Top tips for excellence at work

Excellence. What does that word mean? It not only applies to governance professionals, but to all of us in the working world (and, to a certain extent, in our personal lives as well!).

At a recent South East branch event, Nick Salmon, Chief Operating Officer at White & Case, spoke excellently about excellence. He shared his extensive work experience and the excellence tips he has picked up along the way. My main takeaway was that excellence in how we work is not about our technical competency or particular skills, but more about how we are as people in the workplace. How do we relate to others? Are we really showing up or just coasting along?

Nick said that on the few occasions when he does receive complaints about colleagues they tend to be related to behaviour more than ability to do the job. Relationship building is crucial, in his opinion, to how well we can do our jobs. We have to work with others, after all, so why not make it as pleasant an experience as possible?

Here are some of his top tips:

  • Go and talk to people − face to face if you can, but if not, pick up the phone. Try to avoid hiding behind emails.
  • Use ‘we’ instead of ‘you’, for example, ‘we can find a solution’ instead of ‘you need to fix this.’
  • Think about whether you help even if it's ‘not your job.’
  • Learn how best to manage your energy levels rather than your time.
  • Share practices, documents, knowledge within your organisation.
  • Listen to the problem rather than the way it’s delivered; see beyond the emotion of whoever is speaking to you when emotions are running high. There is usually a valid issue hidden in there.
  • Equally, if you have a strong reaction to something, give it a couple of hours and that emotion will have faded and you’ll be able to tackle the issue in a more level-headed way.

As a Community Coordinator, the importance of building relationships − with colleagues as well as customers − is not a new concept to me. It's so crucial to working life, makes things far smoother and is what community is all about really. At the heart of it, excellence is really about relationships and trust; both take time to nurture but can be gone in a flash.

As Nick says: Trust arrives on foot and leaves in a Ferrari.

Remember, you can check what other Branch events are coming up. The West Midlands branch has an in-person networking event coming up, the South West branch has an online careers panel and the North West and East Midlands are hosting a joint online event called Hot Topics for Governance Professionals!

Written by Julia Marques, Community Network Coordinator at CGIUKI

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