DEMYSTIFYING GDPR

Like many businesses, the hot topic in the Change Gear office is how do we ensure compliance with the new data protection regulations.  Making sense of what we need to do has not been easy, however we have been fortunate to benefit from the wise counsel of Katie Renwick – a valued member of the Change Gear team. In this blog Katie shares her advice for small businesses as they take action and get ready for the looming deadline of May 25th.

As a small business, understanding exactly how a new piece of legislation will impact on us and our clients, can be quite challenging.  Being able to understand the legislation itself, as well as sifting through what can sometimes feel like ‘Doomsday Declarations’ from industry commentators to get to the heart of what it really means, can take time and energy you may not have planned to spend.   There have been some big hitters recently in new legislation for larger businesses; Gender Pay Gap reporting and the Apprenticeship Levy, for example, while for smaller businesses there has not been much significant change since the Living Wage was introduced.

The General Data Protection Regulations 2018, GDPR, comes into force from 25th May.  In a nutshell, the regulations increase the levels of accountability for businesses to demonstrate they handle data in a professional, transparent and, most importantly, an agreed way.  It is a necessary update to the 1998 legislation, as the world we now live in thrives on data which is available across a range of digital platforms as well as the traditional files and papers.  The increased occurrence of identity theft on an individual and mass level as well as an increase in social media targeted marketing, often without knowledge or consent, has prompted the EU to introduce this legislation.  It is an attempt to tighten the rules and improve the options for the individual to choose what can, and cannot, be done with their data.

So how do we gain the understanding about GDPR and, in reality, what will it change for me and my business?  The great news is that the Information Commissioner’s Office, ICO, has provided a number of easy to access infoguides explaining what the legislation is on their website, www.ico.org.uk.  Their approach is to engage with businesses and the public to create confidence and dispel the myths and fear of the unknown that inevitably accompanies such a change.  They emphasise that the principles are based largely upon the legislation that we have been working within, the Data Protection Act from 1998. In recognition of the different impact this legislation may have on different size businesses they plan to issue a specific guide for SME businesses which will be more relevant for those of us who do not have an internal legal, HR or Finance department to provide the right level of guidance..

While the information on the ICO website helps explain what the legislation is, there is a gap in terms of understanding what needs to be doneUtilising an expert to help identify the risks and opportunities that this legislation presents is key.  Within a relatively short period of time you should be able to identify where change is needed as well as the practical steps, processes and policies needed to put the change into place.

In terms of what it will change for your business there are a number of key considerations:

  • What data do I have?
  • How do I store, access and share that data?
  • Do I share the data outside of my business with third parties and where are they based?
  • How will I obtain consent going forward and how will I meet the individual rights obligations?
  • How will I handle data breaches and reporting should it happen?
  • What training do I need to provide to the team and how will I test understanding?

A core aim of the legislation is to limit unscrupulous activity, such as the alleged, illegal data harvesting and sharing from Facebook to Cambridge Analytica and beyond, it is not designed to limit our ability to market our business services or support our clients. It is an opportunity to review how we do things, cleanse our systems and consider how we communicate, particularly when using email, going forward. With that in mind, we may be in touch more often asking you to confirm you’re happy to keep hearing from us.

To support our clients we have created a practical GDPR pack, available as templates to tailor inhouse or with expert, consultancy support to assess how the change will impact you and your business.

Contact us at hello@change-gear.com or call us on 07714 793669 for an informal chat as to how we can best help your business.

I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT!

Back in the day – let’s call it BC (before children) I thought I was always busy; no time for anything – getting to a gym class was a feat, doing the weekly shop hard work, making time to catch up with friends always a challenge. Never left the office before 6.30/7.00pm. What was I thinking??? I was clearly luxuriating in oodles of time – all I can say is I must have been a dab hand at wasting it!

Yet I know that not to be true.  I was genuinely busy … and then deciding (without giving any thought to how I might accommodate the biggest time stealer ever) that the time was right to start a family.  After a rocky start the miracle occurred – my gorgeous boy arrived and I had been given the best gift ever.  Did I think about how I was going to juggle being a mum and my new found self-employed status? – of course I didn’t.  I just “knew” everything was going to be fine.  My first jolt back to reality came when I was strolling through the maternity ward in a state of bliss to find a new mother frantically tapping away on a laptop, taking a work call and trying to feed her new born at the same time.  To say I was horrified was an understatement – how could she?  Did she not know how lucky she was?  She must have seen the horror on my face as she made a point of seeking me out in the “day room” later to point out this was child number 4 and if they wanted a meal on their plates then her working all the hours she could was not optional.  I was rightly “put in my place” and decided never to judge another mother again.  (okay so maybe just a few times I’ve fallen by the wayside there).

So somehow after six months off, I went back to work and found a new definition to the word “busy” – not to mention sleep deprived.  I managed to get through the fog and keep the plates spinning and a few years later, my beautiful daughter arrived all guns a-blazing.  This time I was going to suss this new born lark!  I would have a routine to beat all routines (Gina Ford eat your heart out).  That lasted about 4 days before chaos ensued and I was lucky to ever blow dry my hair again.  This time I was back at work within 4 months and before I knew it major milestones were passing by – nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools and now university. I have no idea where the time has gone and I am also acutely aware of how each stage of our children’s life brings with it a different challenge.  You think nothing can rival the sleep deprivation of the early years until you hit the worry of the teenage ones and even when they’ve left home they still manage to consume your thoughts.

So I find myself today on a train on the way to see my son down in Cornwall who has managed to slice open his finger on a knife whilst cutting an avocado – I have subsequently discovered this is a modern day problem!  After refusing to let me come to the hospital for his first operation last weekend – a second operation tomorrow to repair the damaged nerves led to an admission that “it would be good to have mum here after all”.  And so I have juggled my diary and am on my way. Something that I’m sure every working mum I know would do without a second thought.

Reflecting back on my years as a working mum I do sometimes wonder how I managed to pull it off (not that it’s ever a completed project!).  I remember reading the best-selling novel by Allison Pearson “I don’t know how she does it” – the story of the frantically busy career woman and mother trying to do it all.  The part where she needs to bring in mince pies for the Christmas fair and finds herself buying some from the local supermarket, bashing them with a rolling pin and sprinkling them with icing sugar to make them look homemade resonated so much.  It goes without saying that I wanted to not only be good at my job but also keep up with the Alpha Mums at the school gate – if there were mince pies to be made – I was sure as hell not going to send my little ones in with M&S Finest (well maybe once in a while).

As a working mum we becomes masters at short cutting the system – stapling hems on fancy dress costumes continues to haunt me. We are always trying to make the most of every spare minute in the day – laptops in hairdressers, squeezing in conference calls between school pick-ups, juggling diaries to make sure we are always at every parents evening, school concert and doctor’s appointments – many a night I’ve fallen asleep at my laptop either finishing a client proposal or a shopping delivery order (never sure which one had the highest priority).  The list is endless.

I know I’m not alone; I’m surrounded by wonderful female friends who have all managed to successfully juggle the highs and lows of motherhood with their careers – perhaps they haven’t always managed to achieve the dizzy heights they may have wanted to but I know they are all enriched by choosing to continue to work at the same time as doing their most important job – raising their children.

Some people might say I work too hard – but I was raised by people with strong work ethics – my grandmother worked until she was 85, my Father was 73 when he retired and my mother did a part time degree when I went to school – every day she’d drop me at school in Hammersmith and take the tube all the way to Elephant and Castle to go to Teacher Training college; she then enjoyed a successful career as a teacher until the age of 67. Working hard is in my bones.

I hope that when my children are grown up they will have positive thoughts about me choosing to be a working mum and I’ve been a good role model for them.  I remember way back when my son was 7 and he asked me why I had to work.  I gave him the full on explanation of how mummy helped to pay for all the lovely things we did as a family and how lucky we were to go on nice holidays etc etc.  He promptly replied “Well Tom’s mum doesn’t work and they have a swimming pool” – oh well – Can’t win them all.

So looking back, would I have done things differently?  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sometimes a little envious of ladies who lunch and gym and don’t have to worry about pipelines, meeting a client deadline or how they were going to get to London when the train drivers were on strike – but it’s short lived.  And to all you ladies out there who have chosen not to work, or can’t because your personal situation doesn’t allow you to … I salute you.  Motherhood is not a job to be taken lightly.  I also massively salute you ladies who don’t have children and work your socks off too – let’s hear it for the sisterhood.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE

This year I have been fortunate to take some time out from the business and focus on my own personal and professional development. Like many other coaches, facilitators and trainers I know, I am very good at putting everyone else’s growth first and leaving my own as a “nice to do” rather than making it a priority. The big question for me this year has been if I’m not working on my own development, how can I authentically ask those who I train and coach to work on their own progress? After all, one of my favourite sayings is “no-one is the finished article,” and with this in mind I decided it was time to bite the bullet and sign up for something that would challenge my thinking and skill level.

Putting on hold celebrations for our 20th Wedding Anniversary, my extremely supportive husband waved me off in late January as I made my way to Edinburgh to deepen my knowledge and understanding of transformational coaching. Now you may be expecting me to give you an insight in to what I learned about coaching and I did indeed learn a massive amount and must send a big thank you to Gillian and the team at Full Circle Global for the warm, supportive and sometimes heart thumpingly challenging experience. However, what I came away with was not just the confidence to be the coach I want to be but to have a deeper sense of what our participants and delegates go through when they are on a course we are delivering.

After spending five days in a training room as a participant, I really believe that one of the best ways you can increase your skill level as a trainer or a coach is to be on the receiving end and then to reflect upon what it has meant for you as a learner. I think a regular dose of being on “the other side of the fence” is something all of us who work in people development should plan into our busy diaries. So, what have I learned and how will I use it in how I work?

Participants get nervous – No matter how senior or experienced they are! Everyone on my course had previous experience of coaching others but there was a palpable anxiety as we moved into the coaching practice sessions. Creating a safe space to try out our new knowledge was going to be the key to our success and we were left alone to try out new techniques; no facilitator looming over us ready to step in with their feedback. We all felt absolutely free to step out of our comfort zones and make mistakes. The time for being observed would come later in the programme and it felt good to be fully responsible for our own learning.

Key learning point – Give participants space and trust that they will make the best use of the time available; allow participants to fully immerse themselves within the experience so they don’t notice the presence of the facilitator; sometimes we can get in the way!

Pace – As an Activist learner I am often guilty of wanting to pack lots into a session but taking on various roles within the training I realised how tiring a training course is for the learner. Shifting state between being a participant, coach and coachee meant that a much slower pace was required and plenty of breaks were needed to mentally and physically move between roles and be the best that we could be for our colleagues and for Gillian leading the event.

Key learning pointThere is a time and a place for high octane learning but let participants take a breath as they move them from one experience to another and never underestimate the amount of energy it takes to be in full learning mode.

Quality over quantity – Now I have to admit that when I looked at the published timetable for each day, I felt slightly short changed. Each day was due to start at 9:30am and close at 4:30pm and one of my first thoughts was “heh, I am paying for this myself – no corporate company footing the bill, I want value for money!” Well how wrong could I be? I was exhausted by the end of every day and I really couldn’t have taken in any more if we had gone past 4:30pm. I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to leave knowing that I had given my all but still had an opportunity for some downtime to explore the delights of Edinburgh city centre.

Key learning point – Long training days aren’t always effective; trainers can do more with less. Allowing participants to apply learning faster, rather than lengthy theoretical explanations keeps learners engaged and on their own agenda. Keeping the training ‘learner’ rather than ‘trainer’ centric, recognising that learners need to let their new knowledge “settle and sit” by having the time to take part in other activities, whether that is a spot of shopping or catching up on emails.

Learning continuity – One of the greatest gifts I have been given since attending the course is a new group of like-minded people, dare I say it they have become my “friends.”  I don’t use that term lightly but having the opportunity to get together over lunch, get a WhatsApp group going and an informal Action Learning Group via Zoom has cemented my belief that learning is above all a social activity. Thank you to Karen, Amandine, Eleanor and Paula – your insight and support has been invaluable and especially for giving me the feedback that I could be heard sighing during a video Masterclass. A bad habit that I am massively more aware of now!

Key learning point – Create social spaces within a learning event that encourages  participants to share their learning from the session over coffee and lunch but coming back to one of my original points, don’t hijack the conversations – let the participants work it out for themselves; if they are sufficiently motivated they will!

As you probably can tell, I have hugely enjoyed my own learning journey. I went expecting to know more about coaching and yes, I came away with that but also with a new found understanding of myself as a person and myself as a trainer – now that is excellent value for money!

 

If you would like to know more about our extensive personal development and coaching packages, please get in touch with us at hello@change-gear.com or call on 07714 793669 we would love to hear from you, no matter which side of the fence you sit on!!

HOW WILL YOU “PRESS (OR DRESS) FOR PROGRESS?”

Today is International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women around the world.  And a further reminder to press forward and progress gender parity.  International Women’s Day encourages us to:

  • Maintain a gender parity mindset
  • Challenge stereotypes and biases
  • Forge positive visibility of women
  • Influence other’s beliefs and actions
  • Celebrate women’s achievements

Every year in our business we make a commitment to one of these key areas to specifically focus on in our own sphere of influence.  This year we have chosen “Forge the positive visibility of women”.

However, as women, we sometimes deliberately want to be less visible than our male counterparts or indeed other female contemporaries. Many of us lack the self-confidence we feel we need to become more visible and can sometimes do this through subtle behaviours such as choosing to dress in a way that says “I don’t want to be seen” or taken seriously.

With the boundaries of work wear often blurring into our “downtime” wardrobes – dressing to be visible in a positive way can be a challenge (or indeed a headache) to be avoided.  Yet we all know the importance of first impressions and sadly they can make or break our success.  You’d think it would be simple; we do it every day – but I’m sure this message will resonate with many of you. If only we could take the headache out of this daily habit.  It was certainly something I was keen to do being a busy working mum running around meeting new clients, coachees and participants on a frequent basis.  Which leads me to introducing our new guest blogger, Gemma Fox, Founder of Plume Boutique, Marlow, Bucks.  Read on to hear what Gemma has to say:

When Carrie Stockton, Founder of Change Gear and one of my wonderful and super stylish regular customers asked me recently to contribute a few words to the change-gear blog I jumped at the chance.

Having set up my own independent fashion retail business 12 years ago and in that same period built up an extensive network of fashion intrigued females it seemed like the logical next step to have a conversation with Carrie about how our paths may cross on a business level too. A year ago I changed the business model of my independent, Plume, from a stand-alone large store open 7 day’s a week and with extensive window frontage on the high street in Marlow Bucks to a more focused and exclusive personal shopping set-up, in line with changing shopping trends and customer needs. The result is a specialist Private Shopping Showroom nestled in a gorgeous little building right off the high street but still available to all of my regulars who have been visiting the store for years and relying on me to style outfits based on their individual lifestyle requirements.

As word has spread about the attraction and appeal of the Private Shopping Showroom I have found myself naturally branching out to a more “corporate” customer – I use the term hesitantly as fashion in business is changing very fast with many medium and large businesses relaxing their dress code and small business owners increasingly adopting a style that is still smart but a lot more casual whilst still being effective. Enter the phase of relaxed tailoring! This is a style that I am creating with my customers on a daily basis, for their work life, for networking events, for business trips and client meetings and it definitely requires more effort than throwing on a dark suit and crisp shirt BUT once you learn the formula this look becomes like a uniform and your go-to style as a woman in business today.

I work with ladies of all ages, shape, colour and purpose and each of them are unique which makes my job so exciting and rewarding, but at the same time their fashion concerns can be very similar, and I regularly hear these statements –

  • I don’t have time to go shopping!
  • I have the time but don’t enjoy clothes shopping
  • I am stuck in a style rut and need help
  • I don’t really know what suits my shape
  • I’ve gone through a change in circumstances (baby, divorce, new job etc) and my wardrobe isn’t relevant anymore.

There are so many considerations to take on board when choosing the right key pieces for your wardrobe and many of us could benefit from some style guidance so that’s where I step in, in a nutshell I take the stress out of clothes shopping and give my customers the confidence and positivity purely through their wardrobe choices to go forward and conquer! There is nothing more satisfying for me than providing customers with the essential tools to create a winning style that can often be life and career changing.

And the bit I often forget is how natural styling other women is for me, like a 6th sense, so I feel it’s my privilege to showcase this ability with customers and in many cases transform negative mindsets based on previous shopping disasters into positive and empowered outlooks.

When new customers come to see me we have an initial 10 minute consultation to establish their personal lifestyle needs and to understand their wardrobe buying behaviour. I almost always raise these suggestions and questions –

How do you feel about your wardrobe? – if it doesn’t give you instant sentiments of joy and excitement something needs to change (e.g time to de-clutter/ re-organise, update)

Get to know your body shape, are you a pair or an apple? What are your best bits? What are the bits you don’t like? (We all have them)! Start to filter your fashion choices according to you, not your friend/ instagram idol/ that actress whose style you love

Do you have a good idea of the colours that suit you best? Most people instinctively choose colours they are meant to wear but often have one or two that are definite no no’s (black, white, yellow) and the wrong colour can make you look drawn, pale and downright unwell. I have a good instinct for assessing customers’ correct colour palette too.

Buy a few good fashion mags to get an idea of what the new season trends are – its more important to dress your shape and according to your colour palette than to cover fashion fads but useful to have a few key accessories to keep your style looking contemporary and fresh.

Now try on pieces that are totally out of your comfort zone – a jumpsuit, a cropped wide leg trouser, a skirt that shows your knees, a block heel boot and forget for a moment about your personally inflicted mental fashion constraints you’ve subjected yourself to for years (possibly based on something your mother/ teenage daughter/ old boyfriend once said that has given you an unrealistic dose of body dysmorphia)! It’s time to liberate and reinvent yourself while in that changing room!

Above all HAVE FUN!

 

And so with this advice to ponder I will leave you to consider how you can make yourself or your female colleagues feel more visible in the workplace.  As Gemma has intimated, dressing can be an enjoyable experience and lift your confidence back to where it should be.

I’m also delighted to confirm that Gemma will be partnering with the Change-Gear team, supporting some of our clients in the corporate world in personal confidence-enhancing image consultations.  Please contact hello@change-gear for more information on how Gemma can help you.  And if you’d like to visit Gemma at her boutique she can be reached at Tel. 08450 038950 or visit

http://www.plumeboutique.com .

In the meantime we’d love to hear about any initiatives you may have towards “pressing for progress”.

Happy IWD to all

 

“WHO DID WHAT TO WHOM?” THE LOST ART OF STORYTELLING

In its simplest form storytelling is a connection of cause and effect. A narrative helps us make sense of the world around us. In fact, our informal conversations are dominated by stories; researcher Jeremy Hsu found 65% of our conversations are made up of personal stories and gossip – “who did what to whom?

Great stories surprise us; they have the ability to spark emotions, whether it’s happiness, anger, trust or guilt. They have compelling characters. They make us think and make us feel. They stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that numbers and text on a slide with a bar graph don’t.  Fundamentally our brains are more engaged when listening to stories and studies show that when information is communicated in this way people will better relate to and remember it.

Story telling has been used successfully in brand advertising for years.  Guinness has come up with some great marketing stories such as their “Empty Chair” ad where a bartender leaves a pint of Guinness at an empty table every night.  No one sits at the table, and the woman shoots a dirty look to anyone she catches eyeing one of the empty chairs.  Without fail, the Guinness is there every night. It’s a powerful image that serves as a sign of hope for the bartender. But we aren’t exactly sure who the beer is for until the very end. Everything comes together when a soldier finally returns home to claim his Guinness.

Lego’s “Let’s Build” ad is another great example of storytelling in advertising. The ad features a father and son bonding over their Lego; it shows the two of them creating fantastic skyscrapers with their enormous Lego collection. For a second you forget that it’s advertising toys because all you see is the perfect home life parents and kids are always dreaming of. And so a story unfolds.

Although storytelling is a timeless human tradition, unfortunately it has become a lost art in many businesses. Instead of taking the time to craft captivating stories, most people in business create dreary Powerpoint presentations; you could say Powerpoint has killed our ability to tell good stories, and this is a habit we need to change.

However, a word of warning! – storytelling works on a spectrum – at one end you have BIG stories – like legends, epics and fairytales – at the other end you have small stories such as examples, recounts and anecdotes.  When starting out in storytelling it’s best not to try too hard – start small with your stories until you get more confident.  And try to build a bank of stories – funnily enough they don’t always pop in your head when you need them.  In the meantime here are a few of our top tips to help you on your way:

 Surprise your audience

When you set out to create your story, it’s always good to start by revealing an important fact or detail that isn’t common knowledge or includes an unexpected turn of events. Try to hook your audience by sharing something that no one would expect because when it comes to storytelling, predictable plots won’t engage anyone.

Get to the point

Although you need to hook people in, it is also really important to get stuck into your messaging as quickly as you can. Stick to relevant details if you want people to listen to your entire story, as most people don’t have the patience or the time to hang around! Choose two or three main points that people will actually care about and focus on those — things like money saved, number of users, growth over the years are all effective examples.

Think about your purpose

What’s the point of your story? Are you informing or teaching your audience, are you trying to sell them something or are you just engaging with them to make them feel inspired to act? Make sure you have a single message that you want them to take from your story.

Be honest

Everyone makes mistakes or does embarrassing things every now and then, but being honest about those less than perfect moments will make you and your message easier to relate to. Share those painful lessons you learned. Even the simplest things like a spelling mistake in a text can show your human side.

Overcome the odds

Talk about a few of the challenges you have overcome, such as rejection or setbacks. Tell your audience what you learned from each challenge, how it motivated you and inspired you to get better.

Don’t forget humour

Using humour will engage your audience and make your story more likely to be remembered and shared. Laugh at yourself or a situation you found yourself in, never at someone else. But do run it by a few friends or colleagues first, just to make sure it is actually funny as well as appropriate.

And finally … Hold something back

As well as the tips above about being honest and open, you shouldn’t reveal everything all at once. Keep people interested and wanting to come back for more by finishing on a cliff-hanger. Make sure all your content can stand alone but getting your audience to think you have something more that they need to hear will keep them hooked.

And on that note, I invite you to join us at our free breakfast seminar “Powerful Persuasion – The Art of Storytelling” on Tuesday 20th March at CitizenM Hotel, Tower Bridge, where the Change-Gear team will share with you their secrets on how to finesse this age-old skill.

To book your ticket please follow this link: ART OF STORYTELLING BREAKFAST SEMINAR

We look forward to seeing you there.

 

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