Archives for 10 Feb,2018

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Stand Out

standout1Why doesn’t it work when we copy what another great leader does? 

In his new book Standout, Marcus Buckingham introduces how we can more effectively innovate and spread great ideas that land and work.

When we see a part of our business performing well or one manager doing a great job, we tend to say, what can we learn from that?  How can we repeat it?  The problem is, we’re not taking into account that the idea may be specific to that individual’s strengths.

A better way of spreading great ideas, is to match the ideas to individual strengths.  If your strength is in focusing on learning, you might get great mileage out of this idea to encourage and share learning.  If you’re a great energiser, you may get more from this idea to introduce wild and whacky fun into the workplace.

Let’s stop forcing an idea onto people who don’t get it, and focus on finding the right ideas for each individual’s strengths.


Marcus’ work to date on strengths has argued these points, but now we have a more specific focus  on growing commercial performance, through the spread of ideas that work – to people who make them work.

What can we do to apply that right now?  What ideas have you heard recently that you thought sounded ok but not quite “you”?  How could you make those ideas more “you”?  Make them your own and watch them work far more effectively.


  • When we focus on the concept of an idea (e.g. to understand individual strengths), we can do more with it than if we just take the tactic (e.g. to make everyone fill out Strengthsfinder!)
  • If we take ideas and make them our own, we are far more likely to succeed – therefore corporate programmes to implement ideas across the board are to some extent doomed to fail
  • As Marcus put it, “true diversity is in strengths”– what mix of strengths do we have in our teams and how are we maximising them?

Marcus Buckingham’s book Standout focuses on using your strengths to gain competitive advantage.

A great summary of the tool, the nine strength roles and how this can help innovation can be found on Kenexa’s website.

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The Mindfulness Hype?

Mindfulness-21 400x265Have you noticed a steady increase in the amount of news, research and articles on mindfulness? 

From reviews of changes occurring in our genes after a short period of mindfulness to the benefits of this practice in relieving stress and pain, to what this all might mean to health and well-being at work – there is a lot out there.

So why might this be, and what might that mean to us in the world of HR, L&D and Recruitment?

If we start with a definition of mindfulness as zoning in to our environment, calming the busyness of our brains and noticing our breathing, our posture, our surroundings, our thinking and so on – this gives us some clues.

In an age where the standard response to the question “how are you?” is simply. “busy,” we are clearly in need of something to help us slow down.  All of this busyness leads to mass auto-pilot behaviour, less creativity and innovation and usually poorer performance.  And so slowing down, focusing more on are we doing the right things than simply doing lots of things, can make a big difference.

Coaching and Nancy Kline’s Time to Think highlighted the need to slow down and listen, and has lead to some great progress.  Now mindfulness shows us a self-directed addition to the toolbox for personal effectiveness and well-being.  Of course mindfulness is not a new concept, but it is receiving new understanding and popularity.

Totem Lollipops

So what does this mean for us in the world of HR, L&D and Recruitment?  I suggest there are three key points for us to be thinking about…

Firstly this can help us in the mission for behavioural change.  We know that training courses alone achieve very little of the behavioural change we want.  Mindfulness encourages greater self-awareness and a chance to slow down and consider different behaviour.  Combine this with action learning sets and manager support and we have a far greater opportunity for positive change.  When so much is being spent on training, this gives us a chance to see greater return on expectation and ROI.

For well-being, mindfulness is a great starting point for stress relief and health – which can lead onto other benefits like a more mindful diet, mindful exercise and overall better awareness of the habits that drive our health.  This is a great contributor to the bottom line in reduced sick days, higher performance and through the sense that our employer cares about us, higher employee engagement.

With higher employee engagement and evidence for the organisation’s care for its people, your employer brand will be stronger.  Therefore your opportunity to attract and retain talent increases.  As talk of the upturn in confidence and the economy is balanced with fears about a further downturn, what is consistent is the constant need to keep hold of, develop and attract new talent.  Mindfulness could be a starting point for all of these things – and if we practice it ourselves, we may just find more opportunities and benefits.

Caring about people’s well-being and showing them how they can be healthier and happier sounds like a pretty sensible thing to do simply for the goodness of it.  Add to that the clear business benefits and now we can see why there is increasing noise about this mindfulness stuff.

Is it hype?  Or is it simply a bit of good news getting the air time it deserves?

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The Power of Optimism

Optimism 400x265Are you an optimist or pessimist?

The optimist / pessimist contrast is usually the only contact many of us have had with the concept of optimism.  Optimism by itself, is a fascinating concept and there is a growing body of research showing that this is largely genetic and then shaped further by early experiences and upbringing – so we’re optimists or pessimists from a young age.

Yet there is a difference between being an optimist and thinking optimistically – and we can all benefit greatly from choosing to think more optimistically, some of the time.

Martin Seligman is world famous for his work on depression, happiness, wellbeing and optimism.  He points out as a result of thousands of examples from therapy and experimentation that regardless of our natural style (more or less optimistic), we can develop our thinking.  And that change in thinking leads to both lower chances of getting depressed and faster recovery time if we do feel depressed.

So what can we do?  It all comes down to how we explain to ourselves and others “good” and “bad” events.  Life happens – it’s how we think about those events that makes the difference to our wellbeing.

When good, great, pleasing things happen, it is better for our health and wellbeing to explain those things as personal, permanent and pervasive.  This is optimistic thinking.  An example would be:

“That workshop went so well because I did a great job.  And I always do a great job so tomorrow will be just as good.  And I’m not just good at this, I’m good at other things too – my strengths apply across situations.”

As opposed to: “it was a fluke the workshop went well, the group were just really nice.  I won’t be that lucky tomorrow.  And just because that workshop went well, that doesn’t make up for the fact that I’m useless at most other things.”

Totem Gummi Bears

When sad, upsetting, bad things happen, it is better for our health and wellbeing to do the opposite.  Let’s explain those things as impersonal, temporary and specific.  This is optimistic thinking.  An example would be:

“My marriage is not going well because of current circumstances, I don’t think it’s all down to me.  This is just a bad time, things will get better.  And just because the marriage isn’t so great right now, I’m still able to do great at my work, hobbies and relationships with other people.”

As opposed to: “It’s all my fault, I’m ruining my marriage.  This is permanent, it’s never going to get any better.  How can I do anything else well, I am a failure at everything.”

So the research shows it, more optimistic thinking is better for our health, wellbeing and overall success.  It’s not about thinking positive all the time – how would we get on if we had no risk management specialists planning for the worst?!  This is about us having a choice in each situation, and choosing at times to think more optimistically for our wellbeing and happiness.

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