How to stop managers ruining talent!

Case Study for people management: encourage talent, don’t strangle it

(the lessons in this post are evermore relevant to organisations in the current recruitment for talent – consider people you currently employ for your vacancies)

I met up with Jeff at an industry seminar.  After the usual pleasantries, I asked him how his job was going.  A cloud passed across his brow. “Not so great at the moment”, he said, “I’ve got a new director and I’m really not enjoying work any more.  I’m considering my options”.

My friend looked very glum at this point and we went for a coffee where he spilled out his heartache.

Now, I’ve known Jeff for a good few years.  He had an enviable reputation  for being highly skilled in his field, loyal, widely experienced.  I knew that he was not someone who is easily upset.  So I was concerned to hear his story and I will share it with you as a cautionary tale.

(I wish could say that this was an unusual situation but, sadly, I am coming across it frequently in different guises when I coach managers).

Jeff’s story

You would probably describe Jeff as being in the middle of his career.  Technically hot and well qualified, he had spent some years as an independent business consultant. That was before he got his ideal job in a senior position with a small manufacturing company. They produced expensive luxury goods and Jeff worked hard, expecting a bright future.

He ran a small department successfully for a number of years and was looking forward to gaining a position on the board.  However, the global recession went into full swing at that time and the company went into liquidation. So, my friend and his colleagues suffered redundancy and needed new jobs.

Jeff worked in several temporary jobs until he landed a job at his current company.  Whilst he knew that it wasn’t at the level of his previous permanent role, he saw it as an opportunity to join a company that was growing and securing world-wide contracts.

The CEO decided that he would strengthen the board and brought in an external person to head up Operations. This  included Jeff’s growing department.  Deciding not to advertise the position, the CEO engaged local head-hunters.  They eagerly introduced the CV of an external candidate  who showed extensive board level experience in international companies.  On paper it looked that she would excel at handling the new international growth.  Jeff had little international experience, however, he hoped to learn this from his new boss, whilst continuing to grow and nurture his UK operation.

Trouble ahead

Reality kicked in within a couple of months as Jeff found himself under more and more pressure.  He was no longer included in strategic meetings where he had previously contributed ideas. Neither was he instrumental in planning.  Instead, he received instructions from his new boss as a series of random tasks.

Constantly micro-managed, he had to undertake re-work frequently because his boss changed emphasis erratically. These tasks were often given to him late in the day being described as “urgent, urgent, urgent”.  He seldom saw his boss at other times.

Increasingly,  the new boss took over major areas of Jeff’s UK operations as part of “stream-lining”.  Frequently, his attempts to offer suggestions and request for involvement in project work were turned down.  He endured comments from his manager that his suggestions were “Not really in your pay grade”  or “haven’t got time to discuss it right now”. Insult was added to injury when his boss took over a project that he had painstakingly progressed.  He found out later that she had presented the results as being her own, with “a little help from her team”.

Not surprisingly, Jeff was feeling stressed. He had lost his confidence and felt not a little insulted by the lack of respect for his capability.  However, he acknowledged that his boss might still be finding her feet.  Perhaps she was uncertain about whom she could trust?  He admitted that he didn’t have the expertise to handle the international work.  However, his requests for training and development in that area had fallen on deaf ears.

What to do?

I asked him what outcome he wanted and what he planned to do?

He said that he would leave “tomorrow” if he could, but the salary and benefits package was very good.  He worried about “having to start again” in a new company.  Clearly, he was still haunted by his previous experience of unemployment and anxious about being able to provide for his family.

We talked some more and looked at the choices that he had.  By the end of our meeting, he felt strong enough to look at his situation face on and start making decisions.  We agreed to meet for some more sessions.  He wanted to review his CV, discover his true career aspirations and not least his perceived barriers and opportunities. Additionally, he wanted to look at ways of boosting his confidence levels.

He decided that he would make an appointment with his new manager to share his feelings and see if there was any route to salvaging his career with his current employer.  He would also talk to some recruitment agencies to gauge the marketplace for his skillset.  I suspected though that the damage was done and he had lost faith in the CEO and his new manager and would walk out the door as soon as it was feasible.

What lessons are there in this true cautionary tale?

First let’s look at the new manager’s situation.  Why had she “strangled the talent” in one of her team? Was she even aware of the effect that she had?  Was she a “good fit” for the company culture? See if you agree with my list below.

Had the CEO done sufficient homework into her background? Had he really thought about developing the talent that already existed in the firm and considered succession planning?  Was this an isolated case or were there other people about to jump ship, taking their experience and special company knowledge with them?  As the company grew, had the CEO thought about the impact on his workforce? We’ll explore the CEO’s actions under another case study as I want to discuss the actions and attitudes of Jeff’s new manager.

You may already be familiar with this quote (and it’s painfully true):

“People leave managers, not companies”

― Marcus BuckinghamFirst, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (available on Amazon as Kindle, Hardback, Paperback and Audio)

I’ve listed 13 pain-points this new boss could improve:

  1. Understand the capability of your team (respect)
  2. Allow skilled people to do their job without interference (trust)
  3. Understand current departmental and company culture
  4. Plan and properly delegate tasks/projects
  5. Share as much information with your team as possible (inclusion)
  6. Involve your team in decision-making
  7. Welcome suggestions and consider implementation
  8. Adopt a collegiate style with team; understand the human dimension
  9. Publicly acknowledge work done by your team; never take the credit for other people’s work (integrity issue)
  10. Discuss and plan for career aspirations
  11. Develop people for current and future work demands
  12. Be visible and approachable
  13. Be humble enough to ask for help from your team

Do you have any other solutions?

I hope that you found this interesting and I would love to hear your comments.

Have you experienced a similar situation?  What solutions do you suggest?

© Christine de Caux 2021      All rights reserved

Grow your success: what stops you?

Is this what stops you from achieving success?

We can probably identify many fears that stop us progressing in our business: maybe you worry about finances – spending too much or too little; competition from established brands; not having sufficient time or resources for production, and so on…

But a particular fear that very many people have is the fear of success


Of course you are striving away, juggling your life to get clients, sacrificing many things to get your business moving on the right tracks, work, work, work.  And then you get a breakthrough, a lead for you to follow up.  Oddly, you don’t do it because it doesn’t quite fit with your business model, it’s the wrong time, you want to finish off a project first or maybe you think that they won’t be interested after you have spoken to them!

Is this at all familiar?  Perhaps you sabotage yourself in other ways by taking a back seat or not fully explaining your product when you are introduced to people at networking groups.

Well, believe it or not, this isn’t uncommon. 

What effect does this have on me?

Have a little think about what you might have done in the past where you have missed out on potential business.  What was the real cause?  What could you have done differently and, importantly, why didn’t you?

There are a number of root causes for this strange phenomenon and it is the twin to fear of failure and is also based on false beliefs about yourself.

We sabotage ourselves because:

  • We don’t want to expose ourselves to potential humiliation if it doesn’t work out – I will feel a fool
  • We may feel guilty that we are succeeding – I think there are so many other people who are more deserving
  • We fear that we won’t be able to handle success – I might lose it all, better not to have it in the first place
  • We fear that we will change in some way and lose our friends or only attract people who are false and sycophantic – I might be alone
  • We fear that being successful will mean that we are shoved into the limelight – I will feel embarrassed as the centre of attraction
  • We fear losing control – I might lose my identity

How can you stop this self-sabotage?

So what are the symptoms and how can you remedy this malady?

You will need to be very honest with yourself.  This is not an exercise in being self critical or beating yourself up. Stand back and do some self analysis: just as you would analyse areas  in your business, only this time the focus is on your behaviour, beliefs  and emotions.

  1. Set some time aside and be totally honest with yourself.  This isn’t about seeking out negative aspects but to celebrate those things that you do well and where you have succeeded in the past.
  2. Make a list of your deepest dreams.  Sometimes we don’t give our true desires enough “oxygen” to help them to thrive.  By seeing them on paper helps them to take on an identity and grow.
  3. Keep on writing about why you deserve success, how what you do and dream of doing in the future will help others.  Create this into a short mantra, a sentence or phrase and place it in a spot where you can see it every day.  Say it out loud every day and your brain will become familiar with it and it will become normal, a reality.
  4. During this exercise, you are likely to feel uncomfortable at times.  Think about why, what is bubbling away under the surface?  Write down how you feel and any reason that you can attach to those feelings.  You are now identifying your fears and confronting them.

Other indications that you fear succeeding are suggested when you:

  • Have difficulty finishing projects – just never quite satisfied with it
  • You are highly self-critical, or habitually self-effacing
  • You plunge into an area of work regardless of whether it will bring you what you desire
  • You continually self-sacrifice always bending to other people’s needs ahead of your own

You are likely to be feeling inadequate or certainly unhappy with a situation and could well think that you should just give up, that success was never meant for you.  It might be that you didn’t apply for your dream job or let a closing date pass by without taking any action and compensate yourself by thinking; well it wasn’t for you anyway.  Such self-defeat and self-deception form a spiral as we lose our self respect, burying our disappointment .

But supposing that breakthrough is just around the corner, that a friend is recommending you to a potential client right now or that someone has been searching for just the service or product that you can provide for them.  How would you feel if you had just missed such an opportunity?  Thwarted? Disappointed? Or even relieved?  Maybe all of this and more?


Consider why you feel this way.  Do you always use some avoidance tactic or only sometimes?  When did you start to feel this way?

It doesn’t have to be this way!!

Now think about the habits that you have developed that prevent yourself from succeeding personally.  You may discover some barriers that you are erecting or habits developed to avoid certain situations.

What is your inner dialogue?  Perhaps you have become so used to self-talk that originally helped to protect you in a difficult situation but is no longer useful.  It is useful to remember that you can choose how you react and you can try out different approaches.  Take small steps to do something regardless of feeling uncomfortable. 

Be brave, what do you have to lose in the face of what you could gain.  Think: I can do this; it is my turn for success!  Why not me!  Think of all the things that will go well and what it will mean to you.

Keep at it and make lots of small wins.  If you find that you drop back into old habits, shunning opportunity, start with a new goal and see it through.

One last simple but very effective technique if you are a solopreneur. We often start out selling our product/service as an extension of ourselves. We think our business depends on it.  To a certain extent your skills are what make your business viable.  But you can step away from it being all about you, and develop a mindset of working for your business rather than the business being you.  Many people are then able to feel sufficiently distanced that they can describe products linked to the values of your business rather than be put in the personal spotlight.

As always, practice makes perfect and you will have some days when you could have done better.  So concentrate on those times when you do succeed (no matter how small) and give yourself a metaphorical pat on the back.  


Why can’t you see it my way? Why do you behave that way? A quick overview of Personality Profiling for Managers

A quick overview of Personality Profiling for Managers

Want to know why your employees behave the way they do? Well you won’t be surprised to hear that they can have a different outlook on the world that, combined with different experiences, results in different views and behaviours.

And it is important to remember that this is a good thing. We are not robots. Diversity sparks creativity and empathy, bringing richness to the workplace.

But when you make efforts to see things from other people’s perspective, you will build harmony and encourage performance. The variety of methods for assessing a person’s preferred style have been tested and refined over the years. But, none of these methods offers “absolute truth”, only an inkling of what makes someone tick.

They can and do surprise us!

One particular tool that I find helpful is DiSC.

DiSC Profiling is deceptively simple and can be used on a number of levels to consider our own and other people’s preferred style of behaviour.

Importantly, each of us has a choice in how we perceive things and communicate. But we can chose alternative ways to act and speak in order to communicate with people of different styles. By using DiSC you can gain insight for team building, handling conflict, delivering effective presentations. You can  even have improved conversations with your boss!

DiSCwhat is it?

DiSC is based on the premise that there are four main personal styles or preferred behaviours. These major categories can be further divided and overlap.  However, for the sake of simplicity, we will stick with the four main types.

Defining people’s preferred styles by picking up on the clues that they exhibit can be good fun. But a word of caution, do not pigeon-hole people. Resist thinking of people as a typical “this” or “that” category. You may think of them as associated with a particular style but they can react differently according to the environment and situation.

This variety of styles is valuable and enriching within your team. There is no “best” style that ranks above all others. Each has its advantage and disadvantage, according to the prevailing circumstances.

Understanding the various styles can help enormously with communication and meaning. And only use it with integrity and honesty, never to manipulate others. I tell you now, if you use it inappropriately it can come back to bite you and leave you looking foolish at best or facing a complaint.

So let’s get down to it.

Although people will tend to prefer one of four main styles, actually they will often have some elements of other styles. The four main categories are:

  • D: task and power driven, often referred to as “dominance”
  • i: people oriented, referred to as “influence”
  • S: people focus on pace, referred to as “steadiness”
  • C: task focus on details, policy oriented, referred to as “compliance”

What does this mean in practice?

Conflict can arise when one person’s preferred style is directly opposite to another person’s. For example: someone with an “i “ profile will be more interested in communicating something to people and feel impatient with her colleague who has a C profile preference who will appear to her to be nit-picky, concerned mainly with technical details and following procedures. The D profile person is likely to appear to “i” as impatient, rash and rushing forward, or even overbearing.


Sam has a high “D” profile whilst his colleague, Gill, has a high “S” profile. But, Sam sees Gill as being too easy going, only concerned that people should not be upset. The way Sam sees it, they should be on with getting things done and worry about the consequences later. Mary, with her “C” profile, sees Sam as pushy and rude and worries that he will not follow the rules. She sees Joe with his “i” profile as overly chatty, skimming over the details whilst wanting to gain recognition for his work.

And this where it matters. By recognizing another person’s style and how they might interpret the same information can help in your method of communication and so avoid conflict. Additionally, you can use this knowledge to encourage greater performance. As a manager, you will experience huge benefits by listening carefully to your team members. Not only will you listen to what is being said but how. You can gain great insight by noticing vocabulary, volume, emphasis and visual clues given by your team members.

Where people in your team can’t seem to get on with each other, you need to get hold of this before relationships sour.

Do not ignore signs of conflict as it will eventually undermine performance. Perhaps worse still, a good employee can become disenchanted with the workplace and just leave. Perhaps you are already aware of disagreement in your team.

But I don’t mean the healthy questioning of one another to check work. If there is back-biting and friction, maybe people seeking to undermine each other or failing to help their colleagues, you need to look for some solutions.

Take a step back to assess the situation. Often people are  not actually arguing about exactly the same thing. Look for a subtle difference in their perception. It is amazing how people will stick to a particular position without truly listening to the other person. But if they step back, they could well find that they are looking at different aspects, not necessarily in conflict, more in arguing in parallel!

Conflict can simply come down to a matter of different personal styles. Broadly, we like people who are like us and we might assume that someone else is wrong because they express themselves differently.

Being different isn’t necessarily wrong!

You will need to become mediator, listening to each party and checking your understanding. Recognise, of course, that you’ll also will have your own opinion and preferred style and so have an unconscious bias. Be open-minded and understand your own preference and why it is that you might find one side more palatable than another. Seek what is rational. You still have a managerial prerogative to make a final decision if you cannot create sufficient harmony.

Remember that the language that you use is important and needs to be inclusive. Tempo and vocabulary can have an effect on meaning according to the recipients’ “filters”.

To identify the four main preferred styles you will see people who are mainly:

  • D profile wants decisive action, less discussion
  • i profile will want to talk about it
  • S profile is concerned for people’s welfare
  • C wants time to see the detail and to check the information.

When giving a presentation think about your style of delivery. Does your choice of language meet all four profile styles? This may seem contrived at first but remember your purpose is for clarity not manipulation.

Of course this article is only a very small flavour of the DiSC styles and profiling. If you think this is something that would help you to understand your team better and get your team to gel, then I would recommend that you look further into it.

Why DiSC?

Profiling through DiSC is only one tool that can be used: there are many other psychometric tools. Although DiSC can be used without any certification, there is a danger in amateur usage as you could get it badly wrong. However, many forms of psychometric tools require stringent formal training and certification before they can be accessed. Unless you are prepared to research DiSC and use the services of a trained consultant or undertake proper training yourself, regard this article only as an indicator of how you could communicate and better understand your team. Certainly it is worthwhile to find out about your own personal style and how you can adapt it to reach and communicate better with others. This is a good first step.

Remember, people are much more complex than any indicated style and we need to respect their choices. However, it is a fascinating area and I definitely recommend doing some research and getting further training.

You may find helpful the instructive book by Robert Rohm “Positive Personality Profiles”

New to Management – it can be scary

Here’s the scene: you have just been promoted to a managerial position. Congratulations!

Does it seem scary?

But as you take over your new job with responsibilities for your team, do you feel fully prepared? Is excitement draining away to be replaced by apprehension? Perhaps that old demon on your shoulder is telling you that you won’t be able to do this. And the managerial course that you took, what does that mean for you now; how can you use your knowledge from that? How does it translate into real life?

Welcome to the world of people management, inexact and ever challenging.

There is no doubt that you will learn as you go along but getting things wrong offers the harsh experience of “dog’s law” and heartache.

But there are many managers like you who worry about managing people, balancing the needs of individuals with the company’s expectations whilst you are treading water. Why is it that many managers find it difficult to manage people? After all that should be the focus of their role.

Time to take control

Firstly take comfort in your “right to manage”. This doesn’t mean that you become dictatorial or over bearing. However, it does mean that your organisation has vested in you certain autonomy, a confidence in your ability. It is now down to you to work out how to create and enhance your working relationships, inspiring your team to perform well and attain the company aims. The good news is that whilst there are certainly a few people who seem to have an innate ability to lead and manage, it is something that can be learned.

However, it takes time and you will need to understand yourself, how you come across to others and understand that other people have emotional baggage. They may not see the world in the same way that you do. In fact it is pretty certain that you won’t be able to see eye to eye with everyone all the time.

Build good relationships – it takes time!

Good relationships are based on trust and a mutual sense of belonging. This does take time to nurture and is a delicate thing, easily destroyed. If you steam-roll your way through managing people, treating them as an extension of machinery or systems, you will build resistance and resentment instead of commitment and cooperation. It is very likely that you will lose good people.
By understanding that another person’s view on the world is shaped by their own experience, culture and beliefs you will see that the world can appear totally different from their perspective than from yours. And neither view is more right or wrong: they are both possibilities.

Listening – it’s a key skill

Listen to your team and dispense with any assumptions that occur to you about your team. You will then begin to understand what makes your people tick and find the best way to communicate with each individual. Spend time getting to know each other, respect different opinions and you will build a sense of mutual support and understanding.

Undeniably, your workplace is a social community where people interact and work collaboratively. This is so even when people work remotely and contact others electronically. They will form a “tribe” and seek to belong. In fact, people who are in contact through email or VOIP or social platforms can have more interaction with their colleagues than those who work in parallel work stations. Your team’s sense of belonging and view of you will impact on their commitment to their work and indeed the organisation.

Emotional connection links to communication

Does this mean that you will be walking on egg-shells, tentative in how you approach your team? Not a bit of it. Your evident enthusiasm and optimism mixed with transparency will grow two-way trust and respect. Be aware of how you are perceived. Remember that all eyes are on you and any slip in your integrity will be seen by and affect all.

People can be unpredictable and their emotional state is important. Resentment can build up, hurt leading to anger and obstruction over misunderstood intentions. How you communicate is as important as the message itself. Think of how you will ensure their understanding and don’t assume that everyone will grasp the full meaning and implication of your message: you will need to use different methods and check comprehension.

Your management skills must recognise adverse emotions in your team. Your frequent interactions and genuine interest in each individual will create a stable work environment, free from conflict. Enthusiasm is strangely infectious but so is damaging rumour and conjecture within a communication vacuum. Be ever on your guard against expressing negativism as this can sabotage your good efforts in building motivation.

Fairness and equity

It is important that you do not treat everyone in the same manner but that you treat everyone fairly and consistently. I hope you can see the difference. You will treat people in the way that each person appreciates, as an individual and with respect for them as a person. For example, some people like to work quietly.  However, some people need the company of others if they re not to feel isolated. Get to understand the different ways in which people want to work. Treat people with respect, transparency and honesty, seeking to include everybody.

Remember that everyone is capable of doing good work and generating ideas. Even the quietest person has their story to tell. Time spent recognising and improving your emotional intelligence will improve your people management capability immensely. This is an ongoing quest that will empower and enrich you personally throughout your career.

Grow to be a Fantastic Manager!

© all rights reserved: Christine de Caux 

Head in the Sand about GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations)? Time for Action

don't be an ostrich with your head in the sand about GDPR
Get ready for GDPR

Well GDPR will be “live” on 25 May 2018 here in the UK and you still have time to get all your ducks in a row.
Given the focus of this website ( on people management, this outline is primarily concerned with the effects of GDPR on employees and other workers. However, you will need to check about it effects on all areas of your business, especially the potential impact on customer engagement and handling of data. Visit the ICO site .

Firstly what is GDPR?

These are the new Data Protection regulations that are coming into force in UK law and derive from European Union law. But remember that this will persist in the UK past Brexit so it won’t be going away. Electronic data and technological capability have developed at a pace so that protection needs to be strengthened.

These regulations will affect all businesses regardless of size and purpose and are far more stringent than previous regulations. If you are thinking that you’ll look at this at some unspecified time when you can get round to it, think again.  Plan for it now. GDPR will take immediate effect.  There will be highly punitive financial penalties for breach plus the possibility of criminal sanctions in certain cases. Add to this the potential of expensive employee claims against you and you will see the urgency and necessity of addressing it now. Make no mistake, this law has sharp teeth.

So why all the fuss?

As I mentioned above, technological advances mean that information has the potential to be collected and collated from many sources and shared as never before. The Data Protection Act of 1998 is no longer strong enough.  More robust protective measures are very necessary to prevent unwanted, non-benign or even criminal use of personal data.
[Note, outside the scope of this article: if your business includes global data collection/production you will need to understand and comply with regulations within those countries too e.g. USA “Privacy Shield” ]

In common with legal requirements in other areas where there has been a breach (e.g. such as environmental, bribery breaches etc) GDPR requires that businesses self-report. Instances include
• incidents that are likely to place the rights and freedoms of an individual at risk
• to inform the relevant authority within 72 hours of the business becoming aware of the breach
• notify the public without delay where there has been a serious breach

But help is at hand and the Information Commissioner’s Office has produced an excellent guide. You can find that various live overviews and training sessions are being put on by local and national organisations throughout the country.

What should you do now to prepare for the new regulations?

Well, vigorous “spring-cleaning” comes to mind.  This is no quick flick of a metaphorical feather duster but a real root out of your policies, procedures and an in depth review of the data you already hold, why you hold it. You need to be diligent and make sure that you have the legal right to hold such information, that it is held securely and that indeed it is correct. Take action now to ensure data cleansing of all personal data that you hold both physically and electronically. Additionally, think wider: e.g. do your existing contracts and all policy/ procedure wording now comply with the new regulations? Do you use personal data for a different reason from the original purpose? If so, you will need to get specific consent to hold and process it.

There is a saying that there is no time like the present. You need to give this project priority if you are to complete it by the date that the regulations impact. Instruct someone to handle this who understands its impact and the ramifications of not getting it right.

Lawful basis

The right to hold and process data must have a lawful basis which could rely on express consent. But as an employer your lawful basis will rely on:
• contractual necessity (e.g. bank details for payroll processing)
• legal obligation (e.g. proof of right to live and work in the UK; proof of qualifications)
• vital interest (e.g. health information; next of kin details)
• legitimate interest (not centred around a particular item but must comply with the 3 part test – refer to the online ICO document)

You will ensure that your employees and workers fully understand what data you hold about them, what you do with it and why you need it. Each employee, worker and contractor should receive a data privacy statement which must be clear and transparent. This applies to existing employees and new ones. Do you still hold data from ex-employees: is it still necessary? (It might well be, for instance, necessary for evidence of exposure to hazardous chemicals but check that you only hold what is necessary).

What are an individual’s rights?

It is important to know what rights your employees have over your handling of their personal data so that you can be ready to take timely action if requested. You will no longer be able to charge for information requests about their personal data by individuals. So, the rights are:

1. To be informed: what data you will collect, what you will do with it, how and where it will be handled and stored; notify if you later use the data for a different purpose from its original collection.
You must respond to requests from an individual for information about held about them usually within 1 month
2. Data access: about the details of data held and how it is processed
3. Rectification: that you must correct any details are wrong
4. Erasure – “to be forgotten”.  This is complete erasure, not just archiving or deactivation (check that your electronic systems will do this)
5. Restrict processing: prevent sharing with other entities
6. Data portability: information held can be presented to the individual in an understandable form which they can take away
7. Right to object: e.g. to use of data under certain circumstances relating to research
8. Automated processing and profiling: that a manual intervention can be carried out.  It will be worthwhile to check any automated systems and ensure that manual override can be effected, if necessary.

What, Why, How, Where, When and Who handles data?

Create a data retention policy that defines how and why you collect the data. State who is responsible for its handling and how long you will retain it (define the necessity for keeping it). Look at the data that you collect when recruiting. For example you must get specific permission from an unsuccessful applicant to hold their CV once the job that they applied for has been filled. Ensure you have a data privacy statement relating to recruitment.

Think about where personal data moves to. In particular do the third parties that you contract with handle data correctly e.g. in order to handle areas such as healthcare, pension, payroll. Also are there any internal departments who may also have some details? Do they need it, is it restricted?

Importantly, ensure that each employee and worker is aware of the regulations.  Explain what it means for them personally and how it will impact their role. When issuing each person with a privacy document, go through it with them so that they are fully aware.

Do you need a Data Protection Officer?

Many organisations will not need to appoint a Data Protection Officer: this role has a specific significance within the regulations. It should be a senior role with access to the Board, yet independent from it. This person will have certain duties in their responsibilities to the Information Commissioner’s Office. Such organisations include

  • public authorities
  • organisations that
    – conduct large scale systematic data monitoring
    – perform large scale collation of criminal convictions and offences
    – handle public authority data

I hope you are now energised to take action. This article is a brief look at your obligations. So, have a look at the helpful and easy to read ICO website. There is a lot of information out in the public domain and “not knowing” is unlikely to cut much ice if you fail to meet the new data protection requirements.

GDPR compliance is important and failure to comply will have far reaching ramifications.

Disclaimer: The content in this blog post and website (including all responses to comments) is not to be considered legal advice and should be used for information purposes only.

ICO says: Because it could apply in a wide range of circumstances, it puts the onus on you to balance your legitimate interests and the necessity of processing the personal data against the interests, rights and freedoms of the individual taking into account the particular circumstances. This is different to the other lawful bases, which presume that your interests and those of the individual are balanced.

Copyright © 2018 Christine de Caux
All rights reserved. This blog, article and website or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a discussion/ review.

Leader Juggler

Did you realise that as a leader you will become a juggler?

Leadership and Management models exist to help us to make sense of what is going on. The trouble starts when we try to match our everyday experience with the “ideal” of a model. And your real learning starts as you find that no two situations are the same and you are responsible for many tasks and groups of people.

So, what Leadership model could help? John Adair’s model of Action Centred Leadership is still valid today. A well loved favourite to help the leader, it explains what is happening and how to act. The original crisp three-sphere diagram will help you to start. Then multiple tasks turn you into a juggler as you try to keep all the balls in the air. And, of course, these are becoming heavier and of different sizes!

Life as a leader is indeed complex

Your overriding concern, however, is to translate your organisation’s strategy and direction into action and generate performance through people.

Of course you aren’t alone in this. There will be other people with responsibilities in specialist areas and some of what they do with overlap with you. Indeed it is quite likely that the people in your team/s will have a stake in other teams. Ah, another ball to juggle, this one is about compromise, negotiation as you become part of the executive team.

But let’s get back to Adair’s interconnecting spheres

This model is a good place to start and will serve you well. Of course the diagram is short hand for more detailed explanation and I would recommend that you spend some time getting to grips with Adair’s reasoning.

Leadership Model
Adair three centred leadership model

Adair bases the Leader’s role as balancing the needs of the three elements: Task, Individual and Team. These overlap but concentrating on one aspect will mean having to play catch-up with the others. Life isn’t always neat.

Once you are fully clear on the task, you will then supply its needs. So create your plan, identify and arrange sufficient resources, (human and material). Defining its quality and standards you will include a risk assessment, assess financial needs and identify the skills needed to carry it out.

Where the spheres overlap, the elements work together from a leader’s point of view. As leader in the centre, you will inspire and manage each sector’s needs to achieve your results.

New Leader, New Team

If you don’t already have a team, you will be selecting people with the right attributes. However, it is quite likely that you will be working with people who are already available to you, perhaps an established departmental team. In either case, you will need to assess ability and skills and continually develop them.

Don’t underestimate the level of emotional development that you will encourage. You will be using your own influential skills to motivate individuals and bring them together to form your team. This people relationship has emotional roots as you inspire, coach and support each person and build synergy in the team.

Ensuring effective communication at all levels. includes the personal goals of your individuals in your evaluation of the task. You will all have gained valuable experience, especially you as a leader. Assess what went well, what would you do differently next time?  You should recognise both individual contribution and team work of a job well done. When you reward individuals, ensure against being divisive.

You will gain a working knowledge of people’s skills and behaviours, and skills. This gives you a head-start for future projects, ready to catch the next ball that is thrown at you.

Suggested reading

A prolific business writer, Adair has produced many helpful books. If you are a new leader, try this one:

(please note that I only recommend items that I have confidence in. If you choose to use this link to make your purchase, I may receive a small commission from the vendor. However, this does not incur any extra expense for you)

Workplace disciplinary investigation – get it right!

Here’s the scene.  You are faced with an employee issue that looks like misconduct and you must conduct a formal investigation.  [Note: make sure that you act within the law and refer to local conditions/regulations]

You are fully aware that your investigation must be thorough, fair and unbiased.  Use this outlined method, so that you don’t miss anything.

Event arises: an employee allegedly acts contrary to your company policies and procedures.

Gather evidence confidentially– you don’t want information surrounding the issue to be altered or even destroyed. You also need to protect the people involved, including the person who is subject of the allegations.

You need to establish circumstances and establish  time and date/s

  • exactly what happened
  • who else has allegedly committed the issue
  • who witnessed the issue
  • any potential mitigation
  • any control limitations that should have been in place.

Speak to the person at the centre of the issue.  Warn them that it could be viewed as misconduct which may result in disciplinary action.

Speak to the person raising the issue to sort out facts from conjecture.

Identify and talk to everyone involved on an individual basis.  However, be discrete and require them to keep it strictly confidential.

Gather witness statements. Do  you need to talk to more people or collect more data?

Gather any written or physical evidence.  (It might be computer records, copies of emails, attendance records, CCTV etc.).

Refer to any previous similar incidents

Has this individual been involved in an issue before?  Are there any patterns of behaviour?

Remain open minded.  However, keep your investigation only to the specific allegation.  Do not get side-tracked.

Review the evidence gathered during your investigation and identify patterns, corroborating evidence, particular circumstances:

  • Who?  Was it just one individual?  Have they been influenced by others?
  • What? Exactly what is the issue, what effect has it had upon other people or the company?  Is the issue potentially illegal, non-compliance, poor behaviour?  Has this broken your company policy?
  • Why has this happened (e.g. lax management, horseplay, criminal intent or what?)
  • When? Is it an isolated case or part of a series? How far back does it go?  Is there a sub-culture that “normalised” the situation?
  • How?  What controls are missing? Find out the circumstances and managerial attitudes. (may lead to mitigation).
  • Present your notes and other documentation in an unbiased and straight forward manner.  Both the disciplinary officer/s and the accused employee will use these notes.

Consider if any evidence could be malicious or vexatious? Watch out for exaggeration and over-dramatisation by witnesses. But could they be holding something back? (If so, find out why).

Decide on your action.  Is there a case to answer?

  • If no, contact the employee concerned.  Thank them for their cooperation but the issue will be closed without further action.
  • If yes, start your formal proceedings according to your disciplinary policy.  Do this swiftly whilst memories are fresh.

You should only be investigator or witness, or disciplinary chair: you cannot do all these roles for the same issue.  Different people should perform these roles to demonstrate fairness and keep bias to a minimum.  However, you can get help from an independent consultant or trade body if you do not have anyone suitable in your organisation.

Should you involve external authorities, such as the police, immigration control or tax authorities?  Yes, if you uncover something that is potentially illegal then you must do so, otherwise you may be seen as abetting a crime.  Of course, you will still keep this confidential. The authorities will conduct their own investigation and procedures.  Depending on circumstances, you may need to suspend your company proceedings to enable the external authority to act.  Get professional advice from your company legal counsel in such event.

Final Note: fortunately serious misconduct is rare, but even for minor misdemeanour it is worth following a process.  This will ensure that you do not miss anything. Keep matters confidential and demonstrate impartiality.


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The information contained in this and other blog posts is for general information purposes only. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the blog post, website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.


5 Great Business Books Offering Insight for Success

Here are some great business books for you to read: enlightening, entertaining and thought provoking!  Interestingly, some people tell me that they don’t have time to read books.  Really, they just don’t see the value in spending the time.

Well, I recommend you to try these and then think if the time has been well spent.  I bet you will come away with some great insight and hopefully you will implement at least some of the suggested behaviours and actions that will make a difference.  Try them!

TIP (By the way you don’t have to read every word on every page.  If you are short of time, try reading the list of chapters then the first and last sections of each chapter and you will already have gained some knowledge of the subject.  Clearly, you will need to go back and read more fully those sections that are of particular interest to you.  It is surprisingly effective).

TIP (Many of these books are available on Kindle and you may be able to read them at a much reduced cost e.g. if the edition is available on Kindle Unlimited)


Tools of the Titan: Timothy Ferriss

Tim writes about performance and change in a  “dip in and dip out” sort of style.

“You don’t succeed because you have no weaknesses, you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing bits around them”.  I absolutely agree with this quote.

His interviews with other people and insights offer motivational and sometimes problem solving focus on self-improvement.  A fascinating book that you will want to return to.


The Undoing Project: Michael Lewis

So you think decision-making is about systems and logic? Well maybe and maybe not.  Michael Lewis looks at this concept through the story of two psychologists whose work discovered behavioural economics.  Their touching friendship takes you through concepts in understanding this fascinating area.

Be prepared to be both entertained and enlightened.  This story will stay with you.


The Coaching Habit: Michael Bungay

Most managers understand the value of coaching their employees for performance but it isn’t always something that comes naturally.  This book describes an approach to coaching that is simple but effective, a method that becomes second nature at work and indeed in everyday life.  The author’s insight enables you to manage and support your employees, creating useful habits that create impact. Curb the temptation to offer advice when active listening is the correct course.

Thought provoking and clear, this book offers transferable skills for every manager.


The One Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results: Gary Keller

Some title to live up to, this book is the antidote to the ever increasing pressures of everyday life.  Our preoccupation with “busy-ness” actually leads to less productivity, stress and the feeling of being left behind.

The One Thing offers an alternative way to achieve success in all areas of life, not just work.  More productivity, better lifestyle, more family time: sounds too good to be true?  Well read this book and decide for yourself.  I would be surprised if you don’t find it helpful.

“What’s the ONE thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”

Find out how to focus on what you should do.  Focus on this thing well instead of eternal plate spinning!


The Chimp Paradox

This has been a really popular book and although some of the concepts are not new, it is well written.  This is a fascinating read about how our minds are shaped, how our emotions and negative self-talk act against our best interests.  See if you can identify with this.

A self-help book that is easy to understand, it explains how you can see when your “chimp” is controlling you and when to use your “human brain” to push back.

This book is very helpful for introspection. It is a great help in understanding our interactions with other people, recognising when our emotions become out of control and how to take steps to change.

© copyright: Christine de Caux 2018

I have given links to Amazon UK where these titles are readily available in several formats. They can be purchased from other outlets of course.  

Blog post from Fantastic-Managers site may contain certain affiliate links for which I may receive a small commission.  However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are mine and not influenced by the developing company.  Please see Disclosure Statement on website.

Manager’s Top Tips to Delegate Effectively

Do you frequently find that you have more work to do than fits into the time available?  Are you spending more time at work or taking work home and the burden of your managerial responsibility weighs heavy?  Moreover, you often compromise family time with work overspill.  An easy pit to fall into: now it is time to climb out of it.  It is time to delegate!

Do you find yourself saying “It’ll take more time to explain, I may as well do it myself”?  Or “This project is so important, I need to be on top of it”.  These are traps formed by the belief that you and only you are capable of completing tasks.  Not true.  Sure you will need to steer the ship, but you don’t need to be in the boiler room!

As a matter of fact, one of the themes that I constantly repeat to my clients (and echo in my blog) is that

a manager’s job is to effect work through people.

Now this isn’t a work-dump scheme.  You will still co-ordinate business strategy and direction.  The difference is that you will have a much better overview enabling better decision-making.  You will develop your team, build greater capacity and resilience.  Crucially, you can reach the holy grail of planned action and optimal performance with minimal stress.

Start thinking: how can you delegate well!

Sound too good to be true?  No, it is achievable.  Just take a step back and:

  • adopt and strengthen your mindset that others are capable of doing work to the standards that you need
  • consider what should or should not be delegated
  • split out tasks according to employee capability. You will need to train up some employees and coach them but once done they will be invaluable to you.
  • encourage your team to work collaboratively to share skills and experience
  • always delegate routine work (e.g. standard reports, filing)
  • empower your team to take responsibility for areas such as scheduling, making minor decisions and answering routine questions. Empowerment is a great tool: not only does it get the job done, it is a strong motivator and gets people more involved in the business.

The Grand Delegation Plan

  • What: define the task outlining the required outcome and your expectations

Of course, you will need to retain personal control over areas such as emergency or confidential tasks, hiring people and employee relations.  Additionally, there will be some tasks where your particular qualification level is mandatory.

  • Who: decide who is dependable with the right skills and attitude and

has the right skills already

needs training and in what areas

needs detailed explanation and more supervision

can work autonomously and reliably produce the right results on time.  Can you pair up people to strengthen skills and approach?

  • Why: delegate properly explain to your employee/s what you want done and why you have chosen them for the job.

Importantly check their understanding

Listen carefully to their reactions, answer questions honestly.  Equally, ask for their commitment

If possible, let them decide how they will plan out and execute the work to enable them to have ownership of it

  • How: outline their main sphere of responsibility and authority; where your employee can get resources and help

Importantly,  let others know that your employee is doing this task on your behalf and acts with your authority.  This will swerve misunderstanding in other parts of the company

Ensure that s/he is not overwhelmed by the addition of this task by reallocating some of their regular tasks whilst undertaking your assignment

Encourage your employee by expressing your confidence in them and ensure that you are available to mentor and give back up.  Establish regular milestones and monitor progress as well.

Always, recognise and thank your employee when they have successfully completed your assignment

And finally…

Remember you have handed this task over to someone else.  Monitoring their progress does not mean micro-managing!!  Avoid being overly prescriptive about how they should do the task.  Use your coaching skills to help people to solve problems for themselvesBut you are not abandoning them; ask open ended questions to help them reach solutions.

Ensure that delegation isn’t seen as “dumping” work.  Communicate your aims and the benefits of the project to the employee.  Explain its importance and the development they will gain.  Be sure to give due credit to your employee for the success of the project.  Never assume the kudos for yourself.

Delegate well and you will start to get volunteers for the next project!

For further reading I recommend:

*This post from Fantastic-Managers site may contain certain affiliate links for which I receive a small commission. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are mine and not influenced by the developing company. Please see Disclosure Statement on website.

Who wants to be a bad Boss?

Comparison list for best manager behaviours: the good boss

Do you have fond memories about a particularly good boss you knew in the past?  Or perhaps you dread the thought of being like that awful boss that you once had.  I bet you couldn’t wait to leave them behind.

Guess what:

being a bad boss is a barrier to productivity!

So, here are four major types of bad boss that you will not want to emulate:

  1. Micro-manager– nit picking, in your face.
  2. Tyrant – loud, bullying.
  3. Overly laissez-faire – offers no guidance and leaves people to sink or swim.
  4. me, Me, ME – grabs employees’ work and ideas by taking full credit for themselves.

Of course, none of these could be you surely?

Well, I am willing to bet that you want to be a great boss, able to succeed through your team.

Inspiring tips to succeed as a manager

Accordingly, when you are a good boss, you enthuse your employees.  Furthermore you will encourage volunteers to take on projects.  Try these great but simple tips to guide your employees to achieve excellent performance.

  • NOTICE, APPRECIATE and RESPOND to your employees.
  • Treat all FAIRLY and with RESPECT.
  • Be FLEXIBLE to meet changing needs of the business and team.
  • Understand your own VALUES and live up to them CONSISTENTLY.
  • Take RESPONSIBILITY for your team and yourself.
  • MOTIVATE by setting clear goals, monitor performance.
  • COACH your team to deliver results.

Remember that people don’t leave organisations but they leave their boss*.  When your employees perform well, your own reputation as their manager is enhanced.  Most definitely good enough reason to ensure that your manager-techniques are top notch!

*(Attributed to Marcus Buckingham in  “First Break All The Rules”.

© Christine de Caux 2016      All rights reserved

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