Sunday, 9 April 2017

Tedx- Once and Forever

There can't be many times when you go to bed knowing that whatever happens the following day you'll remember it for the rest of your life. But then I guess not every day do you do a Tedx Talk.

I went to said bed feeling good about what was to happen and slept well except for the fact I was in a small guesthouse bed sharing it with my two favourite females the smaller of which was taking up much of the space.

I awoke and the first thing I did was to note how nervous I felt and surprised myself. I didn't feel nervous at all. Maybe the attack would come later I thought.

But it never did. At the side of the stage I spied the famous big red circle and talked to it a little in my head. The audio man hooked my microphone up, I listened to the compère doing the intros and get me slightly wrong. I walked up the steps onto the stage and stood firmly in the red circle.

What happened then was captured for all to see just about forever I guess and therein is the pressure of a Ted Talk. You can access it here

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Legal-Island Equality and Diversity Awards for Northern Ireland

It's all happening this week at Legal-Island. Friday night is big. Very big with the inaugural Legal-Island Equality and Diversity Awards.
So far everything is going according to plan. All tables and all seats are accounted for and it is a capacity sell out crowd. The entertainment is booked and consists of Irish Dancers, African Drummers, Slovakian Fiddle Players and Caribbean Soul Singers.
Our keynote speaker is Kate Marshall. I have a feeling about her that tells me she will be great and really connect on the night. Yours truly is delivering a five minute speech after the Lord Mayor of Belfast has also said a few words.

Bring it on Legal-Island! Like only Legal-Island can!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Strictly speaking we could be in big trouble here!

So we have about a week to go before the dance competition and it's beginning to get a bit worrying. There's still too much slow in our quick, quick slow and I seem to be getting confused between my jive and my cha cha steps.
Our biggest challenge, however, is us. You see there are two leaders in the partnership which is one too many. I keep reminding Anna that the male is supposed to lead but she wants to manage the partnership becomes she thinks she's the better of the two dancers. And she is right.

We need a lift too! Anna is slim and some have even called her petit. Trouble is she feels neither of these things when I try to get her in the air! Maybe we both need more dance lessons and me a few protein shakes.
Any kind donation would ease the worry and the pain. These can be made online. Please be sure to mention Anna and Barry in the optional message facility when making the donation. Thank you!

Donate here

Monday, 13 March 2017

Unconscious Bias and that BBC Interview

They were all laughing about it at first. But now the whole thing seems to have turned a bit nasty.

Over the weekend a video clip showing an interview with an expert on Korea went viral.Not because of anything he said but due to the fact that at some point in the interview two of his children came rushing in and were promptly retrieved by a lady who clearly treated the matter with the utmost seriousness and urgency. Both she and the two children disappeared back through the same door pretty quickly. Maybe she had been watching the interview in another room only to see and to her horror, the two children in her care appearing on the screen behind Daddy? Yep that too would have sent me in something of a frenzy.

Fiona Bruce admitted on the news on Saturday that she had been laughing about the video clip all day.

But then social media starting analysing some commentary on the clips and people seemed to get angry very quickly. What had angered some was that many had talked about the lady in question as being the nanny and seemed to be making that assumption because she appeared to be of Asian origin. As it turned out she wasn't the nanny but the expert's wife and presumably mother of the two children as well.
So why is it that so many commentators made this mistake and just how surprising and offensive is it? 

The answer is would seem is to be found in what is commonly referred as our "unconscious bias". Every day we take thousands of decisions and to do so efficiently (though not always effectively and accurately) we allow ourselves shortcuts. These shortcuts are executed by drawing on references in our brain that, already in storage, save us considerable time. In one way it's good and clever process. Without it, our decision taking would be seriously slowed down and we could end the day going to bed still undecided about whether to have chicken or ham for dinner or to bath the children that night.

But shortcuts have their disadvantages too. They often require us to work off quick assumptions and stereotypes that can lead us to draw wrong conclusions (as in this case), cause offence and on occasion too, behave in a way many would consider racist.
Ask any group in public to admit to being racist and they would all attest to being anything but (or at least you would hope so). But the fact of the matter is that none of us work off perfect and pure thinking and we all operate off biases to a point. The important thing is for us to realise this and to actively go after our biases with a view to containing and even eliminating them.

One of the best ways of achieving this is by doing training on "unconscious bias" in the workplace. Just a few scenarios for the trainee is usually enough to convince them that unconscious bias lurks in us all but can be relatively easily addressed. My own company offers training on unconscious bias which is offered as an e-learning package.

And here's a scenario for you. Let's imagine the expert on Korea was not actually the white male in the picture but the lady who looked like she was from that same country or perhaps a neighbouring. What shortcuts would we play in then? And where would that leave the white male? Retrieving the children I suppose - cue an awful lot more stereotyping.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Tedx Is On!

So I have about 5 weeks now before I'm due to deliver my first ever Tedx Talk. It's entitled "Why it's time to ditch the open door policy in the workplace". Granted this is not a title that will change the world but it could improve a lot of workplaces if I can it right and manage to reach a large audience.

Prep so far I have to admit has been light. Very light. I have drafted, however, a road map through my presentation and it looks a bit like this :

Big Opening
Story 1 (Show yourself, set off pictures, vary speed & intonation, five senses)
Story 2 (Use pause, power of 3s, direct speech over narrative, contrast)
Head for Finish

REMEMBER : Show don't tell, Keep it simple, Be on the Audience!

So far I've read a number of books relevant to this challenge which have been really helpful. They include :

How to Deliver a Great TED Talk: Presentation Secrets of the World's Best Speakers
TED Talks Storytelling: 23 Storytelling Techniques from the Best TED Talks
Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds
How to Speak So People Really Listen: The Straight-Talking Guide to Communicating with Influence and Impact

The last one although not written specifically with a Ted Talk in mind I found to be the most useful.

What I've noticed in watching a good number of Ted Talks live now is that those that bomb or at least just don't connect with the audience are those that fail to come across as authentic. Overrehearsed  Talks or at least those that appear overrehearsed seem least authentic of all.But here's the rub. I talked to one speaker safely through the otherside of a Ted Talk who clearly had rehearsed her presentation to death. She admitted that she had even recorded her voice and would play it back to herself in the car whilst driving to and from work to check its pace and intonation. And yet she pulled it off big time. She came across well and everyone I talked to afterwards really took to her.

So my task is to rehearse my presentation well (as soon as I know what it is I want to say that is!) without it appearing overrehearsed.

Ken Robinson's Talk is the No.1 favourite with bar far the most views because he adopted a very natural, chatty style that really connected. What I've realised is that delivering a reasonable Ted Talk is hard enough but a brilliant one requires huge effort, time and I dare say a bit of luck too.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

How to Send Out an Email which Makes an Impact

I sent out an email to LinkedIn contacts I had kind of lost touch with last week. It's caused quite a stir.

It goes like this :

"Exactly two years ago today I became a father for the first time in my life. Yes good things happen to those who wait…!

The days and the sleepless nights have shot by so quickly its gone by in a bit of a blur. I even feel like to others it may have resembled some kind of Norman Wisdom movie playing on fast forward.

So let me hit the pause button and tell you about five other things that have happened to me in the past 2 years :
  1. I completed an Ironman last year in Vichy, France to mark my 50 years on planet earth.
  2. I’m still at the helm of Legal-Island (no coups!) after almost twenty years.
  3. My friends tell me I have the ability to see the strength in people and I have a passion for developing them.  (Not just my employees but individuals I come across day to day) My plan is to keep on doing this.
  4. I am still looking for new ways of learning  (hence my new eLearning endeavour and my current Russian lessons via skype)
  5. I firmly believe training carried out correctly can open people’s minds and change habits making the Island of Ireland a better place in which to live.

Most of the above I couldn’t have done on my own but had to rely on a lot of people like you to help me. Many of these people I had known for a long time but others I bumped into recently and met only fortuitously.

At one time we connected for a reason.  So why not send me your top five things or simply get back in touch? Who knows where it could lead…

Barry Phillips, Chairman

Why not leave your five below?

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The Morrison case – Vicarious Liability 3 things every employer should know and do

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that Morrisons were vicariously liable for the behaviour of one of its employees which included an unprovoked racist assault on a customer.

The ruling will be difficult to comprehend by many particularly as the assailant was not acting on any instructions from his employer and indeed appeared to be on, what might be referred to as “a complete frolic of his own”.

The notion of vicarious liability is not easily grasped by employers. Nor does it always appear to produce fair outcomes. With some justification employers (particularly those unrepresented) can be heard to plea in Employment Tribunals that certain acts of their employees were below their field of vision and not the type of behaviour that you would ordinarily expect. Employers might be heard to protest:

“how can I be expected to watch over the actions of all my staff every working hour of every working day to make sure they don’t fall foul of equality legislation or indeed the criminal law?. I’ve work to do and a business to run”

But the concept of vicarious liability is not a new one. As the Supreme Court noted in yesterday’s judgment it began to develop at the beginning of last century.

No doubt many people will be analysing yesterday’s judgement to see what more employers need to do now to protect themselves against this sort of liability. But the truth is that the answer is already clear. It’s just a pity and also quite surprising that employers don’t follow the advice that many employment lawyers would offer them.

The employer needs to do 3 things :

1. Have an up-to-date equality and diversity policy
2. Have an up-to-date equality and diversity policy that is actively implemented throughout the organisation
3. Do regular (preferably annual) equality and diversity training for all staff.

These actions will not prevent every example of the type of behaviour under scrutiny by the Supreme Court yesterday but they provide the best chance for an employer to root out and deal with employees who are likely to be behave like this. They also provide the best opportunity for an employer to prove it had done all it reasonably could be expected to do to make sure an incident similar to the one in this case never took place.

Vicarious liability is not an absolute concept but it does require all employers to be proactive.

Mr A M Mohamud (in substitution for Mr A Mohamud (deceased)) v WM Morrison Supermarkets plc [2016] UKSC 11

Barry Phillips is a former practising barrister and now chairman of Legal-Island a leading compliance company Legal-Island