Office Roller Skating Instructors

skates

Last night I experienced something that I hadn’t done for quite a long time….yes, I went roller skating! It was a successful encounter, mainly because I didn’t fall over and I remained vertical throughout the whole activity, apart from landing rather heavily on my bottom when I transitioned from the rink to the external carpeted area in the viewing area…but thankfully, I don’t think anyone noticed!

What was the secret to my success? My delightful and charming instructor who I must admit provided me with the confidence and inspiration to do it. The key was to not focus on the mechanics of the actual roller-skating activity, but rather to “get into the groove and rhythm” of the gliding encounter. Once I started to change my mindset and “let go of my inhibitions”, the whole experience became really quite enjoyable. However, I was brought down a peg or two in my perceived self-brilliance when my instructor whizzed past me at top speed backwards whilst balancing on one skate! Maybe I’ll try that in my second lesson? (Or is that my twenty-second lesson!!)

This got me thinking. When we are in the corporate office, how do we cope with those awkward and rather stressful situations? Most of us tend to focus on all the potential negatives that cause our inhibition levels to dramatically increase thereby impacting our ability to perform at the required level. For me with roller skating, prior to be entering the rink, I was thinking about the various injuries I might experience such as broken bones, pulled muscles, and my biggest concern being severe embarrassment!

One potential solution in the corporate office is to have an “instructor” that walks around the building offering support and advise to those in need? They may not want to be dressed like my roller skating instructor who was adorned in a rather short and impressive flappy skating skirt, but something more corporately appropriate would suffice. But they do need to have a personality that enlists confidence in those that they talk to so they can readily overcome their concerns, and to just be there to offer a “helping hand” when required.

So next time you are walking the corridors within your office with any self doubt, may I suggest you keep an eye out for any helpful “instructors” that may be “gracefully skating” past you! If you do see them, don’t be scared to shout out and seek some help and experience so you can perform with greater confidence and ability.

Corporate Guide Illuminators

Car headlights

Recently I was driving at night on a rather windy and narrow road in the country. The region was quite desolate so there were no other cars to be seen, apart from the occasional animal leaping in front of my car’s headlights with a stunned suicidal look of fright and utter surprise, including me!

Navigating the dark road terrain took a large amount of concentration, particularly as I had no idea as to the width of the road on quite a few occasions. This resulted in me reducing my driving speed rather dramatically as I attempted to come to terms with the unfamiliar environment.

If I had been following a car the whole journey would have been much easier and far less stressful. In this situation, the other car’s headlights would have illuminated the road for me and I could have judged their trajectory by monitoring the red lights permeating from the back of their vehicle.

Let’s explore this analogy in the corporate office. On many occasions when starting a new job or task, we are left to our own devices from which we frequently learn via a process of trial and error. If we are unsure of the required process, we typically proceed with some degree of caution so as to minimize the likelihood of potential mistakes.

However, if we had a ‘corporate guide’ (or mentor) to assist us along our business journey we would progress with greater confidence and speed and arrive at the final objective (or destination) in a much more comfortable state of mind and improved productivity.

One option is to equip those people in the business classified as mentors with a red reflector on their backs and bottoms and a white lantern on their stomachs, just like with a car to provide direction for other employees, but somehow I can’t see this being accepted by the wearer?

A better, and maybe less attention seeking option is for the organization to take the time and effort to train mentors on how to work and encourage those employees who are deemed less knowledgeable on an activity prior to them embarking on the project or task.

However, I do quite like the idea of highlighting mentors with a large hat with a gold flashing light positioned on top to recognize their mentorship skills….but that’s just me.

Vanilla Flavoured Diversity

My Primary Workhorse

Signed……Steven Cramer. The black ink that had just permeated from my treasured fountain pen was almost dry on my new employment contract. I gleefully looked once again at the document, and then with an eager and expectant smile on my face, I carefully folded the paper, placed it in the reply-paid envelope and put it aside ready to be posted to my new employer.

All of us have at some stage in our working careers have experienced the excitement associated with starting a job with a new corporate organization, or a new role within your existing company. Prior to us starting this new role, we have many ideas and thoughts on how and what we are going to achieve, we do not impose any limitations, nor do we expect the organization or our fellow colleagues to hamper any progress on the attainment of these objectives.

Unfortunately, many of us after a few years working for the same organization lose this positive and creative persona and slowly morph into a common and accepted form of corporate behaviour where any diversity of thought is progressively extinguished. The result is a “vanilla flavoured” corporate culture that is prevalent in many corporate company’s today.

But does this need to be the case?

A thought.
Why do we not ask all new employees to write down their career aspirations on what they would like to achieve prior to the first day of their employment? This untainted document could then be stored for a period of time (say 3-5 years) following which it is then opened and reread by the employee and discussed with a senior member of the management team. It would be interesting for the employee to see how their enthusiasm has been maintained or even increased over the time period, or has it been severely hindered? If the latter, then what has caused this negativity and how could the corporate culture be improved to encourage and foster a greater diversity of thought?

Many companies talk about the concept of diversity, but are quite content to operate in the “vanilla flavoured” business environment. When a new employee starts, they may be flavoured “strawberry, blueberry, or even have lumps of chocolate” diffusing through their personality. But after a period of time, this creative flavour may have been slowly purged and replaced with the approved corporate taste. If an organization truly values diversity, why focus on the attainment of the “vanilla”?

There are many great benefits to a company if their employees do think that little bit differently, particularly with respect to innovation which could be utilised in a variety of different areas such as new product development, improvements in service offering or potential business expansions outside the traditional norm? If all employees think the same way (“vanilla”), then opportunities for innovation and creativity will be severely restricted.

So next time you are about to start a new role, may I suggest that you capture your thoughts and aspirations and revisit them later in your working career. The rereading might be quite enlightening, particularly for you, and your organization?

Cultural Transformation to a Tea!

Tea

I’m one of those tea drinkers that likes to have my tea in a long tall and transparent glass. There is something quite magical about observing the tealeaves gradually permeate their colour, taste and odour with the boiling clear water. With time, you will observe the tea colour swirling and leaving a distinctive trail in the water, with additional time, the tealeaves will transform the water into a uniform and translucent colour. The degree of tealeaf permeation, or transformation, can be controlled via the immersion duration time in the water.

Let’s take this analogy into the corporate office with respect to cultural transformation.

Many corporate cultures can be viewed like the glass of clear boiling water. To look externally at the glass, it is homogeneous, quite bland, and the only activity appears to be the vapour trail exuding from the top of the glass as a result of the high temperature (100C). However, unless something happens within the glass, the water will cool and the glass will reach a temperature that coincides with the surrounding room temperature. This is the boring corporate culture that is common in so many organizations today.

The key to cultural transformation is the introduction of a catalyst to initiate and drive change. However, prior to its introduction, the business management team need to identify and agree on what their unique and distinctive organizational culture needs to be? Let’s go back to the tea analogy. How will the business culture be defined? What will be its colour, taste, smell and intensity? How long will the process take to be achieved? What catalyst will be used to initiate and drive the cultural transformation? Will the employees, customers and the market like the final taste?

When tealeaves are added to the boiling water, the permeation can be accelerated via movement of the leaves, or the water itself via a stirring action. In other words, some action needs to occur to progress and maintain the transformation.

So when next you are considering the implementation of your next cultural transformation in your office, or if you are currently in the midst of one right now, may I suggest that you consider the following key elements:

1.A transparent glass enables your employees to see the degree of transformation permeation. Don’t hide the process, make it very visible.
2.Is the water hot? Is the corporate environment at the right temperature for the required cultural transformation?
3.What tea will be introduced into the water? What will be the catalyst that you will use to drive the change? What colour, taste, smell do you want to achieve that defines your corporate culture?
4.When should you introduce a spoon into the glass to stir things up a little? What stirring speed is optimum to achieve the desired effect?

Once the desired tea has been achieved, there is no point everyone just looking at it with admiration, make sure that all those involved in the transformation process drink the tea and provide management with feedback so the tea can be tweaked accordingly to maintain the optimum taste and enjoyment!

Don’t relax once you have obtained the targeted cultural transformation, as just like with tea, the organization’s tastes will change over time. Be prepared to continually experiment; maybe add some lemon, some honey, or another tea flavour to add that additional zest!