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I am always keen to hear from people on business / speaking and writing opportunities or you just may simply want to have a chat - believe that meeting new people is the route to everything so happy to just chew the fat! 

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Blog

Adam Hutchison's Blog - just a little space in the world were i air my thoughts on anything and everything i am either involved in or enjoy. Many of you may wish to skip by and ignore my meandering thoughts but others may find them informative...

 

Filtering by Tag: Risk v Reward

Reasons Why Work Friends Are The Best!

Adam Hutchison

And the truth is – yes – building such relationships will open up more opportunities for you in the future…

But there are plenty of other (less selfish) reasons why your work friends are the best type of friends. Some of those reasons are…

1. They know your tea and/or coffee order.

They even know your schedule if you have one (tea at 10am, coffee at 1pm, tea at 3pm etc.)

2. They bring you food.

From fruit in the kitchen to cakes from the shop, your work friend is unlikely to pick something up for themselves without thinking of you.

3. They can be your drinking buddy.

After a tough day (or morning) at the office, sometimes all you need is a trip to the pub and a good old rant with your work friend.

The same rule applies for Friday night celebrations. And just anytime you fancy a pint down the local!

4. You’ll never lunch alone.

Unless they’re busy… at which point you’ll feel a little bit lost and wonder what on earth you should do for the hour.

5. They actually know what you do.

Come on, how many of your other friends actually know (and fully understand) your day job?

6. You can share “top secrets” with them.

Sworn to secrecy by your out-of-work friends? Gasping to tell someone? If your work pal doesn’t know them, it doesn’t count, right?

7. They’ll pump you up.

When you’re feeling nervous about a meeting/ presentation/ sales pitch etc. your work friend will spur you on and tell you just how great you’re going to be!

8. They’ll have your back.

It’s obviously always better to have someone to back up and support your ideas, opinions and sentiments. But having this back-up will also deter potential office bullies from overruling, shouting you down and picking on you (something that unfortunately does occur in offices).

9. They’ll give less biased advice.

Of course, because they don’t know your out-of-work acquaintances they can offer you (and therefore them) sound, unbiased advice about anything, without worrying about offending anyone.

10. They’ll tell you everything’s going to be alright.

When you’re having a really crappy day and it feels like everything is going wrong, your work friend will put things into perspective. Everything is NOT always as terrible as it seems (and if it is, they’ll comfort you anyway).

11. They can crack you up.

Ever been trying really, really hard not to laugh at something but failing miserably because you notice your friend’s shoulders shaking under the pressure? This usually occurs in a stressful environment – which explains why it can often happen in the middle of a meeting at work or when you’re confronted with the boss etc. Although probably not great for your professional image, it’s fun to have a laugh at work and cut through some of that tension.

12. They understand your rants.

They know exactly what you’re talking about when you go on a half an hour rant about the boss, your working hours and/or your job.

Put simply, this is something that no one outside of work will ever full understand.

13. They probably dislike the same people as you.

I’m not suggesting that you should actively dislike people at work – but if you do, then chances are your work friend will too – and it’s actually a comfort to know that you’re not alone.

14. They get you.

You’re around each other for the majority of the week, so you definitely get to know each other’s little quirks and traits; they’ll certainly know how to irritate you and how to calm you down. Work together for long enough and you’ll pretty much be able to communicate via eye movements.

15. If anything, they know too much about you.

You have to stay friends, because they know some of your deepest, darkest secrets! (Not to mention those bitchy messages you’ve sent about the boss).

And there is more thanks to Coburg Banks for their insight and Blog on the subject..

Tips to Effectively Managing Remote Teams

Adam Hutchison

Working from home can be beneficial for both employee and employer, and for many, flexible working is a major determining factor in the job application process. With increasing child care costs, not everybody wishes to send their child to nursery, so working from home may be the only way people can secure an income.

Likewise, having remote workers puts less financial strain on start-ups who can save money on vital business resources which they would otherwise be obliged to purchase. Office space alone is a costly investment.

However, sometimes the problems caused by having a home working or remote team are overlooked. Too often people forget that they still have a workforce to control, and when the workforce is scattered around the country, and potentially even the world, executing an effective authoritative role is no mean feat.

Take note of the five top tips below and you should see the results in no time.

1. Put time and effort into recruiting the right people

Putting extra time and consideration into the recruitment stage will ultimately save you time and money further down the line. Home workers need to be self-motivated, dedicated and hard working so making sure the candidate fits the bill is vital. The worst thing that could happen would be to recruit someone who you are paying by the hour to lounge on the sofa watching Jeremy Kyle with their Blackberry in one hand and a pack of Hobnobs in the other. Get to know your employees on a personal level too to get a feel for their personality and strengths. Suggest an initial relaxed business meeting over lunch where you can get to understand how one another operates.

 2. Schedule weekly video conferences

Having regular face-to-face employee interaction is a vital part of any business, but when your workforce works from home, this isn’t always possible. And let’s face it, it’s not really acceptable to turn up at their house unannounced. So a good idea is to schedule weekly video conferencing calls with your employees. Software such as Skype or GoToMeeting allows for free group conversations, so if you do have a scattered team, it’s possible for you all to unite weekly to catch up and provide mutual support.

3. Embrace social media

Ditch formal communication tools such as phone and email where you can and embrace social media platforms to develop an instantaneous and more personal dialogue with your workforce. Most networks are geared up for business use. Facebook, for example, allows most files to be attached to private messages meaning the relay of information can be a speedier process. Alternatively, look at internal social media platforms like Yammer in order to communicate freely and privately.

4. Wear lots of different hats

Even though your team works from home, that’s not to say that the right procedures don’t need to be in place. This means pushing your executive role to one side and putting yourself in the shoes of metaphorical HR and IT departments. You need to take into consideration the necessary safety and security procedures, whether that be alerting your employees to the correct seating position to adopt or supplying them with the latest anti-virus software.

5. Trust your staff and allow them some autonomy

As well as geographical space, your employees also need some psychological distance. This can be difficult as it means placing your complete trust and livelihood in the hands of your staff. However, if employees feel trusted it will improve their confidence and boost their work ethic. Frequent unnecessary emails and calls checking up on them will only make them feel inadequate and could potentially result in them underperforming – something that neither of you wants.

And finally…

Work on honing your management style to a level that will be respected by your employees. The Alan Sugar approach simply won’t work on those working from the comfort of their own home.

The Trade Off Conundrum - Employee Vs Employer

Adam Hutchison

Whether you are an entrepreneur beginning in business or a long term Managing Director, the importance of leading employees towards a common goal should always be high on the agenda. I always talk of trade offs, because the common practice is for people in these positions to believe that there is constant conflict between themselves and their employees. During my mentoring I was given the analogy of “staff are like children” - not having children this did intrigue me as to what the statement really meant however I was then lead to believe that it meant that employees need clear guidelines and discipline on a daily basis to succeed. This can be interpreted in different ways and over the last 20 years the phrase I believe to be the same but its how this is interpreted that differs greatly.

 

The interpretation of managing performance is usually misunderstood by managers and business owners alike, they have found that this means being in control or acting as the parent in the room. We have all been there, we have all carried out this approach. Now its time to reflect on that scenario?

Did this work? Ask yourself this question - because my answer is clear no it did not! The issue is it will never work. Going back to my introduction (in the full book Risk V Reward) where I was personally managed in that way my well being towards the business was ran by fear, fear is a sure way to create unease. How can any workforce operate with the feeling of unease it simply is a false economy. I found myself working harder to repair the unease rather than focusing on what our measured outcomes should have been and the business performance.

 

So when I talk of a trade off this is it, leadership is about evaluating what is it we are doing right and what is it we are doing wrong. Accept that you have to trade with your teams to find the best approach to achieving a common goal. As with children you can’t force them to do anything this only creates further resistance to the outcome and makes the parents role or for this analogy, the leaders role that much more difficult in the long run.

 

So some examples of this format, gone are days of the "whip and stick" mentality brought from aggressive sales agencies in the 1980's, an example i heard one day from an senior exec in a manufacturing firm in the UK was as follows:

 

Owner: How are the guys today are they moaning about me?

Manager: Well Yes sir they are following this mornings meeting

Owner: Good i must be doing my job then!

Owner walks off in a smug fashion

 

This type of response is still common place in business which is a scary thought, as so many leaders constantly seek to create a sense of distance between themselves and their employees. This is a myth set by past experiences in their own employment built on what I have heard referred to as the Alfa Wolf approach (Dr Steven Peters - The Chimp Paradox). Lets take the same premise but turn it on a personal level and place the above conversation in a personal / social situation?

 

Just think about that for a second, would this type of conversation be acceptable to get something done? Would you expect a response from people to do you a favour or carry out a task for you if the expectation is that this is how you should be? The answer is simple no it wouldn't and no we would not act in this way because the fact is it is simply rude.

 

So why is it we believe to treat people differently because we are at the place of work. This is a common mistake and the start of where employees and employers begin their long term conflict, which sadly only ends up with a lack of productivity followed by a sense of demotivation. This demotivation is driven by a lack of mutual respect for one another at the crucial levels within an organisation.

 

What we are all looking for as human beings is a sense of connection, a need for belonging and self gratification for a good honest days work. Reflect back to the opening paragraph (of the Full Book) again do you think I felt motivated to go to work and deliver? No of course not, I did as much as I could to get the job done but no more than this, no extra mile. And did I have respect for my superior to the point where I would follow him through think and thin, well no I wouldn’t of. This is down to respect for each other in the workplace and is the start point for any relationship building.

 

Nearly every employee works for monetary reward (otherwise they would do volunteer work), but every employee wants to work for more than a pay check: They want to work with and for people they respect and admire, for people who respect and admire them in return. Hence why a kind word, a quick discussion about family, an informal conversation to ask if an employee needs any help, these moments are much more important than group meetings or formal evaluations. A true sense of connection is personal. That's why exceptional leaders show they see and appreciate the person, not just the worker, they see value in the connection between them.

 

The theme of respect is always open to interpretation but in the workplace respect can be offered in simple ways sometimes just by listening to opinions of people. This does not mean they are used or taken on board but just the ability to openly share views on an organisation is a great form of respect. “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen." - Ernest Hemingway - this is inherently true of most people by listening to your employees shows you value their opinions which intern creates a more cohesive working environment.

 

Listening is the foundation of any good relationship. Great leaders listen to what their customers and prospects want and need, and they listen to the challenges those customers face. They listen to colleagues and are open to new ideas. They listen to shareholders, investors, and competitors. So why not add your own trusted employees to this group after all they will be taking on the line share of the work, those who are successful rely on the wealth of employees to make their visions a reality.

The Loyal Employee...

Adam Hutchison

Every small business and / our entrepreneur hopes to have loyal employees. Yet loyalty has absolutely nothing to do with length of employment, following on in almost summary from the previous sections there is some real hot points which can help the understanding of what constitutes loyal employe furthermore what to look out for.

Who is more loyal:

         The 10-year employee who does just enough to get by, criticises you and your business at work and at home, and frequently and not-so-subtly undermines your decisions, or

         The six-month employee who genuinely embraces where you want to go and works hard every day to help you and your company succeed?

While experience matters, I'll take the six-month employee every time. Loyal employees are loyal to your company. They work hard for their pay and are committed to your company's success. Loyal employees may someday leave, but while they work for you, they do their best and often even put the company's interests ahead of their own. Phenomenally loyal employees hit the next level. They aren't just loyal to the company. They're also loyal to you even though their loyalty can be displayed in surprising ways.

The most loyal employees:

Tell you what you least want to hear. As a general rule, the more rungs on the ladder that separate you and an employee, the less likely that employee will be to disagree with you. For example, your direct reports may sometimes take a different position or even tell you that you're wrong. Their direct reports are much less likely to state a position other than yours.

And entry-level employees will sing directly from the company songbook, at least when you're the audience.

Truly loyal employees know that you most need to hear what you least want to hear: that your ideas may not work, that your point of view is off, that you made a mistake.

They'll tell you because they know that, though you may not care much for what you hear, you care tremendously about doing what is best for your company and your employees.

Treat you like a person. Remember when you were in grade school and you ran into your teacher at, say, the grocery store? It was weird. She wasn't supposed to exist outside of school. You didn't see your teacher as someone who wore shorts and had friends and wore an AC/DC T-shirt and actually had a life.

Your teacher wasn't a person; she was a teacher.

Lots of employees see you that way, too--they don't see you as someone with dreams and hopes, insecurities and fears.

You're not a person; you're a boss.

Genuinely loyal employees flip the employer-employee relationship: They know you want to help them reach their professional and personal goals and that you want what's best for them--and they also want what's best for you, both at work and in your personal life.

They see you as more than just a boss, and they treat you that way.

Never criticise you in front of others. "Bash the boss" is a game almost every employee plays, at least occasionally. (One of your employees is probably talking about you right now.) Partly they criticize you because it's a way of letting off steam, but mostly they do it because we all think, at least some of the time, that we can do a better job than the person we work for. Criticism, mocking, sniping--when you're in charge, those things come with the territory.

They also chip away at the respect you work so hard to deserve. Loyal employees get that. They don't gossip, they don't snipe, they don't talk behind your back--they give you the respect that they expect to receive, even when you're not around.

Yet they still disagree--only in private. Debate is healthy. Disagreement is healthy. Weighing the pros and cons of a decision, playing devil's advocate, sharing opinions--every leader wants to hear what his or her team thinks. It's not just enlightening; it's stimulating.

Truly loyal employees trust that they can share their opinions as freely as you do. In fact, they trust that you want them to--because you and the company benefit from an honest exchange of differing opinions and points of view. But once a decision is made...

Totally support your decisions--and you--in public.I guarantee you've been in at least one meeting where someone says, "Look, I don't think this is the right thing to do, but I've been told we're going to do it anyway. So let's at least give it our best shot."

After that little speech, does anyone ever give it their best shot? Even when they disagree with a decision, loyal employees don't try to prove you wrong. They do everything they can to prove you right.

Tell you when they need to leave. I've never known an incredibly loyal employee who wasn't also just a plain-old incredible employee. Because of that, you want them to stay. You need them to stay.

Still, sometimes they need to leave--for a better opportunity, a different lifestyle, to enter a new field, or to start their own business. But they also know their departure will create a tremendous hole, so they let you know what they're thinking to give you plenty of time to prepare. Granted, if an employee is willing to tell you well ahead of time she plans to leave, or is just thinking about leaving, it means she trusts you to an exceptional degree. Clearly she knows you won't start to treat her differently or fire her on the spot.

She trusts you because she's been loyal to you. After all, she has put your interests ahead of hers a number of times--and now she knows you'll do the same for her. And if you won't, what kind of boss are you? The kind that doesn't deserve loyal employees. Be the kind of boss that earns loyalty because you are loyal not in return, but first.