes explaining to David Cameron about our commitment to working with young people through Talent Dynamics for Schools and other initiatives.

He shared with all of us about the importance of business leaders and entrepreneurs dedicating even just a small amount of their time to helping out young people. Wether that be in the form of a talk at a school, some mentoring, coaching or other intervention that can inspire young people to Enterprise. He also said that the government had launched a new initative called Inspiring the Future to do just that.

HERO Awards

Another great event was the HERO awards for young people in Blackpool held in June. We have been long term friends and partners with HERO. Alison Sadler from HERO who organised the awards is one of the only people currently accredited to deliver Talent Dynamics for Schools. These awards are to celebrate the Entrepreneurial capabilities of young people in and around Blackpool and are incredibly inspiring!

Again this year we sponsored the Most Enterprising Team category The winning team ‘Unity Enterprise Team’ qualify for a TD Step One programme that will really help them with their enterprising project even further!

“Unity Enterprise Team, consisting of six Year 9 students and two girls from Year 11, has been on a real journey this year, going from the despair of losing the Blackpool FC enterprise competition at the final hurdle to eventually being crowned the Gazette’s ‘Young Entrepreneurs of the Year 2011’ and winning £5000 for their school.  The team, who have technology at the forefront of many of their business ideas, have gelled massively in the short space of time they have worked together, something which is refreshing to see given the difference in genders and year groups.   They have proven their growing knowledge and understanding of business when representing Blackpool FC at a recent enterprise event at Newcastle United, managing to be only one of 5 out of 24 teams who proved they could stick to a budget.  We have watched them grow as a team, and as individuals and they embody the real essence of an enterprising team.

 Paying it forward this month…

By the way – You don’t have to run a Talent Dynamics training programme with a group of 40 young people to make a difference…

Why not spend 30 minutes of your time this month helping out at your old school.

Here are some ways you could really make a difference… 

Share with the students why you do what you do and how you got into it

Mentor a student that needs extra tuition

Provide an opportunity for the local students to visit your premises

Explain about your product or service and how it helps the community you trade in

Advise a group of enterprising students on their current strategy and plan

Share your area of expertise in a master class

If you are still not sure how to be of best use, I’m sure your local school will have lots of ideas as to how they can best use your Talents… Or call Alison!! 

If you want to profile a young person (9-16 years old) to help them understand their Path of Least Resistance, you can take the Talent Dynamics for Schools profile test here


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