The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast

30 The Value of People Management with Alison Reynolds

September 11, 2023 Dr Nia D Thomas Episode 30
The Knowing Self Knowing Others Podcast
30 The Value of People Management with Alison Reynolds
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Show Notes Transcript

In today's episode,  Nia Thomas is joined by special guest Alison Reynolds to dive into the fascinating world of data-driven decision-making, the importance of self-awareness in leadership, and the complexities of personality profiling tools like Myers Briggs. As they explore these topics, they'll discuss the role of organisation development (OD) in creating holistic approaches to talent management, the changing landscape of work-life balance, and the power of cognitive diversity in solving today's complex problems. Get ready for thought-provoking insights and captivating conversations that will leave you inspired to embrace your own self-awareness and unlock your full potential.

Alison has a diverse background in HR, with extensive experience in the field before transitioning into freelance work. Surprisingly, she was never a big fan of psychometrics, especially personality-based ones, particularly when it came to using them for recruitment purposes. Alison firmly believes that individuals have the ability to adapt their behavior, and that self-awareness is key to personal growth and effectiveness. As an HR director, she preferred using the well-established Myers Briggs tool for leadership development, as it was not licensed for recruitment and aligned with her belief system. Given her familiarity with Myers Briggs from her past role, it was a natural choice for Alison to pursue certification in it when she started freelancing.

Visit Alison's website here

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Nia Thomas [00:00:04]:

Hi listeners. Welcome to year two of the Knowing Self Knowing Others podcast, where we discuss self aware leadership with thinkers from around the globe. Remember that in year two we're going to be doing things a little differently. Our conversations are going to be more fluid and we're going to be exploring more topics to help us understand self aware leadership in practice. Our conversations are going to be a little bit longer with episodes running for around 45 minutes, short enough to listen over lunch, and long enough to keep you company on your commute. Our conversations are going to be weekly so that all of the inspiring discussions I'm having with thinkers from around the globe can be shared with you more frequently. Join me on my learning journey as we talk to today's guest listeners. I'm joined today by Alison Reynolds who is a chartered fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. She has a postgraduate degree in HR Management and Organizational Development, and she specializes in psychology of change. She's also Myers Briggs two certified, which is very much of interest to us. Alison, welcome. It's absolutely lovely to have you here.

Alison [00:01:17]:

Thank you for having me.

Nia Thomas [00:01:18]:

It's wonderful. Tell us a little bit about yourself and why Myers Briggs. What attracted you to that, specifically of all the assessments?

Alison [00:01:26]:

I was employed in HR for a long time before I went freelance. I'm not a huge lover or I haven't historically been and this is going to surprise you, but I haven't historically been a huge lover of psychometrics, okay. Particularly personality based ones. And I think where I fell out with them was over their use in recruitment. And the reason for that is that I do think that we can all flex our behavior. I think that if we know ourselves, which is a nice plug for you, not a deliberate plug by any stretch, but if we know ourselves, then we are more effective and we can become the best version of ourselves. So when I was HR director, when I did some leadership development and I brought consultants in, it was always Myers Briggs that I picked, partly because it's the most established, mostly because it's not licensed for recruitment, it is a personal development tool, and because I do have a bit of a beef with them being used as part of the selection process. That was my main reason. And then because I'd used it most as an internal HR director, it was the one I was most familiar with. So it made absolute sense when I went freelance for that to be the one that I qualified in because I knew it already.

Nia Thomas [00:02:46]:

I'm hearing a lot of people saying that they don't support Myers Briggs or they don't like Myers Briggs or they don't view it as a valid tool. I'm not clear why. So I'm not a HR specialist. It's not my background, but it's something that people are saying and I really am interested to know why? Because I have to say I've done a Myers Briggs and I thought that the feedback that it gave me was quite interesting and enlightening. And for anyone that's interested, I'm an.

Alison [00:03:13]:

INTJ, I am an ENFP. Slight similarity, but we could potentially clash if we both were not self aware. I think one of the main reasons for its current criticism is an HBO documentary that was released in the last couple of years called The Darker Side of Personality Profiling or something similar. And that in itself has generated some negative press. It's also one of the oldest personality profiling tools on the market and available. So there is a view that it's old fashioned. And I've got a blog on this, which is called is Myers Briggs old Fashioned? For me, I think like anything, it's about balance and actually that's what Carl Jung's work is all about. Everything is about balance and Myers Briggs is like a number of other assessment tools is based on, you know, nobody is extremely anything, nobody is an extreme introvert or an extreme extrovert. We all have I am quite extroverted, hence my e. But you can see well, you can see the listeners won't be able to see, but I'm throwing my arms in the air and doing all of this kind of thing which is very extrovert behavior. That doesn't mean to say there's not times when I need to sit in a dark room and I need to just be in my own space to recharge. And that's where the balance part comes in. So I think Myers Briggs one of the downsides of it is that it is quite complicated, which makes it less accessible. I like that about it. And there are tools on the market that are similar to Myers Briggs also based on Jungian psychology that are simpler, which makes them more accessible, but then it also makes them arguably less accurate because they can't account for the nuances.

Nia Thomas [00:05:07]:

I quite like that. Take that. Actually we are no extreme of anything particular and we change all the time. We're changing in response to situations. And it was something I was writing about on the weekend that actually these assessment tools, we should take the information that they give us, but actually we should balance it up with two or three other assessments or feedback from a colleague or some feedback from the manager. And let's take all the information and put it all together and keep it all in perspective.

Alison [00:05:36]:

I think it's like anything though, isn't it? I mean, you can read a business book and some of it will be hugely enlightening and other bits of it won't be relevant to you or your particular circumstance. I always say it's like having a child. When you have a child, everybody has an opinion on how you should bring that child up. But that child has its own personality. You have your own personality. Other parents, grandparents, all have their own personality and you'll never recreate that exact mix of personalities and circumstances. So what worked somewhere else is not going to work for you and it's taking the information, using the information that you have to become the best version of yourself. Myers Briggs is primarily a self development tool, a personal development tool. And the very essence of personal development is that we continue to change and grow. So for it to be static would be shooting itself in the foot, so.

Nia Thomas [00:06:33]:

To speak, in terms of organizational development, or OD, as we will probably call it throughout the conversation. How does that help people to develop self awareness? And then what's that connection between self awareness and leadership?

Alison [00:06:48]:

So I think people outside people professions don't know what we mean by organization development because it's two words that people know the individual meaning of and they probably have an idea what it means together. So for me, OD is about taking a holistic approach, not just looking at one element of it. And the difference between HR and OD is that HR will primarily look at the people function and people systems. I'm naturally. Which I found out when I did. Myers briggs. The end part is I'm more inclined to look at the bigger picture. I'm not naturally a detailed person and I'm interested in outcomes. So OD was a natural gravitation for me. Before I kind of even knew it, I was doing it. And so looking at the whole organization as a system that's interlinked to me makes perfect sense. It's like your body, I've got a pain in my arm, but it's because I've got a pulled muscle in my neck. So to just look at the one thing means you're missing something else. And I think where the relationship between OD and leadership is that as a strategic leader, you need to look at the whole thing. You need your finance director to be all over the numbers and you need your people director to be all over the people. But again, using that word balance, the right answer is probably something in the middle. And as a senior leader, it's important that you get everybody's opinions, you get all of the expertise, and then as a team, you make the best decision for the whole business. And that's, I think, the connection between OD and leadership.

Nia Thomas [00:08:28]:

So where does self awareness fit in the middle of that?

Alison [00:08:31]:

Well, self awareness is to me, and again, I'm not just saying this because I'm on your podcast, Mia. To me, self awareness is the most important thing that anybody can have, not just leaders, but particularly when it comes to leadership. I talk about authentic leadership all the time and it's about being yourself. You can't be authentic unless you know yourself and you can't be credible unless you're authentic. In some of your earlier podcasts you had that question, what is self awareness? And for me, it's a lack of ego. And once you're comfortable with who you are, you're happy to say, I'm really not great at this, and I'm quite good at this. Once you've got that confidence, which comes from self awareness, you can be a far more effective team member, and you're far more likely to listen to other people's expertise. So nobody's perfect and nobody knows everything. Every single day, we all learn something new. Until you accept that and drop your ego, you're not going to be effective. We live in a complicated world. Problems are complicated. We've all got smartphones. I've had to put mine on Do Not Disturb so I'm not distracted. I've had to turn my emails off my laptop because if one pings through, I might start looking at it, and it might be the most urgent thing in the world in that millisecond, but if I hadn't seen it come through, I would never have known about it. And that has an effect on our brains, that has an effect on how we think, how we work. And what it means is that everything's complicated. And because things are complicated, it's really important to have cognitive diversity. And you can't have cognitive diversity unless you know how people are wired and how their brains work.

Nia Thomas [00:10:20]:

Definitely, yes. Cognitive diversity feeds into problem solving, inclusive decision making, which impacts on leadership and allows you to be a more effective leader. Are there any examples that you've had? Because you mentioned that you were also an HR director, as well as now providing a consultancy service to others where you have seen an increased level of self awareness and self aware leadership has resulted in positive outcomes for an organization.

Alison [00:10:50]:

Yeah, so the example that I'm going to use is the example that I've used before. That's partly because I have permission from this client to name them. So it's a group of accountants called Tennick accountancy that I work with in the Northeast, and I did actually call Graham Tennick, David Brent, in front of his okay, okay. And the reason for that is because he's got motivational quotes all around the office. He's such a big personality. I knew that he didn't mind that. Obviously. I've also expressly asked him permission to use him as an example and say that story on this podcast. So that's fine. I knew that that would be okay. But I'd also seen the profiles. So we did a Myers Briggs exercise. I'd seen the profiles of his team. And one of the reasons why he's running his own business and why he's the business leader is because he has quite a specific personality. He's very enthusiastic, he's very interested in new technology, that kind of thing. And the rest of his team had very different personalities, but they were all very similar. The typical traits you would expect with accountants, so detail orientatives, that kind of thing. And they were finding his approach in some ways, while they respected him, and while they got it because they're all intelligent people, they were finding his approach quite challenging. So to call him David Brent was a way of giving them permission to air those frustrations in a humorous way and also for them to see that he was okay with that. Because he is self aware, he knows that he probably irritates them and he did irritate them, but it was because of the differing style. So for example, he would schedule a meeting for half an hour and it would go on for 2 hours. And so that additional hour and a half in a regulated environment where you have things to do and deadlines for clients was quite stressful. And actually you want an idea, there's some meetings, you just need to get through the agenda. The points of conflict were so easily resolvable because he was self aware. They actually went from 15 people to ten people in their team through natural attrition and added 40,000 pounds to their bottom line because they were working better together. And he gave me those figures being the accountant. So it had a real tangible effect on their team, fewer people getting more from them. And like I say, it was natural attrition for different reasons. But it meant that he didn't replace those people and he increased the profitability just by working.

Nia Thomas [00:13:37]:

That is certainly quite an example. And to have somebody who is so very different to their team and has the self awareness to be able to respond positively to feedback and see it as an opportunity for growth is something quite rare really. Especially when there is that much difference between the individuals. I guess the challenge comes when you have somebody who has that level of friction and they don't have any awareness of it and they can't see what part they play in that relationship. And I would imagine that organizations that are in that situation will be losing people out the door faster than you can blink.

Alison [00:14:16]:

Yeah, absolutely. And that's why I said the thing about ego, because having no ego is really important and quite often the lack of self awareness goes in hand in hand with an arrogance. To be both slightly arrogant and not self aware is quite a toxic combination in my experience. And even if you've got that arrogance and you don't want to be told and of you that however successful you've been and whatever your track record is, to think that your way is always going to be right is never going to bring people along with you.

Nia Thomas [00:14:53]:

So how does Myers Briggs as a tool then contribute to self awareness in leaders? How does it help to really uncover that blind spot so that you have a better opportunity to reduce the size of your blind spot?

Alison [00:15:09]:

Slightly differing from a lot of the other tools on the market is it's entirely self assessed. So arguably they're all self assessed because you fill in the survey yourself. But then Myers Briggs is followed up with coaching that ensures that the survey has the questions are worded correctly. They've used the right examples because going back to that balancing and the lack of extremes, if the specific trait that is being explored in the questionnaire is one where you are not typical for that personality, then it might not give the right answer. So Myers Briggs in particular, I think promotes the self awareness by providing a framework that is although it is quite complicated, it's significantly simpler than the human brain. So it provides a framework for explaining how and why you think and act the way that you do. And once you've got that, you can then see the other side of it. So because if you start with yourself and you suddenly have that AHA moment of all right, okay, that thing that I do that really irritates me myself. Because usually the things that you don't like about yourself, you don't like in other people either. Having that moment of clarity then allows you to see the other side of it.

Nia Thomas [00:16:36]:

It's interesting that you're saying that. I did Myers Briggs with a team of mine many years ago and I put their personality types on a chart. Just that I could see was there an obvious pattern between the friction between individuals and as time went on there were more people added to that. And I had about 15 people on this chart and it was fascinating to see that people who did have friction between them, it was very evident to see what parts of their personality traits were causing that. And I kept that for a very long time. And it was always interesting to go back to help me as a manager to ensure that they could work together as effectively as they could by me focusing on their strengths and giving them the opportunity to work to their strengths.

Alison [00:17:26]:

And also what's quite nice about it as well, using an external assessment tool is it depersonalizes that feedback. So instead of it being about when you do that, it makes me feel like this, which is quite tough to take because nobody wants to make anybody feel bad. I really believe that. And if instead you can frame it with well, this is the way you work and this is the way this person works and that is a potential source of conflict, it actually allows you to think oh, okay, so this is expected. Well, we're going to almost and as human nature is to prove people wrong. So once you know that you're supposed to be arguing with someone, you almost probably don't want to argue with them. And it increases the level of respect that you have for each other and generosity towards the behaviors that you find difficult to be around.

Nia Thomas [00:18:18]:

As you're saying that, I'm thinking you're absolutely right. Knowing that I am an INTJ and worked with the peas of the world and people who are peas. I know that I'm going to find friction with those people, but I know that. And now I know that I can ask for their support to help me with things that are short notice because I like to get work finished three days before the deadline, whereas they can manage to do it right up until the wire. And I need that kind of support. So actually, yeah, being able to know yourself helps you to know others. Are there any common patterns or personality traits that you've observed among the self aware leaders? Whether you're talking about Myers Briggs or whether you're talking about characteristics or traits, what are you finding in terms of leaders? And maybe it's also changed over time.

Alison [00:19:07]:

So the specific question in terms of commonalities with self aware leaders is that there aren't any. In my experience, I think, to caveat that there are common traits that leaders share, but I believe that is a result of society's conditioning. I think that our education system and our reward system rewards, for example, extroverted behavior and certain characteristics. We all know of examples of people who really didn't do very well at school, but then went on to do brilliant things. And that's because the education system, the way it's constructed, doesn't suit everybody. And I think that we are guilty, as we're guilty culturally of looking up to certain behaviors. And this is the part that has changed over time because we are now looking for more empathetic leaders. We are now seeing the value of female leaders. They're all hugely positive trends, but they're hard habits to break and we still reward extroverted behavior. We still have an unbalanced system because the entry points are not equal. I think in terms of self awareness, I don't see any trends when I think of the people that I've worked with and worked well with and really respected over the years. In terms of leaders, they're all very different. Being self aware is not exclusive to certain characteristics. I think that some personality types will naturally be skeptical of an instrument like Myers Briggs by nature. But being skeptical about something like Myers Briggs doesn't prevent you from being self aware. You just need to use another tool to find your self awareness. It's losing the ego and being open to listen to other people that makes you self aware. You don't have to have done a Myers Briggs or an Insights or anything like that to be self aware. They are a tool and in my view they're a particularly useful tool for the reasons we've discussed. But I think that anybody can be a great leader as long as they do it their way. And that's why self awareness is important. If you're trying to emulate somebody, then you will fail. But if you're comfortable with yourself and you choose to be the type of leader that you are capable of being, then I think anybody can be a good leader.

Nia Thomas [00:21:43]:

Very interesting. What an organization values and what an organization views as success is the type of leader they will get. So if it is about the KPIs and it's about the money rolling in and that's the thing that's most important, that is what will be valued. And they are the leaders that will be promoted and supported in the organization. Whereas if you have organizations that are more people focused, are interested in caring about their people, those are the leaders that they will promote.

Alison [00:22:10]:

Yes, and that's why I say that as a society, what we reward culturally determines the common traits in leaders. That doesn't necessarily mean that those people are the most capable leaders and that those traits make them the best leaders. Like we've said, anybody can be self aware, but self awareness is really important to be a good leader.

Nia Thomas [00:22:34]:

What can HROD professionals do to really promote and support the self awareness among leaders in their organizations? How do we really cultivate that within organizations?

Alison [00:22:49]:

It's a difficult one because for it to be truly effective, it needs to be ingrained in the culture. And for it to be ingrained in the culture, then it can't sit with HR and Rod, it's got to sit with everybody and importantly, it's got to sit at the board. So I think HR should be at top table. I absolutely think that HR should be because people, I believe, are your most competitive asset. Clearly I would say that, and clearly I have a bias. But I think because as the people experts, what we need to do is we need to facilitate that culture, we need to facilitate our leaders. And going back to that drop your ego thing, that means HR too, because in order for it to be embedded in the organization, it can't be seen as an HR thing. It's got to be part of the culture. And the culture is not exclusively HR. So yes, it's people focused. Yes, it might be your idea, yes, you might be the driving force, yes, you might be facilitating it, but ultimately, good people leaders will make sure that it will continue without them and be part of the culture. So lose their own egos?

Nia Thomas [00:24:04]:

Yeah, absolutely. I think that leadership making the decisions about what they reward and support therefore creates the behaviors that happen in the organization and behaviors create the culture. So I'm an absolute advocate of that. The leaders have to lead and they have to demonstrate what they support and they have to demonstrate the behaviors.

Alison [00:24:24]:

And nobody has the time to be an expert in everything. So you can still have your people expert and that person will have done all the reading and the research and everything else. But they can't be the face of organizational culture because there's not a single face.

Nia Thomas [00:24:43]:

We all have to own it. Definitely. Are there specific challenges or barriers that organisations are going to be facing when they're trying to develop self aware leadership and maybe using psychometric tools like MBTI to do that. And what are they going to do to try and overcome that?

Alison [00:25:04]:

Well, one of the barriers is that not everyone buys into them. Not everyone. The amount of times I've been asked the question, do you believe in Myers Briggs? It's usually lawyers or engineers that ask me that question, evidence driven professions. And I've worked with a lot of engineers and a fair few lawyers, so I'm quite used to answering that question. My normal answer is, it's not a horoscope. Or I'll answer a question with another question of do you believe in psychology? But there is a skepticism. If there is a skepticism, and if people aren't bought into it again, don't do it, do something else. It's a tool, it promotes self awareness. But if there is a particular barrier that somebody has against it, then do something else. You can promote self awareness in different ways, you can promote trust, but ultimately it is about psychological safety and making sure that people are safe to be themselves. Myers Briggs will facilitate that, but it won't create it. And Myers Briggs, as a one off exercise won't create that either. So it's important to understand what you're going to do after it, why you want to do Myers Briggs. Is it the right tool for you? And for that, I think getting the diagnosis right at the start of any project, really being honest about where the business is in terms of its culture, or where the team is, whoever you're working with or whoever you're talking about, truly knowing, are they open? Do they talk to each other? Do they trust each other? What is their ability? Know how experienced are they? There's so many nuances. And if you carry out an effective diagnosis, then that should give you a better answer to will Myers Briggs help or not? Or do we need to do something else first?

Nia Thomas [00:26:54]:

I was thinking about what you were saying about your accountancy CEO who really opened the floor to his colleagues to have that psychological safety, to be able to feed back, feed forward, and take the conversation to an otherwise awkward place or a difficult conversation and be themselves.

Alison [00:27:17]:

I'm really not a lover of dress codes, for example, because restricting people clothes are a way that people express their personality. So if you prevent that, or if you stifle how people express their personality, does it matter? Some people, without doubt, if they dress smart, they feel like they work harder and that's great for those individuals. Other people can log on to a zoom, call in their dressing gown, not turn the camera on and still do a brilliant job. And does it really matter? It's kind of to me, that sort of stuff is noise. It's noise and it's a distraction from the core purpose. So if you can just allow people to be themselves without getting hung up on certain things, then you're actively going to promote that great psychological safety and that self awareness. If it's safe to be who you are, then you don't have to hide it and nor do you have to hide anything else like mistakes or that kind of thing.

Nia Thomas [00:28:15]:

Do you think that COVID has changed how we view people, how we accept people? In that case, I'm just thinking when you said that doing zoom in your dressing gown well yeah, we did two years ago and that was just how we had to live back then. Do you think we have changed and are we sustaining that change?

Alison [00:28:36]:

I think that COVID has accelerated a change that was already happening. I do think there's been some backward movement. There are people who still need to be in the office. There are still jobs that need to be office based manufacturing, for example. You can't work in a factory from home. So yes. So my view is that COVID has brought that debate alive, has increased the dynamic of people feeling okay to ask for things that they would not have asked for five years ago. But I do think there's been some regression in that and I understand that. But we are moving in that direction now and we're moving in it faster than we would have done had it not been for COVID.

Nia Thomas [00:29:21]:

We often talk about self awareness when we're thinking about organizations that aren't psychologically safe or when there is bullying and harassment in an organization. We don't often talk about it in terms of talent management, but how can HR professionals really leverage the insights that they're getting from MTI and self awareness to really enhance that talent management and leadership development opportunity and programs in organizations?

Alison [00:29:50]:

I think what it gives you is data. So instead of subjectively assuming a person's strength and therefore mapping out a career that you think will a career path and working with them. So you've got data and it's validated externally. So that needs to be built in. But it's really important. And going back to my premise that I don't value the use of personality profiling in recruitment, I think it's really important to understand that just because you prefer to operate a certain way, it doesn't mean you can't be really effective operating outside your preference and actually being self aware is exactly that. It's being effective even when you're doing things in a way that you don't quite like. In your case that might be working last minute because that suits the team or the project or whatever. And in my case it might be doing a detailed plan and just because I have a Pea preference, a really strong Pea preference, hence why I'm never on time unless it's important. But then I know that about myself. So I put in so many checks and balances that if I'm interviewing someone or something like that, I will be. There in plenty of time. But I'm pretty sure my clients tell me half an hour later than they want me anyway. But I can do it, and I know I can do it, and I can plan. Of course I can plan. And you can be thrown a curveball and flex your view. You can deviate from a plan without getting really stressed. That's being a good version of yourself and picking up on an earlier question. You don't want to become a caricature of yourself. You don't want to be saying, right, this is me, and take it or leave it. And that's just my personality, so you have to put up with it. Nobody wants that. We all want to be better than we are. We're all striving to improve. Most of us are striving to improve and learn, and I think it's building that. So from a talent perspective, it's really understanding using the data, but also using it in conjunction with really high quality conversations with people. Yes, start with knowing yourself, but you also have to know other people and know your people as well. When I worked in a factory as HR director, some days I would do nothing other than walking around the factory talking to people. Now that wasn't a wasted day, that was absolutely the opposite. And actually the days that I did really force myself to do that, I got far more out of it. And then my thinking was so much clearer and my productivity in subsequent days was so much better because I didn't have to do as much thinking because I had the data. That's part of the process. Seeing knowing your people as something you don't have time for is absolutely dangerous, in my opinion.

Nia Thomas [00:32:54]:

When I spoke to Jon Rennie who's the host of the Deep Leadership podcast, he also has his own production company and he does Fridays on the floor. And so he and his seedling leadership team always go out to see their people on a Friday and he says how important that is. If we think about HR and OD more generally, what are the things that we as professionals who are not people managers in terms of being HR specific people managers, what are the things that are coming down the line? What do we need to be aware of? What are those emerging trends, as you say, particularly after COVID, because things are accelerating.

Alison [00:33:33]:

I think that people have reassessed their values. So as long as people's basic needs are met in terms of food, clothing, accommodation, that kind of thing, so as long as you are paying people enough that they can meet those basic needs, money won't motivate. You need to look at intrinsic motivation, and money has never motivated people. It's a sugar rush. It's a short term thing. When people moan to me about their salary, it's because they're disgruntled with a load of other stuff, and then they're saying, and I'm putting up with all of this for this pittance of a salary. So actually the pittance of a salary is secondary to everything that they're putting up with. If they loved their job and as long as their bills there is a big caveat, as long as people can afford to have a standard of living, then the money part of it won't motivate them. And COVID and the trends and all of that kind of stuff, people are now very aware of that. People want work life balance, they want sabbaticals, they want to go on holiday, they want to see the world, they want to see their own country, they want to spend time with their families. People realized that losing 3 hours a day to a commute meant that they didn't put their children to bed. And actually they really enjoyed doing that. And that's not exclusively fathers either. When my kids were little, quite often my dad would go around and put them to bed because I was working long hours or whatever and I was on my own at the time. Those are moments you'll never get back, but you don't realize you miss them if you never had them. So people had opportunities in COVID to spend time doing things that they had never previously prioritized and suddenly they realized actually this is golden, this is what I want to be doing. So it's given people the confidence to discuss that, to say actually you know what, in two years time as a family we're going to start saving and we're going to go on a three month holiday. Can I have a sabbatical? And plan that in two or three years time or whatever. It's having those conversations and it's being open to those conversations and not seeing it as a barrier. And also our population dynamic is changing. People are living longer and they're working longer. You and I will probably never be able to retire but we need to enjoy what we're doing.

Nia Thomas [00:35:59]:

Absolutely.

Alison [00:36:00]:

So that's the key. And also we need to live and work at the same time. So that's the trend. As a people manager you don't now have a profile that's as clear for people doing people who are a certain age or doing a certain job. You can't say that people in their 20s will have young families because actually some people in their late 40s have young families depending on circumstance. The path to being 40 now is very different than it was 40 years ago. I think it's really important to understand that. And those dynamics and the changing profile of our population is really important, as is the importance of psychology. Because we have got so many distractions, our lives are so complicated and busy and every single thing in our life is held in a tiny little device in our pocket. And while that is wonderful, it's also terrifying. So when people are at work, they're also at home, they're also looking at stuff from school. They might be logging into the doggy daycare and seeing if they're seeing what their Pooch is up to. There's all sorts of distractions in people's lives. And as people managers, we need to understand that and we need to allow for it, because that's the way of the world. And we need to also put checks and balances in place to make sure that it doesn't become unhealthy things like sent scheduling, emails, outside work time, because that's your working pattern. That's not good practice. And it's really important to be respectful of other people's boundaries. And I think boundaries are hugely important. And as people managers, you can rely on the professionals to give you this data, but you need to be open to it and you need to understand that not everybody thinks the same as you and not everybody is going through the same things that you are.

Nia Thomas [00:38:03]:

That's really insightful listeners. I think that, like me, I think you're probably hearing what Alison's saying there and thinking you're already seeing some of that within your teams and your people, and you're having to think differently about the standards that you expect of your people than you would have done five and ten years ago. Alison, before you go, I'm going to ask you, how do you maintain, develop your self awareness? And you're not allowed to say.

Alison [00:38:29]:

Myers Briggs I'm a big fan of asking for feedback. The way that I work with my family and my clients, and I am what I am. I'm one of those people that I don't have a work me and I don't have a home me, like it or lump it, so to speak, that this is kind of me, but then I can't just say, this is me, like it will lump it. I have to then be prepared to listen and change. I love being around people. When we first spoke, I was in the pub, and that's because I was in the pub with my dad and that's because it was an opportunist thing. But I love listening to people. I love listening to different people. And a big part of my self awareness is finding out more about other people. We watch football, my husband and I, and my favorite part is the post match interviews. He absolutely gets incredibly frustrated when I don't know if something's offside or not, because the hours I've spent watching football. But I don't care if it's offside. What I care is what the psychological impact is on that player and what the media are saying and what they're going to say to the media. That's the part that I find fascinating and that's the part that I remember. And you'll say, well, what was your favorite goal last season? I'm like, I don't know, the one that went in the back of the net. And it's not that I don't like or watch football, I love football, but it's that my interest is about people so that's how I keep myself self aware, is by finding out about other people.

Nia Thomas [00:39:59]:

Brilliant, Alison. We couldn't have finished on a better note. Knowing self, knowing others, knowing self. Thank you so much for joining me. It's absolutely brilliant to have had you on the show. Thank you. And we look forward to hearing more about MYS Briggs. And we will hear from you via your blog. So, listeners, we will make sure that there's a link to Alison's website in the show notes. But for today, thank you so much, Alison, for joining me.

Alison [00:40:24]:

Thank you for having me. It's been brilliant.

Nia Thomas [00:40:30]:

Thank you for listening to today's episode. Remember to rate and review the podcast on your favorite podcast player. Remember to sign up to my newsletter on knowingselfknowingothers co UK and remember to join me on my learning journey in next week's episode so that we can develop more self aware leaders around the globe and generate kinder, more respectful and creative working relationships through reflection, recognition and regulation. Looking forward to having you on my learning journey. The knowing self knowing others podcast is available on Goodpods Spotify, Google Podcasts, Goodpods Podchaser, Amazon Music Podcast Index Podcast Addict Operator it's.

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