'When are we getting fibre optic?!'
Every year the capability of technology is growing faster and so are our expectations of it. The gap between what we know to be possible and what we experience is only widening. Our children are growing up in a world where all screens are interactive and every service is cloud-connected, where any song or movie ever made is at their fingertips, yet our disappointment only grows. My children are always surprised when a surface isn't touch screen or when I can't quote the exact time that Mummy will be home!

Why is changing this hotel booking taking me two hours on a clunky website interface? Why is this film not available for streaming? Why am I using a printed ticket? How can this website be down? Surely this town should have 4G by now?

What can make this disillusionment even worse is the plethora of systems we are expected to use at work and at play. Some new, some old but all them with their own eccentricities. I have found in every place I have ever worked that the lack of integrated software systems can be very frustrating. Often I am met with companies owning many systems which either have very similar functionality (one place I used to work had 5 CRMs!), are so new that no-one is using them to their potential, or are so old that they require an 11 year old browser in order to run!

With this in mind Kier have been putting a lot of effort into a programme called 'BOOST' where we consolidate all systems into one supplier to help with software integration, less intensive training requirements, and ultimately, a reduced cost.

In our team we have also been working to bring all of our Marketing solutions for the business together in one place. For example, we have a digital asset library, a corporate presentation and various branded templates but simply listing them all on our intranet is not enough. This is because sometimes such assets need to be accessed by external design agencies or third party suppliers.

One essential feature of our new 'Marketing Hub'  is a homepage which is frequently updated with the latest videos, photos, brochures etc. we have produced with links to where the business can find them. This communication is key if the work we are doing is utilised fully in either winning work or attracting the best new staff. It goes without saying that we will carefully monitor the analytics of this interaction.

This internally integrated Marketing communication allows all new starters to familiarise themselves with the brand and our positioning. It also gives them ready access to all of the assets they may need in their day job.

Importantly, an online briefing form allows them to log any requests for new microsites, posters, banners etc. By only accepting briefs in this way it ensures that the end agency has all they need to complete the work and we can monitor all requests and intervene if required. We then have a 360 degree view of all submitted requests and can flag up any duplicate work or causes for concern with the originator. Most importantly it allows us to have oversight of the type of collateral the business requires and then write this into our future plans.

This Hub will become the primary channel for keeping the brand alive alongside our regular webinars, site visits, working groups and email updates. With 24,000 staff on the books having one go to place for all marketing related matters is essential.

Living the dream!
Of course, my main challenge is avoiding any user frustration with the interface and to make it work on all browsers and devices. Otherwise the aforementioned digital disappointment will kick in and users will become like those people with instant hot water taps in their kitchen who now get frustrated waiting for a kettle to boil!
Not bad for an old man!
The beginning of a new year is a time when people start afresh and make promises to themselves to finally improve on things which they have previously been putting off. These are commonly around fitness goals and I am bracing myself for my weekly kickboxing class to see the annual influx of new, younger and fitter recruits when I return on Wednesday. I fully intend to see out another year despite being the second oldest in the class but how many newbies will still be there come the year end?

One sure fire way to ensure that all intended goals are met both at home and professionally is to be fully accountable for the outcome. For me, one of the main motivators for going kickboxing every Wednesday is that I have paid a month in advance and as I only have one chance to go a week I know that I cannot put it off in the way I would a gym (i.e. 'I'm tired tonight and I'll go tomorrow'). I also have an 'accountability partner' meaning that if I don't go I'm letting him down and restricting his chances of development. Finally, I know from experience that I have never yet regretted a class or felt worse as a result - it really is a great remedy to work off those daily life stresses.

Being accountable and ensuring that workplace tasks are accomplished is also essential for both small and large businesses to flourish. The larger the business the more the employees become the face and reputation meaning that success relies on them. Therefore, the ultimate goals for the company as communicated by the senior management rely on a much more cascaded model in order to succeed (rather than just one person to be motivated to do something for themselves).

The first step in this is to ensure employees have responsibilities for which they are solely accountable. This is not so that there is someone to blame if things go wrong but is essential for projects to be completed and allows a sense of worth and achievement for the project owner to feel they have achieved something on completion. Without accountability businesses really struggle with issues such as who to go to in order to get tasks done (i.e. if no-one knows who owns the website how is it ever going to get updated?)

'Can someone please show me the
way to Meeting Room 1?!'
I always say that the person who you want to staff your social media accounts is the person who approaches lost looking visitors in reception and asks how they can help. By doing this they have taken personal responsibility for that person's welfare and as a result show that your company values the customer experience. Someone who ignores that person and leaves it to others to resolve is not someone who is happy taking accountability and this behaviour leads to a self-centred, confusing workplace where teamwork is non-existent.

When people begin their new year resolutions they have an end goal in mind and the work involved is a means to an end. It is about the outcome and not the task and communicating this to employees is essential. You want the person who adds the annual report to the website to take ownership for the website being up to date, not for the activity of updating it. If they find a better way to ensure the site is up to date – and do so in a way that improves engagement and client satisfaction – that’s the real prize. You want people to stop paying attention to the amount of time they spend doing things, and pay attention to the ultimate outcome desired.

When people are accountable, they stop watching the clock; they seek ways to make improvements and take initiative to change what doesn’t work. They ask for opportunities to do and learn more so they can be successful at fulfilling their purpose, which in the end gives a boost to yours.
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