Posts Tagged With: relationships

Good times (in an office…)

With Christmas almost upon us and the rest of the Grads having a great time abroad, Ben reflects on the good times he’s had recently in the Brighton and Surbiton offices.

I’ve never been a fan of working in an office. Sitting all day, staring at a computer screen, occasionally making a cup of coffee is a little… er… dull. Fortunately, there are times when working in an office can be a lot of fun. Aside from the fascinating projects I’ve been working on recently (more info to come in the new year), the social side can also be great. Furthermore, I think a good social environment can create a happy workforce, which is essential for a business to prosper.

For example, whilst in Brighton with the Sector’s eCommerce and iExplore team, we had “International Food Fridays”. Brave volunteers would sign up and promise to make the national dish of whichever country came out of the hat. I was given Portugal. Unfortunately I’ve never been to Portugal and had no idea what to make. Fortunately, there was a resident Portuguese guy (Fred Cardoso) who was there to advise/encourage/pressure me to make sure it was a success!

The result can be seen in the picture below and (to my relief) it went down really well:

For someone that never cooked a Portuguese dish, Ben got really near a Portuguese Chef” – Fred, resident Portuguese food expert.

There was also Movember, Halloween bake sales and an amazing place to have lunch (see pics below).

I have recently moved to the Crystal Ski office in Surbiton, where there is also a great social atmosphere. We’ve had a huge Christmas party, numerous cakes, several gingerbread houses and even wrapped the Product Director’s desk up in Christmas wrapping paper! ‘Tis the Season!

I hope you enjoy the pictures below and have a great Christmas wherever you are.

Categories: Ben Gill | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’m… just not that into you!

Peter Buckley acts as relationship counsellor… p.s. Relate, you can’t have him yet!

Girls.  When a guy doesn’t call you back after a first date, it probably means the date sucked.  Or, as one very successful American author put it…he’s just not that into you.  Now, I’m not one to argue with the intricacies of the single, dating world with it’s debatable protocols of calling, not calling, txting, not txting, must-leave-it-one-day but three-days-is-too-long subtleties found in this one-halfed club but one cannot argue with the validity of such protocols.  So where does that leave our damsel? Well, one cannot come to any other conclusion that after a week or so, the date didn’t go too well and yes, by being not into you, he’d rather be alone!

Clearly, not everybody is meant for every other body, fine, no problem there.  I do however, have a problem with Hollywood’s depiction of love and dating which, distances itself from these protocols and is utterly idealistic at worst, so whilst telling a complete stranger all your idiosyncratic neuroticisms within the first instance of communication may look quirky, cute and all lovey-dovey-rom-commie on the big screen, it is actually, in the real world, a weird and borderline crazy type of behaviour that usually prompts one of those uncomfortably long silences which, I might add, probably inhibits the man’s ability to decipher whether or not he wanted to have sex with you. Of course, not all guys are thinking about sex on the first date (they are really, I was just being PC) but still, it was probably more Girl Interrupted than Notting Hill, never a good thing. The point I’m attempting to make here is simple; the do’s and don’ts of the dating world are not too dissimilar from that of the business world.

Firstly, I feel the need to set some context before your imagination runs wild.  If you’re reading this thinking that I’m about to weirdly and creepily, yet wonderfully compare the art of business to the art of seducing a member of the opposite sex, you’d be wrong, and I’d be slightly worried what sort of blog you think this is.  Shame on you!  Besides, if you’re looking for that sort of craft, you’d need a certain high flying Educational Sector MD for that…!  Instead, what I’m talking about is relationships. Managing relationships and the expectations.

I began by describing a situation wherein one stakeholder expected something from a relationship, the other, something different, and in between these expectations; communication.  It is this communication that is fundamental for competent project management.  In fact, if project management was a wise and old elder, perched high atop the tallest of tall hills, found in the furthest of the furthest lands (which these mythical people always seem to be) to which they could impart just one, vital, piece of wisdom to the lucky, chosen few, it would be exactly this principal: Your relationships are fountains of knowledge and communication controls the flow.

So what exactly does this crypto-mumbo-jumbo mean? Well, it’s a paradigm that can’t really be defined, at least, not with any real conviction. It’s more of an empirical understanding than a scientific one.  It’s like…it’s like…Mojo.  You’ve either got it or you haven’t.  Fortunately, just like Mojo, it is something that can be learnt.  Which is why this week, I’ve mainly been learning about my Mojo!

As a project manager, naturally, I have many responsibilities that require my attention and in order to coordinate these harmoniously, effective and unambiguous communication is paramount.  The small relationship I build with a supplier is a fundamental piece to the project as a whole even if that relationship is just one small piece.  This is because this relationship provides me with a base of knowledge I need in order to determine where the rest of the connecting pieces fit, which will ultimately enable me to complete the larger, grander puzzle.  What makes project management so tricky is many relationships are built upon or reliant upon another.  Think of it this way, when you lose one piece of a real, physical puzzle, you lose that one piece.  When I lose one of my relationships, I lose much more than just that one relationship.  I lose everything that was connected to it.

To understand this better let me try and give you some perspective.  Whilst one, from an outside perspective, might see an entire organisation buy, refurbish and operate an old, historic, Elizabethan manor, what actually happens is completely different.  It is much simpler, it is me, an individual, interacting with another individual who works for a different, separate, organisation and from this small but vital interaction, a web of interconnecting relationships are built with immense emphasis placed upon the founding relationships.  It is this perspective I am trying to describe and it is imperative that you understand this as project management is all about the minute intricacies rather than the grand ideals – the dating protocols rather than Hollywood.

What’s more so, is that this week I have found that within this web of relationships, you will find some individuals who will never meet each other, yet they are unequivocally linked, one totally dependent upon the other with each, completely unaware the other exists.  So if one relationship fails, you have to save another relationship from failing and another and another and it is this precarious situation I find myself in with all my relationships, be it internally within JCA or externally with my suppliers, relying on my one relationship with BT and frankly, I find myself in unfamiliar territory where I can’t help but think… BT, is just not that into me!

Categories: Pete | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

How to hug people closer

Jonathon discusses the role of networking in business

Rather than talk about my project, I thought that this week I would discuss networking. Now that isn’t to say that nothing noteworthy has happened in the last week, as the crystalholidays.co.uk site is still in full flow and still on course for completion by Christmas. But there has definitely been a networking theme to my recent time in the Specialist and Activity sector and I thought that it deserves a mention. Now before I begin, I should say that networking is not something that I would instinctively do. To me networking was something that is done because it’s ‘the way things are done around here’. But as it does have prominence within corporate culture I have made the effort to not only be proactive in networking, but also to try to find out what value it brings.

Even from our very first week at our Lake Garda induction, we were thrown into an environment full of some of the top performing managers of the sector, with a smattering of the very highest directors and even the main man himself, John Wimbleton, MD of Specialist and Activity; and of course, we were expected to network with all of them. By the end of the week, however, I was thoroughly ‘networked’ out, as I think was everyone else. But again I questioned the value of it all; sure, I had met lots of important people but what benefit did it have for me?

Continuing to be proactive, I managed to arrange a meet-up with Roger Davies, former chairman of Thomson (part of TUI Travel) and Going Places (now part of Thomas Cook), who I found out went to the same secondary school as I did. Having retired on 1997 he had obviously been out of the game for a while, but during his time the tour operator model as we know it today was formed, and so he had both some invaluable insights into the industry, as well as some really interesting stories.

Last week I had my second meeting with Mathew, my mentor, and I put it to him what his views on the value of networking were. Rather than jump straight into singing its praises, he himself had to think about the question and instead suggested that relationship-building was fundamental to both business and career. Although networking could in itself be seen as relationship-building, I had previously envisaged it as nothing more than introductions, swapping of contact details and perhaps the odd bit of advice-sharing. But from his advice and my meeting with Roger, who has agreed to stay in touch, I am beginning to realise that networking is about creating and building those relationships, rather than trying to ‘work a room’. Hopefully by the end of the 18-months I will have improved my networking skills sufficiently and developed my network of relationships (I am deliberately using that word over ‘contacts’) to support me in my future roles, wherever they may be.

Categories: Jonathon | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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