JamBerry Ltd

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Schools shouldn't just be exam factories!

The Confederation of British Industry, the employers' organisation, made the recommendations in a report released at the start of its annual conference. (19th Nov 2012)
CBI's director general John Cridland said: "In some cases secondary schools have become an exam factory.
"Qualifications are important, but we also need people who have self-discipline and serve customers well. As well as academic rigour, we need schools to produce rounded and grounded young people who have the skills and behaviours that businesses want."
I whole heartedly agree, my daughter is currently taking her GCSE's and the pressure to get higher and higher marks by taking a resit when you already have an 'A' are ridiculous. But I also have to question whether businesses are placing too much emphasis on the school turning out a well rounded person and not enough on their own responsibility to see learning as a lifelong activity and hence give their employees the training and development they deserve.
"We're in a recession, we can't afford to provide training." This is a cry we on the provision side of the fence hear frequently. But there is evidence to suggest that organisations who spend on training in a recession are the first to emerge and grow rapidly at the end of it. It makes sense after all. If you look after your staff and develop their talents whilst your competitors are failing to do so, then your company will be in a much better position to take advantage of an upturn when it does come along.
Not only that, you will weather the storm itself much better. Flexible staff, who are committed to the organisation, inspired by new ideas and commitment from their managers will certainly give more of their best than those who are told "Now's not a good time."

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Health and Safety ridiculed for excess...

I come to bury Caesar not to praise him ... "Et tu Brute!"

James Hammerton-Fraser MD and H&S consultant at JamBerry Ltd has written a guest blog post.

Health & Safety is being held up to ridicule for its excess, blamed for almost any decision not to proceed and worst of all it has become a political football. An easy target with little or no supporters to protect it from the ravages of political will. We are told that ‘bureaucracy’ is holding back business. Whilst I do believe that the HR legislation (hiring and firing) existing in the country today may well be holding back business I find it astonishing that Health & Safety legislation is holding back much at all apart from the excesses of employers not looking after their employee’s wellbeing.

I would always agree that ongoing review of any process is a good thing and that on an ongoing basis legislation, codes of practice and culture should be reviewed to ensure it still fits the time and place. Health & Safety in the UK and Europe is all relatively new, it should also be added the vast proportion of EU legislation on Health & Safety in fact was generated from the UK. The latest reviews by Lord Young and Prof. Loefsted have supported the legislation and it implementation. Contrary to Cable and Osborne who are proclaiming that they will cut 50% or more of the regulations/ bureaucracy in place to reduce the ‘business burden’, and apparently by the spring of 2013, I find myself asking ‘why’? To what end is the cut actually required? In this case is Brutus a bit quick to wield the knife?

“HSE limited on proactive inspection.” Rather good sound bite for a politician. Actuality the cuts in the budget for the HSE has meant that they do not have the time to spend on proactively helping or hindering business anyway. So what is the role of the HSE? Well it would appear that they have little time allowed but to act as the police/prosecution service with regard to Health & Safety. A real shame that the wealth of knowledge that this institution has built up over the years has been diminished to prosecuting the obviously guilty.

Such as the, “Builder faces jail over toddler's death”. A builder sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted of gross negligence manslaughter in the case of a three-year-old girl who was killed when a substandard wall collapsed on top of her. Few would argue this tragic case deserves action.

Headlines such as “Will work be the death of you? Workers exposed to dangers because of savage health inspectors cuts - There are now only three occupational physicians left at the HSE and 18 occupational health inspectors” (Mirror 2nd Oct 2012) pose the question, “Where do the HSE fit in the no bureaucracy regime?” which politicians are so eloquently pronouncing.

Government reforms to the ‘workplace safety framework’, and what these will mean for different ‘stakeholders’ and the timescales for their implementation are all rather vague when you actually get into the detail. Balance this against the government’s Health & Safety strategies to focus on workplace health, looking at the role of Government in this area, improving risk management and how days lost through sickness can be reduced.

The words of Julius Caesar start to ring in my ears; “As a rule, men worry more about what they can't see than about what they can!”

So are our politicians shooting themselves in the foot by shouting about what is actually not there and in the process loosing what has been a well balance interest of the wellbeing of the employee and employer?

Tuesday 25 September 2012

7 Ways to Make an Instant Impact on Your Audience when Presenting

Want your presentations to have more impact? Here are 7 ways you can create impact with your audience and give your public speaking skills a boost.
1.      Make the stage yours. You are in control of what happens up there, so take control.

2.     If you are being introduced by someone, say thank you as you take the stage. Make sure you have supplied the intro material so that you know what is going to be said. Don't leave it to the last minute.

3.       Centre yourself on stage. Make sure that your feet are grounded and face your audience. They may well be as nervous as you are so show them you are not nervous but excited to be there.

4.       Make eye contact with one or two people. If possible, work out beforehand who you are going to connect with initially. And stick to them at the beginning. Once you start speaking you can allow yourself to send one line of your presentation to each person in the room. Try making a figure of 8 across the room as you look to make sure you don't favour one side more than the other.

5.       Have a powerful opening. Make your first words a startlingly fact, an attention grabbing headline or (if you dare) a joke. When writing your talk, think about it as an inverted triangle. The key point  comes first and it may be controversial. The rest of the talk is about justifying  why you opened with that statement. A newspaper report can be a good template to use.

6.       Use humour if you know you can do it well, otherwise stick to the facts.

7.       Have a powerful opening story about yourself so that the audience can connect with you. You are interesting and you are an expert in your subject so it is very powerful if you can combine the 2 aspects.

Want more ideas about how to create successful presentations? Visit Cherrystone

Friday 20 July 2012

Presentations should never be boring again!

Presentations should never be boring again!

How many boring presentations have you sat through? Be honest, how many have you given? What is it that makes presentations boring? The material? The presenter? The space that you are in?

Ok, so you may have limited options over the latter but you do have some control over the former. And if you follow some basic rules you are a fair way to being there.

1. Make it personal. After all it is YOU that is standing up there. You're not boring are you? You are someone with an opinion, full of knowledge that you want to share with your audience. So when you are preparing for your presentation, think about how you can use your personality, your thoughts and opinions to bring it alive.

2. And making it personal also applies t the audience. Why should they listen to you? What has it got to do with them? What are they going to learn and why is it important?

My 15 year old daughter regularly asks the questions of her teachers "Why do I need to know this stuff? How am I going to use it later in life?"

A difficult question sometimes for a teacher to answer, but one which they don't often have an adequate reply to. But it is a question that you need to consider because without it your presentation is a NICE to have not a NEED to have.

3. Too many words! How often do you come across a presentation with too many words! Words on slides - lots of them! Words in the script - too directive, instructive, patronising, jargon filled. Remember your audience want to be engaged. Using pictures rather than words maybe a cliche, but that is because it works!

4. Start at the end. When planning a presentation I will think about where I want the audience to be at the end and the call to action that I am going to raise. The rest of the presentation is then a journey to get them there. There may be highs and lows, questions and answers, but they should all be leading one conclusion.

Enjoyed this? You might like to read Stand and Deliver, Improve Your Presentations at Work, part of the Cherrystone Collection


Thursday 29 March 2012

Does Presenting Put You in a Spin?

For many people the stress of presenting is the worst part.

Your heart rate increases, you get sweaty palms, and you would rather be somewhere else.

But remember:

No one wants you to fail!

Everyone, including your audience wants you to succeed.  After all why would they choose to listen to a poor presentation?

Here are a few ideas to help you overcome that stress.

Deep breathing

When we are nervous, we tend to need more oxygen to help us to relax. Try this exercise before you need to speak.
  • Sit straight in your chair with your hands loosely clasped on your laps and with your eyes shut
  • Slowly breath in as you slowly count to three 
  • Then breath out – again to your count of three
  • As you breathe out allow your shoulders to relax towards the floor
  •  Repeat twice then breathe gently for a moment or two before opening your eyes in your own time
  •  This is an excellent  remedy for panic! It can be used whenever things seem to be racing out of control

When you are preparing for the presentation spend a little time with your eyes closed and visualise the presentation going really well. Most nervousness is caused by our negative inner voices telling us that this will not work. Replace them with positive affirmations.

Take on a character - but be yourself!

We all hide behind characters sometimes. Doing a presentation maybe one time when that is a useful trait.  Don't lose what makes you special,  but you can copy ideas from people you admire.

Be prepared

Know what you want to say,  how you are going to say it,  plan for any questions. Knowing that you are fully prepared will give you more confidence. If you have the opportunity, rehearse - it is amazing how different it is in practice to being on paper.

Reduce the importance

If this presentation goes wrong, what is the worst that can happen? Most presentations are over quite quickly so think about what you are going to afterwards to celebrate how well it went!

Rescue Remedy

Rescue Remedy can be a solution for some people. Made from flowers it is available in all good chemists!

Check your Equipment!

One of the most common concerns is that the presentation equipment will fail, leaving you in the lurch. It has happened to me on occasions! So you need to develop a backup plan. Have your presentation on a memory stick as well as your lap top. Can you transfer the core information if you needed to flipchart? Having a backup plan will make you feel more confident that you can carry on whatever.

Thursday 2 February 2012

How Managers Contribute to Workplace Conflict

A disruptive member of your team can cause real problems with other team members. A case recently comes to mind where a new office manager was appointed. Jo was clearly very efficient at her job and had the ability to get on with tasks given to her. But her manner was abrupt and dismissive. She assumed that she had the right to interrupt  and took delight in showing up other people's faults.

Unfortunately her manager was too busy to really notice, and so relieved that she had someone to pass some of her workload to, that she chose to ignore the warning signs. She tried to paper over any issues with comments such as "Let's see how thing go." or " Now is not the time to address this."
Over a period of a three of months, 1 person left and another tendered their resignation. Their resignations caused a hole in the expertise in team. Luckily they realised at this stage what the problem was and finally listened to their teams concerns. Jo, who was still on probation, was asked to leave.   However, although one resignation was saved,  Jo's manager had to spend a lot of time recruiting new people to fill the hole that was left from the person that did leave.
This situation was resolved quite quickly, but sometimes problems can go on for months or on occasions years. Ignoring the disruptive behaviour of one individual can have a much wider ripple effect on the rest of the team. 
Managers contribute to conflict by communicating ambiguously, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Most of us want to avoid conflict, but we can sometimes “talk out of both sides of our mouths” and give mixed messages. Such ambiguous communication fosters an organizational climate that discourages commitment (at best) and promotes conflicts (at worst).
I'm not saying managers do this on purpose (although some do). But highly educated people are skilled in the language of diplomacy and often try to address the needs and desires of a wide audience. In trying to please everyone, they craft messages that border on double-speak.
This is more of an explanation but not a rationalization and it certainly isn't a good excuse.  
Leaders need to be more direct, frank and clear. I'd like to see more executives stand up and remove the barriers to candour. Why don't more of them tell it like it really is?
Many managers are sitting too close to the blackboard to see their own communication errors. An unbiased professional coach or consultant can spot weaknesses and help correct approaches that contribute to conflict.
What do you think about these possible sources that create more conflict instead of helping people do their work in the best possible environment? I'd love to hear your comments.