Food and drink that let me know it’s Christmas!

At this time of year, there are certain foods and drinks that let me know it’s Christmas. It also probably reveals my age, as the ‘kids’ probably won’t understand the excitement about these things – they are somewhat nostalgic!

 

So, here’s the down-low on my favourite Christmas treats:

 

Advocaat

To the uneducated eye, this looks like a bottle of egg yolks.

To those who know, it is the key ingredient for Snowballs! Mainly seen at Christmas, but as a teenager, this was the drink my Grandad used to make me all-year-round! Yes, my parents let me drink from the age of 14, get over it. I was an 80’s child, and now I’m practically T-Total so their tactics worked. However, at Christmas, I cannot resist this!

 

Chocolate covered Brandy Snaps

These are like Christmas crack! As a child, my mum always brought out the chocolate covered brandy snaps with our Christmas night buffet, and I always got in trouble for taking all the white chocolate ones. I get bought a box every year now, and they are lucky if they make it to Boxing Day!

 

Mint Viennetta

I hate Christmas Pudding. There, I said it.

I’m pretty sure I am not alone. Sadly, it is one of the things that I have not grown to like as I’ve got older. So, instead of Christmas Pudding, I have always had Mint Viennetta as dessert. We did divert slightly to the Morrissons version of Viennetta in Toffee for a while (a.k.a Toffeelicious) But in the end, we came back to Mint Viennetta.

 

Cinzano & lemonade

This was the second alcoholic drink I discovered I liked as a teenager. And I discovered it on Christmas day. I literally don’t know anyone else who likes Cinzano, hell, I don’t even like it any more! I enjoyed it one Christmas Day and then it was never the same again. Weird!

However, my mum buys it every Christmas as it is my Great Aunt’s fave. Every year when I see it it reminds me of that one Christmas.

 

Homemade Chrismas cake

Now I am going to preface this by saying I don’t like Christmas cake. Shocking, right? I actually don’t like any traditional Christmas foods – that includes mince pies.

However, every year, my mum makes a Christmas cake. She starts it in October and feeds it alcohol right up until Christmas day. One slice and you will be p***ed for a week!

 

What are your favourite foods that you only get at Christmas, or that remind you of Christmas past?

 

For all things HR Shared Services or if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on kate@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Kate Wass our HR Shared Services specialist here.

 

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Why the best advice I ever got was to just f’ing do it…

 

I walked into a large manufacturing plant in Birmingham, I was only 23 (and looked about 12). It was one of my first meetings as a recruiter. Thankfully I was with my boss.

 

The person we met was larger than life and scared the hell out of me… “JFDI” she shouted, “that’s what I tell them, JFDI”… I didn’t have a clue what she was on about, was this another manufacturing terminology like LEAN!?

 

Jeez, she scared the hell out of me.

 

On the way home I sheepishly asked my boss what she was on about, he laughed – but at least I now knew!

 

Being a small business owner, you don’t really have anyone to talk to about stuff (I am looking for a mentor BTW so feel free to drop me a line if you can help!) and at times it can be hard because there are a lot of things you need to do that are outside of your area of knowledge or your comfort zone.

 

But if you don’t do them, no one else will.

 

I struggle with tasks that are detailed or that take hours of dedication to get done. My boredom threshold is very low – look! a squirrel! – and I am off in another direction.

 

Important things can quickly stack up and this does cause people undue stress, especially if you don’t talk to someone about it. You see this all of the time in a broader business sense as well, people who are great technical experts are often promoted into leadership or managerial roles, where they have to deal with people. Great salespeople now have to manage a P&L and struggle with the broader responsibility this brings.

 

I have found that there are various tactics you can use to ensure you deliver these things well and none of them will be revolutionary, but they might just help keep you sane.

 

Just f***ing do it!

 

Some things need doing, that’s just the way it is, no matter how much we hate them. Surprisingly, things we procrastinate over (because we don’t want to do them or don’t feel we are equipped to do them) get a bit easier once we start doing them.

 

The trick is to move quickly into doing and once you start thing get easier. I am not sure why this is, maybe it’s because of the reduction in stress for starting or you gain a bit of confidence once you realise it’s not as tricky as you first thought? But if you get going even after weeks of not doing it, it does get easier – I promise.

 

If I have a large ‘to-do list’, the obvious thing might be to do the tough stuff first. I quite often do what is easiest first as it gives you momentum and you can start to tick things from the list. Note: you can’t put the tough stuff off forever, so don’t use this as an avoidance tactic!

 

Plan stuff out

 

Without my outlook calendar, nothing would happen. FACT: if it’s not in there it 100% doesn’t happen. Ask my wife or my team! (I get ripped about this all the time at work, “ooh James are you going for steak tea tonight”…)

 

  • Don’t however, use planning, as an excuse for NOT doing. I know lots of people who have a very pretty list that never gets done.
  • Realise that some things just aren’t going to get done and don’t worry about it (learning to say no is a good step in the right direction).
  • Set yourself deadlines or targets. If you work on your own perhaps ask friends or family to hold you to account. If that’s an issue, get an external coach and they will do it for you.

 

Delegate, delegate, delegate

 

I cannot stress enough that focus is the best way to becoming productive.

Think about things that are causing you stress, are outside of your comfort zone or that you shouldn’t be doing. Letting go is often the hardest bit.

 

  • Find someone better than you at tasks you struggle with. This could be a virtual resource or someone in your team or even a family member or friend who is willing to help
  • Use the people around you to help, support and give guidance on the parts of your role you shouldn’t be doing
  • Utilise technology for routine tasks

 

I am still learning and am by no means an expert! Found this useful? What tips work for you?

 

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

 

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Thursday Brunch: what did we learn?

As a great man once said, ‘I have a dream’.

I had a dream too. It was to be on Sunday Brunch.

So, when we were brainstorming with Masgroves about how to make our events more engaging I said: “Have you ever watched Sunday Brunch? I really like how they interview people” and that was it…Thursday Brunch was born!

During 2019 we have run 3 Thursday Brunch events, gaining more interest and traction every time!

November’s event was by far the best yet, with over 60 attendees, a line-up of fantastic speakers and our hosts – Stuart and Tony from Masgroves – really knocked it out of the park!

This Thursday Brunch, we gathered together to discuss ‘What leaders want, an alternative look at employee engagement’.

What did we learn you ask?

Don’t get too intellectual about it!

We can get too intellectual about engagement at times – particularly when it comes to company purpose.

You cannot just create purpose and expect people to care about it. It’s about helping people understand what’s important to them and then find some alignment to that.

If you work on a production line and do the same process 20 times a day, do you care about purpose or do you just want to get your job done?

Some people want to come into work, work hard and go home and there’s nothing wrong with that! Shoving engagement down someone’s throat isn’t going to make them engaged.

 

Keep it simple

The employer/employee deal has skewed. A lot of it is being driven by what we see on LinkedIn that other people are doing, rather than what the business and employees need and want.

Not asking what people want is a huge mistake. Doing initiatives that you think people will like rather than what they actually want is a risk. By doing things people haven’t asked for, it can disengage on a number of levels.

Every business is individual – dogs at work and beer fridges are great, but that doesn’t mean that is what your people want. Keep an eye on the basics and go with your gut on what will work.

For example – your IT hardware is hugely out of date. Are people more likely to leave your business because you don’t have a beer fridge, or because you haven’t invested in a decent enough laptop and operating system for them to do their job effectively?

 

Create psychological safety

Create an environment where people feel comfortable saying things that are unpopular and challenge the status quo. Creating an open environment where people can say what they mean is key, as is creating space and time to have those conversations. Tell stories about people challenging things within the business – put them on a pedestal. We need diversity of thought – the conversation may not lead anywhere, but let’s celebrate the fact the conversation was had.

So, what are your thoughts? What are you doing in your organisation to truly engage people and have meaningful initiatives to add value?

You will all be excited to know that we have our entire Thursday Brunch itinerary planned out for 2020, including the new ‘The Big Brunch’.

You can see the whole agenda for 2020 here.

If you want to be added to our event mail list sign up here.

For all things HR Shared Services or if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on kate@refind.co.uk.

 

You can view more about Kate Wass our HR Shared Services specialist here.