Filling in forms in triplicate

It’s such a simple thing to change and when I implemented it they all said it was so easy and such an improvement they didn’t know why they hadn’t done it before.

They were waiting for permission; waiting for someone to allow them to. I didn’t wait I saw something I thought was a waste of time, had a negative impact on the people we were trying to communicate with and bring into our business and I changed it. Maybe I am longer in the tooth so I have less fear, or maybe it’s my status as an interim that allows me to say ‘hey lets just do it’. I think it’s more about the fact that I have always worked this way – the fab Doug Shaw say’s proceed until apprehended and I think that’s probably how I work.

I can see how it got the way it did; 3 forms needed by 3 different parts of the function each needed slightly differing data. But 90% of them needed the same data. So instead of just adding to the first form we used the three forms that each team needed meaning that employees transferring had to complete the same information in triplicate. The forms were developed to meet their need but in a silo. Now we have one form – the core information followed by the three specific pieces each team needs. The pack of forms is now 6 pages shorter (yep six blooming pages) and no one is rolling their eyes wondering why they are giving us the same information time and time again. The forms are scanned and emailed to those that need – so no duplicate paper and hey presto the system works.

There’s a number of other things like this that I have been doing since I moved into this role, trying to improve not only the process but the experience. And you know what it seems to be working……

We now have a core suite of legal documents (dull but employment legislation doesn’t help us here), a standard mobilisation base plan, a new set of forms and information for the 121 pack (still being improved but so much better), a new welcome presentation taking away pages of bullet points and using video and images to tell our story.

There’s more to do but we’ve done so much with what are really only minor tweaks.

So what would you do to improve things? What forms can you chuck out?

Random thoughts

I have a few unconnected things that are on my mind today.  Just musings……

1. LinkedIn recommendations


Can someone I have never worked with or am sure I would immediately recognise in a crowded room really ‘recommend’ me as a professional?  What’s the benefit of the recommendations?  And how do I get recommended for ‘Fun’?

2. Lunch and working from home

IMG_5674 IMG_5675

Yesterday I worked straight through, a hefty plate of pancakes for breakfast and a steady supply of caffeine meant that I didn’t realise I was hungry until about 4.30.  So I stopped, took the dog out for a stomp and had some toast.  I had a pretty productive day but the afternoon was talked up with meetings (phone) with my team and their formal 121s.  I had a really productive day (despite half of it being on the phone).  I’m working from my home office again today.  I had a storming morning, got loads off the to do list and had another phone meeting.  But I needed to break, needed to get out.  So today I had a lunch date with my long suffering, ever so patient caffeine provider and we went on a little trip out.  I haven’t quite got back into the rhythm of work this afternoon yet, have a few things I really could do with getting finished today but by breaking he day I have lost my flow.

Realistically I will produce as much today as I did yesterday, possibly a bit more in terms of output – I may work longer, later as I took 90 mins out to eat a perfect juicy burger but the way in which I work is different.  Working from home can be both a distraction and an opportunity to focus, I think I flit between the two.  I wonder if there is an optimum balance?  What should working from home look like?  How to we measure success, productivity?  No one is waiting for work from me, I haven’t missed any deadlines and the tech and remote nature of my team means that I can work with them as well here as if I were in the corporate office up the A1.

Does the nature of my role currently mean that it doesn’t matter where I work, or is it more about me and the way that I work.  That I naturally share information with colleagues whether I am sat next to them or sat with the dog snoring in the background and the Chef soundtrack blaring?

3. Does working in colour help?


I don’t consider myself to be artistic, I can make a dress; bake a cake; knit a scarf  – but ask me to draw and well my brain goes into fuzz and I become visually illiterate.  But I do love stationery, and I love colour.  I love stationery so much I subscribe to the Lucky Dip Club to get my monthly fix of fabulous.

I read once, or was told, that if you work in colour you are more likely to remember it.  I have no idea if this is true but I know that I like to work in colour sometimes and that ‘drawing’ my notes from meetings and my plans for how to get things done can often give me greater clarity….see the whole picture as it were.

Maybe my productivity the last two days is linked to this?  Maybe it isn’t.  I wonder.

The Perfect Present of Improv – 5 Reasons Why the Funny is Fundamental

Last week my collaborator, co-conspirator, coach and all round good chap Simon went back to Improv School – he wrote a short post about his top five lessons to take away and it resonated with me – all tips that we could (and should) use at work.  So rather than try and replicate or reproduce I think he says it best in his post which I have reposted below.  For more about Simon and the work he does have a look at his website Grow the People.


Improvisation is the essential skill of the 21st century. There, I said it. And I mean it!

Improv at its most basic is making stuff up, and let’s be honest we are all making sh*t up 24/7! It’s called living. Some of us have known about the power of improv for a while, but don’t take my word for it, go check our articles by such publications like Forbes or Fast Company! I’ve worked with improv since university and have been lucky enough to use it in my work for the last 4 years. It’s only in the last 18 months that I’d returned to study it properly, a choice I am so pleased I made.

For the last week I’ve had the honour of being put through my paces by the amazing team at Upright Citizens Brigade. Under the razor sharp eyes (ears and mouth!) of 25 year veteran of the improv scene, Anthony Atamanuik, my fellow improvisers and I were taken back to basics. Our objective: to build core long-form improv skills. At first glance the week long intensive programme was all about the art of comedic improv (and believe me there were a lot of laughs). But a mere scratch from the surface was a wealth of learning and life skills.

I could fill pages with what I learned last week (I still might!) but for now, here are the top five lessons I took away.

  1. Make a choice and commit

We love to get wishy-washy and vague. Terrified of making a decision for fear of being judged, failing or ridicule. Well the wishy-washy doesn’t wash. In improv making a choice and being open and clear about that choice is one of the most powerful gifts you can give your scene partner. Early on in the programme I learned I was being far too polite which wasn’t helping my scene partners understand my needs and ideas clearly enough. This evolved. By the end of the week I was making clearer choices, articulating them and then working with the responses of my partners to commit to the action of the scene.

  1. Getting out of your own way

This was a really simple and powerful lesson. It’s so easy to let the external distract you in unhelpful ways. We live in our minds, constructing stories about ourselves, our abilities and our relationships with others. Through simple activities and a couple of rules we explored our ability to distract the brain so that we could get on with the matter at hand – in this case it was engaging in dialogues that made people laugh. Amazing that by simply creating small internal rules and guides we can overcome significant barriers to communication and creativity.

  1. Being really truly present

Mindfulness has become a pretty popular concept, and I can see why. Through a series of activities I found myself being truly in the moment. It takes discipline and practice to put away the past, forget about the future and really live in the moment you are in. In the moments when I wasn’t present it was obvious and immediate. The impact of holding on to my point of view or my idea would pretty much always lead to the scene collapsing or not reaching its potential. The moments when I was really, truly there are the moments that those around me got the best from me and I got the best from the experience.

  1. Deep, deep listening and looking

It’s the same thing everyone says about “listening to listen, not to respond”, but in this situation if you don’t REALLY listen you’re wonderfully exposed. I experienced moments where what I wanted to say got in the way of what others needed to hear. When I listened with our whole body the things I achieved with my scene partner were magnificent. Hilarious and magnificent. Just be listening to what they were offering, accepting it and building from their together.

  1. Being human

This is number 5 on the list, but it’s number 1 in terms of importance and value. Improvisation is fundamentally about being human. Being real, existing with honesty. The things we found funniest were the things that were real, not the crazy ‘look-at-me I’m performing’ stuff. Improv really gets to the truth of a moment quickly. It is the discipline of responding honestly from your point of view without judging the point of view of your scene partner. It really reminded me of the Susan Scott quote “the conversation is the relationship” or the concept of bringing your whole self to work.

It’s quite something to go back to being a full-time student, even just for a week. At times it was tough not to be the one at the front of the room. But I made myself let go of control and immersed myself in the subject and the hands of a real expert in his field.
Just that act alone was worth the price of admission.
Simon 🙂
Please note this post also appears on my LinkedIn profile.

For more information on how we use improv and story in our work please email Simon (

Website – Linked In – Twitter – Facebook – The Book

It’s all about the People

This week I was invited to attend the Kier Services Leadership conference.  The most senior leaders from across the Services division of Kier are brought together twice a year to update, network, collaborate and plan. We were holed up in a hotel somewhere off there A14, 100 of us or as our MD reminded about 1% of the Services workforce; the 1% responsible for getting the message across, leading from the front and setting the example.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, I’ve only been with Kier since the back end of 2014 and from what I have seen we’ve got some great people doing some great work but often too busy to look up, take stock and share experience – so this was a perfect opportunity. The day started well – our MD talked about the business but explained that we are all about our People (note note resources, talent, capital, assets but People -good, honest People like the brilliant @SimonHeath1 says it best  here).

We had a series of updates, some interesting discussions around cross selling and collaboration but then in the afternoon we got into planning – we know where were want to go.  Our vision has been shared widely and we’re already on the path to success but what else do we need to do – what tools do we need to employ to make sure we reach that vision and build the business.

What was brilliant was that even though the 100 split into 6 or 7 groups the themes of tools we needed were all the same – People, Technology and Systems (of work).

We want our people to be trained and developed and recognised and rewarded; we want our story to be clear and people to want to work with and for us;  we want to use the technology available to assist our people achieve all they can and provide us with real business intelligence.  Underpinning all this we need systems that work.

I was so pleased, yes we talked about Cash and WIP and Debt and importantly about Health and Safety but the key message of the day was PEOPLE and giving those people the tools and systems too succeed.

It couldn’t have come at a better time, next month I have been asked to blog from the HR Tech Europe 2015 Conference from the ExCeL centre in London.  A two day conference on the 24th and 25th March looking at topics covering covering HR, technology, talent & recruitment, social enterprise, learning, mobile, trends, strategy and big data opportunities.  To cover all this there will be 11differently themed parallel events covering key note speakers, master classes, demonstrations, round table discussions and interactive debates the subject areas include:

  • HR Shared Services & Payroll
  • Future of Workforce Learning
  • HR Technology
  • Talen & Recruitment Technology
  • Social Collaborations
  • Labs & Executive Briefings (including a session on Gamified OnBoarding)
  • Round Tables for HRIT practitioners and on Analytics with Open Source Software
  • Exploring User Adoption
  • Compensation & Benefits
  • Cloud Technology
  • Analytics & Reporting
  • Talent & Recruitment Technology

I can’t wait to find out more, learn from people that have been there and done it and explore opportunities and new ideas alongside others finding out what’s possible.

We know People are key to our success and the future of our business at Kier and to be successful they need the right tools so this is an ideal opportunity to find out whats new and what works.

You can find out more about the HR Tech Europe Conference here  and if you want to know more about the Vision at Kier you can see that here.