Jack Broadley of Pelorus Consulting explains the benefits of organisations improving their employee engagement, how workplaces can better leverage the strengths of their staff, the importance of leaders adopting a coaching approach and the steps you can take to encourage this within your organisation.
Website: Pelorus Consulting
LinkedIn: Jack Broadley Pelorus Consulting
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Jack Broadley is the Founding Director of Pelorus Consulting and has a background in Organisational Development, specialising in leadership and team development and culture change.
Jack has Board-level and international experience, having provided HR and learning development solutions in the US, Middle East, Africa and Europe.
His early career was in the Royal Navy serving as the Executive Officer within operational leadership, managerial and teaching positions in Europe, the Far East and the Middle East.
Jack is also a former Partner of OD consultancy Qudos UK and worked with clients within pharma, professional services, the Ministry of Defence and the NHS.
As HR/Business Director for Coutts, Jack worked in the Information Services sector and was involved in Organisational Development/change initiatives and mergers.
In 2004 he joined Henley Business School as Executive Fellow within the Leadership, Change and HR Faculty and served as Client Director within Corporate Learning. Jack was responsible for the IBM EMEA Account, also delivering Executive Development Programmes for Vodafone, ABB and Ford.
Jack established Pelorus Consulting in 2008 and has worked with leaders and teams in companies including Lloyds of London, RBS, Bain & Company, Samsung, BAe, Google and Roche. He holds a MA in Psychology, Sociology & Organisational Analysis from Warwick University Business School.
Jack is a Visiting Fellow at Sussex, Southampton and Henley Business Schools. He is a Member of the American Psychological Society, a Founding Member of the UK Association of Business Psychologists and a Chartered Member of the UK Institute of Personnel and Development.
What you’ll learn in this episode
- [1:37] Why Jack started Pelorus Consulting and the type of clients he works with.
- [3:40] What organisational development is and how Jack got into this area.
- [5:47] The importance for organisations to be flexible with their employees’ positions and play to people’s strengths.
- [10:06] How remote working can help break down silos and how to make your work environment more empowering.
- [15:23] The importance of having a clear purpose and solid values within your organisation.
- [21:58] Why some organisations are cynical of organisational development and how to measure its effectiveness.
- [25:37] How to have conversations with your organisation about organisational change.
- [27:24] How the pandemic has accelerated a shift in mindset about the purpose of work.
- [30:19] Who to approach within your organisation when suggesting organisational change.
- [34:52] How line managers can improve performance reviews, learn more about their team and focus on people’s strengths.
Resources mentioned in this episode
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To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.
Episode 111: How organisations and leaders can get the most out of their employees (and what you can do to help them) - with Jack Broadley of Pelorus Consulting
Jeremy Cline 0:00
Do you feel like your employer is getting the best out of you? Do you feel like performance reviews are a waste of time box-ticking exercise? Are there ways that the organisation for which your work could better engage with you, so you feel like you have more buy-in to whatever it is your organisation is trying to achieve? How can you persuade your employer to engage more with you and your colleagues? These are the things we talk about in this episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.
Jeremy Cline 0:41
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the show where we're all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. This week, we're looking at how employers can better support their staff and get the most out of them. Now, I know most of you will be listening to this as employees or staff members, but I'm hoping in this episode, you'll get some ideas which you might be able to take back to your employer about how they can better support you and your colleagues, or if you manage a team yourself, perhaps you'll get some ideas about how you can get more out of your team. To explore this topic, I'm absolutely delighted to have here today, Jack Broadley, who's the founder of Pelorus Consulting. Jack is a practitioner in the field of organisational development, and we'll find out what that is in a moment, and he specialises in leadership, team effectiveness and personal development. Jack, welcome to the podcast.
Jack Broadley 1:30
Jeremy, thank you for having me.
Jeremy Cline 1:32
Can you start by telling us a little bit about Pelorus Consulting, who your clients are and how you help them?
Jack Broadley 1:37
Yes, Pelorus was started by me about 12 years ago, as my own company. I had been working for various organisations for a number of years and felt that I was spending too much time away from friends and family and in a lot of travelling, and I wanted to sort of change the way I lived, the way I worked. So, I established Pelorus and hoped that I'd be able to achieve balance in my life. And up to this point, yes, I think that was the right decision. My clients range from big-name companies, middle-market companies, down to small start-ups. But they all have kind of one thing in common in that they want to kind of change the way that they work and their culture and how people engage with them. And that's kind of what draws me into that type of work.
Jeremy Cline 2:26
So, can you go a bit more into that? I mean, what are the problems that they're facing that makes them go, 'Ah, I need someone like Jack'?
Jack Broadley 2:35
Yeah. Normally, there will be a certain thing that will come to the surface, perhaps the result of an employee survey, or a particular team that's not functioning effectively. And they may ask me to come in and look at a particular area. And that's fine, I can normally get in and start working with the people. But that then leads on to asking questions about, well, is this to do with your culture, is this to do with the way that you are working with your people, do your people actually have a good understanding of what your organisation is trying to achieve, do you spend enough time developing your leaders to give them the skills that they need to do the job that you're asking them to do. So, it kind of leads on and starts connecting with other things.
Jeremy Cline 3:20
So, I said at the top that you're an organisational development practitioner, and I'd imagine most people probably won't necessarily have heard of organisational development. I'm sure that this is a question which could probably take up the entire interview, but in a nutshell, what is organisational development?
Jack Broadley 3:39
Yeah, I mean, again, I think you can google and get thousands of hits, but to me, it's a kind of a systematic way of joining of the pieces within an organisation, helping it move forward and change and adapt and grow. You know, if you think about what those pieces are for a firm operating these days, you know, focus on the purpose, thinking about its values, the behaviours that the organisation encourages, the practices, the systems, and it's how all those things are joined together to make the employee, the person who works in that firm, feel engaged and supported and encouraged, and to be a better business. That's my understanding of organisational development.
Jeremy Cline 4:20
Before we dive into that in a bit more detail, how did you get into this as a practice area?
Jack Broadley 4:27
That's a long story too. I joined the Navy when I was a young man and went to sea for a number of years, I think I did 13 years in all, doing various operational, leadership, management roles in the Navy. Later on in time, I started to get interested in leading and leaders and teamwork. I took the job at the Naval College at Dartmouth, and then was posted to the Royal Navy School of leadership management in Portsmouth. As a final job, I did a study looking at industry best practice of management and leadership development. And that really got me interested. So, when I left the Navy, I went to work for a training company, leadership and management training company, and then later on went back to night school, did a post-grad to try to broaden my theoretical knowledge, and after a number of years, did a Master's in organisational psychology and then, I decided that this was a theme and an area to specialise in, and that's kind of how I stayed in that area.
Jeremy Cline 5:28
Fantastic. That's really interesting. So, I think you've touched on this already, but what are the sorts of things that you can help an organisation with through the tools within organisational development?
Jack Broadley 5:46
Yeah, as I said, I think organisations have got lots of different components, to use that phrase, but sometimes those components may be not connected very well or designed to support each other. We talk about legacy systems from an IT side, but I think also organisations historically devise performance systems, hierarchies choose to help the organisation deal with problems of today, but I think other things need to be adapted and changed as the organisation goes forward, and as the world changes around an organisation. So, to me, going in and working with a company to think how these things can be realigned and reengaged to support people in their growth and development, to help the organisation refocus on what it's trying to achieve, what its purpose is, how it's adding value to its clients. Organisations sometimes get sort of caught up with the minutiae of the day-to-day, the quarterly, their results, the returns, and need to sometimes stand back. And senior people specifically need to have time to stand back and reflect and review where the firm is going, and how maybe they need to change to get there. Also, sometimes, I think people are not very good at realising the potential they have, and organisations are not very good at helping people to do that. There's an old saying, sometimes, you know, if you are encouraging a fish to try and climb a tree, you're not going to get very good results, and you're going to get lots of very unhappy fish. And I think organisations sometimes need to realise that they need to do things differently, to get the best out of people, to really feel that they're understanding some of this potential and help them achieve that. And that may require them to change role or change the vision or whatever, or retrain them and redevelop them, but I think we need to get much better at tapping into people potential. And I think organisations sometimes lose sight of that.
Jeremy Cline 7:46
Are you able to give me an example of where you've seen this in action, to where you've worked with an organisation and they have reallocated people to different roles, sort of what that looked like before you came in and what it looks like now?
Jack Broadley 7:59
Yeah, a recent project, large law firm that was very siloed in its functions and very process lead, and realised that the client wasn't getting the level of service that it needed. So, they went through a major change process and adopted some agile ways of thinking, which meant that they brought teams together that would work together and break down silos, instead of formalising people into very rigid, up and down kind of worlds, they brought them together and empowered them and enabled them to solve problems for the client and to be proactive. Rather than wait for a problem to come from the client, they actually thought about how we can provide better solutions. So, that was an example where people broke out of a rigid way of thinking, and changed the whole culture of how that part of the organisation worked. I think that's a pretty good example.
Jeremy Cline 8:55
So, what was the rigid way of thinking that they had before? Was this sort of, they were organised in terms of specific departments, so like, you know, the corporate department and the tax department and that kind of thing?
Jack Broadley 9:07
Exactly. Finance, you know, rigid thinking, very tightly defined roles, where people really were very restricted, but that cut off all the good ideas, innovation that people could bring to the table, and that released a huge amount of energy where people were freed out of that very confining way of thinking and were supported, and also, the leadership had to realise that its old way of managing and managing them had to change, and middle managers had to adopt much more coaching approach, much more empowering and problem solving for them. And again, it was very brave of the senior team to realise that that was something they had to do, and they embraced it.
Jeremy Cline 9:51
And was the result a structural change, sort of a structural change the way things were organised, or did people still sit in these teams, in the corporate team, the finance team, the tax team, but they were just encouraged more to work together?
Jack Broadley 10:06
Well, this is interesting, where we're having to work remotely over the last year has to some degree demonstrated that remote working can be a way of breaking down silos. You know, people can be located anywhere, as long as there's a unifying purpose and enough time together, one way or another, to focus on what the problems are. And so, yes, this idea that people don't all have to be locked into one space to do good work, not for a moment saying that people also don't need to be together, need to feel together and part of something, that's very important as well, I think that's why we've seen the up-and-coming hybrid way of working as a way forward, which I think is very sensible.
Jeremy Cline 10:49
You mentioned an increasing onus or perhaps a desirability that middle management get involved more with a sort of a coaching approach, an empowering approach. Can you talk a bit more about what what you see is the legacy approach at the moment and why it's worth middle management moving towards this new approach?
Jack Broadley 11:12
Yeah, I think there is still a kind of Dickensian command and control view of the world in many organisations, even in professional services organisations, where there is a kind of them and us possibly, or a fear and a non-fear in a world. And I think that kind of gets in the way of people bringing their best to work. And I think middle managers have grown up in a world that their comfort zone comes from knowing exactly where their position is in the hierarchy, and they feel safe by that. And I think it's encouraging middle managers to feel that there's a different way, where they can be more of a facilitator, more of an orchestrator, in the way that groups and individuals work together. But that takes a bit of time for them to feel safe, and it takes some time for them to develop a different set of skills to enable them to do that. And also, the culture in the organisation has to support that, and see that as a useful way forward.
Jeremy Cline 12:09
So, what does that look like? Again, can you give an example in action, so you know, I'm a lawyer by background, I'm used to the sort of equity partners, salaried partner, senior associate, associate kind of division, and you do your work, and you can take it to a partner, and they put lots of red lines over it and that kind of thing. And it tends to be quite hierarchical, and I have to say, I don't think I've necessarily seen a lot of coaching in practice, and particularly not down the people I work with, but what can a more coaching, empowering environment look like? The middle manager, how does their role change?
Jack Broadley 12:53
Right, I think we need to separate things out, in terms of this specialist legal knowledge that an individual has, because of the length of experience and time they've served, or a specialisation they have, and the leadership management style, which is a separate thing. And I think, being able to understand that you can bring people together and lead and manage them in a different way, which still maintains that disciplined access to knowledge and information and the professional aspect of being a lawyer, but at the same time, engage people in a more egalitarian world and where people kind of feel that they can bring themselves and who they are to the table, and they're not kind of constrained by 'Well, I'm just this, my title is that, therefore, I'm not allowed to and I can't ask questions, and I can't bring ideas forward.' And I think it requires line managers to think more in terms of how they can bring the best out of people, rather than trying to tell them what to do and when to do it.
Jeremy Cline 13:52
Is this something which you see plagues particular industries more than others?
Jack Broadley 13:57
If I'm honest, I think professional services are challenged, because historically, as you've pointed out, they've been very kind of fixed and constrained perhaps in the way that they have seen the world. I think, information technology and the way the world is changing quickly is going to have a big impact on professional services firms, in terms of how they demonstrate added value to their clients, not just in terms of time recorded, but being able to bring the best ideas forward and innovative ways to add value to clients. So, I think that is bringing around a lot of change within professional services.
Jeremy Cline 14:34
You mentioned there, and you mentioned previously, adding value to clients and the teams working together that can proactively bring solutions to the clients. And we've also talked about getting the best out of people, getting the best out of your employees, out of your teams. Do these things naturally go hand in hand? So, if you improve one, you improve the other. Or is there a balance to be drawn between what you do for your team, and how well you support your team, versus how well you support and the work you do for your clients? Do those work in tandem, or can there be a potential conflict?
Jack Broadley 15:23
I think there there is a tension at times. And I think that's why you need orchestrators, good leadership, that when there is a tension between the needs of the client, the needs of the organisation, there is somebody to mediate and somebody who can look at the problem and advise. But that then comes back to what is the purpose of the organisation, what is the purpose that we're trying to achieve, what are the values that we have underpinning that. And I think if those values are clear, and if the organization's purpose is clear, in terms of people genuinely own it, have skin in the game, want to achieve it, as opposed to it's been decided by the top team that this is what we're going to do, and the marketing department has told everybody, then that's the difference. I think if people genuinely see that purpose and have a will to move forward together, then solutions are found. But again, if the needs of the client are not pretty front and centre, there's a danger, then you're not adding the value that's going to move your organisation forward. So, I think these things can become in tension, but with good will and good leadership, that can be resolved. I would rather have the tension, which is real, than just paying lip service and just moving through processes which have no connection to value and no connection to the purpose.
Jeremy Cline 16:46
Can you go into that a bit more? So, your preference that the tension is real.
Jack Broadley 16:51
Well, I think sometimes organisations fall into the trap of just assuming because there's no noise, everything is fine. And people will just put their heads down and get on with what they're doing. To me, where I see conflict, not to fear it as something bad, but to see it genuinely where people are struggling to resolve something which is important. And therefore, you know, it's a good thing. If you've got conflict, it means that there's something difficult that the organisation is trying to overcome. And that, again, is where you need good leadership to come alongside people to take the fear away from conflict, and to see it as a constructive process, as long as it's not hurting people, and a long as it's done in a constructive way. And normally, it leads to better solutions, which add value to the client and move organisations forward.
Jeremy Cline 17:36
I see. So, it's kind of about the common goal, and people might have different views as to how you reach the common goal. And the purpose of this tension is to have those discussions in a constructive manner, so you can kind of negotiate and agree between yourselves what the best approach is. And I suppose what you're trying to avoid is where people start to feel resentful, or that they're not being listened to, when dealing with these sorts of subjects.
Jack Broadley 18:05
Yeah, exactly, that's really important. People need to feel that their views are seriously being listened to and engaged and understood. And how often have I heard people say, 'Well, we're asked for our feedback, they send out the survey, but then nobody ever follows up, nobody ever tells us what the results of the survey was, what's changed.' And I think, you know, you can do that once or twice, but then you start to lose people's feeling if any of this is really connected, and we are genuinely part of something. So, I think these things have to be done well.
Jeremy Cline 18:36
Going back to the balancing interests of the clients and the employees, this might be an impossible question to answer, and it might even be the wrong question to ask, in which case do please tell me, but should the focus of an organisation be, if it has a choice to make, should its number one priority be its employees or its clients?
Jack Broadley 19:00
Well, to be a kind of politician in the way I answer that, I think it has to be both, in fact has to be broader than both. I think it has to be, stakeholders have to be taken into consideration. I think there's a lot of realisation today that a way of thinking that our role is just to meet the needs of one set of stakeholders, the partners, the equity partners, for instance, is not taking into account the other stakeholders that also need to be taken into account. You know, your community, your environment, the place that you play, in the wider, social context. If we think about where professional services firms came from, they were pillars of a community, they were integrated within, they were seen as a foundation piece of how the structure of a community held together. And I think that's something that maybe a lot of professional services firms need to rediscover again, I think they've perhaps lost that along the way somewhere.
Jeremy Cline 19:57
How well known is organisational development as an area, particularly in the context of professional services? I mean, do professional services firms know that people like you exist and you can help them?
Jack Broadley 20:09
I think it's getting better. If you'd asked me that question four or five years ago, I would have said no. But I think today, people are much more aware, they may not have the title 'organisational development', but if you ask people how important is that your employees feel engaged and focused on things like purpose and values, I think that people are much more aware of the importance of these things. Senior leadership teams are absolutely front and centre. How often have we heard that culture eats strategy for breakfast? And that's what organisational development is, it's realising that if you want to achieve your business plan, you have to get all the pieces joined up, you have to get the people owning it, and feeling good about it. And if you just try and address the IT system, or the performance management, then you're dealing with things in isolation. All these things have to be brought together. So, I think awareness is much better, I think it always needs to be improved, and I guess that's part of my evangelising of my own profession in a way, and having discussions with you is a good example.
Jeremy Cline 21:13
I don't think I'd heard the expression 'culture eats strategy for breakfast'. What if, I dare say that you probably meet a few cynics about the value and the benefit of this, I mean, so if someone wants to take this sort of thing to their organisation, and they can expect, well, there might be some cynical responses to these sorts of things, but what are some of the typical objections you see to organisations implementing these sorts of changes? And how do you address those objections?
Jack Broadley 21:57
Yeah, I think it's important not to be cynical back, I think it's important not to try and assert your solution. I think it's very important to be understanding of why people sometimes are cynical in organisations. They've probably experienced things which haven't gone well, which have made them think this is just another initiative, this is just another thing that senior managers have come up with, et cetera. So, I think being understanding of that cynicism is really important. Again, you know, a number of years ago, the number of long-term research carried out by academia that showed how things like organisational development have led to improvements within organisations, that research is fairly widespread and clear, and that's why you see many, many blue chip organisations, many now middle-market companies taking out and moving forward with these types of projects, because there's enough research to demonstrate that if we get the people part, the processes part, the culture right in the organisation, that brings about positive change, and we get improved performance and a happier place to work. And I think that's backed up by longitudinal research, which I think stands for itself.
Jeremy Cline 23:14
How is that positive change measured? I mean, if you take as a given that most organisations, and maybe this is entirely wrong, but a lot of organisations will care a lot about things like return to shareholders, profits per equity partner, that kind of thing, what's the yardstick by which you can measure success in this context?
Jack Broadley 23:36
Yeah, measurement is always an interesting topic, because people, you know, the argument, 'Oh, we only value things that we can measure' goes into light. But how do you measure a happiness of a child? How do you measure a culture that actually says people feel excited about being together, they actually feel in a very positive way? I think you need to look at both the quantitative and the qualitative. Also, I smile when people talk about measurement, because I was taught somewhere along the line, as soon as you try and measure something, it changes in itself. And I think you can spend an awful lot of time trying to demonstrate and measure everything to the 10th degree. To me, it's just common sense. You try and look at those areas, you're trying to make improvements in, and think about what's the simplest way for us to try and show that we are moving forward in this area that we're improving. So, talking to clients, getting feedback from clients, getting feedback from your people, talking to other externals and see how their perspective changed, and using tools that give you those measures that things are moving forward. But at the same time, sometimes things take time to change. You're not going to change an organisational culture in two weeks. It doesn't matter how many instant surveys you do, changing a culture takes time, and it takes time to change the pieces, and you're not going to get an instant result. So, it takes a bit of faith sometimes for senior teams to have the courage to move some of these forward, knowing that measurement cannot give instant results. But yeah, I think with a good will and a wind behind you, that's the best way of doing it.
Jeremy Cline 25:09
I think what you've said about measurement is probably heresy to some people. You know, there's the adage that if you can't measure something, you can't improve it. Assuming that there is a cost to engaging someone like yourself to come in and look at these sorts of things, how would you convince an organisation that there's going to be a return on their investment?
Jack Broadley 25:37
Well, I mean, you take something that would be familiar, you know, how much of an organization's value and worth is tied into its brand, to what customers feel about the brand. We all understand that, if a brand is recognised and accepted, and people feel excited about it, they're more likely as customers to invest in that brand. Well, it's exactly the same with an organisation. How do your employees feel about your own brand? Are they excited about it? There are various survey tools, net promoter score, where if you went down the pub on a Saturday night, and somebody said to you, 'Would you recommend your company for somebody else to work with?', these are very, very important measures. They may be very qualitative, but they say a lot. So, I think you have to do both. I think there are quantitative measures, in terms of performance, in terms of profitability, which are all very useful indicators. But I think you need to look at this in the round, rather than just to try and chase criteria that will tell you that these things are happening.
Jeremy Cline 26:42
What effect you think the pandemic is going to have on the willingness of organisations to embrace these kinds of changes. Because on the one hand, the things are uncertain, we're not going to spend money on anything which seems a bit extraneous or luxurious. But on the other hand, there are potentially seismic shifts in people's thinking, people are becoming much more aware of the quality of their own lives, whether they want to do long commutes, what sort of environment they want to work in. So, do you see the pandemic being a force for good in this area, something that's going to accelerate change in this area?
Jack Broadley 27:23
Notwithstanding the horrible 18 months, whatever it has been, for everybody, I think, from a workplace perspective, the fact that organisations have had to change very drastically the way that they see work, and how people have felt about engaging in the place of work, I think is a good thing. If I think about the factors that I was talking about prior to the massive changes we've had, the demographic changes, the social changes, the cultural changes, the fact that millennials don't view life as work and want to view it as a piece of their world, I think all these things have been demonstrated throughout the pandemic, that people do want to generally do a good job, they want to work for an organisation that they feel has a purpose, adds value to society and is more than just a job title, is more than just a list of tasks. I also think that they realise that commuting for four hours every day to do that job is crazy. And if you can achieve value, and you can work with others using a mixture of blended learning, blended resource, virtual reality, but at the same time, having time, quality time, with people together, in the place that we call the organisation, where there is an identity and a buzz, that's important too. So, I think it has brought people around to really thinking about what is the purpose of work, and how do we go about doing that, it's an important part of our lives. So, surely, we should try and get the best from that.
Jeremy Cline 29:00
Let's talk about the employee who's perhaps not really looking forward to things going back the way they were and is unsure as to whether their organisation is going to make any substantial changes or whether it will kind of go back to business as it was previously. If that person wants to go back to their employer and say to them, 'Maybe there are some things that we can do differently here', what are some good ways that that person can approach their organisation? I mean, I suppose the first question is, how do you identify who is the right person to speak to about this, but then, how do you approach this, because as you said, this could be a potentially massive topic and you said how organisations tend to come to you because there's been a specific thing, be it an employee survey or whatever it is. So, is there a quick win, something that an employee can go to their organisation and say, 'Well, what about changing this, for example, or doing more work in this. It's not going to cost you anything, and it's an easy win, which might have an immediate impact.'
Jack Broadley 30:16
I think that's exactly, it's not, you know, a need to get somebody like me in to point out that the last year or so has demonstrated that you can maintain, even improve performance and productivity, just by working differently. And I think it's trying to build on what we've learned over the last year, and try and look at how those things can be formalised and integrated into the way the organisation does its business. Think of the time that we're going to save from not having to commute every day into the office, and how that time can be built in. Also, I think organisations have learned to trust their people more, they've had to do that, and people, sure, you know, there may be some individuals who have not risen to that, but you know, I'd say an awful lot of people have worked harder and demonstrated that they can produce excellent results working in a different way. So, I think it's just building on that. And also, I think it's a point about going to people in your organisation who generally are friendly and positive and will take on those kinds of messages as ambassadors and build on your ideas, I think. So, getting somebody who can champion your thoughts and champion your ideas, and take them to the senior team, take them to the managing partner, and try and see how they can be taken forward. So, I think, yeah, it's definitely worth doing, and yeah, worth investing that time to do that.
Jeremy Cline 31:39
So, it's more about speaking to the people who might be open to these sorts of ideas, rather than necessarily going thinking, 'Oh, well, this is something for HR', or something like that.
Jack Broadley 31:52
Well, I mean, HR is part of the solution, absolutely. So, you know, encouraging and informing, but I think being realistic and sometimes, you know, there's another analogy about saying, well, you know, do you need permission to demonstrate something works. Why don't you just go ahead and do it, and demonstrate that actually it's what we're doing and it's working and, you know, seek forgiveness rather than permission sometimes? If you're doing something that seems to be working really well, it should stand on its own legs, and then everybody should see, well, that's a much better way of doing it, we should do that and adopt that, it can be a way forward as well.
Jeremy Cline 32:29
And in my quest, always, for the quick win, are there things which perhaps you typically see in organisations, which you kind of think, 'Okay, so this organisation is doing that, again, I've seen this in the past six organisations I've worked with, and I'm going to suggest that they change to this', is there anything like that which you see come up quite regularly, which perhaps someone can suggest as a relatively quick, easy win?
Jack Broadley 32:58
Well, I'm not going to ask the question back to a lawyer what's quick and what's easy. You know, if it's quick and easy, I think that's a hard question, I mean, these things sometimes are difficult. They're embedded in organisations. What came to mind, as you were discussing, was something like how we run our performance review process, which to me is always a classic, where it seems to me that the form takes on a life of itself. And the rationale for doing this exercise is to complete the form. And everybody finds it a complete chore and a mindless difficult exercise, and nobody enjoys doing it. And that, to me, is when you're looking through the telescope at the wrong end. We should be saying it's not about the process, the form, it's about the experience, it's about the conversation that line has with the team, that line has with individuals. How do you fire up people? How do you get them feeling part of something bigger than themselves? And that's really what performance discussion should be about, it shouldn't be about filling in forms. And that would be something, I think, if you could spend any time asking yourself how can we reduce the time we spend doing this and improve the relationships, the conversations that we have within our teams, that would be a good investment. And that could be a quick win.
Jeremy Cline 34:17
I have certainly experienced the 'this is a form filling exercise', so me filling in the form and the person I'm speaking to rather going through the motions, than engaging in the process. So, what kind of things can you suggest that would make a performance review process better fit for purpose and not, 'Oh, my goodness, I've got to fill in a form. Oh, my goodness, I've got to appraise 10 people and just tick all these boxes'?
Jack Broadley 34:49
Well, I come back to fundamentally understanding why are we doing it. What is the purpose of this? If it's to give us a measure that then we can compare people with each other, and then kind of give them a number, then I think, again, you've lost sight of it. If it's seen as a way that we can help Jack to really understand how he's adding value in his role, and maybe for Jack to help us understand how he could add an awful lot more value, if we were just to change the way he works or adapt or give him more development or help or more resource, then it becomes a two-way conversation. And I think, often line managers aren't given the skills and knowledge and experience they need also to have difficult conversations. But often, Jack is your problem character, who's very good at wriggling out of doing what he's supposed to be doing, has always got an excuse, has always got a reason why somebody else hasn't done something, so he couldn't do. And I think if we enable and support our line to get better at having those difficult conversations with Jack, it would mean performance for Jack would improve, and you'd have happier line managers. So, that, again, is something I think could be taken forward.
Jeremy Cline 36:01
To what extent can line managers be encouraged to identify the particular strengths that the people they line manage have? And these might be strengths that those people themselves might not necessarily be aware of. A previous guest talked about the difference between leveraging knowledge and leveraging natural talent and how, if you leverage your natural talents, things are just so much easier and come more naturally to you, and you generally like to be much happier and satisfied. Are there things that line managers can do to, either learn themselves more about their team, or help their team members to learn more about themselves?
Jack Broadley 36:48
Yeah, this is a whole area within organisational development strengths, psychology is, you know, rather than spending a lot of time telling Jack what he's not good at, why don't we spend some time looking at what Jack's strengths are, and then try and design a role around Jack that plays to those strengths, and we'll get a lot more value that way. And I think that a lot of organisations are thinking, coming away from very rigid job descriptions to more role profiles, to be able to think about how people work across silos to bring their strengths to there. But I think you're right, I think it boils down to how well do you know your people. And again, I think that, one of the things I kind of get a feeling of how good leadership is, is to the extent that people actually spend time with each other, spend time talking, generally, really talking to individuals, getting to know them, getting to understand what their strengths are, rather than trying to just visit them as a checklist every six months or, you know, at worst case every year, which is quite frightening. So, getting to know your people is absolutely a prerequisite for a leader in a professional organisation.
Jeremy Cline 37:54
I think this is perhaps something else, another area which an employee, Jack or Jeremy or whoever, could go back and say, 'Well, hang on, why don't we look a little bit more at strengths?' So, you know, this is the stuff I do when I'm at work. I'm possibly good at this. But this is the stuff that I really fly at. Other people in the team have got different strengths and weaknesses. Is there a way that we can manage?
Jack Broadley 38:20
Jeremy Cline 38:21
Yeah, exactly. Manage the work, so that everyone's doing things which play to their strengths, rather than, I suppose that in professional services firms, you do get a risk of everyone's kind of just treated the same. So, you've got the same expectations, as to giving advice, recording chargeable hours, doing marketing, all that sort of stuff.
Jack Broadley 38:41
Yeah, I think you have to be realistic. I mean, Jack would say, 'Well, I really only want to do things I enjoy, and I don't want to touch any things I don't enjoy.' Well, you know, as somebody who runs their own firm, I don't particularly enjoy doing my VAT return, but I have an absolute legal requirement to do so, so I better get on and just get better at doing that. So, I think there has to be a realism in how we work, to play to strengths. And if you can, within a team, try and get people to focus on those and achieve synergy, then that makes sense. But there's no Nirvana here, you're not going to get everybody just swanning around, focusing on two or three things they absolutely are brilliant at that. There has to be some give and take in that, I think.
Jeremy Cline 39:22
Oh, sure, yeah. No, I mean, that makes perfect sense, I think even if you've got your dream job, there's always going to be aspects to it which you don't particularly like or enjoy. I suppose it's a question more of perhaps shifting the focus a little bit, so it's weighted a bit more to what you're good at, rather than stuff which takes up a ton of your time, which you're really not good at.
Jack Broadley 39:47
No, exactly that, Jeremy, and at least having that discussion. Imagine the excitement of having a discussion around, well, what are those things that we can really work together as a group to focus on the things we enjoy and we're good at, as opposed to being forced to do a long list of tasks, that just happens to be in your job description. So, yeah, I think that is a good conversation to have.
Jeremy Cline 40:10
Jack, I think we could probably talk about this for at least another half an hour, but I'm conscious of time. If anyone who's listening to this and thinks, 'Ooh, this one sounds a little bit interesting, I'd quite like to dive into this a bit further', are there any resources that you can point them to, sort of primers on this kind of subject, which they can take a look at?
Jack Broadley 40:30
Yeah, I think there is one book that I kind of keep on my bookshelf, and every now and again, I take it down and skim through, that helps me, keeps me kind of grounded. It's called Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It's a kind of a useful, it's not an academic book, but it's got some really good case studies, and some good kind of reminders of things that we forget, like, for instance, start with the end in mind, you know, think what you're trying to achieve, don't just start with the inputs, but you know, get through that, be honest, be yourself, have these crucial conversations. And I think that that's a book that I would reach for, Seven Habits, Covey is the author, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Definitely a good read.
Jeremy Cline 41:15
Fantastic. Well, I'll put a link to that in the show notes, certainly. And if people want to find you and maybe work with you, maybe get in touch with you, what's the best way they can do that?
Jack Broadley 41:24
Oh, sure. If somebody wants to do that, I'm delighted to have a chat. My website's probably the best way to come through, which is just www.pelorusconsulting.com. And they'll find telephone numbers and things to do that. And I'd be delighted to have a chat with anybody.
Jeremy Cline 41:42
Brilliant. Well, I'll put a link to that in the show notes as well. Jack, thank you for this conversation. It's been absolutely fascinating. And I hope it's given some people tips as to how they might get back to their organisations and start this conversation. So, thank you so much for joining me.
Jack Broadley 41:57
Jeremy, thank you for asking me, I've enjoyed it, too.
Jeremy Cline 42:00
Okay, hope you enjoyed the interview with Jack Broadly of Pelorus Consulting. I start from the place that everyone is responsible for their own career happiness and of their own personal job satisfaction. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to do everything by yourself and in a vacuum. We've talked in previous episodes about how engaging a coach to guide you down the path can help you. And in this episode, I really wanted to focus on what employers can do also to help you. Maybe they don't realise that there are things they can do to improve your buy in and your engagement with your employer. Maybe they're not aware of the benefits. But hopefully, this conversation with Jack has given you some ideas which you can take to your employer and suggest how things might be improved. Certainly, what he said about the appraisal or performance review process resonated with me. Too often, it is just a box ticking exercise. What about digging into what is real purposes and coming up with ways that it can help people add value to their roles? You'll find the show notes for this episode on the Change Work Life website, there at changeworklife.com/111, that's changeworklife.com/111. And I know a keep asking this, but I'd love it if you'd share this episode. If you know anyone who works for a law firm or an accountancy firm or an architect's practice, or some other kind of professional services practice, they're probably going to recognise a lot of what Jack was saying, about how things can be improved. So, it'd be amazing if you'd share this episode. If you're listening to this on a phone, then there's probably a share button there, so you can share it through whatever medium suits you. Or if you go to the show notes page changeworklife.com/111, then you'll find buttons there where you can share the episode on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. There's another great interview coming up next week, so hit subscribe if you're not subscribed to the show already, and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye.
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