If one thing is consistent throughout life it’s change, but is change something to fear? What if change was managed so that it wasn’t such a shock or a disruption? I mean, change is going to happen whether we want it or not, right?
If change is something you’re avoiding you need to sit down with our next guest, the Agile Project Manager, Emma Sharrock. She’ll be poolside at the Intercontinental Fiji, for October’s Nurture Her Business Retreat, writing her next book.
Emma is passionate about all things that involve people and change. She has worked as a project and change manager since 1999. She founded her coaching business in 2011, and since then has been looking for ways to connect her passion for projects, change, and human behaviour.
With a proud military background, we asked Emma about the skills she picked up serving her country and how they relate to the business world, the pitfalls of being a coach, facilitator, author, and speaker and how she has managed to position herself as an expert in her industry.
“I started my career in the Royal Australian Navy, and that really gave me a taste of leadership which helped shape my career post-Navy. I was attracted to all things leadership and improvement and I fell in love with project management.”
“I ultimately became a coach because I really enjoyed project and change management, but I also loved the idea of helping more people and felt it was time to leverage myself, to facilitate being across more work.”
Armed with the skills she picked up from the Navy and her passion firmly in her sights Emma embarked on a journey that helps businesses to change their culture around productivity and people management. However, this type of change comes with resistance…
“When leaders are willing to trust and empower their teams, great things happen. The biggest successes I have seen are when leaders give the team a problem to solve, and even though they have an idea in their head as to how it could be addressed, they have left it with the team. Every time (without fail) the leader is pleasantly surprised with the creative solutions the team come up with. It means the leader can get on with leading, and the team does excellent work and feels valued.”
So, the question we have for you is, are you holding on too tight or could you loosen the reigns somewhat and empower your staff to make decisions, mistakes, improvements and create autonomy?
Libby Babet, Nurture Her co-founder, talks about the art of trust, letting go and how to get the best out of your team members in a recent interview we did with her; Is Libby Babet Super Human?
It seems like a lot of people are writing books to position themselves as an expert in their field, so we wanted to find out what the tangible benefits of writing a book are from someone who has been very successful at it.
“I positioned myself strongly by writing a book. I imagined myself as a 24-year-old who was just learning project management and thought about what I would have loved to have known. Since then I've continued to work with people who are leading change - project managers, sponsors, senior leaders, and this has evolved into improving ways of working in organisations. It’s absolutely where the most significant difference can be made!
“The process really started with me speaking at an event, and someone asked me if there was a book that described the concepts I’d been speaking about. I said there wasn't an actual book, but I'd love to write one. That really started it off. People said: “Great you're writing a book!” And I was like: “Yeah I'm writing a book.” And I have to say I was in love with the writing process. I really enjoyed researching, creating, thinking, writing, etc. I could have done it forever!”
“The biggest benefit of writing a book is the new connections I've made with people. And this has translated into some amazing client work and incredible professional relationships.”
For your very own copy of Emma’s book, The Agile Project Manager, please click here
We’re all about making connections and creating ‘friendtors’ (friends who love business often make the best mentors!), and the concept of meeting new frientors was one of the inspirations in developing the Nurture Her Business Retreat. Yet we are increasingly finding that individuals are isolating themselves by using smartphones and apps to do the talking for them….Emma says, “I feel that in this increasingly complex world, we are losing the human aspect of project and change management. We are prioritising tools and templates over relationships and human interaction. It’s getting harder to take the time to meet with someone face-to-face to understand their concerns when a million spreadsheets are waiting to be filled and a new process that now needs to be followed.”
One of the “Agile” principles Emma coaches is all about face to face communication and how we should use it wherever possible. “I truly believe that the more we connect as humans, the better results we get. One of the first things I do when I work with a business is look at how much people are connecting and talking to each other. And this is where Agile practices are beneficial because just simply implementing a practice like standing up and sharing what you're working on at the start of every day can make a massive difference in improving connection and also results. A recent example involved a team that was producing great work but felt stagnant. I facilitated an Agile retrospective - where you reflect on what’s been working, what’s not been working and how you can improve. Just the process of sharing highlights and challenges with each other in a safe space reinvigorated the team and got them focused on the work at hand. Never underestimate the power of a face to face conversation!”
Is it fair to say that freedom and flexibility in your business should be one of your top ranking values? I mean who wants to be stuck at a desk doing stuff you don’t want to do right? Is that how you grow a business!? Coaching and consulting gives you that freedom. But, it’s not necessarily the laptop by the poolside lifestyle we might imagine it to be…
“I absolutely love the freedom working for myself gives me. I love that if I want to take a day off in the middle of the week I can, however, the reality is that I pretty much work 7 days a week. But because it's my passion and I love it, it doesn't feel like hard work. The reality is that the work can be full-on and at other times quite light, so the challenge for me is being able to manage those highs and lows and be able to step up and work hard when I need to, and then be able to use my down time productively. As Jim Collins says in Good to Great: “Go slow when you can so you can go fast when you must.” It’s an ongoing work in progress for me!
We are passionate about sharing strategies to help people get ‘unstuck.’ Here are Emma’s top 5 strategies to help people become more agile;
- Be okay with not knowing everything. In this world of abundant information, we’re not expected to know it all, but instead, we are expected to know who to go to and then what to do with that information.
- As my spin instructor often says: ‘Be comfortable with being uncomfortable’ - get used to the fact that our world is ambiguous but keep doing great work anyway, don’t let it derail you.
- Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. Just like we’re not expected to know everything, we simply cannot solve the complex problems in today’s world on our own. Form strong alliances and produce great results that are greater than the sum of their parts.
- Be willing to let go of old beliefs and habits. Know they have served you well to get where you are now, but they are not necessarily going to help you in this fast-paced VUCA world.
- Make room for new beliefs that will mean amazing opportunities.
- Empower your people. Trust them to do great work, and you will be amazed at what they can do when they are left to solve problems creatively, rather than be given tasks.
Coming to Fiji with us is a big decision, we get that, but we are fascinated to learn the individual reasons for people to make that decision. We asked Emma what inspired her to join us.
“Funnily enough some of the best writing I have done has been while on holiday in Fiji. When I was writing my book, I hadn't planned on doing much writing while on holidays, but I brought my laptop just in case inspiration struck me. And it did! I actually got some great work done there. I think it was the space away from my usual environment that allowed me thinking time to create. So coming to Fiji for me is about creating that space again. An added bonus is being surrounded by amazing people who are all on their own business journeys, so I’m really looking forward to sharing stories and learning from each other.”
Here’s the link to Emma’s book once again: The Agile Project Manager
And just a gentle reminder that ticket sales for Nurture Her will be closing soon. Click here to book a call with one of our customer service specialists.