Framblings Vol. 1

The drain of negative. The boost from positive.

Just read those sentences again for a moment.

You’ve probably lingered over one of those sentences more than the other… unless you’re a particularly well-balanced individual! I’ve found it easy to wrap myself in a blanket of self-pity from time to time during lockdown. I’ve strived for stability and sanity rather than creativity or ambition.

Negativity and criticism surrounds us every day. Politicians bicker across the chamber looking to score points, journalists seek out the next sensational scandal. We start to believe that nothing works well enough or fast enough. We are conditioned to complain and it’s exhausting.

But maybe I’m doing humankind a disservice. We’ve seen so much good coming from the lockdown in terms of community spirit and helping those most in need. Looking forward, surely it is time for us to work together more – individually, organisationally, institutionally. Break the barriers that people thought were unbreakable. This drive also needs to come from the top: from government leaders, business leaders, community leaders. The ways of old need to be challenged.

True leaders will reach towards a positive outcome, not for themselves, but for their community. So let’s all at least try to reach out, reach up and reach a better future for all of us.

Hey New Starter … 

Starting a new job can trigger a whole host of emotions – excitement, anxiety, nervousness, pride. It’s a major event in your life. Now imagine starting a job just before the country went into lockdown. What extra emotions have been thrown into the mix? You’ll feel confused, maybe isolated… you could be thinking that you’re adding no value if you’re not able to contribute quickly enough.

The best organisations focus on delivering excellence for their workforce from day one: starter packs, engaging inductions, buddy programmes, fun environments, workplace tours and get-to-know you sessions. What people ultimately want in a new job is to feel welcome, be respected and to understand what needs to be done and how best to do it.

Lockdown has scuppered a lot of plans. Distracted managers, who have had to put emergency plans in place, have often left new starters in a kind of holding pattern. This has an even bigger impact with more junior roles, where there is a reliance on senior staff to induct and support. Some recent starters will have been furloughed, creating even more of a separation.

So, employers, please don’t forget to do all you can to keep everyone well connected and in particular, communicate regularly with new starters. Try and think creatively about how they can be trained up and learn from existing staff. Reassure them of their value to the future of the organisation. Listen to them and you will better understand what they need. Everyone will benefit.

Have you changed since lockdown? Will you change back?

Of course your daily life has changed following whatever form of restrictions were in place in your country, but have you changed… will you be a fundamentally different person forever?

Major life events can impact how individuals think, feel, behave and therefore have the potential to change one’s personality. For some, the Coronavirus has been less of a major event – those that have remained financially stable and able to maintain a positive state of mind through family, work, exercise or wherever they get satisfaction and energy from. But for so many, it has had a catastrophic impact – loss of loved ones, unemployment/ financial distress, disconnection from support networks, loneliness and isolation. Those are the people that society must find a way to support, and not just for the short-term.

‘The purpose of our lives is to be happy’  – Dalai Lama

There is a lot of commentary about what the new normal will be and how organisations will need to evolve and people with them. I believe that we’ll essentially see an increase in the pace of the digitisation of life. What motivates people or makes them happy will stay the same however. Organisations mustn’t lose sight of this in relation to their customers and employees.

‘Dr. Happiness’, Ed Diener’s findings on this topic are that, in general, people will return to their baseline of happiness after major life events – from perceived positive or negative ones.

Taking one of the factors he highlights – society and culture – we can apply it to organisations. We are currently witnessing the true colours of leadership teams and the culture that they have built being emphasised. Some have risen to the challenge and will have generated further goodwill within their communities, while others have confirmed the negative culture we probably already suspected. Hopefully, we can work together to flush out these negative pretenders.

One thing is certain however, we won’t forget what is important to us to be happy and we will seek this out. Let’s just hope it’s not too hard to find.

Fran is massively experienced in Operational Leadership, Transformation, Business Analytics, Innovation and Change, and has worked across Local Government, Housing and the Welfare to Work sectors among others. He is fairly handy at football and has a history of developing very niche board games.

If you’d like to speak to Fran about some of the thoughts he’s rambled about here on helping new starters, thinking positively or how change has affected you, OR you have something you’d like to ask him about, send us a note and he’ll get right back to you.