Thursday Thoughts! – Building Effective Relationships

With thanks to Maggie this week for a topic centred around the relationship that is the closest friendships we have.  I’ve certainly experienced this sort of scenario with those I consider to be my closest friends. So the question posed for us this week is:
“What have we invested in personal everlasting relationships, that we might replicate with colleagues and/or key stakeholders in the workplace, to build effective professional relationships?”
This is what I’m thinking about to think my way around the question posed:
  • What is it about the relationships we hold dear that allows us to span time effortlessly?
  • How do we achieve these positions of unquestionable trust with some but not all friends?
  • If we were writing a recipe for effective relationships, what would we put into the mix?

Nice suggestion for this week Maggie.  Thankyou!  Anyone got others they’d like to hear peoples views on in the future?


Aresko Welcomes a new Mentee

Welcome aboard to Alison Crawford.  We’ve just started out on this mentorship journey so lots of interesting insights to come no doubt.  Alison will also be doing a guest blog about her experience of the process but in the meantime, she’s supplied a bit about her professional journey to date below:

Here’s a bit about me: Following a degree in Biotechnology and a short-lived attempt at being a research scientist, I fell into a job working with cancer statistics.  Starting out at the lowest rung of the ladder I happily learnt my trade as an analyst/statistician by being the person that never said no to a difficult or challenging piece of work or something that took me out of my comfort zone.  I did statistical reports, I developed databases, I contributed to journal articles, I presented findings at conferences and basically became the directors ‘pet’ analyst, picking up interesting things to do.  But after five years I realised that progression would be limited in such as small organisation, and decided it was time for a change.  I moved to the Health and Social Care Information Centre on a level transfer and worked for a year on social care publications, introducing me to the world of government statistics and all the governance that comes with them.  After a year I took a promotion to work on commissioning and contract management of health surveys, ensuring that the finished results and reports were able to answer the questions posed by our policy colleagues.  As the team grew, I took another promotion and later covered my manager’s post for a few months, giving me first proper taste of responsibility and decision-making.  I liked it so much I took up a secondment opportunity at the Prime Ministers Delivery Unit within the Treasury, and then shortly after another secondment to the National Patient Safety Agency (recruited by Aresko’s very own Sharon Davidson).  I spent a challenging year cutting my line management teeth with my own team of analysts and getting my first real taste of senior management politics.  Returning to the HSCIC was difficult, back to a lower grade and no responsibility or authority.  I worked on three teams in 13 months as a pool analyst, finally winning a promotion to manage a team of database specialists who oversee all reference data for the organisation.  That’s the journey to where I am today, but of course I hope that this is not the final destination for me.

Where do I want to be?  I don’t have a 5 year plan, but I know what I aspire to.   Why have I sought out a mentor?  They say if you copy behaviours of successful people, you yourself will be more successful. Having a mentor fits the bill, so I put feelers out.  I realised I needed someone who could help me grow as a person, not just offer advice on where the best jobs were.  Sharon is a good fit for me – like me she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, a gift with drawbacks.  I am hoping that she will be able to offer me constructive advice on behaviours I should build on, those I should dial back, and support me when I know I’m doing the right thing but the payoff isn’t immediate. It’s a big ask, and all I offer is the odd glass of wine, a blog for the website, and hopefully a friend to share photography stories.

Should be an interesting journey ahead 🙂

THURSDAY THOUGHTS! – What Type of Innovator Are You?

For innovation to happen, various conditions have to be in place culturally.  So,

“What type of innovator are you?”

I’ll leave it to you to decide which one fits you best .You may even see a little of yourself in more than one group.  But remember, none of these are bad!  Quite the opposite actually,  all play crucial roles in developing an idea, pushing it up the corporate channels, developing a strategy and overseeing execution and implementation. These are all pieces of a puzzle, arteries leading to the beating heart of corporate innovation. Wow – can I make that sound any more dramatic? A quick reference guide to these innovative personality types follow, just to get you thinking:

Movers and Shakers. With a strong personal drive, these are leaders. Targets and rewards motivate them strongly, but a major incentive for this group is the idea of creating a legacy and wielding influence over others. These are the ones who like being in the front, driving projects forward (and maybe promoting themselves in the process), but at the end of the day, they provide the push to get things done. On the flip side, they can be a bit arrogant, and impatient with teamwork.  Movers and Shakers tend to cluster in risk and corporate strategy, in the private equity and media industries, at mid-size companies; they comprise 22% of total executives.

Experimenters. Persistent and open to all new things, experimenters are perhaps the perfect combination for bringing a new idea through the various phases of development and execution. “Where there is a will, there is a way,” is perhaps the best way to describe them. They’re perfectionists and tend to be workaholics, most likely because it takes an incredible amount of dedication, time and hard work to push through an idea or initiative that hasn’t yet caught on. They take deep pride in their achievements, but they also enjoy sharing their expertise with others; they’re that intense colleague who feels passionately about what they do and makes everyone else feel guilty for daydreaming during the meeting about what they plan on making for dinner that night. Because they’re so persistent, even in the face of sometimes considerable pushback, they’re crucial to the innovation cycle. They tend to be risk-takers.  

Star Pupils. Do you remember those kids in school who sat in the front, whose hands were the first in the air anytime the teacher asked a question? Maybe they even shouted out “Ooh! Ooh!” too just to get the teacher to notice them first? This is the segment of the executive population those kids grew into. They’re good at…well, they’re good at everything, really: developing their personal brand, seeking out and cultivating the right mentors, identifying colleagues’ best talents and putting them to their best use. Somehow, they seem to be able to rise through the ranks and make things happen, even when corporate culture seems stacked against them. They’re the stem cells of the business world.

Controllers. Uncomfortable with risk, Controllers thrive on structure and shy away from more nebulous projects. Above all, they prefer to be in control of their domain and like to have everything in its place. As colleagues, they’re not exactly the team players and networkers; Controllers are more insular and like to focus on concrete, clear-cut objectives where they know exactly where they stand and can better control everything around them.

Hangers-On. Forget the less-than-flattering name; these executives exist to bring everyone back down to earth and tether them to reality. On a dinner plate, Hangers-On would be the spinach: few people’s favorite, but extremely important in rounding out the completeness of the meal. Like Controllers, they don’t embrace unstructured environments, and they tend to take things one step further, hewing to conventional wisdom and tried-and-true processes over the new and untested. When asked to pick a side, Hangers-On will most likely pick the middle.

No one group can be considered the purest “entrepreneurial group,” but Movers and Shakers and Experimenters may be the closest. They have the strongest tendency to be internally driven, in control and bridle the most at others telling them what to do.

As we’ve seen time and again, unbridled innovation is a wonderful thing. But it’s what comes next that’s arguably more important. To get an innovative idea off the ground, it’s crucial to have a cast of characters who can keep that tension between risk-taking and reality at a healthy balance midway between the sky and the ground — where innovation can thrive.  So what do you think your natural place is in the innovation team?  How would others see you in this team?

“What type of innovator are  you?”

THURSDAY THOUGHTS! – Ethical & Moral Issues

“Ethical and moral issues – what’s your deal-breaking point?”Image

Last nights London Evening Standard had a story on page 1 about “toxic and destructive” management culture.  The story (accessed here: goes on to describe a 30-something who had quit his job with Goldman Sachs because of a collapse of its “moral fibre”.  He said it, “veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer, in good conscience, say that I identify with what it stands for”.

This week, I too had a similar conscience gripper!  I had occasion to interact with a new organisation (to me) over this past 10 days or so. It all started well enough, I saw an offering I liked, read the fine detail very carefully indeed, spoke to the key decision-maker, submitted relevant paperwork …. and waited.  I thought it very strange when I heard nothing in return, so I followed up with a quick e-mail, only to be told:   “sorry, we’ve decided that’s now restricted.”

Some might say it’s a sad indictment of organisational values and ethics, two areas I’ve spent my whole professional life championing because they are so dear to my heart in organisational terms!

Bluntly, these two episodes, although different in substance, are what give management a bad  name and it is inexcusable.  Organisation development should, if nothing else, root that out of the system once and for all.  It’s a philosophy that Aresko is founded upon.

Both were examples of unethical behaviour and one, particularly, produced a profound moment for me personally when I thought: “that sort of management is a deal breaker for me actually.”

So what have you encountered in your professional life that has so starkly produced a deal breaking moment for you and was it a moral or ethical management issue?  Did you feel strongly enough about it to vote with your heart or your head and let’s discuss:

“Ethical and moral issues – what’s your deal-breaking point?”

THURSDAY THOUGHTS! – Are you a remarkable colleague?

Indepted to Peggy Edwards, one of my mentees, for this weeks Thursday Thoughts!  This week we are discussing:   


Peggy discovered the following article recently (by Jeff Haden), and it makes interesting reading. Great employees are reliable, dependable, proactive, diligent, great leaders and great followers… they possess a wide range of easily-defined—but increasingly hard to find—qualities.  However, a few colleagues hit the next level in being remarkable, possessing qualities that may not appear on performance appraisals but nonetheless make a major impact on performance.

Below are eight qualities of remarkable employees.  Are there others?  Do you see any of these in yourself?  Should every organisation have one or more of these?

1. They ignore job descriptions. The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees can think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done.  When a key customer’s project is in jeopardy, remarkable employees know without being told there’s a problem and jump in without being asked—even if it’s not their job.

2. They’re eccentric… The best employees are often a little different: quirky, sometimes irreverent, even delighted to be unusual. They seem slightly odd, but in a really good way. Unusual personalities shake things up, make work more fun, and transform a plain-vanilla group into a team with flair and flavour.  People who aren’t afraid to be different naturally stretch boundaries and challenge the status quo, and they often come up with the best ideas.

3. But they know when to dial it back. An unusual personality is a lot of fun… until it isn’t. When a major challenge pops up, the best employees stop expressing their individuality and fit seamlessly into the team. Remarkable employees know when to play and when to be serious; and when to be irreverent and when to conform. It’s a tough balance to strike, but a rare few can walk that fine line with ease.

4. They publicly praise… Praise from a boss feels good. Praise from a peer feels awesome, especially when you look up to that person. Remarkable employees recognize the contributions of others, especially in group settings where the impact of their words is even greater.

5. And they privately complain. We all want employees to bring issues forward, but some problems are better handled in private. Great employees often get more latitude to bring up controversial subjects in a group setting because their performance allows greater freedom. Remarkable employees come to you before or after a meeting to discuss a sensitive issue, knowing that bringing it up in a group setting could set off a firestorm.

6. They speak when others won’t. Some employees are hesitant to speak up in meetings. Some are even hesitant to speak up privately. Remarkable employees have an innate feel for the issues and concerns of those around them, and step up to ask questions or raise important issues when others hesitate.

7. They like to prove others wrong. Self-motivation often springs from a desire to show that doubters are wrong. Education, intelligence, talent, and skill are important, but drive is critical. Remarkable employees are driven by something deeper and more personal than just the desire to do a good job.

8. They’re always fiddling. Some people are rarely satisfied (I mean that in a good way) and are constantly tinkering with something: Reworking a timeline, adjusting a process, tweaking a workflow. Great employees follow processes. Remarkable employees find ways to make those processes even better, not only because they are expected to… but because they just can’t help it.

“So what’s happened to lead you to believe you are either a great or remarkable employee? 

THURSDAY THOUGHTS! – Leadership & Management. Are they mutually exclusive?

The organisation I eternally maintain my membership of (Chartered Management Institute (CMI)) has, today, asked a question which is very close to my heart:

“Do you need to be a good leader to be a good manager?”

This made me think.  Leadership and management are two completely different skills, and I have, in my time, seen those I consider highly competent in each.  But do you need BOTH in today’s 21st Century workplace, and is it possible to hone skills in both or should they eternally remain as fighting siblings?

What do you think?  Those you admire and aspire to in the workplace, do they have one or both of these skills?  And if so, what was the moment (if ever) you thought of them in this way?  So please do discuss:

“whether the best leaders have strong management skills, and do you consider managers as natural leaders?”

As always, please share widely.

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