Top Tips for Variation Management

variation-managmentThe word “variation” when it relates to managing service providers on infrastructure projects can elicit a wide range of emotional responses from people, depending on where in the project they sit and the current commercial state of the project. These emotions can range from joy for the possibility of additional work for a contractor, to fear and resentment from a client who unexpectedly has to fund something they think is or should already be allowed for. Whilst a well scoped tender or request for proposal goes a long (long) way towards minimising the likelihood of variations, we can’t and shouldn’t have a mindset of zero variations. Some variations are legitimate and we need to be fair and firm in our approach to managing service providers.

Recognising that unforeseen (and occasionally opportunistic) things do happen, the following tips will help you manage variations at the junctures that they do happen. Continue reading

There is accountability with being opinionated

opinion-with-accountability I often coach or work with people who are opinionated.  I love opinionated people because you know where you stand.

But what fascinates me is that all too often people who are opinionated don’t like being held accountable for their opinions.  If they say something that damages a relationship or erodes trust they act like they should have an immunity card in that they can say whatever they want without accepting the consequences.

I encourage people to have an opinion but if you ‘put it out there’ then you need to accept that some people won’t like what you say or may even want to question your intent.  Whether you like it or not we all have moments of self-interest and misunderstanding, so if your opinion is misguided then others will lose trust in you. Continue reading

Listening without jumping ahead

listeningQuite often, you can feel that yourself or others around you are trying to act quickly. Being given the information, make a decision, solve the problem and get onto the next task. Nothing is truer when you’re coming up the ranks and trying to prove yourself to colleagues and your industry.   This is also true at all stages of your career as there is always someone with more experience, or someone you are role modelling from who seems to just get it done quickly and intuitively. They just seem to get it right all the time (spoiler – they don’t!). Whilst it’s all well and good to have a crack, get a result –whether that be a good result or a fail fast result – there is a risk that you’ll fall into a trap and miss vital information. Missing this information will more often than not frustrate the person who attempted to give you this information in the first place. And if you don’t take a different approach with your response – you could find yourself stuck in the same cycle.

So what is this different approach? Well, all too often you’ll find that where someone is going wrong is from missing a very critical step. Listening. Continue reading

How united leadership builds high performing teams

united-leadershipSince joining BRS earlier this year I’ve been working with some fantastic senior leadership teams who are really driving high performance initiatives throughout their organisations.  A common theme throughout these teams has been their commitment to united leadership including the coming together to work through challenges, drive alignment on key messages and the commitment to developing close working relationships with each other based on trust and mutual respect.

Each of these teams has shown a willingness to challenge, debate and then align on strategies, plans and actions – including what needs to be communicated and how – in order to effectively convey a united approach across their organisations.  Most begin with a deep and shared commitment of the purpose, principles and objectives most commonly expressed as a vision statement, objectives, principles or a charter.   The value of these tools extends beyond the visual representation and lies in the leadership team’s ability to align, understand and communicate their importance across the organisation.   I’ve also noticed a real willingness to challenge and shift views based on the inputs, feedback and perspectives of other team members.  This ability to actively align and openly debate comes more naturally to some leadership teams than others. It’s definitely more prevalent in teams with high levels of trust where people have taken time to build relationships through open and upfront conversations. Continue reading

It doesn’t have to be a trade off

trade-offOne of the things I observe in life is the inherent belief that there is automatically a trade-off when there are two stakeholder groups at play.

In employer/employee relationships there is often a belief that if one party succeeds the other suffers.  In other words if the company makes a profit, it’s at the expense of the employees, and vice versa.

People often argue that if we spend more on services we will get a better outcome, and likewise if we spend less, we will get a worse outcome.  Why can’t we spend less and achieve better outcomes? Continue reading

Don’t wait for someone to select you, select yourself

select-yourselfPeople often make excuses or act like victims when they don’t get the opportunities they want. Whether this opportunity is the ability to work on a challenging project, get promoted or simply learn, too often we find people blaming their peers or boss for a missed opportunity.

This victimisation occurs in all areas of life particularly in sporting environments where players get upset when a coach doesn’t select them in the team.  Whilst some react to their missed selection well, others perceive that the coach has treated them harshly rather than reviewing their own inputs, work ethic and gaps in the game. Continue reading

Key tips to turning your life around

100747469-turn-around-sign-gettyp-2_600x400I am very fortunate to be able to coach people in my role as a Consultant.  It is a privilege to be able assist people in fulfilling their dreams and reaching their potential.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I don’t always practice what I preach.  Whilst much of what I have learnt as a coach comes from my own personal struggles and triumphs, a great deal has come from research and the observation of other successful and fulfilled people.   As a coach it is common for someone to not necessarily be an expert at performing the skills they are teaching, although they are always working hard at the fundamentals of it.

I have recently realised there are a number of common areas that come up in a majority of coaching conversations when someone is trying to shift their thinking. Most of these relate to personal resilience which I have found to be the most important aspect of coaching. These include: Continue reading

It’s not your people that are the problem, it’s your system

people not problem, it's your systems gPeople often refer to culture as the only element driving performance in people.  Ultimately this is true although there is a bigger picture to look at. In my opinion it is the system that drives performance, including the people you recruit as part of this system.

It’s important to recognise that leaders have a number of roles to play.  In the traditional context of leadership and culture they act as role models for behaviour in terms of demonstrating what is and is not acceptable. This aspect of leadership attracts the greatest attention as it is the most personal element of leadership that we easily connect with.  However, there are many effective leaders who are not always the most inspiring people.  Importance lies with a leaders behaviour as they build trust with their staff, investors, and customers through their character, competence, and their response to threat. Continue reading

Living life with a ‘White Line Fever’

white line feverWhite line fever; a term commonly used amongst athletes. It’s the passion, the preparation, the adrenaline of a particular moment and how it can consume you. It’s that moment when an athlete hits the court and their mind is subconsciously present in performing to the best of their ability. It’s being present in that very moment, focused with a tunnel vision for the task at hand.

From a young age I have struggled with the ability to accept and respect my white line fever in a sporting match. Something overcomes me on court, the adrenaline, the passion and the hunger to do well for my team and for that very moment I am purely focused on the task at hand. My passion and excitement for a game can too often be associated with aggression, and an unnecessary amount of energy and effort. Whilst these negative perceptions of white line fever are considered the norm, there is another more positive side. Continue reading

You can’t force people to be high performing: they need to be connected with their own inner ‘why’

connecting to purposeHigh Performance has become the latest buzz word in management circles. I see this word used a lot however I question whether you can force high performance on a team.

What if people’s hearts aren’t in it and for them it’s just a job?  If they are not passionate can you really create a high performing environment? Continue reading