Working with Captain Whirlwind

Captain Whirlwind

You know the sort, you’ve received an email that on the face of it is quite simple but it might require a bit of thought and discussion and input from others.  But not Captain Whirlwind – they’ve already forwarded it on to someone else, asked them to reply and moved on.

The problem is the person asked you the question, they want a full and measured approach but instead they are going to get a phone call from a colleague who’s been told to call them, doesn’t have all the back ground and can’t actually answer the questions on your behalf without speaking to you.

So that colleague now either calls  the original questioner who has to re-ask the question and wonder why two people in the same department don’t speak with each other. Or they call you to follow up (hopefully).  Either way work is created and potentially duplicated in an effort to respond quickly and move on.

Captain Whirlwind meanwhile has moved on to the next emergency – the next call they can make quickly and the next thing they can fix.  The challenge is if you’re always moving at whirlwind speed you might not always hear the full story, consider the full picture.  In their desire to please everyone, find a solution and ‘get things don’t they often leave behind a bit of chaos and destruction; leaving colleagues to pick up the pieces.

Captain Whirlwind is often seen as a hero – they are a do’er, they get things done, rarely say no and if ever challenged will (legitimately) say I was only trying to help.

Working alongside Captain Whirlwind can be exhausting and frustrating.  I also want to help, want to find solutions and get things done.  But at the same time I want to do no harm.  I want to respect the time and input of those around me and consider the impact of my action on others.  Maybe I’m a little too collaborative.  Maybe I worry too much about the perception if we are constantly playing catch up or as a team look like we don’t even wear the same jersey let alone read the same playbook.

So I count to ten, I take a breath and I try to slow the Whirlwind down, not stop them…their energy and passion to get things done are great in many situations and I want to help them be successful but not at any cost.

A little wind to blow the sails and move us along is awesome – but I hate it when my team and colleagues (and lets be honest when I) find ourselves shaking our heads and wonder how it is that we’re not in Kansas any more.

Limbering up for the CIPD Annual Conference 2014

I feel I need to start with a confession.  For most of 2000’s I wasn’t a member of the CIPD.  My significant other was and well he got the magazine through the post and I didn’t see any other value in the organisation. I used to go to conference (I was living in Yorkshire and working in Leeds) so it was easy to pop up to Harrogate and get my bag of swag (who needed to buy pens??).  I attended fringe sessions but used my own networks to get my professional development and keep up to date with what was going on in the world of work. In 2010 I went through quite a change personally and re-looked at my qualifications and what was going on at the CIPD.  And well, in short in the last 3 years I achieved Fellow status and became re-engaged.  This has been largely down to my involvement in social media and my growing network of connected HR and non HR professionals including colleagues both at the CIPD and working with them. I’m still a little skeptical around the ‘whats in it for me’ element of my membership but through getting more involved and participating in schemes such as the Steps Ahead Mentoring programme I am becoming more active.  I’ve attended branch events, took part in the CIPD hackathon amongst other events/activities and now have been asked to be part of the CIPD 14 Blog Squad. This means that I will be attending conference this year with a press badge and tweeting, blogging, vlogging and generally updating on my thoughts, views and discoveries. I can’t wait – there’s been talk of limbering up, early nights, getting my blog kit together (after a handy guide from David D’Souza), I’ve even made a new dress! Ok the dress wasn’t entirely necessary but it’s a good enough excuse! I’ve picked my sessions and had a good look at the conference brochure.  There’s a great range this year – something for everyone.  But also the fringe events – some great plans are in place for a Street Wisdom event and HR Unscrambled are just two that are well worth a look at. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the CIPD have to offer and to working alongside a fab group of people to bring the event to life on line!

I’m here to help

Day 2 done and dusted and I’m still full of oomph (& cold to be honest). Met some of my team today and called/contacted the others. I’m all tooled up (phone, laptop etc) and raring to go.

As well as meeting some of the wider HR team I took the time to call some of the key people in the business that my team are there to work with, our internal clients or out more simply the people we are there to help. It’s a simple concept that others talk about far more eloquently than I can but at the end of the day it’s true.

I’m there to help them win new business, mobilise and transition contracts so that staff are motivated, engaged and have what they need to be successful, demobilise contracts so that staff can move smoothly and know that they are being treated well and fairly and leave feeling good about us.

I’m there to make it easy for them to manage their teams and support them in doing that. I’m there to help.

Yep there’s a bit of leading and managing and even strategy setting but that’s all worth nowt if I don’t get the ‘help’ bit right.

You could hear the smile in the voice of the chap I spoke to today when I told him this – he sounded genuinely pleased, became much more open and welcoming.

More of the same tomorrow. Bring it on.

(Traffic jams : 2 (closed road, turned over bus; cups of coffee: 3; lemsip: 2 ( plus those horrible tablets); tissues: a small rainforest; employee handbooks given: 0)

New start

First day in my new role today. I’ve been laid up with cold/flu this week and my brain hasn’t been working well at all. BUT I was really excited about getting back to work after 4 months off – And really excited to be back in an industry and role that I have enjoyed in the past.

So I dosed up with lemsip (other cold remedies are available) and headed off round the M25 to meet my new colleagues.

It was brilliant. There’s a massive task ahead, so much opportunity and potential and desire to improve, change, develop, harness the good, chuck out the bad and drive forward.

It’s an exciting time and task – it’s a bit daunting but I feel like a fire has been lit that I haven’t felt for a while.

Going to get rid of this stinking cold this weekend, send the last project work I did to the client (after review I finished it whilst full of snot so it’s going to need a good, hefty review) and then come Monday get cracking!

Can’t. Bloody. Wait.

(Miles driven 90, minutes spent on M25 not getting out of 2nd gear 75, wine opened after 7pm (on a Friday unheard of!) episodes of HUTH 0)


When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it—always.
— Mahatma Gandhi


     Sometimes I find myself getting a bit shouty – rolling my eyes or taking a deep breath.

     Sometimes I feel a rage that I know is irrational and unhelpful and (honestly) unnecessary.

     Sometimes I can be Queen of ALL the Drama – arms thrown in the air, a whirlwind of for fraks sake and what the fudge and motherfreaking idiots.


These times are not my finest minutes. And they are that – minutes.  They are flashes of emotion, anger and reaction.

And then they are gone – I’ve caused a bit of a commotion, nothing has changed, the action that caused the reaction is the same; no solution has been found if one is needed, no one has changed.  I’ve just had a potential hissy fit (minor or major) and the only person who feels a bit of an arse is me!

So I’m taking a breath, considering the impact of my action/reaction and seeing what the real issue is rather than the perceived slight.

So something has gone a bit askew (in my mind/view) or someone has made a decision or action that wasn’t in the plan – so what?  Stuff happens, people are people not widgets.  Take a breath, sometimes things are made a bit less easy…deal with it, move on.  Leave some of the emotion out of the office and do yourself and your colleagues a favour.

Less drama for drama’s sake.

Evolution not revolution?

We had an ‘innovation workshop’ last week – it’s in quotes as I didn’t name it.

The plan was bring a team of minds together to come up with ideas, initiatives and innovations for how we might employ, manage, develop and deploy our people better in the future.

I’d had quite clear instructions from my MD – we ‘re looking to shake it up, redefine how we ‘do people’ in our industry. Nothing is off limits, there are no sacred cows. Exciting right?

I set the scene, outlined both the premise and potential.

Introductions over a colleague, the HRD from one of the JV companies, launched into a we’re not looking to break anything this is about evolution not revolution. We’re inheriting a great team and a good function we want to grow this.

Whilst I screamed internally externally I was clear. I disagreed, this is about revolution. This is about changing the way we do things around here with a clear mandate from the government department responsible that they are looking for new ideas, innovation. And yes revolution.

It wasn’t a great start. We moved forward. I attempted to be respectfully disruptive and in the three hour session was only told three times ‘that’ll never work in this industry’.

I’ve written up my notes, there are sparks of ideas, some potential thoughts to follow up and see if we can make changes but the fundamentals, the things that could really affect a positive change? Well they may be a step too far.

I’m not done – not by a long way, but this revolution may have to take more time to build. Anyone with me?

Do unto others……

It’s the Golden Rule isn’t it?  Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.  It’s not difficult or complicated.  It really is quite simple.

This morning on my commute to work a heavily pregnant lady got on the full train and walked past at least 30 people who avoided eye contact and looked the other way.  It wasn’t one of those situations of is she isn’t she pregnant, not only was it clear physically but she was sporting one of the London Transport Baby on Board badges.  Yes I was comfortable, and yes I had a good seat and some reading to do, but the golden rule is that you offer you seat.  So I did.  She gratefully accepted, sat down with a sigh and I had a short journey to stand for.

Next stop a seat came free, another person was standing but she had seen me stand previously and offered me the seat that came free.  Yeay – people are good and I took it.

But then it happened again, I had just sat down and another clearly pregnant lady got on, again sporting the badge, and again made her way down the carriage.  Again I was the only one to offer a seat.  She asked me if I was sure – (is this a peculiarly british thing?) – but gratefully accepted.  When I was stood I counted, she walked past 15 people before she got to me, 11 of them facing her.  Again the avoided eye contact, the head down, the don’t look at me.

Research undertaken by Kerstin Sailer, a lecturer from UCL, indicates that women are offered seats about 50% of the time (read more here):


This isn’t a post about me, or that I’m getting over ‘all magnanimous’ (thanks @sukhpabial) but rather my disappointment in people not following the Golden Rule, the absence of good manners.

So what about at work? I had the opportunity to read a presentation that talked about Eurostar’s behaviours, how they want their staff to behave, they are simple, clear and most of all common sense and follow the Golden Rule:

Warm – We are approachable and human

 Intuitive – We are proactive and understand the needs of our customers and colleagues

Genuine – We’re open-minded, honest and express our own personalities

Looked After – We treat everyone as we would want to be treated

It’s not quite as straightforward as that for me, yes its a great place to start and should be the basis of relationships both at work and in life but I think we need to go a little further.  For me we need to consider how the other person wants to be treated and adapt accordingly.

But the Golden Rule is a good place to start or as Franklin D Roosevelt said ‘If you treat people right they will treat you right… ninety percent of the time’ – I like those odds.