Day 1

A few weeks ago I had an amazing opportunity to visit Amazon offices in India. This was an eye opener with so much to see and learn about how this building is designed for providing Amazon employees maximum comfort as they spend many hours in these facilities developing new innovative ideas.

In the four buildings that I have visited it was very clear what are the expectations and the emphasis on creative and ideation from their employees. The message is very clear, we deliver results and with phrases such as: “Work hard, play hard” or “Free your imagination” you get the drift. In return, the facilities provided to all team members includes plenty of nice breakout spots to choose from, top of the art scum areas, large cafeteria and games room.

At the reception area, there is a large sign of “Day 1” and when I asked what does it mean they explained how in Amazon they want their employees to come to work and feel like it is their first day in the company. The idea is to preserve the motivation and avoid any bias influence on creativity and innovation.

This approach made me think about how companies communicate with their employees. Should it be a bold and outgoing statement or more of a subtle approach…I presume it is come down to the company philosophy and strategy. That’s what makes the differentiation between business. Plenty to learn from this driving company.

Co-pilot

Recently I was assigned to a large project and was advised that my role will be a supportive role to the project lead and I will be acting as the co-pilot.

Initially I was concerned about the role and how I can fit in with the project team. At that point I wasn’t sure about my role and how I can contribute to the delivery of the project.

Very quickly, I started to learn more about the project itself, the team and the challenges we were facing. It was evident that the project team was required to build a governance framework for delivering tasks and accountabilities.

Slowly things started to fall into place and I’ve gathered a better understanding of the value of the supportive role to the project group and that this was as important as any other leadership role in the project team.

This made me think about how sometimes we underestimate our contribution for the greater good. We all have a role to play and it is important to have a sense of appreciation for what each individual can deliver and the pivotal role everyone plays in achieving the share goals together as a team.

The importance of adaptability

Any changes to the normal routine requires some level of adjustment and the ability to adapt to the new situation and environment.

From conversations I have had with people from different organisations I have understood that they find it hard to adapt to new challenges and the implementation of new strategy, process or any change to their current situation.

As a leader, there is an expectation to be able to adapt to the new situation quickly and think on your feet.

Adaptability in the workplace is the ability to demonstrate flexibility and to adapt to the changes. Individuals that are adaptable tend to work well both independently or within a team.

As life shows us, there are always unexpected things that we cannot predict or plan for, so adaptability is always a good skill to have in your tool box.

Don’t poke the bear

Many times in life we tend to walk on egg shells around people who surround us just to avoid confrontations or to navigate around tough conversations. Recently I was involved in a project which included multiple stakeholders from different areas of the business which had different desires, expectations and priorities.

At the beginning each of the individuals that were involved were trying to promote their own agenda without the understanding of the surrounding needs. After few sessions we identified that we needed to re-evaluate and explore different options to resolve the challenges that we all have agreed on. One of the main stakeholders was required to step in to ensure we are heading towards the right direction.

As a results the project team was able to meet the project milestones as per the initial critical path. Sometimes the right thing to do is poke the bear to ensure we are moving towards the right direction and that everyone involved is on the same page.

Leadership and change management

In the past ten years I have gradually developed within the construction industry. Previously, my role has been developing a sustained growth through all aspects of the business within the construction & manufacturing industries. Progressing to a senior position, had its challenges and allowed the learning of new things each day. During this time, we have implemented number of changes to the business in a way that improved the company ability to deliver, procure, manage clients and projects including the implementation of new management direction and recruit a new management team.

These changes has transformed the company from an SME operation to a successful, diversified mid-sized company that was recognised for its outstanding people.

Managing people throughout the implementation of a cultural change brought a new level of challenges. Often overlooked by many organisations and managers, a valued employee delivers value to the organisation and also increases customer retention. “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers” -Stephen R. Covey.

One of the most challenging and difficult business solutions and strategies so far has been the implementation of a cultural change, from a SME into a sustainable, results driven, people focused and successful business. Change as part of a process driven delivery system that focuses on the customer and delivers a business profit and margin required to continue sustained growth over many years.
To implement the change we have had to recruit driven team members who shared the same vision and were able to mentor existing team members through the new vision and goals for the company. Along with selling this to the team members, the board were a key part of the vision, they were also needed to support the change, both culturally and from a business perspective.

To succeed with the change strategy we identified that we will require to restructure the business, and implement a new organisational chart. The new infrastructure has allowed team leaders to retain and develop their teams skills within all areas of the business. By providing a challenging and supportive work environment that continues to develop employees and support their desired carrier direction it led to a positive cultural change. During this period and as part of the long term strategy we have reviewed the employees training to further develop teams to become more professionals, so they will be able to offer a better customer service, develop each individual and provide a culture that sustains its people as well as challenge them to be better on a day to day basis.

“If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external”. Stephen Covey. As a leader one of the key responsibilities is to develop and motivate the team. By sharing our experiences and focusing on individual strengths the management team learnt to focus on each other’s strengths which created not only a great bond but honesty and integrity that clients could see through the employees’ passion.

As a passionate individual, I believe in creating a positive and supportive business culture and that is the employee’s free will to choose their work place and encourage the team and potential team members to think of the company as an employer of choice.

By being an employer of choice, the company can attract positive people who are innovative, passionate and persistent, who will continuously encourage innovation through their people, maintain a positive attitude and challenge their team to think outside the square.

To summaries and reflect my perspective on change management I share a quote of the late Steve Jobs, Ex CEO of Apple. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle”.

Proud to be persistence

So many times in life we tend to give up midway through when things go wrong or not the way we have planned.

Forming a plan is the first step towards achieving your goals. The plan should be simple and concise with clear direction and measurable goals to keep you accountable.

Last year we were challenged with a new budget that seems unlikely to be achieved. At the beginning, most of the team was sceptical about our chance of reaching the new goals. We then sat down and start forming our plan of attack.

We map who are the key stakeholders that we will need their support and have created a critical path with key milestones, responsibilities and potential risks. Once the planning stage was completed we started to develop our communication strategies to ensure that all teams are on board.

At the start, it was difficult to bring everyone together and get them to see the bigger picture and understand the potential for each department. We experienced some high and low and witnessed a slow progress with many obstacles thrown upon us which we not always knew how to overcome. The one thing that kept us going is the belief in the vision and the desire to create a meaningful change for the future.

By being persistent and not given up midway through we not only achieved our budgetary goals we were able to assist multiple teams to achieve theirs with a cross functional true collaboration.

Find your purpose

It is hard to choose our own path as life takes you to different directions. Sometimes we are lucky and able to dream big and pursue our dreams.

A few years ago I believed I was able to find mine. Someone believed in me and gave me the great gift of mentoring. At that time I was under enormous amount of pressure with no time to stop and reflect.
Through the mentoring program, I have discovered things about myself and have started to plan my action plan.

With BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), I have decided that I want to become a Leader. One that can influence others and lead the way with integrity. Create a change for girls like my daughter and prove her that anything is achievable. At this point in time I found my purpose, to inspire others to be reaching their goals. To become a living proof that when you set your mind to something with hard work it can be done.

Today I’m extremely proud of my kids, when they repeat my mantra:
Dream, Believe, Work Hard and Achieve.

Be SMART about your Goals

So many people who I spoke with admits that they need a sense of direction in life to ensure they are on the right path. The problem is that they don’t know where to start.

My recommendations is, to simply start with the basics and write clear and measurable goals with a detailed timeline. To be able to create your future plan you can refer to the SMART Goals which are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and timeline as your starting point.

Be Specific: what is it that you are desired to achieve? Ensure you have identified opportunities for development in order to progress to the next level. These goals can apply to any aspect of life, for example career goals, healthy lifestyle etc.

Measurable: with the goals you set to yourself, ensure that you can measure them and keep yourself accountable. Identify at least two areas that requires additional training and development and keep yourself focuse.

Achievable: the goals you set for yourself will be the drive to become the best version of you but you have to ensure that you setting yourself for succession and these can be achieved within a specific timeline.

Realistic: if the goals you set are unrealistic your chance of achieving them are relatively low. Be truthful to yourself and write down what you believe is achievable for you.

Time: like any plan, if you do not put a time frame to it, it won’t work. This will also going to assist with keeping you accountable.

Last but not least, to be able to achieve your goals you will need to surround yourself with people who push you to operate in integrity and work towards your personal best every single day.

My boy, who taught me resilience

In life we are facing so many tough conversations which contributes towards making us more resilient. It starts in an early age where you go to school and receive tools to help you become more resilient.

The same tools apply at later stage in life including at the work place.

Last night I was facing a tough conversation with my little boy and I was genuinely concerned about how to approach this and deliver the message.

My boy lives and breathes soccer and from the minute he wakes up until he goes to sleep he talks about it. For him it’s a way of living and he puts the hard work into this and practice 4 times a week on top of practising everyday at school. It is his passion and he desired to fulfil his dreams.

When his soccer club announced that there will be trials for the next cup he was extremely excited and was looking forward to be a part. After two weeks of trials and a very long weekend we received the message that he was unsuccessful.

My husband and I wasn’t sure how to break these news to him as we we knew how important it was for him. The next day, we sat down and delivered the news, as is without sugar-coated the message. We were open and honest and advised him that this time around there were other kinds that were better than him and that he won’t be a part of this soccer cup.

His response supprised us, he told us that he was extremely disappointed with the results but that he went to the trials and tried his best and although he is not happy about the outcome he will work harder to make it next time.

The lesson I learnt from my son was that even the toughest message, when delivered in a right manner it can be received well and that it doesn’t matter if you failed or were unsuccessful, you learn from it and try harder.

A ripple overtime become a wave

Sometimes we underestimate the power we have as individuals. In large organisations the individual sometimes feels like another cog in a well oiled machine and tend to forget how the contribution of one person can create a ripple effect over time.

It all starts with an idea that can change the way we deliver today. As a team we started to discuss and develop the idea among ourselves and increased the cycle of people who share the same vision of creating a change.

It started with one drop, which created a ripple. It took months to engage internal and external stakeholders but we kept on going. We knew we have a good idea and we had a clear direction on how to get there but needed everyone’s support.

The road to success is a long journey and required determination, persistence and self-belief. As long as the direction was clear and we knew that we heading to the same way we knew we are going to get there, everyone on their own pace.

Overtime that little drop become a wave when more people joined to make it happen. From a single seed it grew to become a reality.