Work

To most of us a necessary evil, but there is a simple way work can be made more bearable and, God forbid, enjoyable. My observation from twenty-five years in recruitment is that most of us can get more enjoyment from simply understanding and accepting our relationship with work. Rumour has it that people who’ve strong relationships in work are happier, more fulfilled people and by getting a handle on this, and by playing to our strengths, it could even be a bit of a hoot. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, grateful people gotta thank, leaders gotta lead and the ingenious gotta invent!

work less. produce more

A couple of months ago, the guy with the easiest job in the word, Laszlo Bock, ex-Baywatch life-guard and current HR Director at Google, was doing the media rounds, plugging his book and trying not to appear smug. During the interview I read, he failed spectacularly. Every year, over two million people apply for a job at Google. Two million of the world’s most gifted, talented, driven & highly qualified who would kill to work for you. Picking the ones that fit must be uber tough and my heart bleeds for poor Laszlo. Not.

mission impossible

There may be trouble ahead. I’ve just started doing a bit of work with one new client and things bode well – nice guys, a great ‘socially-good’ business idea, open-minded and highly motivated. The only issue I have is they love their mission statement. It’s printed out and is there for all to see on several walls in their compact & cosy office. What must they have been thinking?

oh, go on then

Following a hiatus of several years I’ve finally admitted defeat, bitten-the-bullet and grudgingly returned to the world of full-time employment. To be honest, I’d grown a bit bored of my own company, no longer relished my mid-morning dip in chlorinated child’s wee, and knew that the writing was on the wall when I recognised, by name, one of Bargain Hunt’s antique specialists at Waterloo Station. Yep, definitely time to go back to the dark side. But at least I’d be able to get back into the workday habit of the boozy client lunch. Or so I thought.

put it all on red

The banking industry must often think how times flies when you’re enjoying yourself. To my failing and drink-addled mind, it seems only yesterday that a young, fresh-faced trader at the far-flung Singapore outpost of city stalwart, Barings Bank, very nearly brought the whole worldwide banking industry to its knees. In reality, it’s twenty years since Nick Leeson went on the run after losing the company a cool £827,000,000.00 before eventually being caught and spending four years’ at Her Majesty’s pleasure. When it happened, anyone ‘in the know’ would have believed that the loss of Barings, and subsequent fire-sale of another city beacon, Warburgs, would have marked the end of banking’s traditional undercapitalisation, but they’d have been wrong. With hindsight, Nick […]

to fund, or not to fund

Being a fan of neither bank nor venture capitalist I quite liked the idea and ethos behind the crowdfunding movement. Banks I’ve always found to be your best friend when you want to borrow and your worst enemy the second they want it back; foresight and support they merely pay lip-service to. VCs are legitimate rapists, without the balaclava. Beware the Faustian pact you make with both the minute you climb into bed! Crowdfunding, pioneered by the website company Kickstarter in 2009 and used initially by the likes of bohemian rock-groups, avant-garde authors and wannabe film-makers, will shortly reach one billion pounds raised, £56m within the UK. This year alone, British ‘investors’, through various sites and schemes, chipped in over […]

same as it always was

Back in the day, Gordon Gecko informed us that ‘greed is good’ and ‘lunch is for wimps’ and they’ve stayed with the generation of a certain age ever since. Even now, the mid-day meal is taken only with a heavy-heart and a cursory glance over the shoulder. Michael Douglas’s portrayal of the soulless, morally-bankrupt character operating in a corrupt, self-centred-self-serving industry could only have been created in fiction, couldn’t it? And in any event, those days have long since gone and have been cleaned up by many city-regulators. Yeah, reet. What is particularly galling about the latest Forex-rigging swindle is that it was happening as late as 2013, long after the earlier revealed Libor-rigging affair and clearly displaying the fact […]

be remarkable

Do Something Remarkable. Sounds obvious eh but in this world of ‘amazings’, ‘incredibles’ and ‘unbelieveables’ what’s happened to the good ol’ remarkable? Within the world you and I inhabit, the world of ups and downs, ins and outs, disappointments and achievements, loves and losses, tears and fears and most importantly the world of work let’s have a look at what’s remarkable. The key is to make someone remark upon your actions…it’s all in the title: Whether you have your eye on a plum promotion, an even plumper payrise or just a happier relationship with your work (begin your quest with my plan on making more of your nine to…….er…….five-ish this year. You’re either boring or you stand out. You’re either […]

you’re fired

At the risk of sounding like some crazed Alan Sugar-esque character, I have had the misfortune of both making people redundant, and, in some instances, firing them. To even up the equation I have also been fired, and for gross misconduct no less. If you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly! Consequently, it was with disbelief that I read about the ‘Hello There’ memo, sent out by Microsoft’s Executive Vice President, Stephen Elop, when recently firing 12,500 employees. So wordy and corporate-jargon filled was the 1200 word document that it’s already become a template of how NOT to communicate bad news to your (soon to be) previous employees. Here’s what we can learn from Mr Elop: Don’t be […]

how much?

With a life largely wasted in recruitment, several of you have asked me for advice on that all important, and ever so touchy subject, of asking your boss for a pay rise. Here’s what I’d recommend: – First things first, ask yourself seriously and sincerely, do you deserve it and do you need it? If you’ve decided you’re going to leave the company then why bother?; if you’ve looked around and have found out that no-one’s being paid any more than you are, is it wise to do so?; just back from a six month sabbatical, then keep your mouth shut! Economic conditions, personal effort, performance, commitment, competition and context all come into play here and it’ll pay dividends to […]

managers have needs too

Ever heard the old adage ‘those who can, do’, ‘those who can’t, teach’ and ‘those who can’t teach, manage’? Boom boom. I have to admit that this, during my working days, filled me with a degree of fear and I consequently fought tooth & nail to keep a high level of hands-on operational work. ‘Do as I do’ was my mantra, even though the business probably needed me to apply what limited knowledge I had, to other more worthy areas. On the rare occasions I donned a management hat I did so reluctantly and often delighted in a seemingly innate ability to pick holes in the delegated work and tasks of others. There always seemed so many errors, so many […]