Friday, 29 May 2015

Coffee Date Interview 14 - James Heydon

Name: James Heydon

Job Title: Analyst Programmer 

1. What drives you crazy at work?

How long have you got? At the moment I'm being driven crazy by teams of people who collect meaningless statistics about what we do to prove that we are either more or less efficient than we should be / used to be / want to be. I find these measures often totally miss the point.

2. What’s the first thing you do on arriving at work?
Get my colleagues a round of teas and coffees and catch up on what everyone is up to.

3. When the going gets tough......?
I tend to knuckle down and get on with it - quite often when actually what I should be doing is asking for help!

4. How do you relax / wind down after a hard day at work?
I find my 20 minute walk home is a great start to shrugging of the work day. On a Wednesday night I got straight from work to choir and there is no doubt that making music is one of the most relaxing things you can do.
Falling asleep in the front the fire at about 9pm also seems to feature quite regularly....

5. When you were little, what did you want to be?
A train driver (yup, really!).

6. What eats up most of your time at work?
Questions and problems from other people. I love that bit of my job but it does tend to interrupt the work I am supposed to be getting on with.

7. What’s the best advice given to you?
It relates to having children. Someone said to me to make sure you enjoy every stage they go through - even the bad ones - because all too soon you are on to the next one.

8. What are the 3 “always” in your life?
Sense of humour

9. Night in or Night out?
Night in

10. Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey?
Honestly? Neither! But if you're going to make me choose Jamie Oliver.

11. Del Boy or Rodney?
Del Boy - I have an awful lot of big ideas that never really turn out quite how I'd hoped!

12. Countryside or Seaside?
Seaside every time!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 17- The Big Meeting

Back in the office today and was called in for a meeting with Clive. He was full of praise for all the work I did to make the Kitchen Yard sales launch such a success.  On one hand I was pleased to get some recognition but on the other hand I am still annoyed at Clive for all the times he has gone off on freebies without telling me. The point is that I am becoming more annoyed with the situation and I don’t want it to affect everything else.

I had taken time to plan what I was going to say as I knew this opportunity would come up at some point.  I decided to just focus on how I was feeling about the Kitchen Yard contract rather than bringing up a host of other things, like Clive expecting me to spend extra time chasing the client satisfaction surveys and dumping extra work on me a moments notice... It was quite daunting as these things are important but I needed to be specific and it would be easy to get side tracked if I wasn’t careful.  I decided to use the Fact Feel Want method.

"I began talking to the sales team at Kitchen Yard after they contacted me 6 months ago. I did a lot of groundwork to find out how the company worked and did a lot of scene setting of how Maxisales could manage the account by giving them a comprehensive breakdown of the different POS options."
I took the file copy so I could show all the stages I went through. I then went on to say about the perks Clive attended without telling me that I was invited as well. I showed him the emails they sent saying how it would have been nice to have met me.

When I went on to the feel bit I did feel a bit shaky and emotional, I had spent the previous 5 mins doing a calming breathing exercise and felt relatively in control, also I practised what I was going to say in my head a few times so I did feel relatively calm and just began telling Clive, 
"I feel hurt, undervalued and quite insecure. I also feel like I'm not respected and backed into a corner, as I would never be unprofessional and say anything to the client."
At this point Clive went in on the defensive and jumped in and said,
“I didn’t make you feel like that”. 
I responded with,
“That’s not what I said Clive, I said this is how I feel, not that you are making me feel this way".
Clive continued to say that he wasn’t undervaluing me so I reiterated that I felt undervalued.  I found it really hard and still felt quite emotional but I think he was getting my ‘dripping tap’ message so in the pause I went on to the want part.

The want bit was easier than I thought as I kept it specific ….I said,
"I am the National Account Manager and want to be included and recognised for doing all the hard work in building the relationship with Kitchen Yard . This means that in the future we should present a united front at events and either take turns or both go. Also I would like to invite Kitchen Yard to our offices and host the event so they can meet me and see that I’m in charge of the account."
Clive thought about my proposal and said he had already thought I should go to the next launch of their new outlet opening (really!) but wanted to co-host the event here with me. I was willing to meet him half way on this so we wound up the meeting on good terms.

Clive said he was glad we had this chat because he’d noticed I was not looking too happy and disappearing at lunch time and thought it was because of the smell of Graeme's lunch. He then went on to say he may have made a mistake buying the microwave for the office and would I like to have a word with Graeme about not cooking curries.

Mmmm looks like I will have to find an innovative way of saying NO!


Happier now I’ve tackled the problem.

Amelia is sticking to her promise to look after the guinea pig and so far so good. Rita is very cute!

Out with Darren tomorrow night as he is not working away.


Enjoying my walks at lunch times – feeling a lot fitter.

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.  However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Point to Ponder
Do you have anything that's really getting to you that a Fact Feel Want conversation might help? 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Coffee Date Interview 13 - Karen Mayell


Name: Karen Mayell

Job Title: Research Nurse

1.  What are the 3 “nevers” in your life?
Never knowingly hurt anyone.
Never pass a toilet
Never leave the house with odd shoes on

2. Best light bulb moment?
That was so long ago I can't really remember. I think someone has turned the dimmer switch on.

3. What one thing would you change about your job or place of work?
I would change the car parking regulations so I do not have to get in so early in the morning.

4. What are the 3 “always” in your life? 
Always care
Always clean your teeth 
Always leave home in clean underwear

5. What made you laugh this week? 
I know I have laughed but for the life of me I can't remember what about. Should I be worried!!

6.  What’s your top tip for staying on top of things and getting stuff done?
Try to be organised and always do the toughest jobs first to get them out of the way. 

7.  When the going gets tough......? 
Think hard about what to do next. If you can talk the problem over with someone they can often give you a different perspective. Finally don't panic and just deal with each problem as it arises rather than trying to solve the whole thing.

Ness the Nurse - Nick Sharatt

8. Did you have a career plan or just meandered your way into your present job?

Always wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember.

My career path has been dictated to a certain extent by where I live and family issues but always wanted to be at the sharp end.

9. Mary Berry or Delia Smith?
A touch of both.

10. Pudding or Cheese and Biscuits?
Pudding usually but depends on my mood.

11. Night in or Night out?
Night in.

12. Wine or Beer?
Definitely wine particularly NZ Sauvignon Blanc or Argentinian Malbec.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Capita Health and Wellbeing Event

Work Smart Work Savvy had a great time yesterday at the Capita Health and Wellbeing Event sharing the room with many fitness clubs, gyms, the National Trust, a choir, beauticians, charities and more...

Recent research has shown that greater productivity is more likely to come when employees feel happy and well supported in their work rather than when a bumper bonus carrot is dangled in front of them. 
(The Times 30/10/14)

Work Smart Work Savvy posed the question to the staff visiting our stand;


Autonomy Feeling you have control and the freedom to be creative

Money Feeling that you will be paid a bumper bonus for the work you're doing

Purpose Feeling that you're contributing to something worthwhile

Mastery Feeling you have the time and resources to improve and excel

Each visiter to the Work Smart Work Savvy stand was given a small boat with which to vote!  The Capita staff gave the options plenty of thought and quite often a fair bit of discussion before choosing which port (bucket!) to float their voting boat! 

I can now reveal that the results for this very exciting and hugely scientific survey have been checked and independently verified....drum roll......

Ta da!!

45% of staff stated that their main motivator at work was Purpose, (feeling that you're contributing to something worthwhile).

In second place with Capita staff was  Money with 29%, (feeling that you will be paid a bumper bonus for the work you're doing), choosing this as their top motivator.  Although many admitted that they felt they were unlikely to get a "bumper bonus", many did say that it was the salary that was the motivator to get them out of bed in the morning and into work.

Autonomy, (feeling you have control and the freedom to be creative) was next with 14% of the vote.

Closely followed by Mastery, (feeling you have the time and resources to improve and excel) with 12% .

Thank you to everyone at Capita who took part in the "What Floats Your Work Boat?" survey, who stopped for a chat and who took a Work Smart Work Savvy postcard.

Hannah Fox's Diary 16 - Guinea Pigs and Pop Stars


Came home last night to a surprise, Darren has only gone and bought a guinea pig for Amelia! It seems that’s what the two of them were planning last week. I can’t believe he has gone ahead without even discussing it with me ………..  and no doubt, at some stage I'll be the one looking after it when Amelia gets bored.

He said Amelia deserved a treat because she had done really well keeping her room tidy and helping around the house. I agree she has done what we asked of her but personally I think a treat is an outing to the cinema or a riding lesson not a pet that will need looking after for the next couple of years. Also I know she wanted a guinea pig as she reasoned that if she proved she could look after a pet she would be able to have her real goal, which is to have a dog, something I’m really putting my foot down about. I have nothing against dogs at all but I just don't want to take on anything else at the mo.

Darren then announced he would be away for 4 nights next week so it seems he won’t be getting too involved in feeding and cleaning out little Rita.

We've called the guinea pig Rita as she has long white hair and she does look a bit like Rita Ora.

To be honest she is very cute but it’s just another thing Darren squeezed in as if I wouldn't even notice.

I left them to move her into the garage as I think they guessed I wasn't too happy, I quickly knocked up a Guinea Pig Task Sheet to organise the feeding and cage cleaning. Amelia is a bit disappointed that her name is down for all the tasks!

I reminded Darren it was his Mother’s Birthday next week and he asked me to get her a card and her favourite perfume.

What is it with men?! It’s the only birthday card he actually buys except mine and he can’t even think to get it in advance. 

OK I know I'm in a grump and probably being unfair but.....aaaaargh!!!

I am really going to struggle next week because both the kids have outings and sleepovers arranged. I have resigned myself to being a taxi service. Darren and I were going to go out for a meal with Katie and Shaun but I guess he has forgotten that.

Mum phoned and offered to help while Darren was away……but to be honest it would be easier if I just get on with things myself. Why do people wait until you are on your knees before they offer help?  And why does everything have to be so complicated?

Oh and no news from the work well-being survey- how surprising!

Stress is starting to build up again

Had another conversation with Kitchen Yard about supplying more POS material and I have been mentioned in dispatches. A feather in my cap.

What social life?  I have a feeling me and Rita will be enjoying some evenings in together!

Mum is a bit off with me because I refused her help.

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.  However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Coffee Date Interview 12 - Debs Nutt


 Name: Debs Nutt

Job Title: Partner at EC Harris

Best light bulb moment?
This is a tricky one, as a civil engineer we are not renowned for our light bulb moments…..but I suppose I would say deciding on becoming a civil engineer – I’ve not really looked back since!!

How do you relax / wind down after a hard day at work?
Typically I like to go for a run, playing my cornet or if it’s a Friday, nice glass of wine with a friend.

What’s the best advice given to you?
This is easy, when going to university one of my dads friends told me not to carry on with playing the trumpet, go and do other stuff as you can always pick an instrument up again in later life…..and he was so right!! I made the most of my Wednesday afternoons and Sundays skiing for the university and started playing the trumpet again when I started work!

When the going gets tough......?
Grit your teeth and get on with it….it’ll get better before too long.

What’s your top tip for staying on top of things and getting stuff done?
Write a list, prioritise, have a cup of tea then get on with it. I find if I think about the length of the list too much, then I panic and don’t start…then it just gets worse so I’ve learnt to “not put off till tomorrow what I can do today”

What’s the last thing you do at work before leaving?
Go to the loo – it’s usually a long car or train journey home! Then make sure I say goodbye to people

What one thing would you change about your job or place of work?
Honestly – probably nothing as I really enjoy what I do and the people I work with

What made you laugh this week?
An email my dearest friend sent me about Paddington Bear!

Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey?
Jamie Oliver

Marmite- yes or no?
Definitely yes!

Roller Coaster or Ferris Wheel?
Roller Coaster

Del Boy or Rodney?
Del Boy

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 15 - The Wellbeing Survey


Just realised I have spent the last week ruminating about Clive and his little jaunt to the Kitchen Yard promo event. Probably made worse because when they phoned me the other day, once again they said how disappointed they were that I couldn't make the event and “it would have been nice to be able to put a face to the voice as it makes for a much better working relationship don’t you think?”.

Yes I blinking well do actually!

Clive is obviously oblivious to how annoyed I'm feeling and hasn't picked up that I am being a bit off with him. He is however, chasing everyone up about completing the company Wellbeing Survey……I did have a quick try last week but didn't get very far because despite it only supposedly taking 10 minutes to complete I was there for 30 minutes while it kept freezing. Pressing refresh did nothing so I abandoned it and got back to WORK!
I think my well-being would be improved vastly if Graeme sorted out glitches in IT instead of creating ‘Vindaloo Gate’ every lunch time!  Oh dear, that's unfair and I know it, I just don't know what's got into me today! OK and breathe!  To be fair I suspect the problems with the survey may be more to do with Maxisales choosing the cheapest survey option just so they can put a tick in the staff well-being box rather than being  anything to do with Graeme.   He sorted out the networking problem very quickly this week and several other things which I suspect don't really fall within his remit.

Just how many e-mails does Clive really need to send to remind everyone to complete this survey? I can’t believe he actually said we all needed to complete it as,

 “Our staff is our greatest asset”. I mean talk about clich├ęs!

(Jo says when you hear that it means there are going to be redundancies).Besides which I have done these surveys before and you never get the results back and nothing is changed because of them.

Feeling much better now I have had my rant- although I suppose having a rant to yourself is not going to change much. I am definitely going to have that meeting with Clive.

Feeling healthier as I have kept up the exercise –and not a survey in sight!

The school social evening turned out to be a great laugh- we won a meal for 4 at the new pub that’s opened by the cinema.

Darren has managed to get home on time every night this week and seems to be planning something with Amelia - maybe it’s another day out after the success of our last one.

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  
The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.
However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Point to Ponder:
Ruminating over a problem is like sitting in a rocking chair –plenty of effort going backwards and forwards but you never actually go anywhere. 

Monday, 11 May 2015

Balancing Work Life Balance

Over the weekend I read an article about a recent report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development which has attempted to rank its 36 member countries according to work life balance.  The UK was ranked 24th due to long work hours which in turn impacts on the amount of time spent on leisure (family time, socialising with friends, hobbies etc)  and personal care (eating, sleeping, washing etc) activities.  Incidentally Denmark came out top and Turkey were at the other end of the scale.  Further details of the report can be found here.

The article acknowledged that different people will define work life balance in different ways but generally speaking the gist is the same; it's about the choices we make.   

"Achieving balance means prioritising your career ambitions with health, pleasure, family and leisure time; in other words, it’s all about the choices we as individuals make."

I agree that it's all about choice, admittedly often the choices are pretty tough ones to make and they come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages which we have to wade through but they are choices never the less. 

The article then went on to offer 6 questions to see if you have control over your work life balance, saying that if you answer yes to any of these, or more worryingly several of these, then you have lost control of your work life balance.

1. Are you working more than 60 hours a week?
2. Are you constantly re-arranging your schedule?
3. Do you always eat lunch at your desk?
4. Can you commit to a meeting several months in advance?
5. Do you travel more than 50% of the time?
6. Does the idea of taking a week long vacation scare you?

It's always a tricky one to measure and I agree that if you answer yes to any of these then it might be time revisit your choices before your health and wellbeing takes a massive hit.

However, I believe in prevention wherever possible and to me this feels like a case of having to implement a rather drastic set of changes in an attempt to "cure" your work life balance.   These are some big examples of a imbalanced work life balance and it's always going to be more tricky to bring it back to a more healthy even keel from this point.   Ideally I think we should try and be aware of how we're feeling with regard to our work life balance on a regular basis.  Hopefully this means that we would have the opportunity to make what could be quite small adjustments to our choices on a more frequent basis to realign our work life balance thus taking a more preventative course of action.

So with this in mind, I've created my own list of questions which I'm calling....and I suggest you take a rather deep breath now because I warn you, it's not a short snappy title...

Six Questions to See If You Need to Make Some Small Adjustments to Your Choices to Realign Your Work Life Balance...before you explode from trying

1. Do you feel stretched beyond what is comfortable by work and home life and feel like you're pulled from one thing to the next without much down time?

2. Do you wish you had more time together as a family just to have fun?

3. Do you struggle to get out of work on time and end up running / driving just that bit faster than you should and still you're the last parent to arrive at the school gates or after school club for pick up?

4. Do you struggle to find time to start that new book you're desperate to read that's been on your bedside table for 2 months now?

5. Do you struggle to find the time and energy to fit in exercise even though you'd like to get fitter?

6. Do you feel like you're on a playground roundabout and you just need to jump off for a bit to have a chance to get back on top of things?

If you have answered "yes" to any or many of these questions then now is the time to have a think about what small preventative adjustment you could make. 

If you need more ideas, then you're in luck as I'm very pleased to announce....drum roll please.....that we are very  close to the launch of the first Work Smart Work Savvy on-line course which tackles the issues above.  

OK, I've said enough for now....just a little tease...but rest assured, more information will be coming out from here at Work Smart Work Savvy HQ very soon so do keep popping back.

The course mentioned above is now available here called "4 Savvy Steps To Getting More Done Without Working More Hours".   There are more Q&As if you follow this link but here's a couple to give you a taster...

Who is this “4 Savvy Steps to Getting More Done” a perfect match for?
If you can relate to any of these, then this course has seriously got your name on it...
  • You feel like you’re on a round about and just need to jump off for a bit to catch up
  • You’re working really hard but it still feels like there’s still so much to do
  • You’re always busy and always rushing about
  • You feel like you need at least one extra pair of hands to stay on top of things
  • You feel stretched, a bit overwhelmed and can feel the stress creeping in
  • You have lots on your plate and can’t find time for yourself
  • You have blurred lines around your work and home life
  • You feel like you’re chasing your tail rather than making real progress
  • Your work life balance needs some tweaking and realignment
  • You feel you have endless demands coming at you from all angles
  • You want to get more done without working more hours

What’s the overall aim of “4 Savvy Steps to Getting More Done”?
To identify what’s important to you in your life, look at your working habits both good and not so good and give you the tools to be able to use your time smartly, to get what needs to be done done and to have more time for doing what you want to be doing, in a sustainable manner.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Coffee Date Interview 11 - Jan Sangster

Name: Jan Sangster

Job Title: HR Projects Co-ordinator Swindon College

What drives you crazy at work?
Actually not a lot really. I do like a cup of tea whilst going through my e-mails first thing in the morning, so can get a bit “twitchy” if I am tea-free for a while. I do really enjoy my job and work with a great team in a great place so the little things that annoy are more than made up for by that.

What’s the first thing you do on arriving at work?
Turn on my computer, check my e-mails and have a look and see what is planned for the day. Then realise that the plans will probably go awry as a number of urgent things have sneaked their way onto my to do list.

When the going gets tough......?
I have a great support network in family and friends and it’s good to talk. Nothing like a good old natter over cuppa with someone who understands. Failing that I enjoy going on a good long walk. We are really fortunate that we have so many lovely places in Wiltshire where you can walk the cobwebs away and take some time out.

How do you relax / wind down after a hard day at work?
Chill out with my husband and cats, watch some television, read and do some work for the organisations I volunteer with.

When you were little, what did you want to be?
Funnily enough I wanted to be a dental hygienist. Not sure why but it's very far away from what I am doing now.

What eats up most of your time at work?
I am very fortunate in that there is a lot of variety in my work at the moment so I have a good balance between the people facing and “paperwork” tasks. I actually enjoy both.

What’s the best advice given to you?
Two pieces of advice. The first is “if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always had” and “people forget what you said and they will forget what you did, but they won’t forget how you made them feel” . The last quote is from the great Maya Angelou and very true.

What are the 3 “always” in your life?
1.Always take time for yourself.

2. Always remember that you don’t know what difficulties other people are facing, even if they seem fine to you.

3. Always remember too that this is not a rehearsal for the next life, so make the most of every opportunity.

Night in or Night out?
Night in with a nice meal, good company and a great movie.

Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey?
Oh dear, confession time. I don’t really like cooking (my husband is a great cook though thankfully) but if I had to choose it would be Jamie Oliver.

Del Boy or Rodney?
Rodney I think. He was quite sensitive and honest and always tried his best.

Countryside or Seaside?
I love the seaside when it’s quiet and you just stick your hands in your coat pockets and go for a walk in the seaside air. My parents live near the Dorset coastline and it’s stunning, a great place to recharge.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 14 - The Kitchen Yard


Haven’t had time to focus on work worries this week, we have a new contract with The Kitchen Yard who are opening up 6 outlets this year and we are providing all the POS material.  Yippee!  I first started talking to them in September last year and have been waiting to see if we are their preferred supplier, I feel I had worked really hard to come up with a competitive package.

Clive was out of the office last week and was a bit vague about where he was going, he breezed in this morning looking smug.

It turns out we were invited to a promo event at a Michelin Star Restaurant in the New Forest. The company sent an email thanking me for my input and were sorry to hear I couldn't attend the event.

Once again Clive is muscling in on freebies and perks and he knows I won’t be disloyal to the company and if I complain to him it’s going to make me sound unprofessional and petty. Aaaargh!

Before it was annoying and hurtful (even though I couldn't actually go anyway) but now I'm able to go out more, I could have gone. Darren thinks I am over reacting and says it was probably dull...I think I would be the best judge of that!

This has been niggling at me all day and has put me completely on my guard ………I keep thinking what else is he going to do? 

In one way being left to hold the fort has meant I actually achieved what I am supposed to be doing rather than running around after Clipboard Clive.

We are all going out to the school social it will be good to meet up with the other parents.

The pizza was great and the kids enjoyed being in charge.


Did 2 Power Walks this week feeling good!

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  
The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.
However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Point to Ponder:

Can trust ever be regained?

Friday, 1 May 2015

Coffee Date Interview 10 - Andy Van Heusen

Name: Andy Van Heusen

Job title: Founder of Pumpco Ltd

1. What are the 3 “always” in your life?
Family, food, computers.

2. What’s the last thing you do at work before leaving?

Try and be green and ensure that everything is powered down/switched off and that I've got everything I need to take home with me.

3. What’s the first thing you do on arriving at work?
Say “hi” to the team and ask how they're doing, then usually go and switch the kettle on.

4. How do you relax / wind down after a hard day at work?
Read, watch TV, program computers, cuddle wife Katie.

5. What song will guarantee to make you feel better?
Don't really listen to music.

6. What one thing would you change about your job or place of work?
A more steady and guaranteed revenue stream.

7. What’s the biggest compliment you’ve had a work?
A chairman that believed in me enough to found a company based on my vision.

8. What’s the best advice given to you?
Not really been given that much advice, but never stop learning was one that I do recall.

9. Marmite- yes or no?
Hell yeah!

10. Live to work or work to live?
I like to think work to live, but it does not always feel that way, it's tough when you know you have others depending on you such as family / employees.

11. Coffee or Tea?
Coffee, I mostly drink coffee (decaf) but tea has its place too.

12. Wine or Beer?

Wine, but both have their place, wine on a weekend evening and with food, beer on a 
summer's day.

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