February 28, 2023

Episode 72: Margaret Heffernan, Professor, Writer and Speaker

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The Story

One of your firm’s greatest challenges and, arguably, one of the areas of greatest reward, comes from the 'how to' of getting the best out of your people, your team.

One argument says that we should build social capital, forging stronger connections between ourselves and our team and between team members, so that they feel a greater sense of camaraderie. But the challenge here is that we could burn lots of time, and time is money. Why do that, when we could just get our team working and making the firm some money?

It's with great pride that I was able to get a ‘yes’ from Margaret Heffernan to join our HumaniseTheNumbers.online podcast. Margaret shares her experiences of working with multiple leaders of substantial businesses, as well as those she acquired from setting up her own businesses over time. She reveals her insights into the value of social capital, building those stronger connections, so that a team are better engaged and more enthusiastic, and, as a natural consequence, will deliver better and higher quality work, and deliver it faster, generating a true bottom line improvement in results across the firm.

I hope you enjoy the podcast. I'm certain you'll get some real insights, real value, from the nuggets that Margaret shares. 

Please scroll down this episode page to find the contact information for Margaret, as well as links to the resources mentioned in this podcast.

The Solution:

I think it depends on what the values of that business are and whether they're real. I work with lots of companies who have values pasted all over their walls and you don't see them enacted anywhere. I also know lots of companies have started agonising about purpose and, honestly, I think a great deal of it’s been a waste of time.

Many businesses just think that they should have a purpose, so had better get one, but really, I think you have to ask yourself: does this purpose tell me what I should do and what I shouldn’t do?

If it doesn't, what the heck is it doing there?

There is a vast amount of BS talked in business and management and a vast number of fads and fancies that suddenly seem to be the solution to everything and then eventually turn out to be nothing.

I don't think it's actually that complicated. If you're doing something legal, decent and honest, that matters to people, whether it's their accounts or making soup, and you do it well and you treat the people who do it well by encouraging them, praising them and thanking them, then I think you are pretty much there.

My hypothesis has always been that people come to work to do a good job. The first thing you have to do is not get in their way. The second thing you have to do is notice when they do it and acknowledge the work as delightful and wonderful.

This way, people will see that if they do a good job it's not going to be taken for granted, it’s going to be appreciated, and people like to be appreciated. If you appreciate people for good work, they generally do more good work and better work. And at that point, they start to trust you.

This trust means that if they then do something that's a bit below par, you can easily say ‘that's not up to your normal standard, what's happening, is something wrong, can I help?’





Connect with Margaret

Connect with Paul

Resources relating to this podcast:

At the very beginning of the podcast Paul talks about Margaret's Ted Talk being a key driver in wanting to talk to her.

Here is that brilliant Ted Talk: 

Paul also talks about the impact Margarets book 'Beyond Measure' had on the way he approaches conversations within his team and clients. Below is a link to this book.

During the conversation, Paul references what Jerry Sternin did in Vietnam, whilst working for Save The Children.

Jerry helped to save millions of families from severe malnutrition by looking for the bright spots within these communities and helping share the knowledge of the families where the children were not suffering from malnutrition, he followed a 3-part pattern for successful change, therefore changing the environment. Jerry’s work reached 2.2 million people in 265 villages despite minimum staff, almost no budget, a ridiculous time scale and government resistance. Read more about how Jerry enacted this change in this Business Breakthrough edition below.

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