I’ve been called inspirational, I’ve been called a witch (in the magical sense) and I’ve been called; mum, mentor, friend, coach, best manager, strategic thinker and loads more. I received many of these messages from colleagues at Yorkshire Forward particularly when I left, in a beautiful book containing cards, letters and emails. I read them every now and then when I need reminding that I’m more than who I sometimes feel I am.
I am, without question, mildly eccentric - a deaf woman who likes her pink hearing aid, who loves politics and people, and working and thinking and learning.
You Must Be Wondering is who I think we can be. From quotations to great speeches, from poetry to the eight habits, from neuro-linguistic programming to enjoying coffee and cake - everything can inspire, delight and create a new message and a new mantra for a better life.
I love the story about God and the man in the flood. It had been raining for days and days, and a terrible flood had come over the land. A message on the radio told everyone to get out. When a man heard the news he climbed onto the roof of his house. As the waters rose higher and higher, a man in a rowboat appeared, and told him to get in. "No," replied the man on the roof. "I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me." So the man in the rowboat went away. The man on the roof prayed for God to save him.
The waters rose higher and higher, and suddenly a speedboat appeared. "Climb in!" shouted a man in the boat. "No," replied the man on the roof. "I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me." So the man in the speedboat went away. The man on the roof prayed for God to save him. The waters continued to rise. A helicopter appeared and over the loudspeaker, the pilot announced he would lower a rope to the man on the roof. "No," replied the man on the roof. "I have faith in the Lord; the Lord will save me." So the helicopter went away. The man on the roof prayed for God to save him.
The waters rose higher and higher, and eventually they rose so high that the man on the roof was washed away, and alas, the poor man drowned.
Upon arriving in heaven, the man marched straight over to God. "Heavenly Father," he said, "I had faith in you, I prayed to you to save me, and yet you did nothing. Why?" God gave him a puzzled look, and replied "I sent you a message, two boats and a helicopter, what more could I have done?"
I like this story, because whether or not you believe in a divinity, being ‘saved’ is all around us. A message from someone, a helping hand, carrying us over the troughs. Nowhere more so than in our working lives. I think it was Jackie Stewart who said “I always employ people better than me”. It’s one of my many mantras - as is ‘we win or we learn but we never fail’. Another one; ‘we’re not bitter’ - meaning we laugh at adversity. I have, as I say, many of them. I think they live on in the working lives of all those I’ve employed over the years. But most of all I hope that they listened when I listened. As a deaf woman I’ve learnt to listen well - to hear what isn’t said and to watch what is. Investment in your workforce, personal, genuine, magical investment is the golden globe of management.
You Must Be Wondering is all about delivering the golden globe. A senior colleague of mine once asked me what the hell you do when you can’t give people the salary they deserve. I replied ‘give them chocolate’.
If you’re wondering what this means and are intrigued then please get in touch. If you think you know what it means but you’re not sure how or when or what to do about it given your hectic schedule then email or text me anyway and let’s do some great work together.
You Must Be Wondering is the way I look at life.
I am naturally curious about the way things happen. As I have grown older I have become convinced that the way to get the best out of people is to let them be who they are. Most management principles are based on how to help managers bend and shape people to the needs of the organisation. But actually the best organisations are those which adapt to the needs of the individuals and allow them to express themselves in the way they feel most comfortable. It just requires a bit more from managers.
The North Wind and the Sun were having a discussion which was developing into an argument about who was stronger. The North Wind proposed a challenge. Pointing at a man in the street he said "I will blow that man’s coat off". So he blew and the wind caught the man who shivered and wrapped his coat tighter around himself. The North wind blew stronger and the man turned up his collar and dipped his head but kept going. Eventually in a huff the North wind gave up. The sun then shone gently and the man put his collar down and opened the buttons of his coat. Then as she shone more brightly he paused and took his coat off.
I was once described as a lateral maverick which I took as a compliment and still do. Conventional solutions deliver ordinary results. Innovative solutions can bring about extraordinary results. I try now to look at life in the round and have developed an approach to each day that is based on the sun rather than the wind. If that sounds a bit fanciful try shouting your way through the day and see how you get on. Then spend the next day smiling your way through it. I guarantee you will get very different results.
My early working life was based in an environment which had a number of key guiding principles. Two of these always struck me as astonishingly bizarre. The first was the notion that investment in training and development should be targeted at someone’s areas of weakness. The second was that mistakes were an absolute no go area. Even if they were made they should never be admitted. So large amounts of resource were wasted trying to get people to do things they were never going to be good at, while their strengths were never exploited. Equally doing nothing became the default position because that way you couldn’t have done something wrong. Personally I make mistakes every day but I have come to realise that’s because I’m human. I also know that when I’m doing what I’m good at I do it well and that is always a better and more productive use of my time.
You Must Be Wondering delivers a service based on investing in strengths. If you believe the old adage that for most organisations the assets walk in through the door in the morning then you will want to ponder on how you invest in your assets to get the most out of them.
I've been fortunate enough to have spent quite a number of years in both the private sector and the public sector. The thing I've learned from this, and what really drives my desire to help people achieve their potential, is that I really believe that the vast majority of people in both sectors want to do a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. Find out what really makes people tick, what makes them get up in the morning, and you can do a lot with that motivation. People in the public sector aren't jobsworthies who can't find a job elsewhere, and people in the private sector aren't just motivated by money. We're all interchangeable and we all have friends and family members who work in both sectors - so let's be real and respect each other for the job we do and not where we do it.
In my professional life I've worked in nationalised industry; large, Blue chip companies, for a quango, and for myself in my own training company. For many years I was in IT and I found early on that training people to do a more satisfying job with IT systems really gave me a buzz. Moving into management and taking people without an IT background and giving them the training and development to work in IT was very satisfying. The common factor here was enabling people to reach their potential - so
much talent and energy is wasted by ignoring what people really want to do with their lives. When I had my own company I was constantly amazed by the reaction I got by sitting down with people who were struggling with their day to day tasks and simply listening to their anxieties and concerns and then finding ways with them whereby they could organise themselves to achieve the objectives they were struggling with.
In my personal life I've been Treasurer of a community Leisure Centre; President of a Businessmen's Association, Chair of my church's Parish Council, father, friend and business adviser to my two children. They still think I'm worth listening to...
It's not been a lifetime of success however - I've been made redundant - twice - once as the result of a takeover, and once as part of government cuts. So it wasn't personal - but it felt like it. But in both cases it led to even better opportunities - and that's another lesson I've learned so I can speak from experience when I'm dealing with people going through the same trauma.
You Must Be Wondering is a like-minded group of different thinkers who believe that people have fantastic potential but that to release that potential we must start doing things in a different way, giving people real power over their working lives, allowing them to make mistakes but ensurng that they learn from those mistakes, supporting them when they need that and leaving them to achieve great things when they are ready. Micro managers we are not!
I have often been referred to as a “real people person”. I have no idea how you define this term. It’s true I do have a very keen interest in people, how they think; what they are interested in, what makes them happy - or sad - and what makes them take the decisions they do and the pathways they choose. Some may call that just plain old nosiness, but I hope it’s far more genuine and compassionate than that.
I have a lovely life - a wonderful family, including a very tolerant husband and an amazing son who is the absolute light of my life. I also have an abundance of friends and very importantly a great faith. Not everyone is as fortunate. Helping people achieve their potential and exploring new opportunities are the main reasons why I was so passionate about the work I did at Yorkshire Forward whether that was managing small community based projects or supporting colleagues through a time of huge change, uncertainty and fear.
I can’t bear injustice. I’m a great believer in fair play and that’s what motivates me both professionally and in my personal life. I am Secretary to my local church council and also a trustee of St Georges Crypt, a homeless organisation doing amazing things in Leeds. Hopefully I am able to use the skills I have developed in my career to support my local community and also to those who find life challenging.
I’ve also been referred to as a control freak. I know what they mean but I like to call it a strategic planner! I always like to think that there is a solution to any problem – it may not be perfect, or how you think it should look – but it will be the right solution at the time and that’s always a great place to start.
So whether you are plain old nosey or you have any questions or even want to explore new ways of looking at things please get in touch with us at You Must be Wondering. It may just be the right place to start.