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Feeling valued for the work you do is a foundation for wanting to give of your best. We all respond to being recognised for what we have done, what we contribute.

Yet for many of us, feeling valued is a rare commodity. What tends to get noticed is what we haven’t done or any mistakes we make. After all, if the boss asks us to go and see him or her, few of us are likely to think that they want to acknowledge our good work – we are more likely to worry about what they might say we have done wrong.

So how do we increase the likelihood of being valued for our work and our attitude? We would suggest that you start to value others more: those colleagues you can depend on to do what they said they’d do; that manager who trusts you to just get on with your work without interfering; that person who always makes you smile with their cheerful attitude; that more experienced team member who will explain something to you that you haven’t come across before; the one who speaks up in a meeting, voicing something you were thinking but didn’t want to say.

There are hundreds of everyday examples where someone else makes some form of positive difference to your day. By overtly recognising it, and thanking them for how they’ve contributed to making your day go better, you not only help to make them feel valued, you also are setting an example of valuing others that becomes infectious. By drawing attention to what someone does that is right, you are encouraging them to notice the same thing with others, including you!

I remember being asked by a senior manager to undertake some executive coaching with two of his team. He told me that they were great people to have in the team, and he wanted to encourage them to develop further because they would both be senior managers one day.

When I started to work with them, I realised that they had no idea he thought they were good at their job. In fact, both of them thought they were being coached because there was something lacking in their work or performance – It was a perfect example of not telling people that you saw them as valued members of the team.

I asked them how they felt about him as a manager and they both said that he was a really good manager, and they liked working with him. I suggested that they found an opportunity to tell him that they valued the way he managed them and had learnt a lot from hm. At their next coaching sessions, they both said that they had done what I suggested, and that he had been both surprised and pleased when they had said it. Moreover, he had told them both that he in turn appreciated the way they worked, and that was why they were being given the coaching – a great turn-around for both sides.

So why not try it out yourself? Go and find three people you work with today and tell them what they do that makes a difference to you. Why not make showing someone else that you value and appreciate them one of the daily things to do on your to-do list? There’s a great sense of well being to be had when you genuinely thank someone or let them know that they’ve made a difference to you. And interestingly, just by that subtle act of gratitude, you’ll be spreading that feeling of well being around your team and organisation too.

Have a wonderful month everyone!
In peace,
Di & Jo xx

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Everyone these days seems to be getting on with their list of things to do, in their own world of busyness. Yet on a personal level, most of us find that it makes a difference when we stop and consider before we just bash on, and even more of a difference when we talk things through with others.

Yes, there are lots of meetings to go to in most workplaces, but these are not generally for sharing or exploring ideas and possibilities, they are for information giving, reporting and dealing with immediate issues. This way of working results in several things:

People still tend to work in silos

Despite being in a team, most people still do their work primarily on their own, and don’t use the benefits of working together or develop the relationships with others that make that easier.

Urgent gets done rather than important

People deal with whatever seems most urgent, and often neglect the important things that would make a positive difference to the culture, their effectiveness, and help to reduce the number of immediate issues in the future.

No one has a wider perspective

If people are focussed on what needs to be done next, they lose their perspective on what they are trying to achieve overall, and the consequences of their actions for others who are involved in the process.

What’s the alternative?

Most teams have an away day at least once a year. Too often these are just a lengthier and more complex version of the meetings they have back in the workplace.

What if they were a time to reflect, together?

The benefits of space and time away from the office can be enormous:

  • The team can develop their relationships with each other in a relaxed environment
  • They can look at ways of enhancing their effectiveness in working together, so they get all that stuff done more easily
  • They can reflect on the bigger picture, what they’re trying to achieve overall, and develop ideas on how to do that more effectively
  • They feel valued enough to be given the space to think about something other than their immediate list of things to do
  • The team can make important decisions together, so that priorities do not get confused
  • They can explore how best to work together, in order to achieve their goals for the year
  • They can develop particular skills across the team that will enable them to deliver their departmental objectives more easily
  • These developed skills become a shared learning, a common language of development that all the team share, something that brings them together
  • They have the opportunity to look at things that perhaps they don’t have time for at the office, things that are important to the team as a whole, but just not important enough to make the top of individual to-do lists
  • They can come up with more innovative solutions to problems because they are away from the BAU (business as usual) tasks back at the office
  • Teams are a living system, a social network, being away from the office reminds everyone that they are not just their job titles or roles, but real human beings and reconnect as such

And ALL these elements make a difference to how they perform when they return to their everyday working.

We at Meta have facilitated such days for teams in organisations over the past 20 years, and we know just how valuable they can be in helping to create sustainable success in the workplace. Time and time again we hear the same things – ‘it’s just so good to get away from the office together’, ‘I feel like this has really brought us together’, ‘I thought it was just me that thought like this, it’s nice to know we are all on the same page’, ‘its nice to have some space and time to think!’ ‘I can see how we can make this work if we work together on this’.

We all instinctively know that time away from the office together as a team isn’t a ‘jolly’ – (unless you decide that go-karting is the way to go!) – it isn’t a luxury, it’s an essential to the long-term success of the team. Without away days teams become fragmented and individualistic. It is no longer about the team and what the team needs to deliver but ‘how can I get what I have on my to-do lists so that I am in the clear’. That may sound harsh, but for many of us that is the truth.

At Meta want to change that story, we want to help you to create a team that grows and develops together. Having your away days facilitated by an independent, someone outside of the team dynamics, who is not involved with the organisation, has been shown to make a real difference to the effectiveness and longer-term success of a team away day. “Facilitate” means ‘to make things easy’ it’s our job to make it easy for you to work more effectively together, back in the difficult dynamics of your workplace.

So think about your team away day this year, would you like to get the most from that day away from the office? Would you like to develop the working practice of your team? Would you like your team away day to be fun, enjoyable, motivating, productive, inspiring and different? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes please!’ Then why not get in touch with us here at Meta?

At Meta we’ve been running staff and team away days for years. It’s what we call our ‘bread and butter’, because we’ve worked with teams at every level within organisations global to start up, from CEO’s and directors to people working on the shop floor. We know what works and over the years we’ve developed and refined our programmes so that they are practical and easily applicable back in the workplace, thus overcoming that traditional ‘that was a nice away day, and now we’re back in the office, we’ll revert back to the way we’ve always worked’. We love helping teams to realise their potential, and we don’t want your away day to be wasted. We want it to become a way for you to sustainably change the way your team works for the better. At Meta we truly believe that its time to utilise this opportunity away from the office to its fullest so that your team comes back raring to go and ready to give of their best.

So why not use YOUR away day this year to get more? Use YOUR team away day to motivate, develop and inspire your team, you’ll be really glad you did!

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In the last few months, I have come across worrying signs in the meetings that I’ve had with our valued customers. Not only are we struggling out there to keep our heads above water, to weather out the current storm of difficulties and demanding organisational needs, but this constant drive for more for less (and with less) from organisations at the moment is leading to us losing our humanity.

That’s a bold statement I know, however I have recently been working with people maltreated by their employers, I’ve seen how people are off with serious illnesses (cancer, pneumonia, strokes) as a result of stress and work, and I’ve seen first hand how callous and inhumane some CEO’s and leaders feel they have to be in order to get the job done and deliver what needs to be delivered.

Now I believe that no one wants to be horrible. No one wants to be inhumane, but when we are set impossible targets, when we are under more pressure to deliver than ever before. Sometimes we get caught in the story, get caught by it all, and perhaps we ignore things that we really shouldn’t ignore. Tolerate things that we really should not tolerate.

The system at the moment is one that doesn’t want us to think or care. It wants us to deliver – to give more and more, faster and FASTER, with less people, less time and less budget.

So how can this system work? When we look at it like this surely this is untenable, surely this can’t work? Well it can’t work long term. It can short term, but that is only if we treat people as a consumable resource. One that is ultimately replaceable when one is worn out or not of use anymore – (sound familiar the contractors amongst you out there?)

However on a more positive note, people are remarkable, and at the moment they are the glue that keeps organisations together, the oil that keeps the cogs of the machine running, even though they are severely understaffed, is the will and power of their people. So isn’t it time that organisations said thank you to their people? The people who enable the business to keep in business? Who deliver, who go beyond the call of duty to ensure the mission impossible is fulfilled and made possible?

Isn’t it time that we actually brought the humanity back into business? A business where we dared to care, where we stood up for a work colleague, where we stood up for each other?

There is some interesting new research that shows that people are losing their ability to empathise. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the workplace. We don’t see the ‘work me’ as who I really am. So we do things at work that we’d probably never do in our personal lives. We also forgive behaviours that we would find intolerable outside of work, because ‘that’s just the way it is here’.

You see, as we are put under more and more stress so we become more individualistic, we rightfully look after ourselves first because we do not have the resources in our fuel tanks to protect more than just us. We can’t look after everyone anymore, we’re so busy trying to get our own impossible to-do list done, that we struggle to find time for anything else.

So sometimes we might send a snotty email or have a curt conversation with someone that with hindsight we regret. We might say yes to something, when actually we wish we’d said no! And what about when we witness other people being treated in a way that we wouldn’t want to be treated? Do we turn a blind eye? Do we look the other way? Do we not make a stand for fear of being picked on next? It’s totally understandable, but is it right? Is our silence allowing our natural empathetic responses to be dampened and lessened?

At what point do we say no?
Where is the line that someone has to cross before we say that’s not OK?
When we lose our empathy, we lose our humanity.

You can deliver more, if you care and look after your staff. Investing time and effort into your staff isn’t a luxury it’s a necessity for ensuring a happy, successful and productive organisation! There is so much research on this, and yet right now there are few organisations that are putting this into practice.

I mentioned earlier that its time for us to not tolerate things we are currently tolerating. To challenge what we feel isn’t right. There are basic human values that are being tested here today in today’s business practices. Inhumanity is being tolerated, and that’s something that has to be checked. Has to be stopped.

So how do we do that?
Well, release the hand of fear for a start.. Fear has been controlling many of our lives for too long. And.. get together to say NO.

When we are running the story that it is just us, just me vs. the organisation then if I stand up and say no then I am just a trouble maker. However, if I find like-minded people, people that believe in what I believe in then we can ally together. If we stand together, we are stronger, its hard to call you trouble makers when you have a team of 20 allies!

So how about making that list of allies right now? How about getting together with others to share the problems and difficulties you face? Remember a problem shared is a problem halved, and a monster shared is a monster halved too!

Find you own ‘rant buddies’ people at work that you can just go and have a good 5 minute rant about something with.

Find people that have witnessed similar bad behaviours and band together to do something about it together. You don’t just have to have one group of allies, the wonderful thing about allies is that you ally together over one cause, so if you have more than one cause, you can have a different set of allies for each!

Too many people right now are making passive choices. Its time to be pro-active, time to make active choices to change the way your workplace is.

The only way to change the way we work is to band together and to work together in a different way. To actively champion the causes and values that you hold dear and prove that working in a more caring, supportive, encouraging way is the way to get more done!

So let this month be a month that you find and get together with like-minded people in your organisation. The time for isolated working is over, its time to band together for a common purpose, a common goal. And I think that standing up for what is right, standing up for real human values, and treating people fairly and equally is a darned good common purpose to have!

If you can’t make that group in your own organisation, remember that here at Meta we are happy to be your rant buddies, and we’re happy to put you in touch with other people that feel just like you.

We are passionate about doing all we can to change the way we work. Its time for a more evolved way of working, and if you’re willing to make a stand for that, then we are with you every step of the way.

So call on us for support or guidance, we are always here for you, our valued customers and friends, and we always will be.

Wishing you a wonderful month!

Jo xxx

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It’s a new year, and the new year is normally a time to reflect on the year past and make some new year’s resolutions. Yet at Meta we think that’s missing out on a trick. Sure, we may review our personal lives and the habits and systems we have there, but we rarely do the same thing with the habits and systems we have in our work life. We just make do and mend, and do the best we can within the operating system we currently have in our workplace. Now I am not talking about what computer operating system you are running at work, and yet the computer analogy is a good one, because many of us are working in organisations that are running an outmoded ‘operating system’.

Last year I went into my local computer repair shop to ask if they could upgrade my Apple Mac computer. I’d found that my computer wasn’t working very well, it was no longer able to function effectively and it was noticeably slow and inefficient. I was told, by the very nice man in the shop, that my Mac was a ‘vintage’ computer, (it was about 10 years old), and that really I needed to update not just my operating system but my whole computer!

Just before Christmas, I bit the bullet and I have a new mini mac now – in fact I’m writing this update on it. The appearance of the computer is familiar, but it’s been changed somewhat, with new features that make it easier to operate and more accessible, even to a techno-phobe like me! It’s noticeably faster and is more effective in everything it does. This is because Apple talk about ‘evolution not revolution’ in their design and manufacture. They evolve ideas and grow them in a sustainable way, sometimes much to the frustration of technology reviewers, who want the next revolution!

So how does this analogy relate to you? To your workplace? To your organisation?
Well, it’s time to look at your computer (your organisation) and your operating system (its culture). Firstly, ask yourself whether you need a new computer – or do you just need to update your operating system?

You see, right now, there are two main systems operating in all workplaces, no matter what sector you are from. There is the old system – command and control; management not leadership; espoused values not lived values; it’s all about the what not the how; and short term profits above long term sustainable growth. And there is an emerging new system: one where the job gets done and the profits are made, but not at the cost of the culture of the organisation or the long-term vision. This system is one where people work smarter not harder, where they are valued and seen as more than just a resource; where our potential is encouraged and developed, where we are allowed to shine; and the values are not just printed up on posters and on your screen saver, they are lived by every leader and every manager. In this workplace, leaders inspire, develop and motivate their staff. It is a place where innovation and creativity thrives, and where people LOVE to come to work.

“Where is this place??” I hear you cry!

“Surely this is some utopian dream, not achievable in the ‘real world’ of business, Jo!”

Well, I strongly disagree. It’s here and it’s NOW. The hunger for it exists right now in every person we come across in the work that we do. And the means to make it happen exists too. All it requires is an upgrade in thinking and a shift into action.

It’s time to stop equating success with short term profits, it’s time to stop using the excuse of the financial crisis to keep on promoting bad working practices. It’s time to stop letting the old system and its underlying fear run the show. It’s time to stand up and say: “I WANT A NEW OPERATING SYSTEM! I want to be part of the upgrade, part of the evolution of the organisation. I want to be part of the move towards a different way of working.”

You see, I’m not talking about revolution here, I’m talking about evolution, the evolution of how we work. It’s time to bring the humanity back into business, it’s time to move forward in our thinking. Many of the business practices we see right now are outmoded and proven to be ineffective. Many people (and yes, that includes you, probably) put up with unacceptable organisational practices and behaviours that you would not tolerate in your everyday life.

So maybe it’s time to not be tolerant anymore. Maybe 2014 is the time to shift the thinking in your organisation. Maybe this year is the time to upgrade and update your operating system and move into a 21st century way of working, that taps into the potential of your staff. And what is that way of working? How can you upgrade your operating system (your culture) of your organisation?

Well, with willpower, resilience and with a little help from Meta. This is our area of expertise. We’ve studied what makes truly excellent organisations excellent, and we are champions for this new and more sustainable way of working.

We can help you, be you an individual, a leader of a team, department head, director or chief exec. We know how to work at all levels, enabling you to get the best from yourself, your staff, your organisation. We know what the new operating system is (as do you, deep down inside actually!) and we know how to help you to evolve your current culture towards that new way of working.

So if you’d like to be a part of the evolution in your organisation and of this planet, get in touch, we’d love to talk to you about making it happen for YOU.

Have a wonderful month, and I hope that this month’s update has made you think about what YOU want and what you can do to be part of the evolution that is happening in the workplace. Don’t get left behind and don’t let yourself be an unwilling part of the old system. Stand up for what you believe in and be a part of the new evolution.

In peace,

Jo xxx

Chief Executive of Meta


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We have noticed that almost all organisations these days are called businesses, even those which are essentially services, such as the NHS. In the process of preparing a new book, I have explored the meaning of the different words we use to describe workplaces. This prompted me to look up the word ‘company’, and remind myself that originally it meant somewhere where people broke bread together.

Oh dear! Lots of people don’t even break bread together at home, let alone at work!

The very concept of breaking bread together brings up such a positive image: people eating together, talking together, knowing each other, discussing things that matter in a calm and pleasant atmosphere. Can you imagine what a difference it would make to what goes on at work, if that was part of the daily rituals there?

Instead we have businesses, where people are all too busy doing their never-ending to-do lists to be able to raise their heads and smile at each other, let alone eat together! It is such a loss to our personal well-being and that of the places we work in. Without the simple human contact, we lose touch with what it is all really about – making a positive difference, creating something together that we can be proud of, making enough profit or spare to be able to keep going, delighting our customers – some of those things that are obvious when we have time to stop and reflect..

So this month, why not decide to change from the busy daily rituals, at least once in a while:

  • Smile and say hello to your companions in the company
  • Eat with some of them once in a while
  • Discuss what really matters to the long-term survival of your company, rather than just how you will meet this month’s targets

This not pie in the sky, so to speak! It is humans who make up the major component of a business, and being human is the most important thing they bring to that company – if this were not true, everything would by now be done by computers! So bring your humanness to work this month, and enjoy the fact that you work with other humans – give your business a little bit of company!


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THE RIPPLE EFFECT (and why it matters to you and your organisation)

At Meta we’re always interested in scientific research that backs up our own idea about how organisations work. Recently we were made aware of some really interesting research done in America on social networks, by the excellent author Dr David Hamilton.

During a recent seminar we attended Dr David Hamilton referred to ongoing research that shows that how we interact with others has a lasting and surprisingly big impact on others. This impact is what is known as the ripple effect. This quantum physics term essentially says that how we are in any interaction, has a positive or negative ripple outwards. The surprising thing is just how far that ripple ripples out!

How we are in all our interactions with others (e.g.: happy, sad, positive or negative) ripples outwards into our social network. Our mood is like a stone when dropped in a pond. It has an initial impact as it hits the surface and then that ripples outwards across the pond, and actually our mood can affect someone we’ve never even met.

In research done at Harvard University on a social network of 12000 people (that’s a real social network, not a Facebook one!) they tracked and measured how the mental health changed in individuals in response to mental health changes in their social network. There were some really interesting results! For example, if a friend of yours becomes depressed for any reason, it increases the likelihood that you will also become depressed by 93%. It works the same with happiness. A happy friend can increase the probability of you becoming happy by 25%, and a happy best friend can increase your likelihood by 63%! The fact is that we transmit our moods to those around us, in fact that ‘emotional contagion’ can be measured up to three steps away in your social network – that’s your friends’ friends’ friends! And you may not even know your friends’ friends’ friends’, but how you are has an effect on them!

Let’s just think about that for a moment in the work environment. Our workplace is also a social network. Everyday we interact with different people. Some are in our immediate sphere of influence, our own team, then there are those in the wider team, other departments, other management levels within the business, and then there are those outside of the organisation, our customers, and our business partners.

Many studies show that the success of teams is heavily influenced by the mood of one or two individuals, if a leader is happy, it can lift the mood of a team, and if they are sad or angry, it can lower the mood.

This leads us at Meta to think more deeply about this. To us, it seems there is a simple choice to be made, and yes, we always DO have a choice about this. Every day, remind yourself that actually every interaction is an opportunity to spread a positive contagion through your organisation.

Think about it, if you’re friendly and positive to a colleague, that has the potential to ripple outwards to not only them, but also their team, and anyone else that comes into contact with them through that day, up to three degrees of separation.

Let me put that into some figures for you.. Let’s say that there are 10 people that you are close to at work, and let’s say that each of those people have 10 people that they are close to, that’s already 100 people that you have the potential to effect positively, in only 2 degrees of separation! Now when you see it like that, you begin to realise that how we are at work really does make a difference!

So let’s get back to the most basic choice of all. What kind of ripple do you want to be? Do want to be a negative ripple or a positive ripple in your organisation? The research shows that actually the effect you will have will be pretty much similar, so if that were the case, why would any of us choose to be a negative ripple?

In the busy, pressured working environment that many of us find ourselves in these days, it’s sometimes easy to fire off that angry email, or perhaps chastise a team member or colleague in front of other people. And that is OK, as we are only human, and we’re not expecting you to be perfect here! We are just making you aware of the fact that how you are in EVERY interaction that you make, be it face to face, on a phone or indeed virtually via email, has an effect.

So think of the ripples you’re making. They are not just affecting those that you interact with, but also their work colleagues, their department, their customers, and even their family!

Oh yes, that ripple doesn’t just stay at work – it also comes home with us. Think about it, when you’ve had a bad day at work and you come home frustrated and angry, how does that mean you are with your family? Maybe you get a bit snappy with the kids or maybe you aren’t your normal loving self with your partner? This ripple effect thing is a bit of a bugger when you think about it!

At Meta we hope to be a positive ripple in the world of work. We believe that the most productive, effective and excellent teams and organisations are the ones that understand that these things do matter. They see the value in their interactions, and see every phone call, meeting, 1-1 or emails as an opportunity to spread a more positive, friendly ripple out into the world.

If you’d like to know more about the ripple effect and how it can help the culture and working practice in your organisation then get in touch, we’d love to talk to you more about it!

Have a great summer!

Jo and Di x

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You know these days it seems that we are bombarded with images of business as a ruthless place –  it’s dog-eat-dog and survival of the fittest. You only have to look in the media to see what are held up as examples of businessmen and women; it’s arrogant young sales people in ‘The Apprentice’ or those multi-millionaire ruthless entrepreneurs in ‘The Dragon’s Den’. But is this really the best way to do business? At Meta we think there is a better and a smarter way to work, one that builds relationships and creates an environment where everyone can thrive, and it requires just one simple ingredient: KINDNESS.

Think about it for a moment: the places that you have enjoyed work the most, the teams and managers that you loved the most are the ones that valued you, encouraged you, supported you and gave you the opportunity to grow and learn. They were the places where kindness was just the way we did things, where someone was happy to cover you while you went to pick up your kids from school, where someone was happy to help when you were stuck on a report, when someone was there to support you when something went wrong. You see, these acts of kindness are written into our very DNA. We have misunderstood what Darwin meant in his theory of ‘the survival of the fittest’ to mean that we have to look out just for us, that only the most ruthless survive. But actually the ones that have survived through our evolution are those that have worked and co-operated together. We need to get on with those around us in order to succeed!

We understand that in the core of our being, and in our personal lives most of us will be generally kind people. However, for some reason, that doesn’t always translate into our work personas. Maybe it’s because we believe the business myth that we must be ruthless at work in order to progress? However, we believe at Meta that kindness is the smarter way to do work.

Just think about it. If someone abuses his or her authority to make you do something, how do you feel? Will you help them out next time they need you? If someone forces you to do something, because they can, how likely are you to do something for them? If someone is ruthless and self centred, how popular are they in the office? If someone is always playing the political games and stepping over others to get what they want, how likely is it that they have many true friends and allies in the office? If you have a boss that is always picking on what you do wrong and never noticing what you do right, how does that make you feel about them?

You see the ruthless person might get a short-term result but they will not earn the respect and trust from their work colleagues. They damage the long-term relationship for short-term gain. They will always lose out in the end.

And what of kindness? What can kindness do for us?

When we are kind, it creates a kind of domino effect; as we are kind to others, so they will be kind to others. It’s known in scientific terms as the  ‘ripple effect’. It also makes us feel good when we do it. It releases many of the happy chemicals in our brain and makes us and the person we are being kind to feel better. So the more we do it and the more benefit we see, the more likely we are to do it again.

So what do you want your ripple to be today? Do you want to be a force for good? Spread kindness in your workplace?

I don’t think ANY of us want a ruthless and negative workplace. We all want to be respected, valued, supported and developed. We want our team around us to be kind, friendly and we all want to have more fun! So how about we start by being kind? Practice little random acts of kindness – nothing major: helping out a colleague when they are stuck on something, saying thank you a little more often, making the tea, and getting the doughnuts in for the team, being a friendly, supportive ear to a team member, going that extra mile for your customer, sharing your expertise with another.

Its not difficult, and it can make the world of difference. So spread a little kindness in your office and see what it does for you.

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In Meta we talk a lot about excellence, in its true sense, which is about working in a way which is inspired and natural. If we actually use our natural abilities, we find it easy to be excellent. The work we do with organisations is based on the principle that we all can be excellent, we just need reminding of what comes to us naturally!

We have done a lot of research over the years into what the distinctions are that enable an organisation to be excellent. Over the last few months, we have been working with an organisation, Bromsgrove and District Housing Trust, which is a living example of what we talk about and we thought it was worth briefly describing what we mean by using them as an example.

Let’s begin by emphasising how important the vision and commitment of the senior management team is. At BDHT, the executive team truly want their organisation to be the best it possible can be, for both staff and customers. They have recognised that nurturing a culture which encourages and supports their staff is key to achieving their long-term aims, of being both sustainably successful and offering the best possible service to their customers.

They have also recognised that everyone within the organisation has to feel a similar level of commitment to making it work as well as possible, and that it is their responsibility to create the environment that enables people to feel empowered to contribute not only their best in their specific roles, but also their ideas for making the organisation as a whole even better.

The commitment in BDHT, from the senior management team, the managers and the staff as a whole, is not just intellectual – ‘this is a good idea’ – it is also emotional – ‘we really care about making BDHT brilliant as a place to work and as a service’.

The work we have been doing with them is designed to support and reinforce their desire to be the best they can be. We have been working with the whole staff group on the tools and techniques which will help them to continue to develop their culture and ethos in practical ways.

We began by getting everyone to define what they believed would be the ideal place to work, and thereby getting them to realise that they all wanted the same sort of culture, ethos and way of approaching things in their workplace. We also asked them to describe the way people would work in such a workplace, what the values and operating principles would be, and again, there was a clear agreement about what these were.

Since then we have been running a programme with them on working smarter not harder, which is designed to make them conscious of the behaviours which make the difference in building towards being that ideal organisation. In this programme we have concentrated on how you can keep yourself on form, so that you are more likely to be effective, and how you work with others in a way that brings out the best in both of you.

There is no doubt that they already had many of these ways of working in their working practice, but by making them aware of what makes the difference, they find it easier to build on their strengths, deal with the things that sometimes stop them from being excellent, and become even better as an organisation.

The enthusiasm and willingness to take it further that we experience with them is a testament to both their prior good practice, and their excellence as an organisation. They have recently been classified as 9th in the Best Companies Awards for non-profit organisations, a massive improvement on their position last year. Yet maybe the most telling piece of evidence is the fact that not one member of staff wishes they could work somewhere else – when your people want to come to work on a Monday morning, we reckon you have cracked it!

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When we are caught up in our busy lives, it is easy to forget what really matters.  Out time seems to be eaten up by those never-ending ‘To Do’ lists: targets to achieve, chores to be done, projects to complete and there’s always more to add to the list, no matter how much we get done!  It is depleting, exhausting and we end up malfunctioning in one way or another, because we are not machines, designed to do things, we are human beings, designed to be human!

And what does that mean, to be a human being?  We are a living system within a larger system and our purpose is to live in relationship with ourselves and with others.  Originally when we worked together to achieve common goals, it was to feed, clothe and house ourselves.  We realised that it was easier to achieve these things by co-operating and supporting each other, using our different strengths to play our part, and encouraging each other, so that we would all want to be a part of it.

Our ‘organisations’ are really just groups of people forming a bigger living system, so that they can achieve what they want to achieve more easily.  So why have we forgotten about how to use these systems well, and got caught up in just getting things done?

It’s time we remembered that it is through our relationship with others that we achieve more, it is by taking better care of ourselves that we really utilise our strengths.  It isn’t hard to do, in fact it comes naturally!

So for the next month;

  • Give yourself a break before you are completely exhausted, and just take some breathing space to be.
  • Address the human being you are dealing with before you just ask them to do something.
  • Offer help to others, and
  • Ask for help from others
  • Encourage others to take a breathing space with you

None of this needs to take up much of your time, in fact it will be better use of time than the attempts we make to keep going or look as if we’re keeping going, when we’ve really had enough. Instead of depleting your energy, it will help to re-energise you. When it comes down to it, none of us will want our epitaphs to say: ‘She finished the to-do list!’


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I know this is a strange topic for me to choose – anyone who knows me will know that I am not very technology-minded!  Yet I have been thinking about how powerfully technology can actually help us make a difference, prompted in part by the book ‘Here Comes Everybody’ (see review).

At the same time as email seems to be giving people at work more and more to do and respond to urgently, it is also enabling us to keep easy contact with friends and family who live at a distance.  At the same time as social networking technology enables people to express their trivia to the world, it also enables social movements to build quickly and influence world affairs.

And, on a simpler level, the technology of digital cameras means that my grand-daughter can have a wonderful time taking as many photos as she likes, and practising how to take really good ones, because we can just save the best ones.

I often bemoan the fact that technology makes us its servant, but am reminded again that, when it is technology that is the servant, when we use it well, it can transform our world.

So every time we use technology to easily and quickly lift another’s spirits with our communication, every time we use technology to express our desire for justice, peace, human rights, every time we use technology to bring joy in some form, let’s celebrate it!

And whenever we use technology without good purpose, let’s question it, and ask what else we could do, so that it served us better.

This will reach you through the internet, the world-wide web, which was deliberately established to be an open and free means of global communication.  The original intention was to allow anyone and everyone to have access and to be able to express themselves and communicate with others.  This was based on a belief that, when given that possibility, the best of human behaviour would shine through.  Let’s prove that right!!


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