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Evening Quickie: Hospital Edition

Once again i find myself talking to you from a hospital bed...allow me to paint the scene.

I'm in bed number 20 tapping away to you while someone, very loudly, throws their guts up. I've just had an injection of morphine so for the first time today i'm not writhing around in agony. The curtains are drawn because the guy opposite me keeps staring at me, and i'm watching a film that i downloaded earlier thanks to the newly installed WiFI. The film, I Am Number Four, is shit...but its better than watching the guy next to be continually spit into a beaker, another who is blissfully unaware that hospital gowns don't do up at the back, and another two chatting about their respective parrots. Just another typical night on Ward 27, and its only 10pm. I promise you...things can only get better.

You would think that i had enough to deal with while in hospital, but i seem to make a full time job out of avoiding eye contact and, god forbid, having verbal interaction. I'm not an anti-social person. After 7 years, and almost 60 operations, i consider myself an expert in the complex sociology of the hospital ward.

Here are the unofficial rules for hospital interaction that everyone, but me, seems to be aware of.

  1. All conversations must begin with a detailed explanation of ones haemorrhoids etc.
  2. Such explanations must be louder than strictly necessary.
  3. Stick to the script...if one deviates it may give an accidental impression that one is listening.
  4. Nod ones head while the other person's lips are moving, and say "yeah yeah"...this will maintain the impression that you are listening.
  5. Once the other person has finished talking, immediately pick up from the end of ones previous sentence...of course one doesn't really care what the person is saying, all that matters is that one gets to talk about oneself.
  6. Start every sentence with; "i know what you mean" and then immediately transmit an anecdote of ones own.
  7. The person one is talking to clearly didn't want a response...
  8. By 4am one must cover the following topics;
    1. Europe (and Greece...these people read the Sun apparently
    2. Iraq
    3. Government
    4. The Pope
  9. After an hour its advisable to start beginning ones sentences with the words "now i'm not a racist"
    1. Throw in a "some of my best friends are black" for good measure.
  10. Never EVER put ones phone on silent. In fact put it on loud. Make sure one takes that call from the comfort of ones bed...preferably while others are trying to sleep...refer to Rule 2.
  11. Lather, rince, repeat...always repeat.

Click 'see more' to have a laugh at more hospital sign FAIL

Evening Quickie: Media Freedom

Have been mulling over this question all day and just can't come to a definitive answer. We all know that many human rights are a balance between rights of the individual and protection of society in one form or another. Clearly it's not an exact science, so i'm interested to hear what you think of this question.

If there was strong evidence to suggest that the global recession would not have happened or would have been significantly less severe were it not for the media coverage, would it be enough to justify a total news blackout on the reporting of the said recession in the future?

Knowing my readership, i ask that you presume that the evidence, whatever it is, is conclusive. The question here is about press freedoms, not the law of evidence.

There will be some that will probably say they would exchange some of their human rights in exchange for financial security. They may therefore be happy for press freedoms to curtailed on the basis of the evidence.

On the other hand, they may feel that there is no situation outside of national security (in its strictest definition) that could justify any type of media blackout.

So, is the global recession so destabilising that there should be powers to limit what they report and/or how they report it?

Remember: This question is about press freedoms and human rights...not law of evidence :)

Leadership Skills #9 - Lead to inspire

Part 9/10

Lead to inspire achievement

It is part of a leaders role to create the vision for the future. People rely on their leader to help them to keep that vision in sight, and inspire them to make it a reality. The definition of the verb inspire is to breathe life into something. In order to breathe life into your vision for the team, you must have an abundance of life yourself. This can be demonstrated by being;

  • passionate
  • energetic
  • a good role model


People motivated by their loyalty to an inspirational leader push themselves as hard as necessary to make your vision a reality. However, if they see or hear that you have doubts, or that you have lost interest, that motivation will disappear.


Your energy and passion have a domino effect, and enthusiasm is contagious. If you do not communicate your total belief and commitment, how can you expect others to give 100%?

A Good Role Model

Whether your leadership is formally recognised or not, the team looks to you for guidance. Your colleagues trust your judgement and will base their reactions to situations on yours. If you act as though you are inspired, they will act in a similar way.

Fortunately you can learn how to be inspirational. Replicate the following inspirational leadership traits to inspire your team.

  • Inspire Passion - Inspirational leaders show their passion by maintaining a strong belief in the possibility of future success. They use this positive mental attitude to enthuse others and to keep up morale.
  • Inspire Energy - Inspirational leaders demonstrate energy by displaying resilience and a willingness to work tirelessly on behalf of their teams and colleagues. They do no give up at the first sign of difficulty, and they encourage others to do the same.
  • Inspire by Example - Inspirational leaders act as good role models by taking action to assure the teams success. Their actions demonstrate clearly that the good of the team is paramount, overshadowing their personal needs and ambitions.
  • Inspire Confidence - The best leaders help others to gain confidence from their accomplishments. The more confident people are in their abilities, the more likely they are to meet their target, aims, and objectives.

It is not enough to display inspirational qualities. Do not rely on the teams power of observation - inspirational behavior has to be backed up by inspirational communication.

Do not complain

Be prepared to share your energy. Communicate it to others by sounding energetic and enthusiastic about what you do. Avoid sounding lethargic or apathetic. Do not complain about being tired or over worked. All that does is spread discontentment and dissatisfaction. It also reduces peoples belief in their own abilities. They think that if their leader cannot cope, what hope do they have?

Speak with conviction

To communicate passionately, you must communicate definitely. You need to take with certainty, conviction and commitment. It is not possible to appear impassioned when you sound unsure.

Uncertain: DO NOT SAY: "there is a real possibility that we could achieve x, y and z"

Certain - INSTEAD, SAY: "we have what it takes to get x, y and z"

To be an effective role model, it is important to set and communicate good examples to others. It is also important to communicate your expectation they they, too, can achieve these standards.

A persons belief directs his or her behaviour, and that behaviour indicates the results produced. Inspire others to believe that they can be winners - and they will be.

have you read the assignment technique module?

    a) Outline how public negativity will effect a leaders credibility (6)

    b) Explain how you could demonstrate passion, energy and how to be a good role model (12)

International Pressure, FIFA being useful?

I am subscribed to various newsletters and get emails about all sorts of topics. I usually do a quick scan, and then delete. This one caught my eye, and is from an organisation called All Out.

It caught my eye for a few reasons. Its significant because it highlights the fact that inequality, discrimination and injustice is endemic in the international community. Globalisation has meant that the democratic world has regular and diverse contact with countries like Nigeria, who in this case has allegedly conducted a witch-hunt to remove lesbians from the Nigerian female national football team.

Joseph Blatter...given an
opportunity to rebuild his credibility
International sporting events give a valuable opportunity to publicly increase pressure on countries that do not respect their citizens human rights. Most countries, including Nigeria, value their place in the international community and criticism of their regimes during events like the world cup and olympics can bare fruit. Expelling Nigeria from the next world cup would send a clear message from the international community that discriminatory behaviour is unacceptable. Isolation is not good for a countries economy, politics nor is it good for a developing countries future.

I publish the email from in full below. We all no doubt agree that discrimination is totally unacceptable and that alone should be enough to support this campaign. Keep in mind the collateral effects of increasing international pressure and the threat of isolation.


Dear friend,

Even before the Women's World Cup 2011 kicks off this Sunday, the rules have already been broken. 
This week the New York Times reported that the Nigerian Football Federation has been conducting a witch-hunt to kick women off the national team² “not because they were bad players, but because they were lesbians.”

For so many young women around the world, playing at the Women’s World Cup is a dream come true. Can you imagine being kicked off your football team because of who you love? 

This Sunday, Nigeria is going to take the field for the opening game of the Women's World Cup. Can you sign the petition telling FIFA--football's international governing body--to publicly condemn this kind of systematic discrimination? Tell them that homophobia has no place in the league. We'll deliver your comments to FIFA next week, during the games.

This should be a no-brainer for FIFA, which has a long history of standing up to discrimination around the world. In 1961 FIFA expelled South Africa from the World Cup because of its racist apartheid system, readmitting them only in 1991 after the release of Nelson Mandela. In 2001 FIFA passed the Buenos Aires Resolution against racism, and followed it up with an ambitious “Say No to Racism” campaign, in response to the problem of racist taunts hurled at players around the world. And just last year the FIFA president responded to international pressure and apologized for a remark offensive to LGBT people, saying, "it was not my intention and never will be my intention to go into any discrimination ... this is exactly what we are against."

Now, as LGBT people around the world are gaining visibility and participating more fully in community life, including sports, they are too often met with discrimination, and violence. This has been especially true in Africa, where right wing Evangelical movements have recently singled-out and demonized LGBT people. One of the most high-profile recent cases in sport was that of Eudy Simelane, a beloved South African football player who was raped, beaten, stabbed and left to die near her own home last year.

That’s why in Nigeria, where lesbians are sometimes ostracized and subjected to beatings, the Nigerian national football coach is playing a dangerous game with her homophobic witch-hunt. But there’s something we can do about it. In the battle against bigotry and discrimination, FIFA has real moral authority, and they can use that authority to take a clear stand against discrimination. With the Women’s World Cup launching this weekend, will you take a moment to ask FIFA president Joseph Blatter to publicly condemn Nigeria's anti-gay campaign and make clear that homophobia has no place in football?

All the best and All Out,
Andre, Erika, Guillaume, Jeremy, Joseph, Nita, Oli, Prerna, Tile, Wesley and the rest of the team at All Out


Stoopid H&S...who is to blame?

Most people would be able to tell you a story of how the 'elf and safety bods produced some useless check list, or how school activities were cancelled or modified to satisfy an absurd risk assessment. I qualified as a health and safety advisor a couple of years ago, and i finally learned where we are going wrong.

I am touching briefly on legislation to prove a point...
...this is not a guide book on how to be a H&S advisor. 

I always had an interest in health and safety, and while in the leisure industry i was usually given the H&S portfolio. Prior to doing the H&S course i spent hundreds of hours risk assessing. Although i was careful about what control measures i suggested, i wasted a lot of my time. Then i did this course through the British Safety Council, and was shocked that i was ever given responsibility for H&S as my knowledge was not sufficient. Having studied the legislation in more detail, i realised that Health and Safety need not be a burden, and should rarely lead to an activity being prohibited.

Although there are lots of pieces of H&S legislation, they are all designed around the core themes set out in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASWA). By the end of the post, it should be clear to you that the legislation itself is very reasonable, but the weak link is unqualified individuals being put into a position of responsibility over H&S.

Looking at HASWA in a tiny bit of detail...

  • Section 2(1) - "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable [SFAIRP], the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."
    • Edwards v. National Coal Board, [1949] 1 All ER 743 defines SFAIRP. Basically it requires the employer to weigh up cost verses benefit. Cost doesn't necessarily mean money, it can mean time or trouble as well. So don't engage in a risk assessment on paper cuts as the level of harm is so small so as to make it insignificant, and therefore not reasonably practicable from a cost / benefit point of view.

Control Measures

Having undergone a risk assessment, the assessor must decide on control measures. H&S gets a slating in the press due to outrageous control measures; banning school trips etc. The control measures should not exceed SFAIRP. Exceeding it will cost more in time and money, and will unnecessarily cause disruption. Control measures should be facilitative, not preventative. Someone who is properly qualified will say to their bosses "what, if any, control measures do we need to put in place in order for this activity to be continued".

This leads us nicely onto the control measure hierarchy. One cannot decide on control measures without having this in front them, otherwise the assessment process will be based on illogic. Below you will see a graphical representation of the hierarchy of control measures. The aim here is to balance effectiveness of the control measure with participation. Contrary to popular belief ELIMINATION IS LAST RESORT, not first stop. I work my way from the bottom, asking myself; "Is this control measure sufficient and appropriate, and does it eliminate significant risks. 

So where does the 'blame' lie?

Having formally studied H&S i now realise that the blame does not sit with the Health and Safety Executive, or the government. The blame lies at the doorstep of the unqualified members of staff who 'don't know what they don't know' and think they are doing themselves and others a favour by banning anything with an element of risk, no matter how small.

So next time you hear "for health and safety reasons", you are hearing someone passing the buck due to ignorance or cowardice. Take responsibility for assessing your significant risks properly, and putting in place sensible and proportionate control measures. Don't be lazy...rather than banning something, find a way to help make things happen, rather than obstruct things. 

More funny H&S pics below!

Leadership Skills #8 - Delegation

Part 8/10

Delegating power

Leadership involves more than giving commands. True leaders know how to identify and clearly communicate business goals. The are quick to recognise the strengths and abilities of their people and they put these to the best possible use.

To increase your effectiveness as a leader, you should look for opportunities to develop and empower your people. Consider their strengths and their potential, then delegate.

To delegate with success you must;

    • delegate appropriate tasks to people with the necessary skills
    • then give them the authority they need to do the work

Delegation should never be used to avoid the jobs you hate. Delegating "appropriate" tasks means delegating work that others can perform as well or better than you. You might also delegate a task that someone else can do more quickly thank you. Or one that will impart valuable experience to an aspiring leader.

Delegation can be used effectively to reduce dependency, to increase productivity and efficiency, and to develop future leaders. Delegating "appropriate" tasks can help your people to;

  • discover new abilities
  • gain confidence in their abilities
  • become better decision makers
  • become more self-reliant
  • achieve more innovative results
  • build interpersonal communication skills
  • develop networks and partnerships outside of the team

However, before you delegate, you must be reasonable sure that the person has the basic skills to carry the task out successfully. The person you delegate to needs to be able to achieve the required outcome without detailed instructions from you or ongoing and continuous assistance.

Another factor necessary for successful delegation is that you take care to delegate authority when that authority is needed to complete the delegated work.

People cant make decisions unless they have the authority to do so. Make sure that everyone is aware that the person to whom you have delegated the task has been given the authority to execute and manage the work.

Avoid the temptation to constantly oversee a delegated task or to dictate precisely how the outcome should be achieved. Give basic requirements and guidelines, then give your people authority and room to manoeuvre.

When people are empowered, they grow. Your vote of confidence in the abilities encourages them to look beyond their own areas of responsibility to add value to customers, support colleagues and assist the success of the entire organisation. If you want to become a successful leader, remember to delegate appropriate tasks to people with the necessary skills, then give them the authority (and space) to do the work.

have you read the assignment technique module?

     a) Outline when you think delegation is and is not appropriate (6)

     b) Describe the benefits of delegation to an organisation, team and individual (10)

     c) You have delegated a task to a a team member but they are struggling with it. Identify the reasons why they might be failing and Explain how you would resolve this situation (15)

Leadership Skills #7 - Using power to communicate vision

Part 7/10

Using power to communicate vision

Power and influence are important aspects of communication. Effective leaders derive much of their 'power' from their abilities to influence others positively and motivate them to achieve. If you aspire to be a person who others follow, it is essential to learn how to use the most appropriate kinds of power to influence and persuade.

Power comes in many forms. Some of the most common forms are;

  • Coercive
  • Reward
  • Legitimate
  • Expert
  • Referent

Not all forms of power are conducive to good leadership, because not all foster commitment, and some may actually foster resentment. Consider the following examples;

Jack's line manager, Phillip, uses coercive power when she says: "if you don't agree to take on extra duties, your lack of cooperation could have a negative effect on your next promotion."

Ken's coworker, Igor, uses reward power when he says: "I'll award you a bonus if you take on more duties."

Phil is Shami's line manager. He uses legitimate power when he says to Shami: "I'd like you to compile an extra sales report as one of your duties."

Keith's colleagues often do what he advises because they recognise that he is an expert in his field, and they can learn a lot from him.

The people in Guy's team enjoy working with him and for him. He is kind, fair, honest and he managed to make working in high-stress environment fun. This is referent power.

 Some forms of power are less potent and reliable than others. For example, people who are coerced into cooperating are less likely to be committed and are more likely to look for ways to resist. Similarly, those who are rewarded for collaboration may withdraw cooperation when the incentive ends. Legitimate power only works in situations where one person holds a higher position in the organisation than the other.

Good leaders don't use coercive means to influence others; they use their personal qualities and abilities to gain cooperation. They don't rely on the legitimate power of authority because they may not have it. Neither do they depend on the power of giving rewards and incentives. Firstly, this may not be an option, and secondly, its strength completely depends on what you have to offer. There's always the risk that it wont be good enough.

But you can always rely on expert and referent power, whatever the circumstances. These forms of power depend on you, not your position or access to resources.

When you lead others, it is better to build and use expert and referent power by communicating the positive traits such as honesty, fairness, consistency, knowledge and expertise.

You can demonstrate these qualities by speaking assertively and knowledgeably.

  • DO give your opinions with confidence
  • DO speak assertively by saying: "in my opinion, this is the best option"
  • DON'T communicate passively by saying "i could be wrong, but this is what i would choose"
  • DO take responsibility for your feelings. Avoid blaming others for your emotions and reactions.
  • DO  speak assertively by saying: "I'm really disappointed"
  • DON'T  communicate aggressively by saying "you've really upset me"
  • DO state the facts and not your judgement of the facts
  • DO speak assertively by saying: "based on what i know, i don't agree"
  • DON'T communicate aggressively by saying: "you obviously don't understand, or you wouldn't disagree"
  • DO ask for what you require, don't hint
  • DO  ask assertively by saying: "I'd like you to be there"
  • DON'T ask passively by saying: "it would be good if you could be there"

Often what you ask of others requires that their total commitment, so you need them to "buy in" to your opinion. This is easier for them to do if they are confident in your abilities and trust and respect you as a person.

You can use expert and referent power to influence anyone - colleagues,  peers, subordinates, and even those above you in the hierarchy. You don't have to be their boss. Your power to lead comes from what you know and who you are and not what you can give or take away from your staff.

You may have all kinds of power at your disposal, but power built on expertise, personality, and character gives you influence at all levels and in a multitude of situations.

have you read the assignment technique module?

1. Pick 3 of the power forms and answer the following questions.

    a) Outline the advantages and disadvantages of each of your chosen power forms (6)

    b) Identify one power type that you consider to be the best and Explain how this could be used by a line manager. Use examples (10)

My Mistakes - Volume 25

Public figures who are sacked or resign often do so because of a mistake. If managed properly a mistake can become a positive experience. If managed poorly, it can put an end to a career and ruin credibility. Most political careers end because a politician handled a mistake poorly. This isn't always about taking total responsibility, nor is it about caving into pressure...its about doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons.

Lets look at Michael Howard during his Home Secretary days. As a minister he is bound by the constitutional convention of individual minister responsibility. This means that a minister must take responsibility for all mistakes made by his department. The position of Home Secretary has often been considered a poisoned chalice mainly due to its size, something helped in some ways by the separation of the Ministry of Justice. While Michael Howard was Home Sec, a mistake was made by the civil service. The mistake was something out of his control and knowledge, but under the convention of individual minister responsibility he would be bound to take responsibility, and ultimately resign...but he didn't. He refused to accept responsibility, saying that it was something out of his control and it is not right for him to accept responsibility for it. He took a calculated gamble. Constitutional conventions are only binding for as long as those effected by them consider them binding. As it happened, Howard had support from the House and he was not forced to resign.

There hasn't been a minister with the guts, the support, or the moral high ground to defend a mistake by their department since. Unless ministers change the way they think about the making of mistakes, no minister will ever be able to accept responsibility for a mistake and survive the aftermath.

This sets a very bad example for society as a whole. Where anyone makes a mistake they should be judged on their honesty, integrity and morality in responding to that mistake. 

So lets take a personal example. I made a mistake today, and was really unfair on someone. A while ago i followed the blog Cake Wrecks after seeing them in the media and read it for a while. As is the way with these things, i stopped reading after a while. I tried to unsubscribe from the blog, but due to my technical uselessness it didn't work. Having had a very shit day today i sat down and tried to tidy up my blog list. Being so technically inept i failed once again, and as i so often do got angry at the computer for it not doing what i wanted it to do! In my frustration i decided that the blog owner had purposely designed the page so that i couldn't unsubscribe. So i decided to do a tweet about it, and was very unfair...the tweet is still there for all to see! Once i had calmed down, and someone had shown me how to unsubscribe i realised my mistake and immediately apologised, publicly. 

Sometimes pressures in life can bubble over at the wrong times and it can be aimed at the completely wrong people, for the wrong reasons. Of course i was massively embarrassed and it could have been easy for me to bury my head in the sand in the hope it would go away. So i apologised to @cakewrecks and she kindly accepted it.

But as is so often the case, someone feels the need to get the boot in. Half an hour after it had been sorted, and as i was writing this post, i got a message from a stranger telling me how bad tempered i am. I can imagine that politicians have the same problem. Once i thought i had done everything i can to right my mistake, a stranger drags it up again. I can see how easy it could be to engage with someone intent on criticising you despite feeling like you did the right thing.

So it looks like the public are always standing by to put the boot in, kick you when your down, and make you look like a fool. This is a new realisation for me, but i suspect is part of the territory for anyone with more life experience than i do.

My advice to politicians: If you make a mistake, do the right thing immediately. If you are genuine, and response is proportionate to the mistake, and you haven't put anyone in danger, just relax and let the boot wielding public do what they will.

So i once again apologise to @cakewrecks!

Diet Justice Features

I have spent this mornings bout of insomnia rearranging the leadership series of posts and thought i would update you on that, and all the other regular features i do. So here is a run down of what DJ is all about;

  • Main labels - self explanatory, its the bread and butter stuff i write about most and is what has always been the focus of the blog 
  • Series Posts
    • Hurdles - As a new blogger i have a lot to learn. Someone recently said to me that they didn't read these posts after my recommendation because they were learning as they went along. It's my hope that new bloggers will use this series of posts to avoid some of the early day pitfalls, and reach their goals a lot sooner than i did. 
      • Currently on post number 15 of the hurdles series, the most recent post being 10th June
    • Life Skills
      • I have written a lot about life skills since i started the blog, but have generally discussed them in the context of university life. Having started the 9 post series of leadership skills i decided to launch the Life Skills section of the blog. Pending the success of the leadership series, i will put together a lot more life skills posts in the future.
    • Documentaries
      • As i watch relevant documentaries i add them to the doc index. This was the first feature i did for DJ!
    • Guide to life
      • A feature that has been around for a while but hasn't had the attention it deserves. It is a list of useful websites for the various stages of university life from choosing your university all the way through to finding a job.
    • Justice ePaper
      • This is my favourite new feature and i have been loving editing it every day. It is published 'in time for breakfast' every morning and includes posts, news stories, pictures and videos from my the previous day. Careful source management has meant that it automatically populates with relevant material every day. Once it's published, i edit it to make sure all the best stories are easily found.

Features are a great way to supplement the core material and keeps both my readers interest, and my own interest...each new feature gives me a fresh angle and a new source of information. 

So which is your favourite feature and why? Drop me a comment below, i'd love to hear your opinions

Leadership Skills #6 - SMART objectives

Part 6/10

SMART objectives

So why do we need SMART objectives?

Encouraging team members to participate in the goal setting process is a great way to obtain their commitment. They feel more capable of achieving goals that they have helped to identify. However, identifying the goal is just the first step - you need to be more specific to enable action.

As a leader, your vision motivates and inspires your team to strive to reach a desired destination. Team goals set the general direction in which you must travel to reach that destination. However, the objectives set by the team map the route to success.

Objectives are based on what has been discussed and agreed upon by the tea during the goal setting process. It is your responsibility as the leaser and facilitator to extract pertinent information and to formulate those objectives. For maximum effectiveness, your objectives need to be "S.M.A.R.T"

First, your objective has to be specific. It should specify the WHO, WHAT, WHEN and WHY so that your team can decide on HOW.

Without this level of definition, it is too easy to create an objective that is so ambiguous that you don't know for certain tat it has been accomplished.


"all members of the sales team must increase sales by 10% in the month of July"


"sales must increase"

Second, your objectives must be measurable. Not all objectives are measurable by extend or quantity, but it should at least be possible to say for sure if the objective has been achieved. If you cant measure success by how much or how many, you must be able to describe how success will be recognised.

Third, the objectives must be achievable. It is also vital that an objectives achievability is within your control and that you have access to the necessary resources. You must also consider all of the possible barriers to success, and whether they can be overcome. In other words, you must be realistic and use previous performance as a basis for projected results. Although setting easily achievable objectives can lead to apathy and disinterest, it is even more demoralising to be set objectives that are way out of reach.


If your team has never achieved more than a 10% sales increase from quarter to quarter, it would be unrealistic to expect it to achieve a 20% next quarter - particularly during an economic downturn for example.

Forth, the objectives must be relevant. Your objectives should be directly relevant to your overall goal. It is essential that its achievement moves you closer to making your vision of the future a reality. If your goal is to greatly increase productivity, is an objective to save money on pens relevant?

Finally, your objectives must be time-specific. An effective objective must involve a time frame or limit so that the individual tasks required to fulfill it can be planned and scheduled. Without some kind of deadline, action - and therefore achievement - will often be deferred indefinitely.

If you do not meet the objective by the time frame specified, the objective should be considered as a failure. It is important to recognised that the objective has failed, as it indicates that you need to review the objective completely and decide on one that is more achievable. You should not just keep extending the time frame as this will not help a fundamentally flawed objective.

If your objectives meet these SMART criteria, it will be easier to plan how to achieve them, and thereby change vague hoped and dreams into a concrete strategy. SMART objectives support the achievement of your goals because they enable evaluation of your progress. They also give a sense of urgency to your plans.

Your chances of meeting your objectives are increased significantly when they are SMART. When every member of your team is aiming for the same well defined target, the bulls eye is more likely to be hit.

have you read the assignment technique module?

    Using what you have learned, produce a SMART objective for increasing your teas sales productivity. You might want to choose another objective based on your particular background if sales is not something you are used to.

Do something that scares you...

There is one type of person i just cant tolerate, and thats a person who says "i'm not changing for anyone". People take some strange pride in inflexibility, stubbornness, tunnel vision and lack of aspiration. Personal development is essential to personal growth, and being willing to change who you are is essential.

What these people generally mean is "i'm not going to be someone that i'm not", and that is totally understandable. What is important is the willingness and ability to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and make life changes that compliment strengths and improve on weaknesses. Once you learn how to do this effectively you will realise that most weaknesses are in fact strengths if you understand them well enough.

My biggest weakness has been not making choices that push me out of my comfort zone. Although i am willing to try new things practically, taking social risks has always been a challenge. What i have learned is that taking personal risks is the first step to really discovering who you are, and it moves you on from being an "i'm not changing for anyone" type of person to a "i take risks to see what i'm capable of" type of person.

A few months ago, while i was in a hospital bed and at my weakest both physically and mentally, i was asked if i would like to take part in a fashion show. My initial response to something like this would be an immediate no. However in recent years i have learned to take risks, and i try to always do the opposite of my initial gut reactions. I wanted to take a step out of my comfort zone and challenge my weaknesses in the hope that i could conquer them.

There are some things i am confident doing. I am confident standing in front of a classroom of lifeguards. I am confident in making the decision to arrest someone. And i am confident in taking part in a debate at uni. What scares me the most is an audience. I have a few crown court appearances coming up and i am petrified of standing in the witness box. I could not stand up and give a lecture to a room full of people. And i could not, so i thought, walk down a catwalk as a model.

I procrastinated for a few months on this fashion show, but turned up at the venue on Tuesday ready to take the plunge...and i was terrified. I met the other models...who were all also terrified. We all looked nervous as we walked up and down the catwalk, but we looked nervous together. We got through it by supporting each other, and i am not so glad that i forced myself to do something that scared me.

Had i initially said no i would not have met some great people, and would have regretted the missed opportunity. It has shown me that a lot of my social fears are purely emotional and based on no factual evidence. Putting yourself in what you consider to be a socially dangerous situation is a great way to prove to yourself that the situations are not at all dangerous.

So next time you find yourself avoiding certain situations...take some risks. I guarantee that you will feel good about doing it, even if you didn't enjoy it.

Another RN Tragedy

We recently heard the news of a Royal Navy crewman who shot dead one of his commanders in what was reported to be a rage over shore leave. Today the story breaks of another member of the Royal Navy Lieutenant Sara Hellawell who appears to have died in circumstances that the RN are not treating as suspicious. Some news organisations are reporting this as a suicide having been told that she was working very hard and not getting much sleep.

This is very sad for her, her family and her crew mates. A ship, especially one like HMS Edingburgh, is a close community and and i feel for the Captain who has go try and bring the ship together under such horrible circumstances.

Although I want our members of the armed services to be treated well, i hope that the Astute incident and this incident don't lead to a knee jerk review of conditions...we all know that such a review doesn't help anyone. I do hope, however, any enquiry into the incidents identify anything that could have been done better, and that this never happens again.

Update (14:47 23.06.11) - Statement from the parents, partner and fellow officers start to appear. Article by

Update on the HMS Astute shooting

What irritates me about incidents like the HMS Astute shooting is that we hear all about the incident, and very little of the aftermath. So i did some digging and came up with an article by Andrew Naiper of the Southern Daily Echo. Very little new information has come to light. The trial will take place some time next year (1012) with Ryan Donovan next visiting court in September for a plea hearing.

Although the incident is under the jurisdiction of the Military Police, who have a prosecution service and justice system capable of managing a case of this size, it has been handed over to civilian authorities. A move that I agree with. I agree not because i don't think the Military justice system can handle it, but more that a crime like this should be heard by judges who are experienced in hearing such serious cases. Its been a long time since a military court has heard a murder charge, and there inquests are not much to write home about. True justice is more certain in the civilian system.

Leadership Skills #5 - Setting goals and planning

Part 5/10

Team-based goal setting and planning

Everyone want sa strong vision of where they are going, and they look to their leaders to give them this direction. When you are called upon to lead, it is your job to give them this direction. When you are called upon to lead, it is your job to create and communicate the vision to your team - a vision of future success that everyone can share in. It is also a leaders responsibility to help the team make that vision a reality, by setting the necessary goals and planning their implementation;.

In team based or "participative" goal setting and planning, you involve your team in planning its route to the envisioned destination, striving to include everyone in the decisions about getting there.

There are 4 steps to planning the achievement of the vision as a team. The first is to establish the goals. Once this is done, you can agree to the objectives, assign tasks and set priorities and schedules.

 Step 1: Establish Goals
It has been said that "a goal is just a dream with a deadline." and your goal will remain a fantasy unless you and your team members create a plan of action to accomplish it. A team that has been involved in the planning process will be a lot more enthusiastic when it comes to executing the plan

The first step is to establish the goals that will bring about the achievement of the decision. Although these are not measurable, they are more specific than your original vision.
Step 2: Agree to the objectives
The second step is to agree to objectives, again with the active participation of your team. These must be more defined to enable you to evaluate what movement has been made towards achievement of the goal, and ultimately, the vision.
Step 3: Assign Tasks
The third step of the panning process is to determine the tasks which will accomplish the objectives. Tasks are concrete, measurable events that must occur if the objectives are to be achieved.
 Step 4: Set Priorities and Schedules
Finally, the team needs to assign a priority for each of the tasks, so that some kind of schedule can be established. This enables the team to determine the order in which the tasks must be accomplished and by what date.

These four steps allow team members to think about and decide on the goals, objectives, tasks and priorities.

In participative goal setting and planning, you must ask questions to assist team members to generate and assess ideas and to convert them into definite goals, objectives and actions.

Ask questions to get the team thinking about what goals, objectives and tasks will make the vision a reality. To get the most input, start by making these questions as open as possible.

Open questions usually start with:

  • What
  • Where
  • How
  • Who
  • Why
  • When

They can only be answered properly with the relevant information.

When enough ideas and solutions have been generated, ask more specific questions to challenge those that you think may be unworkable. Your aim is to "funnel" the teams input and eventually arrive at a set of defined plans and schedules tat everyone understands and can follow.

Finally, ask closed questions that can be answered with a yes or a no - to get the team to commit to a decision or plan.

Assist your team to assess the feasibility of its ideas by being prepared to share your good and bad experiences. Use your food experiences to confirm the probability of success. Use your bad experiences as evidence of possible failure.

Once the team has agreed to a specific and measurable objective, it is easier to determine essential tasks, prioritise them and build them into a scheduled plan.

The members of a team will take ownership of goals that they have helped to set. With that ownership comes their commitment, and with their commitment comes achievement - for them, for you and for the company.

If you want team members to participate in the goal setting and planning process, you must involve them in making the vision a reality, rather than tell them how to accomplish the goal. In team based goal setting and planning, your role is to led the discussion, not to dictate. Your goal is to help your team to consider the implications of their proposed actions so they can arrive at the mist realistic and potentially successful plan.

have you read the assignment technique module?

     a) Outline the importance of having participation from your cadets when setting goals (4)

     b) Getting input, and steering a discussion can be difficult at the best of times. Describe the challenges you might face when setting up a target setting discussion (10)

     c) Explain how you would use open and closed questions during this discussion. Use examples (10)