Posts Taged workplace

As a mother are your talents being utilised?

Mother Utilise Talents

 “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talents in the world”     Hilary Clinton

We know it, we recognise it and we agree with her comment….or should I say, us women do, and many mothers are living as part of this “untapped reservoir of talent“.  As a women with my own business and a mother of a primary aged child, I feel proud and privileged to know the range of talented and skilled women that I do. If you were to harness the abilities and qualifications of mothers in the school playground, you could set up and successfully run a number of hugely profitable high powered businesses, and I’m talking state school here.  However, I feel there are three key pressures that stop mothers doing what they really want to do, and using their talents to their best advantage: financial considerations, job security and expectations of others.

“In this day and age women can just as easily be the main breadwinner as men. Why should they have to give up their careers when they have children?”

 

Ben Foden fronting the Government campaign for shared parental leave.

The most important one that batters this talent into submission is financial issues.  Traditionally men have earned more than women, and as women give birth, it was always felt they should stay at home and bring up the child in Women and work talentsthose important early years, plus if we’re talking traditional, men weren’t allowed in the hospital and were outside smoking cigars!  However, in today’s society a high percentage of women have high powered and well paid jobs which are challenging and engaging.  Their wages make a significant contribution to the household, and so many, when they become mothers, need to go back to work financially.  They may need to work less hours, find they have a reduced or different role in the company, or end up applying for less skilled jobs, in order to balance financial need with childcare consideration, and so feel de-skilled and that their talents are unfulfilled.

 The recent change in paid maternity leave and how it can now be divided up between both parents, may make financial considerations less of a concern, but only if fathers are willing to take on this role.

The second issue is job security.  A National Childbirth Trust survey published in 2014,  commented that:

“Around half of new mothers have to cut short their maternity leave because of fears they will lose their job if they stay at home

 

The study quoted nearly 45% of women as feeling they are being forced back to work sooner than they wanted after giving birth, due to concerns over “job security”.  There are still great issues in some companies over asking for woman in distress Talentsflexible hours, yet remaining in the same role in which your talents were utilised.  This may not always be the employers fault, but also due to their financial considerations as well as staffing issues, yet the “job security” issue for women remains!  It can see them taking a sideways position in the company when they come back from maternity leave, or trying to balance work and childcare considerations to such an extent that both suffer, and it is all they can do to get through each day.  They are too exhausted just trying to keep afloat and get through the daily tasks to show initiative and flair.

The third key pressure, is the idea that women can and should have it all, and most importantly want it all.  Society and other women, make it sound as if it can be nothing but a great thing!  Nicola Horlick was hailed as a superwoman for balancing her extremely successful and high powered finance career whilst raising six children!  This is a fantastic achievement, but does every woman and mother want it, or do they feel under pressure to show they too, can act this way?  I know I did!

My neighbour and I had a really interesting discussion  about the pressures on mothers to return to work, and how much of that anxiety was generated by the women themselves and the media.  My neighbour told me she made a conscious decision to give up work and be at home with her four children as she felt it was important “that I bring up my children my way.  The way I want them to be brought up, with my values”.  She felt women shouldn’t have to apologise for wanting to be stay-at-home mums and choose to nurture and raise their children, but should feel confident in the choice they’ve made.

Will the much needed change in paid maternity leave see more fathers taking paid time off to share the childcare, and allow mothers to go  back to their same challenging careers, and perform well because they are able to?  Or, will companies still feel mothers are a liability and gradually squeeze them out of their positions, into a more mundane role?  Lastly, are women their own harshest critics and feel they should be able to do it all, and that their failing if they choose to stay at home with their children?

Where do you stand?  Are you at the point of returning to work, or having to make career decisions?

Do you feel you can return to work and still perform at the same high level, or do you need a confidence boost and skills audit?

Share your experiences with me on twitter @therealme_PDP or Facebook The real me (Paula Ashby)

Alternatively email me for a free and confidential chat about whether coaching can help you utilise your talents me.  paula@professionaldevelopmentpeople.co.uk

 

Motivation Part 3 – Your role in keeping your staff motivated!

Keeping your staff motivated

This blog is the third of three examining motivation in the work place. The first examined why we go to work? The second looked at what makes us work willingly and well and discussed Hertzberg’s work on true motivators, whilst this blog  examines what demotivates us in the workplace.

What irritates you at work is likely to be similar to things that irritate others.   In this blog I hope to show what these feelings are based on, and will refer to Hertzberg’s work again, and crucially examine how the manager can stop staff  feeling this way.

Keeping your staff motivated – Understanding what makes them unwell.

My favourite analogy of Hertzberg’s “Hygiene Factors” is as follows: Picture a small isolated town in a warm area. The local authority have a sewerage plant to cater for the needs of the townsfolk. When it works the townsfolk pay it absolutely no attention, they just flush the loo. They remain healthy because there is no chance of contamination from the sewerage works. If the local authority spend millions on the works, new bells and whistles etc, the population DON’T get any healthier, they just carry on flushing the loo! However if the works starts to malfunction the population can become really ill very quickly, and will complain.

That’s the crux of the concept behind the hygiene factors.  There are some things that need to be in place, at a satisfactory level, so that people don’t become demotivated. Hertzberg’s study suggests that these are listed in order of importance:

1 Policies and administration

2 Technical supervision

3 Relationsip with your boss

4 Work conditions

5 Salary

6 Relationships with your peers

Which of these can managers control? At first glance many say that the hygiene factors are “out of their control”, but a closer examination can quickly dispel this notion. Whilst most of us don’t set work based policies and administration procedures, as managers we CAN let others have access to these areas.  We can make staff aware of what is there to protect and enhance their prospects. For example, how many of your colleagues will know that there are paternity rights and what they really are?  How do your colleagues access these? There may be some information around certain polices or procedures around the workplace, much of it may be gossip, rather than based on fact, and this can alienate staff, before the true facts are known. Shouldn’t your job as the manager be to inform them of this information, or how they could access the relevant documents?

Technical supervision usually falls into two camps, either you am the expert, and feel you should know everything about the task, as the company employed you for the role! Or OMG the staff know more than I do, so I’ll have to blag it! Why not be honest and open?  Share your expertise and recognise innovation can come from innocent questions like “Why do we do this?”

Hertzberg identifies having a work based relationship with your boss, as being necessary and expected. This is not about pub time (but that can be good),  but it’s about being  listened to, being spoken to, being allowed to contribute. Even if the person is consistently wrong, killing of ideas, kills off business and can alienate staff.

Work conditions are important.  Mangers don’t usually paint the office, control air conditioning, or sort out car parking. However, the best ones will make sure that everyone knows why the office hasn’t been painted, why it’s a bit too warm and why the car park is flooded. Sharing information is vital to building up good working relationships, and for staff to see the manager as honest and trustworthy.

Similarly, mere mortals in companies  do not get to set the level of staff salary, BUT as a manager you can make sure that people are paid accurately, paid on time and that their holiday leave is booked properly etc.

If people are having a difficult time with their colleagues, but still trying to  do a good job, they need support.   How long can you really expect them to keep going if the office atmosphere is fraught with tension? Mangers must keep an eye on work place relationships. Ignore them at your peril.

The previous blog looked at true motivators, such as achieving at work, being recognised for your contribution, as well as experiencing a sense of personal growth, and it’s pretty obvious that a lack of these things are not great for staff motivation.  What brilliant managers need to think about, is what is within their sphere of influence?  What will keep the sewage plant working so that the population will stay well!  It may seem a thankless task, but it’s necessary.