6 things to do before you start your new job

You have resigned, your departure has been announced, you have sorted out your holiday entitlement, bonuses and share options. You have agreed a handover date for your company car and laptop, and who you will hand over your current projects to.

But that’s only half the story. Generally, once you have completed 50% of your notice period, you start to think more and more about your new company, role, colleagues and challenges. Here are a few pointers of what you ought to do (or at least think about) before you start your new job.

  1. Ask your new manager whether it is possible to meet your new colleagues, ahead of your start date. A social setting (lunch) is often a good way of getting to know people, so that you have a head start on day one. Just a quick note here; if it is a social setting, restrict yourself to one glass of wine / pint of beer. You are still being judged and unless you are joining a brewery, it is probably wise to stay in control. Actually, even if you are joining a brewery you want to stay in control.
  2. Is there any reading material you can have before your start date, ie company reports, meeting minutes, project updates, etc? Anything that will give you a head start and (I think more importantly) will create a positive impression before you start.
  3. Are there any company meetings you can attend?
  4. A week before you are due to start, ask for your induction programme. You really just want to know that there is one and that the new company are preparing your welcome. You hear of stories where the new starter has to find a desk, a chair and a phone. You don’t want to be that person.
  5. Speak with HR and understand how and when you will be receiving your company car, laptop, mobile, etc.
  6. Speak with your new boss and agree what time you should turn up on day one. You may always arrive at work for a 08.00am start, however if your boss only ever arrives at 08.30am, then you certainly do not want to show them up on day one. Probably not on day two either, so ask whether they mind you arriving early.

Tasks for the first week

  • At the end of week one, make sure to schedule a quick review meeting with your manager. You’re looking for early feedback here (at this stage, you can only give positive comments about your first few days, you can critique at a later day, just not now) and you need to understand what is expected of you.
  • Let’s have in writing (again an email will do), what you have agreed to accomplish in month 1, quarter 1 and the first 6 months. This will give you a framework, will give you an element of control and something to be measured by.

Read our article on what to do during your notice period … and what not!

Working your notice period – what to do … and what not!

You have resigned, you may or may not have been counter offered, however you have done the right thing and have not given in to the temptation to stay where you are. You now seem to be in that strange area of “no man’s land”, whilst working your notice.

In the first few days and maybe weeks, you still feel (a sometimes) strong loyalty to the company, colleagues and boss who you are set to leave, however as the clock keeps ticking, so that loyalty erodes and you find yourself in a situation where you really now want to move on to pastures new and your enthusiasm for going into work each day starts to wane…

Rather than being taken over by events, it may help you to feel in control of your situation and the following To-Do list (and To-Don’t-Do list) will help you do that:

1. Your resignation has been accepted and a leaving date has been agreed.

2. First things first, agree with your manager how and when your departure will be announced and by whom. I know it will be difficult, however some restraint is required here. Do not tell anyone before it is announced (not even your PA or most trusted colleague) – if it leaks, it won’t be contained and there will be only one person blamed for the leak. You just cannot afford to put your manager’s back up at this stage as you will still need him as a reference.

3. Next make sure you agree what holiday entitlement you still have, are you going to take some to make up the last few days or weeks of your notice period?
a. This is a great idea, it will allow you to re-charge the batteries, mentally severe any emotional ties with the old place and start to prepare for the new place.
b. If you are going to be paid out for the holiday entitlement, make sure to agree with HR the exact number of days and the amount that is due (you don’t want to sort any discrepancies out when you have just started a new job. Best to get it sorted before you leave).

4. Will you be due any bonus? Again, make certain to agree exactly how much and when it will be paid. If the bonus payment is not due for some time after your leaving date, you may want to consider doing a deal with the company, ie pay me slightly less bonus than I’m entitled to, however pay it in my last pay check please. When you have received it, it is difficult to take away, whereas in a few months’ time, should there be a regime change, you may have to fight for that bonus to be paid…

5. And the same goes for share options. There are a whole lot of different schemes, so difficult to give one universal piece of advice, other than: make sure you have agreed what happens to your options and have it in writing before you leave!

6. Car, laptop, phone, company credit card, keys to the company flat, etc. Don’t just assume you’re to hand everything in on the last day. Take the initiative and speak with HR to agree a hand over, that way you are (or at least you feel) in control of the process.

7. And then it comes to the actual work, make sure to agree (in writing – an email will do) with your boss what work needs to be completed and by when, what projects need to be handed over and to whom, agree how completion or hand over is measured. You do not want to be in a situation where you are regarded as a poor leaver, because they feel that your work was sub-standard or the hand over was rushed…You are the ultimate professional and you want to be remembered as just that.

8. Agree with you manager and IT, which files to leave on your laptop / PC and which to delete. I’m assuming that you have copied anything worthwhile before you resigned – I’m not condoning it, but human nature is human nature…

9. Finally, if there is a farewell or leaving party, make sure to be gracious to the end (even to that money grabbing, non-PC senior director). You never know where you will come across your soon to be ex-colleagues again, so do not burn any bridges!

What you do NOT want to do is:

a. Take sick leave – however bad that hangover, man flu or broken leg, drag yourself into the office, because even if you are genuinely ill, you’ll be judged as skiving. Go in and let your boss send you home. Reputations are not made during notice periods, however they are very easy to lose…

b. Materially change your working hours, if you’re always at your desk at 8am, don’t start arriving at 9am. Make sure people believe that you are fully committed to the bitter end (even if you are not).

c. Increase your expense claim pattern. You’re leaving, chances are that you are entertaining less clients, travel less and therefore spend less. A material increase in your monthly expense may be totally justified, however it is rarely seen as that. Kerb it.

d. Talk incessantly about you leaving, your new job, salary, car or circumstances. You don’t want to be seen as causing dissatisfaction amongst your colleagues and they will soon tire from hearing about your future.

e. Voice a negative opinion about your current business, it will sound like sour grapes and it is ugly. Just don’t.

f. Serve the internet at work for your own pleasure, even if that is what you have always done…Your internet usage may be monitored by IT, any policy breaches may result in dismissal, which in itself may jeopardise your new job….Be really careful with this one.

g. Steal / borrow stationery for use at home (as in above, it could have nasty consequences).

Want to discuss further or you feel you need advice? Give me a ring!

How to manage a team that is older than you…

Picture this – it is 1984 and like so many Business School graduates, I found myself a job with the objective to climb the greasy pole as quickly as I possibly could.

My first job took me out of Europe to South Africa, where, after a training and induction programme, I was to manage an out of town furniture store with its own distribution facility for home deliveries (we’re talking a type of IKEA operation but smaller) – a total of 120 staff, managed through a team of 5 direct reports. I had worked in the furniture sector before, so this was familiar territory and I was ready for this. This was why I had done Business School, right? I was 23 years old.…and conveniently forgetting about a language barrier (my English was passable but by no means fluent), a cultural barrier and the dreaded age barrier.

My excitement carried me through my first few days on the job. I was exceedingly polite, cheerful, and helpful toward the much older team I was sent in to manage. My job was progressing wonderfully until one member of the team, at least 20 years my senior, interrupted me mid-sentence and asked with barely concealed passive aggressiveness, “How old are you?”

“How old are you?”

There were clearly so many other issues I grappled with in the first few days, that I hadn’t expected that question, therefore it stopped me dead in my tracks. I was surprised how much it hurt and how personally I took it.
Over the next few weeks, the age references kept coming. I heard everything from “You’re younger than my grandson” to “Are you old enough to drive?” and “The cleaners did not come in today, would you mind doing the toilets?”

No respect, and although my hair was rapidly thinning, I couldn’t exactly fake wrinkles.

Although initially disheartened that my age was undermining me at work, I was determined that it would not affect my performance. I’d like to say that I figured it all out and managed the situation like a pro, however this turned out to be the school of hard knocks and I made many, many mistakes – some small, others now cringe worthy. That said, with the benefit of hindsight, I discovered some valuable insights.

1. Two ears, one mouth. Use them in that ratio.

Know when to listen and when to speak (and speaking last takes a real effort and is a skill not to be underestimated). In early conversations I had with team members, my mind would fast forward to the points I felt I needed to make to prove that I was capable. After a while, I came to the realisation that others felt their ideas and opinions were being glossed over and dismissed. It took a conscious effort to quiet the voice in my head that wanted to prove itself, however really listening to others and questioning their ideas was worth the effort. If your colleagues feel valued, respected, and heard, they’ll notice your maturity, not your age.

2. Know your staff.

Although older doesn’t always mean wiser, it does usually mean more experienced. You need to figure out the strengths of each individual and leverage it. Once you know their talents and strengths, you can turn to them when faced with certain issues or problems. They will look good and you will shine brighter as a leader when each individual member of your team is given the encouragement and tools to perform in the spot light.

3. Let’s get the job done, why focus on the process?

Each person delivers their best work under a different set of circumstances. Let’s pay attention to your team members’ needs and see whether they can be fulfilled. We used to work in a noisy, large open plan office, however I had an employee who required absolute silence in order to concentrate. I couldn’t understand that process, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt—she got one of the meeting rooms as an office so that she could work in solitude, and the rest of the team would catch up over coffee with her twice a day. In the end, her work was exceptional, so why not?
Surrender your ego, and put the team’s ability to succeed first.

4. Be bold about your age

The good news is that is now illegal for someone to ask your age in the workplace. The bad news is that people ask it anyway. Bearing that in mind, give some thought to how you want to answer the inevitable question so you don’t get caught off guard. If they see you looking like a rabbit in headlights, you’ll run the risk that you confirm their suspicion that you might be faking it until you can make it.
If you are comfortable with sharing, go ahead, otherwise “old enough to do the job” will suffice! Whichever way, just be prepared for the question, answer it with confidence, and move on. Don’t let it become a subject for continued speculation.

5. Be cool, calm and collected.

All too often, the mood in the office is dictated by the manager’s temperament. If you’re stressed, you’ll easily become irritable and you might find it difficult to concentrate. The problem is that if you are young (and less experienced in leading others) your age will soon be blamed if you show your frustration, even though managers of all ages share this trait. However the real danger is that your team may look for de facto leadership elsewhere in the business.

The end result is, that if you are chaotic and unsure of yourself, your staff will pick up on it. If you can be a source of calm and reason for your team, your age won’t matter.

6. Gain respect, don’t seek approval

Was it Machiavelli who said he would rather be feared than loved? Although I wouldn’t advice instilling fear in your employees, I think there is a difference between respect and love, and when it comes to employees’ treatment of the manager, a healthy amount of respect is always best.

Your office is not the time or place for you to find your new best friend or workout partner. If you are driven by the need to be liked, your employees will inevitably start to wonder who is actually in charge Have clear parameters for behaviour. Speak up when people cross boundaries, if you don’t then other employees will notice. Although seemingly insignificant at the time, seeking the approval or acceptance of your staff gives the impression that you are a pushover, or worse, that you are scared of offending them.

Finally, remember that you may be young, but if you are in a leadership position, it is likely because you have devoted your life thus far to refining your career and ability. There is an anecdote about a lady who saw Picasso briefly doodling on a napkin in a restaurant: She asked to buy it from him, and he said, “sure, that will be $100,000.” She was aghast at the price tag, and commented that it had only taken him five minutes to create the drawing. Picasso responded, “No, it took 30 years of experience to draw that.”

Never allow others’ perceptions of age dilute the value of the life-long hours you have devoted to your gift, your skill, and your leadership.

Using the Accountability Ladder to achieve career goals

If you want to be successful in your career, you can’t just wait for it to happen. You need to take ownership and make it happen. The Accountability Ladder explains the steps between being powerless and achieving success. It is essentially 8 rungs of a ladder divided in half. The bottom 4 describe a ‘victim mentality’ and the top 4 lead the way to accepting responsibility and becoming empowered.

A simple way of explaining it is to imagine a child who hasn’t done their homework. Picture this scenario as the child explains the situation to their parent at 7pm on Wednesday evening:

  1. “My friend just told me my homework is due tomorrow, but I didn’t know” (unaware/denial)
  2. “The teacher didn’t remind me” (blame others)
  3. “It’s too late now. What’s the point” (can’t do anything/excuses)
  4. “I’ll just have to hope the teacher forgets about it” (wait and hope)

This child has a victim mentality. They are not taking responsibility or trying to find a solution. However, in the same situation it could go like this:

5. “Oh no, my homework is due tomorrow” (acknowledge reality)
6. “I’ve messed up. I should have checked my planner” (own it, don’t blame others)
7. “I’ve still got time. I’ll just have to stay up late” (find a solution)
8. “Would you mind giving me a hand to get this done quickly” (make it happen)

This child has taken ownership of the problem and will do what it takes to get the task done.

Ladder of Accountability

It’s easy to translate this to the adult world of work. Perhaps you know somebody in your organisation who always seems to be in control, who is a ‘can do’ person. Alternatively you may know somebody who doesn’t pull their weight, who blames others and shirks responsibility.

If you want to progress in your career you need to be on rungs 4 to 8 of the ladder and start to identify what it is you want to achieve. Let’s imagine you’re stuck in a junior management role but want to be in a senior management role. Rather than complaining that you keep getting looked over for promotion, you need to assess why. Is it because you are lacking skills? Or there are no opportunities within your current organisation? Once you know what you’re dealing with (acknowledge reality) you can decide to do something (own it), plan what you’re going to do about it (find a solution), and take action (make it happen).

For more on this, read Do You Have a Career Destination in Mind?

Are you credible?

It’s well documented that people form an impression of us based on the first few seconds of meeting them. Every now and again your credibility is at stake, and it’s important to portray yourself as an expert or someone that is respected. This could be in a new business meeting, a presentation, an interview or perhaps the first day in a new role as a leader.

So what does credibility mean?

Essentially it’s a combination of knowledge, expertise and reliability. But the key word is probably ‘believability’ – do people feel they can believe in you?

Can you make good decisions, will you add something valuable and useful?

If so, you will progress both as an individual and as somebody who can further a cause or add value to an organisation.

What can you do to make sure you come across as credible?

Listen more than you talk – Some people think that they need to spout about their achievements and their credentials to appear credible. In actual fact, this can have the opposite effect. It’s far better to listen carefully and respond to what you are hearing than talk yourself into a corner, or worse, talk over somebody else. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that ratio.

Be Yourself – Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. It’s easy to spot when somebody is trying to ‘big themselves up’ or pretend they know about something that they don’t. It’s far more authentic to admit you don’t know something, or simply to stay quiet on the matter.

Be ‘socially generous’ – There are certain people that are easy to be around, that don’t mind helping out or sharing their knowledge in order to help others. Be one of those people.

Treat everybody the same – Have you ever heard the expression ‘be nice to people on the way up because you’ll meet them on the way down’? Have respect for everybody you meet whether you perceive them to be junior or senior to you.

Be trustworthy – Be somebody that people know they can rely on, who won’t let them down, who will be helpful and supportive. And don’t make the mistake of promising something if you’re not sure if you can deliver it. Manage expectations. Have you ever ordered something with a 5 day delivery time and received it early? That’s a nice surprise! But if you ordered the same thing with a 3 day delivery and it arrived on day 4 you would be disappointed. Same service, different expectation.

Stay true to yourself – If you have an opinion, don’t be afraid to share it, even if it differs from somebody else’s. You can respectfully disagree, and sometimes if your case is clear the other person may change their opinion. If not, accept your differences and move on.

How to sell yourself – ways to gain trust

Whether you are interviewing for a new position or selling your product or service to a prospective client, you’re efforts are wasted if the other party does not trust you.

Growing up you were told not to slouch, look people in the eye when shaking hands and recently your partner insisted that it wasn’t exactly what you said, but how you said it. If you are perceived negatively it will be difficult (if not impossible) to gain trust.

Why is trust so important?

Influence is channelled through trust. It is how ideas are shared and accepted. If you’re not trusted your ideas are dead in the water. Having the best idea is worth nothing if people don’t trust you.
We all know that body language is all-important when it comes to making first impressions, forming new and maintaining existing relationships and developing trust — three things we do every day.
Most of us have also heard that there are three elements that form first impressions (at the point of deciding whether we like or dislike someone):

• Words are 7% of the message
• Tone of voice is 38%
• Body language is 55%

Whether you’re starting a new job or you’re pitching your product to a new client, understanding the social science behind 93% of your message is an essential first step to building relationships and knowing how to gain trust.

Here is how you can harness the power of nonverbal communication to build better relationships and continue to learn how to gain trust.

Eye contact – not to be underestimated

Trust - eye contact

Why is it that we sometimes meet people and feel as though they’re untrustworthy? Possibly because we are not seeing eye-to-eye…

Numerous studies show that the more people look at each other, the more they like each other. It has been found that we maintain eye-contact 40-60% of the time we’re talking to someone. But we become much more attentive when we become the listener, maintaining eye-contact with the speaker for 80% of the time they have the floor.
To build rapport and gain trust with another person, your gaze should meet theirs about 70-80% of the time. This lays the groundwork of gaining trust by showing that a) you’re listening to what they have to say and b) you like them.

Research also shows that:

• Ideal eye-contact lasts roughly 7-10 seconds at a time in a one-on-one conversation. Look away too soon and you risk implying that you’re untrustworthy.
• Excessive blinking is suspicious. Adults normally blink anywhere from 15-20 times per minute. Our blink rate increases when we’re stressed or under pressure.

Mirroring body language – you see what I’m doing

Trust - mirroring

When people are engaged in a conversation — and it’s going well — it’s common to see them subtly imitate each other’s body language. This could mean assuming a similar posture, stance, series of gestures, facial expression, etc. Why? Matching nonverbal behaviours creates the sense that people are on the same page and conveys feelings of trust and empathy.

In experiments it transpired that two parties reached a deal or consensus 67% of the time where one party mirrored the other, compared to 12% when no mirroring was taking place. So you can intentionally create rapport and gain trust with another person by simply mirroring their body language. If they’re leaning forward, lean in. If they’re gesturing with their hands to convey an idea, try it yourself.

Don’t go overboard – it’s a fine line between psychological similarity and just plain weird.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it

Trust - how you say it

In a recent analysis of 120 executive speeches, it was found that the sound of a speaker’s voice matters twice as much as the message itself.  Computer software was used to analyse speakers’ voices, then feedback was collected from a panel of 10 experts and 1,000 listeners. The speakers’ voice quality accounted for 23% of listeners’ evaluations; the content of the message accounted for 11%. Other factors were the speakers’ passion, knowledge and presence.

Part of gaining trust relies on your awareness of the vocal nonverbal clues you’re sending. A few tips to bear in mind for your next meeting:

• Stay within your normal pitch. People will lower the pitch of their voices as a way to project authority. But listeners can always tell (and yes, they will judge you). You’ll come across as much more authentic and credible by using expressive speech (i.e. shifting from loud tones to soft tones) within your normal range.
• Slow down. Studies show that speaking faster than the other person is likely to make them feel “pressured” in the moment.

So eye contact, mirroring body language and intonation could be the key to making good first impressions, developing relationships and building trust. All you need now is the right experience for the job, or the perfect product or service for the client and you’re all set!

Want to discuss further? Give me a ring!

Maarten Jonckers

WHAT?! Made a mistake? How to minimise career damage

How to recover from a major work-related mistake and minimise career damage.

It’s happened to the best of us. That spine-chilling moment when you realise you’ve made a monumental error that could cost you your job. Examples that spring to mind include missing a zero off a proposal on a multi-thousand pound deal, mistakenly sending an offensive email to a senior executive (or client), losing a key contract through missing a deadline. Whether it was down to carelessness, lack of knowledge or preparation, or the result of a couple of drinks too many at a business event, your boss wants to know:

  • Do you understand what happened?
  • Do you understand how it happened?
  • Are you remorseful?
  • What are you going to do to prevent it happening again?

Own up quick

As soon as you discover your mistake, go and own up to it (in person) before you get hauled in front of the boss. Make it clear that you understand the seriousness of your mistake, and what plans you have for dealing with it.

Face the music

Understand that there may be disciplinary consequences such as a verbal or written warning. Accept it gracefully and don’t make excuses, blame somebody else or try and deny what happened.

Handle the consequences

Take ownership of your actions, accept the situation for what it is, and resolve never to make the same mistake again.

Be discreet

There’s no need to make a soap opera out of your situation. It can be tempting to re-tell the story in the pub, or joke about it with your team-mates. But remember that not everybody will know what happened, and this could result in even more people knowing the situation, making the mistake bigger than it was in the first place. Let it just become yesterday’s news by itself.

Use it to your advantage

While it can be an uncomfortable experience, we learn more from our mistakes than we do from things going smoothly. Hopefully you can take something positive from the situation and improve your performance as a result.

Move on

Don’t let your mistake cast a shadow over the rest of your career. Everybody makes mistakes. Once you’ve faced up to it, done what you can to fix it, and accepted the consequences put it down to experience and move on.


Work/life balance – a pipe dream or achievable?

All of us have heard this term, all of us want to achieve it, however very few do!

What does work/life balance actually mean? If we strip back the jargon and psycho babble, we are really talking about managing stress in such a way that we feel we are in control.

Where is all this stress coming from? Often work, sometimes from our out of work activities (kids, their schooling) or from ‘duties’ you feel you have from volunteering.

I have found that giving yourself more downtime, having more holidays or exercising more will give temporary relief from stress, however the moment your nose is back to the grind stone, the stress returns. So what can we do to get a better balance?

Prioritise what you want
What is it that you really want to do? What do you really desire? Reduce or eliminate stress by closing the gap between what you actually do and what you want to do. Easier said than done, however start by recognising where your priorities really lie and making sure that you behave in line with those priorities. Sometimes it is as easy as diarising your life – if you want to exercise twice a week, book time in your diary (write it in pen not pencil) and stick to it!

Your diary can be your solution
Use your diary for work as well as personal activities and make sure that you synchronise it with your significant other. If they need to be at a work dinner, you might need to look after the kids – so diarise it. Include everything you can think of, from exercise to going out for drinks and seeing friends, and book things in early. Most of us make 6 monthly appointments to see the dentist, get the car serviced or the cat de-flea-d, book them in the diary, so there are no last minute surprises (and the accompanying stress..).

Look at the output, not the time spent
Measure your success in goals and objectives rather than the hours you put in. Those who think they have had a good day because they have spent hours doing something will be less fulfilled than those that achieve specific goals. Setting goal based targets rather than time spent also motivates people to find more efficient ways of getting things done so they can do them quicker.

Keeping up with the Jones’
We live in a society where we constantly compare ourselves to others – who has a new car or nicer house, whose kids achieve better results at school. Peer pressure, peer pressure. Don’t let anyone else decide what you should be achieving. Focus on achieving your own objectives in your career, your work and your private life.

Leave some space to just ‘be’
To obtain work/life balance doesn’t mean both sides of the equation need to be packed with activity. Achieving good work/life balance means doing both in moderation and minimising the stress in your life. Activities outside of the workplace can be equally stressful, especially if you feel duty-bound by them.

If you want to change your workaholic tendencies, it will require a bit of effort, and letting go of some things. But the benefits could be far reaching, including freeing up some time to progress your career.

Nail Your First 100 Days Like A Boss

boss's chairEven after a thorough recruitment process, there are no guarantees that you will settle into the organisation as quick as you would like. The first three months are crucial, as you get to know your boss, the people, the culture and the challenges of the role.

For those taking on increased management and leadership responsibility, this period can be especially challenging, not to mention stressful.

Whether you have been recruited internally or externally, there will be high expectations placed on you. No different to that of a newly signed striker for a major premiership team, it’s results that matter and now the pressure is on – whether you like it or not the honeymoon period is already starting to countdown.

During this crucial stage, you will want to make sure that you are:
• Up and running as fast as possible
• Building relationships quickly
• Having a strong personal impact
• Demonstrating solid leadership skills
• Achieving results

Crucially you also need to identify the handful of key stakeholders that will influence your career as you progress within your new role.

Make an impact

So how on earth do you ensure that you make the best possible impact during the first 100 days, balancing the expectations others have for your results whilst navigating a new work environment, and building relationships?

All of this can be tricky and requires an increased level of adaptability from you. It may even push you way outside of your comfort zone, calling you to draw upon a different skillset than you have been used to using.

In this period the image of the leader is created, and the integration and impact the leader will have is given its foundation. This first 100 days may break a person in a new role.

This is where working with an executive coach is invaluable, and with so much at stake, wouldn’t it make sense for you to have an Executive Onboarding Maestro in your corner dedicated to making your first 100 days a success?

“Few companies develop a systematic ‘on-boarding’ process for their new leaders, even though this is a critical function with major organizational implications” Goli Darabi, Senior Vice President, Corporate Leadership & Succession Management, Fidelity Investments

Nicholas Alexander First 100 Days Coaching Programme

The First 100 days programme supports the leader by coaching them through these and additional challenges they face. Our coaches provide the thinking space for new leaders to step back from the day to day operational pressures and work out what’s important to the business and to the new manager.
During this time, through face to face or skype coaching we will help them to:

• Make a powerful first impression
• Match their style to the business context, culture and politics
• Develop and start a strategic change aligned with the business needs
• Communicate effectively with key stakeholders
• Build up an effective team around them
• Ensure that quick wins occur so that credibility is increased
• Create a strong support network in the organisation that goes beyond the current team.
• Integrate more effectively into the organisation
• Accelerate value creation so results arrive sooner
• Sharpen the appropriate leadership skills for their business


What benefits would you have gained from working with an executive coach during the first 100 days of your last appointment?

Staff retention – use them or lose them

It’s a commonly accepted generalisation that Generation Y will probably have 10-12 jobs and three careers in their life time, whilst the Baby Boomers average 3 – 4 jobs and one career.

This change in attitude towards career and prospects will be, and in some cases already is (think about staff turnover in the digital sector…), putting companies under pressure.

Under pressure to retain staff, under pressure to monitor and review whether their staff are happy and content, under pressure to guard themselves from their competitors ‘stealing’ their staff and under pressure to employ the right calibre of person in the first place.

So what can companies do and how do they need to change in order to minimise the disruption caused by high staff turnover?

One thing is for certain, standing still is not really an option.

Should we look at what motivates people? Is that similar to Maslov’s hierarchy of needs?Maslov hierarchy of needs








Pyramid diagram








Job Motivation

That being the case, then by being employed the Money and Security segments ought to be fulfilled, therefore companies must look at the remaining three segments in order for their employees to think twice before they leave.

Easier said than done!

What do people need or want, what motivates them to do a good or even an outstanding job as opposed to a mediocre or even a poor job?

If we had the answer to that, would that help us retain talent for our business? Would it help to obtain ever improving performance from our teams and would it improve the performance of those historically underperforming? I think it might…

Belonging to neither the Baby Boomers or Gen Y, I have had 7 jobs and I’m on my second career. And on that journey I have observed and learned a few things about team dynamics and what motivates people (also what de-motivates people).

My top tips are:

  1. Make people feel valued – communicate, communicate, communicate. Give precise and specific feedback, recognise success and recognise when people have really tried (but may not have succeeded 100%). Critique in private, praise in public. But more importantly perhaps is to listen, get to know your team in a wider context. We are all juggling umpteen balls to make the life/work balance thing work. Being seen to empathise with that will go a long way.
  2. Promote from within – develop, mentor and coach people (all people, including the cleaner). Everyone needs to feel that they are making progress, everyone needs to feel that they have a chance to get a shot at a bigger job, more responsibility and grow.
  3. Have a clear strategy – it does not need to be over-ambitious, it does not need to be over-detailed. It needs to be simple to understand for everyone and clearly communicated. If everyone knows the journey the company is on, understands how they are contributing towards succeeding in this journey and can see what is in it for them, then people will feel ownership (and are less likely to leave).
  4. Fun – a dangerous one, this one. I once organised a rock climbing trip for the team and a fair few hated it. Needless to say, it had the opposite effect…
    To me, ‘fun’ is about team spirit, unusual benefits (dry cleaning, open bar on Friday afternoon, free weekend breaks, etc), but also flexibility. Your employees do responsible jobs, so why not trust them to be responsible with regards to the time they work (where you can of course, I realise that with shop staff this would be almost impossible). If they do the job that they have been entrusted to do, let them work the hours needed to do it well. I am not saying that you should allow your team to work 3 days instead of 5 days per week, however who cares if they leave the office at 16.30hrs some days, or turn up at 09.30am rather than 09.00am once in a while. My motto is, if everyone is happy with the work you’re delivering, then just let me know when you’re in the office and when not, as long as the job is done on time.
  5. Stay interviews – In my opinion exit interviews are important (if conducted by a professional, who can then act upon making improvements so that no-one else leaves for the same reason), however a ‘stay interview’ is about checking in with individual team members and with teams on a whole to make sure people are satisfied with the job content, happy with how they are treated and remunerated and feel valued. An uncaring manager is not a manager at all.

The above 5 points really are just a starter for 10, I’d be happy to discuss with you other ideas and best practise. Give me a ring or drop me an email!

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