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.

 

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

7 Things I miss about my corporate job at P&G

7 Things I miss about my corporate job at P&G

Desi Jagger's Blog

7 Things I miss about my corporate job at P&G

I didn’t leave my safe, well-paid corporate job at P&G to become an entrepreneur. I was under no illusion that it would fulfil the overhyped promises of working from a remote beach whilst sipping cocktails and meditating every morning. Instead, I left to focus full time on the work I love – training and coaching people.

It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I haven’t once looked back.

 

Until today.

 

Today I am looking back to reflect on the big picture – because there are two sides to everything. I cherish my independence, international mobility and the lightning speed of decision making. At the same time, there are some things I miss dearly, which I used to take for granted in my corporate job:

 

1. Having someone to high-five. I was never moved by the generic “well done team award” shared by 20 other people with varying contributions to the project. What I really miss, however, are the mad high-fives when the market shares came in and we had grown versus last month. I miss the spontaneous high-fives when we finally got the TV copy approved. I miss the “thank god it’s over” high fives after a terrible senior management meeting… In fact I miss all high-fives. High-fives are the best!

 

2. Being “just” a contributor. In a large company, no matter how senior you are, you are just one cog in the machine. My projects were also many other people’s projects and sometimes it was hard to tell how meaningful our individual contributions were. It was frustrating when people didn’t share inputs on time and as a result my work was late or incomplete. Now I realize that no matter how slow and painful these large multi-functional projects can be, they are the only way to achieve something much greater than one person alone can ever dream of.

 

3. The endless back and forth. I had a brilliant idea for a new product claim and I eagerly presented it to my team for quick feedback before going live. Thirteen team discussions, four senior management debates, ten consumer theories, fifteen pages of data and six months later we agreed on the claim ‘version 56 – final – really final’. By that point I had lost all enthusiasm and would even regret making the proposal in the first place. Working by myself, I expected to be liberated from this endless back and forth. The reality is, the back and forth just relocated from a room full of colleagues to a lonely room inside my own head. And now I wish there was someone in that room who cares enough about my work to challenge it.

 

4. The team heart beat. It was the steady pulse of my team that kept me rolling on the good – and especially on the bad – days. Whenever I took my laptop home to finish a presentation late at night, I would see my teammates were also online, working late. Whilst this didn’t speed up my slides, it made me feel like I’m not alone. As a solopreneur, I have to make a bigger effort to connect with others and keep myself motivated.

 

5. The spell of the background noise. As a fresh graduate, used to studying in the dead silence of the university library, P&G’s large corporate open-plan office felt like a chaotic beehive. Every click was a distraction. Every whisper was a thought-breaker. Every rustle of a crisps packet was a wish for lunch to come sooner. Today I work in my own silent space. On a sleepy afternoon, I miss looking up from my screen, watching people get on with business and being urged back into productivity.

 

6. Saying good morning in 4 different languages, the corridor banter, the jokes shouted across cubicles, introducing myself to new people just to get a piece of their birthday cake, bonding over the inevitable breakage of the printer right before top management meetings, hiking up the stairs – where no “ground floorer” had ever ventured – to speak with the legal team face to face…I miss the small things.

 

7. Reporting to a manager. Shock Horror! How can any self-respecting, independent millennial admit to this? Follow me on LinkedIn to find out the answer in my next blog post.

 

I left my corporate job in order to focus 100% on my passion for people. And whilst I absolutely love doing just that with my coaching and training, I still miss the buzz of the office and the motivation that comes with teamwork and depending on others. I have uncovered a different side of social interaction at the workplace. Beyond the fun, it challenges me and improves me as a person. And that’s the bigger picture.

Need help seeing the bigger picture? Coaching can help you explore different perspectives and get clarity on what makes you happy. Take the first step now by booking your free consultation.

7 Things I miss about my corporate job at P&G

3 Things I learnt at P&G

Desi Jagger's Blog

3 Things I learnt at P&G

Today is my last day at Procter & Gamble – I am leaving to follow my passion for learning and development. My seven years here have been an incredible experience and I would like to capture some of the most important lessons I have learnt.

Principle-based thinking

As a new graduate, I was excited to work at the world’s biggest fast moving consumer goods company. I couldn’t wait to design and execute plans which would be seen by millions of consumers. I was proud of the first media plan I had put together, and presented it to the marketing director for alignment.

“Take a step back, what are the principles you are following? Once we agree on the principles, deciding what to do will be very obvious.”

I had to do this to get his approval so I worked through creating my principles. Developing the principles behind my media plan enabled me to be more concise, more focused and helped me target the consumers in just the way i needed. It helped me find savings to reinvest and allowed me to drive greater reach. Everyday i now work within specific principles and objectives allowing me to make sound, consistent decisions even in my personal life.

Show appreciation for people’s work

I had spent 3 months preparing for a big meeting where all brand teams would align senior management on the annual plans. The meeting was running late and something had to be cut from the agenda – that happened to be my brand because it was small and growing and required no urgent intervention. I was disappointed – had all my work been in vain?

A week later I got a personal email from the managing director, apologizing and inviting me to Geneva to present my plans one-on-one. He gave me a whole hour of his time and he was genuinely interested in my ideas. He made me feel the work I did was meaningful and appreciated. Back in London, I worked even harder until one day my brand was still growing but no longer small.

Sell people your passion and they’ll buy your idea

I had moved to a new business with a struggling brand and a demotivated team. We were about to launch a premium product during the recession and no one believed it would succeed. In my mind, we could either go BIG or go home, there was no mid-way option.

My first meeting with my new team was a brainstorming session where I wanted to inspire them to think BIG. I shared a vision and told them the story of our success, as if it had already happened. The reaction was not ecstatic, but they began to see the opportunity.

“I can’t be sure if this idea will work, but I am 100% convinced by your passion.”

The plan we came up with was a resounding success – the launch sales exceeded our wildest expectations, our brand had record PR coverage and was mentioned in an industry report as one of the movers and shakers of the year. My team’s reaction?

“I am proud to have worked on this project” and “When can we do this again?”

This is just a glimpse of what I have learnt in my career so far. Come back soon for more anecdotes and best practices from the world of learning & development.

What is the most important thing you learnt in your last job?

Photo credit: frankieleon