Welcome to the Colour; Noun April Newsletter
Spring has come to our corner of the UK in its usual fashion. At a certain point the hedges that have been bare for months suddenly acquire a green hue, daffodils and crocuses pop up and the sun shines. This is the point where Howard forgets to apply sunscreen for the first time, and, just as he remembers, the temperature plummets and it snows. You would think he would be used to it by now, but it’s an annual event, like Christmas.
This spring feels different though. This time last year we were having conversations – using a then much under-used tool called Zoom – with other friends in the business about “how long do you think this will last?” The optimism of “late summer” or “September” morphed into “beginning of 2021”. In conclusion, the answer to that question is undoubtedly “much too long” … and yet, it feels like things are slowly changing.
Events and meetings are being talked about and people can start to make plans to reconnect their teams after a long period of remote working. This newsletter is going to focus on that feeling of positivity and offer a few thoughts about what you can do.
That "first day back at school" feeling
We all have routines. When was the last time you completely changed your hairstyle or how you get ready for bed? Routines are comforting, but sometimes their origins lie in long-forgotten imperatives or motives. The world of work is the same. “It’s always been like that…”
But it doesn’t have to be. Nobody has been through this kind of forced dislocation from routine in decades and the number of debates and polls on LinkedIn about how many days people want to work from home in the future indicates how they are beginning to reimagine the workplace and their role within it.
Despite that, as social animals who often have to collaborate on complex projects, there is still an imperative to have a focal point where our efforts can be co-ordinated. The question is, what can you do differently, now that there has been a pause in the routines, rhythms and tropes of work?
The scope is limitless, from changing working hours and practices to full-blown structural reform, but the window to make adjustments before the old ways creep back is small. We have a lot of experience of working with teams and how they interact, so whether you want to examine how people communicate, revamp your processes, introduce your new idea or question your whole business hierarchy and structure, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
I’m new here. Can you help?
It’s always an interesting time when you start a new job or take on a new role. First impressions are important and can set the tone for all future interactions. We once had dealings with someone who never recovered from turning up at his new posting wearing brown brogues and smart jeans who greeted his already sceptical engineering team by saying “Hi dudes!”
We’re not in the business of offering wardrobe advice or the correct way to address people, but if you have switched roles or jobs in the past year you might want to think about what you want to achieve, how you want to be perceived and what tone you want to set for those around you.
The one piece of advice we would offer is that sidling onto the stage with a half-hearted “hello”, attempting to be approachable over an awkward workplace buffet lunch or kicking off your tenure with a PowerPoint presentation introducing you and your key ambitions in the role is hardly the most dynamic way of announcing your arrival.
Everybody always starts a new role with the best intentions and frequently they come in with new ideas that they think will make a massive difference, but, equally frequently, their enthusiasm or ability to engage others with their vision is not converted into meaningful action. We have lots of tips to help you get your message across, but here is one that we will give you for free, all wrapped up in one word.
People love context. Context is real. It’s immutable. It’s easy to talk about. For instance, I could bang on for hours about the environmental challenges that are facing the world at the moment. I could produce figures for carbon emissions, graphs demonstrating temperature rises, statistics for how many tons of plastic are being dumped in the ocean every day. It is much more comfortable to stay in that realm of context rather than attempt to inspire people to change their activities or behaviour.
Unfortunately, the same is true with people who want to engage people with the flagship initiative that will kick off their new post. They kill people with the context of why the change is needed, without moving swiftly on to what they want to do and how people can be part of that change.
If you have taken up a new post at a time when the only contact you have had with your team has been over Zoom, you might want to start thinking now about how you can make a real difference by inspiring people in the right way at the right time.
I would, if I could, but I can’t… can I?
If you are planning a company get together or an away day, whether it’s to reconnect people or to launch your new business plan you might, like many people, be keen to avoid what is known as “Conference 101” – the standard fare of coffee-welcome address-presentation-presentation-lunch-presentation-presentation-wrap up-finish that far too many people envisage when they talk about such events.
The problem is, with Conference 101 you know what you are getting. It might be desperately dull, but it’s safe… which brings us to the next topic in our run-through of event planning: permission.
Our latest blog looks at how to make your return to live events special. Read the full article here.
Colour; Noun at the Miss Jones PA Summit
We are very excited to have been asked to host a session at the Miss Jones PA Virtual Summit next week. It runs over two days on the 29th and 30th and features workshops, speakers and exhibitors to help people in professional services to connect, network and develop their skills.
We will be running a session introducing people to the benefits of using Applied Improvisation to confront limiting beliefs, see opportunities in challenging situations and give an insight into what true collaboration looks like for teams and individuals.
Tickets can be purchased here: https://pheedloop.com/EVEZZRALRLJLL/site/home
That's all for now!
Keep your eyes peeled for more thoughts and ideas around events, engagement and team development in the coming weeks...
And if you're looking to shake up your return to live events this summer, get in touch!
Colour; Noun (Vicky Holding and Howard Karloff)