An afternoon of HR – Here are a few takeaways or ideas for you.
An afternoon of HR – Here are a few takeaways or ideas for you.
Today was a busy day – a Board Meeting, a morning in the park with the parents, a Lunch and Learn and a 911 – enjoy the roar:
Today I interviewed business leader, visionary and all round nice guy, Michael Dart of Darts Farm in Exeter. They’ve won every award under the sun this year, built an incredible business which is highly respected locally and turned a farm shop into an exclusive destination. I find out some of his secrets to success. Enjoy
Today we promoted Thomas Haynes to the new Head of Digital Marketing for Optix, marking a new era for us as a company and ensuring we continue to develop, grow and improve that important area of our business. I vlogged the day.
The Millennial generation is getting serious. They are serious employees in serious positions of responsibility and serious buyers of our products and services now. At Optix Solutions I’ve been lucky enough to employ a number of this generation and I tell you what, they are different breed. If you don’t recognise the nuances of this generation and how they like to buy/be engaged with you will lose out.
In this blog I interviewed a member of the Optix team – Chris Boyd to get his take on life. I hope you get some interesting insight as I did.
Me: So what drives you?
Chris: Career progression, responsibility and enjoyment more than anything. I think unlike in the past, Money is a secondary goal, as long as your continuously improving and widening your skill set you’ll naturally land better (and higher paid) roles.
Me: What matters to you?
Chris: That I’m ahead of the game, that I have knowledge in all areas of my field and that people see me as the ‘go-to-guy’ when they want objective and helpful advice. I also want acknowledgement of my good work. It’s happened too many times previously where my work has been passed off as someone else’s. Sometimes you just have to accept that your not going to get recognition, but being a bit outspoken when it comes down to it does help – and if that bothers the other person: so be it. Likewise I won’t accept acknowledgement for other people’s work.
Me: What sites/apps do you and your friends interact with on a daily basis?
Chris: Facebook and Twitter is where I go to learn about current affairs. Snapchat, whatsapp and Instagram are the main channels I use to actually interact with my friends.
Me: How long do you spend online each day?
Chris: I’m online for my job and my downtime. I’m constantly connected, even down to my entertainment, it’s all streamed through Netflix, Now TV or Catch up channels. When I’m awake: I’m connected.
Me: Can you imagine a world without the internet?
Chris: I can imagine it, but it would be a struggle!
Me: Who do you look up to?
Chris: I look up to those around me that hold more knowledge and have gained success through that knowledge. I think it’s important to not overly idolise the likes of Mark Zuckerberg where luck has played a major role in their success. I have colleagues and clients close by that I look up to as successful and intelligent business people.
Me: What do you want from a job?
Chris: As cheesy as it sounds, I want to be happy. If you’re spending upwards of 9 hours a day doing something, it has to be enjoyable and worthwhile. I want to see results. I want to know that I’m making a difference. Whether that’s someone complimenting you on your service when watering in a restaurant or seeing a clients eyes light up when there’s been a major increase in traffic to their site.
Me: What do you want from an employer, any advice?
Chris: Flexibility and trust are a big driver for me; I know that I’ll always go the extra mile to ensure work is complete and in most cases I’ll try and exceed expectations. With this in mind, employers need to be flexible, if I’ve worked 2 hours overtime yesterday I don’t expect to be penalised for turning up 2 minutes late the next day – you’ll only deter me from sticking around. If you value your millennial employees – pick and choose your battles and ask yourself, “is what I’m about to say Trivial in the grand scheme.”
Me: Why is being a millennial in the workplace today different to previous generations?
Chris: I think today establishing yourself and finding a career path is much easier, you have a lot more support and resource, and university is very accessible. That being said, everything is much more competitive. In order to succeed nowadays you need to go the extra mile and allocate some of your free time to educating yourself. When in the workplace you’re constantly playing catch up to your more experienced counterparts, so you have to be out to impress.
My personal (and perhaps slightly controversial) opinion; is that having a degree nowadays isn’t anything special. If we all drove Ferraris and Lamborghinis they wouldn’t be considered a luxury car; it’s exactly the same. Without the additional time investment, shelling out for courses, reading blogs and listening to podcasts – getting ahead will be a struggle.
Me: Where will you be in 10 years time?
Chris: No matter the industry I think it’s important to aim for the top, when I worked in hotels I worked everyday with the end goal to be general manager. Now I’m in Marketing I aim for director/CMO or agency/business owner. I’m not sure where I’ll be, but wherever it is, I’m confident I’ll be at the top!
My first four YouTube Videos are live and I’m loving the feedback I’ve had already – its quite humbling and suggests that its certainly worth persisting with. To bring you upto speed you can check out my channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/alastairbanks
For ease though, here are the first four videos – please forward on to students with an interest in personal brand or development, business owners and entrepreneurial friends, I will hugely appreciate it as it’s not easy creating content for a small following – you do question if its worthwhile.
My first video was about procrastination:
My second was about the most influential business book Ive ever read:
The third was all about Goal Setting:
And the fourth was about change and how important it is if you want to grow:
Please make sure you subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss anything. I’ll do my very best to make the content as useful as possible.
Al – @banksy6
Yes folks, its that time of year again. The round up post you’ve all been waiting for 😉
2015 – Its been a big one! Featured here are my first child, an offline tool that’s changed my life and a diet that’s had a dramatic impact on how I’ve felt after 10 years of putting up with stomach pain. All that alongside a few less serious, but still important ones.
1). Coming in at Number 1 there is only one place to have him – it’s Oscar, my first child. There is no doubt about it, having your first child changes you. For the first time in your life someone is completely reliant on you and that re-focuses you. I’ve spent the last 15 years putting everything into my work and while I still have a passion for that, it will sit alongside the newest love of my life – Oscar. I’ve also found a new respect for my wife Lizz who is quite literally the best Mum ever…just incredible.
2). About ten years ago I started to suffer with IBS, one of those hard to diagnose problems that the doctors don’t really do much about or give you much advice on. After hospital inspections and private consultancies which showed up/gave me nothing, I just had to live with it. When Oscar was born I was in so much pain some nights that I couldn’t do his bedtime and that made me realise that something had to change. I persisted with the doctors and found a diet out of Australia called FODMAP. A university there have tested hundreds of food groups against four main triggers and rated them on an app and in a book. The diet has changed my life. After about 6 months of doing it, I’d say that I’m about 75% better than I was and I intend to continue living and coping with this using management of my diet. If you’re an IBS sufferer then you should definitely check it out. I’ve created a Pinterest board to help people find their feet with the diet as its a bit of a minefield of info out there.
3). The passion planner (I know what you’re thinking but don’t worry, I’m not going there) started off as a Kickstarter project. The ultimate organisation tool. It combines goal setting, diary management, reflection time and to-do lists all in one lovely leather bound book you’d be proud to take to any meeting. People know me as the owner of a digital agency and many are poking fun at the fact that despite the plethora of on-line tools (most of which I feel like I’ve tried) I’ve reverted to good old pen and paper. The fact is there is something very real about planning out your week and crossing things off as you complete them which you just don’t get on-line. You have to get these from America but I guarantee you its worth it.
4). Slack. Used by NASA for collaboration and teamwork we’ve rolled this out internally at Optix for our digital marketing team and a group of Sack Savvy clients. Slack’s strap line is ‘Be Less Busy’ which if anyone disagrees with then I’d suggest you’re reading the wrong blog. We share information, useful links and sometimes just shoot the breeze on this channel. Its closed unlike the big social media sites but that works well and if you want to strengthen comms in your organisation you should check out this app today.
5). Whatsapp Web. Did you know you can use WhatsApp from a browser window, opening up the use of this tool to desktop and laptops not just mobile? Well if you’re old skool like me and still use one of these antiquated computer things then maybe you should just get yourself over there to use the web interface. Simply have your phone app open and scan the QR code on the screen and it will link your computer to your phone. Game changer. Genius.
6). My Apple Watch. Ok so it’s questionable as to whether its really changed my life or not. Most days I forget to charge it but when I do remember and wear it I find myself checking my tweets, messages and email with a little smile on my face. These notifications definitely mean I check my phone less which can only be a good thing right? Would I pay the same again for it? Probably not but I’m glad I have it and its certainly a talking point.
7). My Northface Jacket. Yes its one of those weird ribbed jackets people are wearing everywhere. I saw people turning themselves into the Michelin man and couldn’t get my head round it for a year or so….until I tried one. The one I went for is a particularly fetching bright orange one. You can tell I’m an introvert right 😉 So although I might stand out like a sore thumb I’ll be a particularly warm one and I’m unlikely to get lost in the fog. My other reason for getting one was to ensure that I look as stylish as possible on the slopes this year (although my Dad and skiing partner may disagree with that statement)! If you didn’t know, I also run a skiing blog over at http://www.firstlift.co.uk
8). Insights. I’ve always said that if I wasn’t running a digital agency (and I didn’t make it as a ski instructor) that my second favourite job would be something to do with psychology and in particular psychometric profiling. I find it absolutely fascinating. This year we profiled the whole company using the Insights model. A local practitioner, Jack Russell ran a session with us after we’d been profiled and what’s happened since is quite amazing. A common language, a deeper understanding of oneself and others and better communication all round. We’ve enjoyed it so much that my wife and I are in the process of setting up a new business and partnering with Jack so we can share the excitement and success we’ve had at Optix with others. If you’re interested in learning more about what happened with the profiling at Optix, check out the post I wrote here.
So there we go, eight things that changed my life this year, its been big, its been fun and hopefully next year will be just as exciting.
How was your year? Have you taken the time to reflect on it and write down the things that mattered to you?
We recently paid for the team at Optix to be profiled using a psychometric testing system called ‘Insights’. After collating the results and sharing, we then took them on a half day with a trained Insights professional and motivational coach Jack Russell. To say we’re all buzzing about it would be an understatement.
Why did we do it?
We all communicate and like to be communicated with in different ways. Our preference will be based on something born in us as well as key points in our upbringing. Often the challenges seen in team environments comes down to a lack of understanding of this. So often people will assume a lack of respect/disliking when someone is different to them. Often its no more than a misunderstanding or a clash of personalities.
How does Insights work?
The system is based on a coloured wheel. Starting with Fiery Red in the top right, you move to Sunshine Yellow in the bottom right, Earth Green in the bottom left and Cool Blue in the top left. There are various shades and mixtures of the colours as you go round but for ease lets just talk about these four energies. Those in the right hand quadrants are considered extroverts (red and yellow) while those in the left are more introverted (green and blue). Those in the top are more task focused (Red and Blue) while those in the bottom are more people focused (Yellow and Green). If you fall into the Red category you’re likely to be driven, dominant perhaps demanding and sometimes difficult – when speaking to these guys you better know what you’re talking about, don’t give them any fluff, just get on with it. They hate wasting time. The Yellows, as their colour would suggest are bright and bubbly. They are probably the ones standing in the middle of the room chatting or inspiring others. You want to be spending time getting to know these guys and involving them in the big ideas. Greens are calm and helpful. They are driven by strong belief systems and you don’t want to mess with that. Be slow and steady in your communication, don’t rush them. Finally blues are detailed and very task focused. An eye for getting things done exactly and in a precise manner is what drives them. When communicating with them ensure you are precise and have all the facts.
Why is this important?
We were asked to do an exercise in our groups which involved organising our perfect night out (I’m a sunshine yellow by the way…YAY…according to my colleagues that can also mean ‘annoyingly cringey’ but hey I’m ok with that 😉 The yellows went off bullet pointing a night with laughter, friends, frolicking and drinking, all of which takes place in multiple locations through the evening. The blues went about precisely describing a night out somewhere they have been before (so they knew the consistency) and a pre-booked taxi home. Red and Green were similar distances apart. This was an eye opener for me. Consider this in a work scenario; put these people in an office or team without an understanding of what makes each other tick and its bound to fall over occasionally.
Key Take Aways
Its all well and good understanding Insights, its what you do with it that makes it worthwhile. My immediate takeaways are as follows:
1). You are a mixture of colours. You can’t just pigeon hole someone. This is key when considering the person you’re communicating with because….
2). Its your responsibility to change your communication style to that of your colleagues, not theirs to adapt to yours (although clearly if they do there is perfect harmony!)
3). Working in teams involves skills from all the colours – are you playing to the strengths of those individuals or making them do something they are naturally not good at or where they expend an awful lot of energy doing their best to perform.
I’d highly recommend using the insights profiling in your business – it will change the way you view your colleagues and give you an edge with your communications that lead to a better environment and culture. I’ve not even touched the sides with how it can help your comms with clients – what would that mean to you to have better relationships with them?
Have you used profiling in your business? How has it changed the way you do things?
photo courtesy of Steve Corey
We have a few hard and fast rules at Optix for our meetings. I thought I’d share these in case you can glean something from them. I can’t take full credit for these. I reworked some that I saw at one of our lovely clients – Trinity Fire and Security.
Optix Meeting Rules
First rule of meeting club – do you really need a meeting? They are expensive use of our most important resource – You!
1). Only invite people that REALLY need to be there.
2). Set up and send out an agenda/up front contract in advance so people know what they are being asked to do.
3). Just because Outlook says an hour in the calendar do you really need an hour? If you can do it in ten mins standing up, do so.
4). When you enter the meeting, read out your agenda/ufc so everyone is clear on why they are there and how long you’ll be
5). Be on time
6). Turn your devices onto silent – don’t look at your phone in the meeting unless there is an emergency in which case let the room know
7). Respect others – don’t speak too much, not enough or even worse, over the top of others
8). Take your own action points yourself – these are now your responsibility
9). If you’re getting nothing from the meeting – let the organiser know
10). Don’t feel bad about calling people out on the points above – they are here for a reason
11). Review all actions at the end of the meeting – circle the room and everyone who has an action tell everyone else
If you’re managing more than a few people, there’s a good chance they might cross generations and guess what, those guys have different needs. I believe strongly that its not up to them to change, its up to you as a leader to adapt and understand those needs so you can get the best from all of them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you…generational management.
This week I attended a great talk at Exeter University’s Business Leaders Forum. Guest speaker was none other than successful investor and Dragon’s Den’s Deborah Meaden. Her topic of choice was ‘How business might look in twenty years time’ and her number one challenge; generational management. It certainly struck a chord with me.
We currently have three generations in the workplace:
Baby Boomers – Born from ’46 to ‘64
Gen X – ’65 – ‘77
Gen Y – ’78 onwards
The BB’s are and always have been driven by a competitive, work till you drop attitude – it was a thing of the times. Gen X are a little more cautious and strive for greater work-life balance. Then there is Gen Y – these guys like feedback, have a thirst for learning and are driven by technology.
You can bet that some of the BB’s think the younger gen are lazy and tech obsessed while the younger gen think their elders are stubborn and stuck in their ways. A challenge indeed when you want them to work as a team.
If you manage teams which transcend generations its critical you get them talking and understanding each other. The young guys should seek the wisdom and experience of their elders while the older members of the team must open their minds to the fresh new perspectives from their younger counterparts. Sounds easy doesn’t it 😉
Here’s are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Start measuring by results and not by the way people get there. As a leader you’ll need to adapt to the different styles and work methods of these generations. Your younger team members may be driven by working at certain times of the day, perhaps when they feel most productive. They may prefer new locations (yes that coffee shop down the road really can be a legitimate place to work). They are probably working at their desks less and less (this is the mobile generation). Have you adapted the routines and structure you once had? Do you trust your team if you can’t see them at their desk? These are the changes you’ll need to make if you want to succeed with a Gen Y workforce. Interestingly a lot of the time my guys are now working at our clients because we’re adapting not only to generational changes but industry ones too. Todays work climate is about collaboration and teamwork more so than ten years ago. We’ve taken notice and continue to adapt to our client’s and staff’s needs.
Communication is something that gets written about a lot, probably because it easy to empathise with. Gen X and BB’s preferring email and phone calls compared to the more instant messaging of the Gen Y’ers. One thing I did in my own business last year (being that we’re fairly heavily Y biased) is setup a couple of WhatsApp groups, one for the entire company and one for the sales team. The guys share stories, have banter and help each other out everyday and so far I’d say its been a great success. This is mixed with the more traditional email circulars to the business, regular team meetings and one to one reviews and catchups to ensure everyone is catered for.
Another thing I’ve learnt is the thirst for learning that Gen Yer’s have. We’ve subscribed to Lynda.com, an online video training site where you can find out about everything from how to read google analytics to improving your communication skills. We also have a budget set aside for conferences and training and encourage the team to seek out the ones they feel would provide most value and then make a case for being sent on them. How are you investing in your team’s development because if you don’t, you can be sure they will find someone who will?
One final point – make sure everyone has a voice. A leader needs to listen to their people and make strong decisions, calculating the risk and reward at all times. Your BB’s may have been there before and you should seek to use that experience. Your young guns might challenge the norm, help you innovate and take you to places you’ve not been before. Your job is to make the best of the amazing and culturally diverse world we live in so your business can flourish over the next twenty years.
Have you had experiences of managing across generations? Positive or Negative, we’re keen to hear so we can all learn.