I’ve Never Met a Vodka I Didn’t Like

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By Joe Moore

A couple of strangers sat down at the long, common café table. Both laden with shopping bags.

One of them asked for a vodka tonic, and settled for a glass of white wine.

The other looked up from the menu and ordered white wine and then asked;

“Do you know about vodka? Only that I just bought some and I got the most expensive – you get what you pay for with alcohol right?”

The guy’s response? I loved it!

“I’ve never met a vodka I didn’t like!”

This conversation started like many others you and I have had, almost everyone has had. Sit down beside a stranger and talk about things that demand little or no knowledge of each other – weather, the surroundings, the city you are in…The conversation may simply end there.

It’s the easiest conversation zone – requires little effort, little risk.

When we work with others though it is not enough.

When we need to relate to others professionally – it helps to know a little about them personally, and for them to know a little about us. It’s all part of cultivating relationships.

What are you prepared to talk about to create the balance between the personal and the professional in your working relationships?

Generally people with whom you have a professional relationship like to know a little about why you do what you do. They like to know a little about the person behind the office, behind your position. Pick three things you are comfortable talking about – open up a little more than you do now.

Would you lighten the business conversation with some information or a story about – children, family, holiday, your observations about anything in which you have an interest?

This post is by Joe Moore. Joe is the founder and principal of Kimber Moore Associates. He and his team are highly skilled in helping leaders and staff deal with uncertainty, change, complexity and conflicts. You can contact Joe here

5 Reasons You Need Great Communications Even If You Don’t Need Donors

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Okay, readers, I’m asking your opinion. Who’s right here?

The CEO of a large not for profit organisation recently said to me:

“Our organisation gets almost all its funding from government, not from donors. We get almost all our clients through referrals, not from publicity. We need good relationships with state and federal governments and with other providers. We don’t need communications. If the person who does our website and social media left tomorrow, I’d never miss her.”

I think the CEO is wrong. Here’s why.

  1. Government funding for human services depends on public support. If you’re a rich industry and can buy influence, you can get government to act in ways that the public doesn’t support. Human services cannot “pay to play.” If the public doesn’t generally approve of what you do, there’s no reason for elected officials or bureaucrats to continue funding you.
  2. Public support can keep the budget axe from falling. At the federal level, budget constraints can see whole programs cut –especially those that help the people who need help the most. Without public support, you’re an easy target.
  3. Public support depends on communications. Opinion leaders have to know, like, and trust your organisation. It’s up to you to make sure they do.
  4. Good writing and social media strengthen face-to-face relationships. Even the people you “do business with” regularly may have a hard time explaining what you do. Giving them handouts and newsletters, and keeping your organisation on their radar with email, website updates, and social media, helps them make good referrals (and speak well of you to potential supporters).
  5. When you start something new, you need supporters. Most government money is restricted to specific purposes. Your organisation may want to try something innovative, or pilot a program you’ve never run before. Getting a grant to do that might take forever. Having unrestricted donations lets you get started now.

What do you think? Are there not for profits that don’t need communications, or is a great communications program a “have to have” for every not for profit?

By Dennis Fischman: Dennis helps organisation’s win friends and get the support they need. The majority of organisations do great work and have a story to tell. Dennis helps them tell it.

You Will Never See An Office Block As Efficient As a Tree

 

My office for today

My office for today

 

Last Saturday (21st March) was International Day of Forests – a UN sponsored event designed to raise awareness of the global importance of all types of forests and of trees outside of forests.

Forests are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on land. They also provide shelter, employment and security for forest-dependent communities.

Their role in our battle to mitigate climate change is at last being recognised and was the theme of this year’s day.

Yet despite their great benefits to the planet and the creatures who live on it, we are managing to clear 13 million hectares of forest annually. As a result, deforestation is estimated to account for between 12 – 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

To mark this celebration, I have relocated my office for the day to a forest, which I am extremely fortunate to have in my own backyard.

In doing so I don’t think I  can add much further to highlighting the importance of forests. Maybe, however,  I can demonstrate that with the wonderful advances in technology, we no longer have to clear land to build offices. Solo professionals don’t need them and many of us can ply our trades from anywhere to anywhere!

And the next the step, perish the thought, is to demolish old office blocks and replace them with parks!

View from the "office window"

View from the “office window”

 

By Chris Gandy – Founder of Cause & Effective. We link exceptional subject matter experts with cause-based organisations making a positive social, cultural and environmental difference

Everyone Deserves The Same Opportunities And A Chance To Make The Same Choices

Tomorrow (21st March) is the World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD)

As you may or may not be aware, Down syndrome is a genetic condition in which the person has an extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional chromosome results in a variety of physical and developmental characteristics and some level of intellectual disability.

Although we know how it occurs, we don’t know why it happens. Down syndrome occurs at conception, across all ethnic and social groups and to parents of all ages. Its nobody’s fault. There is no cure and it doesn’t go away.

To mark WDSD this year, CoorDown, Italy’s national association of people with Down syndrome, teamed with Saatchi & Saatchi Italy to demonstrate how people with the syndrome deserve the same opportunities and a chance to enjoy the same choices as everyone else.

Enjoy, and share with your friends to promote and raise awareness about the capabilities of those with Down syndrome.

By Chris Gandy – Founder of Cause & Effective

Adventure Is New Experiences

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By Attila Ovari

The other day someone asked me about my passions in life.

One of my answers was adventure.

I was then asked about what I meant by adventure.

Good question, as adventure can be different for different people.

Adventure is a personal thing. For some adventure is travelling to different countries and experiencing different cultures, for others it is doing activities like rock climbing, bush walking, sailing or parachuting. Then for others an adventure would be to go back to studies and do a degree.

It got me thinking about the concept of adventure….

One definition is “an unusual and exciting or daring experience.” Hence adventure would be different for different people… It’s a personal experience.

To me it seems that adventure is about getting outside your comfort zone and experiencing something new. For me this truly sums up adventure. Participating in activities that I have not done before. It adds to my life experience and my knowledge base, while at the same time helping me to overcome fears.

What is adventure for you?
•Do you enjoy adventure?
•What is your next adventure?

Attila is a Cause & Effective Associate. He loves life and thrives on helping people become more effective leaders.

 

Like Transforming a Home Into a Grand Design

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By Chris Gandy
When attempting to explain a new concept or way of doing things, it is interesting how many in the audience try to liken the idea to an existing construct.

I have been on the road lately talking about our Janus Leadership Transition Program and a common reaction has been to compare it to one of those ubiquitous reality television home renovation shows. If this comparison is going to help people understand the Program, I am happy to play along, though I do like to compare it to Grand Designs myself.

When you think about it the parallels are quite obvious. Both Janus and these shows are about realising a vision, managing a change, bold decisions, hard work, transformation and celebrating in the result. But I like to throw in another similarity initially missed by most which is all about how these projects are resourced.

While the viewers’ attention is drawn away by all manner of soapy drama antics, rarely seen on these shows are the bevy of experts (builders, carpenters, plumbers, landscapers, decorators – the list goes on) all contributing to this marvelous transformation happening before our eyes in less than 60 minutes.

Clearly without this army of professionals, backyards wouldn’t be transformed, houses wouldn’t be so quickly and expertly renovated and new impressive structures wouldn’t be constructed. And the same applies to the Janus Program. We place an Interim CEO in an organisation to oversee day-to-day operations and manage the implementation of the Transition Program. The Interim is no caretaker, but an energetic doer, supported by (currently) over 70 subject matter experts who can quickly advise and assist on all manner of issues that may be preventing an organisation from truly flourishing in the future – not to mention discouraging excellent forward thinking candidates from applying for the new CEO role.

To us it is this smorgasbord of resources that provides the true value of the Janus Program. As a team we can metaphorically transform a humble home into a grand design.
To learn more about our Janus Program and how it can assist an organisation when a CEO departs, contact us here.

Chris is the founder and a director of Cause & Effective. He and his team guide not for profits through the tricky time of CEO transition by helping them minimise the risks and maximise the opportunities that arise.

 

Timely Career Advice From a Late Friend

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A good friend battled for four years with cancer before finally succumbing. In his last months while in palliative care I tried to visit him as often as possible. During these visits we would chat about all sorts of trivia – current affairs, sports, the weather etc.

We didn’t talk about his condition apart from a general “how are you feeling today” question which always elicited a “Not too bad, thank you” response. Nor did my friend get reflective with me and talk about his life’s regrets and achievements. Except, on the last day I saw him when he asked after our “how are you feeling today, not too bad thank you” ritual:

“Do you know what my biggest regret is?”

No what?” I replied

“I didn’t have the courage to chase my dream job when I had the chance!”

My friend had worked in the Procurement function of a large organisation for 27 years. Eventually he rose to a very senior position. Then, when the organisation experienced a lean period, he, along with a number of others, was retrenched. He was 52 at the time.

After a short break he attempted to find a similar position in other organisations, but to no avail. Eventually he picked-up work in a variety of casual and part-time roles – bus driving, working in a hardware store, general maintenance etc.

He went on to explain:

“You know I love cooking. When I was put off by (xyz company), I should have seized the opportunity, formally trained as a chef and then opened my own restaurant. I just didn’t have the courage to do it, played it safe and have regretted it ever since.”

That conversation took place just over three years ago and I was prompted to think of my friend again last week when the Government released the Intergenerational Report 2015

Some of the key points of the Report are that, as a nation, we can expect to live longer, work longer and have relatively less to spend.

The initial media response was predictable and involved stopping supposedly under-employed 50+ people in the street claiming no one will employ them full-time because of their age AND as the Report tells us things are only going to get worse –

” …there are more of us flooding the market, we have to wait even longer to claim a pension and we now have to fund a longer retirement”– Whoa is us!

Watching these people and the patronizing interviewer I was tempted to channel my late friend and shout at the TV:

“Please!! Believe the world needs your special expertise. Don’t stick it in a cupboard. Have the courage to share it with your community!”

As the workforce ages we cannot simply blame younger employers hiring employees of their own generation. That is a feeble excuse. Older workers have a wonderful advantage and that is experience and the time to hone a particular expertise. In a perverted way, the economy is throwing many of us a lifeline via restructuring and changing workforce patterns and the development of enabling technology platforms. Have the audacity to grab it with both hands.

Let’s not die like my friend regretting a lost opportunity.

If you fall within this demographic and have taken up this challenge share your experience in the comments below. It may just serve as a tipping point for others on the brink of taking action and allowing their personal light to shine.

By Chris Gandy – Chris is the founder and a director of Cause & Effective. We help not for profits deal with pressing problems by introducing them to great subject matter experts.

Areas to Address in a Workplace Social Media Policy

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Cases of employees losing their jobs for careless social media postings have been well documented in the media over the last few years, and sometimes have gone before the courts. With the self-publishing nature of social media and the desire to share opinions on all sorts of issues, comes the very real possibility that something will be said online which could harm the organisation.

As the line is blurred between what is and what isn’t acceptable when it comes to social media use in a workplace, a detailed social media policy on the expectations of your business is now more important than ever to manage usage and communicate the expectations of your company. Not only will a robust policy prevent social media mishaps, if disciplinary action is taken against the employee, a good policy will stand up to external scrutiny if required.

Each industry and business will have unique requirements, however, here are five general areas that should be considered in developing a well-rounded social media policy for your business.

1. Usage of Social Media at Work

More employers are realising that blanket bans on social media during work hours just don’t work. And besides, may not take into account the benefits of the medium for networking, marketing and other potential that the platforms can present. It’s understandable that employers might fear that allowing access to social media sites may be a drain on productivity, but as people come to understand the power of social media, blanket bans may not always be the best answer.

It is essential that the usage allowances are clearly explained in the policy and are specific. That means outlining exactly what is ‘reasonable use.’ If social media use is to be limited to breaks only, this needs to be clearly spelled out.

2. Usage Outside of the Workplace

While it’s important to discuss usage during work hours, it is also essential to communicate the expectation of reasonable posting outside of work hours. Posting on behalf of the company, or implying it is on behalf of the company or saying anything that could bring the company into disrepute is something that should not be tolerated – even outside of work hours.

It’s important a social media policy explains that employees should assume anything they say will be public – and once something is on the internet, it can be difficult to erase, and could be shared onwards. Everything posted relating to work must follow the mantra of ‘think before you post.’

3. Acceptable Online Behaviour

A social media policy needs to outline what is and what is not acceptable behaviour. It’s not enough to just say be respectful and professional. What constitutes respectful, professional and unacceptable behaviour should be clearly outlined. This includes anything that could be seen as harassment, abusive, intimidating or belittling to other staff members.

Social media policies that address appropriate behaviour should align with existing harassment or bullying policies in your workplace.

It’s a misconception that ‘freedom of speech’ gives an employee free rein to write whatever they like about others (e.g, employers, co-workers, customers, suppliers) without the potential for consequences.

4. Publishing of Confidential Material

Most social media policies include the clause that company secrets, and sensitive information about the company or its clients will be kept private and not leaked in any way through social media. This includes new announcements, products, or other sensitive information that could affect the interests of the business. Keeping company confidentiality applies online, much like other acceptable behaviour in the workplace.

5. A clear definition of what is considered social media

Most staff members are well aware of Facebook and Twitter platforms, but it’s important that all social media platforms are clearly defined. Employees should understand that whatever they post online relating to their employer or workplace has the potential to cause damage. Blog posts, forum comments and other published viewpoints that could affect the interests of the business negatively or be seen as inflammatory are not acceptable and can be broadly considered social media. Often a social media policy will align or draw information from a company’s internet usage or online policy.

Good policies should also highlight the expected behaviour and the consequences for breaching that behaviour. Instead of them being overly restrictive they should be based around common sense to let staff know where the line is. Like all policies in a workplace, making sure staff members are aware and educated about the policy is essential.

By Claire Harrison – Claire is a Human Resource specialist and founder of Harrison Human Resources. She is based in Brisbane and can help provide a social media policy suited to your business and provide more advice and guidance on regulating social media in a workplace setting. Claire can be contacted here

Tip For Receiving Feedback – If Your Mouth Is Open, Your Ears Are Closed

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Many people don’t like giving feedback – they may fear that any comment seen as critical will be unwelcome.

They may fear the opposite – that telling you what you do well may be seen as sucking up.

Let’s deal with feedback about what you do well

How graciously do you respond to this? Often in workshops about feedback people comment about their awkwardness in receiving feedback – they realise they can easily be dismissive – “Oh it was nothing!”

Dismissing feedback can teach others not to give any feedback. Why bother if you airily dismiss others’ comments?

After talking it over in workshops many resolve to respond to feedback graciously – “Thank you – you know it was a team effort, I relied on Jasmin for the data”.

Feedback about what you can do differently.

If you respond to feedback with excuses, defensiveness, and resistance – feedback will dry up. When feedback dries up – you may start to convince yourself your behaviour and performance is exceptional – after all – no complaints – right, that’s a good thing?

Occam’s Razor would suggest a simpler explanation of the feedback drying up – your response is so tiresome, your colleagues just can no longer be bothered.

Here are some ways to help you respond to feedback, and so encourage those around you to offer feedback – making you more amenable to feedback.

Some techniques to help while getting feedback:

  1. Assume the person is acting with good intentions, and focus on what the person is saying and not who the person is
  2. Listen – don’t talk. If your mouth is open, your ears are closed. Look at the person, nod, be helpful – giving feedback is uncomfortable so make it easy for the other person – plus – doing that will help you relax a little.
  3. If you’re unclear what the person has said to you – ask a few questions to get a clear understanding. Your only task here is accurately to understand what the other person is saying.
  4. Ask the other person for one suggestion about what you could do differently

After the feedback:

  1. You may be unsure about the merit of the feedback – check with others who will tell what you need to hear and not what you may want to hear.
  2. Decide what changes you can make based on the feedback.
  3. Continue to ask for feedback.
  4. Let the person know when you make changes based on their opinion.

This post is by Joe Moore. Joe is the founder and principal of Kimber Moore Associates. He and his team are highly skilled in helping leaders and staff deal with uncertainty, change, complexity and conflicts. You can contact Joe here

 

 

The CSI Findings of a Failed CEO Recruit

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By Chris Gandy

“She lasted 12 weeks!”

The Chair of a mid-sized not for profit was referring to his organisation’s most recent CEO.

The Chair was surprising frank and it was obvious he and his Board had conducted a great deal of soul-searching since the departure of the latest CEO.

“Our new CEO was a great person, but it was clear to both parties, it wasn’t going to work”

So what went wrong?

The Chair’s gave me this response and expressed the hope that other NFP Boards wouldn’t fall into the same trap.

“When we debriefed, the Board concluded that our fundamental error was short-term thinking. As a volunteer board we all have jobs and other commitments. When Jane, our CEO, who had been with us for 11 years, told us she was leaving we went into a bit of a spin. We relied on her heavily and felt there was no one internally who could step into role. She gave us 6 weeks’ notice and we resolved that by hook or by crook we would find and engage a replacement by the time she left.

The timing of Jane’s resignation was critical for us as we were leading up to a tender round which involved a contract that accounted for 70% of our funding. None of us had the time or desire to get involved in the day to day operations, so we put our skates on and had a replacement on-board within the six weeks. What’s more the new person was a great tender writer. At the time we felt pretty smug!

The new person made sure a quality tender submission was presented on-time. but that’s when things started to go wrong. We assumed the new CEO would then focus on leading our team to deliver on the organisation’s vision and mission. But she had little interest in this. She liked doing tenders”.

I asked how this experience had influenced the Board’s thinking about the next CEO.

“Well, quite a lot” the Chair said. “We learnt that we need to find and recruit a CEO who will work with us to create this organisation’s future. And this takes some research and thinking. We need to be reasonably sure of where the organisation is going in the next 3-5 years before we can ask someone to help guide us there. As for the here and now? We have hired an Interim CEO who is keeping our stakeholders engaged while we plan for the future. Which is exactly what we should have done in the first place!”

For a NFP Board the lesson here is obvious:

  • Do all you can to resist the temptation to react to what is making you uncomfortable when your CEO says they are leaving.
  • Decisions based on fear don’t tend to produce the best long-term outcomes. It is also a pretty poor way to govern.
  • Sure a CEO’s departure can be unsettling but in the best interests of your Cause take time give yourselves the opportunity to pursue what is possible.
  • There are many options available to help you deal with the today’s problems. Take them, while you focus on tomorrow!

 Chris is the founder and a director of Cause & Effective. He guides not for profits through the tricky time of CEO transition by helping them minimise the risks and maximise the opportunities that arise.