Knowledge sharing and silo working

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I attended a conference of associates yesterday run by Action Planning which was a useful and interesting day. One of the aims of the event was to build a more effective network of consultants and one of the action points coming out was to find ways of increasing knowledge sharing between the group of experts in the network. This is a familiar and much stated aspiration and a continuing challenge for many organisations.

Some bigger private companies invest hugely in knowledge management – not only in systems and processes to enable this to happen but also in people whose jobs and expertise focus on changing the culture of the organisation and removing the, often human, barriers to knowledge sharing. Continue reading →

Making time for planning

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As yet another deadline looms it’s so easy to lurch from one urgent task to another with an increasing sense of struggling to cope and an ever present feeling of “phew – another crisis narrowly avoided”.

I’m convinced that some people are adrenalin junkies who need the thrill of near misses to keep them going. Trouble is for those of us who prefer to swim in calmer waters it creates a stressful and negative environment in which to try to manage. Of course in some work situations meeting constant urgent deadlines are part of the job and systems and structures are put in place to ensure that the team knows what to do and can meet those deadlines efficiently and smoothly.

However in most work environments there should be few unforeseen urgent deadlines if staff and trustees set time aside to focus on planning – ideally together – and then review on a regular basis. Making plans won’t avoid surprises happening but they will become the exception to be dealt with rather than the norm. Continue reading →

Working in harmony

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I heard an interview on the Today programme this morning with a young British / Libyan woman who is in Libya to help ordinary people caught up in the current conflict. Her passion and motivation rang out as she stated: “I don’t care about the politics, they can all go blow themselves up for all I care. I only care about the people – the children, women and old people who are suffering. I just want to help them.”

Interesting how politics can all too often seem divorced from real people and in this case be perceived to be causing direct harm.  In the workplace most of us will at some time or another have experienced “office politics” and know how they can hinder the performance of a team. Continue reading →

A fresh pair of eyes

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One of the benefits of bringing a consultant or interim manager into your organisation, apart from expanding resources temporarily to achieve some critical objective, is that you can gain a new perspective on an issue.

I attended an Institute of Interim Management event last week about the new Agency Worker Regulations (main message: don’t panic, so long as you know what you’re doing and ensure everything is documented, all will be well) and was struck by a remark made by Clive Sexton of Veredus in describing the current interim manager market. He said “Employers are no longer seeking a safe pair of hands but a fresh pair of eyes”, thus making the point that innovation and change are the key requirements today in a successful business. Continue reading →

Performance managing the CEO – failure is not an option

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From conversations over time with many friends and colleagues who are trustees it is apparent that the most important and potentially frustrating and stressful relationship is that between the Chair of Trustees (and the rest of the trustee board) and the most senior paid staff member of the charity.

Whatever the job title – CEO, Chief Executive, Project Co-ordinator – this is the person to whom the trustees delegate responsibility to run the show, requiring reports on a regular basis and the referral of strategic decisions to the board for input and final agreement.

Ultimately it is the trustees who are responsible for ensuring that the charity fulfils its mission and meets its contractual commitments. They must protect the reputation of their charity and watch that it acts legally and ethically in every aspect. Little wonder then that the dynamic between the Chief Executive and the Trustee board is so crucial to the effective performance of the organisation. Continue reading →

Whatever your age, work experience is a good thing

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The latest GCSE and A level results have been announced and another crop of students move onto the next stage in their lives making choices about future direction into work or further education. The options people take at 14, 16 and 18 affect their futures so fundamentally that it’s depressing how little attention is paid by schools and potential employers to raising awareness and offering advice and guidance. So much is left to chance and to the best, but often limited, efforts of parents and carers.

With the reduction in the Connexions service and the scarcity of funds available to offer career advice and guidance to young people and to adults, how can people be encouraged to find the right path for them and to reach their potential? Continue reading →

Why recruitment behaviour is crucial to brand image

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Many charities have professional teams of marketing communications experts who plan, execute and evaluate activities and the impact they have on organisational reputation and income. Budgets are set aside to enhance and reinforce external profile and image and, in those charities large and complex enough to need dedicated internal communications staff, much time, energy and money are spent on ensuring that everyone receives and communicates the same messages to their various audiences.

Alongside all this, recruitment is a key activity across the organisation to seek and engage new staff, volunteers and trustees. Charities face a recurring challenge to attract the right people without spending too much of their hard-won funds on expensive advertising or recruitment agencies. The responsibility often rests with the HR team (in larger charities) or with the line manager. For the most senior posts and in the smallest charities it will be the trustees who play an active part in attracting and selecting the best candidate.

It’s during the recruitment process when inadvertent damage to brand image and reputation can be done. Trustees and staff involved in recruitment need to be sensitive to the effect their behaviour can have on candidates who are poorly treated during the recruitment process. Focussing entirely on the organisational short term need to keep costs down can lead to poor communication which leads to negative impact. Continue reading →