We live in a very fast paced world where every second is packed full of things to do, places to go and activities to take part in. There are few moments when we can take time out to think about things. I was very lucky this week to have been able to be at the Association of Police Communicators (APComm) 2o14 conference.
Getting three days out of the office is almost impossible and in the current climate has to be something that can be justified. So, I have considered what the conference has given me.
Most important it gave me time to think, reflect on what is the current position, and to look at what could be changed, developed, improved and ultimately achieved. It is incredibly difficult in such a 24 hour work environment to get any time at all and this was a rare opportunity. I took maximum advantage of the time I had.
It also gave me a chance to discuss issues, situations and solutions with colleagues. Sharing experiences is a great way to challenge yourself and question what you are doing, or what you would do when faced with a particular set of circumstances. Modern technology has given us lots of ways to discuss and share but face-to-face conversation is always important.
The content of the conference was varied and interesting which brought new ideas to me. Hearing from experts and professionals working in communication provides the chance to learn, expand my knowledge and hear about developments. It is important for us all to recognise we need to learn every day.
All three aspects have to be in place to gain the maximum benefit from any conference. I was able to realise all three elements in the recent APComm conference thanks to the input from the speakers and the involvement of all the delegates. Three days out of the office is a rare luxury but as I now have a long list of things to do, consider and develop further then it really does feel like time well spent. Time to think.
I have absolutely no interest in golf. I don’t play and I can’t say I have ever been tempted to pick up a club. However, I was really fascinated by the aftermath of the Ryder Cup win for Europe at the weekend.
The most interesting element was the press conferences from both teams reflecting on their success or failure and what that might be attributed to. Why was should this be of interest to me and other communication professionals? Simple, it was the messages that came through the analysis of the events.
For any communication professionals who are struggling with developing internal communication activity and staff engagement, they will be looking to those successful teams for guidance about what works and why. It is easy to blame poor communication for change processes not being embedded and staff not being aware of what the organisation is seeking to achieve.
Two key issues the players highlighted that came through loud and clear were:
1. Have a clear plan
2. Demonstrate strong leadership
The first thing seems really simple but many companies and businesses have organisational plans that are either too complex or confusing. This lack of clarity will have a significant impact on communication and makes the work of teams extremely difficult. The European Ryder Cup team talked about having a clear plan that each of the members knew, understood and were bought into. On the other side there has been criticism of the American approach from within the team who felt there was no clear plan or how to approach the competition.
Secondly, clear leadership that understood the team and was able to reinforce the plan and the road ahead was highlighted. Any communication professional will understand how vital a strong and accessible CEO is. This isn’t a leader who sets a clear plan and doesn’t listen, it is a leader who is listening, responsive and understands the challenge for those on the frontline.
The role of the communication professional is to influence and negotiate and hopefully get to a point where the CEO feels supported and takes advice, and the plan is turned into something that makes sense. If we take these elements forward then perhaps we can also have winning teams.
Every day the headlines are of more sad and depressing stories about the negative things that are happening all around the world. These are definitely challenging and difficult times both at home and abroad. At home many people are struggling to make ends meet and abroad there is a selection of terrible stories from war through to disease, famine etc.
It is very easy to let this impact on our own views of the world and to find it increasingly difficult to hold onto a positive outlook. I know about this only too well as I am definitely a glass half empty sort of person. But I am increasingly recognising that although I may see the challenges and problems in a situation, if I carry that outlook into everything I can easily take the joy out of life.
All that isn’t too much of a problem if I am going to work on my own but if I am working with a team then my moods become increasingly important.
So many managers forget that this is one of the most important elements of leadership. How do you present yourself? What does your language, both spoken and body language, say about you? Are you the kind of person who is going to encourage creativity or do you make people want to leave?
During this year I have become more and more aware of what I put out into the universe. Not just that but the impact that it has on those around me, whether I know them or not. At a time when there is so many terrible things happening I want my legacy to be a much more uplifting and positive thing. Achieving that is not easy and I am still learning taking it a day at a time.
Today is international day of gratitude which gives you an opportunity to take a little bit of time to look at all those things that are positive in your life and say thank you. As part of my ongoing attempts to make a difference I will make sure I am focusing on the good things that I have in my life. Despite what I often think there is a lot to be thankful for.