Susan Popoola

Leveraging The Value of People

Archive for the ‘Talent Management’ Category

June 30th, 2016 by SusanPopoola

The Significance of Brand Ambassadorship

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I’ve been speaking about employees as organisations most important Brand Ambassadors for quite a long time now. It was, therefore great to go the Recruitment Festival – RecFest and hear people directly or indirectly speak of the importance of both employees and potential employees as Brand Ambassadors.

First was House of Fraser with a five minutes recruitment video in which employees spoke about their experience of working in the organisation. Critically talking not so much about the jobs that they do, but how they felt working within the environment. Resounding in my mind is people talking about being able to bring themselves to the workplace and be themselves. This is critical to me, as I specialise in Human Value Optimisation, which is all about optimising the value that individuals have to offer and how it is utilised, be in education, the workplace or wider society.

House of Fraser through their advert demonstrated the glamour of retail, though if we are to be honest, this isn’t really a true reflection of most retail environments. Most important of all, was the message of what it feels like working within the environment. From now on, when I bump into House of Fraser employees, I will ask them what it’s like working with the organisation as their response will be a key test of the authenticity of the advert. Not so much for me, but for the people that will apply to work with the organisation and perhaps gain employment with the organisation. True Brand Ambassadorship goes beyond the banded messages of an organisation to the everyday experiences and feedback of each and every individual employee.

I still remember meeting with the Chief Executive of a major House Builder. He told me all about the organisation’s ethos and approach. It sounded really good – I was impressed. A few weeks later, a bumped into the husband of a friend who turned out to work for the same organisation. With very little prompting, he spoke excited of his employer. Although he used different words, he virtually mirrored the sentiments expressed by his Chief Executive.  I hope that when I speak to House of Fraser employees they do the same, as that is true Brand Ambassadorship.

I was glad that RecFest didn’t just speak of the Brand Ambassadorship from perspective of the current employee. There was also the talk from Lorraine Scroope of The Hire Lab who spoke of the recruitment system that her organisation had developed to make the recruitment process more interactive and human. As I come from an HR Systems background with the viewpoint that HR (and Recruitment) are not just tools for management processes, but key strategic enablers, I’m very much excited about The Hire Lab and look forward to a demonstration.

I’m conscious that none of this provides the Why of the importance of Brand Ambassadorship and what employees and prospective employees think and say about organisations. It was therefore great to have Virgin present to talk of the financial costs when prospective employees (as is the case of employees) have a bad experience with an organisation and go home and mention this to friends and family members a like, with the result that they all stop using the organisation’s services.

The talks that I heard at RecFest have given me the extra boost to go forward and continue to talk about employees and prospective employees alike. I hope this provides food for thought for you to.

#Selah

Susan Popoola is the Managing Director of Conning Towers Ltd, an HR firm focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation for Innovative, High Potential organisations.  She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain.

Copyright 2016. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source.

August 21st, 2015 by SusanPopoola

Remembering the Key and Common Purpose

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I was a School Governor i.e. on the Board for a School for close to 10 years. As I was a Founding Director not only did I share in the privilege and responsibility for setting the vision and direction of the school, I also had the opportunity to meet and work with some amazing people – both members of staff and fellow board members. Without question I learnt from each and everyone who all brought something special and unique, but the most tangible lessons came from two particular fellow founding board members.

First was a lovely, honourable gentleman who had very prestigious and senior level experience working for organisations both in the UK and further afield. He rarely spoke of his past experiences; he just came along and used his expertise to do what was required of him with full dedication. He never dominated discussions during meetings, but he was never afraid to express his point of view – even if he was the lone voice expressing a particular opinion. He would stick to guns to the very end – clearly articulating his reasoning unless he was convinced otherwise. However, once the board voted on a decision, he would go along with the majority consensus and not one outside of the room would know that he had, had a difference in opinion.

Then there was a lovely, forthright lady who had worked in education for most of her life. As you may have already gathered, we had some very robust debates – especially before making key decisions. Everyone was encouraged to express his or her point of view and for the most part we did. Often, we would get to a stage where the lady I refer to would declare – “Hang on a minute, its all about the youngsters, what is best for the youngsters? That’s what we need to really consider!”

From that point onwards the discussion – which would have been very useful, would take on a new, focused tone. Philosophies, experiences, preferences, views on the what’s and how’s and what have you all became secondary to what would ultimately serve the interest of the students and benefit them.

These are fundamental lessons that I have learnt from people that are much older than me. In generational terms they would be referred to as Traditionalist, Maturists or the Silent Generation i.e. people born before 1945. Maybe they both represent and present values we no longer adhere to and that are rapidly being forgotten; yet I believe that with the world that we live in they become more important than ever.

I have been observing the British labour party’s leadership contest in despair. A candidate appears – as if from nowhere. He expresses his position and points of view. He rapidly gains support. The other candidates and the party establishment are horrified and the whole campaign seems to now be focused on why people should not and would be foolish to support him. I would have thought that they would have in the first instance taken the time to understand what it is that is leading people to support him and then to work harder at given people clear reasons to vote for the alternative candidates since they are convinced that he is the wrong person to lead their party.

The Labour Party’s leadership contest has not, however, brought me to tears as the closure of the UK Charity, Kids Company did. To be honest, I’d heard about someone’s negative experiences of working at Kids Company a number of years back and there were clear signs of trouble emerging in the media in the last year or so. The closure of Kids Company therefore didn’t come as a total surprise to me. I was, however, surprised at how quickly it came to a close and how little preparedness there seemed to be to support the young people dependent on the services from those in key positions who would have seen clearer signs of trouble than I who was observed from a distance. I can say whether the charity should have stayed open or not. If there were serious problems with the way in which it was being run, duty of care to the young people and to how they were being supported, then it may have been best for the young people for the charity to be closed. With Kids’ Company, of most critical concern to me was the fact that after the sudden closure the focus seemed to be s on who was right and wrong, the problems of management, the approach of the leader, complaints that may have been made etc. rather than what immediately needed to be done to safeguard the interests of the young people that may have been dependent on the services of the charity.

There are always exceptions, however, I believe that if a lot of us look closer to home – sometimes with families, but not wanting to get too personal, I’ll focus on the workplace and just say even at work similar attitudes and behaviours are often exhibited. When we go to work, do we remember the common purposes that we are all there for that extend beyond just making money. Are we really ready to pull together to achieve that common purpose even if it means at times taking the time to see things from other people’s point of view; accepting other people’s point of view; making compromises or even swallowing pride and apologising.

I know that in sports teams, everyone is working towards a common goal, the minute that is forgotten things begin to go array.

I’m in no way coming from a place of perfection, but I have been privileged to have been shown some great practices which when adopted lead to greater productivity, success and happiness.

#Selah

References:

Labour Leadership Contest: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32654262

Kids Company closure: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33788415

 

Susan Popoola is the Managing Director of Conning Towers Ltd, an HR firm focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation for Innovative, High Potential organisations..  She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain.

Copyright 2015. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source.

 

July 27th, 2015 by SusanPopoola

Who Matters?

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I got rather upset last week. I had a disagreement with Ben, the details aren’t that important. What is, important is the fact that I spoke to Dorothy about it as she knew both of us and was aware of the background to the situation. I probably shouldn’t have bothered speaking to Dorothy though as her response was to tell me everything that I should have done and should now do to support Ben. She demonstrated a full understanding of where he was coming from but appeared not to recognise what he had done wrong, my intentions in the whole situation and how much I had been hurt. Even if she recognised any of this she definitely didn’t acknowledge it and each time I tried to point things out she went back to Ben, what he needed and how I should support him.

After some time, with tears in my eyes I burst out – “I have needs to you know, don’t you think my needs are important or don’t you think I matter!?!”

If I was to have spoken in precise terms, I would have said “… don’t you think I matter too” “ or as well as Ben” However, I didn’t think this was necessary, From the dialogue I felt that there was no question as to Ben’s importance to Dorothy, The real question was whether she recognised my significance and needs.

I believe the whole Black Lives Matter is similar. It’s in no way saying that white lives don’t matter or that ALL lives don’t matter. It reflects a concern that in some quarters black people are (perceived to be) treated sub-humanly as if their lives don’t matter.

Selah

Susan Popoola is the Managing Director of Conning Towers Ltd, an HR firm focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation for Innovative, High Potential organisations..  She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain.

Copyright 2015. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source.

 

April 13th, 2015 by SusanPopoola

The Future of Work

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A presentation I gave on the Future of Work at an event for HR Directors in March 2015.
Presentation at Strategic HR Network Annual Congress on The Future of Work. The Future of Work is Social, Collaborative and Connected.
Examining how employee behaviours at work are being shaped by wider consumer technology trends and social media
– Harnessing the power of social technology to build collaboration, connection and enterprise networks
– Implications for leadership within the organisation
The Presentation is available via Slideshare. Ref: The Future of Work

 

March 11th, 2015 by SusanPopoola

The End

I recently read the headline of an article entitled “the beginning”, strangely I found myself thinking of endings. Not totally off point as often for something to begin, something else must end.

They say all good things must come to an end. I don’t believe it’s ALL things. However sometimes they just do. Not because we didn’t give our best, stopped caring or what have you – sometimes things just change and the synergy is just not there – it becomes hard work and/or it ceases to be fulfilling.

This happens on a personal level in the various relationships we have. It also happens within various work environments. Often the signs are there long before we realise that its time to bring a chapter to a close.  There may be agitations, irritations and frustrations – ultimately it’s not as fulfilling as it used to be and/or people seem to act different towards us and we suddenly become increasingly aware of all that’s wrong.

When we finally realise its not working any more we typically try to do one more thing; to give things another go  – no one wants to be seen as someone that has given up or failed.

If we have the opportunity to talk to a representative of the other party sometimes we do so in a desperate bid to make things work. If they are willing and able to put things in place or changes things or if both parties are willing to work together – all may be well and good, as things just may turn around.

Often times though things have changed for a reason – a change in strategy, focus and priorities and so though the heart may be willing the reality is things are different and sticking around under those circumstances often ends up doing more harm than good.

I once worked with an HR director who said that when employees tell her they want to leave she never tries to persuade them to stay, as they will soon leave anyway.

Whilst I’m more I inclined to listen to the language they use, to take the time to understand their reasons and consider how far down the line the individual is; more often than not I do believe she’s right.

For the other cases an organisation’s employee engagement strategies should actually prevent them from reaching the place whereby they consider leaving in the first place. By engagement strategies I’m not necessary talking about anything fancy. More than anything else it’s basic communications be it through open communications that enables employees to speak openly to managers; one to one meetings that assess where employees are/what’s going on; and/or performance management processes that show an employees next steps/plans and whether/how they still fit with the organisation.

The ultimate decision however lies with an individual – it’s easiest to accept and handle things if there is a key incident or if a new and compelling opportunity arises. However one thing I’ve learnt is when it’s time, it’s no use dwindling, you just prolong the pain. So make a plan (openly if its practical to do so), pack your bags and move on. The sooner you do the sooner you end the negativity and open yourself up to fresh, new opportunities

After all not talking about leaving just because someone upset you one day. I’m referring to deep prolonged issues that the different parties aren’t ready/able to work together to resolve.

Susan Popoola runs Conning Towers Ltd, an HR organisation focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation and Engaged For Success a Social Enterprise. She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain. She is also Winner Women4Africa Author of the Year 2013

Copyright 2015. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source.

February 25th, 2015 by SusanPopoola

Unwarranted Segregation?

When I speak in Schools and Colleges on issues of diversity, inclusion and engagement, I have on occasion shown a BNP video in which a member of the BNP questions why black people have so many groups, organisations and representation such as the Black Police Association, Music of Black Origin, Black Nurses Association if they want to be part of British Society.

I typically ask the group whether the woman in the video has a point. At times this leads to a discussion at times people are hesitant to respond and I go on speak about some of the historical issues of exclusion of black people in British society around areas such as housing, work and even religion. Exclusions that often led black people to set up their own groups, churches and various organisations and societies.

It still leaves the questions as to whether these set ups are still needed today. After all, that was then this is now. In fact a few weeks ago I ended up in an extended discussion with someone about this at the Royal Society of Arts. Sometimes I also begin to question the relevance of such ‘structures’ today.

Then we get to the awards season for the entertainment industry – focused on America, but with Global implications. Throughout the season to date frustrations have been expressed about the limited representation of black artistes in various award categories regardless of their achievements.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/20/oscars-diversity-problem_n_6709334.html

At this point I believe it becomes difficult to challenge the structures that represent black achievement, advancement and goals. (Unless you can convince me that this is just an American issue)

Selah

Susan Popoola runs Conning Towers Ltd, an HR organisation focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation and Engaged For Success a Social Enterprise. She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain. She is also Winner Women4Africa Author of the Year 2013

Copyright 2015. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

February 10th, 2015 by SusanPopoola

Do You Give Due Credit?

I’m looking forward to watching the film, Selma. Everything that I’ve heard about it indicates that it is a film that is well worth watching.

With it being award season, the frustration has been expressed about the limited diversity and representation of black artistes amongst the various categories for different awards ceremonies, especially when you have a film, which is as highly proclaimed as Selma released within the season.

Against this backdrop, it was nice to learn that a few songs from the film SELMA would be featured in this years Grammy. This has, however, led to some controversy of it’s own. The song, “Take My Hand Precious Lord” was sung by Beyonce at the Grammys. However, in the film itself the role of Mahalia Jackson is performed by a lovely Jazzy, earthy soul singer named Ledisi who I’m sure very ably sings the song in the film.

When John Legend was asked was asked why Beyonce was chosen to sing the song (instead of Ledisi) he is said to have responded, “Beyonce requested to sing the song and the offer was to good to pass up”. He is said to have said, “You don’t really say no to Beyonce if she asks to perform with you” he is said to have told a magazine.

When asked about the situation, Ledisi who would have been sitting in the audience provided a very gracious response, saying that she had, had the privilege to sing the song following on from legends such as Mahilia Jackson and Aretha Franklin and that now Beyonce was singing it and taking it to a different generation/audience.

I must say that I question John Legend’s defence that he could not turn Beyonce down. Maybe that’s the type of argument that comes to play when it comes to nominations for the various awards ceremonies, which do not represent the diversity of society.

Critically, I found myself reflecting on this in relation in relation to the workplace. You’ll probably say you don’t do things like this or if you do, it’s totally justified.

However, if you have capable staff with a fair amount of experience who work around the clock for your organisation, providing input to key projects, who are never thanked or publically acknowledged them maybe you are.

If you see the role of such staff to be to sit quietly in meetings without expressing an input; if you expect them to adhere to changes without ever having any say in what the changes may be, then you probably are.   I could go on, but I won’t. Hopefully you can see my point.

There are obviously limits, but if you want them to continually give their best; to be fully engaged and stay with you for the long term. Do ensure that you f recognise what they have to offer, fully acknowledge them; involve them and make the most of them. If the people that we don’t fully appreciate have half of the talent of Ledisi, then we are doing not only them, but also ourselves a major disservice.

#Selah

Susan Popoola runs Conning Towers Ltd, an HR organisation focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation and Engaged For Success a Social Enterprise. She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain. She is also Winner Women4Africa Author of the Year 2013

Copyright 2015. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

 

January 17th, 2015 by SusanPopoola

The Talent Left on Your Doorstep

I was at one of my favourite music venues, The Stables in Milton Keynes on Sunday. I went to listen to a lady named Sally Barker play. If you live in the UK and watched the TV completion, The Voice last year you will probably know who I’m talking as she was the first runner up.

Sally was great on The Voice. I absolutely loved her rendition of songs or better, put her interpretation of them. When I heard that she was going to be playing in Milton Keynes, it was a given that I was going to be there to listen to her.

It was lovely to hear her perform a number of the songs that she had sang on The Voice and I can say that she gives Dionne Warwick a run for her money with her version of “Walk on By”. Equally, it was lovely to hear her sing a number of her own songs that she has written herself over the years. She also does a very good job on the guitar, a skill that she didn’t display whilst she was on The Voice. In addition, I discovered that she has a great sense of humour, she’s a great conversationalist and has a deep interest in history.

I found out that following on from The Voice, she had been offered a contract with Universal Music. She had, however, turned it down. They wanted her to record an album of covers, but she was not satisfied with this. Remember I said she writes her own songs. She therefore wanted to record her own material. She has since re-released one of her older albums, “Maid in England” including some of the songs that she sang on The Voice.

I believe that Sally is a talented, world class performer and that by not accepting her for who she truly is and what she represents and has to offer, Universal Music actually lost out. As she told the story, I found myself thinking of the talent in the workplace.

We typically recruit people on the basis of job descriptions – totally understandable. We’ve got to have some parameters. However, do we ever take the time to understand the additional skills that people have to offer and where appropriate make use of those skills. I’ve seen research that indicates that a third of employees are likely to look for new jobs this year. I believe highly skilled and capable employees that don’t fill full appreciated or utilised are likely to be high on the list of people looking for new opportunities where they will be truly fulfilled.

Equally common, is the habit of recruiting staff with great skills and talents that we identify and indicate that we very much admire during the recruitment process, which we then fail to utilise once they are in our employ. Dictating that they perform a role which does not utilise these capabilities or that they perform tasks in a (procedural) manner that does not optimise that which they have to offer, that we originally said we admire.

It’s not just about talent. I’ve heard people express the frustration that they can’t fully express themselves and be who they are within the workplace. This is especially true of people from diverse backgrounds who have been told that they should act in a certain way in order to conform and be accepted. Yes, there are limits, but do you encourage the people that work with you to freely be who they are within the workplace?

If you do, I believe that you will find yourself with a much fulfilled and effective workforce. If not, I would strongly recommend that you start to do so.

Selah

P.S. Oh, and if you appreciate good music; if Sally Barker is ever in your town make sure you go along. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Susan Popoola is an HR Specialist at Conning Towers which specializes in HR Transformation and Talent Management.  Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain which explores Disatisfaction, Disengagement and Diversity within Britain is her second published book.

December 14th, 2014 by SusanPopoola

Little Sister’s Watching Your Brand

A local store close to where I live recently closed for refurbishment. I t re-opened under a different brand, however, browsing round the store and picking up a few pieces I noticed that the staff were largely the same. I went to pay for my items, smiling back at the sales assistant who I’d seen many times before under the old brand, I asked her how she was. “Fine thank you, she responded and how you?” Completing normal pleasantries, I went on to comment on the change to the store, asking her whether the change was a positive thing. Well, it’s better pay for us she responded. That’s good I said. As she checked out my items, she expanded that there was also a greater variety of items for customers and the quality was better with good prices. She went on to ask me if I had one of the brands store cards. Completing my transaction, I went away thinking positively of the store. I would be back, with a confidence about the store – their products, the way they treat their staff and their customers. She had done a great job of marketing the brand without even realising it.

The truth is employees often do. I learn a lot because I have the tendency to interact with staff because I’m interested in them as people. Recently, a friend took me out for dinner as a late birthday treat. We were served by a lovely waitress who patiently came back several times as we kept talking instead of deciding what we wanted to order from the menu. Eventually, I asked her what she would recommend and she politely made a few suggestions, demonstrating a good knowledge of the restaurant’s menu. During brief interactions as she served and cleared the table we learnt that she was moving to a new job in a different industry. We wished her well. As she thanked us, she said that she would miss working at the restaurant that we were dining at pointing out that she had worked in about 10 different eateries and that this was her favourite. I was pleased to here this, as it happens to be one of my favourite restaurants. I would have been somewhat concerned if she had spoke negatively about it. Not only did I think, that I would happily go back again. I also thought that it would be high on the list of places that I would recommend to anyone I knew looking for a waitressing job.

It’s quite different from an experience that I had, had about a month earlier at a different restaurant. The food was okay – nothing to get excited about, but it was cheap and you basically got what you paid for. The waitress who served us was just as polite and competent as the other waitress that I met a month later. Her report of the restaurant was very different. She spoke of how they had tried to pay her below the minimum wage until she had challenged them. She also mentioned how they were inflexible with her hours, constantly asking her to work late hours that meant that she had to walk home in the dark all by herself and I should say that she was only 17. Even though I had a good time with my friend and I was okay with the food, I will think twice before I go back to this restaurant.

I have the tendency to chat quite a bit with staff in restaurants, stores and wherever I go. My starting point is not you and your brand. It’s that these are people that are providing me with a service and that I’m interested in them as people and their welfare. It concerns me if I learn that they that they don’t believe that you value them and treat them well. At times, I’m amazed at how much I learn from them about you.

Maybe they say more to me about you then they say to the average customer/client that they meet, but don’t doubt that they do talk. I do have staff that volunteer information without me soliciting anything from them.

The truth is even if they don’t say anything to people like myself walking through the door of your establishment; they will go home and talk to friends and family. They may even talk to people they meet on their journey to and from work, at the doctors or when they are out shopping. So be aware ‘little sister is watching your brand and learning about it from your employees and may react for good or for bad. So do you know what your employees are saying about you?

#Selah

 

Susan Popoola runs Conning Towers Ltd, an HR organisation focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation and Engaged For Success a Social Enterprise. She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain. She is also Winner Women4Africa Author of the Year 2013

Copyright 2014. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

November 2nd, 2014 by SusanPopoola

The Myth About Who You Require for The Job

Recently I was walking past a small café. Outside was a sign – “Full Time Position Available. Experienced Only Need Apply” I smiled whirly as in some ways it reminded me of the stories that you hear about rooms for rent in properties back in the 1960s (or even later) with signs in the windows reading – “No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs”

On the face of things, there is no correlation between telling people not to apply for a job if they don’t have experience and telling people that they can’t rent a property because of the colour of their skin or where they originate from. However, if you stop and think about it, in both circumstances people are being excluded, without being given a chance. No one is or was taking the time to find out who they are and what they do have offer.

The experience case is probably easier to justify – people say they need someone who can come onto the job and get on with what needs to be done. The requirement for experience often comes with assumptions. About eight years ago I came across an organisation that was looking for HR experience in a specialised area. The organisation specified the requirement for five years experience. I had about three years extensive experience in the relevant area so, I decided to contact the organisation outlining the projects I’d work on over a three-year period and the impact of my achievements. They decided not to see me. About three years later, they were once more looking for help. In the interim period I had done a few small pieces of work in the specialist area, but not much. I contacted them once more, specifying my experience over five years. They met with me and they absolutely loved me and my work. The funny thing is that what really stood out for them from the conversation was the experience they I had gained from my earlier years. The experience that I had when I first contacted them. Ultimately, what was more pertinent, the length of my experience or the quality of my experience?

You may go on to say, that a place like the Café that I mentioned needs to employ someone with experience – they don’t have time to teach people from scratch, you might think! However, if you think about it, who would the Café or for that matter anyone else be best of with – a person with a fair amount of experience who is used to doing things in certain ways which may not actually be appropriate to the culture or general way of working of the new environment, who thinks they know it all or someone who is perhaps a quick and keen learner with no preconceived ideas.

My driving instructor explained it best. She said the easiest person to teach to drive is a person who has never been behind a steering wheel. It’s much harder, she said to teach someone who has got behind the wheel and picked up a lot of bad habits.

I believe there are other areas in which we consciously or sub-consciously exclude people without giving them a chance because they don’t have the experience or capabilities that we think we need. For instance with Christmas coming up I’ve just received a little card through my front door from Royal Mail. “Santa isn’t the only one who needs help this Christmas” because of the increased volumes of mail over Christmas they are looking to recruit people from the local community to help deliver their services.

They specify that it “is a fast paced environment where you will need to be flexible and adaptable, changing from one role to another to move the mail quickly along the processing chain” Imaging the environment I could immediately understand why they had specified the requirement like that. However, I couldn’t help but think that if I was someone with a mobility problem of some kind that I would immediately think that they did not want someone such as me. The truth, however, is that Royal Mail could cope with a few such people that would be perfectly good for the job if they were allowed to work in specific areas without having to move from one role to another. In fact they might actually benefit from some people focused on specific roles whilst others move around as required.

It’s easy to exclude people that could add a lot of value without realising it or without meaning to simply by taking the obvious, routine approach without thinking of the implications.

On the other hand,  if we take a little bit of extra time to think of how our messages come across, who they may exclude and then think a bit outside of the box, we may be surprised by the gems that come knocking at our doors.

Selah

Susan Popoola runs Conning Towers Ltd, an HR organisation focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation. She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain.