Monthly Archives: March 2013


Wanted Tank Commander for busy sales office

‘I have the perfect candidate for you but you can only see him on one condition, you get to read his CV only after his interview. If that’s a deal I can arrange something for Friday’? When Tony was sixteen he got into some trouble. The neighborhood gangs pulled him in a bad direction. In a desperate attempt to get away from it all, he quit school early and ran away to join the army.

Fifteen years later Tony has learned a whole range of skills; from computing and mechanics to building trust into teams in the most difficult of environments. Tony has a great big smile, is always optimistic. He is sharp, witty, always there to lend a hand and has a natural leadership calmness about him that can reassure people in times of doubt.

But Tony is coming home from the army and there are no jobs in sight. No one on Civy Street is looking for a tank commander with eleven years of experience in active duty. Tony can sell the concepts of peace and democracy to the children and loved ones of militants.

He can teach grown men new skills and give them hope, he can oversee a complex series of tasks, planning them to the finest detail. He can build a temporary bridge to get cars and trucks to safety in a matter of hours. But no one seems to be interested in an ex-tank commander.

I believe we should not be looking at CV’s to see what people have done but rather to see what they are capable of. We should be looking for signs of things that they would be good at and enjoy. I believe that Tony would be a great asset to a busy sales office. He would re-motivate those who had just lost a deal and convince even the most stubborn of prospects to at least meet his sales representative. He would be structured, be good at paperwork and, given the right boundaries, be able to make quick and agile decisions, prioritizing on the goal and the urgency of what is in front of him.

I like Tony, would you like to meet him? He’s not asking a very high day rate…

Have a nice week,


2016-11-17T08:24:28+00:003 Comments

Equal Pay for Women!

If I was to ask you, how long do you think it would take to implement a simple law that gave men and women the right to earn the same pay for the same work what would you answer?  Ten months, five years, six decades? This afternoon I thought I had jumped back forty three years to 1970, when my PR company told me that this Wednesday is ‘Equal pay day’ here in Belgium. “Equal pay for whom?” I asked, “For Women” was the reply! I was still at secondary school when the equal pay act was finally introduced in the UK (thanks to the Ford Dagenham women having successfully taken on the establishment with almost no support from their male counterparts).

Now I am not about to launch into a political tirade or state the obvious but it never ceases to amaze me how long it takes to bring about a real change of mindset. Because with all the necessary laws in place right across Europe, that is all it can be? 

Imagine this: Your son and your daughter go off to university. They both get first class degrees in mathematics, how would you feel if you found out that your daughter would earn less than your son? Would it bother you? Would it bother your daughter? This might seem an inane question but it obviously doesn’t bother most people in Europe otherwise we wouldn’t have an equal pay day once a year. The problem would either have been solved long ago or we would be having riots on the streets.

Us adults get used to things not being fair. We accept things the way they are until we are pushed and driven into complaining. But for how long?  I have seen statistics flying around and I have heard lots of theories and explanations. But to me, gender, race and colour should never have an impact on wage levels. But they do and what are we business leaders doing about it in the areas over which we have jurisdiction? Probably not much if we consider dealing with the economic crisis more important. Because once we have sorted out the recession, then we will have enough money to pay the poor and give more to women. Now where and when have I heard that before?

Have a good week.


2016-11-17T08:24:29+00:001 Comment

100 hours in and still not tired!

Macho managers will tell you that they don’t need sleep. That sleep is for wimps and the non-committed. They will constantly remind you, through their words and deeds, that they built their careers by burning the midnight oil; working on reports and preparing for their meetings the following day.

I have known people who deliberately stayed up late to show off how dedicated they were by sending out e-mails way after midnight. The problem is that macho management is not confined solely to men. Some women too only feel they have done a reasonable day’s work if they have clocked up at least twelve, or more, working hours for their employer in any one day. They even boast to their colleagues about it: How hard they work, how loyal they are. What nonsense! Working excessively long hours has nothing to do with loyalty but everything to do with insecurity and a lack of imagination.

To be honest there are days when I work twelve hours or more, but I do it out of pure choice, I certainly don’t do it for the money and I do not expect others to follow my example. My children have left home, and my wife has a busy career too.

In fact I get kind of worried if I see e-mails coming in on a Sunday afternoon or after nine at night. I wonder why these people do not have a social life. I wonder what their partners and family must be thinking. Why it is that they decide to focus on work rather than all the other things life has to offer to distract one’s attention?

Macho management is dangerous. The pressure macho managers can assert, even sometimes without realizing it, often borders on the immoral. I have witnessed many divorces and family breakdowns due to unsolicited work pressure. I have also seen the unfortunate nervous breakdowns and stress related crashes that inevitably occur when macho managers convince those around them that their way of working is the norm. And I am not talking about small businesses trying to break through into profitability. No, many of the worst perpetrators are giant multi-nationals with small minded managers.

We don’t need any additional laws; we just need to apply common sense. Chastise those who send e-mails in the middle of the night (without a perfectly valid explanation) and reward those that get through their work during the day by observing good discipline and a sense of honesty towards their employer by focusing their attention efficiently on the tasks at hand, working the hours they are contracted to do and once in a while a few extra for good measure. It’s a question of sustainability and common sense.

Tired people in the workplace, and even those working from home, are a risk. For one they are much more likely to have accidents, the quality of their output is very likely to be substandard and the time it takes a tired person to carry out even a simple task is infinitely longer than a fresh person.  And if their employer is stupid enough to pay them overtime or some other compensation for working excessive hours then they will sooner or later realize that it is very poor value for money.

There are always special occasions when working extra hours is necessary. But prolonged systemic overtime is never in anyone’s interest.

So watch out for macho managers with big sticks and small minds, for they are the bullies that no one respects and often cause irreparable harm to families, friends and loved ones. I never thought I would ever hear myself saying this but the European working time directive is quite sufficient; it’s not a handicap, it is a common sense rule that in all normal circumstances should never need enforcing. After all, restricting yourself to working no more than eleven hours in twenty four does not sound so bad to me, assuming that the eleven hours is spent working in an efficient and focused way.

Have a nice and not too long working week :-)


2016-11-17T08:24:29+00:003 Comments

Feeling demotivated?

There are many people that believe that without the physical company of others, we fall apart. For example how can you know when someone needs motivation if they are sitting alone at home? Is a question I often hear these days? 

Apart from the obvious use of Skype an Microsoft Lync, there are other much more pragmatic and dare I say more effective ways of calling out for help when we feel the need.  By using powerful symbols via Facebook and other channels it is surprising how much support one can receive. The use of smilies is OK but there are other types of images that give much more information, especially as a smiley (or frowney) is often too small to recognize the subtlety of the emotion it is trying to convey.

The image I have chosen for this week’s blog  was recently used by a friend of mine. She used it as a cry for help when one morning she felt a serious lack of motivation. Within minutes she had received some comforting messages, tips and advice from her friends. By the end of the day she had a whole bunch of supporters motivating her on. Now that would not happen in an office where Facebook and Twitter are not accepted as a legitimate form of communication would it?

Another aspect that I find worthy of considering is that in offices, hidden agendas are everywhere and one is often obliged to explain the context and why you might be unhappy, angry or concerned which, by definition, takes the emphasis off you and onto someone else. So in this case the reaction is not “oh you poor thing” but “My God he’s a bastard”.  In fact in this situation our colleagues are obliged to be rude about the perpetrator in order to show sympathy. So by using an image to express a mood on Facebook our friends become not so concerned about the history that caused it but about what message they can send us to make us feel better. Words of reassurance rather than anger. There is no need for names or blame games.

Who knows? One day we might all have an extra line on our keyboards (virtual or real) to cover our gallery of emotional icons)? I guess there’s an Apple or Android AP out there already?

Have a good week,


2016-11-17T08:24:29+00:002 Comments