Monthly Archives: June 2016

Bouncebackability - 2

Bouncebackability – The ability to bounce back


  1. The ability to ‘bounce back’ usually implying a fighting spirit.
  2. The ability to come from a losing position and win.

Many people claim to be great leaders when things are going well and this has recently been seen on and off the pitch in the European football Championships. It is often however easier to see real leadership when times are tough and backs are against the wall. The recent events in the United Kingdom certainly leave a void which is waiting to be filled by the new leader of the government and perhaps the opposition. This determination two seat of time through is something that we all need and can benefit from greatly. Some people may naturally have stronger characters to step up when things are difficult however these skills and characters are something that can surely be learnt and developed.

The term bouncebackability was invented by the ex-player and then manager of Crystal Palace Iain Dowie. This was to describe the comeback of his football team who were 2-0 down and eventually overturned the deficit to win 3-2. Perhaps the greatest comeback ever in football was achieved by Liverpool in the Champions league in 2005. They sensationally came from three goals down at half-time in a match later dubbed the miracle of Istanbul. The belief that the Liverpool team had was remarkable and in a situation where many teams would roll over and give up. In a remarkable seven minutes they scored three goals and finished the game at 3-3 and eventually winning after a penalty shootout.

Bouncebackability is something that we all need and there are a few things we can do to turn things around.  The best advice is to “Control the controllables” – you can’t control what has happened but you can control what you do next. This may be taking some time out to mentally refocus and recharge the batteries. There are habits we can get into that make it easier for us to come back stronger. If you are able to develop these habits you can find yourself automatically moving on with a positive attitude. Strategies and plans can also be developed so when things do not go as expected we have a backup plan.

Difficult times can often put pressure on the most successful teams and highlight differences and divisions. Great leaders can unite us and turn negativity into hope that will carriers forward to a better place.


Adrian Wright

Wahoo Recruitment

UK & international Executive Search

_90040897_newbuttsThe question posed by Frederick Herzberg the distinguished professor of management at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 1966 who went on to write Work and Nature of Man. His work may be somewhat dated now however the principles and understanding of motivation still remain true today. It is often misunderstood that the things that make people satisfied and motivated on-the-job are different to the things that make them dissatisfied. It is therefore critical that managers grasp this concept but also the understanding is beneficial for employees when making career decisions.

I speak with some of the top performing employees who are often at highly regarded companies. It always fascinates me listening to the reasons that cause them dissatisfaction within their current workplaces and what they are looking for in new employment. The answers are often surprising and sometimes require further thought from the candidates themselves. Environmental factors can make people miserable and they can certainly be demotivating. However if environmental factors are changed and improved they do not lead to job satisfaction but simply not job dissatisfaction. Employees are motivated and often overachieve when they are given interesting work, new challenges and increased responsibility. Factors contributing to job satisfaction are therefore focused around the need for growth and achievement.

Management will have to provide those factors that lead to job satisfaction if they are going to provide the right conditions for sustained success. The aim is to provide the conditions and opportunity that will lead to employees motivating themselves. If you take the concept of a rechargeable battery as an analogy to employee motivation you will hopefully understand the theory. We are able to provide a recharge to employee’s motivation by factors that will only have a short-term impact and will lead to the same issues further down the line. It is therefore a balance to meet the factors that will prevent job dissatisfaction whilst focusing on the totally separate factors for job satisfaction. These factors are listed below and are taken from the Harvard business Review that examined the factors affecting job attitudes which lead to extreme dissatisfaction and extreme satisfaction.

Factors contributing to job satisfaction

  1. Achievement
  2. Recognition
  3. Work itself
  4. Responsibility
  5. Advancement
  6. Growth

Factors contributing to job dissatisfaction

  1. Company policy and administration
  2. Supervision
  3. Relationship with supervisor
  4. Work conditions
  5. Salary
  6. Relationship with peers
  7. Personal life
  8. Relationship with subordinates
  9. Status
  10. Security

It is somewhat surprising that companies all over the world still use ineffective methods for motivation. These methods were often effective when hierarchical structures were in place and employees had less choice. The worker of today has a tremendous choice and flexibility so if they are subject to bad treatment which is inappropriate they will simply swap jobs (there is of course recourse when employers act inappropriately so the dangers are double). China bank employees being spanked is a fine example what Herzberg referred to as a negative physical “Kick in the Ass” (KITA). It is however more common to experience negative psychological KITA which entails all kinds of emotional games and manipulation to make somebody perform. This can be somewhat subtle and may be more common in workplaces than one would imagine. It will only give the person administering the treatment an ego boost in the short term and will turn employees against working for the business.

There is also a positive KITA which is often wrongly championed by many organisations. This could be a reward, an incentive, more status or a promotion. The positive KITA is seductive and can make employees party to their downfall. “It’s the American Way. The organisation doesn’t have to kick you, you kick yourself”.

The answer is therefore for work to be enriched (or “vertically loaded”) for sustainable and self-administering motivation to take place.  This process is about giving opportunities for growth with increased responsibility and new challenges. The list below shows the principles of vertical job loading:


Principle Motivators involved
1. Removing some controls while retaining accountability Responsibility and personal achievement
2. Increasing the accountability of individuals for own work Responsibility and recognition
3. Giving a person a complete natural unit of work (module, division, area…) Responsibility, achievement and recognition
4. Granting additional authority to employees in their activity; job freedom Responsibility, achievement and recognition
5. Making periodic reports directly available to the workers themselves rather than to supervisors Internal recognition
6. Introducing new and more difficult tasks not previously handled Growth and learning
7. Assigning individual specific or specialized tasks, enabling them to become experts Responsibility, growth and advancement

The problem with theory is that sometimes it is difficult to implement in the real world. There are however some underlying principles which can be used to structure the work environment and career development of employees. These are often changes that require no investment by the business and if structured right will provide the foundations for organisational success. Therefore the intrinsic rewards offered should be closely examined to ensure that interesting, challenging work, an opportunity to achieve and grow into greater responsibility is provided. This should be ingrained within the culture and continually reviewed and updated to ensure employees are given their own “internal generators” otherwise you will be stuck trying to recharge their batteries yourself again and again. When managers to apply job enrichment correctly there direct involvement in the work will lessen however this should free up time to focus on what really matters which is developing staff rather than checking work.

The concept of motivation is somewhat difficult and can be complex with individuals responding differently. I would be very interested to learn more about the thoughts of people reading this article and how they think organisations should motivate employees successfully. There are however individuals that are able to thrive in difficult environments and have trained themselves to look for the challenges and growth themselves. The difference between a happy motivated employee and one who is dissatisfied can be significant but also affect the rest of the team. I hope you will find this research useful and be able to apply and understand the theories whether you are a manager or an employee reviewing your career options.


Adrian Wright

Wahoo Recruitment

UK & international Executive Search


My career has been shaped by the managers that I have worked for and the teams that I’ve worked with. It is the managers that have shaped who I am and what I think about work more so than the companies. When deciding about our future careers we often have a list of companies that we want to work with who have got the brand and reputation for changing the world. It is often overlooked that within these companies are smaller teams and managers that will shape your future career. After becoming a manager myself and having the difficult task of mentoring my team I now have much more respect to the managers that have worked for in the past. If you are new to management there is little training that will replace the day-to-day experiences that you have and which you will learn from. It is now conceivable that leaders and managers within businesses will have their own brand and reputation which is for all to see online. A lot of focus is often put on the short term results however the successful managers will have an impact on their team and make the work fun and enjoyable and inspirational.

If managers get things wrong this will not only affect the company’s performance but also make it difficult to retain quality employees. A lot of candidates that I speak with may be unhappy or feel unfulfilled as their managers do not provide the motivation and support to progress their careers. It is not easy to understand how the future manager will conduct themselves before you actually join an organisation and are sitting at your desk. The interview process on both sides can often be a sales pitch that doesn’t give a honest reflection of the strength and weaknesses of the individuals involved. It is therefore important for candidates to look at the track record of their future managers and also understand their values and motivations for doing the job. How do they interact with the team and are they capable of turning an average performer into a great performer. Management is more about coaching now than it ever was and like top athletes professionals need this support within a workplace. We often spend more time in our workplace than we do with our friends, family and loved ones so getting things right here can have a big impact over the long term.

In my early career I was still learning about selling and had all the motivation but lacked the experience. I was lucky enough to work with a very charismatic individual who produced phenomenal results and ensured that his team were highly motivated and consistently exceeding targets. I would be often asked “are you winning”? “How does it feel to be a winner”? “How does it feel”? The banter in the office was incredible and although it was somewhat of a school playground environment may be these were the best days of my life!

To get the best out of your current situation it is also necessary to develop the toolkit and skills to manage upwards. The management process is no longer linear and successful employees will be capable of managing upwards so to manage their expectations of their superiors whilst ensuring they get the support and recognition of the achievements.

It’s amazing how much we can achieve and get done when we are inspired by the right manager.

There’s no doubt an inspired employee can do great things. The question is how do we get the manager we deserve?


Adrian Wright

Wahoo Recruitment

UK & international Executive Search


Microsoft is paying $26 billion to acquire LinkedIn which initially appears to be a very aggressive acquisition. The deal will be analysed over the coming months and I’m sure there will be lots of different views from the community on LinkedIn. The significance can be put into context as the purchase price was three times the value Microsoft paid for Skype which has to date been their biggest acquisition. Growth through acquisition can often destroy shareholder value and these concerns can be seen by a small fall in the share price of Microsoft today. The language coming from both businesses is certainly ambitious and they claim that this deal will change the world. Microsoft are the dominant force for productivity software that are used by professionals all over the world. This marriage is more about the future than where we are today and what is happening with regards to the way we network and interact with each other. It may be a while before we see why so much value has been placed on LinkedIn but the possibilities could be exciting and enhance the user experience and integration between the LinkedIn professional networking and the Microsoft productivity tools (Office 365, Exchange and Outlook)._89964243_hi032626624

LinkedIn is such a valuable tool due to the network effect and this deal may only enhance this phenomenon and restrict the emergence of other networks. There are certainly a limited number of social networking sites that can really transform some of the dominant software companies and it will be interesting to see how the competitors react. It may not be inconceivable to see the owner of Google known as Alphabet making a move to defend its position. It means the likelihood of Facebook staying as an independent company has been reduced and perhaps Alphabet will be forced into making a move many of these acquisitions are not always good for the consumers and can be used to strengthen the dominance of a few major players and stifle out innovation. Further consolidation within the sector is expected with the likes of Twitter and Yahoo seen as possible acquisition targets.

In sales and business development LinkedIn is often the most powerful and up-to-date database in the world. Despite the efforts of LinkedIn this is very much in a silo and is without the powerful tools of CRM systems such as (Microsoft actually tried to acquire salesforce last year for around $55 billion but was rejected by the company as being too low). Microsoft has the technology know-how and resources to change this situation and bring about a revolution in how businesses do business! Combining the intellectual property from Microsoft with the world’s best network/database may have implications for B2B sales now and in the future.

The chief executive of Microsoft Satya Nadella sent an email out to staff saying:

“This deal brings together the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network . . . LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand and independence, as well as their culture which is very much aligned with ours.”

LinkedIn currently generates a significant sum of revenue from recruiters who pay premium subscriptions to access their network of over 400 million candidates globally. As a daily user of the platform I can certainly advocate its power and attractiveness. I am sure like other users I experience a number of difficulties and frustrations and often feel that we are being squeezed for the privilege. There are also issues with the stability and reliability of the service so hopefully being part of Microsoft will solve these issues. I’ll be very interested to find out the reaction of others uses and if they also favour the coming together of these two companies.

As a user I remain very positive about this news today and look forward to enhancements in the experience. I just hope that LinkedIn will not endure the same fate as the Nokia handset which is all but a distant memory now.

220px-Old_Nike_logoNike Creator Phil Knight recently published his memoirs and Shoe Dog has to be one of the best business books published this year. The story takes the reader on the journey from a start-up business to one of the worlds most recognised brands. There has been much written about the company’s success which didn’t always truly reflect the experience of the founder. It is therefore refreshing that the book has been written by Phil Knight himself and gives a detailed account of the struggles that the business had in its early years. He talks about the hundreds maybe thousands of bad decisions that he took and how the team was created. It is most striking to learn about the unique and successful culture that was created within the organisation and help the business through the tough times. Many universities such as Stanford and Harvard have the Nike story as one of their case studies and it is often touted as a success that will rarely be repeated. It is much more than a business book and it draws upon the values within sport and competition.


A big part of the success of the business can be down to the team that was put together in the most unlikely fashion. Properly the most influential character is Bill Bowerman who was a track and field coach and the other co-founder of Nike. Bill was coach of the University of Oregon for over 24 years during which time he trained 31 Olympic athletes, 51 all Americans, 12 American record holders, 22 NCCA champions and 16 sub four-minute milers. Phil Knight said that one of the best decisions he ever made was to partner with Bill Bowerman. There was at the cutting edge of coaching and understood the importance of running shoes to an athletes performance. Many of the innovations that were introduced by Nike were a result his experimentation and determination.


Nike started life as blue ribbon sports in January 1964 at which time the company operated as a distributor for Japanese shoemaker Tiger (who are now known as ASICS). The early success was fully reliant on the distribution agreement which would eventually finish in controversial fashion. As Phil Knight discovered he was about to lose the distribution rights for America for Tiger he had to quickly respond and secretly launch his own brand of running shoes. This decision ultimately saved the business and led to one of the most iconic sporting brands in the world. The pace of growth at the business was phenomenal which led to a number of problems including cash flow. The determination of Phil Knight to keep going through all the adversity is a testament to his competitive nature. He was not driven by money that had something to prove especially to get the respect from his father.


The thing that strikes me most about the success and how the business overcame adversity and difficulties was its culture. It is very difficult to create such a unique culture and this was influenced by the founder and also the founding team who all came from unusual backgrounds with points to prove. The opportunity which the team was given and their belief in the founder and the company led them to have a strong sense of loyalty and dedication to the business. It was somewhat about being unconventional and away from the corporate world which often stifles innovation. Many of the original team were paid below the market rate but still they gave everything and more to their jobs. Many of the team were previously athletes and fanatical about running. The culture was also about having fun and could be described as a David and Goliath story. Even as the business grew at a phenomenal rate the culture was still maintained and many of the original team continued with the business long after they made significant sums of money in the company’s public offering.


Phil Knight was certainly a well-educated and could have chosen many other careers but was determined to make a crazy idea a reality. The idea was born during a university project whilst taking a semester on entrepreneurship. The business wasn’t born straightaway and it was an idea that took time to develop and put into action. Phil thought it was important to travel the world before he started and spent time in Hawaii enjoying the surf. During this time he had a number of sales jobs which initially involved selling Encyclopaedias. His first attempt at selling was a difficult and painful one particularly as he was shy in character and not your typical extrovert. He quickly moved on to a sales role selling securities and this allowed him to have the evenings free for surf and drinking in the dives by the beach. These two sales roles developed a number of skills which were used to good effect later in his career. He also discovered the joys of commission and was able to earn enough money to continue his trip and head to Japan in search of running shoes to sell into America. The other job that proved invaluable in the success of Nike was an accounting role which taught him many fundamentals that assisted in growing his business. A switch to lecturing also proved life changing giving him more time to devote to the business and also met his wife was giving a lecture in accounting 101.


On the subject of money he said it had an effect on him and everyone else but not for long. This is partly down due to the fact that nobody in the team was ever driven by money and they had a cause which was much bigger and longer lasting. “whether you have it or not, whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not, it will try to define your days. Our task as human beings is not to let it”. As a philanthropist Phil Knight now gives away over 100 million each year and has promised to give away most of what’s left when he has gone. He talks about the many races that each of us have to run and hopes his story will inspire and help people to see through the difficult times.


He says “there is no finish line” so perhaps we should all try to enjoy the journey!