Olive Strachan North West Export Champion 2016
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Tools to Help Organisations Deal with Brexit

Every organisation will be affected in different ways by Brexit depending on their sector and specific circumstances, and Human Resources/Learning & Development have a key role to play in ensuring that employees are kept informed and reassured during this time of change and transition.

 

1. Present an unambiguous message from the top of the organisation.

This could come from the CEO or the HR function. There must be clear intent to address employee worries and concerns. It is important that this message re-focuses staff on the business, because during times of uncertainty we tend to focus on our own individual problems, which can cause conflict. For some staff, Brexit can have potentially positive outcomes - for example, some may see it as improving the organisation's competitive position, meaning more work and better job security. UK citizens working in the EU and EU nationals working in the UK - people who may be directly affected by Brexit - will need reassurance and support.

 

2. Make sure you have a strong communication strategy.

At this time, communication is key to building trust. It must be a blended communication approach encompassing:

  • A message from the CEO (which should emphasise the fact that 'we are all in this together')
  • Discussion groups
  • Employee forums
  • 'Town Hall' meetings

 

3. Make use of social media.

Social media has a strong part to play in the two-way communication process. A video message from the CEO shown across all social media platforms ensures that all employees globally receive the same message. Many organisations employ staff whose first language is not English, and a video allows these people to assimilate the message at their own pace and in their own time. Most organisations have their own equivalent of Facebook for employees, which is great for creating communities and allows staff to post comments and pose questions that are important to them. This allows for open communication at all levels of the organisation. It is important that this is monitored by HR to maintain understanding of employee needs and concerns. Another advantage of using a video is that millennials prefer videos that allow staff to listen to the tone of voice and also to see the speaker's face.

 

4. Reaffirm the values that are at the core of your organisation.

Many of the organisations we work with have 'integrity' and 'respect for others' as their core business values. Now is the time to keep staff on track - changes are happening, but you are still the same organisation and your values remain the same. Make sure that employees keep the connection and bring them together using the organisation's values as the thread that holds everyone together.

 

5. Equip line managers with the skills required to manage change.

Brexit means that line managers will have to maximise talent to help build a sustainable business. Some of the key areas that they will need to address are:

  • Inclusion & Diversity - Brexit has, in some instances, widened the cracks in society, emphasising our differences in a negative way. Now is the time to invest in Equality & Diversity training; help staff to celebrate our differences, be aware of unconscious bias, and work together to create a work environment where everyone thrives and feels included.

  • Staff Engagement - Managers need some specific skills to engage staff during these challenging times. Donald Trump's rallying cry is 'Putting America First!' During Brexit, some staff will feel threatened, and we don't always think rationally when our emotional brain kicks in. We start to think more about ourselves and less about others, which can impact on collaborative relationships at work. If we do not work well together, this ultimately impacts on team cohesion and productivity. Managers will have to work a lot harder to get a positive response from their staff.

  • Skills Development - As a HR/L&D professional, I recommend that you create your Brexit toolkit using all the hints and tips discussed above. We have found that this sets the foundations for the future and also alleviates stress, helping the organisation to get ahead of the issue. 

Brexit - just change management by another name?

As a UK based SME with some international clients, the vote to leave the EU came as a shock. I knew that the vote would be close, but I was confident that ultimately Remain would win. Post Brexit I feel it is pointless to rake over the coals, beat our breasts and keep complaining. It has happened and we must move forward. The biggest request we are receiving at the moment from our clients is how we can help managers and leaders to cope with Brexit.

Having experienced a few major recessions in my working life and survived, here are a few of my hints and tips on how to ensure we emerge relatively unscathed. My mantra post Brexit is 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger', a quote from the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. 

Brexit in effect is a massive change process and the skills required by managers and leaders are the ability to deal with change and uncertainty. They must build better working relationships with team members, ensuring that they listen and communicate, provide reassurance and sometimes counselling for those who need it.

In the middle of this sea of uncertainty - because no one can predict the outcome as yet - we hear on the news about the political upheaval and the internal conflicts within various political parties.  Managers/Leaders must provide a beacon that shines amongst the chaos of all this turbulence.  

Something that staff can cling to has to be our company values.  We must keep reinforcing what we stand for as an organisation and what we believe in. Because the impact on the pound, financial markets, the housing market and uncertainty regarding the status of EU workers means that things will change.  

One thing that remains the same is the innate value and purpose of the company we work for. We need to take action that reflects company values and look for some positives. This could be an opportunity to hone your negotiation and influencing skills and ultimately become more resilient. I know definitely after the last recession where I had to seek new international markets for my consultancy services and grow my business by exporting; I emerged stronger with additional expertise and increased confidence in my abilities.

 

My 4 key tips for managing through Brexit are:

 

  1. Consider the potential changes and the impact on the role of employees and leaders.

  2. Identify the skills and attributes necessary for managing the change. E.g. one of the pre-requisites for our next prime minister is that they must have strong negotiation skills so that they can negotiate the deals we require with the rest of the EU. Similarly as an organisation what skills are required to ensure that you are able to navigate the challenging times ahead? Ideally do you possess the talent within the organisation? If not do you need to recruit the right people?

  3. Recognise the psychological impact that is associated with change, the personal responses that staff may manifest and how this will be dealt with. Coaching, counselling and providing support are critical success factors.

  4. Reflect on the impact of change on the organisation, the team and the individual and the challenges this presents. It is important to involve staff, set up some focus groups ask staff for their input and ideas making sure that staff are engaged and employees feel that they have a voice is crucial.

 

Peter Cheese the CEO of the CIPD says that Brexit is a time when we must demonstrate strong leadership and direction,  even if at the moment we are still experiencing VUCA (which is the acronym used to reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions).

The main thing to emphasis to our employees is that the 17 million people who voted for Brexit wanted to create something. Within an organisation this could also be an opportunity to create something new but it means that each person is responsible for the outcome, so we are all accountable.

Premiere Hotels Group celebrating

Recently, it was my great pleasure to attend a gala dinner with some of the fabulous people I had helped to train and coach over the last few months for the Louvre Hotels Group, comprising Campanile and Premiere Class Hotels.

I had received an invitation giving me the opportunity to celebrate the success of the Sales Champions at the company's Sales Champion's Black Tie Gala Dinner. These were the very people I had helped to coach and train over the latter months as part of the OSR Employee Engagment in Action Programme. I was so proud to see them receive the recognition and rewards they deserved for their hard work and commitment to the organisation. The World Class Service chain clearly demonstrated their Do, Dare, Dream philosophy, which I felt we had achieved successfully together.

The exact agenda for the evening was shrouded in security, but it was lovely to see everyone arriving to a champagne reception dressed in their most glamorous outfits - it was reminiscent of the Oscars!

As the person who had been involved in working with the organisation to design and deliver the Sales Champions training, I felt humbled and priveliged to be invited to one of their highlights of the year. As a Learning and Development consultant, you do not often get the opportunity to celebrate success with your clients.

I arrived at Campanile in Bradford (www.campanile-bradford-co.uk) and immediately recognised many familiar faces; Mark Aldridge, Head of Operations Europe, was at the forefront of the welcoming team. As a senior leader, he has an excellent relationship with his staff, and this was evident throughout the evening. Along with Mark was another senior leader: Xavier Douchy, Vice President of Operations Europe, who had flown in especially for the occasion. Their demonstrations of support and showing an interest in their employees with their presence never cease to amaze. Mark knows each employee individually and the laughter and cheers as each person was greeted and acknowledged resonated throughout the hotel.

It was certainly a night to remember, and there was an air of suspense and expectation in the room as the winners were announced. Each person received a rapturous applause as they were called to receive their award. I can honestly say that it felt as if everyone was a winner at Campanile, but the outstanding winners of the evening were as follows:

  • Best Sales Conversion: Selina Knott, Campanile Swindon
  • Being Most Proactive: Tracey Mann, Campanile Basildon
  • Outside Comfort Zone: Kevin McCoy, Campanile Doncaster
  • Largest Increase in Revenue: Kate Cook, Campanile Dartford
  • Individual Site Ownership: William Furie, Campanile Glasgow
  • Engagement of Team: Rafal Gawart, Campanile Leicester
  • Improvement in Guest Service: Emma Taylor, Campanile Bradford
  • Exceeding Guest Expectation: Tomasz Fecinski-Gawl, Campanile Manchester

And finally...

  • Sales Champion of the Year: Alexandra Brown, Campanile Milton Keynes

The pride and delight on each person's face was clear to see as each winner was recognised not only amongst their peers but by their managers and the senior leaders within the organisation. This sight was clearly a pleasure to behold.

Olive Strachan at the Louvre Hotels dinner

Noreen Gregory and Juliet Hayes - the managers responsible for ensuring that the Sales Champion initiative was successful - had taken care of everything, from the delicious food and wine to the excellent service and the fabulous awards and prizes that were of the highest quality, ensuring that each person felt delighted to be part of the great occasion.

The Gala Dinner and Ball was the culmination of a project which began a year ago with a vision that Mark Aldridge had regarding staff engagement and ownership. Together with his team (comprising Noreen Gregory, Juliet Hayes and Emmanuelle Le Roux), it was truly a vision regarding how to better engage his staff.

Louvre Hotels Group values

From the outset, we agreed that the 4 traits that engaged employees were:

Enthusiasm, Empowerment, Inspiration and Confidence

The vision was for each employee within the organisation to feel committed to a common purpose and to playing their part in achieving business goals. A jigsaw piece would be incorporated into the project, linking to key actions that needed to take place for success. The jigsaw would be a large floor graphic with each piece representing a key action. The other side of the jigsaw would contain an explanation as to what each action would mean.

Each hotel would be given a large wall jigsaw, which was empty at first; then, as the hotel achieved the goal/objective, they would receive the relevant piece to insert into each space. The jigsaw would be displayed in a prominent position so that each member of staff had a visual reminder of their achievements. The ultimate goal was for each hotel to eventually gain all the pieces and have a full jigsaw on display.

Prior to launching the initiative, OSR was commissioned to design and deliver the Sales Champion's trainig and, at the end of the training, the pieces of the jigsaw were given to hotels that were already exceeding expectations.

Delivering a training programme can start the journey, but to guarantee transfer of learning to the workplace, it is essential that we have 'buy-in' from the managers so that the messages are reinforced. Bearing this mind, Noreen Gregory and Juliet Hayes were there during the delivery of the programme and immediately after to discuss action plans.

Measurements were put in place to monitor success. Each hotel was allocated a Sales Champion, who was tasked with sharing and cascading the learning within their hotel and presenting back to their team the concept of The Sales Champaion. To support them, they had regular coaching with their managers, meetings, one-to-ones and teleconferences with each hotel sharing in the success!

It was clear to me that The Drivers for Employee Engagement were deployed and utilised with exemplary practice. These drivers are:

  • Relationship with direct manager
  • Belief in senior leadership
  • Pride in working for the organisation

It was a night I will always remember with very fond memories!

Trophy

OSR logo with shadow

Olive Strachan, CEO and Founder of OSR Ltd, recently visited the Caribbean in relation to the UKTI Trade Mission.  The blog is in 2 parts; the first leg of her mission took Olive to the beautiful country of Barbados….

“Having being born on the beautiful Caribbean Island of Dominica, I have always had the desire to one day work in the Caribbean. With this in mind, we have invested in land with the intention of offering the same training services as we do in the UK, but with a sister company in West Indies. When I received an invitation from the UK Trade & Investment to attend the ‘Caribbean Education & Trade Mission’ to Barbados and Trinidad in March of this year, I jumped at the chance - and for some reason my husband said he would come with me!

"The first stop was Barbados. We stayed at the Accra Beach Resort and Spa, which I would highly recommend!  

"On the first day, we were taken to the British High Commission where we received a fantastic welcome and a complete overview of the Political and Economic aspects of Barbados by Victoria Dean, British High Commissioner to Barbados. 

"Presentations followed. arranged by Hadford Howell (Head of Trade and Investment from the Caribbean Development Bank) and the  University of the West Indies to name a few. It was an action-packed day and we left knowing what opportunities were available to us in Education and Training.  

"The following day, Hadford and his team had organised individual meetings with potential partners/buyers. It was a thoroughly interesting, informative and enjoyable trip. As an added bonus, we met some lovely people - a big shout-out to Sue Springer and her team from the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association for making us feel so welcome!

"The following day, we were flying out to Trinidad and Tobago on the next leg of the visit – exciting times ahead.  My journey will continue with my August blog..."

An Opportunity to shape our programme for 2014/2015

In my position of Chair I am often asked by our members how we construct our programme of events for you. Well it is a yearlong activity culminating in the whole committee which consists of 20 strong volunteers from various backgrounds getting together to produce a programme that is innovative, creative and interesting.

We have also been tasked by CIPD Wimbledon to find local projects that could have an impact on improving better work and working lives.

This year we would like our members to get involved in helping us to shape our activities for 2014/15.

With this in mind we have compiled a questionnaire and it takes approximately 5 minutes to complete. This questionnaire is specifically for CIPD Manchester only, we are seeking to understand what your requirements are from us and how we can improve our offering to you.

Please click on the link https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ManchesterBranchMembersSurvey2014 

Tags:

Or are they?

In my capacity as Chair of the Manchester Branch of the CIPD, I have been asked by the Career Academy UK to present on the topic of a CIPD report called 'Employers are from Mars, Young People are from Venus'.

The report identifies that there is a direct mismatch between the expectations of employers for young people during the recruitment stage and the young people's perception of what employers expect from them. Are they worlds apart? In essence, the processes are deterring the young people's entry into employment, and this is a prime factor in the skills shortage that currently faces UK businesses.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, commented: "When it comes to recruitment, it can feel as though young people and employers are on completely different planets. Too many young people are struggling to finish their first job, whereas many employers are finding it difficult to get the skills they need. This mismatch needs to be addressed, not only to reduce youth unemployment and the long-term impact it can have on young people, but also to ensure that UK businesses are equipped with the right talent for the future."

Of course, we must also look at the employer's perspective; many employers suggest that their roles require 'experience', even for relatively junior roles, which then creates a mundane sequence for those young people who do not have access to employment opportunities.

The presentation will take place in Manchester at the Cooperative Building, Ballon Street, Manchester. Starting at 5.30pm and concluding with a Q&A session at 6.30, the event should prove to encourage a lively debate. The employers in attendance will include Barclays, Jaguar Land Rover, Deloitte, Aircelle, M&S Bank, and SMEs.

I very much look forward to working with Career Academy UK and supporting them on their journey to unite employers and young people to ensure that they are ready for the 'world of work'.

The full report can be accessed at www.cipd.co.uk/publicpolicy, and the agenda for the presentation is available to download at www.olivestrachan.com/content/pdfs/cauk-flyer.pdf.

Further information on the Career Academy UK can be found here: www.careeracademies.org.uk

Worldwide Who's Who is a global enterprise that seeks to distinguish the most outstanding businesspeople from throughout the world, helping them to network with each other and enhance their own online profiles. The organisation operates on a 'by invite only' basis, and so it gives us immense pride to announce that Olive Strachan and OSR are now a part of the Worldwide Who's Who!

Worldwide Branding issued a press release earlier today, praising Olive's "dedication, leadership and excellence" and highlighting some of her greatest achievements to date. Particular attention was paid to Olive's unique training style; the article describes it as "very engaging, very active with clients and [getting] them involved".

Higher praise we couldn't have asked for - this made everyone here at OSR very happy, and this recognition from the Worldwide Who's Who is further proof of the excellence demonstrated on a daily basis by Olive and the team.

Read the full press release here, or return to the OSR homepage.

Barclays Flexible Working

After speaking at the Natwest Entrepreneur Breakfast earlier this week, Olive Strachan will be appearing at another high-profile business event next Friday. Olive will be a guest speaker at the Barclays North West Flexible Working Forum on the 20th of September, and this occasion promises to be just as enlightening and as enjoyable as the Natwest breakfast.

The main focus of this seminar will be the subject of flexible working. Speakers will discuss the commercial benefits of flexible working, and attendees will have the opportunity to share their own best practices. You will of course have the chance to network before and after the event, and since some of the top employers in the North West are expected to attend, this could be a great opportunity for you and your business.

The invitation to the Flexible Working Forum can be seen below, along with details of how to book your place. Lunch will be provided, and the speeches are sure to be very illuminating indeed; our own Olive Strachan will be offering her viewpoint, along with Sarah Greasley (client technical director of IBM) and two representatives from Capability Jane, an up-and-coming recruitment website. We hope to see you there!

Barclays Invitation

Click image for full-size version.

On Wednesday the 11th of September, OSR founder Olive Strachan will be speaking at the Natwest Entrepreneur Breakfast Seminar in Manchester. The seminar will focus on the topics of engagement and flow, and how businesses can use the FISH! Philosophy to really engage their staff.

At this point, you may be wondering what exactly the ‘FISH! Philosophy’ is. It may have an unusual name, but the big idea behind FISH! is universally pertinent – quite simply, the philosophy is built around the assumption that people do better work when they enjoy their jobs. As for the peculiar piscine name, that’s because the FISH! Philosophy started in Pike Place Fish Market, Seattle, a stall that’s become internationally renowned for its excitable fishmongers and outstanding customer service. The staff shout orders to each other, fling the customer’s fish around the stall, and generally do everything in their power to put smiles on faces.

The aim of Natwest’s seminar is to get businesses thinking like the Pike Place fishmongers. Olive’s speech will be all about ‘flow’ and how to achieve it – if you’re enjoying your job, and thoroughly engaged with the task at hand, you’ll get into the ‘flow’ and lose all track of time. This is the perfect state of mind for productive, creative work, and the Entrepreneur Breakfast will help you and your employees to get in the zone, achieve a pleasant sense of flow, and do better work than ever before.

The Natwest Breakfast will take place on the 11th of September on the 7th floor of the RBS Building on Deansgate, Manchester. Breakfast refreshments will be available from 8am onwards; Olive Strachan’s speech will begin at 8.30. To RSVP to this event, email Julia Chisnell at professionalsunit@rbs.co.uk

Insider North West recently included Olive Strachan - OSR's founder and CEO - in their list of the 100 Most Influential Women in Business. Olive established her own company in 1998, and since then she's expanded her reach into the four corners of the globe, delivering training sessions all over the world and growing Olive Strachan Resources into a truly international training company.

Over the coming weeks, Olive will be sharing her thoughts on being a woman in the world of business, as well as offering some tips for women who wish to become influential in their chosen industry. This series of blog posts will cover everything from getting a company off the ground to gaining a foothold in the international market, and we're sure that her tips will prove helpful to budding businesswomen everywhere.

Here's a message from Olive herself:

There has been much research regarding women in business and, sadly, women are still perceived as a risk. My belief is that the problem stems from a lack of confidence in ourselves. In my series of blogs about how to become an influential businesswoman, I will share with you some of the challenges I have faced and how I overcame them. I will also write about the amazing experiences I have had that led to my inclusion in Insider Magazine's list of the 100 most influential women in business. 

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