Susan's Musings

Just Thinking Out Loud

Communication Breakdown

It’s now over 10 years since I virtually work up one morning and decided to book myself on a holiday to Japan.  My original plan was to go by myself , however, a friend intrigued by the idea asked if she could come along and we went along together.

I must say, I was really and truly pleased that she came because aside from the fact that she is generally good company, it was the first place that I ever visited where most of the people I encountered spoke very little English. Whilst her task for the trip was to make all the arrangements and decide on the must go places to visit, for some reason I was given the task of learning Japanese.  I task that I failed miserably at achieving.  As a result we spent a lot of time bowing to people, smiling and pointing to things.

The exception was when we were introduced to people who were referred to as English experts. Then we had the opportunity to speak English, the only thing is sometimes the expertise of the experts was quite limited.

Under such circumstances I found myself adopting a very bad and to be honest rude habit – I would speak louder or speak slower as if that would really make any difference.

I was reminded of this recently during a conversation that I had with an associate when I got frustrated at my inability to get my point across and ended up having a rather frustrating conversation.

There were three key points that I learnt from this conversation:
•    People have different communication styles. Adapt your communication style to your audience. You have more of a responsibility of communicating in a manner that is clear to them than they have of interpreting and understanding your message
•    If the person that you are speaking to does not agree with or understand the point that you are trying to make, no matter how frustrated you may be, repeating the point several times will not make any difference. Neither will speaking slowly or shouting.
•    No matter how important your message is, if the person you are speaking to is not receiving, don’t try and force it down the person’s throat.

Selah ?

Copyright 2012. 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.

Just Keep on Moving

I drove down to Milton Keynes Shopping Centre earlier today for a meeting with Waterstones about my new books.

I hadn’t realised that the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Mile was taking place in the City Centre.  This led to some closed roads and the need to do a bit of meandering to get a parking spot.

Having parked my car I walked towards the shops only to get caught trying to cross the road by some of the event’s participants running along the road.

Being that it was such a lovely afternoon and I had plenty of time on my hands, I stood relaxed waiting for the participants to pass by, listening to the beating of the African drums being played by the side of the road as it did so.

As I stood watching it was fascinating to see the diversity of the participants from those in costumes to the other participants of different ages – parents with children and people just going along by themselves.  There were those that were running and also those just walking along. There was even a lady with a pushchair.

All of them were just walking towards a destination at their own individual paces.  As they finally all passed by and I crossed the road, I found myself thinking – as we all go in the new week, let’s keep on moving by whatever means necessary, regardless of whatever odds we may encounter.

Selah.

Copyright 2012. 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.

The Limitations of Empowerment

In recent times there has been constant talk within Human Resources (HR) circles about the importance of Employee Engagement.  To be honest even though we may have used different terminology in the past, the concept is really nothing new.

After all, it’s in the bid to engage employees, to retain them and attain the best results from them we talk about empowerment, delegation and at a more sophisticated level Distributed Leadership.

I’m an advocate for empowering employees and staff in general, but at the same time I feel the need to say that there is a need for a certain caution. It is great to have an engaged, empowered workforce, but it is equally important for staff to understand the limits of their responsibility.

There is a need for their to be clarity around the boundaries – where does delegated responsibility end and at what point should they be referring to someone more senior before making decisions.  This is aligned to their knowledge, capability and experience.  Necessary limitations of delegated authority also go beyond this to encompass the implications of decisions or actions that may be taken.

It is critical for any leader to remember that no matter how much you delegate, the buck ultimately stops with you. That is you can delegate a degree of authority, but not the ultimate responsibility.

Copyright 2012. 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.

About The Author

Susan Popoola

Susan is a Human Resources Capital Optimisation Specialist specialising in areas inclusive of Talent Management with additional interest in a number of other areas inclusive of Education, Community and Social Justice.

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