Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Desperate Measures

Image result for uk elections 2015
It really feels as though this election is sliding into farce. Every party is so frantic for an edge that with just over one week to go they are pulling out all the stops.

All the stops??

All that seems to be happening is the dire warnings are getting heavier and the ‘pledges’ are coming even more fast and furious.

Of course, for the parties, a lot is at stake: how will the country be governed and by whom?  So desperate measures do seem to be the order of the day.

The party manifestoes have been published and yet more and more promises get thrown at us every day.

It rather reminds me of frustrated parents who ratchet up the threats, blackmail, cajoling, imploring and arguing in order to get their recalcitrant kids to behave. I can just about hear each one of our ‘leaders’ saying in a deeply stern voice, “If you don’t go to the polls and vote for my party on 7th May, I’m taking away your phone and you’re grounded for a week.”

It does seem as though whatever leadership qualities any of them might possess (and I have my doubts) have been tossed out the window in favour of a hectoring, blaming, finger-pointing, almost whining communication style.

I keep saying ‘they’re all at’ because they are!  No one has actually taken the bull by the horns and shown genuine leadership skills by distancing themselves from the rabble-rousing, emotive electioneering and simply presenting what they intend to achieve, how they intend to achieve it and what it might actually look like if they were able to put their manifesto into practise.

Great leadership skills aren’t about dissing the opposition, forecasting disaster if another party wins or treating the electorate as infants. People with great leadership skills build trust, treat people as adults, behave as adults themselves and avoid alarmist and exaggerated predictions.

It is rather depressing that even if you put the policies to one side, you’re still left with ‘leaders’ who aren’t leading; instead they’re pleading.

Check out Impact Factory’s Leadership, Communication and Creative Strategic thinking courses

By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory

Friday, 24 April 2015

Kill The Opposition

My husband is a news junkie:  newspaper delivered every day; news switched on the telly first thing in the morning.  If he’s home during the day, the 24 hour news station is chattering away in the corner. When we’re in the car, he likes to know what’s happening and when we go abroad he has to find a way to watch the BBC News.

But of late, even he’s had enough!

The election juggernaut is so predictable, so inexorable, that Mr News Junkie is resorting to reruns of Flog It! and Time Team.  At least Paul Martin and Tony Robinson are genuinely passionate about what they are doing.

But seriously folks, why the turn-off?  Why does this year seem even worse than previous pre-election hustings?

Much has been noted of the negative campaigning, the snipes and attacks; the scare tactics, the dire warnings, the threats.  Cameron, Miliband, Clegg, Farage, Sturgeon, Salmond, Blair, Burnett, Wood – they’re all having at it, with words like ‘chaos’, ‘danger’, ‘disaster’ being bandied about as to how awful it will be if X gets elected.

So this got me thinking about why we tolerate this degree of destructive electioneering.  We wouldn’t actually tolerate it anywhere else in our business lives.  Oh, occasionally there’s a product on the market that pokes fun at its opposition or makes a point of how much better they are:  remember Hertz vs Avis and the “We try harder” marketing campaign?

For the most part, however, we don’t snipe at our competitors and tell our customers how worse off they’d be if they chose someone else.  We don’t try to kill the opposition.

Can you imagine!

So let’s picture Impact Factory pitching for business with a new client and we find out that Acme Training Company is also pitching for the same work.  What on earth would our potential client think if we spent our 60 minute slot highlighting the dire consequences if they hired Acme instead of Impact Factory?

What we do is highlight what makes us different, what our core values are, what they can expect working with us, how we listen to what they need and ensure we will provide it.  All positive stuff.  We create an image of the outcomes and how it might look rather than paint a picture of disaster if they go elsewhere.

Quite simply, we wouldn’t be in business for long if we chose that tactic; nor would too many other companies. Ultimately, negativity is a big turn-off.  Britain may be a nation of moaners but we don’t really like being moaned ‘at’.

Again, I ask, why do we tolerate it in politics?  Is it all about witnessing a gladiatorial battle where the last man/woman standing is the victor? 

More to the point, are we tolerating it?

Or are more people watching re-runs of Time Team and turning off the politics?

By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory

Wednesday, 1 April 2015


So you want to initiate some changes in your organisation. 

This is what tends to happen:  whether it’s a merger or introducing new values, new ways or working; whether it’s a restructure or moving premises certain reactions to change are constant.

There are change lovers and change haters.

I’m a change lover. I’ve changed countries, careers (more than once); moved from cities, to a town to the country.  Change doesn’t throw me, even the whole uncertainty bit.  As a matter of fact, one of the things my fellow Director Robin Chandler and I have said from the time we set up Impact Factory was that we were able to change on a dime.

If something isn’t working, change it.  If something is working but could work even better, change it.

This is not true for everyone and because we run a lot of Change Management programmes we know just how hard it can be for a lot of people. 

There are a few issues that we see time and time again: 

Of all the kinds of changes there are, imposed change is usually the hardest to deal with.  People don’t like not having a say in what happens to them.  Even impossible seeming changes (like stopping smoking or changing habits of a life-time) feel within people’s control because they themselves decided to attempt the changes.  Whereas imposed change takes the control right out of people’s hands.

The second issue around change is uncertainty.  Most people don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen.  They like to be in the know and when the outcome of imposed change is unclear then anxiety can take hold and really affect how they feel, what they think, how they behave.

The third strand comes out of this anxiety and concern and that’s resistance.  You start with imposed change, add a dose of uncertainty, swirl some emotions into the mix and for a lot of people their first response is to dig their heels in and oppose any changes suggested.  This isn’t logical nor is it practical – what it is, is human nature.
People don’t necessarily want to be resistant to change; they don’t usually want to be deliberately obstructive.  However, when people are in a state of worry and feel left out of the decision-making process, they can get defensive, sceptical, mistrustful and quite frankly, pissed off.

There are three crucial things that any organisation gearing up for change should put front and centre as part of their change programme: 

involve people early on

let them know what’s going on and what they can expect

acknowledge the anxieties, fears and apprehension that people will be going through

We’ve seen time and again the ‘big people’ are so focused on getting the changes through that they get caught up in the logistics, practicalities and nuts and bolts that they kind of forget there are real human beings involved. 

Maybe they don’t exactly forget, but they simply don’t give the whole people part of change the attention that they deserve.  The irony is that if they did give people and what they were going through the attention they deserve then the changes – even the imposed ones – would go so much smoother.

Change doesn’t have to be traumatic and it doesn’t have to be difficult – even for change haters

Check out Impact Factory’s range of Change Management courses.