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2015 in review

13 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 370 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Wellbeing@work: The Power Of The Heart

20 Jun

heart at work

How often have you felt or thought something before it happened? Or did you have this gut feeling that  something wasn’t right or that you simply had to do it. No logical explanation, just a powerful feeling. Did you ignore it, or did you trust it?

At work we are used to dealing with facts and figures. If you can’t count it, measure it or explain it logically it is not considered valid.  You think about actions, projects and challenges carefully and make your mind up how to proceed. It’s all very rational. Yet, the decisions you feel are right, are usually right. Whilst the decisions that you forcefully think , may be wrong.  Your mind is a master at finding the right reasons for the wrong actions. In fact, the best decisions are made when not thinking actively. Most “eureka” moments arise when taking a shower, during a walk in the park or riding your bike, moments when you are not thinking actively about the issue at hand. In fact there is also a lot of truth in the expression “let’s sleep on it”, when your mind is at rest you make the best decisions.

I recently watched a very moving documentary called The Power of the Heart , where an interesting experiment demonstrated that the heart can feel what the mind does not know yet. In tests, where volunteers were linked to a heart and brain monitor and shown images that evoke emotional reactions like happiness, fear, joy, sadness, the heart reacted 20 seconds before the images appeared with a 100% accuracy. Your heart knows what is coming, long before your mind does.

Why is this relevant in your work? If you follow your heart and focus on what is important to you personally and what you feel passionate about, it will expand your awareness and it opens up new opportunities. If you learn to listen to your heart and trust your feelings, you‘ll find you’ll be more successful both on a professional and personal level.

Here’s a simple exercise to help you listen to your heart. You need be honest with yourself and write down on a sheet of paper what you would love to do.  Then write down what you are doing today. If you’re doing things that you don’t really like, you will find they are making more demands on yourself than others are really asking. So if there is a big gap, start with small steps to get there.  For instance what can you change immediately to get closer to your ideal role, what behavior or activity could you already start doing now, who could you talk to help you on your journey.

When you put your heart into it, you’ll unlock your true potential.

Wellbeing at Work: The Human Side Of Business.

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Future Jobs: Chief Clairvoyance Officer

8 May

Future Jobs: Chief Clairvoyance Officer

Future leaders: The Chief Clairvoyance Officer presents the Sales Forecast

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IT Forecast: Cloudy Day with Occasional Data Showers

15 Apr

IT Forecast: Cloudy Day with Occasional Data Showers

MACHewlett2014

Why don’t we have more Women Leaders?

17 Feb

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A question raised in many board rooms around the world, and one that I recently discussed with my colleagues when tackling the challenges of creating a more diverse leadership culture. Particularly in tech environments – like IT – where the majority of the workforce is male, the number of women in leadership positions is staggeringly low.  In a recent McKinsey survey it was stated that the percentage of women on the management track drops from 53% of the entry-level workforce to 20% or less in leadership. Easy to explain, I can hear you say; about the time women would be ready for promotion, a lot of them leave to start families or work less to cope with a busy work/life schedule.

But is that really true? When I look around me I see the majority of women returning from maternity leave to continue their full time job. Very few can afford to stay at home; to raise a family is expensive and this usually means both parents need to be working.  Furthermore, many women find it important to pursue their career and are perfectly capable of balancing their personal/family and business lives.

So if they are still at work, and are not climbing the corporate ladder, where are they going? The McKinsey survey found that women are 50% less likely than men to aspire to the C-Suite, even if “anything was possible”.  That is not to say women are less ambitious, but they are either frustrated or resigned to the fact that opportunities in the company they work for are limited.  Often, they prefer to do good work instead of “wasting their time” playing corporate politics and one-upmanship. It is of vital importance that any organization looking to benefit from a more diverse leadership culture, pay attention to its promotion strategy. Are you promoting employees on their merits, or are you selecting them based on their fit within the “corporate club” or “old boy network”?

The Glass Box  When you do find women in more senior leadership positions, they can often be found in support functions such as HR, Communications, Marketing or Sales Support. It is still rare – but fortunately becoming more common  – that you see women in strategic roles such CEO or CFO.  There is not just a glass ceiling, preventing women to reach the top positions, but it is also very difficult to move laterally from a “soft” support role to a “hard” sales or operations role.  Organizations wanting to attract and retain female talent should provide a career development plan that includes a mix of different roles to nurture and develop the skills necessary for future leadership opportunities.

A new definition of success  Once they have hit their glass ceiling, the best and most confident women often decide to leave and become self-employed, giving themselves more flexibility and greater job satisfaction. Successful women are opting for a different way of working rather than pursue the traditional climb up the corporate ladder.  They value the quality of life, family time and career satisfaction that working independently can bring and, in doing so, are establishing a new definition of success. Being free to do good work, have a good work/life balance, feel appreciated and be financially secure while developing themselves in areas of their own choosing.  Companies would do well to consider a different approach to promotion and remuneration in order to attract female talent and ensure that women stay on and continue their careers successfully within the organization.

Organizations can’t afford to lose their female talent. In a business environment that is becoming increasingly social and collaborative, diverse teams with the right balance of male and female experts will be essential for companies to innovate and thrive in the future.

Inspiration Source: “Open letter to Corporate Leadership”, SwitchandShift –Sept.2013

Xmas Fairy – a poem of wishful thinking

24 Dec

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I wish I was a fairy
On top of the Christmas tree
If only I was that fairy
Imagine what I could see

Tinsel all sparkling in silver and gold
Snowflakes on windows, shiny and cold
Fresh flowers and candles, oh what a sight!
A Hundred red baubles reflecting the light

I wish I was a fairy
With wings to fly away
If only I was that fairy
Imagine where I could stay

Hawaii or Bonaire, with Beaches and sun
Lying on a lounger, wouldn’t that be fun

Tall wavy palm trees, rustle in the breeze
As all this cold weather just makes me sneeze!

I wish I was a fairy
Complete with magic wand
If only I was that fairy
Imagine everything you want

Diamonds and pearls, silver and gold
Presents for all, the young and the old
Plenty of food, and drinks all around
I ask to you, how does that sound?

I wish I was a fairy
On top of the Christmas tree
But as I am not that fairy
Here is where I’ll be

Turkey in the oven, champagne on ice
Family and friends, all dressed up nice
Music and laughter, the table nicely laid
Home for Christmas, my choice is made!

I don’t wish I was a fairy
But I do like my lovely tree
And I say to that little fairy
I bet you wish you were me!

©MHewlett2013

Happiness@work – spreading a little happiness

19 Nov

 

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Recently, I participated in several very interesting discussions on the subject of happiness at work. During these discussions, we asked ‘what is happiness, can we measure it and if so how, does it affect our work, and should we be looking for ways to increase it?’ Happiness appears to be a hot topic at the moment, and perhaps – as is so often the case with hot topics – we should simply ignore it and carry on regardless. After all, happiness is a state of mind, a positive flow, not an end result or an ambitious goal we are striving to achieve. It shouldn’t be confused with satisfaction either; being satisfied with your work does not automatically mean that you’re going to feel happy. Equally, you can be perfectly happy even when you don’t find your work satisfying.

Happiness, research shows, is a personal emotional state that is partly pre-destined and partly externally influenced. Indeed, psychologists conducting research in this area have discovered that the strongest predictor of happiness is actually having meaningful social relationships rather than being wealthy, successful or famous. With meaningful relationships, happiness can be a collective phenomenon that spreads throughout social networks. One person’s emotional state can quickly affect somebody else’s (sometimes not even someone you know) and the more interconnected we become through social networks, the more rapidly our emotions spread.

Take this morning’s meeting, for example. My colleagues arrived in good spirits with cheerful smiles all around and it lifted my mood immediately. On the other hand, I also recall bumping into a grumpy manager in the corridor, who did not bother to greet me and simply disappeared quickly into his office.  As social beings we have developed the capacity to read each other’s moods very rapidly in order to determine an appropriate response.

So how can we consciously deflect negative emotional influences and increase our general level of happiness at work? First, by adopting a generally cheery, pleasant and polite disposition, we can play our part in spreading happiness to those we meet and benefit ourselves when they reciprocate. Smile and the world smiles with you! Second, by investing our energy into nurturing our social bonds with others, not just with friends and family but also, most importantly, with our colleagues at work. Let’s not forget how important our colleagues are to us, particularly as we spend so much time working together.

In the current, cost-conscious office climate, we are all under increasing work pressure to deliver better results and stronger revenues. With so much focus on figures and financials, it has become increasingly difficult to find time to socialize with colleagues. Finding time even for a quick chat over coffee is not always easy. And with little or no company funding available for social activities, hearing disappointed colleagues complaining about the lack of activities and poor company morale is becoming commonplace.

However, the key to our happiness and how we manage our time lies in our own hands. Our happiness at work is more our responsibility than our employer’s. There is nothing to stop us taking the initiative to organize our own social activities. If we fancy a drink after work with our colleagues, we have only to organize it. Perhaps a nice lunch together to share holiday experiences – just do it. To celebrate a colleague’s birthday with some cakes and coffee, get some balloons and have a whip round for a card and flowers.

I personally share an office with colleagues from different departments, some of whom I didn’t know very well or had never met before. We joined together to set up a schedule to celebrate birthdays. We take turns to buy a present and book 30 minutes in our agendas on the special day to enjoy some cakes and coffee together. This approach helps us to get to know each other and benefits our work too as our social bonds are already established should we need support or are required to work together on a project.

 

Spreading a little happiness and nurturing your social bonds with colleagues takes very little time and effort. It also guarantees the best Return On Investment of all – your own happiness!

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