My P&G Story #9: When I let my team member go

My P&G Story #9: When I let my team member go

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #9: When I let my team member go

I was recruiting team members to deliver a new hire training. Ana was perfect for the job – enthusiastic and with a quirky perspective. When I asked her to join the team, she was thrilled and committed right away. Job done, I thought.

I was wrong. Despite her initial eagerness, Ana was impossible to pin down. She dropped out of meetings in the last minute, didn’t deliver the work we had agreed and generally wasn’t taking the lead on her project. Her excuses were varied:

 

“My manager asked me to meet at this time”

“I have a big deadline tomorrow”

“Once I’m back from holiday, I’ll get started on it…”

 

I didn’t want to appear inflexible, so I adapted our team meetings around her. I also didn’t want to seem pushy, so I had a few friendly chats with her and reminded her of the importance of delivering on time. I was cautious this could set the wrong example for the rest of the team, but I reassured myself it was a one-off.

 

Ana still wasn’t delivering and I found myself rationalizing on her behalf. That’s when I realized all the excuses came down to one simple fact: the new hire training was low on Ana’s priorities; so low in fact, it was about to fall off the paper. I was stuck between maintaining the relationship with my colleague and getting the work done.

 

I asked myself:

 

“What is the most important factor in delivering this project?”

 

From all my years of leading the training team, I knew the answer was dedication. Whilst Ana was smart and generally hard working, she was not dedicated to our project.

Keeping her on the team wasn’t fair to the new hires who deserved the best training. It also wasn’t fair to the rest of the team who would have to pick up her slack in the last minute. It was going to be a difficult conversation but I knew I had to do it.

 

“Ana, how are you feeling about the new hire training?”

“Well, I like the project but I am overwhelmed right now.”

“Alright, so what would help you?”

“Hmm… maybe I can step out for now and join the team in a few months when I have more time?”

“I think dropping this project is the right thing for you so you can concentrate on your top priorities. It is also the right thing for our team because we need everyone giving 110%.”

 

I had feared Ana would be upset when I let her go. Instead, she was relieved – and so was I. My team had to do a bit of extra work to compensate for her absence, but we had more than enough time – and dedication – to do it.

 

Get unstuck by aligning your priorities with your team. If they don’t match, the work won’t get done on time, well, or at all.

 

Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list? Coaching helps you to identify what’s most important and to focus on it without feeling guilty about the other stuff. Prioritize yourself by today booking your free consultation.

 

My P&G Story #8: Now is perfect and perfect is now

My P&G Story #8: Now is perfect and perfect is now

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #8: Now is perfect and perfect is now

Just a year after I started working at P&G, I was asked to join the team that trains the new marketers. Me? But I’m quite new and still learning myself. On the day of the training, I was really nervous. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. My colleague nudged me over to the front of the room. All eyes were on me. What could I possibly teach these new hires?

 

Quite a lot, it turned out.

 

I may have only known a little bit about marketing, but they knew even less. I delivered some of the best-scoring training and – once I managed to shake off the nerves – I had a lot of fun. This was the beginning of my people development career. Looking back now, I wonder when this beginning would have happened if I had waited for the ‘perfect’ moment to train the new hires.

 

Get unstuck by jumping straight in. You’ll never be 100% ready so what are you waiting for?

 

Are you waiting for the ‘perfect’ moment? Coaching can give you the confidence to go for the opportunity. Jump straight in by booking your free consultation now.

 

My P&G Story #7: They took my idea and ran

My P&G Story #7: They took my idea and ran

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #7: They took my idea and ran

I have a confession to make. I usually write my stories about how I get unstuck in work and life. But today is different. Today I have an unresolved story and I would like to hear your advice on how to get unstuck.

This is a very old story which bubbled to the surface as I was listening to this Fizzle podcast about the difference between stealing and borrowing ideas. Essentially, stealing is replicating something and pretending it’s yours. Borrowing, on the other hand, is building on a concept whilst crediting the original author.

 

The brand I was working on had gone stale. We treated each product line as a separate entity, which was confusing for consumers and inefficient to manage internally. We needed a new mindset altogether, not executional tweaks. I proposed a portfolio strategy to manage the brand as one entity, leveraging the different product lines in a way that linked together and made sense to consumers.

I shared my portfolio strategy with my manager who appreciated the fresh thinking and said she would discuss it with our director. Many drafts and iterations later, I presented it to the regional team and they were impressed. I was proud and excited…

 

…until the regional deployment day. Connected via video conference, the local teams (mine included) watched eagerly as the regional team deployed their new strategy.

It was pretty much a copy of mine. The same table. The same words.

 

At first I was glowing – my work had become the new regional standard! I impatiently awaited the moment when they would mention this thinking came from me and my team. But this moment never came. My team shook their heads in dismay. But not a single one of them, not even my manager, said a word during the meeting.

 

When I shared my frustration with my manager, her response was vague: “the right people know the work you’ve done.” When I asked for her support to rectify the situation and get me the recognition I deserved, she labeled me ungrateful and immature:

“You should be happy that your work will make an impact on the whole of Europe. So what if your name isn’t on it?”

I was sure that the lack of acknowledgement did not come from bad intentions. As people contributed to the idea, everyone felt involved. This was the kind of project that created reputations and that led to career advancement. After months of hard work and mind-stretching, I watched the promised rewards evaporate into thin air.

 

I was stuck between the pride of standing up for myself and the fear of being judgedShould I politely ask the regional team to acknowledge the work came from me? What if I air my frustration with our director? Would it be childish to send an email telling everyone this was my idea?

In the end I did nothing.

As a result, I got no credit for my work. I didn’t become famous and my career certainly didn’t advance on the back of it. Instead, I cultivated a regret which still consumes me today. So I reach out for your advice:

 

How should I have gotten unstuck in this situation?

 

My P&G Story #6: “Your idea already exists”

My P&G Story #6: “Your idea already exists”

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #6: “Your idea already exists”

Seeing marketers (myself included) struggle at retailer meetings sparked a brilliant idea in my mind. I would create a commercial training for brand managers to help them understand how retailers operate and how to best interact with them.

I shared my idea with a few people and they liked it. When I presented it to the commercial director, he said that Jenny, another brand manager, was already working on the same project. My idea would be a duplication of work and duplication of work, naturally, was on P&G’s blacklist.

I was disillusioned. Maybe I wasn’t such a genius after all. I worked hard to improve my idea so it would be better than Jenny’s (or rather, what I imagined her idea to be, since at this stage I didn’t know anything about it).

I had taken a tiny piece of information and created a negative story around it. Without an outlet, the story kept building up. What if her idea was genuinely better? I wanted to talk to her but what if I would give away too much of my idea and she stole it? I wondered how far ahead in the planning she was. Her name popped up in my inbox and my heartbeat rocketed – was she going to announce the launch of what I believed was my idea? In this case, she wasn’t, but what if she did tomorrow, or the following week? I couldn’t live with this anxiety.

This ignited my courage to speak with her. I showed Jenny my work and she loved it! She said she couldn’t wait to attend my commercial training and she would be delighted to help in any way she could. It turned out she was working on something totally different and there was no duplication.

Sigh of relief.

My idea was mine again. I just wished I had spent the previous two months implementing it rather than fighting imaginary battles in my mind.

 

Get unstuck by clarifying the facts. This may require having an uncomfortable conversation but it’s totally worth it.

 

What conversations are your avoiding right now? Coaching can give you the confidence to ask the right questions. Take the first step by booking your free consultation now.

Photo credit: LaVladina

My P&G Story #5: When I drowned in data

My P&G Story #5: When I drowned in data

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #5: When I drowned in data

In my first month at P&G, I was asked to do a business analysis. I had no idea what that meant but I enthusiastically took it on.

I locked myself in the quiet room, I opened all the data files (and in P&G there were a lot!) and I soon found myself drowning in information. Sales figures by month, by product by retailer for the past 3 years. Financials. Awareness for each campaign. My gaze jumped frantically from number to number in a temptation to deep dive into every angle and correlate every metric. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, stuck in the rabbit hole – out of control, falling fast through the dark.

 

Two weeks passed and I had all the data and graphs I could ever dream of, but absolutely no clue what I was going to present. I panicked. I was clearly rubbish at data analysis and now my manager would find out…

I finally came out of the quiet room and asked our commercial manager for help. She had a knack for simplifying things.

 

“So what’s the story you’re trying to tell?”

 

Story? I thought I was supposed to update senior management, not entertain kindergarteners.

She led me through a funnel of questions, each building on the previous one instead of my scatter-gun approach. “In one sentence, how is the business doing? What is driving that? Which particular retailers, products or time periods are involved?”… We had started to peel the onion.

 

In 15 minutes I made more progress on my business analysis than I had in a month. I realized I had been stuck in the trees and so I couldn’t see the whole forest.

 

Get unstuck by looking at the big picture. What’s the story you want to tell?

 

Where in your life do you get distracted by details? Coaching can help you see the bigger picture. Start your own story by booking your free consultation now.

 

My P&G Story #4:  Are you a ‘human being’ or a ‘human doing’?

My P&G Story #4: Are you a ‘human being’ or a ‘human doing’?

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #4: Are you a ‘human being’ or a ‘human doing’?

I committed to doing nothing for the first month of my sabbatical. My objective was to disconnect from the structured and often uncreative corporate world. This meant no alarm clock, no calendar and no planning. Whilst at P&G, this had been my ultimate fantasy – to just chill out without any responsibilities or targets.

 

But when this fantasy finally materialized, it was pure hell. Every morning, I woke up in panic, frantically patting the side table in search of my phone. Had I missed my alarm? Hundreds of potential plans swirled around in my mind, from the friend I needed to call to the most efficient way to combine grocery shopping with a visit to my grandma’s house. School, university and work had all taught me to be a diligent planner and had rewarded me for completing tasks and achieving results.

 

Now that I have no plans, I might end up doing nothing. And if I’m doing nothing, then who am I?

 

I am nobody.

 

What emerged from this malaise was a surprise.

 

As I withdrew from ‘doing’, I began ‘being’. And by that I don’t mean ‘not doing’. I mean existing, being there in the moment, wearing exactly what I was wearing and feeling exactly as I was feeling. I mean having an identity built on character. But wasn’t ‘being’ something I did by default? In the background? It turned out it wasn’t. ‘Being’ was an active state, one I could choose to turn on or off. ‘Being’ was a complement, rather than an alternative to ‘doing’. 

Thanks to this discovery, today I have an extra gear in my gearbox. When I can’t solve a problem by ‘doing’, I switch gear to ‘being’… and vice versa. This helps me see things from different perspectives and opens up options I had never considered.

 

Get unstuck by switching from ‘doing’ to ‘being’.

 

Unsure how to ‘just be’? Coaching can help you reconnect with yourself and give you tools to switch between ‘doing’ and ‘being’. Be brave and book your free consultation now.

 

My P&G Story #3: How I got my first client

My P&G Story #3: How I got my first client

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #3: How I got my first client

I never planned to work as a freelance coach. In September 2015, I left P&G and went on sabbatical with the plan of becoming a full time trainer in another big company when I return. But during this 3-month break something unexpected happened… and it changed the course of my career.

Whilst on sabbatical, I banned myself from talking and even thinking about my passion for training and developing people. The temptation oozed out of every coffee cup I shared with friends, every meal my grandma prepared, every street encounter with acquaintances:

 

“What are you going to do next? Have you got a job lined up?”

 

Everyone had an opinion, a comment about the fact that I didn’t have a job to go back to. It was as if they carried part of the responsibility for my choice. Some were jealous, some were excited for me and others couldn’t hide the terror in their eyes. It was really difficult at first – I felt like I owed them an explanation. After being asked the same question twenty times, I had developed a routine and this predictability took the edge off.

 

But the loudest voice of all wasn’t that of my biggest critics, it was my own. That voice would hover above me, waiting for a quiet moment to rain down its fears and orders:

“You should at least make a plan. Why don’t you read a book on training design? You forgot to contact that capability manager, you’re probably missing missing out on a job opportunity right now…”

It was a constant internal battle but with some discipline I eventually I switched off from work. I felt light as a feather. I could talk about leaving P&G without feeling guilty or worrying about the future.

 

And that’s when it happened – my first client found me.

I connected with a Canadian woman who had heard my story and wanted some advice. I listened to her dilemma and asked a few questions. At the end of the conversation, she said: “I would like to hire you as my coach. How much do you charge?”

What?! Where did this come from? I had decided to focus on training and to possibly explore coaching at a later stage. I wasn’t ready, I didn’t have a website and I had no clue what price to charge. I panicked and told her that I’m happy to have another chat with her (for free, of course). Perhaps sensing my self-doubt, she didn’t come back. The following week, during a similar conversation, a man from Bahrain asked me to be his coach. Opportunity was knocking on my door, again. This time I opened the door and let it in.

 

I wasn’t searching for my first client. I was simply ready to be found.

  

Get unstuck by preparing to be found. Pick an hour, a day or a month to clear your heart and mind from the hot topics in your life.

Need help to switch off? Coaching is a great way to de-clutter your mind and give yourself permission to let go. Take the first step now by booking your free consultation.

Photo credit: Gerlos

My P&G Story #2: “We don’t need you”

My P&G Story #2: “We don’t need you”

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #2: “We don’t need you”

“We don’t need you” – the HR manager dismissed me with a long wave of her hand. “Only top management can deliver training.”

My heart dropped. Developing people was my passion… and I had so much to offer. For years, I had not only worked in marketing but had also designed and delivered training for other marketers. It was my first day in a new business unit and I had rushed off to HR to offer myself as a trainer (on top of my regular marketing job).

Over the next few weeks, I shrunk in disappointment from this rejection. Everywhere I looked, I could see capability gaps that could be bridged with training. Afraid to challenge the status quo, I remained stuck.

 

Then one day an intern asked me a marketing question. I helped him. Then he asked another question… and another one. I decided to show him all the training I have delivered in the past and asked which ones would be useful for him. “All of them”, he said. Here was someone who needed my help and I wasn’t about to turn him away.

 

“We start tomorrow,” I said.

 

We had that first training at the back of the office, with the blinds down. (I had a recurring nightmare of the HR manager bursting in and declaring an end to our ‘clandestine’ knowledge transfer). Two people turned up to the second session and before I knew it we had a marketing training program with 5 people regularly attending. I collected feedback from the participants and presented it to the marketing director.

 

“This is brilliant. Everyone should go through this training.”

 

With his official blessing, I expanded the training into a 3-day course and recruited two other marketers to help me deliver it. I later heard our results found their way onto an HR presentation to the regional headquarters, showcasing how we develop talent in the region…

 

Get unstuck by taking action. Don’t wait for permission to do the right thing.

Need a nudge? Coaching can help you build confidence in your ideas and make them happen. Take the first step now by booking your free consultation.

My P&G Story #1: When I Blindfolded the Boots Buyers

My P&G Story #1: When I Blindfolded the Boots Buyers

Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #1: When I Blindfolded the Boots Buyers

Years ago, when I first started working on Olay, I felt the brand was stuck in a rut. We churned out the same old powerpoint slides, proclaiming benefits that sounded too much like the previous ones. Where was the human touch, the charm of ‘love the skin you’re in’?

Our biggest customer, Boots, had ever-growing expectations and negotiated hard. Paradoxically, they were also our biggest competitor and I sometimes wondered whether we were doomed to fail by design.

It was as if we were stuck in a mold that no longer fit our beautiful brand.

 

We were launching a night cream. On the drive up to our customer meeting, I had an idea: “How about we blindfold the buyers and tell them a good-night story?”

 

Silence.

 

More silence.

 

“Over my dead body. This is utterly unprofessional,” said my manager. “You’ll come across as crazy. They won’t ago along with it,” warned the account manager.

 

I challenged, explained, appealed.

 

“For the record, I didn’t say ‘yes’” – my manager finally gave in and the nervousness in the car was palpable.

 

During the meeting, I scrapped the powerpoint presentation. I asked the buyers to put on blindfolds. I told them a bedtime story. When the story finished, there was a gap and I knew that I had either rocked their world or made a laughing stock out of myself. There was going to be no in-between.

 

They stood up and clapped. It was sensational. We had broken the ice.

 

Get unstuck by doing the opposite of what you usually do. You’re not going to break the mold by sitting inside your comfort zone.

Need some creative inspiration? Coaching can help you explore possibilities and venture outside your comfort zone. Take the first step now by booking your free consultation.

Why I miss having a manager

Why I miss having a manager

Desi Jagger's Blog

Why I Miss Having a Manager

I have had a wide range of managers – from the inspiring rock star “I want to be you some day” to the demoralizing ogre “I’d rather run into the woods than to report to you”. The latter, combined with my strong value for freedom, made me ask myself:

“What if I was my own boss?”

Well, now I work as a freelance coach and trainer and I am my own boss. I can do pretty much whatever I like, whenever I like and most importantly, if I like. I get to be “right” all the time. My idea is always the one that “wins”. And that’s precisely what is so hard about being a solopreneur. Having a manager is one of the things I miss about my corporate job at P&G. Here’s why:

I miss having my thinking challenged.

At P&G, I would spend hours crafting 1-pagers (I use the official term, although we all know these were either 2 pages or font six) for my ideas. Despite the diligent details, a barrage of questions inevitably followed:

“Have you considered the latest competitor launch? Did you get input from the sales team? How about looking at this another way….?”

It’s natural to resent having to justify every point during such “interrogations”. Not to mention the ensuing load of re-work that would delay the project and slowly eat away at my passion.

Now that I am my own manager, there is no one to “interrogate” me and I actually miss it. Challenging my thinking drives me to take my ideas to the next level. It bulletproofs my plans before I spend months executing them – and in a way, saves me from avoidable disappointments. It helps me to position my ideas to appeal to a wider audience, including those who don’t share my perspective. Sure, it’s slower, but the tortoise eventually beats the hare.

I miss being forced to face reality, right now.

One of the most tedious things about working in a hierarchical organization was updating my manager about project status. No amount of creativity on my colorful scorecards could stop this from feeling like a repetition of facts that took time away from real work.

Now that I have no one to update, I also have no one to discuss my challenges with. I can choose to avoid a problem for months, reassuring myself that it’s not a priority or it’s not that bad. But this doesn’t make it disappear. Instead, I keep mulling it over and I feel guilty for doing nothing about it. In moments like this, I wish I had a manager who I had to report my challenge to. Simply vocalizing the problem gives it parameters, makes it more concrete and less scary – and the solution often flows out of this clarity.

I miss getting external recognition

 Having a manager wasn’t just about being criticized or driven to improve. It was also about being recognized for my progress. Having someone by my side meant they could appreciate my struggles and be the first to say “well done, I know that wasn’t easy”. (Of course, getting compliments from a bad manger is rare, but not as rare as compliments from a non-existent one).

Now I have no manager and no one to cheer me on. And whilst I can appreciate my own efforts, I still crave external recognition, a signal that my work is meaningful to others, not just to me.

I miss the pressure of “artificial” deadlines

It frustrated me when my manager asked for a full market analysis by tomorrow – just because he wanted to “check something” on a whim. I could not understand why my slides had to be printed two weeks before the presentation or why new TV adverts always had to start airing on the 1st of the month.

Where did these deadlines come from? And what would happen if I didn’t meet them?

I didn’t miss many deadlines (yes, I was a goody two shoes), so I don’t know. But what I do know, is that without these small artificial deadlines, projects now seem eternal and it’s really hard to gauge how far along I’ve come. This can be disheartening and disorientating, and it often means they take twice as long as they should.

“Being managed” has developed a negative connotation recently, especially amongst millennials. If you need or want to be managed, then there must be something wrong with you – you are not down with the new “independent age”. I invite you to flip this perspective:

How can you leverage your manager to help you achieve things you are afraid to dream of today?

Need help with your manager? Coaching can help you rebuild and get the most out of this important relationship. To find out how, book your free consultation now.

Photo credit: Thomas Shahan