Last Tuesday saw the latest smileexpo event in London (23 May 17) and I was lucky enough to attend. As ever it was a packed agenda, with over 100 people in attendance to chat with too. Here are some of my notes from the day.
I was born to boomers, I’m a mother to centennials and a generation X myself. When you consider that our sense of ‘purpose’ is defined by the time we are 13, it’s no wonder we all find it hard to understand each other’s viewpoints at times. Just think about being 13 in the 1950s, 1980s, 2000s and 2020 and beyond for a minute… The contrast is huge, with different experiences, technologies and work. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to go to ‘Simon Sinek in conversation with Reggie Yates’. They discussed purpose, millennials in the workplace and some of the criticisms following that now infamous video.
Every day people go to work. They turn up, they do what they feel they should do, but not always what they could do. They follow the rules, occasionally with good results, sometimes with OK outcomes, other times with poor or even damaging results. Fear can be at the centre of this, unknowingly to us, it holds us back every day from doing things. Some recent examples of how fear manifests itself in work.
Rarely Impossible is a Mobile app development studio based in Bournemouth. I have met Lee Mallon, the MD at different events like Silicon Beach and most recently All About People in June 2016. Lee has a great approach to business and is never afraid to try something new. Rarely Impossible is a very social business, with an open culture. Lee takes inspiration from other successful businesses he’s learned about on his travels. We have great conversations about work and people doing their work over coffee at these events. Lee’s most recently featured on BBC Radio 4 and BBC South Today where his approach to work email has been the focus – he’s banned it internally. Lee’s business is a technical partner, solving clients’ problems with digital solutions. Currently there are 11 people in the team and they are tech savvy and creative group. And it’s easy to say “Well that’s why he could do it”. And yes, you would be right. But it’s his wider approach to his business that I believe means that even as it grows, he’ll keep a cap on email and make its use the exception rather than the norm. So I went to meet him to find out more. We hoped to natter over coffee in the rooftop garden on the building he shares with a group of other small businesses. We got rained off and headed to the high-gloss ‘boardroom’ shared by all the businesses in the building. What a difference a space makes. Immediately you can feel the change in the way you connect in a different location. Lee is definitely more at home in the relaxed astro-turfed roof garden.
I recently attended a Once Upon a Time event in Bournemouth. It’s always a good event, held in the beautiful Shelley theatre (once home to Mary Shelley) and organised by the indomitable duo of Mark Masters and Matt Desmier. Between them their contact list must be among the best and longest in the land of digital creatives, communicators (of all breeds) and entrepreneurs. At this latest event we heard from four great speakers which I wrote about last week. One stood out for me for his enthusiasm and energy, and his authenticity and humanity. The person he was on stage, was the person I imagined he’d be before I heard him speak, and when I met him a week later for a coffee and to find out more, he was exactly the same.
There have been many organisations caught in the spotlight of the media glare after a crisis in recent years and as each of those stories hit the headlines it has made me think of the people working in those businesses. What must they be feeling? What an organisation does in a time of crisis is a real insight into their approach to comms. Are the communications timely, are the messages honest and leadership open, are the messages consistent over time and both internally and externally?
It's true, Some organisations are just like HOME, others feel truly alien. I've worked in a couple of odd ones to know that some places of work just make you feel out of place, zapped of your energy and enthusiasm, and plain unhappy. And that's not good for the organisation or the people it depends upon to be successful. Happily I've worked in many more great organisations where people thrive and love what they do. I know where I'd rather be. As a communicator I find the way organisations operate, their cultures and internal communication fascinating. To the point that it's something I find myself thinking about in the most unlikely places. I was at the cinema with my children enjoying the film 'Home' during the holidays. If you've not had the pleasure, here's a brief synopsis to help you understand the background to my alien thinking and it's connection to organisations.
I have been very quiet here for a while. I've been taking some golden time out to concentrate on my learning and professional development. There's something I've been putting off for too long, and I really needed to crack on with it. So over the last six months I've been putting my efforts into my Internal Communication Diploma. It's been a tough challenge, but one that I really wanted to succeed in. I found the whole process really interesting and inspiring, I had so many new ideas as a result of the reading and interviews I undertook. I carried out a broad study into the links between how an organisation copes with and recovers from crisis and the strength of its internal communication function and levels of employee engagement. My thinking was based upon the idea that many organisations face crises that arise because of their own action or inaction. 'Their own culture has left them predisposed to crisis'.