Posts Tagged ‘careers’

let your people go and be pleased for them

“Poaching talent” said my fellow speaker, and, even with pantomime season nearly at a close, you could sense the audience wanting to boo and hiss. Read more…

monday musings of FM in the boardroom

We talk a lot about getting FM into the boardroom and similar ambitions to further our profession and in these aims we are no different to many other specialist disciplines; when wearing my purchasing hat my colleagues there are no different, but when I have my logistics hat on my colleagues there don’t often have that issue, for they are usually firmly embedded at the top table, so how do they do that and what can FM learn? Read more…

let’s stop using power words in CVs and bid documents

January 21, 2013 1 comment

Last week I got involved in a cyber-debate about the overuse of power words, in this case about their use in CVs, but the principle applies more widely. I have two main issues with this abuse of language; firstly that much of it is transparently nonsense (and therefore untrue) and secondly that it wastes my time. Read more…

the importance of being educated

I always find it sad when I hear people say that they’ve never used anything that they learned at school, because I have found what I learned in my school days to have been a help in so many ways. Read more…

experience is as to intensity and not as to duration – thomas hardy

Quite rightly experience is valued. When we are recruiting an employee or engaging a contractor we look for relevant experience, and when we look at ourselves we talk about having paid our dues; done the hard yard and so on. Read more…

I’m happy to aspire to things, happier still to earn them, but entitlement; no thanks

There once was a schoolboy who wasn’t too sure what he wanted to be when he grew up, but he was quite keen on factories and offices, even if he didn’t understand too much about what went on there. The day came when he had to get a job and, perhaps fittingly for someone who liked buildings, he began to train as a surveyor. A recession curtailed that career, and he found himself working for an insurance giant in the City, but even the prospect of one day stalking the floor at Lloyd’s placing business with the syndicates was not enough of a draw. No, this youth wanted an office and a secretary. He didn’t know why, nor grasp what he would need to do to get or retain such trappings, but that was what he wanted. The City was a bore and he drifted into the retail and wholesale trade where his aspirations were refined through visits to many a private office, sometimes to be rewarded but, more often, to be chastised. As he would stand and take his medicine he took in the subtle benefits of the corner office, of mahogany over laminate, of carpet over lino, of the North West corner over the South East and more. From his early forays into management positions it took almost 10 years before everything came together and he not only realised what he needed to be able to contribute to a business for him to warrant an office of his own, but was able to demonstrate it to the satisfaction of those above him. By then he was with an organisation where such things were carefully prescribed; 11m2, carpet, swivel chair (with arms), desk with two pedestals (lockable), visitor’s chair, 4 drawer filing cabinet (lockable) and 3 hook coat stand. His name would be on a plate affixed to the door and his name and telephone number would appear in bold type in the internal telephone directory. To these things he was entitled. From that first box in the corner of the room to the North West corner office and a secretary (OK, a half share of one) took less than a third of the time it had taken to get to first base, but a dreadful irony cast its shadow on this idyll. For now that our hero had achieved his aspirations and more, he found that he wanted to discard them. In arriving at the position where the buck for delivering results stopped where he sat, one of the key things he had learned about earning that place was that leaders needed to lead by example. At a time when there was a need for austerity and sacrifice all around, why was he sat in splendid isolation in a space that would take 6 workers in comfort? So the corner room on the top floor of the office was swapped, firstly for what had been a store room in the warehouse, and then for a desk in the open plan and then for cadging a desk. All of the trappings that he had aspired to for the first half of his three score years and ten were gone within about 4 years of him having achieved them. Aspiration was one thing, but amongst the myriad things he had learned along the way to that corner office was what it took to earn that position, and being able to do that, to work successfully at that level, was in itself fulfilling; the trappings that came with the job didn’t matter. To aspire to something is one thing. To earn it is another, but to be entitled? No thanks.

Home thoughts from abroad; a postcard from America

Oh to be in England, now September’s here? Not really, no.

I’m taking a few minutes of quiet time in between business and the essential hospitality that goes with it, at least it does more so here in the USA that maybe back home. Shortly I will be back on show when my host’s guests start to arrive and we get down to some serious socializing and, it has to be said, networking.

So, home thoughts from abroad? For me this is more home than home in the sense of where I live. Yes I know that I am British, and I am proud of that, but I am more at home here in the US than I am back in Wiltshire and, if I had the chance, I’d set up home here for good.

For me there is a lot about America that we have seen wiped out in the UK. People do care about each other here and there is a much greater sense of community spirit. In many ways it is like the England that I grew up in in the 1950s and 1960s. Nostalgia may not be what it used to be, but I am nostalgic for a time when people were far less self centred; my Monday Musing last week talked of the Musketeer’s motto of “One for all and all for one”. So much of what I see back home is more like one for all and every one for themselves.

Here there is a much simpler attitude in most people, and it shows up in the way that I am being looked after. The whole concept of me being over here and staying alone in a hotel is an anathema to the people that I’m meeting, so a range of hospitality gets lined up for me to meet families and friends.  This isn’t expense account stuff either; it is a genuine desire to welcome a stranger and look after them.

Back home people often mock the “have a nice day” culture, but here it is, in most cases, genuine. This morning I went for a walk down a couple of blocks to buy a newspaper. I’d not got far before I fell into step with someone heading the same way. By the time we got to the news stand I knew his name, what he did, the names of his wife and his children and how they were doing at school and he’d had broadly equivalent information from me. When I used to commute into London by train there would be the same herd of us heading off to the station each morning for the run into Liverpool Street, but in three years of doing that I got to talk to two other people. Everyone else just kept their heads down and ignored those around them.

The Americans bring this warmth into much of business, whether that be BtoB or BtoC. In most cases there is a real need to give the customer service that goes a bit further and that’s great. It makes doing business a pleasure. Sure they are hard negotiators, and yes there are sharks, but doing a deal here is a very different experience to doing one back home.

Maybe some of this is just because it is a change for me. It’s nearly a year since I was last over and it could just be the grass being greener on this side of the hill. Maybe I would find it less attractive if I was here full time. Maybe not, and I have to come home soon anyway.

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