workplace (5)

It was DPG's 25th Birthday on the 17th March - the business started in 1991 and in that time there has been SO MUCH change. I caught up with Janice Marshall who has worked with DPG since the beginning and asked:

How has the workplace changed?

Technology has obviously had a huge impact on the way we work now, compared to how we worked 25 years ago. We have a very heavy reliance on technology now, which is great in many ways, but has its drawbacks too.

When I was a trainer 25 years ago, computers were in their early days in the workplace and were only slightly more advanced than word processors. There was no Internet or networking. Everything was done on paper, we used OHP slides and OHP projectors and we relied heavily on admin support staff. Everything was done by phone or post or was physically taken to a place. And everything had to be very well planned, well ahead of time and with a lot of preparation.

Support staff have been reduced as technology has got more advanced and one of the big changes I have noticed is how much managers have to do for themselves now. Back then, managers had people to do everything in terms of producing materials, writing letters, organising, etc. Now managers that are paid a lot of money spend a lot of time doing very mundane, routine activities, sitting in front of their computers. This has had a knock on effect on what they are doing overall, what they should be doing and time management has become a big problem. Managers say they don’t have the time to sit down with people, communicate with them and solve problems.

However, technology has also made things easier. Not that long ago, if I was going to a meeting somewhere, I would have to prepare for the journey, such as getting someone to send me directions to where I was going. Now we have the Internet, I can use that. I can Google where I’m going, find out about the company I’m visiting, find out about people before I meet them and so on. And if a meeting has to be cancelled at short notice, people can let you know – rather than driving for two hours for a meeting that you didn’t know had been cancelled because people couldn’t let you know. This means there is less time wasted.

In terms of time, the business lunch culture has gone. People don’t have expensive lunches or go to the golf course in work time the way they used to. People don’t stay in 4 star hotels on business trips either, but go to Premier Inns. In fact, people don’t spend nearly as much time or money travelling. I used to be away four/five times a week when I first started in training but I’m not now.

Email culture is another big change and by this I mean the culture of sending emails any time of day or night and expecting other people to respond. The implication is that people don’t really have any free time, not in this 24×7 world. Also, it is too easy to send emails to each other – people who sit literally two feet from each other send emails.

I think the workplace has become less top down, especially with the younger people coming into the workforce demanding a more egalitarian environment. The workplace used to be a lot more formal and a lot more hierarchical, in many ways. People often still called their managers by their surnames, not their first names. Work clothes have become a lot less formal.

Now, managers sit alongside their employees in their office. In fact, if you walk into an unknown office, you don’t always know who the manager is as they don’t have their own office or a ‘manager’ label on their desk. It’s all open place offices these days, so the environment has changed completely. This is all a very positive change in terms of environments.

Where people actually work has changed has changed too of course. There is a lot more home working and remote working, although I think businesses could still be a lot more flexible and adaptable on this front. Flexible working is good for people, although it’s also quite isolating.

When I think back to my first working room, I had a room that was full of files, papers etc. Physically, you had to have so much stuff and keep so much stuff back then. Now it’s all kept in your computer and I have one box of stuff in the boot of my car and really, I only need a couple of folders. That’s a major change.

I'm sure you'll agree there are some interesting themes here.

What's changed for you?

Read more…

Office Envy: 24 of the Best Offices

The working environment is important for many reasons, not only can it impact upon employee well-being, but it can also affect productivity and job satisfaction. This is something that a large number of businesses have picked up on and as such, offices are now often designed to reflect key values such as innovation, creativity and fun.

Unum's latest infographic identifies some of the best, most innovative and exciting offices in the world; whether they have a 3 story slide, swimming pools or themed work spaces, these offices all offer their employees that extra something special. Creating a workspace that clients and employees enjoy being in is something that many businesses strive for and while not all budgets can stretch to a Frank Gehry designed space, their infographic provides inspiration for businesses of all sizes. So, take a look at the infographic and see if there’s anything you can add to your office to boost employee happiness.


This infographic was made with love by Unum. Unum providesIncome Protection which is an employee benefit that helps 1000s of businesses protect their staff.

Read more…

Manipulative people in the workplace really do exist.  This blog will help you to understand who, why and what they mean to us in HR.  

Rose tinted spectacles.  I pride myself in wearing them.  I'm definitely a glass-half-full type of bloke, especially when it comes to dealing with people.  I personally believe it is one of those qualities HR people must possess; the ability to see the best qualities in people.

But regardless of how rosy I like my world to be, it's also important to keep my feet firmly on the ground of reality.  Much as I hate to say it, this reality tells me that there are some people in the world that just aren't nice.  Turn on the news channel on any day where you’ll find firm evidence of this.  Stories where someone, somewhere in the world, has conducted themselves with nothing but ill-intent for those around them.

I'm always amazed, shocked, surprised and in some counts devastated to hear that a version of this ill-intended behaviour also exists within the business world.  People, who fortunately are in a minority, that are so self-centred that they have no interest in anything other than their own needs.  They’re often scrabbling for promotion, status or some other worth for themselves.  I'm not talking here about those with career ambition and drive to succeed.  That's healthy.  Nor am I talking about those conflicts and disagreements that occur in the workplace.  Conflict is also a healthy part of everyday living.  Think back to the last time you saw two children arguing over a toy and learning how to share.  Think back to that interesting debate that you had on a business issue where different parties had different points of view.  Conflict is part of our society and must continue to be present to aid our development.

What I am talking about though is those that don’t work with others, with a team-spirited approach.  I’m talking about those that are so focussed on what they want they will quite happily, without regret or remorse, tread over anything and everything that stands in their way.  They are an especially disturbed bunch of people that George Simon describes as covert aggressive in his book “In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People”.  These are people who are sneaky, deceitful and will stop at nothing to get what they want.  They often lie, hold back important information, try and frame others to look incompetent and a whole host of other manipulative tactics.  The consequences are disastrous.  Stress and confusion are a bare minimum effect of dealing with these people.  Being dismissed or feeling that there is no option but to hand in notice and leave the job that used to be enjoyable are others.  These people stop at nothing to get what they want.  It could be a boss, a co-worker or even a member of someone's team.  It could even be someone outside of the working world in a personal relationship.  Whoever they are, wherever you bump in to them, let me make it clear that these people have no care and absolutely no respect for those around them.  I’m not saying these people are in themselves bad, but their behaviour certainly is.  The likely cause according to the book is deep routed issues within their internal values and beliefs.  If there is any chance of these being corrected, it can only really be done by professional psychotherapy treatment.

Before I come on to the good news, let me give you one more hard hitting fact.  These people do not conduct themselves in an obvious overtly aggressive way.  Society has taught us that there is no place for aggression.  If they use these blatant ways of getting what they want, they know they’ll soon be found out and removed.  So what they do instead is conduct themselves with a persona of charm and charisma.  They are on the face of it, the most personable, friendly people you may come across – just like the wolf in sheep’s clothing and probably the inspiration for the title.

So what does this mean in the world of HR?  Well sadly, according to the book, this type of behaviour is becoming more and more common place.  As our society and culture continues to strive to be a harmonious place where there is no place for aggression, it would make sense to these people to find discreet, covert, manipulative ways of getting what they want.  They do so, in order to go under the radar.  What this means is bullying in the workplace; victimisation or whatever you choose to call it by these people isn’t really that easy to detect.  Very often, even the victims themselves don’t realise what’s happening to them before it’s all too late.

So the good news.  These people, once you’ve spotted them, are really easy to deal with.  They don’t look so great without their fluffy coat!  The book leaves no stone unturned in terms of recognising and dealing with these types of people.  Whether you’re a victim yourself or you’re helping someone to deal with their own situation, this book will leave no doubt in your mind in terms of what action you should take.  The techniques involved in dealing with these people are far from being complex.  They are the best practice things that we all do every day.  They are skills that you as a HR professional or the victim themselves are likely to already possess.  But one word of warning.  If something I’ve said strikes a chord with you, please read the book and do it soon.  The book concludes with much advise in terms of dealing with these people because be aware, when you challenge this type of person, they have a whole armoury of smoke-screen tactics to help them disappear back under your radar and remove the spotlight.  They really don’t have a place in their agenda for losing so the book is really helpful in terms of helping you or whoever you’re helping to take the right action.  Action that isn’t going to make a situation worse.  It really is important to have the skills to recognise and challenge this behaviour either for yourself, or those you may support through these situations in your HR career.

The link for the book once more, is here.  There’s an audio version too.

Please comment below, or contact me privately if you prefer, if you have a personal view you would like to share.


Read more…

Evaluation - What's In It For Me?

It's a cold and wet Monday morning and I'm on my way to meet Dr. Jim Kirkpatrick at a hotel near Heathrow.  As I climbed in to my car my thoughts reflected back to a conversation I had with Jim during the recent Kirkpatrick Partners Bronze level programme that I attended..

I was thinking about how, when I worked for a worldwide organisation back in the 80s they used to send us to the 'training school' every three or four months to attend a course of some sort.  "So what's the problem" I hear you say, "what a great employer", "they looked after you", "developed you", "spent money on you" etc, and yes of course I would agree with almost all of those points except what a great employer!  Why? Well they were wasting their money in the worst way possible, in the belief that I would become a better employee with all these new skills.  I learnt to solder well enough to assemble a satellite so it would not fall apart on take-off! I learnt how to compile a business report and a whole host of new skills that I did not need!! 

The training school were fantastic, the courses received great reactions from the trainees and we always passed the end of course assessments, but somehow things were not changing back in the business units, so often we were sent on other courses or refreshers!! Unfortunately some years ago this organisation closed its training school as they just could not see the value in it and weren't getting results. Was sending us to a training school away from the job really the right approach when most learning is done on the job anyway, is it time for new thinking and new approaches?

As I arrived at the hotel my thoughts turned to the day ahead. I was here to learn more about how Jim delivers his two day Kirkpatrick Partners Bronze programme, as I have the great honor of co-delivering with him in April 2013. We spent the day looking at why our profession, learning and development or as Jim prefers learning and performance, have come to rely on and in many cases mis-use the original Kirkpatrick evaluation model. And how the 'New World' kirkpatrick approach puts things straight.

For many learning professionals the Kirkpatrick four levels is a tool that is used towards the end of training to demonstrate the value of the event or programme, some never even get past level two.  In a survey carried out by the ASTD  "The  value of evaluation: Making Training evaluation more effective (2009) their research suggests that 91% of respondents use level 1 and 80% go as far as level 2, for levels 3 and 4 it drops significantly to 54% and 37% respectively.  This is in line with Jim's comments that the training profession can often see evaluation as a way of patting its self on the back or in other words "Look we did a great job, the delegates loved us and answered all our questions correctly, the organisation is going to be so happy with us, don't you think"?  And there-in lies the problem, there can be a big disconnect between the training department and the rest of the business!  Does the rest of the business really have much more than a passing interest in how well we deliver the training or how good lunch was or even whether our delegates got 100% in a test? No, the rest of the business wants results, and improved performance, they want things to change as a result of the training. Today, stakeholders are asking "So What?" and more importantly, "What's in it for me?"

This is where the "New World" Kirkpatrick model comes into its own, no longer should it be used towards the end of the training it should be used as a tool to help shape business thinking, to design learning solutions that matter most and along the way provide opportunities to generate evaluation data. The 'New World' approach is much more than a bolt on after training, it is a fresh up front approach to robust consultancy and training design.  For mission critical programmes it allows the learning professional, people like you and me to cross the metaphorical bridge to the business. Starting the conversations off with questions that echo Dr. Steven Covey's "Start with the end in mind" such as  "what are the business results you are looking for"? and "what behavioural change will give you this"?  These are the starting points for business focused conversations. Conversations that will help you and your organisation answer their what's in it for me question and provide data to demonstrate impact and results.

So the starting point is loud and clear from Jim it is Level Four, what results do you want to see, then we can work back through the levels identifying the behaviours and importantly what the business needs to do to support and encourage them, finally we can think about levels one and two.

On the way home I returned to thinking about that organisation I worked for and the training school, if only they had said to the business "so what results do you want to see from training" and reacted by helping the business define clear goals that could then be used to define some smaller measures of success and the behavours needed to get there, they may even be there today.  Some questions to leave you with:

How are you currently looking at evaluation in your business?

What conversations do you have with your stakeholders to identify what the desired change and end result is going to be?

When your stakeholder's ask you "what's in it for me? How do you respond?

If you are looking to get a fresh perspective on evaluation and take your approach to the next level, join Howard Rose, Phil Wilcox and Dr Jim Kirkpatrick at the next UK Kirkpatrick Certification Programme in London on April 22nd/23rd 2013. For more information on this exclusive event then please email alternatively all the details can be found here

Kirkpatrick Four Levels Programme London 22nd/23rd April

Read more…

What's Happening?

Kylie Jones updated their profile
2 hours ago
Nicole Hunter is now connected with Sheona Proven and Angela Sloan
2 hours ago
Kylie Jones and Ady Howes are now connected
2 hours ago
Laura Fawcett replied to Natalie Charlton's discussion What are the key aspects of a successful onboarding process?
3 hours ago
Emily Bailey updated their profile photo
9 hours ago
Louise Taylor updated their profile photo
9 hours ago
Emily Bailey updated their profile photo
9 hours ago
Emily Bailey updated their profile photo
9 hours ago
Louise Taylor updated their profile photo
9 hours ago
Louise Taylor updated their profile photo
9 hours ago
Sarah Loates and Lucy Aitken are now connected
9 hours ago