My Blogs and Articles
Davidson is a certified professional trainer, business coach and management consultant.
Driven by passion, he is an engaging and versatile presenter with over 20 years of experience in the training industry. Over the course of his career, he has trained over 1,000 companies comprising start-ups, SMEs, MNCs, government agencies and others all over Southeast Asia.
Below are Articles and posts I have written over the years and published on Various media.
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Steps to Formulating an Organisational Culture to Develop High-Performing Employees and Teams post COVID-19
Published on April 28, 2020
With half the world’s population experiencing some form of lockdown measures, some of us are lucky enough to be still employed and to work from home. The worst-case scenarios may include many businesses not being able to adapt to the current situation in transforming their businesses online.
With many businesses coming to a halt during this period, how do you as a business owner or a corporation ensure that your employees can and will play ‘catch up’ and make up for ‘lost time’ when they return to the office? For some of us, this lost time could be anywhere between one to possibly even six months.
You certainly want to be prepared when things return to ‘normality’ once the lockdown is lifted and your employees return to work as they used to. But the reality is that, this pandemic has not only had an impact economically, but psychologically as well. I have heard many people say they feel lost, unsure of what to do, a lot of self-reflection and deep thinking, and some possibly even going through depression.
It is important to understand your employees’ emotions as soon as they are back to work, and to re-align the organisation’s culture with that of your employees’, that can in turn achieve the company’s goals. One important element in re-aligning your organisational culture is to help create an ‘ideal working environment’ for your employees, which will enable them to be more productive, efficient, with better engagement and communication when they return to work.
What is an ‘ideal working environment’?
We asked people across 57 countries what their definition of an ‘ideal working environment’ was. Surprisingly, their answers were nothing out of the ordinary in the workplace. This is what most of them defined it as:
Teamwork: People wanted teamwork. They wanted to be trusted to be innovative, and they wanted to be able to trust others to take accountability.
Clarity. People also want clarity to move towards a common organisational goal; clarity can come in the form of proper communication or re-defining the goals and vision of the company.
Supportive Environment: Many people wanted an environment that was supportive – that allowed them to get things done in the most effective manner.
While teamwork, clarity and supportive environment are not some unusual keywords, they are some of the most essential attributes and qualities that would allow your employees to support your company’s vision and goals.
In my opinion, Google Inc. has done exceptionally well in creating the ideal workplace environment for its employees. Google’s infamous ‘20% time’ policy allowed their engineers to spend up to 20% of their workweek on projects that interest them. By doing this, Google was also able to, at the same time, tap into their employees’ ‘hidden talents’. The result is that these innovative ideas from their employees can permeate throughout the organisation.
Do you know how engaged your employees are (pre-COVID-19 lockdown)?
Gallup’s surveys with employees around the world found that:
- 15% of employees are currently engaged at work: these employees are your “paddlers” who are loyal and psychologically invested in their job and motivated to be highly productive. Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They also drive innovation and move the organization forward.
- 67% (two-thirds worldwide) are disengaged: these employees are your “passengers”. They sleepwalk through their workday, putting in their time but not necessarily their energy or passion. They are psychologically disconnected to the organisation.
- 18% are actively disengaged: — these employees are physically present, but psychologically absent. They are unhappy and insist on sharing this unhappiness with others by demoralising them. They are “sinking your boat”.
Based on data aggregated from 2014-2016 Gallup World Polls
Many leaders might say their organisation has all the attributes of an ideal working environment as mentioned above. While this may be true in some cases, have you given a thought to what your employees really think or feel? Do they think or feel the same thing? If they do, you are probably on the right path. But what if they do not? Or they have not been provided with a platform to voice their opinion?
What can you do to re-align your organisational culture with that of your employees’?
Many organizations are constantly trying to apply a quick fix to their organizational inefficiencies by training employees, rearranging teams, and various initiatives that often fall short of the desired outcome – which is a sustainable one. While all of these can indeed make a positive impact, they have one thing in common, they will only succeed if the Organizational Culture supports them… and this can be improved with the right organizational culture audit.
You cannot effectively re-align or improve something without a benchmark of where you are at. Hence, it is imperative for organisations to perform a culture audit as a first step, to determine where they currently stand, before launching any culture transformational or digital transformation initiatives. This is vital because a culture audit will show you exactly where you are (a starting point) before you start heading to your destination. A simple analogy would be akin to using Google maps for navigation. The app needs to know your point of origin before it can let you know the route to take to get to your destination. The Culture Audit will let you know which culture is currently manifested in your organisation before you can make any attempts fixing it.
How do you conduct a culture audit with the help from professionals with the right tools, without breaking your bank account?
According to another Gallup survey, 70% of organisational restructuring and cultural alignment exercises are doomed to fail. This was due to poorly defined ‘change’ objectives, milestones that seem impossible to achieve or there was not a clear benchmark against the current and future state. Perhaps it was the tools, or lack of, that prevented these transformation initiatives to be successful and sustainable.
While benchmarking is crucial in identifying your current organisational culture, we also know that these culture audits can be very costly, costing anywhere between USD20,000 to USD35,000. That is a huge investment to make, given the current pandemic situation, where many companies are thinking mainly of cost-cutting measures and sustainability, than investing.
But what if I told you that as part of our giving-back initiative, our team of consultants has decided to give you the culture audits for free with no strings attached? We would like to help companies by supporting their employees gain purpose and excitement through creating an Ideal Work Environment that they will engineer during this lockdown period, which will help them improve their productivity and engagement when they go back to work.
As part of our $1,000,000.00 (in value) culture consulting giveaway during this pandemic, we would like to help companies identify which culture they are in. They are five organisational cultures, they are:
1) Blame Culture
2) Multi-directional Culture
3) Live and Let Live Culture
4) Brand Congruent Culture
5) Leadership enriched Culture
Grab this golden opportunity to get a complimentary Culture Audit for your organization. This includes a free report that will be sent to you after your employees have completed the online assessment.
We have also prepared a short video to explain why we are spending our time and resources, and why almost 50 of us, who are Certified Culture Consultants, have volunteered our time and expertise to give away this culture development service. We want to do our part to support the world during this pandemic.
Wishing you all the success!
Business Writing – an undervalued skill set that may be costly to your business
Published on April 2, 2020
When I first got into the training industry more than two decades ago, most organisations and businesses were just starting to adopt the big, bulky PCs with floppy disks. Those of us from the 90’s era will certainly agree with me on how long it took to get connected to the internet every time with the ‘unforgettable’ dial-up tone (what felt like an eternity).
The adoption of digital evolution has today changed how businesses operate and the way we communicate in more ways than we can imagine. Information Technology (IT) related training was high on demand then, where corporations were eager to learn Windows, Microsoft applications, and many other applications in order to improve productivity.
With the rapid advancement in IT, this has led to globalisation, allowing businesses to now overcome geographical challenges and to seamlessly engage in multilateral trade. In order to remain competitive, it is imperative that organisations engage with their clients and business partners. A huge part of this is through written communication, which can in the form of proposals, quotations, letters, email, press releases, reports, marketing materials and so on.
The potential cost of poor business writing
Today, with the increasing popularity of instant messaging (IM) platforms and social media, the writing that many people adopt has become more informal, and unfortunately, this style of writing has even cascaded down to one of the most important formal business communication tools today – email. I still receive many emails that are typed in all small caps, all caps, without any paragraphing, or worst still, emails written in “shorthand”. How many of these have you come across?
- BAE = Before Anyone Else
- BC = Because
- BRB = Be Right Back
- FWIW = For What It’s Worth
- HBU = How About You
- ICYMI = In Case You Missed It
- IDC = I Don’t Care
- IMO / IMHO = In My (Humble) Opinion
- IRL = In Real Life
- JK = Just Kidding
- L8 = Late
- LMK = Let Me Know
- NBD = No Big Deal
- RN = Right Now
- SMH = Shaking My Head
- TBH = To Be Honest
- TFW = That Feeling When
- Thx = Thanks
- TMW = That Moment When
- TN = Tonight
- TTYL = Talk to You Later
- TY = Thank You
- WBU = What About You
- WYD = What (Are) You Doing
- YW = You’re Welcome
In my personal observations, many organisations have somehow overlooked the importance of not just writing, but the ability to write effectively based on these two popular beliefs:
1. Many corporations and businesses assume that the new generation of employees, consisting mainly millennial employees – who have a higher level of education (in the form of diplomas or degrees) – leading organisations to often presume that these employees have the ability to write.
2. Experienced managers would (or should) have mastered the art of writing, having been in the workforce for years. In fact, in many organisations, there may even be a case of the “blind leading the blind”.
Many corporations and businesses will not realise the impact of poor writing until it is too late. Josh Bernoff cited in his article that American businesses lose close to $400 billion every year on badly written materials from emails, reports, press releases, website content, and marketing materials. Another study from CollegeBoard, a non-profit organisation in the United States established by the National Commission on Writing, cited that businesses in America are spending as much as $3.1 billion on remedial writing training annually, with $2.9 billion accounted for training for its current employees, not new employees.
These are just some of the quantifiable costs – what about the costs that are not quantifiable? Poorly written materials, be it an email response from your customer service team to a client, company memos, press releases or any marketing contents that have unclear ideas, grammar mistakes or typographical errors, can and will affect your organisation’s reputation.
Cost-effectiveness vs real training needs – the potential setback
Very recently I had to cancel my training workshops in a neighbouring country due to the COVID-19 outbreak. I sent an email to the airline to cancel my flight and requested a full refund. The airline was very understanding and accommodating. However, when I received an email from them confirming the refund status, what shocked me was that the email was poorly written with numerous grammatical mistakes, among other errors. I remember the last line of the email said something along the lines of ‘if you are agreeable to this arrangement, please revert to this email’. An hour later I received a call from the airline, politely requesting for me to respond to the email with a confirmation that I indeed agree to cancel and that I am requesting a full refund.
The irony here is that I have trained this airline on World Class Customer Service and Business Writing Skills a few years ago. While they were maintaining their standards on providing world-class customer service, the same cannot be said for their business writing skills. This goes back to the two popular beliefs mentioned earlier. It could be a case that this customer service representative has not formally attended any business writing workshop before; their manager (who incidentally attended the training) has left the organisation; or that they were trained by someone who has not attended the training (blind leading the blind).
Bear in mind that it also cannot be assumed that all managers, whether formally trained or not will have the capacity (time) to guide their team on the intricacies of business writing, or spending time proofreading every email that goes out. This is probably what happened here as only a few people in this organisation were nominated to attend my training, leaving out the front-liners and those who communicate with the customers daily, be it current or new employees.
Business writing is an essential training worth investing in for all employees
One must also remember that emails are ‘on the record’ formal communication between internal stakeholders and external third parties, be it a supplier or a client. Emails are received cold, without the sender’s tone of voice and gesture to help, and it is up to the recipient to decipher the message based on their life experience.
Organisations should consider investing in training all employees, especially the front-liners, in a formal Business Writing workshop. The last thing any corporation or business would want is an email going out to a supplier with an intention to question the delayed delivery, which turns into a corporate confrontation, and ends up in litigation instead, all because of a poorly written email.
Drop me an email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp me (by clicking on the link below) if you are keen to know more or explore how Effective Business Writing in the 21st Century can benefit you as an individual or as a business.
Top 3 Paradoxes of Colored Brain
Published on July 26, 2019
‘Colored Brain’ is based on NEW Research! While so many psychometric tools are based on research that is 20 to even 70 years old, Colored Brain incorporates the latest research on Neuroplasticity, and the modern understanding of how neurotransmitter substances work.
The Colored Brain work began in 2002 from the foundation of multiple contradictive personality focused genetic and observational research, bringing founder, Arthur Carmazzi, to discover and focus only on the elements that were consistent among the various contradictive “personality” conclusions. This led to further investigation accounting for the latest neuroscience discoveries to create a SIMPLE yet powerful tool that transforms communication and performance.
Benefits of Colored Brain psychometric profiling to your organizational development:
Understanding the genetic communication processes of an individual and the brain flexibility they have developed through their environment and experience, will set the foundation for HR managers and Department heads to maximize productivity of individuals, departments, and the overall organization. Using the CBCI™ (Colored Brain Communication Inventory) will enable individuals themselves to have a greater understanding and clarity of what is required to better perform their jobs, and how to enhance the natural talents in themselves and others.
Applications of the CBCI™ Psychometric Profiling:
- Self-scoring to ensure prompt application.
- Easy to complete.
- Designed to be applied in groups or as an individual.
- Appropriate for all levels of employees and management.
Paradox 1: Self-identifying as a certain Colored Brain
What Colored Brain are you? You might already know the answer to this question without taking a test, but practice shows that some individuals ‘pretend’ to be a different Colored Brain. It happens because they want to be so, or because they think they are required to be a certain color due to pressure from colleagues, friends or families.
I met people, who after taking a test, got absolutely unexpected results discovering their own great potential in totally different areas from those they’ve always been focused on. Someone thought they weren’t creative enough and belonged to the Red Brain category, but, in fact, had a very high score in the Green Brain section. They wanted to be seen and accepted as very a‘structured’ person, so they acted accordingly, while wasting their potential in making spontaneous but genius decisions.
Undisputedly, the human brain is a huge field of research: our cognitive functions can barely be described and explained, and our brain’s potential has been estimated very roughly.
Of course, the way we act is based a lot on our personal characteristics, social surrounding, cultural background, and even genes.
It is possible to find out the algorithm of how our brain processes information, which also determines our actions (or reactions) in different situations.
Whether in daily routine, or experiencing new stimuli, your brain autonomously receives data, measures, sorts, then transforms it into information, resulting in solutions, decisions, and actions.
Humans are not robots, which means that we can’t solely identify as to which Colored Brain we are. This is most likely due to subtle biases we each have. The goal is not only to find out your DOMINANT color, but also it’s ratio comparing to other colors.
As you can see in the charts above, you might be identified as a Blue Brain, but it doesn’t mean that you have 100% of a Blue Brain’s ‘characteristics’, where you might have a high Green Brain reading as well.
Or you might have high scores in 3 areas out of 4, but will be identified as a Green Brain only because that’s where you got the highest percentage.
To be successful it’s essential to understand yourself better. Mastering this allows you to develop more ‘actions’ than ‘reactions’. This ultimately leads to more Intelligent Actions and outcomes in the form of Better Decisions, where Better Decisions mean:
- More effectiveness
- Less stress
- Better relationships
- More personal success
- More professional success
Paradox 2: One task = One solution
How different Colored Brains process information?
Imagine that four people are watching a commercial video advertising one thing. They get a task: after watching the first video they need to create a sequel to advertise a new product from the same company. Their work process and final results will depend on the way they absorb and evaluate incoming data, so whilst watching exactly the same video, four different people will direct their attention to different aspects.
One will start from analyzing the first video and outlining the most important features: brand logo, company’s motto, product’s functional parts etc. He is worried about keeping the structure and not leaving out the most important details.
The second one will question how the company’s new product will be accepted by customers, if it matches the motto and client’s expectations. He is worried about the level of acceptance by other people.
The third one will suggest to change the overall style: music, color palette, classic outline. He wants to be more creative and surprising, that’s why he is a bit spontaneous and even chaotic with his ideas and wants to start immediately. He is very active, so he wants everything to be done in a very short period of time.
The last one will ask questions first: how big is the target market, how this advertisement will influence the company in general, what are the possible outcomes of this campaign. He requires more incoming data. Everything needs to be connected.
They all have the same task, but they all start thinking about it differently. They will each set different priorities, have different strategies and different outcomes.
Paradox 3: It doesn’t matter what Colored Brain you are. If you are a professional, you will complete any task easily.
As a leader, you have to identify your team members’ strengths and weaknesses to coordinate and communicate to them more directly in order to increase the effectiveness of their output.
As a team player, you should know how to communicate better, how to handle conflicts at the workplace, and even how to manage your boss.
As a professional, you need to understand yourself, your way of thinking, and get more fulfillment in what you do.
Overall, knowing your colleagues’ Colored Brains helps to complete given tasks more efficiently, helps reduce stress and frustration at the workplace, and achieve greater results.
Have a look at the example quadrant chart below. Now, hypothetically try to position yourself and your coworkers there in any available quadrant, according to the time versus information axis. When doing so, mentally assess how long you think it takes for each individual to complete a given task, and how much information they usually need when doing so. You may be surprised with the results.
Next, have a look at the actual Colored Brain quadrant chart below and try to identify yourself and your colleagues’ Colored Brains.
So, for instance, if you imagined your Executive in Quadrant I (bottom left) – he represents a Green Brain. If you assigned your Senior manager to Quadrant II (top left) – she represents a Blue Brain, and so on.
Now, that you have positioned yourself and your coworkers somewhere along the axis, you can hypothetically imagine how each individual would behave in the following situation:
Time: There is a very urgent task which has to be completed immediately.
Information: The incoming data amount is minimal.
Goal: There is a certain goal set, but the way of achieving it is not outlined.
Situational behavior of each Colored Brain:
Green: Will quickly come up with many different suggestions, will be very enthusiastic and will take immediate action. Will possibly make many mistakes because of the incoming disconnected information, but will recover and correct mistakes fast.
He/She might feel pressure, if requested to provide a certain plan from a Red Brain, because it creates an impression of being ‘bossed around’ (Generating structure – the opposite of Green brain processing).
Also, the Green Brain may feel frustrated, if he/she gets asked to many ‘secondary’ questions from Purple Brains, which to them creates a feeling of mistrust.
Blue: Will make a quick decision based on previously gained experience in similar situations, will relate to other people’s opinions and expectations (intuitive of others). Is able to get a feel for the given environment and multi-task. Achieves clarity by being insightful of surroundings.
He/She might be stressed through receiving a very straight-forwarded instruction from a Red Brain, accepting it as insensitive.
The Blue Brain can be flexible when working in new situations/environments, so he/she shouldn’t have problems in cooperating with Green Brains.
Purple: Will attempt to extract as much information as possible and link all the data. Will not take action before analyzing details and systemizing them. Might be stressed because of the lack of incoming information and the lack of time to do proper research.
He/She will be cooperating with Red Brains, as they need structure and will get aid in generating ideas as to what kind of information needs to be found and processed.
He/She might have difficulties in working with Green Brains, because they will cause confusion brought on by the spontaneity of to many different ideas. This will not make sense to Purple Brains.
Red: Will require a bit more time to make a step-by-step strategy, describe everyone’s role, list resources needed etc.
Will take action only after making understandable ‘to-do’ lists.
He/she might feel frustrated if the structure is not clear and if there is no plan, or when the boss is a Green Brain.
He/She might not understand roughly intuitive decisions made by Blue Brains.
What does Colored Brain awareness give you?
- It is easier to accept and deal with other brain processes once you know that they cannot change (genetically wired). This in turn will increase your Circle of Tolerance and helps you act intelligently (action instead of reaction).
- Knowing your own color helps in managing your own expectations and understanding yourself better. You will make better decisions as a result. It also strengthens your skills, diversifies your abilities, and helps you do your job better.
- Understanding the brain color of others around you helps you support their strength and set them up for success.
Stripping Leadership Bare
Published on April 29, 2015
The term “leadership” is certainly becoming the favourite buzzword of the corporate and entrepreneurial scene. 90% of CEOs (according to McKinsey Quarterly – Decoding Leadership: What really matters) are already increasing their investment in leadership development programs. Yes, practically everyone agrees that it is the numero uno human capital issue that is to be taken very seriously. Yet only 43% of the CEOs cited earlier are confident that their training investment in leadership will bear fruit.
Now why is that?
“Leadership behavior” covers a wide range of behavioural traits from role-modelling and quick decision-making to innovative thinking and risk-taking. What remain unresolved is identifying the leadership skills that really drive success in an organization and that is precisely why 43% of CEOs are not sure if their smorgasbord of leadership development programs will give them the ROI they are looking for.
Enter our friends from McKinsey Insights who conducted a study to identify the small subset of leadership skills that correlate with leadership success. They stripped leadership down to four bare traits that are at the core of success:
#1 Effective Problem Solving
Ok this is a no-brainer, a leader who isn’t able to solve problems isn’t going to lead the team and the company in an upward trajectory. While effective decision-making skills is essential the ability to problem solve precedes that.
A successful leader is one who has their eye on the ball always. Leadership isn’t only about developing and communicating a vision but also possessing the necessary follow-through to achieve them. Result-oriented leaders nurture efficiency and productivity while always prioritizing high-value work above everything else.
#3 Seek different perspectives
Good leaders usually base their decisions on sound analysis and seeking the opinions of others. Successful managers are also those who have their finger on trends that are affecting the organization as well as continuously encouraging employees to contribute ideas that can improve performance.
#4 Support others
Successful leaders inspire and build trust amongst colleagues through being authentic and sincere. They help colleagues through difficult challenges, intervene to improve efficiency, allay unwarranted fears about external issues and are quick to prevent positive energy from dissipating because of internal conflict.
While this survey may not be an exact science, it is indeed food for thought and you would do well to design basic leadership workshops around these 4 traits before moving along to other leadership traits that may appear more edgy or hip.
Taking A Cut; Risky Move?
Published on April 20, 2015
I am sure most of you would have read the news about Dan Price, the CEO of a Seattle-based credit card processing firm, Gravity Payment who decided to cut his $1million salary down to $70,000.
No, the guy wasn’t start-raving mad. But yes, it was indeed shocking and hard to believe especially when you have been reading such news like MPs awarding a pay rise to them while the common folk are tightening their belts battling an increase in living expenses.
So, why did Dan Price do what he did?
Simple, he realized that the average salary his staff was making was $48,000 and that to make a significant difference in their lives; they would need to earn at least $70,000 a year. So he decided to give everyone a raise and doubled most of their salaries by taking a huge pay cut and utilizing more than three quarters of this year’s profits to fund the new salaries.
Price said that he will keep his salary low till the profits are earned back.
Needless to say, this move of his would definitely garner unparallel goodwill and loyalty. There is no greater motivation than seeing your CEO think about your welfare first as an employee.
But do you think it was wise of him to use three quarters of the company’s profits to fund the new salary scheme? Is this leadership at its best or a risky move?
Loving what you do, doing what you love
Published on April 15, 2015
I spent last week in Brunei facilitating two workshops for KCOM Academy; one on “Human Resource Management for New HR and Non HR Managers”, and the other on “Successful Onboarding”.
No matter how many times I do these workshops, with every new group of participants, the experience is always different. One of the things that stood out was during the HR Workshop, I knew one of the participants had this light bulb moment when I was sharing something on discipline and coaching, he was so intrigued with how coaching could assist in dealing with performance and also discipline. All this while, his organization was using the ‘whip’ method and this time he was exposed to the benefits and the “how to’s” of using the ‘carrot’.
During the ‘Successful Onboarding’ program, participants were very excited to implement Onboarding or enhance their current Orientation program to include elements that were presented to them during this 2-day training. They clearly saw the benefits of building a long-term career path for employees in order to create employee engagement and giving them job security.
It is reactions like these, knowing that I am making an impact on their professional lives that energises me to keep giving more than just my best. It was a fabulous week overall and I am happy for the learnings that took place and the rapport that was built. We had participants from BT Forwarding, BEDB, UNISSA, Svensons, JPA, Politeknik, Ghanim International, Lantana Services, BIDB and DST who really immersed themselves into the program right from the get go and fully participated in all the activities.
When you are doing what you are passionate about, somehow everything else takes a back seat and you are just there in the zone giving it all you got.
How Emails Mess Up Your Focus
Published on April 3, 2015
Julie Morgenstern, author of “Never Check Email in the Morning” is a great believer that truly successful people do not check their emails first thing in the morning.
Surprising isn’t it? For most of us, the very first thing we do is check our emails and send out emails. According to Morgenstern, this is counter-productive and “you’ll never recover” is what she shared with Huffington Post. Since 1989, Morgenstern has been consulting with companies such as American Express, FedEx and Microsoft on organization and time management. She’s also contributed articles on this topic for Forbes magazine and the New York Times.
At the core of it, is basically how our brain reacts to tasks and when we understand that reaction, it will improve our focus and productivity. Studies have shown that it is harder for our focus to go from the transactional, shallow part of the brain to the frontal cortex and other parts of our brain where strategic thinking happens. It is much easier to start at the deep recesses of our brain and to go to the shallow parts.
What does it all mean and how does checking your email first thing in the morning mess this up?
Email is a reactive activity and not a proactive one. The tendency is to set our daily agenda by what appears in our inbox as we bounce from task to task set by the requests of other people. It distracts you from what you actually want and need to work on for the day.
So what should you do instead as you can’t escape emails forever?
Simple, start your day by completing an important task that requires focus, strategic thinking or creativity. Only when these tasks are completed, check your emails. Devote your mornings to what you want to get done first.
Try it out for size and let me know if it works for you.
Published on March 23, 2015
Timeliness is a virtue that I hold great respect for. I hate being late for appointments and always make sure that I am where I said I would be at the time that was agreed upon.
Sadly it is also my greatest pet peeve socially as well as in business because a lot of people seem to have their watches set to Malaysian time. No, not +8GMT but rather the kind of “time zones” that start with “I am on the way” and “Yes, yes, I will be there in a few minutes” that if you actually timed them from the minute they told you that, to the moment they arrive – you probably could have finished reading “Crime and Punishment” in English AND Russian while waiting for them because really, the snarling Malaysian traffic jam just didn’t let them move!
Jokes aside, timeliness in every aspect of the word – from punctuality to meeting deadlines and keeping to your word isn’t taken very seriously. Very often, I arrive at meetings at the set time only to be left waiting sometimes up to more than an hour later. The domino effect kicks in, affecting other meetings and the work schedule of the day.
There are also times, when I request for information that needs to be submitted to a client within a certain time frame and the other person conveniently forgets or delays things citing “being busy”.
At the end of the day, what makes you a professional is how you treat others and not the string of alphabets after your name or the number of degrees that you have.
When you are on time and keep to your word, the message that you are sending out is “I respect you and I appreciate the effort that you have made to carve out this time for me”.
If you are striving to be a better leader, manager or professional in your given field, the best place to start is to ask yourself if you can improve on your timeliness. It opens the gateway to a whole new level of respect and perception of your character and caliber if you do.
Hopefully “Malaysian time” sees a time out soon.
It seriously isn’t funny anymore.
So you think you want a career in HR?
Published on March 17, 2015
There are times when I am asked my opinion by young people who are trying to decide on a career if HR is a good option. Frequently, this question is followed by a statement explaining that they are really quiet and they feel HR would be their best bet.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In my experience there are about 9 crucial skills that HR professionals should possess. And trust me; none of them have anything to do with being a “quiet” person who just hides behind a desk trying to blend in with the office cubicle.
Needless to say, organizational skills are at the core of a successful HR professional. This involves not only organizing your own time but ensuring that others are following a system.
Flexible and Adaptable
On any given day, an HR professional could be handling a recruitment drive, a disciplinary issue and a wrongful termination situation. In short, they need to be able to think on their feet and have the ability to handle potentially volatile situations with tact.
There are many grey areas in HR. Even though there are policies and procedures, very often most incidents are not clearly black or white. The HR professional will need to be able to dig deeper for more clarity and have the aptitude to look at things from different perspectives.
When things are not clear-cut, the HR professional needs to have savvy negotiating skills to find solutions that work in the best interest of all concerned.
It is not easy being the conduit of information for the organization. The HR professional will need to be able to communicate difficult decisions and situations to both employees and management.
Discrete & Ethical
The HR professional has to be someone who possesses a strong character with an uncompromising view of what is ethical or not. They need to know when to remain silent and when to speak up.
It is not an easy role for the HR professional because they have the best interest of the organization at heart and they need to protect the rights of the employees as well. It is a difficult tight rope to walk and the HR professional will need to be impartial yet focused.
The astute HR professional will be adept at spotting potential conflict zones and possess the skills necessary to manage the conflict should it erupt and be skilled in helping the parties concerned come to an agreeable solution.
Things hardly remain the same in the business world. Businesses down-size, merge or in extreme cases even cease to operate. The HR professional has a crucial role to play as an agent of change in such an environment. They will need to be able to lead, to influence and to soothe.
As you can see, the consummate HR professional is one who is far from just being a quiet person. They are the anchor in troubled waters and the rudder that steers the organization in the right path.
Why Coaching is here to stay…
Published on March 9, 2015
It took the business world long enough to catch up with the sports world but thankfully it has – coaching isn’t a fad, it is here to stay.
When you think of it, if you want to improve performance in any area of life, the very first thing that needs to change or operate differently is the mind, and for that you need a coach. Someone who is able to mold and guide your perception of yourself and what you are capable of and to set you on track for what you want to achieve.
There are many athletes who train and practice very hard, they have the required skills to compete in their sport but when it comes down to a decisive, do or die moment, that doesn’t depend on skill or stamina but rather tenacity and mental strength, only a few are able to face it head on and shine. The ability to do that doesn’t come from physical training but rather mental training.
Likewise, in the business environment, employees may know the ins and outs of doing their jobs but if you really want to create a team of individuals who are able to be high performers in tough times, you need to seriously think about implementing a coaching culture in your organization.
# 1 Coaching enables employees to be empowered and to take responsibility for their careers
# 2 Coaching gives employees a toolkit to guide them in making decisions
# 3 Coaching is an important tool in improving performance, increasing motivation and creating satisfaction at work
# 4 Coaching can improve business targets dramatically if done right
Ask any football fan, how important the coach is in bringing out the best in individuals and a team. Think about it, as individuals they are all highly-skilled football players but it takes the right coaching culture to build a cohesive team that racks up the points.
Are Millennials Changing The Rules on Job Hopping?
Published on March 4, 2015
One of the red flags that pop up when I scan a resume is noticing that the candidate has had short stints in various companies. As an employer this makes me think twice about hiring the candidate even if he or she has stellar credentials and an engaging personality. Hiring and training someone is a high investment in time and resources – a process that I would not want to repeat frequently.
Various types of research have shown that the typical Gen Y will have a dozen or more jobs by the time they hit their 30s. Some employers are beginning to accept the fact that for GenYs, their 20s is where they are exploring and “finding” themselves. But for other employers, wondering how long would an employee stay before they jump ship weighs heavily on their mind when they are looking at a resume that spells out serial job-hopper.
Maybe it is time, that as employers and leaders of an organization, we look at things differently as perceptions and attitudes are changing whether we like it or not.
Instead of wondering how long a potential employee would stay in your organization, why not look at how much you can achieve together with that person?
The way to a millennial’s heart is to make them feel that they are contributing to a bigger picture that has some impact on people and the planet. Empower them with connections and technology, and allow them to expand and explore within the context that you set. It builds a bond and they are less likely to jump ship too quickly.
Perception is projection so maybe if we change our perception, the outcome from a red-flagged candidate could be different than what we previously assumed.
How to be a Leader when you really want to react like a Boss
Published on February 24, 2015
For the most part of my working life (which started from when I was in my teens) I have been self-employed or running my own business. There are times where I have thought to myself, especially when things are difficult, that if it were just me and I didn’t have to deal with employees, I would be happier and probably make more money too!
But, at the core of what I do and how I have lived my life, helping people has always been the one constant element in everything. At times it has burned me but there are also instances where I have seen the positive impact of the opportunities I have given through my company and leading an organization.
It is a difficult transition to make from serving only yourself to being responsible for the payroll of a company. It is a position no one else would understand unless they are in that situation. The responsibility on your shoulders go beyond the company as you know your business decisions affect the lives of the people who have committed to making your organization grow.
So, when times are difficult, as it is now for so many companies, the tendency to react like a boss when things are not going as planned is a natural reaction but as the leader of the organization we need to respond differently.
I have been applying these 7 steps recommended by Glenn Llopis of Forbes in how to lead during difficult times. And I hope my personal learnings from it will inspire you to do the same:
# 1 Don’t Allow Emotions To Get In The Way
One of the things that my colleagues and friends have noticed about me is that even if I feel very strongly about something, I hardly show it on my face and only address the situation after I have thought about things carefully and put aside emotions. This is crucial because words spoken out of anger or disappointment cannot be retracted and do untold damage to morale even after the crisis has passed.
# 2 Don’t Take Things Personally
Always separate the behavior from the person. When an employee starts behaving differently or in a manner that is not the norm, they are not doing it TO you personally. To react in a manner that says “why are you doing this to me” would only make the situation worse. Focus on the behavior and try to find out why it has been manifesting without making the employee feel singled out or standing in front of a firing squad.
# 3 Keep A Positive Mental Attitude
Everything happens in our head. What we put in and how we program our brain to think and feel is what becomes real. Guess what? If you are thinking and feeling that everything is hopeless, it will be. If you stop really believing in the people who work with you, they will make your perception of them a reality. Being positive isn’t about ignoring the negative, it is about mitigating the negative by focusing on the positive.
# 4 Remain Fearless
Fear has no place when you are leader. Imagine the very worst that could happen and realise that even then, there are ways to overcome it. Move on ahead without fear holding you back. When employees sniff fear emanating from you, they will see it as a sign of weakness and view the organization as a sinking ship. Be fearless and they will band together with you as they see it as strength and security.
# 5 Respond Decisively
Often people get frustrated when their leaders do not respond decisively. It causes irritation and leaves things in limbo. Even if your voice is the sole one, stand decisively behind your decision. Sometimes the vision that you have cannot be explained to others, or for that moment you cannot justify why your gut feeling is telling you to decide in a way that opposes the consensus. Decide and stick by it.
# 6 Take Accountability
It is human nature to live at effect of others or situations. “The company would have done so much better if so and so did a better job.” “We would have closed more deals if our sales person had more experience.” It really isn’t them vs you. They are the company and the company is you. Be accountable for the decisions that you have made and the examples that you have set.
# 7 Act Like You Have Been There Before
Finally, if all else fails, fake it like you mean it. While every ounce of you wants to scream at everyone that if they don’t buck up, you have no idea what is going to happen, don’t. If you want to lead your organization out of difficult times successfully, show everyone that this sort of situation is not new to you and that you have weathered it before and you know just what to do.
5 Sure Ways To Make Training Stick – To get maximum ROI on your training investment.
Published on September 12, 2014
I often hear clients lament that despite sending employees for numerous training programs, when they come back to the organization nothing changes (for long) in the area they were trained in.
# 1 – Ensure that they apply the new knowledge right away.
Make it a pre-requisite that after acquiring a new body of knowledge, the employee has to apply the knowledge in some form in his/her daily work.
# 2 – Engage employees in the training decision-making process.
When planning the training calendar, ensure that employees are giving ample opportunity to express the areas of professional and personal development that they are interested in. People are more inclined to absorb and apply new knowledge if they are interested in it.
# 3 – Follow-up on your training
Training is an on-going process that happens everywhere and not only in the classroom. The chances of new knowledge being absorbed into practice is greatly increased if there are follow-ups to the training. They can be in the form of tracking projects or mini-sessions on different aspects of the training involved.
# 4 – Teach what they have learned
Empower employees to teach others what they have learned in the training they attended. This can be carried out through in-house training for other employees in his/her department or creating a webinar/video which then can be used as a resource.
# 5 – Keep it short and simple
Attention spans are limited so ensure that employees attend training programs that are short and straight to the point. This makes it easier for them to understand the material.
What’s in it for me?
Published on August 26, 2014
That is a question we always ask when we are contemplating a new project or a new venture. Anything that will cost us our time and money, we measure against the value we are receiving for it.
For most people, value is defined as monetary gain. But how much is enough? Is that what life is truly all about? The amount of money you make?
The job you are in, the career that you are building, the business that you are growing – is it what you really want to do?
Is it your life’s purpose? Do you know what your purpose is? Or are you like the proverbial hamster constantly running on a wheel but going nowhere?
For many of us, we get caught up in the common milestones on life’s journey – graduation, job, career, marriage, kids, mortgages, education fund, investments, retirement etc. You wake up and there are certain things you got to do to keep this whole wheel in motion because you have people depending on you.
Slowly, whatever that you haven’t yet discovered within you gets buried deeper and deeper. As long as you got a job, an income, who cares about life’s purpose! You are part of the machinery, the automation that makes society work. That is your purpose, you tell yourself – to be just like everybody else.
And then one day comes where people you know are gasping and talking about you because you just snapped and couldn’t take the pressure or the routine anymore.
“I didn’t know he was so depressed, he seemed to have had the perfect life.”
“OMG! Did you know that he just abandoned his family and no one knows where he has gone?”
“He did what??? Quit his job???”
Or maybe it is YOU that’s contemplating where your life has gone, how many years you have left and you wonder what all the sacrifices have been for?
Maybe, the question we need to be asking is “What am I in for?”
What are your core values in life? What makes you happy? What do you want to do? What are your dreams? If you could have it now, will you take it?
Simple questions but trust me; the thought process to elicit our true feelings about this comes from our unconscious mind.
During the NLP & Time Line Therapy certification program, you will go through this process to help you define who you are and your life’s purpose.
For many people this process alone has had tremendous impact on their lives. When you are forced to face your true self, you understand that certain decisions have to be made before you can really move forward in your life.
We have had people after the program (one even during the program!) decide to divorce, end relationships that were going nowhere except as to serve as a comfortable escape zone, quit jobs, start better relationships, get married, embark on a new career, start a business, retire, move to another country etc. simply because they finally knew how to unshackle themselves and had the courage to move forward instead of living life in limbo.
What may start out as an academic learning process for 9 days can set off life-altering decisions for you that would literally seem like the start of a brand new life – this time with your eyes wide open and your emotions clear.
We will never know when our time is up on earth. Don’t you owe it to yourself to find clarity and purpose in your life?
That should be what’s in it for you.