Mentee Success Story!

Incredibly proud of my mentee Anthony. When we first started our journey together he told me that he had been written off by his school as not being suited to A-Levels and was told he should pick a manual trade and follow a less academic pathway.  This wasn’t what he wanted, so he rose above, never letting go of his dream to get a degree. He went to college and only a year behind his peers collected enough UCAS points to apply to university.
Today I am so proud that this man, who was blessed with the gift of a different learning style they broadly label ‘dyslexia’, has graduated with a 1st class honours degree in Business Management and HR!
“Take that!” the teachers that called him lazy! “Take that!” the learning support department that told his parents they would only support him if he was statemented and “Take that!” the Careers Advisor who couldn’t see past the end of her own nose! I am so pleased that Anthony had drive, a non waning ambition and strong supportive parents who wouldn’t take this nonsense, who fought for his education and provided him with the tools and encouragement he did not get at school. Anthony was lucky, there are many young men and girls out there who need this kind of support but can’t access it.
I truly believe that I am so lucky too.  I learned such a lot from Anthony and his Mum, he is a role model for me as a professional, she is a role model for me as a mother and as a person and they are the best kind of role models to my children. I will continue to support Anthony in his search for an HR role and I will be re-registering myself as a volunteer mentor for local young people. Today is a great day!  Congratulations Anthony, you more than deserve this accolade!

*If any of my HR contacts are interested in hearing more about this intelligent, talented and driven young man please do get in touch.  Thank you. Natalie 

DPIC Interview with Jane Normal

This morning I am meeting with Jane Normal. Jane holds a degree in Business and an Intermediate Diploma from the DPIC. Jane is currently in an active volunteering role as Head of Household Management and manages a team of 3. Here Jane runs us through her amazing career path.
Deirdre “Jane, thank you for agreeing to take the time to talk to DPIC magazine today. Can I start by asking what made you choose your current career path?”
Jane “Well Deirdre, I didn’t always believe that I would have the position that I have now. I got a good degree and spent my early career trying to find a job that excited me, inspired me and challenged me all at once. Rather later than most I stumbled across an area that excited me – HR and I felt that it was a great time to follow the path.”
Deirdre “Why didn’t you continue on this path?”
Jane “I had a family, and although my children were not babies, they needed my help with homework and to collect them from school. I just couldn’t put my dream ahead of their education and happiness. So I thought I’d add to my CV and get a DPIC qualification whilst at home.
I studied for my Intermediate diploma and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. I got to work with students from all different industries who were actively pursuing an HR career. I listened to their experiences and gained a new perspective on my own early HR career. I regularly attended DPIC meetings and threw myself into what I thought to be the start of something…. Yet it wasn’t to be. With my DPIC certificate in hand and a spring in my step, I felt validated. It was now confirmed how my knowledge, experience and life skills were valuable and that I could show to potential employers that I was a creditable HR professional.”
Deirdre “What did you do next?”
Jane “ Well Deirdre, I started about writing my CV, adding all the transferrable skills that I had, even managing to put an HR/ L&D spin on childcare and started applying for positions. I can honestly say that nothing prepared me for the 100% rejection rate. There I was, an intelligent, focused, driven, resilient woman with tenacity and common sense abundant, yet to employment agencies I was invisible. On more than one occasion I rang for feedback to ask why I had not been shortlisted and the answer time and time again was that employers wanted someone who had recent and relevant work experience. Relevant! I began to explain how flexible, resilient employees with up to date knowledge and drive should be a valued commodity but was knocked back time and again. Eventually the resilient me admitted defeat.”
Deirdre “So what advice would you give to HRs in today’s job market?”
Jane “I would say to women everywhere that your skills are transferable and if you can apply directly to companies you will have a much better chance at getting to interview. I would add that the job searching via social media offers nothing to me and women like me because of the ‘filters’ that employment agencies use and the sheer volume that they need to sort. I believe that I and other Janes like me should be valued as a highly sought after resource.”
Deirdre “Thank you Jane and I wish you well. Lots to think about there before, during and after starting a family. When is the right time? When you’re young, before a career starts like Jane or later in life when you’re older and more established in your career? That’s all from DPIC magazine this week, look out for our next discussion “Lack of female presence on the board – why?”

Thank you for reading my little ‘tongue in cheek’ piece about our often glossed over highly intelligent yet family focused Jane Normals.  Love to all Janes out there.  Natalie

Being entirely self-taught…

Recently I have been very aware of my love of learning, I say recently as I have always taken it for granted until now.  I love to learn a new skill and feel even better when I get the opportunity to share my new knowledge with someone.  This, I believe stems from my deep rooted fear of the unknown, I like to know why, how, where and when to feel safe in my position.  This fear made me insecure in my youth, but now that I’m a grown up and getting longer in the tooth the joy of teaching myself something new really excites me.

A few clicks through Wikipedia and Google, and I discovered that there are many, many famous and incredibly talented people that are/were entirely self taught. There is…..

Kurt Cobain (taught himself to play the guitar), Edward Elgar (composer), David Bowie (taught himself to play many musical instruments and was a self taught artist), Benjamin Kidd (socialist and author with no formal education at all), Thomas Edison, James Watt, Einstein, Karl Marx.  Heston Blumnethal (UK celebrity chef and avant garde restranteur) lasted less than a week as an apprentice to Raymond Blanc so taught himself haute cuisine.

We are telling our children that they need to be resilient learners and all the information they need is at their fingertips.  We should embrace the flexibility that such autodidactism offers for our own self development.  Taking charge of your own learning and growth should be an inbuilt part of our journey.  I will continue on my autodidactic path, teaching myself to blog and write and I hope that you will bear with me while I polish my MVP and continue on my way.  So get out there, ask questions, read, listen, talk and see how far you can get!  Thank you for reading. Best Wishes Natalie.

Lean Down the Mountain… Grow your own Grit!

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Les Arcs, 2016 – I fall down but I get up again!

 

It has been a long time since I tried something new.  I’m not just talking about the new deli filling at the sandwich shop but really trying a completely new activity, with no experience at all, going in totally blind.  Last month I took the plunge and after a long time procrastinating, and a long drive through France to get there I went skiing.  Now for many of you this is no big deal but I am an adult who had never even seen a ski in the flesh or put my foot anywhere near a ski boot, but I really wanted to learn how to ski, I have done since I was a child.

As I strapped my feet into the unforgiving boots and manoeuvred myself over to the nursery slope my heart was in my mouth, my breathing quickened and my ears rang, the adrenaline was pumping hard.  I was certain that I was going to misjudge a curve and shoot off the side of the mountain breaking my legs and ruining the experience for everyone.  I know that I am not good when I feel that I’m not in control of myself!  Lean down the mountain?  I thought they were mad, every bone in my body was telling me not to.

My ski instructor was a burly French lady with a quick wit who saw through my smiling, singing façade.  She took control and through her strength I developed my own.  I fell a lot, and each evening I counted new bruises.  With each passing day I became braver and on the last day I joined my friends (all avid and utterly brilliant skiers) and skied down the mountain without the support of the instructor.

I know that I am still no Chemmy Alcott but I have overcome the barriers that I erected for myself.  I truly believe that this would not have been possible if I had not trusted my instructor when she told me “you will ski!”.  I trusted my guide, believed in myself and stepped out of my comfort zone. 

I am fascinated by how we resist change, we’re mostly afraid and rarely push our boundaries.  Adam Phillips a British Psychoanalyst and Philosopher noted that ,“we think we know more about the experiences that we don’t have, than the experiences we do.  The unlived life becomes more significant and what’s not possible becomes the story of our lives”.  Its true, isn’t it?  We know all about the consequences, the possible pitfalls, and the reasons why we shouldn’t try something; why we shouldn’t make that jump; shouldn’t lean down the mountain.  It goes against all we ‘know’ to be true. 

That’s great, we’re all nervous of change but to grow and develop as people we have to make changes, take the next step.  How do we go from knowing ‘what’s not possible ‘to ‘having a go’?  What does it take?

Grit!  It’s all about having determination and pushing yourself to grow.  Writers on the subject suggest that some people naturally have more grit than others and while that is undoubtedly true, grit is also something that you can learn, cultivate and grow, by changing your mindset, trying new things, being determined and not being afraid to fail and to try again.  Some of the most successful people, such as Richard Branson, Albert Einstein and Marc Zuckerberg all failed.  The failing wasn’t their undoing, it spurred them on to try again and ultimately guaranteed their eventual success.  If you’ve got some time on your hands a worthwhile read on the success of failing comes from Jia Jiang in his book “Rejection Proof”.  Jia, upon quitting his job to become an entrepreneur and failing, set about to devote 6 months to getting rejected every single day.  He made unreasonable requests from everyone, even asking to see the CEO of a company in order to have a staring competition with her, amazingly she agreed to see him!  Jiang noticed that the more he asked for things the better he became at communicating and negotiating.  Needless to say he know commands large audiences as a TED talks speaker and has realised his dream of being a successful entrepreneur.

So, come on, let’s go, let’s lean down the mountain, take the chance, make that step outside our comfort zone, and ask the question.  We may fail, we may be rejected but we will always learn, as Jiang did, and will improve and before we know it we’ll get there!

I’m off now, once more to push my boundaries.  So, I invite you all to share, comment and send this to all of your connections to help me on my grit growing journey – Hey, if you don’t ask…

Good luck, be brave, show grit and determination, and please do post a comment and keep me posted of your progress too!  Thank you for reading.  Natalie

 

 

 

Is there an ‘i’ in Team?

 

I in team pic

There are many successful teams that we can recall at an instant.  The A Team, Chelsea FC last season, the Leadership team at Apple, the well documented Google teams and their Google culture… the list goes on.  It is also without exerting too much energy that I can recall a less successful team which led me to thinking about team dynamics and impetus.

The ‘Connexus’ team from BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ this year lost the first 5 out of 6 tasks set by Lord Sugar.  Why does a team with a varied skill base and loads of energy go on to fail so miserably time after time?

The Apprentice candidates are striving for a short term win for each task and compete as a team, however the longer term goal for each of them is to become Lord Sugar’s business partner and so in the fight to come out on top overall the cohesion of the team suffers.  They are working towards a common short term goal but have opposing long term goals, so in essence what remains is many lone operators fighting for the ‘i’ in their team.

Team dynamics and success is widely discussed and personality and ‘role’ theories are often used to ensure that balanced teams are created.  Belbin believes a successful team should incorporate 9 ‘roles’.  These are:

  • Resource Investigator
  • Team worker
  • Co-ordinator
  • Plant
  • Monitor/Evaluator
  • Specialist
  • Shaper
  • Implementer
  • Completer/Finisher

Each team member is motivated to ensure that the team is effective and goal driven and having these personality types ensures that all stages of a project have an oriented person to guide the other team members.  However with so many varying personality types surely conflict is never far away and trust must be hard to build.  We should be mindful that the ‘i’ may be easily lost as the group works towards their common goal, or that the long term motivations of the individual team members may overshadow the team goal.  Engagement theory highlights to us that we are more comfortable working with like-minded people, yet we produce better results in diverse groups, we develop our skills more and develop our EQ.  How can we address this and remain balanced as individuals and as a group?  A challenge that I’m sure Lord Sugar himself would not relish.

Is there an ‘i’ in TEAM?  Yes there is, without the ‘i’s there would be no team.   The challenge is not to forget the individuals in striving for the end goal.  The individuals make up the whole, which if built and managed well can be greater than the sum of its parts.

These are merely my musings and thoughts on people.  Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment. Merry Christmas!  Natalie