News

Decision making pit falls

Many decisions we make are big ones and some can be life changing So how can we make sure we’re making a good choice? First of all, there isn’t always a wrong or right answer. Few things in life are black and white. We will all have preconceptions and prejudices that colour our perspective on a situation. We’ve thought of a few pitfalls to avoid during the decision-making process:  Sampling and misrepresentation In 1998, Dr Andrew Wakefield published a study in the Lancet medical journal that identified a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and an increased chance of developing autism. As a result of this ‘finding’, vaccine rates in the UK dropped by as much as 20% over the following decade, leading to outbreaks of all three diseases.  Having examined a sample of children far too …

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Could I have said it better?

Express FM is a long running and successful community radio station based in Portsmouth. Host Darren Gamblen interviewed me recently for his morning show. Time seemed to fly by.  I was a bit nervous as we started, but quickly relaxed into the format.  I don’t know exactly where the questions were going to go, so in answer to the question “Could I have said it better?” – I leave for you to judge.

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Do you want your team pulling together?

“Based in the heart of Portsmouth, Express FM uses stereo FM radio to broaden horizons, unleash potential and raise aspirations for the benefits of the community. We encourage programmes that celebrate life in South East Hampshire, and our local voices play a fresh and upbeat musical mix, which can be heard 24 hours a day.”

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Grammar School

Ah, English grammar! The seemingly ever-changing world of sentence structure. You haven’t studied it since high school, but you speak English. It’s natural to know to place your commas and how to order clauses, right? Well, sometimes…. Believe me, I fully understand the perils of writing a blog article about grammar – you will all be searching through this with a fine-toothed comb, looking for mistakes (deliberate, of course!) So, let’s start with a disclaimer: Socrates is widely credited as saying that the only thing he knew for certain was that he knew nothing. Please also apply the aforementioned statement to this lowly writer and bear with me as I step gingerly into the minefield that is the English language. Many grammar guidelines are fluid and flexible. Sometimes, it genuinely doesn’t matter which punctuation mark you use. However, you could …

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Eating Frogs

Procrastination. Clearing the gutters, a phone call with an awkward relative, that not-entirely-positive performance review you have to conduct….. We all have one; that dreaded task you know you really need to complete, but, somehow, consistently works it’s way to the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list…. You don’t want to face it, but the longer you ignore “THE TASK”, it more looms there in the back of your mind, dominating your subconscious until you grit your teeth, tackle it head on, cross it off that list and breathe again! So how do you make yourself do it? Mark Twain put it like this: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Yes, I know that sounds horrendously unpalatable, (not to mention the animal rights concerns!) but, in …

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Book Review: It’s Your Ship

My brother, who works for a global and well known computer components company lent me his copy of It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, by former US Navy Captain D Michael Abrashoff. The book contains practical lessons from his experience of transforming the USS Benfold, previously one of the worst performing ships in the US Navy.  His management techniques provide a unique collection of best practice, which can be used with as much success in the business world as they have had in the military. As a read, I found it easy, practical, entertaining, although at times with a little too much focussed on the one ship example.  It’s not a weighty management tome, rather a fast moving motivating book to challenge managers at all levels on how to invest in top down …

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Performance Development Review

The words “performance review” can send shivers down the spines of employers and employees alike, but without regular evaluation, how do you know if your employees are doing the right thing? How do they? We’ve prepared a few simple hints to help take the stress out of the process: Keep it regular – Do you need to do annual performance reviews or would bi-annual or quarterly appraisals be more appropriate? Pick a time scale and stick to it. Prepare – The boy scout motto says it all – “be prepared!” Familiarise yourself with your employee’s performance record BEFORE the meeting. Make a note of targets that have been met and areas that require improvement. Give warning – Don’t ambush your employees! Give everyone a chance to prepare for their individual performance reviews and encourage them to keep a personal record …

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The art of interruption

I confess.  I do remember, once, that when an email arrived, I stopped what I was doing to look at it.  (I may have conveniently forgotten the 11,999 other occasions over the past 15 years when I’ve done the same thing.) A friend of mine discovered that when he needs to work on a specific project, or to respond to a large number of emails, that it is more effective to drive 15 minutes home from work, work uninterrupted for an hour, then drive back to the office – because interruptions are such an issue in his workplace. An interesting study conducted by Gloria Mark associate professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, and a leading expert on work found that it took 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return …

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Talking Talks Volumes

Do you recall those experiments with Tin Cans and String?  You remember, where you could hear the person at the other end almost more clearly without the can to your ear? Prior to our marriage, my then fiancée and I spent most of two years 700 miles apart.  As a student, I was skint, so we could only afford the long distance phone calls once each fortnight.  Before the popularisation of the home PC, initially we relied on letters to communicate.  While these had the great advantage of being there to read and re-read (and when you’re in love, re-reading is done a lot), the letter didn’t always convey the nuances that a conversation would communicate.  We decided to experiment with recording a cassette tape to each other once a week.  Once we had got over the initial hurdle of …

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Communication Barriers

How is it possible for two people to walk away from a conversation with completely different ideas of what was discussed? We can be speaking the same language, but completely fail to communicate. But what is it that gets in the way? Here are just a few things that can prevent us from feeling as if we are all on the same page: Personality differences – If you are a lively, exuberant person, being met with a quiet response may seem like indifference, but is it just your colleague’s way of listening attentively? We tend to expect everyone to approach situations in the same way that we would, but remembering that we do not all think or react in the same way could help you to avoid unnecessary obstacles in the road to understanding. [Want to know more? See our …

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