Thursday, 25 April 2013

“That which we persist in doing, becomes easier to do” ~ R.W. Emerson*

The focus of this month's meeting was on continually developing the skills and abilities needed to maintain our productivity, so that we can stay sharp, and up-to-date with industry trends. 

One way of doing this could be to attend relevant workshops, and to interact with colleagues from other departments to understand the wider processes and to see the bigger picture of the company within the industry as a whole. 

Work Smart - newsletter, April 2013

For April's meeting, LD had asked members to write a thank you card to a colleague. Some members felt this was unnecessary, as a culture of thanking colleagues already exists in many companies. However, it was noted that cards from managers at Christmas were appreciated and often kept as mementos. One colleague sent a thank you card for being warned about a traffic diversion affecting the commute to work during snowy weather.

“Sharpening the Saw”:
Members spoke about strategies to stay on top of work and industry trends, including learning new skills and mastering the technology. LD referred to the 7th Habit, in Stephen Covey's book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"**, which is “sharpening the saw” -  taking 5 minutes to keep up-to-date and aware of Best Practice, so we can complete our work effectively. Often we get so busy sawing, we forget that our saws can become blunt. We get used to doing things the way we did them when we started in our role, but there are always new developments and trends.

Staying sharp would equate to the 5% of development time as part of our objectives. Members spoke about the benefits of workshops, in particular internal workshops, as an example for learning:
  • Internal workshops facilitate greater understanding of the Big Picture and where we fit into the wider process
  • Improve presentation skills and share knowledge
  • Meet colleagues in other departments, and step away from the routine. Seeing things from a new perspective can spark collaboration between departments.
  • Workshops must be relevant, and well-presented, and need line manager support, as attendance is actually part of our jobs.
  • Ideally material would be centrally available to refer back to afterwards
  • Ask the Learning and Development department to develop courses that are relevant.
Brian Tracy's book "Eat That Frog"*** compares tasks we may approach last because they are hardest or we are not skilled at, as “frogs”. He encourages us to tackle them sooner to increase our abilities and grow. Assigning a reward to such a task can be helpful to focus on achievement. LD handed out small chocolates to each member to assign as a reward to completion of a task of their choosing before the next meeting. 

Blog of the month:

For the next meeting, please share one example of Best Practice in your work. 
              Effective. Efficient. Organised. Professional

            *“That which we persist in doing, becomes easier to do. Not that the task becomes easier, but our ability to do increases” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
              **"Eat That Frog", Brian Tracy, Hodder Paperbacks (13 Sep 2004)
                ***"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", Stephen Covey, Simon & Schuster Ltd; 1989

                Tuesday, 9 April 2013

                "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
                ~ Marcel Proust

                Last week I attended a conference in Brussels for a few days. It was a trip of new experiences: new people, new ideas, new opportunities and new connections. It was the first time I’d been to Brussels, and I’d not travelled on the Eurostar before, so that was exciting in itself. It was also an opportunity to spend time with colleagues in a different environment outside of the office, and we were fortunate enough to stay in a good hotel, along with the other delegates.

                When we spend time with our colleagues away from work, we see them through different eyes, eg my colleague James, who stood up and presented to a roomful of around 100 people rather than a group of 10, and then sat on the panel discussion. We can observe them in an alternative environment.

                We can learn much from other people who are successful, the people we admire, even if it’s just something small from each person. When I went on the life coaching taster course recently, they asked us if we thought talking to a roomful of 100 people was a stretch or a panic goal (Bev James, “Do it or Ditch it”*). I now feel that it's a stretch, because I am used to talking to groups of 10 or 20 through the groups I run at work, and going to a public speaking group in Oxford. So for me the next step up from that will be to present to a larger group next time. 

                Not only do we see our colleagues through different eyes, we see ourselves through different eyes, and the eyes of new people we meet. In such cases we may meet people from different backgrounds, whether they are from the same industry or other parts of the industry. We come together to share ideas, because we are all working to a common goal. 

                We need to recognise where we think the same as people, and where our opinions differ, but the goal is not to think alike, “the goal is to think together” (with apologies to Robert C. Dodd**)

                When we travel, we also have to remember that we take ourselves with us wherever we go. One morning, my colleague made a comment about how we treat our hotel rooms, saying in her opinion you can tell a lot about someone from the way they behave away from home. She’s right, I went to the gym before breakfast, ate as healthy as I could throughout the conference, choosing herbal teas and water, and even fruit for breakfast, a habit I may take home with me, and incorporate into my lifestyle. I felt healthier over the two days, as a result.

                There is much we can learn from any experience away from work, whether that is a meeting or a conference abroad. We see ourselves in a new light, perhaps, when we get out and about - it's really as if few are lifting our heads up for a moment, to look around us, to be aware of where we are and where we are going.

                So the next time you have a meeting, or you are sent somewhere, ask yourself, what can I learn from this?


                Effective. Efficient. Organised. Professional. 

                * "Do It or Ditch It", Bev James, Virgin Books, July 2011. 

                **Original quote, “The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.” Robert C. Dodds.