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New Year, New You? How Are Your Resolutions Holding Up? by Liz Watt

So how was January for you?

I always think there is a certain cruel irony in the fact that the month of new beginnings, fresh starts and shiny New Year resolutions happens to coincide with the gloom of January, bad weather, post-Christmas poverty and the sinking feeling that the party is well and truly over.

So if your hand is hovering over the gin bottle as dry January comes to a close, and if you now feel that you are ‘allowed’ to book a holiday as the coffers have been replenished by pay-day, it might be worth taking 5 minutes to reflect on whether your good intentions and resolutions have stood the test of January – or could do with an impending Spring re-boot.

A quick glance on the #newyearsresolution hashtag on Twitter reveals the diversity of resolutions out there, from the predictable ambitions to get fit, lose weight, stick to a wellness programme, eat better, to the more esoteric – reading your height in books anyone? Resolve to have less car accidents (yes really…)?

And of course key areas that comes under scrutiny at the New Year are career ambitions, changing jobs and personal development.

So if you had great plans to focus  on your career and personal development in 2018, but these plans have gone a little awry, don’t despair and don’t give up! Here are some suggestions of actions you can take to get your plans back on track:

  • Carve some time out for yourself to make a plan and write it down. Give yourself some real targets or tasks to further your ambitions over the course of the coming months and  diarise these. For example, these might include reviewing your CV, reconnecting with a trusted recruiter, signing yourself up for some further training
  • Get creative – if you are inspired by visual prompts, why not create a mood board for yourself – here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing
  • Look at your network – who might be able to help or advise you? Open doors? Commit to reaching out to at least 2 contacts over the coming month and arranging that overdue coffee
  • Consider investing in some career or executive coaching. Working with a qualified coach could enable you to achieve your goals more effectively than trying to do it alone.

If you would like to find out more about what Coaching entails, or how my Career Coaching Programme might help you in 2018, why not contact me to arrange a no strings attached conversation?  I’d be delighted to hear from you :


Loneliness At Work – A Real Phenomenon…by Liz Watt

A recent conversation with someone i am coaching really made me stop and think.  This was a  successful, highly articulate individual whose career is in the ascent,  who will no doubt achieve their career ambitions, and on the face of it has everything going for them.  So far so good.  And yet one of the biggest issues this individual experiences is feeling lonely at work. Not in the sense of having no friends, or no one to go to lunch with, but in the sense of the lack of a trusted group to turn to discuss concerns, gripes, worries – professional or personal.  The mantra this person has therefore adopted is to plough their own furrow, keep their own counsel, not get too close to others, not to be open and honest, for fear of letting their guard down  in a way that might be detrimental to their career.

Shocking – yes. Understandable – regrettably,  yes.  The competition and culture endemic in many organisations means that quite often there isn’t a great support network in place and the ‘tone from the top’ doesn’t foster open, honest and collaborative working relationships.

Is this phenomenon unique to women as they become more senior and quite often have a diminishing peer group? I don’t think so – there are many men out there who have similar experiences, especially as they climb the career ladder, become more senior and therefore feel they have to be more circumspect about who they share issues and concerns with.  However,  in my experience many men working in large organisations have a better network than their female colleagues and are more comfortable at in tapping into this for help and support.

Women on the other hand quite often feel incredibly isolated, lacking in a peer group, not a part of the ‘old boys club’ and with few, if any, role models.

Is this important? After all, some people are perfectly fine keeping themselves to themselves and don’t feel the need to make friends at work.  Various studies say that it is important.  Research conducted by California State University and  Wharton School of Business found that ‘an employee’s work loneliness triggers emotional withdrawal from their organization’ leading to ‘reduced effective commitment’.   One of the conclusions reached is pretty uncompromising : ‘…management should not treat loneliness as a private problem that needs to be individually resolved by employees who experience this emotion; but rather should consider it as an organizational problem that needs to be addressed both for the employees’ sake and that of the organization.’

So how to tackle this issue? As ever there is no magic wand.  Awareness of the issue at Management and HR level is crucial in fostering a culture where employees feel included and that they have a voice. Encouraging  and promoting initiatives that counter potential isolation and foster an inclusive culture are important strategies that will filter down through an organisation. Worth considering:

  • Networking groups – either internal or external. If there isn’t one that fits your background or level of experience, consider setting one up.  Having a strong network is seen to be one of the most powerful tools in your business armoury and it is never too early to start developing this. A fantastic way to encourage a sense of belonging.
  • Mentoring : Having a strong mentoring culture, especially across departments and levels, fosters a sense of communication and belonging within an  organization. Consider upward mentoring schemes as well as the more traditional ‘top down’ initiatives
  • Social events – no one likes to feel obliged to attend events, especially if they are after work or just involve beers in the pub on a Friday night.  However there are plenty of other possibilities, from lunchtime exercise classes, to organising theatre trips, to a workplace book group, cross-department learning groups  – there are plenty of other ideas! The point is to get people together who might not otherwise meet or communicate.
  • Speak to people! Technology is great, but it can foster isolation too. So consider getting off your chair and actually talking to your colleagues rather than e-mailing them, or worse – sending a text or WhatsApp!
  • Show appreciation. People who feel appreciated are far more likely to buy into the business and stay with it.  On a business wide level, and a local departmental level, showing appreciation tells individuals that you recognise their value, they are important to the business and they are not alone.

If any of the issues discussed here resonate with you and you’d like to discuss how you might address them,  I would love to hear from you:


If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right…by Tariq Siraj

Many of us use the turn of the year as a symbolic point to make resolutions, start afresh and take a new approach. Usually things we know we should have been doing anyway but, hey, you need to start somewhere.

I didn’t really make any specific resolutions this year, but I have been thinking on a broader level about improvements, about how to make things just that little bit better. How do I make processes run a little smoother at work? What new approaches can make the team perform on a higher level?, how can my wife and I find that extra time (and energy) for each other when we both work and have a toddler and a crawler at home?

I concluded that maybe we’re better off trying to fix the small things rather than jumping in with huge daunting grand plans. Maybe the key is to look at all the micro ‘hows’ rather than the big meandering macro ‘whats’?

At around this time a video randomly popped up on my feed – one apparently that has likely also popped up on yours at some point in the last 3 years (it’s gone viral in a big way and had nearly 100 million views).  It was a 2014 graduation speech to the University of Texas by Admiral William H. McRaven, a decorated US forces commander.  What he says puts a great perspective on all of this.

The main message? “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”  The line gets a laugh, but in his own way he basically sums up the idea I had been trying and failing to say in my own head;

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. If, by chance, you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that’s made. That you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

I guess it’s the sort of lesson you would expect from a military leader, but while you can certainly practice the literal lesson of making your bed every morning, you can also apply the same principle to the way you approach your work, your projects, your daily tasks and your relationships.

My favourite line of his is that making your bed will “reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”

Exactly! Lots of small changes are easier to accomplish and will almost certainly be more effective in impacting the bigger picture.


Two-do List…

Something else I found which ties in nicely here is an article by Nick Miaritis – a Global Business Director at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York and a serial blogger. His piece asks us to ‘rethink the first 10 minutes of our day’; to make a few small changes (no snoozing, drink water, don’t look at your phone first thing etc) which just might transform how we approach the rest of our day.

My favourite tip is to have a ‘Two-do list’; the idea that in this time of our fast-moving busy lives, never-ending information and endless platforms to check emails, messages, pictures, blogs and news, it might just make sense to get up in the morning and spend the first few minutes focusing our brains solely on the TWO most important things which will happen that day;

“Close your eyes and imagine them already done, observe how they will make you feel, how they may make other people in your life feel, etc. Your “two-do” list can consist of anything from cooking dinner for your family, walking 10K steps or crushing a big presentation — all that matters is that you decide what the two things are and let them rise above everything else going on that day.”

I like that piece of advice and I like the notion that the way we start our day can impact our approach, mood and energy levels for the rest of it; how we work, how we treat other people and how motivated we are.   A good start, of course, is to make your own bed…


TAS Blog

The Gender Pay Gap – why the resignation of the BBC’s China editor matters…by Catriona Cookson

It’s the first week in January and the gender pay gap is back in the news. With over 500 firms reporting their figures in advance of the April deadline, some of the figures look startling but can be explained by the variation of roles held by men and women. For example, the difference at Easy Jet is 52%, largely due to the fact that most of the pilots are men.

However, the recent resignation of the BBC’s China editor over the discrepancy in her salary is very different. In her open letter published here she sets out the facts which everyone should read. As you would expect from a respected journalist it is a well written letter which includes the following:

“In the past four years, the BBC has had four international editors – two men and two women. The Equality Act 2010 states that men and women doing equal work must receive equal pay. But last July I learned that in the previous financial year, the two men earned at least 50% more than the two women”.

There can be no justification for this but the following is just as disturbing. As ever, there will often be people who are afraid to speak and pursue their claim for fear of the repercussions :

“We have felt trapped. Speaking out carries the risk of disciplinary measures or even dismissal; litigation can destroy careers and be financially ruinous. What’s more the BBC often settles cases out of court and demands non-disclosure agreements, a habit unworthy of an organisation committed to truth, and one which does nothing to resolve the systemic problem.”

While the spotlight is clearly on the BBC over this, it can’t be the only organisation in a similar position. Others would do well to ensure their house is in order in the coming months.

Finally, there is much validity in the closing comments of Carrie Gracie’s letter:

“I don’t want their generation to have to fight this battle in the future because my generation failed to win it now”

We all have a responsibility to ensure the gender pay gap must end.

Cat's Blog

Lessons in efficiency…by Catriona Cookson

For some of you this may be the first week back to work – welcome to 2018! You may have started the New Year with a spring in your step, renewed enthusiasm for your job and ready for all the challenges of 2018 …..or you may have come back with “It’s time for a change” at the front of your mind.

Whatever you’re thinking, here’s something light hearted below to start the year. Well, I say light hearted but there’s a serious underlying message from the article below which looks at “Procurement Lessons from the office tea round”.

How many other organisations particularly in the public sector are operating in a similarly inefficient way? And as always, it’s the little things that make a big difference. I was surprised they worked out people were having 3 cups of tea a day – I’ve probably had that by 11o’clock!!

Another article caught my eye last week on the future of Irn Bru – apparently the recipe is being changed to reduce the sugar content in advance of the government levy on sugary drinks coming into play this year. Whatever your views on the sugar tax and its validity, the idea of people stockpiling Irn Bru made me chuckle in that first week back to work after Christmas.

So whatever your tipple be it Tea, Irn Bru or something a bit stronger, we take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and prosperous 2018. ….and if that includes thinking about making a career change and/or recruiting for your team, you know where to find us.


Tea Round

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