What is your RETURN on WORK, Your RoW? a summer post by Matthew Hill

Its not all about the money is it?

Can your efforts in the office be measured in the same way as your equity portfolio, your buy-to-let house or the rewards of taking a holiday?

The following post promises to make you think, reaction and, just possibly, reframe your view on why you go to work in the first place…

]rewarding work "Hey guys, why are we so happy?"

A share’s return is calculated by comparing the year’s total dividend to the price of the stock and is referred to as its yield (a great and ubiquitous word.) Similarly, the net rent collected from your buy-to-let tenant is measured against the equity you have in the property.

The benefits of a holiday are more qualitative than the above examples – time away from stress, the chance to deeply relax and perhaps reverse some of the medical symptoms suffered in the previous months, the space to have a brilliant idea or to plan your next work strategy or clever invention.

The benefits are there but appear in a range of forms.

Measuring the Outcome of your work?

You could think about your salary and compare it with the market place and see how many pounds / euros  / dollars you are getting in a year. This can be satisfying of you are in the upper echelon and disheartening for the rest. You could calculate your money per hour (a very useful time management technique BTW – is the task you perform on Tuesday at 10.15AM worth your hourly rate or should you be outsourcing / delegating the work to someone appropriate to the money cost?)

Perhaps you have put in extra effort (representing a dilution of your money per hour) in the hopes of getting a bonus or promotion? This gives a different yield depending on the relationship between your effort put in and the resulting reward that comes out.

I am more interested in long lasting and psychologically measures – after all, the emotional benefit of a bonus or pay rise can last less than 90 days though the cost of those late nights and weekends will be felt for longer.

Need for Achievement

I work with high achieving executives in more than 30 countries and find that whether paid more or paid less, the happier workers seek intrinsic motivation though attainment, completion of tasks and solving problems. Getting the job done in a clever way, an effective way or a new way is of great value to them. This is their reward. As is working with great colleagues.

Need for Acknowledgement

Coming from the UK, which is not the most emotionally open and expressive nation on Earth this return cannot be relied upon. I meet many executives who are managed by emotionally stunted directors who would rather have a tooth extracted than give out enthusiastic praise and thanks for a job well done.

Often it is the peer-2-peer recognition that occurs more frequently and is valued more as well. There is sometimes more power, empathy and respect felt in a colleague’s kind words than those from a customer.

The Need to Belong

As used by the world’s armies, brotherhood, inclusion and earning your place in the team are sources of pride and accomplishment. Membership of elite groups and social rewarding communities are highly prized. Interestingly though viewed as competitive, the inner dynamics of such organisations tend to reward sublimation of ego and emphasize cooperation, personal sacrifice and, occasionally, “taking a hit for the team.” And the tougher the entry process the more rewarding the membership.

Would they let Groucho Marx join? And did they let you in?

return on work "Let's measure more widely…"

The Need to Give

Invisible help given freely to a customer can sometimes provide satisfaction that is priceless. My mother was for years a tough cookie teacher dragging reluctant and resistant youths to a 16 year olds qualification that in some cases, was the only piece of paper they left school with when entering the icy world of work. Mostly they did not say thank you. For her, the rewards have come later – her fruit and veg is cheaper and she has been given a store discount card normally only reserved for staff – all by former pupils. The greetings she receives from “reformed” boys and girls, now hard working parents provides a warm if belated return for all that effort she put in pushing her educational water up hill.

Bigger than you or me

These fascinating areas are not rewarded with money or universal thanks. Societal movements and bigger issues that are painful to view, difficult to resolve and are left untouched and un-discussed by the majority. Refugees, poverty, domestic abuse or the local dispossessed.

Collecting blankets and bicycles for those stranded in the Calais “Jungle”, helping with the soup run under Waterloo Bridge, staffing the shelters or working with care leavers to increase their chances of finding dignified employment at a living wage…

Those that volunteer for this work receive a higher order of reward. They are voting with their hands and their Saturdays to invest in a greater scheme.

The Nobility of an aching back.

Finally, and with full apologies to anyone feeling underpaid for their manual work, I feel a nobility and honest tiredness is experienced in occasional and voluntary physical work – painting, cultivating vegetables, building something or mending something. The soreness in my lower back is a sign of a simple cycle – work in -> result out. Sometimes we need to be reminded that the  work itself can provide peace and meaning.


Gaining emotional satisfaction from work is important. It can get us out of bed in the morning, put a smile on our face, and help us to build resilience against the inevitable tough days that come our way. The aim of this post is the ask you to reflect on the wider returns that you experience in work and out of work and calculate a more meaningful RoW.

So… Why are you going to work?



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How to get effective CHANGE, part 1

The Stages and Actions

1. Shock – “It can’t possibly be true.” Staff feel overwhelmed and helpless. They can freeze or panic. They may slow down and lose the ability to see beyond the immediate future.

Action – allow subjects to voice their concerns. Offer understanding and reassurance. They need to know that they are still valued and part of the company. Highlight opportunities and the benefits of the change.

Change Management on the Mechanism of Metal Cogwheels.

Change Management Coaching.

2. Denial – “It won’t affect me.” This is a symptom of evasion. “Things aren’t really that different.” This is avoidance of the issue. Some staff will convince themselves that work is the same really. Many will stick to the old rulebook.

Action – old actions are prevalent. Individuals need to be given the time to explore, make mistakes and learn to make fewer mistakes as they gather experience. Listen and offer appropriate advice.

3. Incompetence – “I can’t do it”, or, ”It’s not what I want” – expressions of vagueness, depression, frustration and anger. Staff are expressing their less comfortable feelings. The “old way” is not working. They are coming to a critical point in the cycle and begin to realize that they are going to have to change their own behaviour in order to survive.

Action – deal with the anger, depression, temper tantrums and the closing of ranks. Accept the drama and the blow-ups as part of the change process. Keep them focused on the day-to-day work.

4. Acceptance –  “I accept that I’ve lost everything” – Letting go. The old values, attitudes and behaviours will have to go. Staff express their fear of starting the change process. BLAME.

Action – keep repeating the facts and help individuals to feel valued.

5. Developing (Testing) – “I’ll give it a try if I can understand why.” It is only after the change is in place that the testing and developing normally happens. Mistakes are made as issues are not identified correctly in the new set up and competence has yet to be fully developed.

Action – training and coaching come in here. Promoting the development and practice of new skills are essential. Encourage broader thinking and tolerate the short term drop in quality and confidence.

6. Application – “I can do it if it’s what I want” – Elation. Beginning of staff understanding of their own emotions. They may choose to take a more sophisticated look at how they can act in the new set up now.

Reflection – “Am I happy acting this way? (the new).”

Action – Keep identifying and communicating clear objectives. Align the outcomes of the company and the individuals as everyone moves towards the vision and the other side of change.

7. Integration / Completion – “I’ve changed and I can do it.” The staff have established new behaviours at the unconsciously competent level. The new ways have become the norm. Here the people who do not fit in stand out and may leave the company.

Action – Help individuals by continually reviewing progress against initial concerns and acknowledging individual efforts. A positive coaching approach is appropriate at this stage. Encourage ownership of new behaviours, listen for suggestions regarding further improvement. Now is the opportunity to establish continuous improvement as a habit.

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Bouncing Back from having a Bad Boss

Protecting yourself and creating a healthier dynamic in the workplace.   A post by Matthew Hill

I recently coached a number of working heroes who had one thing in common. They suffered with challenging and irritating bosses.

In this post we look at 6 ideas that will help you protect yourself from hurt and manage this, the most draining of scenarios.

1. Find your purpose – How can you strengthen yourself from the inside?

Individual resilience and wellbeing increases when you understand the “why" of your job and consciously connect with your calling and motivation. Here is a very simple coaching exercise, best done with a friend that may surprise you as you uncover the power of your “mission”. Answer the following questions about yourself and answer the questions as you hear them. Whilst there are no right and wrong answers in this exercise about a third of the time you will mess it up, some of the time you will get an OK result and, if you're lucky, you may reach a golden answer first time.

a) Who are you?

b) What do you do?

c) Who do you do it too?

d) Why do you feel that you do it?

e) What benefit is it to those that you do it too?

This is a powerful way of shaping your mission, purpose and raison d’etre. When you next face one of those tough moments, remember that you are a front-line working hero with a valid purpose can be of great value and support.

Regain your power

Regain your power

2. The gratitude list – This simple coaching exercise is extraordinarily powerful. Each day take a blank sheet of paper and write down 50 new things that you are grateful for or appreciative of. Big things, small things – anything. It might take you 40 minutes the first day and I want you to repeat it with a fresh white sheet of paper every morning. In a week’s time you will have a completely different energy. You will have a powerful list that flows easily. You will remember just how amazing life is.

Additional parts of the same exercise include writing down 50 skills that you have and 50 achievements that you have accomplished.

3. Detach detach detach – It is so very important that you learn to protect yourself by dissociating from the barbs, slights and insults that your boss articulates. You must isolate yourself from the negative energy and stop engaging whilst wearing your heart on your sleeve. There is a mantra that helps. It is a cynical one but effective in this circumstance. “Life is empty and meaningless and the fact that life is empty and meaningless is, of itself, empty and meaningless!” Repeat it 10 times before you go into the next negative meeting with your boss and treat yourself to an inner smile as you realise this crazy mantra is protecting you from harm as it builds distance and defense from attack and raw emotion.

4. Neutrality – Most expedient humans get through life using their primitive brains and jumping to conclusions, leaping to interpretation, and rushing to label. For some, it is the only exercise they get!

A better way, and following on from point 3, is to neutralise your perspective. Be a boring policeman with a notebook describing exactly the facts in front of you. Using your perceptions, describe what you see and what you hear. Smile as you begin to appreciate the boring nature of your inner voice. Being bored is better than being emotionally beaten up.

5. Projection is dangerous. You do not know what is going on in your bosses mind. You do not know about the baggage they carry around with them. You do not know of their past suffering. It is then pointless to project and set the standard for perfection that doesn't exist in the commercial world or the public sector.

They are human.

They're doing their thing for many invisible and unknown reasons. We do not have to project our own fears onto them. We can leave them be. Put some more distance between you and them. Literally imagine they are standing a little further away from you!

6. Write a positive attribute list. If you've only read this post once, point 6 may be a point too far! If you have read it a couple of times and managed to get some distance, protect yourself and to detach, then I will now set you a test.

Take a piece of paper and write down 3 positive attributes of your boss. Do so without any drama in your mind and resist the temptation to interpret, project, label or to judge. If you can write 3 positive things with no discernible increase in your heart rate you are really making progress. The task on day 2 is to extend the list to 5 positive attributes. Work on this every day until you get up to 10. You will be surprised how your energy changes and you might be more surprised to witness the energy of the other person improve in your dialogues and encounters.


So to summarise, whilst difficult people are difficult, you can protect yourself by peeling off the labels of meaning that you have put onto them. As you detach and put some distance between you and them, you create a healthy space in which to be neutral, be yourself and to explore the positive possibilities of your potential interactions.

Rise above the fray. Be a better and resilient helicopter pilot hovering above them. You are away from the drama and can enjoy your job as you rediscover the authentic and healthy you.

The you that is protected and distant from your boss. Welcome back – you are now a high-functioning individual working hero again.

Matthew Hill trains groups in Assertiveness and Personal Power.

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Presentation Disasters and 5 tips to help YOU not make them. Part 1

  by Matthew Hill

The gap between a person's brain, intellect and expertise and their ability to communicate even a small part of this wisdom to an audience can be wider than the Grand Canyon. I remember meeting one of the deepest thinkers on educating people that the UK has ever produced. He was also one of the worst public speakers an audience has ever had to endure. This irony continues to buzz around my mind.

Below are 5 ideas that you can apply to make sure no one says about YOU, “They seem to really know their stuff. It's a pity their attempt to convey it to the audience is a total failure!”

1. It's not about you – whilst you are the star, standing under the light, mic in hand and dressed to kill, the point of the presentation is to align your information and message to the desired outcomes of the majority of your audience.

Useful questions before you present might be, “What is their level of knowledge?" “What do they expect today?" “What do they want from this session?" And, finally, “What do they really need?"

presentation skills training

Step up and present

Before you write a word of your presentation, ask these questions and be mindful of the answers. Also implied in their response is bonus information – What they absolutely DON’T want you to speak about.

2. First impressions last – I once tripped over on a stage in Milan in the style of Charlie Chaplin and raised an embarrassingly large laugh from the audience. Unfortunately that was not my intention and things did not flow smoothly from that point on.

An audience will have read your profile and possibly check you out on LinkedIn. They are making an active and tough judgment of you based on your physical appearance. If you are scruffy, ill-prepared to deal with technology, hesitant and showing non-verbal signs of stress, anxiety and fear it is no wonder that the audience will disengage from your private greatness and let their minds wonder to other topics (probably sex and shopping.)

What does it take to make a fantastic first impression?

Dressing one level smarter than your audience, dry cleaning your dark suit, investing in a decent haircut, considering replacing your glasses with contact lenses, practicing Amy Cuddy’s power poses and firing your BIG GUNS first. All of these represent a good start.

3. Pleasure or pain? Related to 2. The audience will amalgamate all of the information you are consciously and unconsciously broadcasting and rank you on two exclusive scales.

Power and dominance – your tone, stern look, square shoulders, booming voice and content of doom laden scenarios and facts may give you an impressively high dominance score. Is that what you want?

Likable and trustworthy – A high score on the opposite scale is achieved by displaying charisma, charm, humour, self-deprecation, honesty, integrity and demonstrating your ethical values to the audiences.

Only you can decide which scale is more appropriate your next presentation – Is it time to practice non-verbal charm in the mirror or to rev up your sergeant major impression?

4. Words Words Words – With everything you say you are either engaging more with the audience or distancing them. You may think that filling your presentation with intellectual complexity, esoteric jargon and obfuscating argot will do the job. Wrong – The simpler you are the more you will connect with the audience and the more they will buy what you are selling.

Speed trumps caution

Many presentation coaches warn that excessive speed of presentation will be perceived negatively. This is not the case (with the caveat that you need an audience speaking the same language as you.) As long as you are clear and loud enough your audience will be taken away by the speed at which you deliver your wisdom. Unlike complexity, speed is perceived as a sign of intelligence.

Fluent slick and smooth

Unsurprisingly, a smooth radio delivery will impress an audience. On occasions it will increase your ratings even when you are having an off day, your brain is addled with tiredness or your mind can only manage to operate at half power.

5. Everyone loves a story – Every presentation coach is asked what is the best structure for delivering a presentation. It can be a best man speech, a professor's keynote address at a conference or thanking people at your retirement do. The best way to package information is to give it a familiar dramatic structure – beginning, middle and end, a “V” structure – unleashing tragic chapters that shock your audience followed by an inspiring twist and uplifting ending, or a WW structure like a Dr. Martin Luther King speech that repeatedly takes the audience from the difficult present to a better envisioned future.

Men don't like emotion.

Whilst there are some coal mining villages where men can only cry if they are one kilometer underground, most humans, irrespective of gender, enjoy having their feelings taken for a spin. It is diverting and stimulating and always will be.

Human Rights

Please respect the human right of your audience not to be bored within an inch of their life. Practice practice practice until you are fluent and can lose yourself in a story that entertains even you, the speaker.

And if you are not a natural comedian, a presentation is not the place to begin your new stand-up career.

Good luck with the next presentation. I hope you WOW the audience and they give you a standing ovation.

Matthew Hill is a Trainer, Author and Coach working with international audiences to help them uncover their deeper potential and shine in public.

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Get on the Presentation Fast Train Part 2 – 5 tips to get you applause and success

By Matthew Hill

You have done 5 to 15 presentations and you have overcome your shock and dread.  You are thrilled that people seem to be engaging with your material. But you have yet to experience an ovation. You have not been clapped to the point of personal embarrassment. And you have yet to be pestered to sign a business contract directly after one of your speeches.

How can we change this?

Here are 5 tips to further refine your excellent presentation skills and get you closer to being a commercial presenter that generates warm commercial interest.

1 Identify with your audience – You have less than 10 seconds to verbally connect with your audience. If you don't grab them then some shiny object in their periphery will.

Ask yourself what are they thinking? What are they feeling? And what's top of mind for them NOW? A trick that I use is to make a reference to my journey to the venue, a conversation that morning or some extremely topical news event that I heard about on the radio earlier. This builds a wonderful connection, proves that you are confident enough to spontaneously busk in a presentation and shows that you are professional enough to care.

Always Presenting

Always Presenting

2. My brain hurts – it is tempting because you put so much work into your Ph.D. to give the audience the benefit of your 7 year working process and an insight into the long journey that led you to your 500 page dissertation.

But just DON’T.

Slides full of words, overly complex graphs and a philosopher's lexicon will lead to cognitive overload and the smell of smoke as your audience’s brains are taxed beyond reasonable expectation.

K.I.S.S. – humans can hold 7 or so items in their memory at one time (plus or minus 2.) if you are sending the audience an excess of information to their mental processor they will no longer listen to your message. Whilst complexity seems like a good idea and a badge of credibility, it is more likely to be perceived as a cowardly shield covering up a lack of certainty and confidence about the veracity of your core message.

Steve Jobs, whilst a complex and sometimes unpleasant person, understood that one word and a picture made a memorable slide; that a turtleneck and charisma made up for lots of data and a simple demonstration beats complex theory every time.

3. Selective attention – there is no one setting for attention level for an audience. Monday morning blues, post-lunch carbohydrate low or following the wittiest man on the planet will contribute to your audience NOT giving enough attention to your wonderful show.

Whilst we would love full engagement by everybody all of the time, this is a fantasy that we need to give up. I like my audience to listen with selfish attentiveness  – being stimulated by keywords that bring them back from their daydream and get them to focus on your next 3 sentences. Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, money, wealth, health, sleep, infidelity, danger, secret, celebrity, free prizes, death and happiness. These buzzwords, overused by the Internet, bring people's attention back to you, the speaker.

The only difficulty now is following up your buzz word with something that makes it worth while for the audience to stay focused on your presentation.

4. Say, repeat and repeat again – in my early days as a group trainer in global corporations, I would encourage the audience to discuss and share ideas. I made a naive assumption that when one audience member said something intelligent and in a fairly clear way that the rest of the audience words hear, process, understand and remember that nugget of gold.

How wrong I was.

Unless you nail it to their foreheads you cannot assume that the information has gone in.

There's an old army saying from the parade ground that says, “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell it to them and then tell them what you have just told them.” Whilst that sounded ridiculous when I first heard it, it now makes perfect sense.

Telegraph what you are about to present with hooks, fliers and cut through text. Spell it out in the core of your show and always provide a summary at the end.

5. A Goldfish with ADHT – there is much debate about modern gadgetry, information overload and the competition for your audience’s time. Whilst the population of planet Earth has probably not turning into 30-second listeners, you do need to mix up your delivery to keep people going past about magic 10 minute mark.

Contrasting media – changing from flipcharts to roving microphone to video film clip to a song and summarising with a picture on a PowerPoint will certainly give you full marks for professionalism, variety and ingenuity.

Robbie Williams hit the nail on the head when he said, “Let me entertain you."

I have taken up 3 min of your time and must stop before shiny objects, inappropriate thoughts or the next e-mail ping take you away.

Good luck with your perfect and professional presentations.

Matthew Hill is a Trainer, Author and Coach working with international audiences to help them uncover their deeper potential and shine in public.

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