Deja vu – In Lockdown Again

Just letting you know that where I am, my family and I are once again in a lockdown, this time for three days from midnight tonight. Our previous lockdown was three months ago. I had almost finished a couple of posts to make up for my tardiness of late, but they might need to wait for a bit longer.

Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

This is the Anzac Day long weekend for us. So, many are heading away for the weekend, but can only do so now up until midnight tonight. It’s back on with masks from 6pm and staying at home, with many now conducting a driveway Dawn Service on 25 April 2021 instead of attending major services.

We have 9 full hotels in Perth that are dedicated to Aussies and other visitors returning to Western Australia from overseas and other places. However, it seems the hotels are a source of an outbreak, yet again. This time there has been community transmission.

We have been lucky previously, while watching much of the world struggle to deal with the pandemic. We have been able to do what we need to do because of good controls in place. Which is why we haven’t had to concern ourselves too much with a vaccination program that is way behind where it should be.

Hopefully, contact tracing will deliver a good result at the end of the three day lockdown and is not extended. We have become quite adept at the sudden lockdown and coping with it. For now, my mum is isolated at her home and Linda’s mum who was due to fly back into Perth from our state’s north after visiting Linda’s sister, husband and our niece, may need to stay where she is for the time being.

See you on the other side 😊

Inspirational Reading – Covid’s Unexpected Side Effect: It Made Them Better Leaders

In the latest newsletter from American Express Business Class, I came across a link to an article by Lindsay Blakely, a writer for Inc:

Synopsis

A brush with the brutal virus brought fear, gratitude, and clarity to these business owners

Running a business while recovering from Covid is no easy task. For some owners it marked a turning point. A sampling of entrepreneurs share how being seriously ill spurred them to refocus, connect more deeply with employees and introduce new purpose-driven approaches to their organizations.

Lindsay spoke with four entrepreneurs about their experiences and how Covid has changed them as leaders:

Embracing Empathy

Cate Luzio, CEO of Luminary, tells the story of a how leader with a reputation for asking a lot of her people to one that embraces flexibility to give what her employees need. To survive, her business had to transform itself. Luminary had to shut its doors between March 22 and June 22, losing 80 percent of its revenue during those months as New Yorkers shifted to working from home. The company moved its events programming online and offered digital-only memberships. The 20-person team all took pay cuts so Luminary could avoid layoffs. 

Dialing It Down a Notch

In mid-March of last year, Ryan Kovach figured there was no time like the present to start his own company. After contracting COVID and being on the precipice of the hereafter, he came to understand the need to relax a bit and not see things so seriously. He put better tools in place for his people who need to step away and instituted unlimited time off: “You don’t even need a reason,” he says. “Just let me know you’re not going to be there.” 

Finding a New Purpose

In late February 2020, digital marketing agency Sweb Development lost its office building to a fire. Two weeks later, Covid shut down every office building. Despite these setbacks, including losing her mother and testing positive to COVID, Magaly Chocano was one of the lucky ones in that her business didn’t suffer during the pandemic. Even so, people losing their livelihood overnight profoundly shook her. To help businesses in need she formed the nonprofit In This Together, which facilitated gift-card buying to support both local businesses and organizations serving people in need. In eight weeks, In This Together raised $140,000. She also launched Safewell, a for-profit venture that developed re-opening plans in English and Spanish for businesses across 13 different industries summarizing local, state, and federal regulations.  

Going Bigger and Bolder

Jim Small’s bout with Covid last September was nothing if not clarifying. After testing positive for Covid, he found himself asking: Is this how I want my company to be? Is this what I want to be doing?” Small decided the time was right to be bold. As part of his plan to shift his company “from good to great,” in late 2020 he rolled out daily, weekly, and monthly metrics for every team member. “Daily or weekly, you didn’t know if you won the day,” he says. Now, he says, “everyone has their own personal scoreboard. While some employees find comfort in the clarity the new metrics provide, others have decided to move on. We can get more out of people, and they can get more out of themselves” with the right leadership, he says.  

https://www.inc.com/lindsay-blakely/entrepreneurs-sick-covid-leadership-lessons.html

Final Thought: Over many years I have read great stories of leaders who, after a life changing experience, see the world around them very differently. You don’t need to experience a serious illness or death to undergo a cathartic experience. You can choose to change who you are anyway (yes, its possible). What each leader has shown us above is that letting go is a key step. It brings clarity of vision and purpose…

Self Reflection – The Challenge of Being A Leader

Being a leader is not easy. It is, as I have described to many others, the equivalent to “whistling in the wind.

Photo by ArtHouse Studio on Pexels.com

There are days when it feels as if there is no answer on the horizon, those around you are struggling and others still, need you to come up with an answer there and then.

Even your sounding boards are nowhere to be found. You start to have visions of Edward Teach being more than happy to help you walk the plank in this situation (or would he?).

In short, you are left to your own devices. Those who normally interfere and try and tell you what to do, suddenly disappear. It is all left up to you and matters quickly become a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t !

Self doubt in this situation is very real. Leaders are not perfect. However, when they act, their ability to galvanise others into action is formidable.

Whenever I have found myself “whistling in the wind,” or that feeling of loneliness and images of the wind howling across a desolate plain, a rocky outcrop, or stormy ocean, I take time out to look at what I need to do to address such a feeling.

The key I have always found (once it occurs to me) is giving myself permission to take time out and think. This means putting all those biting issues to one side, grabbing a cup of tea to encourage self reflection. However, it might be going for a walk, taking a bike ride, playing the guitar, reading a book or an article, or undertaking some yoga instead (well okay, I have been known to watch a kdrama or two in this situation), and sifting through what has worked previously to develop a course of action (or not).

So, how did I reach this conclusion? A long time ago I was captivated by the thoughts of Albert Einstein. We know Einstein was a great thinker. However, his thought process probably differs to what many would expect. The Evernote Team in their blog regarding Albert’s creative thought process describe it as follows:

He viewed taking music breaks as an important part of his creative process. In addition to music, he was a proponent of ‘combinatory play’ — taking seemingly unrelated things outside the realms of science (art, ideas, music, thoughts), and blending them together to come up with new ideas. It’s how he came up with his most famous equation, E=mc2.

Self reflection is critical a leader’s sense of purpose and also their survival. Taking time out of a busy schedule is the right thing to do. Don’t worry about what you see in the movies and tv shows or even how some experts describe successful leaders. Remember: driving yourself into the ground or becoming a “legend in your own mind,” (as Dirty Harry would say), doesn’t achieve anything. However, a moment’s reflection will provide you with a lifetime of opportunity that wasn’t there at the start of the day!

Please feel free to share your thoughts…

Image courtesy of Wallpaper Access – https://wallpaperaccess.com/dirty-harry

Hot Cross Rum Cocktail — Happy Easter Everyone!

I thought I would share with you this recipe by Chef Mattew Butcher as it appeared in ele for a Hot Cross Rum Cocktail. I am now under instruction to make sure we have such a delight available over Easter…

Toasted, buttered hot cross buns are one of life’s little pleasures – add a little rum and Easter just got a whole lot more fun! Chef Matthew Butcher has created a hot cross bun inspired cocktail – the Hot Cross Rum – that will be available at all of his venues across Melbourne and Sydney for a limited time (Yugo, Dive Bar and Estate).

Hot Cross Rum Cocktail —

The Hot Cross Rum cocktail boasts hero ingredients of dark rum, ruby port and of course, a couple of hot cross buns. The sugar syrup, which can be made from scratch, tops off this ultimate Easter cocktail. Matt shares his recipe with us below so you can also enjoy this cocktail at home this Easter.

Ingredients

60ml dark rum

10ml Ruby Port

10ml melted butter

30ml milk

1 whole egg

15ml spiced sugar syrup*

2 x hot cross bun (second hot cross bun, to slice and toast for garnish)

Method

1. Add all ingredients, except hot cross bun in shaker to combine and emulsify.

2. Add mixed ingredients and 1 x hot cross bun into blender. Blend on high until hot cross bun is pulverised.

3. Strain and gently press down on sediment to push absorbed liquid out.

4. Shake over ice and strain.

5. Serve with Hot Cross Bun toasted chips. Enjoy! 

Spiced Sugar Syrup

1. Add 100g water and 100g sugar to saucepan on medium heat. 

2. Add ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder, ginger powder, 1 star anise, 4 cloves, or desired amounts, stir until sugar and powders are dissolved.

3. Strain through cheesecloth. The sugar syrup will keep up to 1 week in the fridge.

Have a very Happy Easter 🐰💒🐣

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com

Free Project Presentation Reporting Template

Another experiment in developing free useful resources for you
Figure 1 – Project Presentation Reporting Template

In a recent post on the KISS principle, I provided an example of a highly effective tool I use regarding reporting on projects in presentation format.

In my line of work I may have to report on up to 30 – 40 projects across a wide range of services and facilities at any given time. So I developed this project reporting template a while ago now to assist with such an eventuality in a very succinct way.

Some may say the template looks a bit dated. That being said, I have used it many times in many different configurations and styles. I know we are all aware of “death by power point.” However, if you want to make an impact across key projects very quickly without multiple slides for each one, then this is the way to do it. The theme you use is up to you, however it should reflect the style of the agency, group or situation.

It can be seen there are five key areas to the project reporting presentation template set out in Figure 1:

  1. The heading. Commonsense really, but I do see many presentations out there without this key feature.
  2. Key description box. Use this section to show: when the project is due, who is responsible for the project, how it links to the organisations strategic plan, the relevant KPIs, scope, comments and risks.
  3. A relevant photo of the project. A picture tells a thousand words!
  4. A resources quadrant. This is typically the overall costs that can be tracked using budget vs actuals financial data.
  5. Project timeline or Gantt Chart.
Try It: Here is the Downloadable Project Presentation Reporting Template Just For You!

So, here is a version of the template you can download in one of four formats, for your exploration and use:

Keynote Format (Mac)

The template was developed originally in Keynote, so a breeze for Mac users. Personally, I like using Keynote. I find it suits my creativity and intuitiveness.

Power Point Format (Microsoft Office)

This version is an alternative to Keynote, for those who use Power Point, or are more familiar with this product. I have used Power Point ever since it became available. It has vastly improved over many years. However, I still find it clunky at times.

Word (Microsoft Office)

I have provided a Word version as a point of interest. However, it has issues regarding the resourcing quadrant.

PDF Version

I have provided a PDF, just because it is always nice to see a presentation slide in a format that can be used in a document.

Although, it may go against the suggestion that presentations should be kept minimalistic (no more than six bullet points per slide. This slide allows you to present key data all on one page that you can talk to without needing many subsidiary slides to back up what you are presenting 😊 It also means that you won’t face a room like this one:

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

As per usual, I welcome any comments or thoughts you have. How effective are you when it comes to reporting on a project or many projects?

Because, Sometimes The World Has Light

At the end of episode 22 from season one of New Amsterdam, Dr Iggy Frome says to a recovering patient:

“because, sometimes the world has light.”

The patient suffers from PTSD due to an explosion at a night club and as a result believes there is no good in the world. Sadly, we can find similar thoughts among many young people regarding the future, and a fair cross section of others who experience unhappiness. However, Dr Iggy says the world is a good place and there is much to look forward to. We just need to find it.

There is Much Light to Look for

Photo by Binti Malu on Pexels.com

Like Dr Iggy, I believe there is much light in the world. However, we do need to look for it, to seek it out, and to find it (although, some of us may not have to look too far). Here are some sources of light to move towards and sources of darkness, or distractions, to move away from:

Good Things to Look For:

  • Friends, partners, family and colleagues who support us, who do not judge us, are constructive and spend time with us;
  • Factual news and information regarding people, organisations and groups, who make a difference;
  • People with a positive outlook, who have faith, use an open mind. There are amazing people the world over, in all walks of life;
  • How to be healthy: both physically and mentally. We live in a fast paced world, or so it seems. Taking time to stop and smell the roses and eating properly is a must and there is plenty of information out there to help us to get in the right frame of mind before we make that dreaded visit to the doctor or other health professional (Okay, I admit, that is just me);
  • Meaningful and fulfilling work, whether as a paid person or as a volunteer. People do need meaning in their life. Feeling useful is key to this;
  • Bloggers who enlighten the world. Their knowledge, experiences and support brighten our world each day.

Bad Things That Distract Us

  • Sensational news reporting. Much of what is reported feels and reads very much from a negative point of view, and is often repetitive;
  • What is happening to the environment. Yes, there are environmental disasters out there, but there is so much good environmental work being done;
  • Gossip by others. Gossip for the most part, in my experience, has no basis in truth, or if it does, is so distorted from the facts, it is harmful in the extreme. See my next point that follows;
  • Some forms of social media. Perhaps it is not the platform, but how it is used and managed that is the real problem;
  • Not resolving wars and conflicts. There are 255 countries in the world today including Taiwan and 60 dependencies. There are just over 40 conflicts happening worldwide at this time (i.e. 15% of countries). These wars and conflicts are terrible, we should help resolve them, albeit peacefully, instead of saying it has nothing to do with me.

Side Bar – Appreciation and Criticism of New Amsterdam

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

New Amsterdam is a show we enjoy at home. However, it has its critics, including those who say it is unrealistic, and in essence, damaging. Brit Trogen, who works at the Bellevue (the hospital on which New Amsterdam is based and filmed at), in The Atlantic makes this point: New Amsterdam fails both Doctors and Viewers. Her article is well written and I must say, makes many pertinent points. In essence she questions the decisions made by Max and some of the approaches used.

For me though, New Amsterdam is aspirational. There are many leadership, management and board issues put forward. I realise hospitals are complex. However, I have walked into many places like Max has done and wrung the changes, quickly (think Jan Carlzon re The Moments of Truth and inverting or flattening the organisational pyramid). And, so I enjoy watching his daily tousle as he tries to implement new leadership and management strategies. Some work, and some do not. That’s life, afterall.

The lists in this post are far from complete, but remember that light will always triumph over darkness (Just read Lord of the Rings to see how it happens 😊).

The header photograph to this post is courtesy of: Luke Lung on Unsplash

Inspirational Story: How Kim Ng, Major League Baseball’s First Female GM, Finally Got the Top Job

A fabulous piece by Sean Gregory at Time regarding looking beyond breaking the glass ceiling through an interview with Kim Ng

Kim Ng took her seat on the chartered jet. As assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, she was joining the team on a road trip in 2008…

How Kim Ng, Major League Baseball’s First Female GM, Finally Got the Top Job

Kim Ng took her seat on the chartered jet. As assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, she was joining the team on a road trip in 2008.

Soon the Dodgers players started filing onto the plane, and a flight attendant began taking drink orders from staffers. When she reached Ng—pronounced Ang, rhymes with Hang—the flight attendant leaned in close. “So what did you do to get on this plane?” she asked.

After nearly two decades in baseball front offices, Ng had become accustomed to the condescending glances, outright hostility and attempts at intimidation that come with being the only woman in the room. But this was, well, something else entirely. So Ng decided, as she had so many times in her professional life, to have some fun with the situation.

“Do you really want to know?” Ng said conspiratorially, teasing a salacious secret.

“Yeaaah,” the flight attendant replied, barely containing her enthusiasm.

“See all these guys?” Ng said.

“Yeaaah.”

“They all work for me,” Ng said.

Speaking during a video interview from a hotel room in Miami where she had been staying for the past month or so, Ng laughs recalling this conversation. “She slinked away,” Ng says. “The point was, Why are you asking me this?”

Ng was named the general manager of the Miami Marlins in November, becoming the first female GM in the history of major North American men’s pro team sports and the first East Asian American to lead a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. She had interviewed for GM positions at least 10 times over the years, only to be passed over for someone else. But her hiring by the Marlins was not just a personal victory—it was widely celebrated as a breakthrough with the potential to place more women in traditionally male power roles, in baseball and beyond.

If you want to know more, read on here

Following your dream is possible 😊

A Snapshot of a Busy Fortnight

Last week, a rose I resurrected, bloomed!
Myself and Dave – lunch the previous Monday at the C Restaurant
Dave’s impressive dessert 🍨
Nat and Linda on the other side of the table at the C Restaurant
The pizza oven is going well. This was lunch on Sunday 🍕
Work on remodelling the main bathroom commenced. There used to be a spa bath in the corner under the window.
On my way to work on-site with a client on Tuesday, I had to stop to let these big boys through. Mining is alive and well here. A month ago this stretch of road was on the edge of the fire ground that destroyed so much.

That afternoon the rain started and delivered the best part of 140mm in two and a bit days! We also lost power many times. Thank goodness for back up generators. In other words I could keep working, but had a candlelit dinner for one that night back at my place of accommodation. I had my guitar with me too, so I managed to keep the neighbours entertained for the last three evenings.
On arriving home today, after being with my client on-site for the last three days, the bathroom looks like this: Roman bath, tiling and vanity. The toilet is completely separate, in its own water closet. The finishing touches re the glass shower screens, painting, and the electrics will happen next week 😊

To everyone out there doing it tough right now, our thoughts are with you

And have a great weekend!!!

One Thing You Can Do To Actively Engage Your Team – Keep Them Informed and How To Do It!!!

Why the Right Type of Communication is Important To You and Your Employees.

Following on from my last post regarding discussion and dialogue, let’s have a look at how poor communication disengages the people who work with you:

85% of Employees are not engaged or are actively disengaged!

Photo by Tim Douglas on Pexels.com

The Gallup organisation in its most recent employee engagement meta-analysis involving 96 countries across the globe consisting of 112,312 business/work units comprising of 2,708,528 employees in 54 industries found that 85% of all employees are still either not engaged or are actively disengaged!

The meta-analysis is an ongoing study by Gallup for the last 50 years, so it does have some amazing data to share on the change of employee engagement during that time.

Working out the cost of disengagement

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The Gallup revelation is not new, nor are the many different strategies that have been implemented the world over to try and get more people engaged at work.

Using two of the Gallup metrics, Dr Brit Andreatta detailed how to calculate the cost of disengagement to an organisation. The metrics are: 17.2% of employees are disengaged and an actively disengaged employee costs their organisation $3,400 for every $10,000 or 34% (How to Calculate the Cost of Employee Disengagement – Paul Petrone).

So, what you do first is identify the number of people that you have e.g. 10. Then multiply 10 x the metric re employees disengaged i.e. 0.172 (17.2%) = 1.72.

Next you work out the median salary or wage of your workforce. For example, say it is $60,000 per year. Then apply the cost of disengagement (34%). This comes to $20,400.

Finally, multiply the number of disengaged employees (1.72) by the cost of disengagement ($20,400). This equals $35,088 per year.

So, now imagine the following: if you have 100 employees, the cost is $350,880 each year. If you have 1,000 employees, the cost is $3,508,800 per year and so on.

Is it me? Or, is it you?

So, what is going on?

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

As it turns out, in most cases, ineffective management is the cause of the disconnect. David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom in their article 10 Shocking Workplace Stats You Need To Know tells the story!

The way managers and leaders communicate with their teams causes a perception that alienates the disengaged employee. Some of the perceptions I have had to manage and then change over many years that bears this out includes:

  • I am being micro-managed;
  • My supervisor is not interested in what I am doing;
  • I am not allowed to be involved;
  • I have been told no yet again regarding accessing training and development;
  • I am not allowed to have tools and equipment that will make my job easier and more interesting;
  • No one ever listens to what I have got to say;
  • Meetings are a waste of time;
  • No one ever tells us what is going on around here.

The Solution – Work Out How to Communicate Effectively!

Strategic Teams – A Key Component of the Engagement Diamond

The bottom line is that the most effective way to commence breaking the communication drought is through keeping those around you informed!

Believe it or not, many leaders, managers, supervisors and team leaders need to learn this skill. You may be a good talker and have an “engaging” personality, but that doesn’t mean you are keeping those around you informed. There is nothing worse than seeing the look in the eyes of your team members that virtually says “I can’t hear you, because it sounds like being on the end of a long distance phone call.”

Contrary to what some may think, those in the frontline know their job very well. However, that doesn’t mean they know what is happening throughout the organisation, let alone how the organisation works. Then on top of this, there is a disconnect occurring between the generations.

There is plenty of good material and courses that a manager can access regarding dealing with difficult people and situations. There are resources on how to delegate effectively. There is even courses on how to undertake an effective presentation or run a worthwhile meeting. There are training programs regarding how the different generations like to do things in the workplace (Oh boy, how this has changed. When I first started work, I did as I was told – thinking for myself wasn’t an option).

The most effective tool I have ever used is a quarterly presentation to all staff regarding how well the organisation is functioning and confirmation of where we are heading, together. My second most effective method: how I run a meeting. In short, I ensure everyone is involved. It takes a huge effort to do this, but it works. Then, of course, there are those meetings I let others run. The third most effective tool: a staff newsletter. The great secret here is working out a format that your team(s) like – it’s simple enough to do – just ask them. Finally, I get out and about and ask questions and I try to listen as best I can. Believe it or not most staff like this.

So next time you begin a conversation, make sure you are not perceived as using one of these:

Photo by Tiko Giorgadze on Unsplash

Improving Communication Through Understanding the Difference Between Discussion and Dialogue

Understanding the difference between what is discussion and what is dialogue will improve your level of communication. Read on…

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

In today’s world, even more than ever, we need to start improving our level of communication. I say this, because what I have noticed over a long period of time, is an ever increasing level of uninformed discussion driving outcomes due to meaningful dialogue not occurring in the first place😱

What is the difference between Discussion and Dialogue?

Discussion is often confused with dialogue. They are quite different as we shall see:

Discussion

Discussion between Elected Members and Senior Staff to develop a safe road solution. Photo by yours truly

Tom Barrett suggests discussion is analysing different points of view.

Discussion should be about the merits of a case, to pull it apart, to present an analysis of different points of view. For example: an agenda, a presentation, a report, a lecture.

Unfortunately, because discussion is one sided, it can be quite divisive. Social media is a case in point. So too, is a person in a position of authority that displays narcissistic behaviour.

However, discussion can also be consensus orientated. Team meetings, project groups, many board meetings and cabinet are more about consensus i.e. as James Madden points out, without going to a formal vote. Consensus avoids the sense of winners and losers. Will informed discussion in this situation, is key.

Dialogue

A Workshop By Yours Truly With the Boards of the Master Plumbers Group Board re Implementing Good Governance

Many of the models developed on the effective use of dialogue over the last 40 years are generally attributed to prominent philosopher Jürgen Haberman and his theory of communicative action.

As Camille Marquis points out: communicative action assumes the participants are equal in the dialogue and open to the other’s reasons. There is an exchange of reasons and counter-reasons, arguments and counter-arguments.

Or to put it more simply: dialogue is generally constructive. As Kevin Eikenberry suggests, dialogue is a process that allows us to think together.

The bottom line regarding dialogue: it is all about trust.

Dialogue is the language of the diplomat. Workshops also fall into this category as it is collaborative in nature. They are designed to inform (or they should be), promote better understanding and produce a list of potential solutions.

To conclude

Discussion, for all intents and purposes, is informal debate, or “this is my view on the matter” and is concerned with making a decision. Dialogue on the other hand, is a meeting of the minds to examine a concept or idea, to collaborate through the sharing of information, knowledge, wisdom and experience.

With the local governments I work with, I use dialogue and discussion techniques to help them make better decisions through using the following steps:

  1. Use dialogue first. Typically, this means exploring issues for consideration through a workshop.
  2. The outcomes from the workshop then go forward for presentation at a briefing session – this allows for further (or final) clarification.
  3. The final phase involves the outcomes going to a Council (board) meeting for decision based on formal discussion (debate) or preferably, by consensus.

Good communication allows us to be part of the solution, not part of the problem 😊

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