My Head is a Little Colder

15 03 2010

On Saturday 13th March, a group of insane people gathered together at the Ori Cafe in Springwood (NSW) to have their head’s shaved or hair coloured, or in my case some hair waxed (or should I say ripped!) from my legs, but mainly to help raise money for The Leukaemia Foundation through the World’s Greatest Shave.

We raised about $500 on the day, with a preliminary total for Team People Motion of just under $1500. I had hoped we could raise more, however for me the greatest joy was seeing a couple of the families whose kid’s have leukaemia have some fun.

Every hour of every day, at least one person in Australia is diagnosed with a blood cancer, such as leukaemia, lymphoma, or myeloma. Every two hours, someone loses their life to blood cancer. The Leukaemia Foundation supports patients and their families so they can concentrate on what’s most important – getting well. It also funds vital research into better treatments and hopefully cures.

There is still time to donate to the World’s Greatest Shave and help more families.

I would also like to extend a big Thank You to the following businesses in Springwood who supported this event:

  • The Ori Cafe Thanks to Therese and Brad for allowing us to host the event at their business
  • The Gun Shearer Gents Hairstylists – Thank You to Tony and his wife who volunteered their time to shave our heads!
  • Faulconbridge Rural Fire Service – Thanks for the big red fire truck, and for spending your morning to help
  • Blooms The Chemist Springwood – Thank You for the kind donation of hair colour
  • Springwood Newsagent – Thank You to David Moss for the stationary
  • And  BIG THANK YOU to all who came on the day and donated, supported, and had some fun!!

Now for some photo’s

Rebecca Hulbert Before

Rebecca Hulbert and Nicky Clarke After

Colin Robertson before

Colin Robertson after

Ori Staff Rochelle and Sharna getting in on the Fun

Geoff Snowden before

Geoff Snowden after

Geoff Snowden of People Motion going through with his promised leg waxing

Benny and Georgia - A couple of really brave kids

Benny getting his hair coloured for the event


Getting Unsocial (Media)

5 03 2010

I’ve been thinking about the use of social media over the last few weeks, been learning how to use these tools, and being overwhelmed at the amount of help, tips, tricks, techniques, blogs and opinions that can be found ‘online’. For every “tip” there are a dozen links to ‘show’ you how to do!

I even found myself giving ‘advice’ on how to set up a welcome page for Facebook to a colleague, with links, although I still don’t really understand how I created what I did.(you can see some of these efforts on my Facebook page – why not become a fan!)

It got me thinking about how something that is designed to improve your ‘social’ connections, can actually be a little unsocial! You can now run a business, from home, from a computer, without the need to physically interact with your customers. Now, I know there are many products and services out there that suit this, however what about your business?

In the new social environment, how social are you with your people?

Do you e-mail a quick question, only to wait a few hours before the response comes back? Or do you get up out of the office, and talk with your people? (and I’m not referring to the concept of “management by wandering around”). I’m talking about real, one-to-one communication.

It strikes me that we are seeing a new language being developed, with things like emoticons 🙂 that are a substitute for expressions. How much is lost in the non-emotional context of an e-mail? How many ‘conversations’ have you had in the last few days via SMS? e-Mail?

Are your substituting conversations (face to face) with chatting (online). In a world where everything is moving at the speed of light, there is a perception that someone else’s urgency is your priority. How many times have you had the buck passed to you? You know what I mean, when another’s need for urgency becomes your ‘drop-everything-and-do-this-now-regardless-of-what-you-are-doing’…because they “sent you an e-mail”

I value the ability to be able to e-mail a question to someone, and allow them time to reflect or digest before responding, however there is also a huge benefit from the dialogue that comes from back and forth communication with a colleague.

It’s this form of collaboration that can lead to innovation in the workplace. You have an idea, you talk to  few people about it, you get some agreement, some differences of opinion, and may even come to a different, possibly better, idea through the efforts that come from collaborating in real-time. If you’re the owner, you can also build trust from your people because you are open to hearing their idea’s.

There are now so many forms of social media to interact with your customers (too many to even begin to mention), have you taken time to think about your internal ’social media’? Is it any wonder that your people don’t tell you about the big issues, when the only contact they have is through the void of e-mail?

Add your comments below on how you “socially” or  “unsocially” communicate and collaborate with your people.

I’d also be really interested to know how many of you small/medium businesses are using facebook, twitter, and any other SM (social media) sites, and how it’s working for you.

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Brutal Truth or Your Own Fear?

2 03 2010

It’s an interesting thing to be developing and building a business from scratch. To slowly build on an idea over years, to see it progress from idea, to conception. To see the core idea remain the same, and the broader picture expand and collapse as idea’s grow and change.

Fake it or Make it?

Some would suggest that when starting out, ‘fake it till you make it”, pretend to be an ongoing success with hundreds of clients scrambling to your door, and you can’t keep up with the workload….had to blink for a moment, I know those days will come!

There is an element of believing in yourself and working constantly on your business regardless of how many customers, or fans, you do or don’t have.

I believe you need to “keep it real” and “be honest with yourself” (felt the need for a couple of cliche’s – can’t have you thinking it’s all my own work!) Starting a business is damn hard work, and the first twelve months can be some of the hardest you’ll go through.

I’ve been thinking over the last two weeks about the way people respond to another’s success, or failure. I’ve studied people’s behaviour, motivations, drives, responses to change, team dynamics, interpersonal behaviour and so on for about 15 years now, either through academic study or experiential application(using what you have learned through experience and putting it into practical application), and people never cease to amaze me, they surprise me, but never cease to amaze!

I’ll hear a comment about why I can’t do something, why I shouldn’t go down a certain path.I accept the feedback simply as data – it’s not good or bad, negative or positive, it’s just data. It’s what you do with the data that is important. When data resonates with me I hold onto it for awhile and work through the details in my mind.

Projection of our Fears

I’ve come across projection for as long as I have worked with people. It’s basically a defence mechanism we all use to attribute to others our own fears, unacceptable or threatening feelings that we have or are trying to repress,  and we “project” them on to someone else – a subordinate, colleague, friend, parent, child, ex-partner, etc.

Often we use humour to test our fears in a way that allows us to admit them without becoming too vulnerable, and the way in which our humour is accepted will determine if we will open ourselves up to being more vulnerable. Unfortunately most of us go around projecting without taking the time to reflect on what it is about another person that we dislike in ourselves. It may be an envy of their decisions, and anger at your own. It may be fear of your own failure, so you cannot see success for others.

So when next you find yourself preparing to lash out with some ‘data’, hold the thought, reflect on your fears, and ask yourself are you giving the feedback to someone, or are you expressing to yourself your own fears?

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Responding vs Reacting – Bob Burg

23 02 2010

I’m impatient. I can be impulsive. I’ll admit I get a tad annoyed when the car in front of me goes too slow for my liking!

It’s a challenge most of us face each day. To reign in that little red devil who sits on your shoulder and whispers “go ahead….have a crack back at them!!”. I admire people who can sit back and let personal attacks wash over them like the proverbial water off a ducks back. I have made an effort over the last few months to let less of the little things annoy me, and be grateful for the things I have. Ok….it’s a work in progress.

I’d like to share a short article I came across by Bob Berg.

Bob Burg (

People ask, “Isn’t Responding and Reacting the same thing?” Actually, though the words are similar, the difference is significant. For example, as Zig Ziglar asks, “did you respond well to the medication your doctor prescribed, or did you have a bad reaction?”

Here’s a look at the difference between those two concepts. Recently I was pulling into a parking space. Being too hurried, and not paying attention as I should have, I didn’t notice that the car parked in the next space had a man coming out of it. I braked in plenty of time, but it gave the man a start. He immediately looked at me in a way that communicated true anger.

He reacted. Who could blame him? Now I had a choice; would I react to his reaction? … or would I respond, thereby diffusing an otherwise uncomfortable (and potentially nasty) situation, and hopefully turning a potential enemy into a friend? I chose to respond. I immediately raised my hand with a sincere smile and mouthed, “Sorry, my fault.”

He then responded with a smile and a wave of his own. Funny thing is, when I got out of my car, his words to me were actually, “Sorry, I should have looked before getting out of my car.” Can you believe that??!!

I see two results to that situation; One is that a potential (and too typical) argument turned into a friendly exchange. Secondly, next time he is in a similar situation, there’s a good chance he will respond instead of react, turn a potential enemy into a friend, and begin his own chain reaction of kindness and friendship.

Check out more from Bob Burg

So this journey of mine to become a little more patient, a little more tolerant is a slow one. I do know I feel that much better when I choose to respond with a smile, rather than react with a whole hearted, self justified, point proving bleeeeeeet of the horn.

Will you Respond, or React today?

Break the Rules or Bring Out Their Best?

23 02 2010

I’ve been in a conundrum. I’ve spent considerable time and energy in developing my knowledge around behavioural management, trained with it, coached with it, read about it, and now I find myself looking at almost the complete opposite in terms of detail (and I have been known to be a detail person).

I have been reading Marcus Buckingham First, Break All the Rules | TMBC. I’ve been reading Aubrey C Daniels Bringing out the Best In People. They are both a great approach to having your people improve in terms of performance.

I’ve worked with the Daniels approach through a program called “PM Basics”, a 2 day training program focussed on behavioural management techniques. When I first went through the certification program, I was really excited. The program provided me with an insight into the motivators and the behavioural drives of people,and it was a catalyst for my interest into why people do what they do in the workplace. Coupled with a behavioural tool (yes, The Predictive Index again people!!) I found myself being able to help managers build connections with their people in a truly genuine way.

On the opposite end of the detail scale, I find myself looking to the approach of Marcus Buckingham. There are no detailed processes to follow, no formalised documentation, no 2 day workshop to understand your staff motivators. From his research, there was a discovery that great managers do some simple things to get the most from their people, and these things resonate with me as I have been thinking about the application of “Performance Management” (PM) for SMEs with less than 20 people.

I’ll not get into the detail of “First Break All The Rules”, but I would encourage you to find a copy for yourself. It’s an insightful read, and you can skim chapters or read from cover to cover in a few days. The key concept I came away with when thinking PM is in getting your people to keep track of their performance. Marcus provides a framework, questions rather than processes and systems, in which you let your people tell you about how they are performing.

What I like is the concept of making your people partners in their own performance appraisals, and making the meetings focussed on the individual, rather than the business. What are their strengths? What could they do better? What have they learned over the last period? These are some of the questions in the “Performance Appraisal”, and you’ll see it is a great way to get your people involved in their own performance improvement.

So I’m still left thinking about the opposite approaches. Detailed, behaviourally based scientific approaches to improving performance, vs a few questions and a bit of thinking about your people and getting them to makes some notes about their performance.

I’m thinking there is room for both. To have the foundation of a behavioural understanding of why people do what they do is really helpful as a manager. When it comes to ‘problem’ performers, and the concern regarding unfair dismissals then you may need to have a more structured approach – such as formalised goal setting, agreement on consequences, and so forth.

However there is something to be said for making about 30 mins every couple of months with each of your people to have them present back to you their performance. Letting your people provide as much or as little detail as THEY need. Getting your people involved in their own development and progress, and helping them to take ownership for their performance is a great way to build your work community.

I think there is room for both approaches, or at least something that sits somewhere in the middle. with the strong focus on weight loss and exercise, perhaps we need to cut down our Performance Management “systems” and focus instead on our “people”.

Monkeys and Motivation

22 02 2010

I was on my friends farm…..and there was a monkey……..

So I’m guessing you wouldn’t have been drawn here if I told you I had a dream about being bitten by a monkey. It was amazing to me to see the huge response I got to the site with the heading Bitten By A Snake. It got me wondering about your motivation to read the article. Were  you were concerned, or just interested in the link between snake bites and management!

Motivation is an interesting place to think about. We know we ‘need’ to be motivated (either through self or someone else). Yet why do we struggle to find ways to motivate our people? Why do we get frustrated when we motivate one of the team with a reward of a movie voucher, yet another will not perform for the same incentive?

Where are the monkeys?

Abraham Maslow’s motivational research was initially formed through his studies on Rhesus monkeys. In terms of motivational theories, I’m referring to Maslow’s “Heirarchy Of Needs”. Maslow determined that there were 5 levels of motivation, and that each one built upon the other – Biological/Physical, Safety, Belonging, Esteem, and Self-Actualisation.


Food, Shelter, Clothing, sex, warmth. These are the initiall drivers that motivate us to get up in the morning. We need to eat, to have a roof over our head, to keep warm (or cool), and sex (in the first level of the heirarchy, sex is the need to pro-create).


To feel safe, secure, and have some stability in our lives. You could say this motivates us to work, or to place our selves in a situation where we can ensure the Biological needs can be met. We need money (ie we have to work) to pay for food, to pay the mortgage.

These first two levels are the basic and most fundamental motivators of the self. Without food, shelter, clothing, without a sense of security, we cannot move up the heirarchy. We won’t be motivated to ‘work as a team’ (ie Belonging), if we don’t have the money for food.


Family, relationships (and sex, but not for procreation), work groups, community involvement. Here we start to delve into the motivators that as a manger/business owner we can use to improve performance. This level finds us motivated to seek being involved with our families, the desire to get married, to have companionship, and to want to work within a team.

This is where some managers get stuck. If you have someone who is worried about their personal circumstances (eg an increase in mortgage rates and how they’ll pay the extra, or having trouble in their marriage), then they are focussed on meeting the needs of safety (eg security that their job will be there tomorrow so they can pay the bills, or stability on the home front). They cannot focus on being part of a team until the Saftey needs have been met.


Achievement, responsibility, status. This is where you can start to build performance. Often we’ll assume that pay is a motivator, eg the size of the annual pay increase or bonus. Remember that your people have this need (ie money) being met (Safety). It’s not always the case, but your people will generally put in more discretionary effort when they get recognition (achievement), or are given greater responsibility for their work output.

Self Actualisation

Personal growth, development, a sense of fulfilment. At the top of the heirarchy it’s personal. Being sent on a training course to learn how to use Excel may be seen by the employee as a Safety need (eg if they learn how to use Excel, they can do their job better and feel greater security). From the employee’s point of view, their need for development may be in having time at work to learn something unrelated to their specific role. For example, a call centre operator who wants to learn about the Learning & Development team as they are studying Workplace Training at a community college.

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine someone’s motivating needs. I’ve used The Predictive Index often with managers as it is a great tool to help you understand an individuals work behaviours and motivators. It can also be a great starting point for the conversation about what drives your people, without resorting to an explanation of Maslow!

When trying to understand your people’s behaviour , Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can be a useful guide. You need to remember that the motivators are personal, and what to you may be a self actualisation need, for someone else may be a Safety need.

STRESS, Change, and the Fair Work Act

17 02 2010

Last post I talked about the impact of change to your people, (Why Change Doesn’t Happen)and one of the common side-effects of Change is….Stress! I was looking through a few resources about stress in the workplace, and commonly the references talk more about the workplace hazards, such as injuries from lifting, chemicals, etc, and yet even though as an employer you have a “duty of care” to provide a safe workplace, not many businesses consider stress to be a workplace Hazard!

Why is this? As I previously mentioned, the emotions people go through when there is significant change in the workplace has been likened to the grief process, and grief can cause stress. On a personal note, I’ve been through two redundancies and lost a loved one. I can say that the emotions, although with a redundancy not to the same extreme as the loss of a spouse, are very closely aligned to the grief process. Upon reflecting on my own journeys, I can look back and see how stress has also impacted even the simplest of things like concentrating on reading a book, right through to dealing with life impacting decisions.

Often I have found managers are not aware of their impact on their people when they are under stress. Some will take control on behalf of their employee’s, and reinforce the opportunities, while others will struggle to deal with the simplest of pressure, and in this instance, their stress is passed onto their team. When I see a workplace where the employees are short tempered, unfocussed, constantly chatting with other staff, I look to the manager to see how they are dealing with the pressure.

I remember once being told “if you have a people problem, you have a management problem”. When you see one of your team under pressure, or commenting about being stressed, what have you done about it? The common response is to put the focus onto the employee, and ‘help’ them manage their stress. How often have you, as an owner or manager, sat back and asked yourself “how have I contributed to the situation?” Have you been clear about what your want? Have you agreed with your stressee about what is expected? Have you provided the right training to your people?

Since January 1, 2010 there has been a building of stress for business owners. It’s a significant change that will affect EVERY business, more so those with 15 employees or more, and it’s the Fair Work Act 2009. I’m not about to talk about the details of the Fair Work Act here, it’s not my area of expertise, you can find numerous other blogs to add confusion to an already grey area. However I would like to comment on the issues that arise when it comes to managing your people when building to a dismissal.

I have found interesting the response of many small business owners and their concerns regarding “unfair dismissal”. I know there are people in your business who you may like to remove. My thinking goes to “why is unfair dismissal a concern?” If you are using an effective performance management system, that measures results, that is specific, that has agreed upon goals/targets/behaviours, then why would you be concerned about unfairly dismissing someone – IF you have all the data, evidence, and documentation to show poor performance?

I’m not advocating compiling documentation for the purpose of dismissal. I’m advocating managers leading, guiding, helping, training, motivating their people – isn’t that their role? Why would it be a surprise to an employee when they are terminated for poor performance, if you have been in ongoing discussion about their performance, and agreeing on the consequences of poor performance? (ie…“it could lead to dismissal…..”)

I’m still thinking about this topic, and will have more to come in the next couple of days. However I encourage you to think about the measures and processes you have in place, and how you reward and recognise performance in your business. Are you setting up your people to succeed? Have you already decided that “Problem Paul” is no good, and needs to be moved out? I believe that every employee has the ability to achieve in your business. “If you have a people problem, you have a management problem”