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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: Workforce

Aggression = Negativity

Adam Hutchison

So who has seen Glengarry Glen Ross and Boiler Rom, 2 of my favourite "How Not To Do It" Sales movies. Yes i have used them in Seminars and training sessions over and over but not for the reasons you would expect.


This brings us to some observations I have made in my time, and sad to say so of things I have done myself, I have fallen into the erroneous ways and failed on more than one occasion to get things right in the eyes of my team members. Some areas to consider are as follows, you will have your own ideas but give these two simple approaches a thought:


A Simple Hello:


As touched on, in the previous section perception of how managers deal with their teams is paramount so ensuring there is less aggression in the delivery. I personally experienced as an employed manager what it was like to be on the end of derogatory comments from your seniors, all this did was essentially drive a demotivated behaviour. As I have experienced this feeling of not wanting to deliver for someone it became easy for me when running my own businesses and discussing with others how negative this can be.


Sadly if you have not been through this, you can become blinkered to the fact that as an owner you are even doing anything wrong. The phrase delusions of grandeur is often used, put simply I associate this phrase to aggression. Owner / Directors who have either developed a business themselves or worked in very limited environment may not have the experience of dealing with many employees or even colleagues this is lost in the drive to create their initial vision. What ensues is that as the business grows and employees come on board an almost sense of over importance begins to develop. The treatment of your employees becomes so evident that demotivation can creep in, owners do need to be in strong control yes but not to the detriment to their own end goal.


Simple things to follow are


         Say hello in the morning

         Ask how someone is? Family? Weekend? Etc

    Learn your people’s personal life (just bullets no life stories required)


Simple interaction can go a long way to creating sustainable value with your employees. During my time working in the UK Private Healthcare sector, which is largely seen as a high turnover low expectation industry, I constantly tried to find ways to engage with my staff group through initiatives such as Employee of the Month, Employee of the Year, Performance incentives etc. These all failed to be hit with any real enthusiasm, I couldn’t understand why? This has worked in corporate environments, marketing teams and call centres, what I am doing wrong I thought. So I spoke with long standing managers within the business and asked them for their thoughts on this possible engagement.


What came back was interesting, they asked me to attend staff meetings from time to time, thank them for their hard work and organise more regular team gatherings. This seemed all to too simple, why was I thinking so big. The reason was expectation, its not complicated, during the feedback sessions I found that people within the business enjoyed chatting with me as the owner, they welcomed a simple hello or hows your day going? This is evident in all industries sometimes just talking with your staff will be all the engagement they need. Never forget the person touch be visible, be approachable.


So in the the following months I took a regular quarterly spot in staff meetings and made the effort to engage with staff on each site visit throughout the year, what I began to see was a change in attitude towards the senior management. The workforce began to feel part of the structure, this was not to blur lines of management, the workforce still understood the hierarchy, but the fact there was more engagement even on these simple terms created instant gratification for their contribution which then reflected in the quality of their work following on. Remember being more approachable galvanises your workforce.


Giving Direction:


Direction is next on the agenda of simple pointers to breed a positive environment removing the aggressive approaches. If you want someone to do something its best to understand what your outcomes are and what the outcomes are for the employee doing the task. Make people become part of the process being done don’t demand of people without justification, if the goal is common then success is more likely. The passion you have as an owner for a project / product / customer / situation should be ingrained into those around you.


A flaw would be to bark orders around and expect results; this in many situations brings an initial spiked reaction but the long term risk identified is demotivation which results in loss of employee engagement which results ultimately in the fact you have to re-recruit. This is of course win win for the recruitment consultant although fail fail for you and your business, recruitment should always be seen as a last resort. We will look at recruitment later but the mindset around recruitment should be changed to only recruiting when you have no other alternative or you are actively growing, therefore the need for more people in desired areas to achieve the goals set out. You should set a president that each time you need to go a recruitment consultant or agency - Ask yourself this question “Why am I recruiting?” the answers are very important and this reflection is the answer to whether replace someone who has left -  there is a problem somewhere? Which needs addressing each time. Why did the person leave, ask yourself and the business what can we improve on to ensure that people stay with the business? Did we do everything we could to ensure that person could grow and be successful with us? Rather than go elsewhere.


Sometimes more often than not its personally linked to management and delivery of requests made. Aggression will always be seen as something of a must when it comes to managing people, what you need to ask yourself is why? Why am I being aggressive is it related to something within my control rather their control. Employees are duty bound to follow by example when delivering on instructions, if you as an owner are not clearly following the processes you have laid down or worse have no processes in place then your expectation levels need to be lower. The aggression is just frustrations aired, aggression is just loss of control and loss of control = loss of respect. People can only deliver against clear objectives laid down in the first place by their leaders, this helps with the measurement of tasks long term. But being aggressive in delivery will reduce any chance of a sound measured outcome to any task.


Creating clear objectives for yourself and those around you will help achieve this, though well thought out processes to clear outcomes, creating the route map to a goal is key to achieving it. Like with sports teams tactics employed are there to deliver the achievement or end result if you like. In business this is the same your employees need clear directions or tactics to compete in their environment.

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.