Flexible Working Mindset

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As I was lucky enough to work for a very forward thinking multinational American based organisation in my early career I have always been a fan of flexible working. Even back in the 1980’s and 1990’s working for this company my performance was always measured on the results I achieved not the hours I spent in the office.

When I started a family, I was one of the first senior leaders to return to my role on a part time basis and another couple of my then colleagues were part of a pilot plan to prove a senior leadership role in the Marketing Function could be successfully be carried out on a job share basis (which they did prove!) Flexible working in many forms were supported and actively encouraged as a way of keeping high performers working for the organisation as their personal circumstances changed and recruiting replacements would have been time consuming and expensive.

Since leaving this organisation and having had the privilege of working with many more across a huge variety of industries also supporting SME’s and startups I still work with the ethos of encouraging leaders to do whatever they can to consider individual requests for flexible working/ part time contracts if a few things are carefully considered by both parties.

Firstly, the individual must have clearly defined role, specific areas of responsibility and a plan needs to be in place to cover the times when the individual is not available for work as per the agreed schedule. This is where job sharing can be of great benefit providing the necessary co-cover for each other. If job sharing isn’t an option, then there may be a developmental opportunity for another member of the same organisation to learn skills and provide cover. This ensures continuity of role especially important in client facing roles.

The second thing to consider is that the role needs to be manageable from both a business and a personal perspective using the flexible or reduced hours model. With increased technology this makes life a lot easier with remote access and cloud-based applications the norm now. There wasn’t this luxury back in those early years however we still made it work.

The mindset should however still be the same all these years on – if someone requests a flexible or reduced hour schedule and they have already proven they can do the job well it should simply be “what can we do to make this work from both a business case and a personal standpoint”

 

Sandra works as a coach for both businesses and private clients primarily based in Bristol UK however throughout the year also works in London and Palma Mallorca. More information can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com.

 

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Persistence & Accountability

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So how are you doing with all those good intentions, resolutions, goals or new habits that you decided to commit to at the beginning of the year?

If I look at myself then I would say I am doing better with some than others, there are certain actions that are proving more difficult to embed as habits than others. When I work with both business and private clients keeping the momentum going over a long period of time and working out how to embed certain behaviours or habits that the individual wants to work on is by far the hardest part of the change process.

So let’s take a work example to illustrate a couple of things that can help embed new ways of improving or creating new actions moving forwards:

 A leader I have been working with for several months was struggling to commit her time to holding regular Team Meetings and hold monthly 1-1,s with her direct reports. She had had various attempts at putting the meetings in the diary and had also managed to keep the momentum going with a few meetings but it never lasted more than a couple of months. She began to think it didn’t matter as she sat quite close to the people they all chatted every day and they were having the occasional meeting. Deep down however she knew that the regular pattern she had originally set out to achieve hadn’t been embedded to become routine practice plus the fact that these two activities in my view (as her coach) were key to maintaining individuals motivation, aiding consistent communication and managing performance issues. It took a couple of events to refocus the leaders attention back to the important “why” did she want to work on improving this area in the first place. The two events were a high performing member of the team handed in her notice as she felt she wasn’t been challenged or developed enough in the role plus in the end of year appraisal feedback the Team commented that they often didn’t know what was going on in other areas of the business. When we discussed both of theses events at a coaching discussion it was clear that if the regular 1-1’s had been happening with everyone and team meetings were a given part of daily operations then these two events might not have occurred.

 So this illustration shows there has to be a solid reason behind why you want to embed new behaviours or change the way you do things.

 Ask yourself the question for anything you intended to do at the beginning of 2018 what was your “why” was it strong enough? Is it still there?

 Also who are you accountable ? It really helps if you share what you would like to work on with someone else and ask them to be your accountability buddy until the new habit or action becomes embedded in your routine.

Sandra works as a coach to both businesses and private clients – more information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She has also written a book called Own It which can be found on Amazon at http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

Avoid the Trap of the Busy Fool

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Whether you are employed, self employed, running a small business or juggling a portfolio career its important to stop falling into this trap. Everyone we meet now is very busy, it is rare that you meet someone who isn’t, some people are always frantically running from one thing to another or burning the candle at both ends working on various things or meeting the demands of others.

Periodically it is good to take time out and evaluate whether you are spending time on the right things, especially if you are starting to feel frazzled and unhealthy on a regular basis.

So, what are the right things? Anything or anyone that is important to you is the ideal answer. If the activity you are currently working on is an important part of your job, if it is aligned to a key goal you have set yourself or if it involves spending time with someone who inspires, encourages you and makes you feel good then that is probably time well spent. Obviously in all our lives we have necessary tasks to do that aren’t that exciting e.g. Paying bills, sorting out household chores, general life admin etc. and with these types of things it is best to set aside blocks of time and rattle through as quick as possible with minimum interruption. In a funny way if I take this approach there is a sense of satisfaction when I can tick these mundane things off my list and move into more enjoyable activities.

The dangerous trap you need to avoid is the busy fool one…. This is where we are busy however we are spending time on non-value added, unnecessary and unenjoyable experiences. If you look back in how you spent your day, week or weekend and you are thinking that the time spent ticked any of these boxes then maybe changes need to be made. For any activity where you feel that way you can decide to either a) not do it again b) find a way of doing it more effectively so spending less time it or c) get someone else to do it.

The other way you find yourself in the busy fool territory is when you are spending too long on something that doesn’t warrant it either because you are a perfectionist and the task doesn’t need that level of perfectionism or you are spending too long on one task as an avoidance strategy or procrastinating to prevent the more important task you should be doing but don’t want to do.

So, look back at last week’s diary did you spend time on the right things and with the right people? If not, what changes can you make to your schedule next week and in the future to prevent this happening again. Oh, and leave some space for downtime and recharge… scheduling time for this is important for your wellbeing so that you don’t become a burnt-out fool.

 

Sandra Webber works as a coach for businesses and private clients and is the author of Own It – regain control and live life in your terms available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

Are You Making Enough Space?

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Make space to enjoy your surroundings

Someone asked me this question earlier in the year regarding my diary management, however as the months have gone on I have used this question for both my own time management but also in some of the coaching conversations that I am having with our clients.

How often do we look at how we are using our time and assess are we spending the time on the right things. In our Time Management Programmes we state that one resource that we all have equally unlike money, talent, skills etc is time. We all have 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and 12 months in a year. How we use it, however is our choice.

  • When it comes to Job Hunting , are you making enough space in the diary for networking, putting your face in front of the agencies? So that people see your personality rather than just a curriculum vitae on their desk.
  • When it comes to Leading People are you making time for quality 1-1’s with your direct reports? To understand their individual personality and motivation.
  • When you are Running a Business are you making time to put together a solid strategic plan? Schedule some time away from the office to simply think where do you want to take the business.

No matter what role you have, and why this question was originally asked of me was, are you making enough space in your diary for “unstructured time” so that you are not running from one meeting or appointment to another?

Enjoy the space.