VENTING YOUR FRUSTRATIONS IN THE OFFICE

Most people experience frustrations at work from time to time. Whether it is due to constant pressure, last-minute demands or irritating colleagues, at some stage, most of us reach a point where we want to vent our frustrations in the office.

Frustrations happen, and venting is an easy way to blow off steam. However, just because it happens doesn’t mean it’s ok. Constantly venting can spread negativity and bring your colleagues down. It can also be disruptive and annoying to the rest of your team.

Minimise the impact

Before you decide to vent your frustration, pause and take a moment to think about how you would like others to think of you at work. Do you want to be seen as a competent, intelligent leader? Unless you want to be known as someone negative who complains a lot, it’s probably best not to vent in the open office. If you really do need to talk to someone about the challenges you are currently facing, perhaps find a quiet room where you can close the door and discuss your issues with a trusted colleague or friend in the office.

Balance the positive and the negative

It is very easy to point out the things that are wrong. There is always something negative to focus on, no matter where you work. However, it is important to force yourself to notice the positive things too. If you challenge yourself to be a bit more observant, you will notice plenty of positive things happening around the office.

Write it down

Write down the things that are frustrating you so that you can better understand the problem. This can also help you to anticipate the issues that trigger your stress so that you can address them in future, before they become bigger problems. Writing things down can also help you to de-stress as the act of doing so is effectively venting your frustration (silently). This can also help you to arrange your thoughts and may even result in you coming up with a solution to the issue.

Invest time coming up with solutions

You can vent about things as much as you like but nothing will change unless you come up with some solutions. Try to spend some time thinking about how to solve the problem itself rather than focusing on the frustration caused by the symptoms of the problem.

MAKE THE MOST OF DEAD TIME

We have all been there before – stuck in a city with time to kill between meetings. Some of us head off for the nearest coffee shop at this time while others might make a few calls or go for a stroll in order to think about the next meeting. Perhaps there is a better way to make the most of this dead time.

Focus on a project

Long waits in the airport or sitting on a long-haul flight can be used as the ideal time to focus on a special project. It may or may not be related to the reason for your corporate trip. Perhaps it is a good time to go through the notes of a presentation or the final details of a big project. You should bear in mind that there may be some difficulties getting online (particularly on planes) so you should download the files you need in advance of boarding in order to work offline.

Plan an activity

The line between work and private life is becoming increasingly blurred. As a result, one notable trend in corporate travel is business-leisure travel. In other words, business travellers try to make the most of the time between professional appointments on a corporate trip to get to know their destination or stay a few days longer to sightsee.

Make progress with your work

Periods of dead time between journeys can be used to make progress with work. For instance, you can catch up on email or read through some documents. If you are on a business trip for a few days, it can be a good time to do your expenses, check into your return flight and so forth.

Relax

Business trips tend to be a bit stressful. Therefore, it is extremely important to make sure you get some downtime on your own. A good set of headphones can be your best friend when it comes to getting some rest on a plane. Audio books can also be a good way to relax and can even provide some inspiration for your work. Perhaps watching a bit of Netflix or Amazon Prime on your tablet can help to take your mind off work. If you are sporty, it can be good to hit the gym or go for a run (which is also a great way to see a city if you are visiting on business).

NON EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS

As levels of boardroom regulation have increased, more and more businesses are appointing Non Executive Directors (NEDs) to their boards in order to assist the management team with risk management, compliance and governance.

While executive directors help to run a company’s business, NEDs don’t have daily management responsibilities. As a result, they have the time to contribute to the development of the firm’s strategy, monitor the performance of the management team and ensure that appropriate risk management processes are in place.

Whereas executive directors can be too busy with day to day duties, NEDs are there to point out what the management team doesn’t know. They also help to ensure that a small group of individuals can’t dominate the board’s decision-taking.

So where do you find a NED for your board? NEDs tend to be people with extensive managerial experience in areas such as finance, marketing, sales or legal. Many businesses find their NEDs through word of mouth or business contacts. An alternative is to use an executive recruitment agency.

In order to get the most out of having a NED on your board, you should create a clearly defined job description with a strong letter of appointment, setting out exactly what is expected of them.  NEDs should operate at more of a strategic level, challenging executives and providing the board with an independent perspective.   It’s not just the business that needs to be careful, as NEDs face considerable personal risks in terms of personal liabilities if a business were to fail. They are as accountable as other directors to the regulators and shareholders of the business.

NEDs are not necessarily as important to the success of a business as a chief executive or management team but they can provide expertise, guidance and perspective which can help to pave the way to success for the firm

THE ART OF COPYWRITING

In the digital age, content is king. Businesses want to communicate with customers and targets on a regular basis. Firms are now producing more content than ever before for websites, blogs, newsletters, social media and press releases but the quality of that content can vary dramatically. 

Many businesses create their content internally. It is usually produced by subject matter experts or enthusiastic amateurs. Others employ external experts to do the hard work. There is no right or wrong way of producing your content but it is important that there is a degree of consistency across all of your firm’s copy so that the brand values and “feel” of the messaging is consistent.  For example, if your brand majors on providing simple but effective solutions which are “to the point”, then allowing some of your people to produce long-winded content would go against your brand and could effectively undermine it.

Most businesses will have some sort of internal review process which content must go through before being approved for distribution. It is important to have an appropriate number of stakeholders involved in your approval process. Too many and they could drag the approval process out and make the copy very “watered down” compared to the original version. Too few and there is an increased risk of some inappropriate or incorrect content making it through and being published.

How many individuals are involved in the approval process depends on the type of business that you operate. For example, if your firm is a regulated entity, in say, financial services or the legal sector, then you may need to have compliance people involved in your approval process. However in a less regulated industry like fashion, perhaps the approval process should involve a subject matter expert and a product manager.

Regardless of the type of industry that you are in, creating engaging content is key. Whatever you produce must be on-message and should be of interest to your readers. You should aim to tell a story, draw your reader in and show how your product, service or knowledge adds value for your customers or potential customers. Your copy should be well crafted, balanced and should flow. If you are inserting key words for search engine optimisation (SEO) purposes, you should intersperse them throughout your text in a way that seems natural to your reader.

Finally, it is good to have a 4-eyes approach – i.e. 2 people read the content before it is finally published. This helps with sense checking and typo spotting.

STRATEGY VS CULTURE

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

These words, often attributed to Peter Drucker, are frequently quoted by people who see culture at the heart of all great businesses.

Strategy is written down on paper whereas culture determines how things get done. Most people can come up with a strategy, but it’s much harder to build a winning culture. Moreover, a brilliant strategy without a great culture is ‘”all talk and no action”, while a company with a winning culture can succeed even if its strategy is mediocre. It is far easier to change strategy than culture.

Strategy ultimately consists of two aspects; which sectors should you be in and what is the value proposition that you will go to market with in each of those sectors?

A business’s cultural strengths are central to the first aspect of your strategy (sectors). For example, Ryanair has a culture of keeping costs down and offering cheap prices. As such, they would probably not succeed if they entered the premium, private jet sector where wealthy clients expect high-end service and the best of everything.

Maintaining cultural coherence across a company’s divisions should be an essential factor when determining a corporate strategy. No culture, however strong, can overcome poor choices when it comes to corporate strategy. The second aspect of your strategy is the value proposition. Customers consider more than concrete features and benefits when choosing between alternative providers. They also consider “the intangibles.” In fact, these often become the tiebreaker when tangible differences are difficult to discern. For example, Virgin Airlines tries to attract passengers who like its casual, fun and non-establishment attitude in how it operates.

The businesses with the best cultures have instilled norms of behaviour that are essential features of their winning value propositions. For example, in Virgin’s case, offering consistently fun service at a reasonable price. What these companies really demonstrate is how culture is an essential variable – much like your product offering, pricing policy, and distribution channels – that should be considered when choosing strategies for your business. This is especially so when the behaviour of your people, and particularly your frontline staff, can give you an edge with your customers.

Strategy must be rooted in the cultural strengths you have and the cultural needs of your businesses. If culture is hard to change, which it is, then strategy is too. Both take years to build; both take years to change. Don’t let culture eat strategy for breakfast. Have them feed each other.

 

WORKPLACE BY FACEBOOK

Workplace by Facebook is a new collaborative platform for businesses who want to harness social media technology within the office environment.

Workplace can be used to communicate via groups, to chat with colleagues and offers the features of Facebook but in a business focused package. Workplace is designed to be easy and familiar to use so it looks very much like regular Facebook.

Workplace can effectively replace a firm’s intranet. The familiarity of the platform provides instant benefits in terms of user experience. Most people already know how to use Facebook. Since most employees can use the platform, businesses won’t have to spend as much time and resources on training people.

Workplace is completely separate from personal Facebook accounts, meaning information shared between employees is only accessible within the Workplace platform. Workplace is designed to work in a similar way to a corporate email account. Employees are issued with an account when they join the company and should they leave the firm, they will lose their account.

From a privacy perspective, employers can not use a Workplace account to access information on an employee’s private Facebook profile. Networks are isolated and only company-wide, which means only co-workers can see the information other employees post in Workplace.

On the security front, Workplace relies on Facebook’s own infrastructure and tools for threat detection to safeguard data. The system also follows third-party industry security standards.

Workplace features a News Feed that displays articles, updates or comments relevant to certain teams or, perhaps, to the entire company. A version of the Facebook Live service can be used to broadcast corporate communications, such as a presentation by the managing director.

Teams can communicate in real time using a version of Messenger. It is also possible to create private groups for brainstorms or discussions where users can share files, photographs, etc.

VAT Relief For Disabled People

Mr Bloggs has a contract to build an extension to a house to accommodate a wet room and a bedroom for a disabled individual. The customer is in receipt of a grant from the local authority and is insisting the supply should be zero-rated

Certain supplies of building works provided to disabled customers can be zero-rated, but it is by no means a blanket exemption. The legislation in question can be confusing for the unwary although VAT Notice 701/7 does provide some clarification.

In Mr Blogg’s case item 10 Group 12 Schedule 8 VAT Act 1994 provides for the zero-rating  of “a supply to a handicapped person of  a service of providing, extending or adapting a bathroom, washroom or lavatory in his private residence where such provision, extension or adaptation is necessary by means of his condition”.

This can also include other work essential to the provision of the facilities such as the installation of sanitary ware, preparation of footings, provision of facilities for drainage and utilities. As such your client will need to apportion his charges between the wet-room qualifying for zero-rating and the bedroom for which the work will be standard-rated. There is no prescriptive methodology for apportionment, but it should be a fair and reasonable reflection based commonly on either cost or market value.

If the customer is in receipt of a grant towards the cost of providing adaptations and facilities in their private residence to enable them to continue living there, the grant may be paid to the individual or direct to the contractor. If the grant is paid to Mr Bloggs as the contractor, he should make sure that the invoice clearly states that the work was contracted for by the individual disabled person to whom the grant was awarded. Furthermore, although it is not a legal requirement, it is highly recommended Mr Bloggs obtains and retains an eligibility declaration from the customer. An example of which can be found via the following link.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-reliefs-for-disabled-people-eligibility-declaration-by-a-disabled-person