Tag Archives: engagement

When it’s time to go, move on. Career lessons from Fernando Torres.

For months I have watched Fernando Torres body language.  He looked dis – engaged, disenchanted, de – motivated, defeated.  He is a wonderful footballer, a superstar of the beautiful game.  He is adored by hundreds of thousands, maybe millions.  For Liverpool fans he has, along with Steven Gerrard, been thought of as the man who would bring the glory days back to a club steeped in history as the most successful in the English national game.  It never happened.

Torres is a huge talent.  Yet everything about him suggested he didn’t want to be there.  He was in a job he loves with an employer he didn’t because he he was not fulfilled, unable to realise his ambitions.

In recent months he did little to contribute to ensuring those ambitions could even come close.  Football is a team game.  Resentment amongst colleagues, no matter how big a reputation you may enjoy, soon starts to build if you are not pulling your weight.  It was obvious his mind was elsewhere.  It was time to go.

Life is just too short to hang around.  The majority of us spend more of our waking time at work than doing anything else.  If you are unhappy, move on.  Move on before it becomes to late, move on your own terms, don’t wait for someone to move you on theirs.  My sense is that we will now see a revitalised Fernando Torres, much to the delight of Chelsea Fans and the chagrin of the red half of Merseyside.  It matters not how talented you are, if you are in the wrong place, your form will suffer.

Don’t let that happen to you.  If you are unhappy, take action.  It might be a move internally, it might be a discussion with your Boss, but do something.  Be professional, be dignified, hold your head high and take action.  You have a choice.  When it’s time to go you know.  Don’t leave it to late.

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Filed under Careers, Employee Engagement

Is it ever a good time to go back?

Growing up in England in the 70’s and 80’s with a passion for football that engulfed my life, Kenny Dalglish was a superstar.  My statement is not born out of blind hero-worship (since the age of five I have been an Arsenal fan).  Dalglish was the star player and then Manager of a Liverpool team that swept everything before them to become the most successful team in English Football history (cue complaints from Manchester United Fans.  Sorry, statistically this is true).

This weekend Dalglish was re – appointed Manager of Liverpool Football Club, having resigned 20 years ago.  It is a great move from a PR perspective by the employer.  To draw business parallels, Dalglish is the Shareholders choice, the person on whom the hopes of resurrecting former glories rests.  The club is in disarray, they have not been champions of the top division in England for 20 years.  Much has changed in that time.

The Premier League is a global product, full of hugely talented players ( and some less so ) from all four corners of the globe.  In 1991 when Dalglish resigned, players in the top league came from all four corners of the British Isles.  Dalglish has held a couple of Manager roles since, but with nowhere near the same degree of success that he enjoyed with Liverpool.  Is he at risk of destroying the legend?

Should you ever look back to a former employee to return a company to former glories?

It’s a brave move by Dalglish.  The hero-worship he enjoys amongst Liverpool fans will protect him from  inflicting any long-term damage on the Dalglish legend.  It will certainly buy him and the owners of the club time.  Time that perhaps a Manager without the same history and status within in the club would not enjoy.    He has a massive job to do, not least on employee engagement.  The team look disillusioned, disenfranchised, disjointed.

Time is against him.  He has only been appointed until the end of the season.  The opportunity to create even a 12 month plan is not available to him.  He must create a short-term vision, communicate that vision, ensure all are behind that vision.  Those that don’t buy in, he must move on.  He has major recruitment issues to address as the club has arguably only 3 players that are talented enough to meet the vision the majority of stakeholders (the fans) have for the club, but he has little time to do it.  Can he attract the right talent with only a short-term objective to communicate?

The appointment has certainly lifted morale.  There are examples in business when a superstar CEO returns to transform a business.  Think Steve Jobs at Apple. Business and Sport are short-term results games.  In business it’s all about this month, this quarter, this half-year, this annual return to shareholders.  Sport is even more short-term, it’s all about the next game.  In both cases, you are only ever as good as your last result and stakeholders can have short memories.

For success you need a long-term outlook, a clear long-term vision,  to be given the time to build that vision.  The short-term nature of much of sport and business means little time is devoted to succession planning, to developing the leadership stars of the future.  As a result success is only ever short-term.

The success that Liverpool enjoyed in the 70’s and 80’s was built entirely on constant planning not only for today but for the future.  Dalglish was one of a long line that read Shankly, Paisley, Fagan, Dalglish.

He was the last in the line.  He didn’t build for the future, didn’t plan for his successor and Liverpool has suffered ever since.  Will he do it this time?  Can he build a platform for the future on which the club can enjoy sustained success?  Only time will tell.

It is a short-term move that reeks of desperation, of lack of a vision and long-term plan by the board.  They have put a tourniquet on a gaping wound and stemmed the flow of blood, for now.  Unless the club gets major surgery fast, the legend that is Dalglish will be tarnished.  Is he the man to deliver it?

Employers and Shareholders need to be patient.  Hire slow, fire fast.  Keep moving forward.  Look back to learn the lessons from history.  Build for the future from the lessons of the past.    Steve Jobs is a rare example.  Don’t go back, go forward.  In the meantime good luck Kenny, you are going to need it.

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Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership, Recruitment

The Ying and the Yang

I am repeating myself. I don’t want to be told who to hire. I am interested in your talent, your aspirations, your ambitions, what motivates, what inspires, what drives you, what you’ve learned, what you want to learn. Your gender has no bearing on my hiring decision.

Nor frankly does your sexuality, religious beliefs, favourite colour, shoe size or football team (well perhaps not entirely true!). I want the very best I can possibly afford for my company. That to me is just simple common sense. Many it would appear do not share my view. Frankly life would be dull if they did.

However the world is changing. Management speak is full of terms such as engagement, retention and diversity. Is this just lip service, or are people really embracing genuine workplace diversity and seeing the value that a range of views, talent, experiences, cultures and perspectives can bring to the workplace?

Long term vision and compelling purpose are topics for discussion as companies gear up post apocalypse for the promise of brighter days ahead. At the same time testosterone would appear to be on the wane in the Boardroom. Statistically this is certainly not the case as yet, but the rallying cry for more women in the boardroom was heard again this week from the CBI and the IoD in the UK.

This video from the always excellent TedTalks, evidences just how women are out performing men in so many areas of society today. I for one am delighted. The wider and deeper the talent pool, the easier my job.

If you want to attract the very best, if you truly want to succeed, then open your mind. A successful business today needs to combine the very best that Mars and Venus has to offer. It should not be about Men OR Women, it should be about Men AND Women.

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Recruiting and retaining talent in tough times

An interesting perspective on the value of great people to an organisation came from a customer of mine recently.  This particular CEO and his HR Director proudly showed me round their new production facility that had harnessed some of the most leading edge technology in their field.

I commented (with my usual lack of technical insight) on how incredibly impressive the new set up was.  The response from the CEO said much about this particular organisations attitude to people.

“The machinery is nothing without great people.  Take the people away, the machinery will sit idle.  Take the machinery away and the people will go out and find new machinery and new ways to ensure our customers get what they need”.

It’s an obvious point, but this CEO really lives out this view in his actions every day.  I could see it not only in his comments but in his interaction with the other employees as we toured the site that morning.

Unsurprisingly this particular employer has little issue with attracting and retaining great people, despite the many challenges facing them in their market place.  The attitude from the top is prevalent throughout the organisation.

Treat people as you would wish to be treated yourself.  Create a great vision, give a compelling purpose, be honest, frank and open.

It is not just people, but the right people who are an organisations greatest asset.  So how do you go about attracting and retaining the talent you need to flourish in tough times?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Is the grass greener?

There are times when I am convinced that I was born in the wrong country.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a fiercely proud Englishman.  It’s just that I love the sunshine.  From November to February I seem to live my life in the dark, up in the dark, travel to work in the dark, come home in the dark.  I don’t feel as if I see daylight for four months.  It is a form of hibernation.

It would appear I am not alone.  A survey by job site http://www.escapethecity.org found in the region of 70% of executives surveyed are considering a move abroad to live and work.  Among the more popular destinations were Asia, Australia and Africa.  France and Spain still feature among the top five destinations, but migrating south to our warmer Eurozone partners has become increasingly expensive as the pound has continued to decline against the Euro.

The results of this survey are not just simply about the weather.  Dig deeper and you’ll find this is more about the pursuit of happiness than it is about chasing sunshine.  Of those surveyed, just 10% felt that their current job was their vocation.   70% admitted to being bored at work.

This is about chasing a dream.  People want something different, they want to feel as if they are contributing to something more than just a bottom line but find it hard to break from the routine, lifestyle, comfort and often necessity of income.

The results of this survey are not about where you live but the sense of belonging, purpose and connection with what you do.  You can get such connection anywhere in the world.  In a global war for talent, employers are going to have to come up with increasingly innovative ways of connecting with their employees or risk increasing staff turnover and decreasing productivity.

David Cameron is proposing a national measure of happiness alongside traditional GDP as a way of evidencing the progress we are making as a country.  I shall be interested to see the results.  With only 10% of us enjoying a vocation and 70% of us bored, there is much to be done to lift the sense of satisfaction that people have in the workplace.  This is both the responsibility of not just employers, but the individual to understand more about their motivations and the state to create the conditions that encourages people to pursue their dreams.  I accept this is something of an ideology but people are peering over the fence and asking if the grass may just be greener on the other side.

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Google – doing evil?

Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently announced that all employees would get a 10% pay rise next year along with $1,000 holiday bonuses.  There are other pay incentives announced that are equalling as exciting for Google Employees.  So why all the bad press?

Google have been accused of buying loyalty.  They have been accused of taking the easy option with respect to employee engagement.  After all how difficult can it be to implement an across the board 10% increase to all.  Not much thought went in to that.  They are not working hard enough to understand that people are individuals, they have different motivations, drivers, ambitions, aspirations and frankly reasons for turning up each day.  All of which of course is true, but are you trying to tell me that a 10% across the board pay increase in such challenging times is a bad thing?

People go to work for an enormous range of reasons.  To earn a living is a significant part of this.  Google makes enormous profits, employs huge numbers of people in lots of countries, contributes vast amounts to the public coffers in taxation.   To recognise that profitability is impacted in equal measure by all within an organisation, to forego an element of profitability and feed that back to those that contributed, to allow every one of its employees to enjoy a 10% increase in income and potentially as a consequence standard of living should be applauded, very loudly.

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Staff Turnover costs the UK £42BN per year! What are you doing about it?

A new report is out this week from PriceWaterhouseCoopers.  It is a frightening read.  In the last 12 months, despite one of the toughest economic climates on record and rapidly rising unemployment,

“an average of 10.4 % of UK staff resigned from their job in the last year”.

That is a staggering number.  Can you imagine losing 10% of your staff in one year of their own volition?  What would be the impact on your business?  Do you know?

The cost to UK Plc of staff turnover in the last 12 months has been a staggering £42 billion!

The cost to business of staff turnover is huge.  Yet this cost would appear to be largely ignored.  So many espouse the virtues of people as the organisations greatest asset.  Yet how many are truly focused on having a great hiring strategy?  What about engagement?  Retention?

To much of hiring is left to chance.  No other business process would be treated in the same way.  Why?

You would never take a chance on a business critical pitch.  You would give it your all to ensure you got your new customers signature on the contract.  Once you’ve got them, you’ll move mountains not to let them go.  Why not do the same with staff?  What’s the difference?  Do we work any harder to attract customers?  Attracting retaining and engaging talent is crucial.  The same survey highlights

24% of UK employees are looking or intend to look for a new job.

Look around at your workforce today.  One in every four is looking for a new job.  Can you afford to lose them?  What are you going to do about it?

Take your hiring seriously.  Invest in your people.  Do it from today.  Do it every day.

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Filed under Employee Engagement, Hiring