CommsMasters Blog

Death, Taxes... and Fear

In my previous blog I proposed that, in addition to death and taxes there is, in fact, one other certainty in life – and that is we all feel fear on a regular basis.

And I believe that fear in the workplace is not only time-consuming and costly but that it creates blockages in communication, stifles innovation and gets in the way of business progress.

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The Stretch Zone: Real Conversations & Real Confidence

Recently I had the pleasure of bumping into Heather Campbell, a colleague from years past whose company, CommsMasters, specialises in developing capability in having great conversations.

In our conversation about conversations we reflected that, while there are all sorts of conversations to have content-wise, there is really only one conversation to have process-wise – and that is the real conversation.

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If it's Tuesday it must be time to engage the team...

Senior leaders have to paint a compelling vision for the future while pragmatically establishing the steps to get there.

Customer Service teams must give customers personalised care and attention while still hitting strict call-time targets.

Managers are expected to be tough decision-makers and also collaborative explorers.

Head versus heart, masculine versus feminine, soft versus hard – getting the balance right between each is critical to business success.

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Let the Facts Tell the Story

Watching BBC Breakfast yesterday morning, I was amused by a story about the potential for a return to economic insecurity and the slowing of growth across Europe.

UK share prices have fallen by some 10% in the last six weeks.

It wasn't the story in itself that amused me – but rather the attempts by the BBC presenter to sensationalise a rather banal story. It was evidently one of those mornings where news was slow and the Breakfast presenters had to fill the time somehow.

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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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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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5 Reasons Why Coaching is *Not* a Useful Tool for Leaders

I ran my first coaching skills programme for leaders way back in 1992 – more than two decades ago! At that time the concept of managers coaching was a bit 'out there' and I recall the lively debates around whether or not managers should coach their teams, and why.

In the intervening years, coaching has become a burgeoning industry in its own right and managers are nowadays expected to coach peers and bosses as well as direct reports. They’re even encouraged to coach themselves with a bit of self-coaching!

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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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