CommsMasters Blog

The 'Mum Test'

This week the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – the body responsible for the regulation of all health and social care in England – announced a new regime for the inspection of care homes. In future, inspectors will carry out a 'mum test' in which they'll be asked to consider if they'd be happy for someone they love and care about to receive the services patients are receiving – including the way they are cared for and spoken to. In other words, 'Would this place and its people be good enough for my mum?'

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Open the Can of Worms – Even If It Can't Be Closed Again

Recently a manager I was coaching described a conversation he had with a member of his team.

He said that the team member commented two or three times that he thought the manager didn't trust him.

The manager was concerned about this and yet, during the conversation, had ignored the point.

This is a common practice in conversations.

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How Many Holidays Would You Take If There Were No Limits?

Virgin Group boss Richard Branson’s decision to offer his staff unlimited holidays has stirred up plenty of debate.

Is this an empowering employer giving his team more control and choice?

Or a cynical ploy to make sure that people take fewer holidays because, of course, their work will never be done so they'll never feel it is appropriate to have a vacation?

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Unfairness is a Costly Business

Capuchin monkeys have a sense of fairness.

This is apparent from research where a group of monkeys were given food in return for handing over a small granite rock.

When certain monkeys received more than others in return for the rock, the primates refused to continue their participation; some got angry with their handlers.

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How to... Start a Conversation

This is the second in my series of blogs about how to simplify the whole messy area of having conversations at work. In this one we'll look at how to start a conversation in a way that is focussed, coherent and engaging.

Starting a conversation causes a surprising amount of angst. Small talk or no small talk? If small talk, how much? How do I get to the point without causing offence, and in a way that ensures everyone involved is clear about what the conversation is about?

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How to... Make Communicating with Your Team Easier

Boy oh boy, how did the simple interaction of conversations between leaders and the people they lead get so complicated?

Coaching conversations, performance conversations, mid-year reviews, one-to-ones, feedback – each one with different paperwork to complete and different models to follow.

Are these interactions communication, conversation or dialogue? And what's the difference anyway? No wonder leaders want to busy themselves with tasks and hope the people stuff just goes away!

So, let's make this easier.

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5 Ways to Get Employees Engaged in Your Business Strategy

I am currently reading Richard Rumelt's excellent book Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why it Matters (2011) and find it a refreshing and insightful exploration of what strategy, strategy-setting and strategic thinking are about. This is a book that was recommended to me, and in turn I recommend it to you.

The book got me reflecting on the importance of engaging people at all levels in strategy, and the frustration leaders feel at the difficulty they face in doing so. In this blog I'll highlight critical points for business leaders to consider when they find themselves asking that agonised question: How do I get people interested in the new business strategy?

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2 Old-School Feedback Techniques It's Time To Ditch

In helping leaders to become more confident and competent communicators, exploring how to give effective feedback is one of the core areas that we encourage our clients to focus on. And giving clear, succinct and meaningful feedback continues to be one area that even the most experienced leaders struggle with.

When examining this topic, there are two particular techniques that many leaders still use – but that really need to be put out to pasture. The first of these is the Feedback Sandwich (sometimes referred to using a slightly different, rather more scatological, title) and the second is asking a question to get the other person to critique their own performance.

Here's why it's time to stop using the Feedback Sandwich.

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How to... Make Sure People Recall Your Message

One of the first signs that Christmas is nearly upon us? The John Lewis Christmas advert on TV.

Schmaltzy, sentimental, tear-jerking, heart-warming – however you choose to describe this ad, it holds important lessons for any leader who has a message to share and needs to make sure it sticks.

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What Are Words Worth?

It's important to acknowledge that in any debate, both sides believe that they're right. And we, as human beings, are hard-wired to gravitate towards the things that reinforce our beliefs or existing knowledge, rather than refute them.

Take the recent case of the dispute at the Grangemouth petrochemical plant. Leaving the politics aside, the language that was (reported as) being used added fuel to an already inflamed debate, one in which both sides believed their perspective was the 'right' one. Workers, on the one hand, allegedly described one INEOS director as being "evil", while David Cameron described the plant's former Unite convener as a "rogue" operator.

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