Shaping your company’s culture

Culture is something which is deeply ingrained in an organisation, whether it is deliberate, or not. Attempting to change a company’s existing culture is not something which can be done quickly or easily. However, it can be done, with the right leaders at the helm.

But first, what are the signs that an organisations culture need to be changed? According to Dr. Edgar H Schein, “the warning signs are never “cultural”. They are performance issues that lead to specifying new behaviours needed to fix the problem. The culture gets involved if the new behaviour won’t work because of the culture.”(Forbes, October 30, 2018),

In order to change an existing culture, it may very well be necessary to remove aspects of the old culture. This of course requires change and change is something which people naturally resist, unless the reason for the change is explicitly stated and proof of how the change will enact improvements clearly demonstrated. In addition, it will be necessary to explain why the old methods are no longer relevant or effective. A clear case needs to be made for the change and only then are people likely to embrace the new culture and the changes which are entailed.

Simply saying that a new culture is being implemented and the reasons why however are not enough to enact a lasting change. Values need to be established and the behaviours which support those values need to be outlined and modelled by the organisations leaders. Then those behaviours need to be rewarded within the organisatoin. Therefore, if for example, an innovative culture is to be adopted and implemented by an organisation, it is necessary to reward innovation, not simply the successes, but also the failures. Jeff Bezo’s of Amazon once stated that if an idea has a 1 in 10 chance of achieving a 100 x return on investment then he willing to accept that 9 out of 10 ideas will be failures. Failures are not simply tolerated, but celebrated (Harvard Business Review, October 13, 2016).

To ensure that behaviours and attitudes are adopted by those in the organisation, it is vital that they are demonstrated by the organisations leaders. They must lead by example as behaviours change culture, rather than culture changing behaviours (HBR, October 13, 2016) .

Grow your relationships to grow your career – Sunday Business Post 20th January 2019

Technical knowledge and ability is of course important in any role, but relationship skills have been found to be equally important in terms of career success. However, for some, these skills may seem to elude them, while for others they come naturally. The good news, is that these skills can be developed and perfected by anyone, given some time and practice. The benefits to these soft skills are that while one may have a great understanding and level of expertise in one’s own field, it is very rare for someone to work in isolation from others and that is why building work place relationships with those, not just in your immediate team, but also the wider organisation and with external stakeholders is vital for success. By taking the time to do this, you will have laid the foundations for cohesion within the organisation and when the time inevitably comes where you need assistance or buy in from a stakeholder, that relationship which you have already taken the time to build can mean the difference between success and failure, getting others on board, or fighting an uphill battle. But for those of us who don’t find these skills easy to master, there are ways of doing this, which can be built on to foster strong working relationships with all stakeholders. Ways of doing this include:

Making small talk, take the time to stop and say hello to people who are not in your immediate department or team. Make it a point to introduce yourself and get to know those in other areas of the organisation, particularly those who have a connection with the work you do. It’s not necessary to spend a great deal of time doing this, but simply taking the time to ask how they are doing or how their weekend was is a good first step in building your working relationship with those individuals. Show an interest and ask questions, don’t focus the conversation on yourself.

Keep your word, if you commit to a deliverable, make sure you honour that commitment. There are times when this may not be possible of course, and if this is the case, let the relevant person or people know in time for them to make other arrangements. If possible, try and think of an alternative. Perhaps most importantly, apologise – a genuine apology can go a long way and the lack of one can irrevocably damage not just your working relationships, but also your personal brand.

Manage your emotions – if you are feeling angry, or frustrated, don’t take this out on those around you. Learn how to manage your emotions and understand when you need to take a step back and clear your head. Exhibiting negative emotions can have a knock on effect and impact the mood of an entire team or department. Don’t be the person who brings others down, learn how to remain calm and composed, even in times of crisis. Go outside, clear your head, go for a coffee and wait for the negative emotion to subside before returning to try and find a solution to the problem at hand.

Help those around you – be willing to offer assistance if you see somebody struggling. If you can’t offer technical assistance, then sometimes a sympathetic ear will be just as effective. Extend this to mentoring junior members of staff and see how you can help them to grow and develop in their role. If you are particularly good at something, such as presenting, consider giving workshops within the company to help train others on how to present well. A task or challenge which may seem easy to you is often something that others may struggle with and helping others with this not only helps build your working relationships, but also helps further the organisations goals and objectives.

While these steps may feel uncomfortable at first, by practising and beginning with small steps and pushing yourself to do them on a regular basis they will soon become easier. Start small and build on your successes, trying something new each week. This will enable you to build the relationships you need for your career to flourish.

Consider Upskilling as an Alternative to a Complete Career Change

Success in one’s career is very much geared around continuous learning and improvement. Upskilling is a great way to explore change in your working life, without taking the more dramatic step of actually changing companies or industries completely. It is also something which many organisations actively encourage and may even be prepared to support financially. It’s always worth asking whether there is a budget for training and development, even if it is not something which is formally offered. Showing your employer that you are willing to learn new skills is a great way of demonstrating that you are ready for the next step in your career and that you are engaged, not just with your own role, but also engaged with the organisation and it’s long term goals and objectives.

Ongoing development is important in all aspects of work and can be an effective way of moving up or even moving laterally within an organisation or industry. Often those courses are outside of work and when they are, it can help to have your employer on board with your development plan so that they might allow greater flexibility if necessary to attend classes and complete course work. Of course, it is important to ensure that the course you plan to take is something which will facilitate the move you want to make so try and get advice or guidance to ensure that it will in fact help you reach the position you are aiming for.

If possible, work with your manager on a career development plan and map out the best course of action to take. Upskilling need not only mean academic qualifications. It can also include development of ‘soft skills’ such as self-awareness, leadership skills and relationship building techniques. All of these are vital in terms of progressing your career to the next level. A leader needs to be able to inspire, motivate and develop their team and this takes an entirely different skill set to those required to become the best in a particular field. Executive coaching can also be invaluable in this regard and can help build a road map for how best to progress your career and develop the leadership or other interpersonal skills you may require to move to the next stage. If upskilling is not something your organisation actively supports, consider making an investment in yourself and taking on a course independently.

If there appears to be no path for upskilling within your organisation, there are a number of things you can do independently. The first step to take is to look around you – who are the people you admire in the company, whose role do you find interesting? What path did they take to reach that position? Find out if that person might be prepared to mentor or coach you. Observe the behaviours of successful co-workers and see what it is that they do to achieve their success and emulate those behaviours if possible. This does not mean that you need to adopt a false persona, but identifying the behaviours which led to their success can help you develop them also and hopefully lead you to a similar outcome. Finally, consider looking for opportunities outside of the organisation, such as free courses or consider financing a course yourself, which would equip you for the role you are aiming for.

Best Wishes for 2019 from Davitt Corporate Partners!

It’s that time of year again, lists of New Year’s resolutions are being made by many of us. Blue Monday however, is just around the corner. Blue Monday is the third Monday in January and falls on the 21st of January this year. It is so called because it has been deemed to be the gloomiest day of the year, due to the arrival of bills, the short, cold days and of course the fact that many of us have broken our New Year resolutions at this stage. So how can we mitigate the effects of Blue Monday? One way is to try manage our resolutions in a way which will maximise our potential for success. Here are some ways of doing this:

Break larger goals down into more manageable mini goals – this gives us small wins during the month, rather than setting lofty goals that are more difficult to achieve

Stack new habits – this is simply the process of adding your new ‘good’ habit to your daily routine – attaching it to something you already do. If your goal is to drink more water and you drink several cups of tea or coffee a day, then simply having a glass of water with each cup of tea will soon help you make that an automatic habit. Turning a new behaviour into a habit will make this more sustainable and easily achieved than remembering to do it as an independent action

Don’t be too rigid in your approach. We are all human and make mistakes. Sometimes our resolve is not as strong as we would like. If you do break your resolution, simply learn from the experience and move on. Learning from the experience is recognising what it was that caused you to break your resolution. Being aware of this factor can help you avoid this pitfall in the future

Reward yourself for achieving your goals, or mini goals – it’s important to recognise your achievements and the progress you are making and to celebrate that – it does not need to be anything big, but a simple reward to mark your achievement can help build your confidence and your belief in your ability to continue

Remember, success does not equal perfection!

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Christmas Opening Hours

Davitt Corporate Partners would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Please note that our offices will be closed from 3.00pm on Friday the 21st of December 2018, reopening on Wednesday the 2nd of January 2019. We will have very limited access to email during this period.

Should you need to contact us urgently, you can reach Adrienne Davitt on 087 242 9120.

This year we supported ReachOut.com, Dogs for the Blind, Front Line Defenders, Focus, 4Ocean, Uplift and St. Vincent de Paul.

Jayne Lee and Kirsi Aalto of Davitt Corporate Partners featured in the Irish Times

Jayne Lee and Kirsi Aalto of Davitt Corporate Partners were featured in the Irish Times ‘New Year New Career’ special report, published on Friday the 21st of December 2018.

Please click below links to read the two articles:

Things to consider before changing career

Upskilling may be key to soaring in your career

 

Tips on managing stress over Christmas and into 2019

 

Click here for some tips on managing stress over Christmas and into 2019.

Courtesy of www.helpguide.org

 

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To Make a Change at Work, Tell Yourself a Different Story

 

 

Click here to see the article.

 

Courtesy of Harvard Business Review – August 2018

 

The Art of Active Listening

Speaking and listening are soft skills that most of us take for granted and believe ourselves to be fluent in. However, often we may not be fully present in a conversation and as a result, important information can be ignored or simply forgotten. Research varies greatly in terms of how much of what we hear we actually retain, but it is far from one hundred percent, indicating that we may not be as skilled in this area as we might assume.

Active listening is a concept which is alien to many. Often, when people are speaking to us, our minds wander, thinking about what we are going to say next and focusing on the next gap in the conversation so that we can interject with our own pearls of wisdom. This can result in valuable information slipping through the cracks. Not just what the person is saying, but also what they are not saying.

The practice of active listening is when one focuses completely on the person speaking to them – not just their words, but their body language, facial expressions and tone. Themes can emerge and emotions become more noticeable, allowing the listener to understand what the person is really trying to say and also, what they are not saying. By focusing all of ones attention on the speaker, it allows for a far richer understanding of the message that they are trying to convey. That is not to say that interruptions should not be made, its fine to interrupt, if clarification is necessary, or simply to paraphrase what is being said, if there is an appropriate pause in the conversation, but not simply to interject with your own point or counter argument.

Top tips for active listening include:

  1. Focus on the person who is speaking, try to tune out any external stimuli.
  2. Maintain appropriate eye contact with the speaker; nodding or making some other signal which shows you are still fully engaged will encourage them to continue, knowing that they have your undivided attention
  3. Do not try and multitask – put down your phone, or any other work you may be absentmindedly be flicking through, not only is it disrespectful to the person to whom you are speaking, it does not allow you to fully process what they are saying and can mean you miss out on nonverbal cues such as facial expressions or even crucial gaps in the information you are being presented with.
  4. Ask questions in an appropriate way, try not to interrupt unnecessarily, but if something is not clear, do attempt to clarify, simply saying, “so what I’m hearing is…”
  5. If you disagree with what the person is saying, wait until they have finished before voicing your objections, respectfully listen to the point that they are trying to make first

 

Practicing this skill takes time and effort, but the benefits are undoubtedly worth the investment and can include improved workplace relations, a more complete understanding of your client’s needs, and a greater understanding of what is happening in your team and the wider organisation as a whole.