Simply Communicate

Simply Communicate is a new resource for those involved with Human Resources, people management and training of staff: a new website I invite you to visit and make your home.

I shall be posting articles on people management, writing skills, training and general topics on the Simply Communicate Blog.  If you like what you see, please do ‘subscribe’ (a free service that ensures you receive each post via email). Try it out; you can always ‘unsubscribe’ in the event that I start to annoy you (surely not?)  The first post is there already.

Thanks for the visit.


What your boss wants

In a recent survey top South African CEOs were asked for three things they most valued and three things they least valued in their employees.

Passion, boldness and a positive, can-do attitude topped the list of valuable traits. A strong emotional intelligence and a willingness to work hard were also valued attributes.

Skills and qualifications didn’t feature as positives. In fact education was seen as a disadvantage when it led to snobbery, cynicism and a reluctance to learn or to change.

On the negative side, the CEOs pointed to the opposite of passion: a negative, disruptive or poisonous attitude, including a sense of entitlement, a poor work ethic and an unwillingness to learn.

At every level in the organisation, whatever the job, it’s not position, qualifications or skills that matter, but how they are used. No one is interested in your activities (how busy you are), only the results you achieve. In other words, it’s not the time you spend on a report that matters, but the report itself.

And passion is the key element. Lack of passion doesn’t just annoy the CEO, it can lead to stress at work and at home; it can destroy health and relationships. But passion is not an app for a smartphone, and it can’t be switched on and off. When you are doing a job you were born for, passion is the most natural source of energy. But most of the time it has to be nurtured and encouraged. How? Taking a good hard look at yourself is the place to start.

Analyse your attitude. Are you feeling bored or overwhelmed? Would changing some of the things you do make a difference? If you were to engage more with your boss and the problems that face the organisation, would you feel more energised and more willing? Plan a discussion with your boss about some of those changes.

Analyse your activities. Are you focused on activities, or are you working towards results. Talk to those who receive your reports or the work you do. Would your work or your reports be more useful if they were prepared or presented differently? Engage fellow team members and others in the organisation you can work with toward common goals.

Analyse your co-workers. Who are the negative, cynical souls to steer clear of? Who are the people who will encourage you in your achievements? Spend time with them. Talk about what they are doing and how they plan their activities and measure their success.

Analyse your career path. One of the ways to develop passion is to ensure that you are doing what you are passionate about. Whether or not that is true of your current job, make sure it is true of your next. And what is next? Whether “next” means next year or five years’ time, what do you have to do to get there? Are there skills or qualifications you need to work on now? Do you need to gain experience? Are there people you should talk with? Start planning a second shift that you will fill with these activities. Now is the time to begin to make your dreams happen. You will never be more passionate than when you are working towards your own dreams.

(This article was originally published on the HR Future website)

Out of work: A new venture

Out of work: A new venture

I handed in my notice this week.  I have done that a couple of times in my life, but this is different. I am not going to a new job; there is no pay cheque waiting; there is nothing out there but good intentions and interested people. While I’m taking early retirement, I’m not retiring, and, having received a salary every month for the past 40 years, that’s a rather scary prospect.

I have spent the past few years thinking about my future and what I am going to do with myself until retirement age and beyond, and more important, who is likely to pay me to do it.  I have seven years before compulsory retirement age, but I have a mother alive and well at 84, and a father still working as a pharmacist in a local hospital at 86.  You will understand, therefore, that, however uncertain life may be, long-term planning is called for.

What I do know is that I do not want to run an organisation’s Human Resources Department for another seven years.  A training department, now that’s a different matter, but there are few of those opportunities around this area.

I knew that training would have to be part of what I do; I knew also that writing should play a role, but exactly what I could offer to whom was elusive.  After a long time wondering, praying and generally feeling somewhat inadequate for anything, we finally have a plan.

Raymond Ackerman, of Pick ‘n Pay fame, wrote about four legs to a business table.  Perhaps I am not aiming high enough, but I have three “legs” on my model.  The first is training and development of people.  This will take various forms, including part-time lecturing, workshops and seminars, and individual coaching and mentoring.  The focus of the seminars and workshops will be management skills, so-called soft skills, writing, and other themes that may take my fancy (and that I can persuade enough people to pay for).  Some will be my own material while some will be in partnership with quality training and development specialists.

The second leg is writing.  Having spent 16 years working with journalists I know that I will not, in the short term, make a healthy living from writing (I am no J. K. Rowling).  But my love for writing came as a serendipitous discovery a couple of years ago, and I have been indulging myself (with your help, of course, Dear Reader) ever since. Any form of writing or editing will do, and a couple of possibilities have taken shape.

The third leg will be general consulting work in the field of people management.  There is a surprising oversupply of HR Consultants, from the highly qualified to the not so, in this small city, so I do not expect to do much here, but the other two “legs” may feed work into this area.

In the next few weeks this website will change to reflect what I am offering to the world, particularly managers of people, so watch this space.  Although some themes are universal, the emphasis will be on the South African workplace, and managing people in the ever-changing landscape (some would call it a minefield) of this country’s labour legislation.  Personally I never complain about the legislation.  Its complexity (trying to bring order and certainty into the mess of human relations) and it’s employee-centred focus has helped provide me a good living for 16 years, and long may it continue.

With the internet, of course, writing is no longer restricted by geographic boundaries, so if you have any writing or editing to be done come 1 September 2012, do let me know, I shall have some time on my hands—not too much time, I hope.

(This was adapted from an earlier post on my other blog here)

Hello world!

Hello World,

This is a the beginning of a new venture offering people-management solutions to business. Where we go with this and what form it will take, remains to be seen. Watch this space.