Through the keyhole…

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Keyhole

Through the keyhole…

As you read this, it’s highly likely that you have gone through or will go through this exact same experience either yourself or with someone you love. Male, female, young, old – cancer doesn’t discriminate. My lovely mum has lung cancer, recently diagnosed and about to undergo major surgery to remove a third of her lung through keyhole surgery. How does that work?

That’s just one of the many questions, thoughts, concerns that we’ve had in the last few weeks. Imagine my Mum, the strongest woman I know, who has already battled and beaten cancer once. Imagine how it feels to be told you’ve got to go through it again, to share this with your loved ones, to say it out loud, for a new reality to exist where you are once again vulnerable and scared, to be faced with the ‘c’ word and all the uncertainty that comes with it. I say it again, my mum is the strongest person I know.

Last week, I attended a Patient Education Programme with my mum and dad at the Leeds NHS Teaching Hospital in preparation for mum’s operation. On walking into the Bexley Wing, I had to pinch myself to realize that in fact I wasn’t in the lobby of a contemporary hotel as my eyes took in the polished white décor, bright coloured chandeliers, art displays and grand piano. As I took it all in, I noticed that the people sat around in this haven of calm and tranquility were all obviously in various stages of cancer treatment and recovery. WOW was my first thought, what an amazing environment to recover in, to feel normal in, to feel like a human-being and not just a patient. I felt optimistic about our appointment and seeing my mum smiling and enjoying the art work as we walked through boded well!

We spent the next two hours sat with three other patients, a very caring Lung Specialist nurse and a physio talking through the before, during and after of the operation. Seriously I was blown away. They talked about how mum could best prepare herself physically and mentally before the op, showing us a suggested exercise regime and giving permission to do it (mum had been worried about doing further damage). We then went through the admission day and exactly what would happen, the layout of the ward, they even had pictures of the actual doctors and nurses who mum could expect to see when she was there. Then on to the operation itself all in detail with diagrams and pictures so each person had the opportunity to ask questions, raise concerns and really understand the lay of the land.

I say it again, I was blown away. When you are faced with the shocking and devastating news that you have cancer, how can you be expected to take in all the details? I haven’t been there but I can only imagine that the world slows down and the edges get a bit blurry so for this session to happen a couple of weeks on, at a time when the initial shock has passed and you have had some time to move to a place where you are ready to fight and ready to contemplate what’s next, it was just brilliant to have the opportunity to be with the real people who would be holding your hand on the next part of the journey.

The outcome for all of us that day was that we all left feeling mum was in safe hands, we felt more in control of what we could do, I felt better able to support mum and dad and I came away really understanding what would happen next. For mum, all the questions that had been whirring around in her head, causing her sleepless nights, she had the chance to say them out loud and I genuinely think it alleviated so much of the stress that comes from not knowing what’s happening.

It got me thinking about how we communicate in the workplace. We assume that people are receiving the messages that are sent out…we create communication strategies with leaflets, brochures, intranet sites, posters, emails, collaboration sites, websites, blogs, etc etc. We can track and monitor who clicks on them, who opens them to justify that its working but for me nothing beats that human to human interaction. That moment when you can look in someones eyes and have a meaningful conversation. When that conversation starts with positive intent on both sides to create an environment where everyone in it would like to get something good out of it. Where information is shared, questions can be asked, concerns can be raised and solutions found. I think we forget sometimes that email is great, but picking up the phone and speaking to someone is so much better. Making the effort to walk over to someone’s desk and say thank you, ask if you can help, have a giggle, find out what they did at the weekend builds trust and strengthens relationships.

We live in a crazy, crazy world with so much change and upheaval. We can only control so much. But let’s remember that the one thing we can control is the impact that each of us can have on the people around us. We can choose to enter into every conversation with a positive intent, we can care about the people in our lives, we can give people a voice to raise their concerns, ask their questions and feel part of something bigger. We can respect people, be honest with them and see things from their point of view. We can treat people as grown-ups and trust them with information. We can help create an environment where people can be themselves. We can help reduce the stress of not knowing by creating transparency in our organisations. We can create cultures where we focus on what people are doing right.

As you can tell, this experience has had a huge impact on me and we feel confident about the future. This is happening in the NHS today and I am grateful for it. Let’s apply some of these exact same principles as we go about our daily lives!

“Vision gives pain a purpose” – inspiring words from Kelly Clark and the power of an emotional connection!

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I normally come back from our Salt Lake City office inspired by something and funnily enough this time was no different! My inspiration this time was from the Team USA snow-boarding champion Kelly Clark. What an amazing lady – amazing because of what she’s achieved but more than anything because of who she is, what she stands for and the integrity and gratitude that she showed when telling her story. I also felt truly proud to work for OC Tanner. You might not know this but we create the Team USA rings for the Olympics and even created the medals for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002. Here’s a link to read some really inspiring stories.

Kelly represented the US for her fourth consecutive Winter Olympics in Sochi and over her career has brought back one gold and two bronze medals. The year she didn’t make the podium was one of the most challenging things she’s ever had to overcome. What she learnt from this though was a great perspective as to the value of what things cost. If you think about it, at the Olympics, everyone who competes works so incredibly hard to get there, most people will have their own story to tell but only three people have something to show for it in each sport.

“Vision gives pain a purpose”

Kelly knew that she wasn’t ready to give up and she decided that the ring that OC Tanner had given her way back when she was 18 years old was the key to staying focused on that dream of getting on that podium again. She said to herself,

“What if I wear this ring every day? Why? Well when I wake up in the morning and want to sleep in, I reach down and feel that ring on my finger and remember why I need to get up and get out. When I’m out on the slopes practicing all day every day, I can feel the ring under my gloves and look and remember all that I’ve done and all that I can do. When I’m having a bad day, it reminds me what I’m capable of. It’s something that’s with me every day to inspire me to carry on, to drive me forward and to keep me focused on the end goal of being on that podium again.”

What gives something value? It’s the cost to you, not in a monetary sense but in a way that’s personal to you. It’s a symbolic reminder of your personal journey to reach your goals.

For me it really reinforced in me this immense sense of pride in the exact same experiences we are trying to create in organisations all over the world every day. If we bring it back to the point I made earlier about the Olympics and the fact that everyone works so hard but only the people on the podium get a medal, do we do that in our organisations? How many people get touched by recognition in your organization? And if we look at how hard most people work, is it right that only a select few should get recognized?

Surely we should be inspiring the people that work for us to do more great things as often as we can by recognizing the little things (that lead to the big things) along the way. We should be encouraging them to set goals, believe in the company’s vision and mission and recognize them for their on-going effort.

Our people bring an immense amount of value to our businesses every day and often there is some degree of personal cost to them in terms of time, energy and commitment, surely we can take the time to say thank you, you did great, we value you, you make a difference! I know the cynics out there will say, well that’s what we pay you for. My argument to that would be, times are changing. People want to feel part of something and feel valued for their contributions. We are more educated and socially-aware than we’ve ever been and we also have visibility to everything else that is going on in the world through the internet and social media. Companies that genuinely value and look after their people will lead out.

We all need a purpose, something we believe in and often work ticks that box for a lot of us. Use that to your advantage, create a culture you feel proud to be a part of, reinforce that pride through recognition. Don’t give vouchers when someone does something great – what lasting value does this really have and how does this really make someone feel?

Our founder Obert Tanner once said: “One could say we sell two values: the value of beauty and the value of kindness. The kindness is a company’s willingness to recognize, with dignity, an individual for what he or she has given to that company. After all, giving the productive years of one’s life, the daylight hours of each working day – this is the ultimate that an individual may give to any company.”

The beauty for Kelly was in the ring – the symbol of her journey, her tireless commitment to her vision of becoming a true Olympian. What would inspire you to get out of bed every day? To go to work? To make a difference? We create emotional connections with things we can touch and feel. We remember the moment it was given to us and why. We share stories with colleagues, friends and family. It becomes part of our legacy. Think about the journey your employees go on in your organization and how you can make that journey special and meaningful with amazing memories of human connection along the way.

Thank you Kelly for inspiring us with your story and for reminding me why I work for a great company! (and apologies if I got any of the story wrong!!!!)

Scoring Big with Recognition – an event looking at real companies, real challenges and real people!

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We held a really great event last week at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester around the theme ‘Scoring big with recognition’. I loved it! I loved it because it was everything we had wanted it to be when we first started planning the event. We wanted it to be about real companies, real challenges and real people. The room to me seemed to be brimming with all of these things and that made and continues to make me smile!

Keep it Simple

I think it is very easy for all of us to get caught up with the buzz words, the best strategies for this, that and the other and feel as if we are forever striving for the next best thing. What really resonated for me with both Ryan Cheyne from Pets at Home and Sonia Belfield at Muller is that the best thing you can do is ‘keep things simple’. Ryan made the very true comment…’we never stop feeling proud when we get a medal or get recognized for something we’ve done but something happens once we become grown-ups and we don’t do this anymore’. Why? I think this is a critical question. We all want to feel part of something and we all need to know that we’re doing the right things and we’re on track. We’re quite simple creatures really (I definitely am!) Recognition allows you to say to people…

‘You’re doing ok’, in fact ‘you’re doing better than ok’, ‘keep doing what you’re doing’, ‘we value your contribution’, ‘you make a difference to this team’ and on and on and on! Here’s a footballing quote from David Beckham (he did make an appearance at the event in one of Ryan’s famous quizzes not in person unfortunately!)…    

David Beckham            

This analogy made a lot of sense to me! When a footballer scores a goal or does something great on the pitch, they get recognized for it and the contribution they have made to the success of the team and the club. ‘It’s about the badge on the front’ – they feel proud to represent their clubs just as our people feel proud to work for our companies. When we recognize an individual’s contribution to the success of the company and help them realize that their role is a critical component, then we instill even more pride and increase the engagement and great work that people do every day for our organisations. 

“People may take a job for more money, but they often leave it for more recognition” Bob Nelson

Sonia used this quote in her presentation about recognition within Muller and never a truer word has been spoken. People go to work for more than just money – we all want to feel part of something bigger and to feel that we make a difference in our own unique way. It is an organization’s responsibility to create a culture that inspires and empowers people to do this – every day. Both Muller and Pets at Home talk about their journeys. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight and it takes time, effort, lots of convincing and fun along the way! This is what the event was all about – people listening, people learning, people communicating, people trusting and people trying!

Engagement = Great Work = Business Results

Our final presentation at the event was from David Sturt at OC Tanner  talking about ‘Great Work’ and again this really reinforced the ‘people’ message even further. Whereas most research about success in the workplace studies personality traits, this book takes a completely different approach. It studied Great Work itself—under what conditions it happens, and what people are doing when they produce it. We found that virtually anyone, in any position, can innovate in the job they have. You don’t need to wait for the perfect job or the perfect project to come along. You can begin today. There are great work ideas only you will think of. And differences only you can make. David’s whole presentation was brought to life through an array of stories looking at real people in real organisations making a real difference every day! And there are things that we can all do and try today to start our own difference-making journey! Hugely powerful stuff and I loved watching everyone listen to David in the room; I can categorically say everyone was ‘leaning in’!

So as you can tell, I thought it was a fab event and I’m hoping that all who attended thought so too and as an aside, the Etihad Stadium is an amazing events venue especially the ‘Legends Lounge’ so reach out if you want to find out more!

I leave you with this parting message and bringing it back to the event and one very simple reminder that it’s all about…

People – it’s bringing it back to the fact that everything we do affects people and keeping things simple is the best way to engage and inspire the hearts and minds of people the world over!

Bloom where you are planted…be a difference maker!

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This phrase really resonated with me this week!

We are always thinking about the next big thing, wondering what we can strive for next to make our lives ‘perfect’ at work and at home (I speak from experience here!) and never really living in the moment to realize the potential we all have…right here, right now!

This week O.C. Tanner launched our latest book ‘Great Work: How to make a difference people love’ and this is a book for everyone, everywhere to realize that we can all make a difference whoever and wherever we are. What an amazingly uplifting and positive view of the world…because it’s true! If every day we embrace the day knowing that we can make it brighter in some way through the conversations we have, the interactions that we share and the good intentions that we uphold then surely our days will be brighter, good things will automatically come our way and we really will have made a positive difference.

Something that really puts a smile on my face is the ‘The art of being greeted by an elephant in your cruise cabin’ video clip (I love that I’ve just included that sentence in my blog!). Take a peek (you’ll need to scroll down on the page) and I promise you will be grabbing a couple of towels and having a go yourself. The point of the clip though is to demonstrate that the origins of this concept came from someone somewhere wanting to put a smile on the face of the person walking into that room…simple but the perfect demonstration of making a difference people love.

My challenge to you today is to put a smile on your face and go and see what great work you can do to make a difference people love…you can bloom where you are planted, right here, right now!

If you don’t ask you don’t get! Understand your team and start appreciating their great work…

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If you read my last blog then you’ll know that my dad is a big inspiration to me! One of the things he taught me very early on was ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’…if you think about it, this phrase can be very significant in most situations. In my role, I have to overcome my own insecurities and put myself out there all the time – sending emails, picking up the phone, attending meetings…often with absolutely no idea where the conversation is going to go and if I’m going to be well received or not. Scary! However, the other important message that my dad taught me in order to bring balance was that ‘everyone is human’. It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO of an organisation or a cleaner, every one of us has feelings, needs, strengths and weaknesses…that’s what makes us human in the first place.

At O.C. Tanner, we talk about ‘appreciation changing everything’. And it does, doesn’t it? Someone somewhere once said to me, ‘Dawn your enthusiasm is infectious. You have a great ability to connect with people quickly on an emotional level and people trust you because you wear your heart on your sleeve’. (See how I’ve remembered that too!!!) That for me made me realise that I could make a difference…as long as I believe in something, then I’m in a good place. Look at athletes, musicians, writers, teachers, managers and leaders across the globe…at some point someone has picked up on their strengths, encouraged them, supported them and most importantly given them the faith to go out and do whatever it is they want to do. That is recognition and appreciation in its purest form.

So just imagine as a manager if you combine all of the above and ask your team what motivates them? What their interests are? What they value most in life and what their goals are? (If you don’t ask, you don’t get!). Then remember that ‘everyone is human’..are they a working parent juggling a million things? Have they got insecurities about their own abilities? Are their basic needs being met because only then can they reach their full potential and what are their basic needs?

And then finally throw in ‘appreciation’, of course doing it in a way that is appropriate for that person because you’ll know having asked if they prefer public or one-to-one feedback! Make it sincere, make it specific and make it timely…think about what they’ve done and what difference it made. Did it link to the values of the company? Did it exhibit behaviours you want other people in your team to mirror? Let’s be honest, whoever we are and however we prefer to receive it, we all need a bit of recognition every now and again (actually the research states at least once a week!). Combine these three simple concepts and surely we’re on to a winner!

People who do great work in whatever guise have definitely been appreciated for doing what they do along the way and been encouraged to do more of it…get out there tomorrow, use these simple concepts to change your interactions and find out if ‘appreciation really does change everything’!