Wednesday, 26 April 2017 00:00

Candidate's Rule OK?

Author: Vivien Mensah @ Cornerstone42

Looking for a new role can still be stressful and time consuming. But the tables are turning, the power is shifting in the favour of the candidates, or it should be. 

The admin profession should think wisely and use their new found power carefully. I would advise that you think about these questions before you even start to job hunt. 

  1. What do I want from my next role?
  2. What industry/industries interest me? 
  3. What are my strengths? 
  4. What is important to me regarding my remuneration? (flexibility, holiday days, parental leave, development etc). 

The benefits part is very important - did you know, Glassdoor data reveals that 4 out of 5 employees prefer new benefits over a pay raise, and 3 in 5 people say that benefits and perks are among their top considerations before accepting a job? 

Career Coaching and Development

There are many reasons why admins move on from the roles for new opportunities, this ranges from being demotivated due to being under utilised, devalued, lack of advancement, training and development. Candidates want to work for companies who value their contribution and invests in training and development. 

Actually, there are many companies who do invest in their people. They want to attract and retain the best people. It is a matter of researching who they are and finding out what opportunities they have. 

How do you test whether the potential company actually invests in their employees? Simply, ask. Start with friends, family and contacts. This is where networking and your network really is invaluable. Ask in a discreet manner, that doesn't give too much away. If you can confide in someone who works at the company to get an honest answer, even better. Utilise your network to find out if they know anyone who has had/or has a relationship with the company, that is a great insight. Then of course we have the big World Wide Web whereby you can research and find information on the organisation. Find out how the company is rated by the people who work there, their culture and plans for investing in their employees. 

In order for you to find the right role it is imperative that you spend some time thinking and researching "what you want". 

IAM members can recieve a free initial mentoring service from the Cornerstone 42 team, as well as a free CV appraisal service. 


Published in IAM Blog
Tuesday, 25 April 2017 00:00

When to Say "No"

- Author: IAM Team 

No matter your title, status, or sector you work in, it is likely you will have experienced rapid change, conflicting demands and extra responsibilities. Of course, to build a successful career there is no substitute for hard work, but sometimes we do need to say "no". As always, it is how to do this. 

Most people are guilty of taking on more tasks than they can handle, perhaps fear of letting their team down, or, feeling they can't say no to their boss (perhaps due to trying to impress or fearful of repercussions). I have been in the position of raising concerns of workload, worried mistakes would be made, or things would not progress as efficiently and quickly as they could. The response was to "manage my time and make it work". 

However, even the most efficient can be overloaded and, by doing so, increase the risk of mistakes, or not producing our usual quality of work. It can be an awkward conversation, but as mentioned in an article produced by entrepreneur, in these cases, your boss probably would have preferred that you'd said no in the first place. 

So before you say no, ask yourself: 

  1. Do I have time? 
  2. Will I be able to complete my existing workload? 
  3. Will rescheduling make this new task achievable? 
  4. Am I the best person for the job? 

The next step however, is to say "no" gracefully, including stating your case, in a reasonable and well thought manner, answering some of the above questions will help structure your argument. Avoid the blunt "no", nor be passive aggressive. Don't take the approach of "I saw you sent me x to do, but I am stuck trying to get the other tasks you've asked done", instead "thank you for sending this across, but I was planning to spend this week on X projects". 

Nonetheless, the crucial thing that most people don't do or, forget to do, is to offer a potential solution. Despite you not being able to complete a task, maybe it is a case of discussing prioritisation, or, suggesting collaborative efforts. Ultimately this will strengthen your case. 



Published in IAM Blog
Friday, 21 April 2017 13:35

What Am I Missing?

- Author: IAM Team

It is very easy to come up with an idea, neglecting the thought process of how you're going to get there. It is the same when starting a new project, getting embroiled with the proposed outcomes and not how you're actually going to achieve it. Conversely, you being given an outcome to achieve, but with little clarity of the logistics and detail. 

Whether you are a detail person or not, one way to structure your thought process and manage a project, it to use a gap analysis which looks at the "current state vs future state". 

A gap analysis allows you to look at what needs to be done, before you decide what the best strategies are moving forward. Gaps can be in the form of people, processes or technology. 

To write a gap analysis you need to: 


What do you want the outcome to be? e.g. ensure clinic letters are out within 10 days from appointment? 

Outline what your current situation is

Who do I need to speak to to get the full picture? Where can I get information? Documents/workshops/meetings e.g. currently 30% of clinic letters are sent within 10 days. 

Write down what you can do to bridge the gap between the two 

For example, discuss a dictation system. Agree a checking system from clinicians so this doesn't hold up the process. Recruit extra resource. 

If you are presenting your gap analysis, for example, perhaps you are a manager disseminating information, make sure you put an appropriate amount of information in. Too much information could overwhelm, whilst too little information could cause confusion. 



•2020 project management: how gap analysis adds value to your business: 
•Editorial Team: Gap Analysis, Identifying what needs to be done in a project:





Published in IAM Blog
Friday, 21 April 2017 11:42

The Harmony of Leadership

Author - IAM Team 

Having been training managers and leaders for over 20 years now I have often used an orchestra as a metaphor for teams and the conductor as a metaphor for the leader. Below are my 10 key similarities and learning messages.

1.Have a clear vision.

An orchestra conductor has a clear vision. This vision has associated plans and strategies, i.e. the musical score that provides the detail of what each performer should be doing at any time, but it also has the conductor’s interpretation and personal view of how the piece will sound. Do you have a clear vision of your end goal? Do you have a plan (musical score) that will help you achieve your vision? 

2. Lead from the front and be visible.


The conductor stands on a podium so everyone in the orchestra can see them. This is the only way the orchestra can stay in alignment, with each player starting and stopping at the appropriate time.


Are you a visible leader who is visible to your employees and your teams? Or are you not spending time with your team and causing misalignment across the business?


3. Know when to delegate



The conductor delegates and focuses on what only he or she can do. The conductor doesn’t do everything. They don’t sell the tickets or participate (usually) in the preliminaries. They don’t even make sure that the orchestra is in tune. (The concertmaster does that.) They stay off stage until it is time for them to do what only they can do—lead. Leaders learn to delegate or burn out, it’s that simple. One of my favourite training clichés comes from time management – ‘the cemetery is full of indispensable people’. Whether or not you can do a job better than your staff you have to learn, and quickly, that you don’t have the time to do everything. Of course, if you hire the correct people, support them with training and motivate them then you won’t have to do everything yourself. Great leaders also know when to lead and when to let others lead. Do you know when to take the lead? 


4. Establish roles and responsibilities.

Orchestras have clearly defined roles and responsibilities and everyone knows what they are. Each musician knows when to play and how to play, when to come to the fore and when to drop to the background. The conductor will often be a musician, but they are rarely the best technically and they don’t actually play an instrument during the performance. In the workplace everyone on your team must fully understand their respective roles and responsibilities and how they fit into the structure of the team, department and the organisation as a whole.


5.  Provide coaching and feedback.


A conductor is not just there to keep everyone on time. They also act as the team coach, working to get the best out of each individual and the collective performance of the orchestra. They provide encouragement when needed (especially if there is a particularly challenging section in the music), and direction/redirection as needed - play faster, slower, quieter, louder and so forth. Coach and give feedback in a way that builds the confidence and capabilities of your team. Look at how well (or poorly) you’re communicating progress, direction and your vision to your team. Identify learning opportunities, skills that can be strengthened and gaps that need to be addressed. Learning is one of the most important aspects of successful leadership. 


6. Take training seriously…including your own



With a new piece of music an orchestra practises relentlessly until they are as close to perfect as possible. The best concerts are well rehearsed no matter how great the conductor is. Are you practicing your leadership? or do you assume that you will automatically produce great leadership "music without practice". Great conductors, and leaders, get the best out of their people at the right time, but they can't do that if the musician doesn't have the necessary skills. 


7. Act with integrity




The conductor leads with his heart and great conductors are swept up in the music. They don’t just play with their head; they also play with their heart. You can read it on their face and you can sense it in their movement; they are fully present and not just going through the motions. They have integrity. A conductor is not just there to keep everyone on time... Are you passionate about the vision and mission of your team? Your department? Your organisation? Do you lead with passion and conviction? A leader’s passion is infectious and generally seeps through the organisation.


8. Support your Team


The conductor keeps their back to the audience. Conductors are aware of the audience but their focus is on the players and their performance. The only time the conductor stops to acknowledge the audience is before the playing begins and after it is finished. Other than that, they are focused on delivering an outstanding product.



They ensure their musicians feel significant, accepted and secure. A conductor needs their musicians. Likewise, a leader needs their followers and needs to take time to develop their followershipAs a manager you will always have to be aware of the ‘bigger picture’, that’s part of your role. It’s something you are doing on behalf of the team so they can do their bit and you can keep them on the right track. But no-one else will look after your team and they will soon know if you aren’t supporting them.


9. Understand that small things matter



The conductor is aware of his or her gestures and their impact. A conductor can’t afford to make an unintentional gesture. Everything means something; they have to be precise or their musicians will not be able to follow.  The flick of the wrist, the raising of an eyebrow, and the closing of the eyes all have meaning. A good conductor can’t afford to be careless with his public demeanour.


Everything you do as a leader has to be intentional and clear. If you are vague you will be interpreted differently by each member of staff. 


10. Share success



The conductor shares the spotlight. When the concert is over, and the audience is clapping, the conductor turns to the audience and takes a bow. A good conductor immediately turns to the orchestra and invites them to stand and bow as well. They share the glory with their colleagues, realising that without them, the music would not be possible.


Do you share your leadership glory with your team? Are you a leader that gives credit back to the team? 



2. Lead from the front and be visible.

The conductor stands on a podium so everyone in the orchestra can see them. This is the only way the orchestra can stay in alignment, with each player starting and stopping at the appropriate time.

Are you a visible leader who is visible to your employees and your teams? Or are you not spending time with your team and causing misalignment across the business?

Published in IAM Blog
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