Archives for posts with tag: stressed out
best practice

How do YOU operate? Minimum Standards or Best Practice?

At what stage should you compromise on quality, in whatever you do? I have long been an advocate of ‘Best Practice’ as opposed to ‘Minimum Standards’ and the majority of people I speak to, agree wholeheartedly with that opinion… yet why, on so many levels do we insist on merely going through the motions, to ‘tick-the-box’ without giving any real thought to the outcome?

Now before the accountants and financiers of this world shoot me down in flames, yes I know and understand there is only so much in the budget (though I would question where and how thought out that budget was initially) and that stakeholders want to see a return on their investment, but how many budgets are simply ‘made-up-numbers’?  It’s a forecast! It’s based on what you think will happen, what the market forces, say (think) will happen and it is based on previous past history and an attempt to see into the future. In effect, it’s a guess!

I well remember when I was in a Sales Team being given my budget and sales target for the following year.  On questioning how my Manager, at the time, had arrived at the figures (which were out of proportion with realism), he started to explain they were all calculated after in-depth analysis.  Upon further questioning, he admitted he had plucked a figure out of the sky and added 10%!! Madness!

The main issue I have with forecasting budgets and targets is that those that hold the purse strings remain inflexible throughout the year, reviewing performance against targets but never changing the budget or target, given the impact of external forces, such as the market, economic influences and in many industries, environmental impact.  I am not for one moment suggesting we shouldn’t be setting targets, goals and budgets, but always be prepared to review and adjust them mid-term.  Consider the LOSS IN BUSINESS that could occur if there was a prime investment opportunity, but you limited your budget because the ‘made up’ forecast said you can only spend £x,000 per month!

Now, budgets and targets aside, wouldn’t you agree that you should strive for the best quality and aim for the best of everything that you possibly can?  Again, I’m not suggesting that you are wasteful, and squander capital, but have a clear vision of the outcome that you want to achieve and then follow the best process to get there.  If you have a sound process then the outcome will take care of itself.

Training and Development on the Gears.

How much TRAINING actually does DEVELOP People? Minimum Standards = Minimum Development.

When it comes to training staff, clearly it would follow that you would strive to get the best trainers that you possibly can.  How do you deem them to be the best?  Well in essence, a trainer must have two major qualities.

  1. Knowledge/Experience of the subject taught
  2. The ability to impart that knowledge in such a way that it is clearly understandable 

It has not gone unnoticed in the past couple of years of the amount of ‘fast track’ courses that potential trainers can attend, sometimes less than one day in duration, gain a certificate that says they have attended and off they go passing this new-found knowledge on, with little or no previous experience, and with the delegates attending the course, totally unaware of the lack of experience the so-called trainer has!  By attending just a couple of half or one-day courses you can apparently be ‘qualified’ to train Manual Handling, Health & Safety and Personal Safety, as an example, without ever having previous experience in these areas! Astounding really, when you think about it.  Therefore the question must be asked, how important is ‘Experience’?

Success Ladder

Climb the ladder of EXPERIENCE.

Consider you are going into hospital for an operation.  Which surgeon would you prefer, the one that finished medical school last week and this is their first operation, or the surgeon that has been carrying out similar operations for the past 10 years.  Both, however, are ‘qualified’!

You’re about to have root canal treatment on your troublesome tooth!  Which dentist would you prefer, the one that has carried out thousands of similar treatments, or the dentist that passed their final exam last week?  Again, both are ‘qualified’!

This of course occurs in every walk of life and experience will be gained on a daily basis, but why compromise your business and livelihood by cutting costs severely and leaving your employees at potential risk of being ‘uneducated’?  Remember, ignorance is no defence!

A large organisation that I have worked with for many years had largely built their success on bringing in specific external trainers to train their staff, using the specialised skill set of the external trainer.  In a move to ‘cut costs’ the internal training team that previously have been used as trainers for ‘generic’ company areas have now been fast tracked to deliver First Aid, Manual Handling, Health & Safety, Personal Safety (surprisingly, they don’t train on breakaway and/or restraint, as their policy is to de-escalate issues before restraint is required… even though they sometimes work in an environment of customers with mental health illness.  They are of course leaving themselves wide-open to criminal charges, should an incident occur)!!  Sadly, and possibly due to having grown too quickly without the right infrastructure in place and poor leadership in some departments, they have resorted to ‘ticking-the-box’ as opposed to quality, sustainable, suitable and sufficient training programmes.

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Is there any REAL value in ‘Ticking-The-Box’?

The term ‘sheep dipping’ is used where all employees are put through a programme, regardless of whether it’s individually needed or not, purely so that when they undergo an inspection, they can show the boxes, duly ‘ticked’.  Remember, as with anything in life, you are only as strong as your weakest link.

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How do YOU operate? Minimum Standards or Best Practice?

Has it cut costs? Yes, undoubtedly, as they potentially have no external training costs and so the procurement department are overjoyed in the budget preservation!  Has it benefitted employees?  That remains to be seen, but of course, just one issue and an ongoing legal investigation could result in court appearances, fines and potentially custodial sentences.  Remember, when you appoint trainers, certainly to train on ‘legally-bound issues’, please ensure they are giving advice that is currently legally accurate and that they are trained to a ‘suitable & sufficient’ level to deliver that information.  The balance sheet may look great and as a Manager who appoints these trainers, be prepared to have pats on your back for saving the company money…. but also be prepared to face the law courts, should an incident occur that happened as a result of putting cost before quality.

Aversely, another organisation I work with has seen tremendous growth, certainly over the past ten years, and in a market that is currently declining, continues to show year on year growth.  Their staff retention, again, in an industry that traditionally has high staff turnover is well below the national average and it will not surprise you to learn that they have a robust, first class training department, using external trainers across all skill sets.  The training delivered is reviewed on a regular basis and continually tweaked and updated to provide the delegates with their specific training requirements.  Employees can clearly see a progression through the company, should they choose to seek promotion, and feel part of the whole team rather than a payroll number.  The training costs to deliver this training are staggering, so why do they do it? Well their return more than outweighs their expenditure.  You see, they consider training costs as an investment in their business rather than a necessity.  They also want the very best return on their investment and by providing the best quality training possible ensure that this part of the jigsaw is taken care of.  Virgin Atlantic are another organisation that invests heavily in their training, even when the market is strained and on a downturn… their philosophy is, when the market picks up again, they are ready and waiting to capitalise!  Perhaps it’s no wonder they are the benchmark in the aviation industry.

Man jump on the sunset day time.

What is a successful life? An accumulation of good days!

Which returns to my original question… At what stage should you compromise on quality?  Review your own organisation, perhaps the one you work for.  What quality has been compromised, purely on a cost basis and how does that reflect on the organisations investment in staff?  We are constantly told that employees are the life-blood of organisations, so by providing poor quality training, how good do the employees feel about themselves and their ‘worth’ to the company?!

Food for thought, indeed, and something to consider over the next few months.

Feel free to drop us a line and share YOUR experiences of Best Practice.

info@imduk.org

Richard Branson Opportunity.001

How many business opportunities are turned down on a regular basis (and life opportunities), purely because we lack the confidence to carry it out or doubt ourselves that we have sufficient knowledge or skill to undertake the task? Take the opportunity and use it as a motivator, to learn a new skill or increase your knowledge. Can you imagine how impactful that could be?

Next time an opportunity presents itself, grab it with both hands… and then go about increasing your knowledge or skill. Consider what resources you may need?

If this is something that you’d like to investigate further, then be sure to watch out for our forthcoming workshop, where the focus will be on making you a far more confident person than, perhaps, you are at the present time.

Contact us on 01277 821651 or simply email us on info@imduk.com to register your interest.

Stress Worry Woman with Text on White

Feeling stressed-out after Christmas? I’ll also bet you were even more stressed out before Christmas!

How many people do you know, perhaps on occasions, even yourself, who tell you they suffer from stress? They are really stressed, everything is getting on top of them and that they have suffered for ages.  They feel under pressure, sometimes to unimaginable levels.

STRESS DOESN’T ACTUALLY EXIST! 

Now if I went on to say ‘stress’ doesn’t actually exist, these would be the first people to disagree with me.  What I mean by that statement is that you cannot actually ‘catch’ stress, there aren’t ‘stress virus particles’ flying around the air, in the same way that you can inhale or contract other, airborne diseases, such as Influenza or Avian Flu.

Stress can be described, effectively, as a reaction to a situation or perhaps a response to a circumstance.  Many of you will have heard of ‘white coat syndrome’ where someone, for example,  who attends a GP surgery to have their blood pressure taken, suddenly has high blood pressure, due to the situation they find themselves in.  Many of you will have been to the dentist for that filling, long overdue, and as you are watching the clock for your appointment time in the waiting room, anxiety and tension rises, and you start to feel out of control.  The levels in each and everyone of us can differ enormously, yet think about this… all of these are reactions in your mind, nothing has actually happened as yet!

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Even if you are the ‘coolest cucumber’ in the world, imagine yourself, alone in a wood and as you turn a corner, the biggest, fiercest Grizzly Bear confronts you, standing on it’s hind legs, teeth bared and growling.  How do you feel? Get the picture?

Stress is the way the mind responds to a situation or circumstance, and with the mind being such a phenomenal tool, has the ability to work for you… but sadly, on occasions, it can work against you as well, (too often, if you allow it to).

FANCY SOME TIME TRAVEL?

Like a scene out of Doctor Who, the mind has the ability to undertake time-travel, on a daily basis.  Think, if you will, for a moment about what you did yesterday morning.  Now think about what you may be doing tomorrow morning and you’ll soon get the idea that the mind is continually tracking backwards and forwards, normally, with the help of the thinking, process driven left brain, analysing what has happened and perhaps, what ‘might’ happen.  You may hear yourself saying, ‘Why did I do that’? ‘If I hadn’t done that’? ‘Why does it always happen to me’?  You’ll know many people that are continually saying this to themselves, without actually doing anything about it!  As an opposite, you also jump forward in time, planning your day and week ahead, perhaps arranging your holiday itinerary, even a shopping trip, etc. and again, you’ll know people who, before it has even happened, will be imagining how bad the week ahead will be! (For those, it probably will be, but more of that later).

When we start to overthink, either the past or what we perceive to be the future, then that can undoubtedly increase our stress levels, yet there is only one moment that we can control and that is the here and now.  The past has gone, analyse it as much as you wish, but it won’t change.  Of course, learn from it and use it as a learning point which can shape what you do for the rest of your life, but it will never actually change.  Similarly, you can influence what happens tomorrow, but you cannot 100% control what will happen.  Life may throw us a curved ball, outside/external influences can start to shape what will happen in the future.  The only moment we can control is now.

BECOME LESS STRESSED RIGHT NOW

So how do you even begin to become less-stressed? Well one of the proven methods, and something that each and everyone of us can do, is breathing.  Controlled breathing together with  the correct focus has been proven to lower stress, anxiety and blood pressure.  So why do people get caught on the merry-go-round of their life and suffer due to unacceptable stress levels.  (I say unacceptable, because a manageable amount of stress is a good thing, it drives us on, motivates us, etc, but again, that’s something I’ll discuss on another day).  Focussing on the moment and controlled breathing is often referred to as meditation and you can meditate whenever you choose to, it really is up to you.

You may know people, whose anxiety and stress levels are, quite frankly, unacceptable.  It affects not only their day to day work and social lives, it can have long-lasting effects on their general health, lowering the immune system and leaving them susceptible to all manner of illnesses.  Yet, for most, it really doesn’t have to be that way.  For a few sufferers, it seems incredible that instead of moving away from the source of their stress, they are actually drawn towards it.  The whole situation or circumstance that has caused the stress and illness, becomes a ‘safety net’ to them.  It may seem bizarre, but again, you may know people like this, constantly stating that ‘One day, they will do this, or one day they will do that…. yet it never actually happens… What they effectively do is wallow in exactly the thing that is causing them stress, like a constant downward spiral, merely increasing stress levels.  Again, you will know people that do eventually (and hopefully) get themselves out of whatever situation they are in that is causing their stress and anxiety… and one of their first responses is ‘I don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier’.  The fact is many people know what they need to do, but do not have that courage, determination or conviction to change; sometimes they just need a helping hand.

Current research shows us that meditation can have a huge impact on our positivity, in turn increasing our health and wellbeing. Some people insist they do not have enough time in their lives to meditate, and perhaps they are right!  Maybe they are just too busy fighting the stress to actually try something different that could help them. Just five to ten minutes meditating each day can start to have a huge impact on your own life. Surely you are worth that investment?

 WHAT TO DO NEXT

If this really does intrigue you and you’d like to know a little more about how you can reduce your stress levels and embark on the journey of meditation, then contact us on the details below.  Dates are currently being sourced for workshops, to help you, right now.

Simply email us info@imduk.com to register your interest and join our email list, we’ll gladly keep you informed.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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