Archive: Oct 2013

  1. How NOT to Manage a Meeting

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    For many of us, meetings are a drag: an unfortunate necessity of the working day.

    It doesn’t have to be like this.

    Meetings are about making decisions. This should happen quickly, cost effectively and with full involvement.

    Unfortunately, most organisations get meetings completely wrong. A badly executed business meeting is not only a waste of time and money, it’s also bad for morale and detrimental to team involvement.


    A Bad Meeting


    We’ve all been in meetings that have no agenda, no clear objectives and regularly drift off topic. Do you remember that 4-hour meeting on “efficiency?”

    In a poorly managed meeting people eat loudly, play on their mobile phones, text or take phone calls. Others constantly think out loud or distract and divert from the point of the meeting. Most simply pretend to listen.

    A meeting like this is a serious threat to productivity.

    It’s partly the fault of established business convention. Meetings around a conference table are an unnecessary and unproductive structure built to solve what could often be achieved in a quick chat.

    It is irrelevant and out-of-date. It just doesn’t make sense in businesses today. When it is so easy to share information quickly and efficiently, meetings should only be scheduled when there is something worthwhile that needs to be discussed ‘in person’.


    What NOT to Do


    Never use a meeting to share information. With all the avenues at our disposal in this digital age, there is no excuse for it. Use the meeting for decision-making. Make sure everyone has the information they need before the meeting.

    Avoid long, sterile, regimented business meetings around a conference table. As much – if not more – can be achieved in a 10-minute standing meeting on the company floor.

    There is no need to schedule a half hour meeting for what could be achieved in ten minutes. If you have that amount of time, you will fill it, but what you fill it with won’t necessarily be of any use at all. Establish a time frame based solely on how long you will need for the topic that needs to be addressed. Take that meeting somewhere interesting, inspiring and engaging.


    How to Get Them Right


    The best way to know if you are getting your meetings completely wrong is to know how to get them completely right.


    Make sure everyone arrives on time and end the meeting at the time scheduled.

    Avoid derailing the meeting with tangents and off-topic discussions.

    If you identify a problem in the meeting, you are also there to come up with a solution.


    Most importantly;


    Find the best way to include the whole team in the meeting, and eliminate anything that might distract or take away from its objective. Mobile phones in the box please!


    Establish clearly the objective of the meeting and stick to it. Discuss it, solve it, and end it.

    Want to find out more about improving the productivity of your meetings across your organisation? Why not give us a call?

  2. Pride, Optimism And Employee Engagement

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    I’m proud to work here” B&Q Employee


    Would your team say the same if you asked them?

    With a little trust, autonomy and entrepreneurial spirit, you can create employees that are excited about their job and the company. Employees that – as our Managing Director Jeremy Starling puts it

    “Create and contribute to the purpose of the company.”

    A team member like this, who’s fully engaged and gives 100%, contributes directly to the success of the company and its bottom line. Experts predict that if the UK were to improve employee engagement levels to match countries like the Netherlands, our GDP would soar by a massive £25.8 billion!


    Who Will Engage Them?


    Like Jeremy says:

    “It’s the leader’s job to sell the why and what, but then ask your people how?”

    Entrusted with such responsibility, your team will usually come up trumps. By asking them and then acting on whatever ideas they come up with, you immediately give them a stake in the idea, and some ownership of it.

    Pride, energy and optimism in the company and its future – these are the rewards that truly drive employee engagement.

    Engagement, put simply, is measured by whether the goals of your employees are in line with those of the company. That is the true metric, anyway.

    The question is, are your employees engaged to keep their jobs, or are they truly emotionally invested in the success of the company?

    To make sure it is the latter, delegate the job of preaching the company purpose down the ranks by building passionate champions who can bring the company vision to life, face to face and through mediums like webcasting.


    But What Will They Engage With?


    The answer to that question is simple: a single, clearly defined, common goal. When B&Q asked us to help them with employee engagement, we built our event around the single, customer-focused goal of “helpfulness.” A common pride in the experience of the customer clearly translated into pride in their jobs.

    Hiring the right people, with the right attitude, and doing the right things to empower and inspire them to excel is the true recipe for success in today’s business world. According to Jeremy, the impact of giving your team freedom and support in their work, and showing them that you value their contribution to the common goal, “resonates across the whole organization.”


    Want to know more about how we can help you build a fully involved workforce? Why not give us a call?

  3. Award Winners!

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    We tend to reserve this space for some good, wholesome thought leadership, however we also reserve the right to indulge ourselves from time to time in the odd bit of back slapping and fist bumping…!

    As the photo suggests, we were one of the winners at Melcrum’s Annual SCM Awards last week, picking up the gong for Business Impact, specifically for the on-going Values Activation work that we have been doing with Ladbrokes.

    The judges commented on its transformational impact and measurable results, but in particular they really “loved” the rap video!

    Here’s what the judges said.

  4. The Manager’s Role

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    We are often asked ‘who is responsible for creating an involved workforce?’

    Though there is no simple answer, you certainly can’t leave all the responsibility with your team. As a manager, you need to play a crucial role if you are going to get your team truly involved.

    Joan Magretta defines the role of the manager as:

    a way of achieving goals that add the most value.’ ‘What Management Is’, 2003

    At its most basic level, this might simply be the exchange of knowledge between two employees. A manager might bring Steve into a room with Barry because they have knowledge in different areas that may benefit a particular project.

    In this capacity, the manager’s role is just to facilitate a meeting, and then step back. Here, good management means recognising the core strengths of each individual and channeling them into the right place. Steve and Barry can then take ownership of the project, inspired by the exchange of ideas.


    Delegating Management


    If leadership, then, is about influence, surely any employee can influence their colleagues to change direction?’ Exactly! Just because you don’t have ‘manager’ in your job title doesn’t stop you from managing.

    Martin Luther King influenced people to change without exercising any authority to decide anything for them. He inspired and engaged them so that they wanted to make their own change.

    Encouraging employees to make strategic decisions and organise their work encourages them to own that work, to engage with it and with others. Let them care for it and be proud of it. Ownership is the key to involvement and engagement.

    Rather than telling employees what to do, good managers ask; “what do you think?”

    Do you want to be a manager that inspires, engages and empowers your employees? Invite them to share in the management process, and forget industrial-era notions of leadership. Accept that self-management and nurturing the creativity and drive of your employees is the key to managerial success.

    If you want to know more about how you can take your management up a notch, please give us a call.

  5. 5 Ways to Create a Culture of Involvement

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    So you’ve got your team engaged. They are passively accepting the aims and objectives of the company.

    Unfortunately, this isn’t enough.

    Creating and sustaining a culture of involvement is one of the biggest challenges of leadership. It is the ‘holy grail’ that can change your organisation forever.

    Involvement is something that takes a lot of time, understanding and effort. That said, there are a few key ingredients that will help set you on the right track.


    1.    Use Social Media to Communicate the Vision


    Let’s say a new project has come across the company’s desk. It’s exciting and positive for the company, but it is also big. It requires the complete involvement of your team.

    To pull it off you need to communicate the vision bringing everyone onto the same page. Social media is one of the prime areas in which people are engaged in their daily lives, so why not use it as a means of involvement? Create a page for a project, invite every employee that you want to be involved, and create an open platform where people can share ideas. This would create an immediate buzz and excitement around the future of the project.


    2.    Cultivate Trust


    Equip employees with the skills, tools and resources they need to make good decisions. Informal huddles every day, and more formal gatherings on a weekly or monthly basis, go a long way to building trust and involvement.

    Trust and involvement go hand in hand. By trusting an employee with responsibility and decision-making, he or she feels a sense of ownership. All of this breeds loyalty, productivity and fulfilment – all pleasant and very useful by-products of full involvement.


    3.    Share the Budgeting


    By bringing employees in on the budgeting side of a project, you’ll help them to understand their own financial impact on it. It helps them to put a value on their own contribution. They’ll come to understand that success for you, ultimately means success for them.


    4.    Encourage Feedback


    Listen to opinions and ideas. Organise formal meetings, or even social gatherings down the pub (we’ll leave it up to you to decide which is more appropriate) to air these ideas and opinions. Be sure to invite everyone. Don’t leave anyone behind. It’s important to project the message throughout your organisation that everyone has a voice. Everyone’s say is important.


    5.    Positive Deviance


    There are people in every organisation whose uncommon strategies or behaviours enable them to find better solutions to problems than their peers. These ‘deviant’ behaviours, such as organisational citizenship, social responsibility or creativity, should be utilised. Involve these ‘deviants.’ Don’t marginalise them.


    By using these 5 techniques in your next project you will make your team feel more involved, valued and productive.

    If you want to know more about the involvement tools we offer to help your organisation, then send us an email, or give us a call.


  6. Uncovering Your ‘Purpose’

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    If someone stopped you in the street and asked you what your purpose was for the day, what would you say?

    Can you define your professional purpose? What about the purpose of your company? Can what you do, what you strive for each day, be distilled into a single sentence or phrase?

    If you’re lucky enough to have just a single purpose for the day (whatever it is) it’s likely to have a motivating and focusing influence. It can anchor your whole day and give you a central place to come back to if you get distracted. It’s good for productivity, motivation and performance.

    This rationale extends to all facets of daily life – and is particularly relevant in business. Having a single purpose, a deeper goal that drives and motivates your employees is a business imperative. Michael Jensen of the Harvard Business School even goes as far as to say that having a single company objective is a:


    precursor to purposeful or rational behaviour.’


    What’s Your Purpose?


    If your team members don’t know what their purpose and the purpose of the company is, how can you expect them to project and sell that to your customers?

    However, before you can hope to communicate the wider purpose of your organisation to your team, you need to understand it yourself.


    A clear and compelling purpose is the glue that binds together a group of individuals. It is the foundation on which the collective “we” of a real team is built’ – Harvard Business Review


    On the surface, this ‘compelling purpose’ is your mission statement as a leader within your organisation. It clarifies the intentions of your business, and what customers can expect from your services. It needs to be clear, and effectively blend a delicate mix of idealism and reality that cuts straight to what your company is about.


    Communicating ‘Purpose’ to your Team


    It’s important that company purpose and employee purpose are not to be confused as one and the same. While you might like to think that you and your employees come to work for the same reasons, true success is about tapping into the individual intents of your employees. What are the deeper motivations that push their buttons? If you can harness this, you can help to encourage eagerness and performance.

    Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix here. To communicate and feed your team’s collective purpose, you need to understand the motivations and priorities of each individual team member.

    Only by understanding both the purpose of the organisation as a whole AND the individual purpose and motivations of each of your team members can you determine where the two converge. However, if you can manage it, you will soon find a ‘sweet spot’ for each of your employees.

    Everyone performs better in a role that they deem to be meaningful. Purpose at work can be the source of that ‘meaning’ and ‘significance’ in their lives and what they do. It can be that something larger and more important than ourselves that we all seek. So it’s hard to overestimate how valuable ‘purpose’ can be in creating a team that is motivated and that works together as a team.

    Give them a reason to be there – a reason to engage and be motivated. Make their work necessary in their lives. People engage with what is necessary in their lives.


    Want to find out how we help companies find their purpose? Want to create a ‘culture of involvement’ within your organisation? Why not give us a call?


  7. Conferences Can Work!

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    We have all been to a boring conference. We’ll go with the best intentions, but often come away uninspired and un-enthused.

    We’ve spent years perfecting the art of effective conferencing. We’ve done enough now that we can create conferences that we know will last way beyond the event itself.

    There are some core principles and components that, if correctly implemented, will make any conference a success. We thought we’d share a few of these with you.


    What Makes A Great Conference?


    A good company conference will clearly outline the change people want to see in the organisation. It will maximise group involvement and steer clear of one-way, prescriptive lectures. It will also centre its energy around a single common goal. A great conference will challenge the people it involves as well as pulling them together.


    3 Ingredients for Success


    There are three ways to break down traditional barriers and make your conference more fun and engaging.


    1. Get Visual


    Graphic Facilitation is a fantastic way of capturing the imagination of the audience.

    Why not transform the complex information that you want to get across in the conference into fun and stimulating graphics and images? Graphic facilitation is proven to captivate an audience and help them to process abstract ideas extremely quickly.

    According to Nick Morgan from the Harvard Business Review, ‘Conferences and meetings should tell unique stories.’ What better way to tell a story than by illustrating it in a more compelling but digestible way?

    A graphically-rich, beautifully drawn mural laying out the ideas of the day is great for getting people’s attention. It also provides a visual record of the conference for everyone to refer back to.


    2. Energise!


    Are your participants looking a little bit sleepy after lunch? Do they need a little pick up to get through the rest of the days events?

    Energisers are a fantastic way to get people moving and to re-inject enthusiasm at regular intervals throughout the day. Keep them short and sharp. As soon as everyone has woken up, move on to the next planned activity with a renewed vigour and energy!


    3. ‘Involve’


    The best conferences are those where there’s no hierarchy. You want everyone to leave office politics at the door and, as organisers, you need to facilitate this as best you can. If you divide up into groups, make sure you mix it up. You could have the CEO working closely with the intern. The idea is that, whatever the ‘task’ of the conference is, everyone has a part to play. Every voice should be heard equally and the end result should reflect this.

    A team conference should be exciting for everyone in your organization. It should be a day everyone looks forward to, rather than something they try to avoid. The fundamental rule is to always have a clear focus and aim for your conference.


    View our top tips on how to create the perfect managers conference. Interested in what we could do for you?

  8. What is Visual Facilitation?

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    We all learn differently.

    Two thirds of people are visual learners. So why do most ideas, actions and decisions get communicated using words?


    Visual Facilitation – An Introduction


    ‘Visual facilitation’, ‘graphic visualisation’ and ‘infographics’ are all basically the same way of describing the process of transforming complex data or information into engaging pictures and images.

    Whether you want to introduce a new project or make a brainstorming meeting more productive, visual facilitation can be one of the best weapons in your management toolbox.


    How Can You Use It?


    A graphic facilitator presents the information your team or audience needs in a clear and visually accessible way. Most companies tend to use visual facilitation to communicate the benefits of their product or service to their potential customers. Though this is a great way to use it, your first priority, as a manager, should be communicating these ideas to your team.

    Visualisation techniques can help your team to better understand often complicated, abstract information in a very short space of time. Through real-time pitches, they can synthesise themes, metaphors, and abstract ideas that are often hard to quantify.  What’s more, using graphic visualisation will also make the whole process more enjoyable – for you and your team! Graphic recording and visualisation are both great ways to enhance meetings or events. By using carefully organised images, you can turn big ideas into clear, communicable actions.

    People have been communicating strategies through graphic facilitation since the time of cavemen. Like the cave paintings of our Neanderthal forebears – that recorded pertinent information for their tribe’s survival in the landscape, key details about the weather, hunting and animals – modern day graphic facilitators help businesses see the key elements of their commercial landscape.


    Putting it into Practice


    There are a number of ways graphic visualisation can help in a meeting scenario, it will:


    –       Help synthesise the key messages

    –       Clear out the ‘clutter’ and ‘noise’

    –       Make sure everyone’s voice is heard equally

    –       Provide a visual snapshot of the meeting

    –       Provide an easily shareable visual record of the meeting


    All this points to greater involvement. It is a great tool to engage the whole team with an idea through visual stimulation, humour, and creativity. Employees are much more likely to walk away from a meeting remembering the key ideas and information if they were presented to them through appealing and quirky images.

    Creating a culture of involvement will have a marked impact on your organisation’s bottom line. So, for meetings and events that are more productive and actionable, and to maximize involvement in an open and human way, give graphic visualisation a try, you won’t be disappointed.


    Why not take a look at some of the work that our visual facilitators have been doing recently? Want to know more about how the INVOLVE team could help you make more of visual involvement tools? Why not get in touch?



  9. Are Your Team Disengaged?

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    “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit”- George Carlin


    Like any epidemic, employee disengagement starts small. If left untreated, it can quietly get worse. Before you know it’s there, it’s too late. The damage is done.

    Like a disease, disengagement can be contagious, spreading negativity through your office to the great detriment of profitability and customer satisfaction.

    When an employee disengages from the company mission, they can become a waste of resources, giving just enough effort to retain their job. Their dissent can also have dramatic and disruptive effects on the morale of the rest of the team.


    The Symptoms


    If you can learn to read the signs, you can use effective management techniques to bring a disengaged employee back from the brink and re-inspire positivity and motivation.

    Broad signs include arriving late, absenteeism, deliberately elusive behavior, unjustified animosity towards management, declining appearance and isolation.

    It’s commonly agreed that there are three main stages to disengagement. The initial symptoms of the first stage of disengagement tend to show up in performance monitoring. Any signs of negative changes or of performance falling away can be early indicators of engagement issues. Only the most diligent leaders will be able to catch disengagement in these early stages by taking a keen interest in performance and staff morale.

    Disengagement in its more advanced stages will manifest itself in changes in the behavior of the employee. Any meaningful changes in demeanor or behaviour, such as withdrawal, agitation or discontent should throw up a red flag. This is the beginning of the end. Only intensive treatment, a documented commitment of what leader and employee need to do, can win them back now.

    By stage three, the employee may have entirely given up, only biding their time until something else comes along. Not only are they not committed to the company mission, they could be displaying vindictive behaviour, reacting to perceived injustices and causing disruption.

    Even if you have team members that are showing signs of being in this third ‘disengaged’ phase, there is still hope.


    What Can You Do?


    So what treatment do we prescribe? Well, your first step needs to be to work out why this particular team member is disengaged. Look at other members of your team, is this team member an anomaly, or the rule? Over what time period did they become disengaged? Could you, as a manager, have done anything to prevent it?

    Once you’ve built a full picture of what’s been going on, and taken full responsibility for elements that you may have been responsible for. You then need to figure out how to turn it around. This is where you need to go right back to the ‘basics’ of involvement. Listen to your team. Focus on their own aims and objectives. Give them ownership of projects and communicate in a way that speaks best to their learning style. By focusing on these basic foundations you are likely to see an immediate improvement. Hopefully, if they form the basis for a longer programme of increased attention and involvement, you should see consistent improvement over a period of months.


    Prevention, Not Cure


    As with most things, prevention is always better than a cure. If you can spot disengagement in it’s earliest forms, or even better, pre-empt disengagement and prevent it altogether, you will save yourself a lot of stress and resources further down the line. This comes down to simple managerial awareness and a fundamental understanding of the basic foundations of involvement.


    Do you suffer with widespread disengagement within your organization? Do you worry that it’s spreading? Why not give us a call? Let us tell you how we can help.




  10. What Makes Your Team Tick?

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    What makes your employees get out of bed and come to work each morning?

    Money? Pride? Obligation?

    Does it even matter?


    Though it might seem overly abstract or ‘touchy feely’ to some people, understanding what motivates your team is crucial to the involvement process. In order to get the most out of your team, to keep them in their jobs and to keep them motivated, you need to understand what puts the wind in their sails.

    There isn’t a secret ingredient for creating a culture of involvement in any organisation. The first thing to understand is that every employee has a Unique Motivational Profile (UMP). To assume that what works for one will work for all is lazy. Many managers also make the mistake of presuming that the primary reason members of their team come to work is money.

    In most cases it’s not.

    Very few employees that are truly passionate and engaged in their jobs are motivated by money. There is a theory that workers who love what they do are more willing to accept lower wages because they’re getting satisfaction through the environment. They’ll come early and stay late, without expecting overtime pay.


    What Motivates Your Team

    Some employees will respond to an inspiring environment, mutual appreciation and respect for fellow employees. It’s human nature to want to feel appreciated and wanted. Other possible motivations could be; engaging projects, a good work-life balance, passion for their work or a particular project, compensation and benefits, rewards and bonuses or the opportunity to learn new skills.

    The point is, each employee has their own individual reason for leaping out of bed and skipping to work with a smile – or not.


    How to Find Out?

    The best way to discover what motivates people is to ask them. It really is that simple.

    Ask leading questions, such as; ‘what part of your work challenges you?’ and ‘what challenges do you enjoy?’ or ‘do you feel valued in your work?’ and ‘what parts of your work inspire you to give your full creativity and enthusiasm?

    Listening to your team is one of the marks of a good leader. By listening and being receptive to your team’s opinions and ideas, you will naturally pick up on what makes them tick, what gets them excited. By making yourself and your undivided attention available to people at all levels of the organisation, they are more likely to open up to you – and also to work harder for you.

    Once you have taken the time to truly understand what makes your employees tick, then you can focus their motivational energy in the right place. It might mean relocating them within the organisation. It might just mean offering incentives or rewards. It is up to you, as a leader, to find the best way to deploy the motivational spirit of your employees, and to keep them excited about their work.

    Creating a culture of involvement within your organisation will have a very positive, direct impact on your bottom line. You will never achieve this unless you understand what makes your team tick.

    If you can tap into the core motivations of your team, understand what it is about their work that motivates them and tailor your engagement initiatives on an individual basis, you will soon see increased productivity and discretionary effort.


    Not sure how to tap into your team’s core motivations? Want some help? Why not give us a call to find out how we can help?