A Song About Work

Many, many, many months ago I was invited to give the closing talk and a song at Workplace Trends 2012. I agreed, even though I’ve not performed a song in conference for a while – it all seemed so far away, saying yes was easy…

The event approached and I prepared my talk like crazy. I love to practice, practice, practice these things, and simultaneously I love to leave spaces in the flow. Spaces where spontaneity can and will occur, spaces where I can reference other things I’ve learned at the event, spaces in the flow are vital for me to be able to give my best. The certainty of uncertainty. The talk seemed to go well and soon you can be the judge as I’m in the process of editing a short film of it – watch this space.

I also prepared a song, a piece that Neil Usher wrote the lyrics for. I’ve played this song a couple of times previously and never quite got to grips with it, so for this event I was determined to crack it. I practiced, practiced, practiced, and although I felt I was getting better at delivering the song, I still wasn’t happy with it. So in the end, I decided to apply a similar ‘leave spaces’ theory to the song, as I do for a talk. What this meant was that in the moment, as I nervously played the song, I fiddled with the tune and I also left a verse out. No one knew apart from me – but what the good people at Workplace Trends got was a one off.

Here’s the song in case you fancy a listen. I took a big risk with this and I think it worked, judging by the reaction at the finish, the audience appreciated it.

The video was shot by my good friend George Brent. George runs GB Audio Visual – a great company doing top drawer AV work.

Better Communication

Later on today I’m heading to Birmingham to take part in the Institute of Internal Communication’s annual conference, the theme of which is Building Peak Performance. I’ll be doing my usual thing of wandering about finding interesting people and trying to learn something new and fun. Tomorrow afternoon I’m facilitating a conversation among the 100 or so guests. We’ve generously been given two and a half hours to have some useful fun together. What are we going to talk about? I’m not sure yet, but as a way of getting me thinking I posed a question on Facebook and Twitter yesterday. The question was:

‘You’ve been given the job of Director of Internal Communications. What things would you change to help make work better?’

I thought I’d share the responses and invite you to add your own.

Via Twitter velotester kicked us off with, ‘Tell the CEO to walk the floor and just talk to people.’

Which led to humapuk suggesting, ‘Send one email to say no-one to send emails to anyone that day and all mobiles off. Invite everyone to lunch together.’

Next up was Chutzpah84, ‘ I actually think I’d turn off email you know…..’

Julsbo said, ‘Give people a space to have ideas that are heard outside hierarchical management lines.’ I replied, ‘online? offline? both? Culture issues would be interesting to watch :)’ which in turn led to, ‘Both! Face to face is to be encouraged, but is not the only way. Ambient idea chatter has value for speakers & listeners.’

mirgray added, ‘Set a max limit of 200 words per internal email blast. If that teaser doesn’t inspire there is little point blathering on.’

The Twitter stuff was fed into the Facebook conversation so I’ll share the whole thing for completeness (with apologies for duplication).

Congratulations, you got the job! Now what would you do differently?

photo credit

Crap Engagement – a song about work

This is a version of Crap Engagement, first performed live last week at the ConnectingHR unconference. Lyrics by Neil Usher, arranged and performed by Doug Shaw. Original music by Paul Weller. Hope you like it. The photo above was taken by Callum Saunders at the May ConnectingHR Unconference, thanks Callum.

Wrong kind of leaves and I’m two hours late
The interviewer thinks I’m the next candidate
He ends in tears, got personal issues
I get the job because I’m carrying tissues
That’s crap recruitment, that’s crap recruitment……

First day and they forget I’m arriving
It’s like a juggernaut with no-one driving
A mass walkout ‘cause the boss is a nazi
I get promoted ‘cause I was in the khasi
That’s crap engagement, that’s crap engagement…..

Log on by eleven but they block social media
They think Twitter’s just for Justin Bieber
Cant get a smartphone or a tablet PC
They say they’re part of the liberal conspiracy….
That’s crap equipment, that’s crap equipment,….

Their take on modern flexible culture
Is circling over your head like a vulture
They tried mobility but that was a failure
Half the staff went to work in Australia
That’s crap enslavement, that’s crap enslavement…..

Waking up from bad dreams in foetal position
Ignore the whispers and stares of suspicion
I get an e-mail saying I’ve failed probation
Here’s a box to pack your humiliation
That’s crap termination, that’s crap termination…..

Two worlds passing like ships at midnight
Concluded I’ve been missing the solitude
I’ll keep trying till I find what’s right (for me)
And in the meantime make Jam and write poetry….
Crap entertainment, crap entertainment….