Everyone wants to contribute


Just read The Starfish and The Spider, an interesting book by Beckstrom and Brafman. I’ll post more about this on another day but I liked the focus on Emotional Intelligence and their proclaimed rules, particularly:

Rule 5:Everyone wants to contribute

It’s all about trust.

Why doubt them?

I look at my firm’s values, which are:

  • Trustworthy – we do what we say we will
  • Helpful – we work as one team
  • Inspiring – we create new possibilities
  • Straightforward – we make things clear
  • Heart – we believe in what we do

and sigh.


Because I have to produce evidence, related to my work area that shows how I have demonstrated these values, using a narrow form of words. I must produce evidence for each of these, every quarter.

If there’s time to spare from the day job…

This evidence will be assessed by my line manager; my unit manager; it will then be assessed by our HR partners – who, as in many large corporates nowadays, don’t even work for the same organisation.

This HR organisation and senior managers will then endeavour to weigh everyone’s evidence – and will attempt to ensure that the evidence is used to justify a normal distribution of performance ranges – which will impact pay and bonuses.

Dark blue is less than one standard deviation ...Image via Wikipedia

Is this the best way to spend your people’s time? Google do something constructive with 20% of their folk’s time…

I can understand some of the motivation for it. People say, “How come so many people are marked Good or Very Good, if the team, or unit, or company isn’t achieving their objectives? Maybe we should mark more of them lower as they haven’t delivered.”

I can understand the motivation, but it doesn’t necessarily make it right. If you’re rowing in a galley, it doesn’t matter how hard you row, if the the helmsman points you somewhere… that’s where you’re going. If you’re aware of where he’s pointing, and you’ve discussed how hard you need to row… – you can’t necessarily influence the destination.

Making your people jump through hoops to prove what they’re doing neither demonstrates belief in their trustworthiness, nor fosters a team ethic, nor encourages sharing of knowledge – which I’ve previously mentioned when talking about performance management.

I gather there are changes coming. Maybe, I’ll be trusted.

Picture Credit polapix

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Do you recognise your opportunities?

Doer or sayer? Like many, I have good intentions – I mean, I’ve even looked at hundredpushups.com.

It seems I’m not alone.

I flew into Manchester, England tonight. It was a warm pleasant evening, around 6.30 pm. I noticed, as I have done often, how the United Kingdom’s historic climate – and sky high energy costs – has meant how few swimming pools there are.

What there was were numerous dark circles. As I looked closer, I recognised them as trampolines – all with their little net guards round them. In some areas, about 1 in 5 houses seemed to have them.

What opportunities do you have?

I’d guess most of these were bought by parents, eager to ensure in these “stranger-danger”, “school run” days that their kids have a safe place to play – which will encourage them into physical activity. A laudable intent as the UK heads – seemingly inexorably – towards an obesity crisis. [Why do you think I *look at* physical fitness sites – I know what I should do…]

What did all of the trampolines have in common? Yes, they were black. Yes, they were round. Yes, they all had nets around them. What was most noticeable? They were *all* empty.

Why? I don’t know – it *could* have been because of a wonderful kids programme on TV – or it could be because many parents – and I’m as guilty of this as some – think that they need to compensate for the time the spend away from their children by spending money and giving them “worthwhile” things to do…

The children – quite possibly – have differing ideas on how to spend their time.

Do you take your opportunities?

As we get older, opportunities come to us in different ways. We have less of parents pushing us towards things – and more of alternatives at work, in our social lives – and even in the blogosphere.

I think sometimes, I can reject the opportunities that are there – when I should be grabbing them with both hands…I need to learn more about what Web2.0 might offer me; I need to coach others into using it to help them; I need to use my residual fitness to help me get fitter – so I can enjoy my life longer.

That was brought home to me today when I attended a Coastguard shout, and had to chat to a young man who’d been rescued adrift in the Firth. He was fine, but if he hadn’t been, I would have been searching for his remains. I want to enjoy my life for as long as possible – and part of that is enjoying the opportunities life presents me.

What about you? Are you rejecting opportunities?

Image Credit:.m for matthijs

How do you blog?

In my blogging, I tend to post about things that interest me from a work perspective, or changes in social networking. I tend to mention domestic matters in passing to set context, or to explain what’s stimulated me to write.

How do you tweet?

I’m a huge fan of Twitter, the widely used micro-blogging tool. You can usually see my latest posts in the right hand side of my blog. I usually answer the question “What are you doing?”. Sometimes it’s about things at work; quite often what I’m doing at home – maybe a concert I’m going to, or what I’m cooking.

Why do you blog?

I blog partly to clarify my understanding of things, partly to record what I’m learning, and partly to learn more – usually from the comments people leave, but also as I am driven to learn more to talk about…

Why do you tweet?

This is a little more complicated. I am a homeworker, and my office surroundings are 4 walls and my email/IM/phone clients. So, no “water-cooler” chats. An internal newsgroup can provide company scuttlebutt, though this is often rather parochial. Twitter gives me a window into the lives of others; not just their working life, but often what they choose to share about themselves.

I feel this gives a more rounded view of them as people, so in the spirit of reciprocity I tweet about my doings.

I don’t feel this is a case of being good to Momma, but I can’t resist the opportunity to link Queen Latifah…

So, I tweet for connectedness.

How does your family feel about this?

Now we come to the nub of the post. I’m interested in your views about this, following some discussions I’ve had within my own family.

“It feels like we’re living in a goldfish bowl” said one.

I’ve said that my twitter feeds are read by probably no more than 150 people maximum, most of whom may share similar types of things; my blogging tends to be non-domestic; and my Facebook is pretty restricted, too.

My mother has a very closed down Facebook – family only; my wife has no online presence to speak of. Neither of them see why I’d want to share anything publicly; I’ve talked about building trust, developing an authentic voice and so on, but they remain unconvinced.

Obviously, family comes first, and so I will twitter less about anything domestic, but I’d welcome suggestions as to how I can best portray why “What are you doing?”  might be of interest to others – and harmless to your family.