Member Since: 13th Nov 2008
Service & Productivity Manager - Emerging Markets Burberry Ltd
My discussion replies
15th Aug 2012
Another idea -
When talking about managing the absence management process, I have found that people can be a little complacent – dealing with malingerers, extended absence for a broken leg, even bereavement, are things that they may feel familiar/comfortable with, or at the very least anticipate. Shock tactics (i.e. prepare for the worst) can be useful here to head off any complacency. In a previous life I was a Personnel Manager (true story this), and was conducting an absence review with an employee who had gone AWOL for a day, then contacted us to say he could not come in for a week for ‘personal reasons’. His attendance record was not particularly great and both I and his line manager pretty much went into the meeting thinking he was most likely to get a formal warning. When we asked the question ‘What was the reason for your latest absence’, the emotional and rather angry reply came back ‘My daughter was raped and I was dealing with the aftermath’. As you can imagine, the rest of the discussion took a very different approach and we of course focussed on supporting the employee. Rather blindsided us, but was a good wakeup call in terms of keeping an open mind. I have shared this story since at absence Management workshops and have found it very effective and getting people to sit up and listen!
15th Aug 2012
Here's an idea for free that I have used before, and its fun, appealling to the competitive nature of teams. Particularly useful if you have issues with unplanned absence:
Materials: (total quantities depend on group size)
Plain A4 paper
Sellotape, cut into 1 inch strips
Some blu-tack, rolled into marble-sized balls***
Small prize for the winner
Introduce as a fun exercise to get the group going. Split the group into several smaller groups and give each 10 sheets of A4, 5 strips of sellotape, 3 pieces of blu-tack and a pen.
Explain that the objective is to use these materials (and ONLY these materials) to build the tallest free standing tower (must stand for at least 1 minute unsupported).
Explain they are NOT allowed to start building until you give the word - they now have 10 minutes to plan how they will build the tower (they may sketch, talk, discuss etc, but NO building yet!).
At the end of the 10 minutes, stop them and explain that they are about to get into the building stage. BUT before they can start, go round the tables and remove, at random, selected materials from each group (e.g group !loses 3 bits of sellotape, 2 pieces of A4 and a ball of blu-tack, group 2 loses 4 pieces of A4 and 1 piece of sellotape, group 3 loses all its blu-tack and so on). Get ready for cries of derision and 'not fair' - you will be the most despised person in the room at this point!
They now have 5 minutes to build their tower at which point you will stop the clock and see which tower stands the longest. Prize for the winner of course.
Key message – how disruptive was it to have some of your resources taken away - impact on plans/performance/morale/stress? Frantic, reactive behaviour, frustration etc etc
Unplanned absence is like this – how often do your plans for the day go awry because somebody on your team has called in sick, or even worse, gone AWOL?
How might you have used the 10 mins ‘planning’ differently if you knew that some of your resources would be taken away? How many finished planning early, confident they had it ‘nailed’ with their design, only to have this confidence stripped away from them?
What if – we could anticipate potential absence and contingency plan around this?
What if – we could have found back-up resources to stand-in?
What if – we had a robust process to minimise this disruption, and deal with repeated issues?
Anyway, hope this helps.
25th Jun 2009
In a previous company I used a really silly but fun role play to get the delegates to 'play' with the model. I split them in to 4 groups, and gave them 10 mins to write a mini role-play - the scenario was 'making a cup of tea'. Each group had to illustrate each of the Situational Leadership styles in instructing someone else (i.e. ranging from beginner to expert) to make a cup of tea. I encouraged the delegates to really 'ham it up', and it was always a lot of fun. I then got them to relate it back to genuine business problems and got them to describe different approaches in these 'real' situations.
Hope this helps
23rd Jun 2009
No, this isn't some deep and meaningful 'zen' theory or anything - just thought I'd direct you to a recent article within our very own Trainingzone
(Now there's a thought - TZ's own jamming sessions - a forum for L&D with musical interludes; what could be more creative than that????)
21st May 2009
This simple exercise may be 'too little too late' if there is already some deep-seated emotional resistance, but it does demonstrate in a fairly safe way, how uncomfortable and unnatural change can feel. It also has the added bonus that it is quick and easy to facilitate and requires no materials so has no cost associated with it (very useful in these difficult times!).
Ask the group to cross their arms. Ask them how comfortable and relaxed they feel. They should say that it feels natural - 'normal'. Ask them to note which arm is crossed on top of the other. Now get them to cross their arms 'the other way', so that they have reversed the way they have crossed their arms. Ask them how this feels - probably unnatural and uncomfortable, or even difficult to do (some people will find it impossible - always amusing to watch as they wrap themselves up and get frustrated/embarassed!). Explain that this is like going through any change - we all have our 'comfort zone' of what we are used to, and don't like to change from this.
Next, get them to cross their arms the 'wrong way' again. Leave them for several seconds and then get them to uncross their arms. Follow this by repeatedly getting them to cross/uncross their arms the 'wrong way'. They should find it easier and easier, and get faster at doing it. Explain that despite being uncomfortable with the initial change, this is in fact totally natural with time it gets easier and begins to feel a little more comfortable and given enough time and practise will become the 'normal' way of doing things.
If using this as part of a workshop/long meeting, it works quite well to revisit the exercise at various points in the day, checking if anyone has changed how they cross their arms, again focusing on how much easier the 'new' way becomes throughout the day.
Hope this helps
3rd Apr 2009
Apart froming regularly browsing Trainingzone (and Leadershipzone), here are some of the blogs/groups I can recommend:
Observations on Leadership, Coaching and more from David Wike
Recommended to me by David Wike (above) and coincidentally hosted by Trevor Gay (contributor to TZ)
Shared Learning Group
Hosted by Kevin Watson of ulife. I'm a new member here and haven't managed to get along to any meetings as yet, but if anyone reading this does join up please ping me as a fellow TZ reader!