What Kind of President Would You Be?

The United States of America has a new and unconventional President, and plenty of column inches will be going into analysing his personality.  We suspect you wouldn’t be a President like Donald Trump (although we could be wrong).


If you know your Myers Briggs Type Indicator then take a look at this chart and see which previous US President your type fits closest to:

It is an approximation of course, but a fun one.  If you don’t know your Myers Briggs Type Indicator and would like to run a session for your team talk to Structured Training, who will be happy to help.

How Do You Measure Up As A Team Manager? 20 Point Checklist

Over the last 6 months we have been working on a competency project that has identified certain characteristics of the successful team manager. We have summarised those behavioural indicators into the following list:


  1. They seek to add value to what the team are trying to achieve, rather than simply ‘manage’ them.
  2. They balance the task-team-individual requirements as best they can.
  3. They seek to work on connecting their personal goals with the organisational requirements.
  4. They maintain the appropriate emotional distance between them and their team. Close, but not too close. Distant but not that distant.
  5. They remember where their credibility should come from (contribution and expertise – not from position or hierarchical status).
  6. They work to make their people smarter.
  7. They constantly focus on increasing their motivation.
  8. They try to make their day as productive, and their work environment as stimulating, as possible.
  9. They make time for people, offering praise and encouragement.
  10. They avoid the team becoming emotionally dependent on them and vice versa.
  11. They seek to remain objective in all decision making.
  12. They deal with the tough stuff quickly, decisively, fairly and consistently.
  13. They hold themselves to the highest personal standards.
  14. They work hard at championing the organisation’s vision and values. They see themselves as needing to demonstrate real role-model behaviour.
  15. They are always confidential and discreet with information about their team. They don’t gossip about personal matters.
  16. They focus on coaching and supporting rather than checking and policing.
  17. They look to show they trust their people.
  18. They offer praise and recognition where it’s warranted.
  19. They don’t seek to impose their personal views or work style on others. They allow people to be themselves.
  20. They connect with people at the human level, not hiding behind titles or position.


How Would Joe Biden’s Memo Play In Your Management Team?

Today is Joe Biden’s last full day as Vice President.  Whilst most of the internet will be mourning the loss of some great meme worthy photos, others will be reflecting on what his contribution to American life has been over the last 44 years.  For many employees and mangers the recent publication of his November 2014 memo to staff will be the action they’ll be thinking of.


Here’s the text of what Joe Biden Said in that memo:

To my wonderful staff,

I would like to take a moment and make something clear to everyone.  I do not expect nor do I want any of you to miss or sacrifice important family obligations for work.  Family obligations include but are not limited to family birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, any religious ceremonies such as first communions and bar mitzvahs, graduations, and times of need such as an illness or a loss in the family.  This is very important to me.  In fact, I will go so far as to say that if I find out that you are working with me while missing important family responsibilities, it will disappoint me greatly.  This has been an unwritten rule since my days in the Senate.

Thank you for all the hard work.

Have you seen a similar memo or email from your boss?  How would such a memo be received in your workplace?

It’s worth thinking about the memo in the context of the differing working environment between the US and UK.

Here in the UK employees have far more holiday time to book out for family responsibilities,  parents get maternity and paternity leave to care for babies and themselves, and the right to request flexible working to manage family commitments, none of which are common in the US.  Europeans are generally horrified when they learn that in the USA there is no legal right to paid holiday, only Sri Lanka (in countries with a population over 150,000) has the same rule, and even there retail and office workers have a 14 day minimum.

On the map below the darker the colour, the more paid leave employees are entitled to (except white, where no data exists). Click the map for more.


Here’s Joe Biden talking about why he sent the memo, and how his experience of single fatherhood shaped his view on how to manage his work life balance and help his employees manage theirs…

Consulting In The Age Of Complexity

The Context Of Complexity

Whatever the precise nature and benefits of your product or service, viewed from the customer’s perspective it could easily be perceived as “one more complexity in a World which is already complex enough”.

Some complexity factors facing customers are, for example:



From cars to computers, from banking services to pensions, from machine tools to laser printers and all the other products and service ranges freely available – customers are faced with an almost overwhelming spectrum of choice.

Market Structure Changes

With supermarkets operating as banks, banks operating as full financial services providers, computer companies operating as systems advisers and consultants, accountancy practices operating across a vast range of services from I.T. consultancy to insolvency, insurance companies operating as mortgage brokers – the changing infrastructure of markets is increasingly difficult for customers to keep track of in terms of “who does what?”

Technology Evolution

Best exemplified by rapid changes in computing power and the advancing technology behind applications software and the silicone chip, but paralled by services such as direct 24hour banking enabled by modem links, customers are increasingly faced with the decision of timing of purchase – “do I do this now or wait for the next inevitable change?”

Economic And Price Changes

Commercial trading organisations, from service providers to manufacturing companies and all in between, are struggling to cope with the implications of falling or rising currency values, the relatively strong or weak economic performance of served countries and/or the effects on international customers, alongside the trading and political implications of economic trade blocs (EU, ASEAN, NAFTA).

Advertising And Promotion

From traditional media to the growing use of the Internet, customers are bombarded with claims and counter-claims as to the benefits and merits of a vast range of products and services.


Every Company has its “traditional competitors”, but factors such as market de-regulation, technology changes, globalisation, international market entry policies and so on, have led to a rise in the non-traditional or substitute competition factors for many organisations.

Organisational Changes And Strategies

Customers in their own organisations are also surrounded by complexities and structural changes – “downsizing”, “right-sizing”, “outsourcing” etc – which have had a dramatic effect on factors which were once certainties and are now far less so.


The Implications

All products and services enter an already complex world and have to be sold effectively against this background. The fundamental challenge is not to add complexity but to help reduce it in the sales process and actions relating to your product or service.

Is This About Batman, Lego, Chevrolet or Something Else?

At the Detroit Motor Show this week Chevrolet revealed a full size Batmobile made entirely from Lego, whilst they projected the Bat Signal onto their RenCen headquarters on the Detroit River.


Once we’d scoured the job listings unsuccessfully for  Full Sized Lego Vehicle Master Builder opportunities, we took a look at the fun little commercial they made to go with it.  The ad features Lego Minifigs involved in a focus group discussing the Batmobile, as Batman lurks in the background.

We can’t help thinking they’re not only talking about Batman and Bruce.

For the full “technical spec and pricing click the Batpicture below.

How to Be a Billionaire, Without Leaving Home

This chart shows where the world’s US dollar billionaires live.  Each country is sized according to how many billionaire’s live there.  Those results are perhaps unsurprising, we’ve seen them before.  The interesting new insight this chart gives us is how the billionaires in each country got to be so rich.


If you are in the USA or China then go ahead and found your own company.  If you are British then work your way up the greasy pole and become an executive.  For the rest of Western Europe choose your parents carefully, if you want to be a billionaire, they better get earning fast.  For those of you in Russia and Kazakhstan a life in politics, or allocating mining licences might be for you…

If you don’t have a billion, and you’re willing to travel, the good people at How Much have this handy chart to let you know which type of government might be for you if you want a high income.  God Save the Monarch (with optional constitution).

20 of the Most Common Business Excuses

Ownership is mind-set determined – see how many of the following you recognise:


  1. Yes I agree with you , you’re right I do need to change – soon
  2. These numbers are not good enough, they will improve – soon
  3. I’m going to sign up for an MBA, its time for me to improve my business education – when I get the time
  4. I nearly told her/him what I really thought of them. I was that close to losing it.
  5. Next month/quarter/year I will deliver a better performance
  6. Factors beyond my control were to blame for missing the numbers (select from a long list – the wrong weather a favourite amongst some company chairmen)
  7. It’s a personality clash, there’s nothing I can do
  8. It’s good in theory but won’t work in practice (then it’s a bad theory)
  9. My boss is a nightmare
  10. I don’t have the resources, or its evergreen predecessor
  11. I don’t have the time
  12. We can’t fire them, it’s too difficult (not if done correctly)
  13. Better ongoing mediocre performance, than a vacancy (this breeds mediocrity)
  14. People need time to come to terms with changing their behaviour (no they don’t, people need time to change their attitudes not their behaviour)
  15. The other department/person/division is to blame.
  16. We are incompatible star signs (true – said a manager earning £75K plus a year)
  17. Where can you get good people these days?
  18. People these days are more disloyal
  19. I have an addictive personality
  20. I have a low metabolic rate

The issue with this list is not to test them for truth, they might be, that’s not the point. People with a high ownership mind-set seek to transcend issues not use them as excuses as to why something has not been achieved/done/actioned.


What’s good fun (or depressing if they work close to you) is, once you spot someone with a low ownership mind-set, how often these excuses crop up.


How to Motivate People? A Ten Point Plan

We spend a lot of time working with managers who often ask the question  ‘How can I improve my motivation skills?’  Nobody ever says ‘I am a poor motivator’. Managers will admit to many things – bad time management, poor delegation, perfectionism, impatience etc,  but never admit to a complete lack of motivational ability.  However, when you ask them to rate their managers’ motivational abilities they are rarely complementary, ‘average’ being the best they can offer as a rating.


Why this big gap between perception and reality? The first clue is with the blind spot itself.  Excellent motivators tend to be very self-aware, understanding what stimulates their own motivational drive and what doesn’t. It’s very hard to motivate others when you have little insight (or interest) in what motivates you.

Next is a common misunderstanding that once made creates a completely wrong set of assumptions and resulting approaches. Many managers believe its their job to create drive in people, rather than focusing on what creates the drive.  We call this a person’s Needs Wants Desires (NWD) Profile.  By really understanding a person’s unique NWD a manager learns where to apply attention and focus. The person will quickly provide the drive when their NWD is being correctly stimulated.

Seminal models from Hertzberg, Maslow and Vroom are helpful in contextualising the evidence but the ‘secret sauce’ of effective motivation is this understanding of the NWD.  Understand Their Needs Wants and Desires Not Their Drives.

We have distilled NWD examination  into 10 important themes.


  1. What is the person trying to do/achieve with/in their life?
  2.  What is their psychological contract with work?
  3. What are their personal circumstances, including current life stage?
  4. How much meaning do they want from their work?
  5. What is the person’s ambitions?
  6. What is the person’s learning goals and general  approach to learning?
  7. What are the person’s passions and how do they wish to fulfil them?
  8. What is the person’s background and how does that relate to their current position?
  9. What is the person’s attitude to risk and change?
  10. How open is the person to talking about these themes?

When a manager has a good understanding of these issues they come to know the individual and what really motivates them. They can then apply the most effective stimulus to their NWD. The person will then provide all the drive required.

30 Human Resources and Organisational Development Acronyms

We’ve all been in meetings when people use a whole buffet of acronyms that all seem to run into each other and make no sense.  The smart thing to do is ask if you don’t know what one of them means, but to give you a running start at your next learning and development or human resources led meeting, here’s a few to get you started…


AAR After Action Review
BEER Behaviour, Effect, Expectations, Results
BHAG Big Hairy Assed Goal
BPR Business Process Re-engineering
CBI Computer-Based Instruction
CBT Computer-Based Training or Competency Based Training
CPI Continuous Process Improvement
CSF Critical Success Factor
FTE Full Time Equivalency
HRBP Human Resources Business Partner
HRD Human Resources Development
HRM Human Resources Management
HUG Human Resources User Group
JICT Just-In-Case Training
JITT Just-In-Time Training
KPI Key Performance Indicator
L&D Learning and Development
MBTI Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
MOU Memorandum of Understanding
NLP Neuro-Linguistic Programming
PDP Personal Development Plan
PMS Performance Management System
SOX Sarbanes Oxley
T&D Training and Development
TQM Total Quality Management
VAK Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic
YTD Year To Date