People and Business Change (Ching Ching) Matters – Has your teacher appeared?

December 13, 2012

I have worked on a number of change management programs on behalf of companies and as a therapist and coach with individuals who are trying to create change in their lives too. As I also teach and lecture in the subject too I am always seeking ways in which to link my management-therapy and tutoring experience. In education terms this would be called deep learning, whereby the learner is seeking to add meaning into the material they are studying.

The other kinds of learning are surface (glean the minimum amount to, say, pass an exam) and strategic, which is not as glamorous as it sounds and normally involves planning carefully the approach to study and allocate the time – planned might be a better description. But I digress……

My main point is that company change programs could be considered very similar to personal change programs, and just maybe the former would work much better if companies paid attention to the amount of personal change that is often needed in order for a business to succeed. The enlightened ones might even recognise that constant personal change in their employees (an iterative process) would create the business change they need, before they need it (or ideally just in time) and without the big bust up.

I will illustrate my point by drawing down on Balogun and Hope’s model, which sets out the seven aspects of the context of change management issues:

a. Time available – most companies, as alluded to above, approach change in a rush. Normally the change is dictated to by some outside pressure, stakeholders who might include shareholders, customers or the government. They are often acting from a place of crises and that is the way that many clients first approach me. In crises.

Clients in crises can be quickly supported, which is the benefit of approaching a therapist trained in brief therapy (and coaching) solution methods and can find their immediate issues resolved quickly. This is the surface level of processing.

Some, the more enlightened of course, come more strategically minded, planning with a vision of where they want to be. Coaching supports that too. Some of course want to go “deep” and learn fully about themselves. Some call or consider this to be of a spiritual nature. Who knows if that is so, it matters not. Because sometimes……

b. Preservation is essential -there will be aspects of the organisation or individual that need to hold on and possibly built up or upon. If change management processes can be likened to ‘rites of passage’ then being able to spot what a needs holding on to, and ideally building it in advance of the change are essential. Strategic planning is as relevant for the individual as it is for the organisation! And part of that preserving involves the corollary…..

c. Diversity. Organisation has whole policies talking about how they ‘value diversity’ and that has a payback. It is interesting to note that the English Ash is likely to be more robust than the European species because of its diversity, it mixes of ancestors. Is that not the very essence of what it is to be English, this mongrel race?

For clients the kind of diversity I would coach and counsel would be around having a wide range of experiences and seeking out varied onions and debates. That always widens our horizons and of course our……..

d. Capabilities, which are the resources that we have at our disposal to make the change that is necessary in our lives. The greater the stock of resources that we develop and foster, the greater will be our ability to respond to change, successfully taking advantage of opportunities.
This why companies should pay attention to their stock of capabilities, which of course they often call their “Human Resources” because that is where spare…….

e. Capacity comes from. No organisation should (although many do) endeavour to put into place a change program unless they can resource it properly. For them spare capacity often means allotting a project team, a project manager and the suitable budget too. Most dispense with this and then wonder why they fail and their stock of personal resources and often stakeholders, like customers, become depleted. That is due to poor……..

f. Management. Without the authority and power to drive through the changes they want, managers ill fail and so will their organisations.

Similarly it is not unusual to find that clients have come to me because they have been told they need to by another – this is disempowering because as they old adage asks – how many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change!

And that is what happens. Firstly the light bulb (aka Client) does not want to change and frequently, it is the commissioner of the change (some greater power than they are!) has directed it. In my experience it is the commissioners that are in at least equally need of the change.

So that change is often forced upon the unsuspecting and those that are going to do the work namely the…….

g. Workforce is not ready for it. Unreadiness is not a good state with which to plan change. It will result in, at best, surface learning only. Another adage says the when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear. Maybe, but which would also be making the steps, seeking out our teachers on behalf of our organisation, ourselves and if we are commissioners, those we care for to prepare for change and be healthy.

What does being healthy mean; having in place a (corporate or individual) personality that is self-directed, relational and goal directed, centrered on the present, curious, persevering and resilient – that is having a flexible, resourceful and persistent – approach to challenges. That’s what I teach as a Manager, Coach, Tutor and Counsel.

Has your teacher appeared yet?


People and Business Matters – Getting Your Needs Met

October 18, 2012

I have been combining my business, psychological and inner guidance system (which some call spirit work) together for sometime now. It can be a challenge to cope with misconceptions and prejudices as everyone seems to be an expert. The simple truth is that the work that I have been taught to use is person centrered, encourages personal democracy and practical action. It works for my clients and I will keep ‘keeping it simple’.

Part of that simplicity comes from working with the Human Givens principles, which for me work at an appropriate, simple and direct level. The premise is simply that when the average person is getting their innate physical and emotional needs met in a healthily and in a balanced way they will be mentally, emotionally and as is increasingly apparent, physically healthy too.

 Over the 10 to 15 years that I have been working with the principles, numerous scientists and psychologists have identified the basic givens of human nature which everyone needs to have addressed and satisfied in their life if they wish to function and perform well.

I have also seen numerous new approaches come and go, NLP rise and descend, CBT, RBET and so it goes on change, better, faster, and yet it does not move to simplicity. Working on the 80:20 Pareto rule (Yeah, ok it be management buzz speak, but it has a basic spiritual and psychological truth too – Google it!), keep init simple works. Those of us attending the Vision Quest, before even arriving on the land are already experiencing the deep simplicity.

So why change what works? The answer is don’t especially as the givens also include helping to identify the innate resources available to the individual that can be engaged in helping them in getting those needs met.

How do I start with that? Simple, The Emotional Needs Audit (ENA) is a simple diagnostic questionnaire developed by the HG Institute, which is proving to be a valuable tool since it rapidly highlights where the potential problems in an individual’s life might be.

When I as a human givens therapist help and enable an individual to overcome distress, I will focus on helping the individual to get their essential emotional needs met, authentically and in a balanced way. The I will not just focus on the psychological symptoms.

As the HG Institute notes “Interestingly, when the patient’s emotional needs are attended to their presenting problem often falls away by itself, and unexplained physical symptoms sometimes resolve as well”.

An increasing number of doctors now use the Emotional Needs Audit form with both their patients and staff.




The next People and Business Matters event will be more practical based; using the ENA (Emotional Needs Audit) and techniques for overcoming the annoying habits, starting with the nagging voice in your head (unless that nagging voice is mine, in which case for some of you who know me well, it will remain).

See you Friday 26th, 7.00pm Clophill Centre. Bring a sense of humour and/or a friend.

Do People and Business Matter – here they do!

October 5, 2012

People & Business matters and both experience rapid rates of change. I don’t need to expand further on the nature and speed of that change it is well publicised and bemoaned (and sometimes celebrated).

All of us experience and go through changes; that’s inevitable. It is also apparent that there are many ways to pass through those changes, so practical & secular, some religious and spiritual, but many are lonely and hard. This is particular so as many of us are left with an overall sense of not knowing where to start with a response to that change; how to plan, learn, develop or even ask for help? How to address the mental, emotional or physical anguish associated with the transition?

This can be as simple as needing to write a CV, respond to pressure from work or business, or to return to work or business after a career break. It can be how to plan for business growth, decline or worrying staff, customer and supplier issues – especially for smaller businesses.

It may be about parenting, both of a child and towards a parent. It could be marriage breakdown or career development or it might be about finding that Genuine Passion and Greater Purpose (“Maximise your GP!”).

Addressing the space that exists between the practical & ethereal, person & organisation, stability and space is what the initiative People and Business Matters (PBM), driven from the Community Project at the Clophill Centre is winning funding to do. Focused on teaching and community support the centre encourages participation and has established a number of ways to do so. PBM is one of those, where a warm welcome is offered on either the last or third Friday of each month. It is local people responding to local needs and invites inclusion.

The series of regular monthly events is being held to enable individuals to attend and draw down on the skills of counsellors, coaches and business psychologists to help them develop themselves, their careers and their organisations.

Although the talks have a structure and a regular changing theme, participants are encouraged to ask questions around their current challenges and the format can be interactive. The Forum forms part of an ongoing program that creates community support for those (if not all of us) experiencing life’s transitions.

Each talk is complete in itself and yet forms a complete program too.
That program will soon include the following future local speakers:

1.Dr Neelam Taneja Phd, formerly an MD of an international company, local entrepreneur and Mindfulness Teacher in Schools and Work.
2.Natalie Hailes, Finance, Sales and Marketing recruitment and training specialist with a passion for supporting personal development.
3.Dr Michael Jones Phd, formerly responsible for Business Development at ICI and currently advising the DTI & the Regional Development Agency, he is a Business Psychologist and Hypnotherapist.
4.Angela Samm, a business woman has run a women’s refuge and now practices as Life Coach and healer with a passion for helping people achieve.
5.Peter Bays, former property director at the Burton Group & the Stevenage Initiative & Small Business Advisory Centre, he is an entrepreneur who coaches young businesses and people to success.
6.Paul Channon, an IT Consultant who has worked on major projects for international companies, been Director of a National Charity and compliments that with being a therapist.

The purpose of this blog? To make you aware of a model of community support and encourage your support as an attendee and contributor, at Clophill or in your local community that is and will be warmth through transition.

Which is best; Being Kind or Being Clever? – McDonaldisation and Cattle Prods

September 4, 2012

Which is best; Being Kind or Being Clever? – McDonaldisation and Cattle Prods.

Which is best; Being Kind or Being Clever? – McDonaldisation and Cattle Prods

September 4, 2012

Buzzing customer service and spiritual reverie……

I read of a young man whose Grandmother was ill in hospital. She wanted a special kind of soup (“Chicken Soup for the Soul follows!), since she found the hospital food inedible. The shop that made the soup she wanted did not make it over the weekend, but the young man spoke to the owner, who not only made a special batch, but also sent a box of specially made biscuits for the hospital staff.

No expectation of ‘payment in kind’ or ‘fair profit’, the store owner simply did what happens many millions of times a day (significantly UN and under reported, in my view), she expressed a human emotion when one heart reaches out to others. As she went about her daily business, the touched young man posted news of her kindness on to social media. Result? The shop received 50,000 ‘Like’ hits. No begging emails or prompts from that gal!

The social media gurus would have you focusing on the power of the technology. I ask you to look at the power of the act.

When the customer service operator says “Can I help you with anything else today?” or “Have a nice day.” We can’t be sure that is coming from a sense of kindness and helpfulness or because the technology is ‘listening in’ or the caller will be invited to rate the call (note to self why do I spend my time answering their controlling marketing research stuff?)

What is the power of that act? It feels like and I can imagine the day when the technology will act as a ‘cattle prod’, when the operator fails to use the right word, tonality, inflexion or pause, the great ‘eye that is listening’ can prod the contestant, I mean operator, with a ‘nudge’. They will call it coaching of course. Just maybe we will all sit in the restaurants and push buttons to prod our waiters to serve faster and with more panache.

But we as consumers will never know if the emotion is real are we being lied to? We will complain about the lack of congruence which “did not push my buttons”. The service staff will be under stress, having no room for their own heart to heart emotions and will just go home complaining about how “their buttons have been pushed”. I am sure there are psychological studies that demonstrate that living with a sense of such incongruence and tight management (which my clients complain of) results in some kind of long term illness; mind, body and/or soul.

But the prodding power will gloat cleverly, point to the numbers and say “look the facts speak for themselves, bigger, faster, cheaper and more measurable!” If I have understood the scientific world properly, we will soon have feeling, sentient reflective robots to replace the mechanical humans we are training up, coaching through and making efficient. Perhaps the robots will also be trained to enjoy those wonderful, spiritual times of reverie I often call “Wow moments!” If the eye will aye them, of course.

Founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos, writes of the time where as a young boy he used the power of his calculating and economic mind to point out to his chain smoking grandmother how much her smoking cost and how many years he had knocked off of her life. Grandma burst into tears, uncontrollably and Granddad had to pull over the car they were travelling in to speak to the young Bozo (sic).

“Jeff” said the old man gently “One day you will understand that it is harder to be kind than clever”.

Costa Coffee, Call Centre Chickens and Coughing

August 31, 2012

I recently entered into a debate with a group of friends about the virtues (or not) of Costa Coffee. I enjoy the aroma, ambience and allure of the promotional efforts, from the pretty girls, to the discount (sorry, loyalty) cards to the great charitable causes they support and the proclamations of how much ‘We’ have made. ‘We’ (“and WII too”, nudges and reminds my wee son) have important connotations for the conflicts between the ways we should and yet seem to be inspired to lead our lives. You will notice I used ‘we’ implying that you all should have the same conflicts.

Of course I mean the conflicts in my life not our or we’s lives; that is the conflicts of my spiritual – that which is bigger and greater than I – nature and my consumer preference, the simplicity with which I can grab a quick coffee whilst running for the fast train, oh, and provide cheaper technological fantasy, fitness and no doubt other kinds of ‘F’s’ to my family for entertainment and distraction. I sell out.

Wheeeeeeeee ……. used to be me down the slide and to the bottom (which is now the bit of me that gets stuck half way up the slide!) Now it is the centre of the house, where the hearth used to sit. Whilst I smile at my own inanity, both intellectually and spiritually, the fact is as a rational businessman, functional coach and fluffy counsellor, I am encouraged into the sale and I buy it!

Why does that happen? McDonaldization! Which a guy called Ritzer coined to describe how our world, our contemporary social life, is becoming rational. Efficiency is the rational drive. McDonald’s provides the most efficient method for people to go from a condition of hunger to a condition of satiety – that is satisfying a physical hunger at the cost of the spiritual – which is after all, fluff and more akin, to some, with insanity!

Rational ‘Donalds (hereafter termed ‘Rash Don’) requires a focus on efficiency, predictability, calculability, and nonhuman technologies that control people. Which is where my good friends, the “Call Centre Chickens” come in. They don’t seem happy bunnies, but I do like the cheap, consistent service I get. (My train is rarely late and if it is, I have time for coffee). As a lecturer, I teach how to use apply rational ways, so now I am pondering, why?

As a counsellor, I am told to ‘evidence and record’ my outcomes using ‘Rational Emotive Behaviour’ techniques and I buy it whilst pondering if the blubbering wreck of a client in front of me is recordable? They are healing, does it matter I ask myself?

My mind is a buzzing like a bee, as the hapless, happiless hoppiless bunny stares at the cooped chicken screaming “Do nothing Eisba!” And maybe I should.

The coughing? Oh yes, that’s what I did a lot of when my friends pointed out my Costa Conflict …. *Cough* need a drink, BRB.