Training for Mayors

remember-this

When you think about it, what training is there for Mayors and does it matter if all they have to do is open the occasional fete and not lose the Mayoral gold chain?

Well, in the US, the answer is a very big yes because over there, Mayors are more than just figureheads to wheel out for the camera and actually control how their city changes & grows which is probably why one of their most auguste colleges – Harvard no less – has started a program to do exactly what it says in the title; train Mayors for high office.

As experience tells us that what the US does on Monday, we tend to do on Friday (if the committee is free to decide of course) then it’s worth looking more closely. But maybe we should start with admissions and decide who’s up the entry level standards in the first place.

By way of a salutary note though, I wonder if some high profile people like Boris, Ken & Saddiq would have passed? And what does their future look like?

More seriously, it highlights the need for constant evaluation of people and what is being asked of them and it’s a truth for organisations as much as public office. It is easy to over–promote and even easier to spot when they’re not up to the job. What’s less easy is taking responsibility and being prepared to do the tough thing to make it right. Or, if you’re the person who was passed over in the promotion, managing your feelings of grievance can be a job in itself. Fortunately, Fortune magazine have this advice on what NOT to do.

Death by power pointing

Office life

We all know the expression when applied to slide technology and boring speakers but in this context, I mean it in relation to motivating employees. Is there anything less motivating that someone trying (too hard) to err… motivate you? 

Especially after a long weekend off. You’re back in the office, the sun is shining outside like it didn’t over the weekend and staff are revolting (either actually or emotionally). They’re got a mountain of work to catch up on instead being outside catching some rays and your job is to motivate them to want to do theirs even better than they have been doing already. Hmm not easy is it? So I was delighted to find this article by Matt Straz which offers 4 ways to use technology to motivate employees – and pay rises are not involved. Perfect! Definitely a key feature in the big debate about the future of work in a few weeks time.

Finding creative strategies to motivate employees isn’t easy. Sure, employers can keep their employees engaged and motivated with benefits like free lunches, unlimited PTO and company-hosted social events, but for employers looking for something a little less conventional, try embracing more tech in the workplace.

Here are four ways technology can help managers boost engagement and create a motivated workforce:

What heat does to productivity

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HR Depts face a big task. A whole mountain of big tasks in fact. The first is recruiting excellent talent and then keeping it, but while some other stuff seems mundane by contrast, it can in fact, be a matter of life or death.

Whilst on a personal level, most of us delight in waking up to sunshine, hopeful that it will last at least stay around until the BBQ reaches the right temperature that evening. But what if you’re stuck in an office all day, or halfway up a telephone pole without relief? Human consideration aside, responsible employers should be wondering about two things; their duty of care and what does it does to productivity.

Working in high temperatures can impact an employee’s attention span and reduce their cognitive functions. This is the suggestion of a group of MPs who have urged bosses to allow staff members to go home should temperatures in the workplace reach 30C, as doing so could result in a reduction of potentially fatal accidents.

Tabled by Labour MP Linda Riordan, the radical motion has called on individuals performing particularly strenuous work to be sent away from their place of work when temperatures climb to 27C.

It was put forward that people whose visual motor tracking, cognitive function and attention span has been reduced may be more likely to be involved in accidents.

The motion stated: “Employees in a wide range of workplaces – from industrial bakeries to school classrooms – are often subjected to high temperatures which can impact seriously on their health and wellbeing.”

Stress, discomfort, irritability and headaches are some of the effects of hot working conditions, it added and the issue of Union strength to bring about changes will undoubtedly feature at this event, looking into The Future of Work. But what will it suggest as a workable solution in changing climate conditions?

Professor Cary Cooper CBE, an Honorary Fellow of the Society, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology & Health, Lancaster University Management School
said:

“It is the case that high temperatures without adequate air conditioning can adversely the cognitive and motor skills of certain types of workers in manufacturing and engineering so employers should be vigilant, talk to their staff and take acstion to prevent possible accidents. This applies to people who may also suffer from heat exhaustion as well in office environments – employers have a duty of care for the health & Wellbeing of their staff under all environmental circumstances.”

Newsreader exposes her lie!

AL laughing on chair

In conversation with Jay Humphreys of BBH, Adrienne says: I’ve worked in media & PR for just over 20 years, first as a researcher, Assistant Producer and director, but I’m more well known for my years fronting BBC World News, SKY News & the flagship ITV programme Everything Must Go! And it did! Like a rocket reaching the No. 1 slot for daytime TV.  I’ve written a book, The Art of Perfect Kissing, whilst bringing up my two children, I write for newspapers and magazines and work behind the scenes with many SME’s & PLC companies to ensure that their communications & events deliver fantastic results.

I’m best known for: challenging CEO’s to cut the flannel and listen to their staff & customers.

The proudest moment of my career is: When an organisation I’ve worked with is in better health when I leave that it was when I first arrived

The first thing I do in the morning is: Go for brekkie with friends at a nearby coffee shop

My favourite breakfast is: Freshly cooked Danishes, served warm, with a lovely big mug of tea but occasional crispy bacon sandwiches

The most famous person in my phonebook is: Lord Digby Jones – naughty but nice and a brilliant Ambassador for Brand Britain

The actress who would play me in a film about ridiculous career ideas is: Olivia Coleman

My favourite memory from working on Everything Must Go! is: Meeting a woman who had filled her house with so much rubbish, sorry highly collectible knick-knacks, that her husband went off every night to have ‘dinner’ with her very attractive friend resulting in a well-fed and very happy man.

If I wasn’t hosting lots of live events like this, I’d be: Doing my other day jobs: meetings with Corporate Clients, writing, broadcasting and hanging out in coffee shops in Chipping Norton, picking up gossip. But if I had to go and get a different job tomorrow, I would be happily be working in customer service somewhere, helping iron out problems and sending people out with a smile on their face. People can forgive problems and mistakes, as long as you find solutions for them

You’d be surprised to learn that: I lied about my experience to get a job as News Anchor on BBC World when it first launched and hired my own Camera Crew to film me selling fruit on a market stall to persuade the Exec Producer of Everything Must Go to give me the gig

The one thing I couldn’t live without is: Quality time spent with my grown up children. And my phone. Obviously.

What Tax havens have done for you and me. Or have they?

sunny dollar sign

There is a fine line between between privacy & secrecy, particularly when it comes to finances.

In the UK, we’re really squeamish about financial revelations even on the most personal of levels so it makes perfect sense that we do the same for our businesses but is that right? An article today by Oxfam claims  that 300 of the World’s leading Economistshave said that Tax havens serve no useful purpose and have written world leaders warning there is no economic justification for allowing tax havens and urging them to lift the veil on offshore secrecy. The letter comes ahead of the Government’s anti-corruption summit in London on Thursday, which politicians from 40 countries as well as World Bank and IMF representatives are expected to attend.

Whether you’re for or against tax havens, there are arguments supporting both sides not least the concept that havens enable high-tax countries to impose lower effective tax rates on highly mobile firms, while taxing immobile firms more heavily which then benefits employees or contractors.

Another interesting consideration is the effect of aggressive tax policies on markets around the world which Science Direct did a study on in 2009 but which seems as relevant today as ever. They studied the stock price reaction to news about corporate tax aggressiveness and found that, on average, a company’s stock price declines when there is news about its involvement in tax shelters.

They also found some limited evidence for cross-sectional variation in the reaction. For example, the reaction is more negative for firms in the retail sector, suggesting that part of the reaction may be a consumer/taxpayer backlash. In addition, the reaction is less negative for firms that are viewed to be generally less tax aggressive, as proxied by the firm’s cash effective tax rate.They interpreted this as being consistent with the market reacting positively to evidence that a firm is trying to reduce taxes when their financial reports would lead one to believe the firm is not tax aggressive.

Which suggests that Sir Phillip Green is actually doing us all a favour by languishing on a boat somewhere sunny. Well, it keeps him out of trouble I suppose, doesn’t it?

The Lion roars, but is anyone listening?

Far be it for me to rain on anyone’s strawberries but the CBI have put out a press release today which somewhat contradicts the optimism being talked about in other circles. The essence of it’s key findings are that in the three months to July

  • 8% of small & medium sized enterprise (SME) manufacturers said they were more optimistic, while 53% said they were less optimistic, giving a rounded balance of -44% – the sharpest fall in optimism since January 2009 (-71%)
  • 27% said their volume of output was up, and 20% said it was down, giving a rounded balance of +6%. Companies expect output to be flat in the next quarter (+1%)
  • 26% said their domestic orders were up, while 24% said they were down, giving a balance of +2%. Firms domestic orders to fall next quarter (-10%)
  • 15% said export orders rose over the past three months, 23% said they fell, leaving a balance of -8%, but firms anticipate export orders to grow over the next three months (+9%).
  • Firms were a little more optimistic about their exports prospects for the year ahead (+4%)
  • The proportion of SME manufacturers citing concerns about political and economic conditions abroad as likely to limit export orders were at a survey record high (49%)
  • 28% of small and medium-sized manufacturers employed more people than three months ago, and 13% employed fewer, leaving a balance of +15%. Hiring intentions are flat for the next quarter (0%)
  • Plans for capital spending in the year ahead fell for both plant and machinery (-16% – lowest since July 2009) and buildings (-24% – lowest since October 2009)
  • Meanwhile, investment in product & process innovation is expected to rise at a moderate pace (+7%), as is spending on training & retraining (+8%).

But are they right or is it just an academic snapshot in time? Sadly, only time will tell but as a great believe in the philosophy that were belief goes, energy flows, this is not particularly encouraging news. Be interesting to hear what former Director General of the CBi, Digby Jones thinks about our prospects when he talks about the whole issue of the Future of Work from  both an employee and employer perspective, as well, of course, potential investors.

 

News just in…..

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….despite fears to the contrary, the world is not about to end!! Hurrah! Well, not unless Donald Trump gets in on the other side of the pond of course 🙁

The Telegraph runs with the story that Fulcrum Asset Management has picked up momentum dramatically over recent weeks, signalling robust world growth of 4pc over the second half of the year – even if there is a hiccup in the UK. This is up from 3.4pc in the last quarter and 2.4pc in late 2015 but what does it all mean to life as we know it?

The ‘hiccup’ referred to is the dramatic decision to exit the EU of course and to be honest, no one really knows exactly what that will mean for UK growth or survival in the longer term so, as I’ve said before, when it comes to opinions ‘you pays your money and takes your choice’.

To review their review in more depth, including graphs, it’s worth visiting their pagetoday so you can reach your own conclusion because ultimately, a great deal of business, including stock market performance comes down to faith & belief. And yes, I use those two words deliberately because for some, making money really is akin to a religion and like all extremists, those kind of people are to be given a very wide berth.

I am related to one such zealot and admit to schadenfreude when hearing that the extremely valuable gift he’d been given when leaving an overseas territory, subsequently turned out to be a cheap fake. Laugh, I nearly dropped my Channel lipstick into my Gucki boots! Not because I wished him ill, but just because his capacity to value human relationships is about as deep as a puddle.

This person’s main wealth (and yes, he has a lot of it) is due to trading on the stock market and trading wisely, determinedly and entirely unemotionally, something that we mere mortals find hard to do.

What does surprise me though is how many people I’ve met who think the stock market has nothing to do with them. In reality, it would be utterly incredible if some/all of the people you work with, or employ, are not part of that group. In which case you might want to share this handy guide to ‘How the Stock Market Affects the Economy‘. Just make sure they’re sitting comfortably when you share it with them.

Even more interesting for me – because I’m keeping a beady eye out looking for it – is the trailer at the end of the article which screams ‘How worldwide businesses should prepare for the rise of artificial intelligence‘.

But put the smelling salts back in the drawer because it’s opening line offers hope by presenting the idea that artificial Intelligence might not automatically lead to global mass unemployment but could also create new jobs we cannot yet imagine. Think about it; who knew, or would have believed, that Facebook would have over 1.23 billion users within a decade? So if we couldn’t imagine Facebook 10 years ago, what can we notsee 10 years hence and what will it mean for the Future of Work?

To the old maxim that the only certainty in life is death & taxes, I would like to add…..and change. The only element of choice is how you embrace it.

Infinity & beyond!

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Have you ever noticed that where focus goes, energy flows? (Get me,  I sound like some kind of Hippy!) Yet the truth of this really stood out to me as I researched the whole issue of ‘The Future of Work‘.

This article in The Guardian by Robert Skildesky is actually 3 years old now but outlines a future where the inevitable question is; ‘If, sooner or later, we run out of jobs –  what are people to do if machines can do all (or most of) their work?’

For some countries, ‘tomorrow’ is a lot closer than they thought and it’s only at this, the eleventh hour, when they find themselves uncomfortably close to the question that they have seriously begun to wonder what people are going to do if machines can do all (or most of) their work cheaper, faster and with less of the messy stuff called ’emotions?’

Sure they have breakdowns (machinery not humans, though….) but the’re not interested in pesky things like holidays. Nor motivated by bonuses, salaries & status. They just do.Inexorably and relentlessly. But is our greatest challenge not technology itself but the fear of change? Where will the new opportunities lie? If labour costs are no longer an issue (albeit because there is no labour) doesn’t that free up capital for reinvestment and remove obstacles like employee rights?

Will that old fashioned term – employee – still apply or will we be human capital that both uses and is used to suit prevailing opportunities? And does that changing environment give us flexibility or famine?

If these questions just affected one industry, they might be easier to answer or at least get a handle on but they don’t. Manufacturing first had to get to grips with the impact of technology over a hundred years ago as Unions kicked and screamed all the way through to the 70’s and Margaret Thatcher.

Skildesky notes that automation & technology had manual jobs as a starter to fill it’s hungry belly but is now eating up the better jobs, too. A wide range of jobs that we now think of as skilled, secure, and irreducibly human may be the next casualties of technological change.

All of which sounds more than a little depressing but The Centre for the Future of Work(yep, there really is one) says that although the winners in digital transformation will commit to developing in seven key areas at a pace sufficient to provide competitive advantages, the rest of us can adapt by;

  1. Becoming a data-centered business
  2. Developing and implementing an OILS (optimized information logistics systems)
  3. Achieving real-time business operational tempos
  4. Implementing intelligent process automation using artificial intelligence and machine learning
  5. Ensuring a shared situational awareness through the use of collaboration platforms
  6. Utilizing real-time contextually relevant data to personalize digital experiences
  7. Redesigning and re-architecting to become a digitally agile business  

More simplistically, I would say this; computers are not designed in a vacuum by other computers but by those pesky things called people. It is people who buy the products they make and people who define a need based on emotional responses to things & places. ‘People’ are not out for the count yet. Definitely a lot to discuss though making Investor Tony Fish’s predictions even more relevant;

“The giants of tomorrow will be those who use innovation, strategy, transformation and commercial engagement in a whole new way. Blasting away the cobwebs of current thinking, it offers a fantastic platform for businesses of all sizes to find out how to get the most from change. Can’t wait!”

The world of customer service has changed

 

Paul Papdimitriou

by Adrienne Lawler Broadcaster Presenter BBC/SKY/ITV/CNN Live Events Facilitator. Adding measurable value and bottom-line impact

Never before in the history of commerce, have customers had more power and more ways in which to wield it.  Gone are the days of ‘asking to see the Manager’ in the often vein hope that he or she would agree with your complaint over and above backing his or her staff blindly in whatever they had done or failed to do.

Most customer now have a different kind of redress open to them and one that offers them a unique opportunity to be heard by thousands if not millions and dealt with sympathetically. Even if they don’t win the point, it gives them the chance to deal a sucker punch to the object of their ire and that alone feels satisfying.

It is of course called ‘Social Media’ and it is particularly powerful when used against itself; live by the sword, die by the sword. If your organisation is planning to (or has been forced into) utilising Twitter or Facebook to reach out to customers you must be fully prepared and well resourced to handle any backlash. If done right, this can be a really great opportunity to set your company above its competitors, grow customer loyalty and raise brand awareness. Done badly and the consequences are inversely grim, taking years (if ever) to repair.

I saw this article from a company with a great name ‘Strawberry Social’ and feel it should be compulsory reading anyone and everyone in business, including employees, the younger of whom still live in the misguided belief that only their ‘friends’ can see what they’ve been doing online and therefore, won’t make a difference to their career prospects.

I have known at least 3 employers who have fired staff precisely because of what they have posted online, it being in breach of either confidentiality, employment conditions or just downright stupid! If you’re going to throw  a sickie let me give you a piece of advice; DON’T post pictures of yourself out partying til stupid o’clock the night before/snuggling under the duvet for a marathon session with Jeremy Kyle/or dissing your pig of a boss who wouldn’t let you have the day off to go shopping but you’ve shown him/her because you’ve just phoned in with a croaky voice and sniffles explaining you can’t make it into the office today.

Perhaps of bigger concern is the question of what comes next? None, or at least very few, of us predicted how big and important social media/the online world would become in all areas of our lives so logic says we have no idea about the next revolution either. And we need to, don’t we? Or should we just get comfortable and sit back for the ride? Hmmm I’m not very good at either being a passenger or a dis-empowered ‘victim’. More than that, I also like to see the sun shine ahead, if only so I can head towards it, which is why if I’m honest, Paul Papadimitriou is one of the people I am most looking forward to hearing speak on Sept 28th. If you can’t make it, expect to hear all about it from me,Digby, Phil, Wingham……you get the idea.

What Global Giant Cisco are predicting

Fortune crystal ball

You won’t be surprised to heat that with one of the most important conferences coming up on the subject of the Future of Work, I am more than a little interested to hear what people are saying on the topic. I was even more interested to hear that in 2014 Cisco were saying organizations “Must Shift Policies to Meet Demands of Gen X and Gen Y Professionals, with Two-Thirds Preferring Flexible Work Styles”. Catchy little title I’m sure you’ll agree.

My interest was piqued for two reasons; the first is that we have the CEO of Cisco (Phil Smith) speaking at an event all about the Future of Work and the second is more personal. The audience being addressed with this report were business leaders in the United Arab Emirates and which is where my son is about to go out and take up a tax free job in the sun. So all things Dubai are of interest to me. Mainly I’m concerned about having a holiday destination of course but you know what I mean.

But it’s not all sunshine of course. One of my brothers has also lived out there – and lived well – for 25 years and seen it flourish from a desert to a shining icon for imagination. Whatever your current business/model I am delighted to announce that imagination is, and will always be, key to its success, whatever the future may bring. Here are some imaginative ideas that others see for the future;

10 tech ideas we’ll be using in the future from The Mirror

How technology will shape the Future of Work

10 CEO’s make predictions for the future of business

And finally…..some stunning insight from Fortune Magazine about 2016 back in 2015