Appearing on MarlowFM

My good friend Dermot Fitzpatrick had me as a guest on his Biz Buzz show this afternoon on our local community radio.  It was a hoot!  90 minutes of your life just disappears in a flash…and as soon as it’s over, we are out of there and locking the door behind us.

Dermot at the desk!

Dermot made it very easy, by asking all the right open questions (we had met up before hand, of course).  The hardest question was really around soft skills.  “Can you define them?” Says Dermot.  It’s actually easier to define what they are not – they are not the hard skills of analysis, data handling, strategy  negotiation or whatever.  They are much more to do with people – hence it feels a bit fluffy!  It’s all a bit group hug if you let it be.  But we wanted to make the case for it.  I mentioned a recent CIPD piece of research on making the business case for soft skills.  And one of their conclusions was that the hard skills can only work well backed with the soft skills.

I also decided one of the underpinning skills of all soft skills was listening – and active listening at that.  Actually being there in the moment with the person talking, and not thinking what you are going to say next, or taking a sneaky peaky at your watch!  I said your brain can work fast enough when the other person stops – just don’t worry.  So maybe this weeks top soft skill is listening…and isn’t that appropriate as we were on radio?

We talked about emotional involvement, and why is work different from our life outside   I don’t really understand the phrase ‘work life balance’.  I do understand the problem of presenteeism and people who are workaholics.  But if you are in a job that you can feel some involvement and some passion for – it really doesn’t feel like working.

And that’s as it ended – I talked about my Dad (Ray), and how his influence had made me so positive about actually being able to do things.  And about making sure you tell people you like what they do, or even love what they do.  Why not?  Why can’t we bring some real life into work?  Try it!

Dermot played out with Mike and The Mechanics ‘Living Years’. He did this in memory of my dad.  Listen to it again – and think how to apply that in all your life, work and play.

The scary light…

Motivating employees

Just picked this up from Chartered Management Institute:

A team happily working together – at a team building day!

“Being able to motivate staff is one of the key management skills anyone who has recently been promoted must learn.

This is according to Andy Yates, an advisor and mentor for, a money saving site for small businesses.

He says that ensuring your employees are happy is one of the key steps in ensuring your business remains productive.

Indeed, as most of us spend the majority of our lives at work, ensuring that it is as enjoyable as possible is of the utmost importance.

Mr Yates believes one of the easiest ways to keep staff happy and motivated is to praise their work.

He told the Daily Mail: “Praise is a no-brainer for any boss. It costs nothing, it’s easy to give and it means a lot. So why have so many bosses not got the brains to praise their employees more often when they achieve and improve?”

He added that communicating company visions and values and getting the employees to buy into them is also key for any business.”

I like the sentiment, and the ideas of how to are not extensive, and not really rocket science.  The bit that gets in the way, as far as I am concerned, is usually our own experience (or lack of it) in receiving praise ourselves.  We start by thinking “Do they mean me?”, then maybe cynically think “What do they want?” or end up simpering “It was nothing really”.  So try it.  As the One Minute Manager said many years ago “Catch people doing something right – and tell them so”.

The Vision and Values thing is perhaps a little more difficult.  To treat this aspect of the business as if it was owned and forged in the senior management team is to miss an obvious trick, and to make an obvious problem for yourselves.  If the rest of the team aren’t involved in creating these commandments, it will be much harder to engage them in living them and making them happen.  The top team do not have a monopoly on good ideas.

Share, and get people involved.  And remember, praise people when they come up with great suggestions!