Category Archives: Career Management

Webiquette: Webcam Woes Procurement Professionals Must Avoid

8 simple steps for improving your webiquette while working from home


Washing drying on a radiator, all that junk you thought was hidden away on top of the wardrobe and the unmade bed in the background… all within screen shot. Yes, your webcam will show it all! Not very professional, is it?

While the hashtag of webcam #covidiots is going viral online, the chances are that you too are guilty of revealing more than you realise when you hold your virtual meetings with colleagues and co-workers, clients and customers

It’s not something new (check out this BBC TV interview from a few years back which went viral).

Judging from some of the experts broadcasting live to the world during this COVID crisis, many pundits are still getting it wrong.

Is it just me, or do you too get distracted by a crazy pattern on their curtains, the peeling wallpaper, strange colour scheme or whatever else these talking heads have in the background? I love looking at their books (I’ve read that too), their DVDs (who’d have thought they were a sci-fi fan?) and critically judging their taste in home décor. Yet I should be listening to what they are saying!

It’s also incredibly irritating to hear their phone pinging constantly (presumably their friends WhatsApping them to say “I can see you on TV”).

So how do you get your screen performance right?

STEP 1: LINE QUALITY IS EVERYTHING

If you keep cutting out, nobody can hear you etc. it’s not going to work. If this is an issue, when you have important meetings switch off everything else connected to your internet router.

STEP 2: WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?

Dress for the office – it will put you in the right frame of mind to talk business.

Don’t forget basic personal hygiene too. Wash your hair, shave/make-up (which ever is appropriate) and check your top is clean (yes marks show up on webcams). You don’t have to wear a suit and tie – something suitable for dress-down Friday is fine.

STEP 3: WHAT’S IN THE BACKGROUND?

The easiest way to get round piles of washing and stacks of junk is to blur the background something that’s easy with Microsoft Teams and Skype etc.  For example, for Skype simply hover over the video button and select “Blur my background”. Or why not chose a virtual background feature during your Zoom Meeting – a forest perhaps or maybe an image of busy office? You probably don’t have a green screen at home (for that TV look) but will need uniform lighting for Zoom to detect the difference between you and your background.

Alternatively “stage” a background –  scholarly tomes and framed academic certificates (to make you appear intellectual), an electric guitar and framed vinyl album covers (to give the impression that you are a serious muso) or posters from art exhibitions and museums (who knew you were such a culture vulture?).

STEP 4: GET YOUR POSITIONING RIGHT

If you are looking down at your laptop it’s not only incredibly unflattering, you will find it harder to have a natural conversation. So put your laptop or screen up higher so you are looking straight into the camera.

Think about lighting too. A bright overhead light might cast a shadow over your face and the same applies to side lighting. Just watch the pundits on TV… often the light colour is all wrong and they appear either washed out or slightly yellow. So you might want to experiment with different light bulbs.

Also make sure you are comfortable. Constantly fidgeting is distracting. You need to be sitting up straight to appear interested and engaged in the conversation. Leaning forward to prop yourself up with your hand under your chin or looking away to constantly check your phone will just scream “I’m bored with this”. At least try to appear interested.

STEP 5: TEST IT OUT

Enlist a family member to sit in front of your screen and talk – you can then get a good idea of what you might look like. Perhaps your chair might need changing or adjusting. Or is the light from the window casting an unflattering shadow? Is your camera now so high you can only see the top of your head?

You will never know unless you try it.

STEP 6: DON’T FORGET THE MICROPHONE

People can hear more than you realise – the screaming spouse shouting at your children to “shut up”, the washing machine and of course your phone.

But you don’t have to worry about background noise if you use the mute button. Keep it on at all times – other than when you want to speak.

And to make it easier to hear every word, consider headphones. Wireless earbuds are best as you won’t have to worry about an unsightly wire.

As with your screen test, do a sound test too so you can check people can hear you and whether there is a nasty echo or your microphone is picking up too much background noise.

STEP 7: PRACTICE YOUR PERFORMANCE

Remember, when you roll your eyes, or smirk at what someone says, they can see you! The same applies when you scratch your face, pick your nose or lift up a buttock cheek to pass wind.

If you’ve been in self isolation for a while you might have forgotten how to behave in an office environment. You might need to practice your webiquette.

STEP 8: SET – OR ASK FOR – AN AGENDA

You want to reply to a point, but so does everyone else. You all end up talking over each other… and that does not make for great communication.

So, it’s best (as with any meeting) to have an agenda with a running order which is circulated before the meeting and a chair (who acts like the host of a radio phone-in).

Remember, the whole point is to be productive. That can mean limiting the number of participants or limiting the time for each question/point.

How To Lead Your Team In A Crisis: Covid-19 Procurement News

How should you lead your procurement team during a crisis? Here’s what you need to do

“The ultimate measure of a leader is not where they stand in moments of comfort, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was certainly onto something when he said that leaders are tested not in not the good times, but in the challenging times – and everyone can agree, we’re certainly experiencing the latter right now. All of us – literally every single one of us across every continent of the world – are experiencing our own unique stresses and pressures, and our leadership ability may not be our focus. But likewise, now is also the time when our teams need us most. 

So how do we lead amidst so much uncertainty? We talked to Justine Figo, People and Culture author, and Naomi Lloyd, Director Procurement and External Manufacturing Partnerships Asia Pacific at Campbell Arnotts, to get an insight into how to lead your procurement team during a crisis. 

Managing expectations

With the coronavirus situation changing weekly, if not daily, helping your team understand what’s expected of them, as well as manage the expectations of executive leadership, can be a challenge. But according to Justine and Naomi, what your team really needs from you at this time is a realistic challenge, and more clarity. 

Justine believes that leaders need to have the courage to challenge their team to be productive – but at the same time, understand that there might be significant barriers at the moment: 

‘Right now, it’s about taking stock of what is going on for everyone at the moment, and saying: “What is the best possible challenging standard I can set for myself and for my team?” 

‘Of course, you need to understand that people will be disrupted, but still have the courage to give them purpose, with compassion.’ 

Naomi believes while realistic challenges are important, what’s more important is that you realign your priorities with your team – and communicate your expectations clearly, with much more granular direction: 

Want to hear more of Naomi and Justine’s great advice? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group. We’ve gathered together the world’s foremost experts on all things supply chain, risk, business and people, and we’ll be presenting their insights and daily industry-relevant news over an 8-week content series via the group. You’ll also have the support of thousands of your procurement peers, world-wide. We’re stronger together. Join us now.

Crisis Mode: What Will My Procurement Career Look Like This Year?

It’s been a disastrous year, but still, we’ve all got one big question: What will my procurement career look like this year?


Over the past month, many of us have been glued to our phones with a sense of dread, waiting for the next phase of the coronavirus crisis to hit. But with many countries now in lockdown, things in China slowly returning to normal, and early signs that the infection rate is declining in Italy, we can all breathe easily, knowing that life will, at some stage, return to normal. 

But what will that ‘normal’ look like, especially for our careers in procurement? There’s no denying that this year will be like no other year when it comes to what we might experience at work and what our career trajectory might look like. To find out exactly what this might be, we spoke to someone on the true frontline of procurement careers:  Imelda Walsh, Manager of The Source recruitment, a specialist procurement recruitment agency. Imelda’s insights are both fascinating and optimistic. In this uncertain world, it seems like procurement professions may have the opportunity to shine … here’s why. 

Critical business changes – and how work is being impacted 

With news that 94% of the world’s supply chains have been disrupted, there’s certainly been a lot going on at the organisations Imelda partners with, which include some of the world’s largest mining companies, banks and health organisations. Imelda says that the situation has been an ‘eye opener’ for many of her clients: 

‘There’s been so many risks they now need to focus on, including mitigating risks from their supply chain, working with local suppliers, or even workplace health and safety relationships with suppliers.’ 

Yet supplier risks haven’t been the only risks that businesses have needed to manage. With the majority of the world now working from home, Imelda says that her clients have been extraordinarily busy sorting out the logistics of what this might look like for their people: 

‘With clients moving to working from home, it has put a strain on their hardware and systems, which they are sorting through. But fortunately, many of them have invested in good technology over time.’ 

Is anyone still hiring?

If we’re in an industry that’s been affected by the coronavirus, which, realistically, is most of us, we all want the answer to the million-dollar question – is anyone hiring?!?

Want to hear more of Imelda’s fascinating story? Join our exclusive Supply Chain Crisis: Covid-19 group. We’ve gathered together the world’s foremost experts on all things supply chain, risk, business and people, and we’ll be presenting their insights and daily industry-relevant news over an 8-week content series via the group. You’ll also have the support of thousands of your procurement peers, world-wide. 

We’re stronger together. Join us now. 


Feeling Unlucky In Your Career? Here’s How To Change That.

How do you make good fortune come your way?


This year, many of us may have had cause to feel unlucky already. Perhaps the Australian bushfires have given us the opportunity to shine at work – or perhaps they’ve left us feeling overwhelmed. 

The coronavirus might be wreaking havoc on our supply chains. Or more personally, maybe we’ve already missed out on a job or promotion we really thought should be ours. 

When we think of bad luck and its inverse, good luck, we often think about being in either the right or wrong place, at the right or wrong time. We think of it as something that just happens; an act of good or bad random chance. 

But it turns out, luck isn’t as random as we’d like to believe. A number of renowned psychologists studied ‘luck’ for decades, and discovered that it’s about so much more than chance. 

You can, in fact, create your own good luck. And you can do so by employing 4 basic principles that will rapidly increase the amount of good fortune that comes your way. 

Here’s what the 4 principles are and how you can employ them at work.

1. Maximise chance opportunities 

The first principle that psychologists found increases your luck is to maximise your chance opportunities. It makes sense, of course – the more opportunities you expose yourself to, the more likely you’ll be to succeed. 

But maximising your chance opportunities isn’t just about exposing yourself to them. You also need to take advantage of them when they come your way. 

A great way to do this is to be open to meeting new people and having new experiences, and then seeing the positive in everything. You simply never know what might lead to your next big break. 

It’s easy to see how this principle applies at work. Is there a new project you could put your hand up for? Could you go to a not-strictly-necessary meeting and strike up a conversation with a leader you’ve never met? 

The more open you are and the more chances you take, the more likely that one of these opportunities will come to fruition. 

If you’re looking for more chance opportunities in procurement, join Procurious. You’ll gain instant access to more than 37,000 of your peers. 

2. Listen to your intuition 

Opening yourself to more opportunities means you’ll invite both the good – and inevitably, the bad – in. In doing so, you’ll need to learn to listen to your intuition, to ensure you make better decisions about what’s right for you.

Think of your intuition as effectively a filtering system. With more opportunities, you need to take advantage of the best ones to increase your luck (success).

Intuition can be tricky to describe, but we’ve all felt it. Whether it’s a job we’ve gone for only to doubt whether we’ll like the manager, or a supplier we’re unsure of, we all sometimes feel things aren’t quite right. But we may not trust our judgement. From a luck perspective, we should. 

Honing our intuition can be difficult, though. In order to do so, psychologists recommend taking time to consider our decisions, avoiding stress and meditating so we can better connect with how we’re feeling.

3. Expect good fortune

A little over a decade ago, a book by a little-known author, Rhonda Byrne, went viral. That book was called The Secret and it promised that all readers needed to do was ‘invite’ good things to happen to them, and such things would come about. 

The book was soon widely rubbished by sceptics. It became the subject of countless hilarious memes. But as it turns out there was an element of truth in Byrne’s observations. 

Creating good luck in your career isn’t just a matter of inviting it. But research does show the lucky people do have a positive outlook, insomuch as they expect their future to be a success.

This often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lucky people will persist when trying to achieve their goals (even if the chance of succeeding are slim). And they’ll positively interact with others on the journey, opening up ever more opportunities. 

This is another example in which it’s easy to draw parallels to the workplace. If you’ve missed out on a promotion this time, keep your manager on side, stay positive and keep trying. This will exponentially increase your chances of success. 

No one is going to want to promote you if you’re bitter and negative all the time, regardless of your performance or how hard you work. 

4. Turn bad luck into good luck 

Are you stewing on that time when a co-worker made you look bad or stole your idea? While it’s normal to do so, lucky people have special ways of dealing with the inevitable bad fortune we all experience.

Practising their techniques can help you literally turn bad luck into good luck. 

Here’s what researchers found they do:

  • Lucky people often imagine how things could have been worse –this helps them see the positive in any situation. 
  • Ultimately, lucky people believe it will all work out in the end. Sure, your co-worker might have stolen your idea, but you’ve got plenty more to offer, right? 
  • Lucky people don’t dwell on bad things that have happened to them. This enables them to focus on their next big opportunity. 
  • Lucky people take control of situations and take constructive steps to prevent bad situations from happening again. If your co-worker has made you look bad, let them know! 

Go out and get that luck

French leader Napoleon Bonaparte said: ‘ability is of little account without opportunity’. And that has never been more true, especially when it comes to your career.

So go out there and make your own luck. And when you succeed, know this – your success is the result of your effort, not chance. 

How have you made your own luck? Tell us in the comments below. 

You’ve been fired or made redundant. What do you say to your next boss?

If you’re not proud of how you left your last job, should you lie or tell the truth in your next employment interview?

If it’s never happened to you, it seems like the unthinkable. But if it has, rest assured you’re not alone – being made redundant, or worse, getting fired outright, is a common experience. 

Every year, at least 3% of people are made redundant due to corporate restructuring or downsizing, and many more are either let go or reach a mutual decision to terminate their employment.  

Yet the fact that getting fired is common doesn’t make it easy. And one thing that many people find challenging is how to describe what happened, especially when talking to a recruiter or prospective boss.

Should you lie? Or should you simply tell the truth? If you do tell the truth, do you risk sabotaging your new role? Or if you do lie, could even more be at stake? 

Your reputation and the industry 

Being made redundant or getting fired can be an extremely unpleasant experience. You might feel angry or ashamed, and as a result, may want to ‘save face’ by telling a recruiter or prospective manager that you left for another reason, or that you’re simply still at your previous organisation. 

But Imelda Walsh, manager at The Source, Australia’s premier procurement recruitment consultancy, cautions all procurement professionals against doing this. 

‘Procurement is somewhat of a niche profession,’ she says, ‘and everyone is interconnected. If you aren’t honest, you do run the risk of being caught out.

‘We’ve actually been in the situation a few times where a candidate hasn’t been honest about their reasons for leaving and we’ve discovered this through our network.’ 

Beyond the risk of being ‘found out’, Imelda doesn’t recommend lying simply because of the damage it can do to your personal brand. 

‘If you’re honest,’ she says, ‘it shows you have integrity. If you’re not, it casts doubt over your whole personal brand. It takes an entire career to build a positive personal brand, but only a few minutes to destroy one. 

‘The risk simply isn’t worthwhile.’ 

Deal with your emotions first – don’t vent 

There are undoubtedly many emotions associated with being fired or made redundant, many of them negative. Our natural human response is to take everything personally and to want to vent. But an interview isn’t the time for this, cautions Imelda. 

She says that prior to attending an interview, you need to make a concerted effort to deal with your emotions. In addition to this, you should plan, ahead of time, how you’re going to describe how your employment ended, and ensure you stick to this when you’re in an interview.

‘When candidates aren’t prepared, they tend to go into too much detail about why they left their previous employment,’ she says. ‘This inevitably turns into a vindictive and personal whinge, which can quickly derail an interview.’ 

As recruiters and hiring managers are trying to ascertain your skills, experience and cultural fit, Imelda recommends avoiding at all costs too much focus on the reasons you left your past employer.

How to talk about being fired

Most people would assume that abruptly being asked to leave or mutually decide to leave a role, especially after a short amount of time, is a bad look when you’re re-entering the job market. 

But Imelda doesn’t see it that way: ‘We see a lot of people, really talented people, who mutually decide to leave their role.

‘This can be because the opportunity that was sold to them was misaligned with the reality of the role, or because a change of management has changed their situation.

‘In this case, leaving is the best thing to do. Better that than try to stick it out and do further damage to your career.’ 

If you find yourself in this situation, Imelda recommends being honest, albeit with a professional veneer. She recently encountered someone who did this perfectly: ‘We had an exceptional candidate here recently who said “There was a change of management, and the new team wanted to take the business in a different direction.”

‘After the interview, he discreetly said to me: “Two other people left in the same week as me. I’m sure you can read between the lines.” 

‘Recruiters understand this. We know that not all managers are great, but that a manager can make or break your happiness at work. This is a legitimate reason for leaving or mutually deciding to leave.’ 

How to talk about being made redundant

In years gone by, redundancy was uncommon. But these days? Not so much – 1 in 4 people will be made redundant at some point in their career, with some being made redundant many times. The idea of a ‘job for life’ is rare, and some companies restructure as often as every few years.  

Imelda recommends that if you’re made redundant, simply say so.

‘One of our clients completed two redundancies within less than two years,’ she says. ‘As recruiters, we have a macro view of the industry and we see redundancies all the time. If this has happened to you, just tell us.’ 

Have you ever been made redundant? How have you described it? Tell us in the comments section. 

Are you a procurement professional who wants the best career, technical and leadership advice, plus the opportunity to connect and network with more than 37,000 peers, worldwide? Create a free profile on Procurious today. 

How To Get Buy-In From Others

Ever had a great idea that’s fallen flat? You’ll need buy-in from your stakeholders before anything can properly get off the ground.

When was the last time you had a great idea that you felt went unheard? If it’s frequently you’re not alone. More often than not it doesn’t matter how good our ideas are – if we can’t get buy-in from the people that matter – then we’re wasting our time.

Whether you’re trying to influence stakeholders, speak compellingly in front of an audience, convince others of your ideas in a meeting – or even persuade your spouse or children to try something new, the ability to get ‘buy-in’ from those we are trying to influence is the difference between success and failure.

Real Buy-In? Thinking, Feeling, Believing

So let’s start with the most common myths – real buy-in has nothing to do with how loud you can be, how great your idea is, or even how confident you are of being right.

The key instead is to be crystal clear about one thing – what you want your audience to think, feel, believe or do different tomorrow than they did today.

And, to effectively do this, you’ll need to craft a message based on what your audience are currently thinking, feeling, believing or doing right now.  

How you go about this depends on who your audience is, however it is possible to get a good read on the think, feel, do, believe in any situation.

For example, as a procurement professional, you might want to invest in some research. Select a few key players within your organisation and ask them out for coffee. Then ask them some simple questions around what their biggest challenges, pain points or questions are in relation to your space.

What value do they currently think your department provides? Do they see opportunities to gain even more value from what you know? What would make the biggest difference to their ability to include you in other important conversations?

Once you’ve been through the exercise a few times, break it down: Right now, what are the perceptions about your space? What value do they believe it brings to their world? What’s the gap between what they are doing right now and the actions you want them to take?

Two Ears, One Mouth – For a Reason

When you know this information, it is much easier to craft an argument that will actually convince. Rather than target shooting in the dark and hoping something will land.

However here’s the key – you have to actually listen. By listening I don’t mean nodding in all the right places and waiting for your opportunity to speak. I mean asking questions, clarifying, staying curious and trying to fully place yourself in their world.

This is not only 100 per cent more likely to create a space in which the other person will open up and give you important information. It also leads to one of the key rules of ‘buy-in’ – that people support the ideas they helped to create.

When you listen to someone’s perspective – and then create an idea tailored to their needs – not only do you win their attention but also their trust. That person will then more than likely become and advocate for both you and your ideas in the future. This means the next time you walk into the room ready to present, you’ll have a hidden asset already sold on both your knowledge and commitment.


It doesn’t matter how good your ideas are, without stakeholder buy-in they won’t get any traction. Can you improve this? Check out this other article here.


Collaboration for Change

The truth is that if you take any form of influence – they all boil down to one thing. The attempt to change what another person thinks, feels, believes or does. However, as successful influencers, we first have to start by taking a step back. Understanding the points of view we are trying to change – and then collaborating on better solutions.

So the next time you have a great idea – at work or at home – before jumping to present it in all its glory, start first by listening. Then rather than opponents you need to convince, you’ll have an army of collaborators helping to push it across the line.

Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the soon to be launched weekly podcast Inside Influence. An exploration into what it takes to find and own your voice – and then use it to drive a conversation, an idea, an industry or a Nation. To subscribe check out iTunes or http://juliemasters.com/inside-influence/.

How To Take Back Control At Work – And Learn To Say ‘No’

We can teach ourselves how to politely decline that unwanted extra work and save our energy for when it’s needed.

Do you find yourself taking on more and more work? Are you one of those people who gets dragged into every project? The one others always ask for help?

If you have people-pleasing tendencies or find it hard to say ‘no’, then read on.

Often people-pleasing comes from a well-meaning desire to help and be useful. Psychologists would say that it has its roots in an individual’s requirement for external validation and a need to be liked.

I’m a recovering people-pleaser myself. And I know the difficulties in saying ‘no’ at the office are not limited to those who have a deep psychological need to be validated.

I have seen it pop its head out to say ‘hello’ in many different work situations.

At work, fear of saying ‘no’ can be driven by a desire simply to keep your job. Or to be well placed for promotion. But accepting every little task can soon lead to feeling overwhelmed – and to burnout. 

Claw yourself out of the hole

Healthy self-awareness will help create strong boundaries to ensure that you are in the driving seat in your career. And that as far as possible you control how you are treated at work. 

If you understand your values and your career drivers you can use these as a compass to navigate what you will and won’t get involved in.

Check yo’ self

  1. Know yourself and values – take the free assessment to see what your values are at VIA Institute on Character or try Clifton Strengths Finder. 
  2. Recognise your communication style and preferences.
  3. Be aware of your triggers and needs.

Check your job – what do you get paid to do?

  1. What is your core role and its required tasks? Boil it down to the three most important core components of your role.
  2. What extra stuff that is not in your job description do you do anyway? Assess that list. Does any of it come from perfectionism? Being a people-pleaser? Not wanting to say no or renegotiate?
  3. Once your job is boiled down to its core components, write it on a post-it note. If you can’t fit it into three bullet points on a post-it note then keep refining until it does.

Your post-it note is what powers you, it sticks in your pocket all day. 

Tell someone

Communicate with your manager about what you’ve learned. I have done this many times in my career and in the past with this exercise I have:

  • Received a promotion
  • Demonstrated the need for new staff (three additional staff hired)
  • Gained a new job title
  • Been offered an out-of-cycle pay rise.

I’m not guaranteeing these outcomes for everyone but they’re more likely if you can explain what you’ve learned.  

Power yourself up

Think of it like armour. 

If you need help learning to say ‘no’, you’ll be pleased to hear that you don’t actually have to utter that terrifying word.

Make sure you understand what your core focus is. Then anything that doesn’t align begins to stick out like a sore thumb. 

INCOMING! Here comes Shirley trying to get you to do her work again.

What does your post-it note say? If it’s not your core role, then move on to another victim, Shirley. ‘Thanks for the offer, but I’m focusing on my priority areas at the moment, working towards multiple deadlines.’

INCOMING! A shiny new opportunity has revealed itself, but your time would be stretched if you take this on as well as everything else.

Ask to be on the steering committee, which is only a 1-hour commitment once a month. ‘That sounds fantastic, I would love to be involved. I’m at full capacity at the moment. Is there a way I can be involved that wouldn’t be so time-intensive?’

INCOMING! Your boss asks you to do 50 things by the end of the day.

Take out your list of core tasks and ask what they would like you to stop doing in order to accommodate the new tasks. 

In review

  1. Understand yourself.
  2. Spring-clean your job.
  3. Get clear on what it is that you do and boil it down to 3 bullet points.
  4. Wear these like a badge and assess anything incoming against this.
  5. Hold your boundaries firm and reject anything that’s not in alignment.

Use these tips to clarify what inspires you and the core functions of your role. This empowers you to say ‘no’ and make the most of your time.

Hack Your Meetings And Get Your Life Back

Say goodbye to meetings that quickly run off track and have no actionable outcomes with these fresh approaches

We have all been stuck in meetings that either don’t need to happen in the first place or drag on and lose any ounce of effectiveness. These can be tough to sit through, especially if you’ve got better places to be!

Read on for some tips on how to create more effective meetings and alternatives to meetings.

Update how you approach running meetings

Gaining effectiveness can be as simple as making some tweaks to the traditional format. These five actions below are designs to see you ditch the outdated format of sitting around the table listening to the biggest extroverts in the room.

  1. Rotate the chair so that different people get to bring their own style.
  2. Set a simple agenda where the headings are always the same so that people can prepare in advance. For example, the most pressing issues today or this week, what is working well and what needs to change.
  3. Keep the meeting to its scheduled timeframe and don’t be afraid to use your phone to time it.
  4. Stand rather than sit to encourage short conversations that get to the point.
  5. Create a voting system or a phrase to quickly identify when everyone is on the same page (and therefore can move on) or identify areas that may need to be shifted offline. Try the five fingers voting system.

However, if it’s not a recurring meeting with a group of familiar faces or if it’s a 1:1 style with a customer or senior person then create a basic structure. Here’s mine:

  1. Confirm the point of the meeting
  2. Offer a brief overview of the issue at hand
  3. Explain your desired outcome and why
  4. Explain how you know you’ll have sorted the issues at hand
  5. Confirm follow up action points and set realistic timeframes
  6. Follow up with an email

These types of meetings can be nailed in 15 minutes if you control the flow of conversation and stick to the agreed topic at the outset of the meeting.

Ideas on switching up traditional meeting formats

You’ll recognise yourself in most of these situations so here’s how to flip them.

Team management and the day-to-day

Traditional: Manager/s talking at staff

Flip: Bottom-up not top-down

Description: Team members take turns to lead. Everyone brings their top three work priorities and we sometimes add in something lighter like “success this week will be… making it through the finance meeting”

Team planning sessions or away days

Traditional: Managers plan the content. Staff sit around tables listening all day.

Flip: Unconference.

Description: Get the team to plan out the day and what would be meaningful to them. Run an unconference. The benefit is that the team is empowered by creating the topics themselves. This results in a higher chance of buy-in will lead to a higher chance that ideas are carried forward when back in the office.

Project collaboration

Traditional: Meetings, teleconferences and more meetings

Flip: online

Description: Where possible, move all conversations online. Working with a tool like Slack and trello can be a great way to collaborate with a team and is particularly handy for teams that work in different time zones or that are spread across different organisations. The meetings then become a check-in point rather than a critical requirement to keep the project moving. I have found this to be very successful and a way to ensure that additional work-related side hustles don’t creep into your main gig.

Don’t put the “ass” in assume

Take the time to assess the different personality types of your team and people you meet with regularly. It’s important that meeting structures and formats suit different personalities – even if it’s only on a rotational basis.

For example, being a fire type and an extrovert, I am prone to assuming that if anyone has something to say they will just say it. Not true. People often need a warning about the structure of the meeting and what it will be about. They need time to process and come back with ideas and it’s important to allow this to happen. Even if the feedback is via email after the meeting, give people alternatives to speaking up directly.

Don’t let meetings run your life. Change how you view meetings and claim your time back. Combined with some basic productivity hacks, you could completely change your approach to working and conquer that ever-growing to-do list!

Interested in more hot tips on how to hack your work and get more productive? Join the Procurious community of 37,000 members where you’ll find daily inspiration.

In Need Of Some Fun At Work? Try These 5 Things.

Tomorrow happens to be ‘Fun at work’ day, so get in the mood with these 5 tips…

Work struggles can be real. Whether it’s a toxic work environment, a terrible boss, an annoying colleague or menial, soul-destroying tasks, there are times when we find our vibe is far from flying high. 

How can you begin to turn the tables and take control back?

Following these 5 tips will help you live your best (work) life.

1. Ask what drives you

Understanding your career drivers can help to work out what you can change in your current position. Or to unlock what you could be doing instead.

If you want to change your current situation or outlook, then first you need to understand yourself. 

Use the free resource Career Drivers Assessment by Crowe Associates.

The exercise helps to figure out your motivations in life. What drives you? Is it material reward? Power and influence? Creativity?

The resource then asks you what you can do to amplify your drivers. And to minimise anything that blocks your drivers. 

From here you can brainstorm tasks within your current job that align to your drivers. Or have fun mapping out new career options.

2. Know your values

Your career drivers should align with your personal values. Take the free assessment at the VIA Institute of Character to see what your values are. 

Many studies have shown that playing to your strengths in the workplace lays the groundwork for achieving success. 

It is better to build on your strengths than work on your weaknesses. 

Choosing a career or opportunities at your current workplace that align with your values – aka your superpowers – will set the scene for you to thrive. 

Use your values and career drivers as a checklist to assess any opportunities.

3. Stick to what you can control

Stephen R Covey’s 1989 classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People outlines a tool that helps you figure out what is within your control and what isn’t – and therefore should be dropped.

To understand how to use it and its application to the workplace, visit habits for wellbeing

In the exercise you brainstorm things that are out of your control. For example, worrying about the next election. And you think about what is in your control. For example, who you can vote for. 

4. Nurture a growth mindset

Over 30 years ago Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck took an interest in students’ perception of their failure. 

She developed the concept of a growth or fixed mindset. This has been making a comeback as one of the basics of positive thinking. 

Dweck encourages us to remember that the human brain is plastic. It has the capacity to learn new behaviours or rewire old patterns. 

In the workplace it is important to use the circle of control above combined with the growth mindset outlined below. 

It doesn’t mean there will be no rainy days at work but it could eliminate a large amount of noise. 

5. Follow productivity 2.0

In 2019 I wrote an article on productivity hacks

These are tools that can help with streamlining tasks. They are about taking a step back and looking at time management. 

How can you be effective with your time?

Nutshell. Look at your job in a nutshell. Break down the core components of your role. What are the key tasks that make up your day? 

Many job descriptions are different to what we actually do day to day. But don’t forget to check the job description.

You could be spending your time doing additional work that is not within your core role.

Batching. Group your key tasks into categories. For example, customer relations, data input, report writing, phoning suppliers, strategic planning or updating systems. 

Now think about the pomodoro approach and undertake all tasks within a category in one go. Each batch should last 20–60 minutes. I find it useful to spread these out over a week.

3 things. Prioritise the tasks above and take the 3 most important things that need to be done that day. 

Think carefully about what needs to be done versus what you want to do or what you are trying to avoid.

Focus. Make time for these 3 things, even if you have to block out time in your calendar or work away from your desk.

The hardest thing of all? Work until they are completed!

Connect. With all this newfound knowledge of your skills make sure you don’t forget the number 1 way to increase fun in the workplace. Connect with people! 

Find a work wife/husband/partner. Hang out with inspiring people. Find a mentor. Mentor someone yourself.

Join a network or club. It’s more than just having a chinwag, it’s about building a lifeline. You never know when you’re going to need it. 

So if work is sometimes a drag, try these 5 tips to take back control and build a better future.

How To Work With A Broken Heart

When your heart is broken, how hard is it to turn up to work every day and perform?

Very.

But so many of us have to do it every day. Our worlds may have fallen apart – the loss of a loved one, a falling out with a friend or colleague, the loss of money or an important opportunity – yet each day we drag ourselves to the front door, put on a mask and carry on doing our jobs with a smiley face, but a broken heart.

And that’s kind of what I’ve been doing every day since my mother passed away eight weeks ago.

Don’t worry, I’m fine, and I’ll explain, but I’m just saying – I understand. 

I feel your pain.

When I found out the clock was ticking

For me, bad news often seems to arrive at the most inconvenient time for my professional life. We knew that Mum was gravely ill, but the final news that Mum only had months to live arrived at the start of a one-month business trip I had in the US last September.

I had just arrived in San Francisco.  The news came in the middle of the night (the joy of timezones) and I just cried and cried.

As one of my favourite speakers (and human beings on the planet), Nicky Abdinor says, always be grateful. Even if you have the worst day ever, you can go to bed and be grateful that the horrible day is over.  You can click ‘control, alt, delete’ and re-boot for tomorrow.

I had a lot of days like that during those four long weeks on the road in the US.  When I got home, I was fortunately able to spend two months by Mum’s side.

How much should we talk about our broken hearts?

We are human, and that means we are emotional.  But our modern workplaces and our community expects (and rightly so) that we will conduct ourselves with a certain level of decorum, and if we want to keep our jobs and our places in the community we have to play by the rules.

Sometimes I worry that companies almost expect us to behave like robots (as I have said previously in my “Beat the Bots” speeches). They expect us to do things such as re-enter the workforce after having a child or losing a loved one and act like it never happened.

But that’s not really what being a human is about.

Not only are we required by our companies to behave in a certain way, but we also need to keep participating in work, as well as in life. This isn’t only because we’ve got bills to pay and we need to eat; it’s more than that – participation and doing ‘normal’ things are an important part of overcoming grief.

But still, it’s hard. Sometimes, so very hard. But how do we get through these times of grief and trauma without totally embarrassing ourselves, tainting our hard-earned reputations and maybe even losing our jobs and family?

Juggling through work and life

As I’ve written previously, we have to somehow find a way to keep all the juggling balls in the air, with the balls being work, family, health etc. But the important thing to know is that some balls are made of rubber, whereas others are glass. Work is a rubber ball, so if you drop it, it will bounce back, but others, like your health and family, are glass. If you drop them, they are difficult to recover.

In raising my family and supporting my mother’s health, I have had to drop the work ball many times – and believe me, it has always bounced back.

How to keep juggling after a glass ball drops to the floor

I am so fortunate to work with such an amazing group of colleagues, many of whom have been working with me throughout Mum’s illness.  They are all superstars and many stepped in to take accountability when I had to focus on family.

While I’m so grateful I have my team, this experience has reinforced what I knew all along: if we are going to be successful leaders, we need to be resilient and work our way through grief and disruption. This is for ourselves personally but also for our team – if my team is distressed because I’m distressed, then not only does my personal life fall apart, but so does my professional life.

If you find yourself in a distressing situation, my advice would be to share with your team (but not too much). They need to understand what you’re going through; they need to see that you’re human and vulnerable. Yet at the same time, you’re probably best placed to save them the intimate details. At the end of the day, it is your family and friends whom you need to lean on in personal times of crisis.

In tough situations, remember to take it one step at a time and draw energy and support from those closest to you.

Understanding what is really happening under your peers’ mask

My mother had dementia, as I’m sure many of you know. As such, there were lots of things she couldn’t remember, like most people’s names, what year it was, and even how old she was.

But surprisingly, she could still remember her feelings at different points in her life.

She may not remember someone’s name, but she can definitively (and accurately) describe the emotions she associates with that person.

The situation with Mum reminds me of the age-old leadership lesson:

People may not remember what you said, but they will also remember how you made them feel.

Given we are all wearing our masks, we need to make an effort to understand our peers, bosses and direct reports, and whether or not they may have some trauma going on in their lives.  Behaviour we observe that might seem unusual, a lack of performance or a change in attitude may be related to some grief they are experiencing, not just a competency issue and their ability to do the job.

In these situations, we need to use our super human ability to empathise.  I know every time I experience a painful event, it has made me more and more understanding of what others may be experiencing and challenged with.

Working through a broken heart

Mum was always a huge supporter of my professional development.  When I travelled or had a critical meeting I was nervous about, she would always say ‘Remember, I’m on your shoulder.’ And for the last few weeks, that’s where I feel she’s been – right with me, all the way.

Not having Mum may have broken my heart, but it hasn’t broken my spirit. Late last year, we worked hard across the US to garner support for Procurious’ 2020 program, and this year, I’m excited to say that our efforts were rewarded – we’re on track for one of the biggest and most exciting years yet. Stopping now to reflect on that, I know Mum would have been immensely proud.

Yet now certainly isn’t the time to stop in any way, shape or form. To prosper in this next Industrial Revolution, we need to play to our human strengths: collaboration, connection, innovation and influence.

We need to embrace our human-ness, and we need to get connected – to our team, to our stakeholders, to our suppliers and to our community. The robots may be coming, but the thing we have that they don’t is connection. Speaking of, get onto Procurious now, and start making the connections you’ll need to make your 2020 as successful as we hope ours will be.

We’d love to hear your stories of career resilience – please share in the comments below.