Rebel Diaries

Joanna Parsons - Overcoming The Chaos Of Internal Communications

October 31, 2022 Joanna Parsons Episode 29
Rebel Diaries
Joanna Parsons - Overcoming The Chaos Of Internal Communications
Show Notes Transcript

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Joanna Parsons is a multi-award-winning communicator who specialises in internal communications - helping organisations communicate more effectively with their employees. She works with a tech company called Teamwork as Head of Internal Communications & Culture. Previously, she played a leading role in the Irish police force as their Head of Internal Communications during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Joanna won 4 communication awards for the work she delivered with the police.

Joanna absolutely loves working in communications but absolutely detests working in chaos. In this episode she shares some of her thoughts on why working in communications can often feel so frantic, and what you can do to stop firefighting and start focusing on quality work that will really make an impact.

What Scott discusses with Joanna

  • The problem with taking a lack of evidence-based approach
  • Using tools to organise your work and how they can relieve stress
  • How you need to match your ambition to your resources
  • How to build trust and find you start to get more of what you need
  • Moving out of the reactive space into the strategic space
  • How many internal comms professionals see themselves
  • What type of personalities are attracted to the role
  • How they are perceived by the organisation
  • Steps to take if you are struggling with too many requests for work
  • How she was the first ever Head of Internal Comms in the Irish Police
  • And much more...

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[00:00:00] Scott: Hi, I'm Scott Fulton, the host of the Rebel Diaries podcast. This show will help you learn how to make work better for you, your colleagues and the organization you work for. I believe the modern workplace is broken for too many people with leaders and their teams, drowning in corporate complexity, information overload, and unnecessary levels of stress. 

[00:00:18] Scott: Having spent over 20 years leading disruptive high-performing teams who have won international awards for their impact. I've now dedicated my career to helping coach and train leaders and teams to deliver more value and impact at work whilst reducing the risk of burnout, overload, and wasted effort. 

[00:00:34] Scott: This podcast is dedicated to you and thousands like you who know work can and should be better.

[00:00:39] Scott: You'll get tips and insights from me as well as the amazing guests I invite to be the show, many of them have disrupted their industries and are thought leaders, speakers, and authors who have fascinating stories and advice to share. 

[00:00:50] Scott: Thank you for listening. I'm Scott Fulton and welcome to the Rebel Diaries show. 

[00:00:54] Joanna: So are you seen as the graphic design service are you seen as the person that you can go to and say, "Will you make this PowerPoint look a bit pretty?"

[00:01:04] Joanna: Or "will you write this blog immediately?" Or are you seen as a trusted advisor and a problem solver and somewhere where people can get good, solid advice?

[00:01:13] Joanna: I think the very first practical thing you can do if you haven't done it already in your organization is to set out your stall.

[00:01:20] Joanna: Oh, this other company. That's vaguely in our industry, that's not the same size as us, but they do this thing and we should definitely do this thing. And what do you think about this? 

[00:01:29] Joanna: So if you're not sleeping at night, if you're really stressed or anxious all the time, god forbid you're crying because of your job, it's time to step back just stop, reassess things and like sometimes you just have to leave, go somewhere else, and that's okay.

[00:01:42] Scott: Hi, and welcome to this week's episode. Joanna Parsons is an award-winning communicator who specializes in internal communications. She works with a tech company called Teamwork as Head of Internal Communications and Culture. Previously, she played a leading role in the Irish police force as the Head of Internal Communications during the height of the COVID 19 pandemic. She won four communication awards for the work that she delivered there. In this episode, we discuss the challenges facing communications teams, but these challenges are found across many teams in business, not just communications. 

[00:02:14] Scott: Hi Joanna welcome to the Rebel Diaries Podcast.

[00:02:16] Joanna: Thanks for having me.

[00:02:17] Scott: One of the things that I do is help teams who are in what I call corporate chaos. Overloaded with demand and emails and requests and all sorts of stuff. And I, I know that's particularly prevalent in the comms space, which is where you work.

[00:02:31] Scott: So can you tell us a bit about your experience of those kind of challenges?

[00:02:35] Joanna: Yeah. I think this question about chaos and communicators, it's one as old as time. I've worked in communications for a very long time, and I've seen a lot of communicators who work in a very frantic, chaotic way. Their workload is enormous. The volume of requests is never ending, and there's just piles and piles of stuff for them to get through.

[00:02:55] Joanna: And the outcome of operating in this way, obviously it's really stressful. The adrenaline is pumping all the time. You don't sleep properly. You're acting on people's whims and for the business it's not great cuz you're not delivering any value. You're acting just as an order taker and at the end of the day you're producing a lot of stuff that doesn't really do anything.

[00:03:15] Joanna: And I think one of the biggest complaints I hear from communicators in my network is specifically around the volume of work that there's just loads of stuff coming all the time, but when there's such a large volume of work, I mean they can't all have equal weight, but in my experience, one of the big problems with communicators, I hope I don't get any backlash for saying this, but a lot of people who are drawn to working in communications are very nice, helpful, attentive, and people pleasing types, and they find it really hard to say no, so they don't turn down any work.

[00:03:46] Joanna: This is the reason the volume of work is so high. They're not really mapping it to what's important to the business. Mary from HR wants something out, and Stephen from finance wants something out and they're doing it all, And really for an internal communicator, that's not your job to send out every message and to be the postman, but really your job is to create a, shared experience for all employees around what does the business strategy mean?

[00:04:10] Joanna: How do I fit into that? What's the direction of the business? So all the stuff you're spending your time on should map to the business strategy and everything else frankly needs to go in the bin and all the stuff that's landing in your lap does not have equal weight. And this is the biggest problem.

[00:04:26] Joanna: I see. And I would add that you'd probably need to think about how is your team or your function, or even just you, of your team of one, how are you seen in the organization? So are you seen as the graphic design service are you seen as the person that you can go to and say, "Will you make this PowerPoint look a bit pretty?"

[00:04:46] Joanna: Or "will you write this blog immediately?" Or are you seen as a trusted advisor and a problem solver and somewhere where people can get good, solid advice? So you need to think about how you're seen and the value that you are giving to the business in terms of the communication that you're doing.

[00:05:02] Scott: So I see that in other types of teams as well. And again I think that's the nature of just what I call the supplier mindset, where the company and leadership can just treat them as a supplier. "Oh, just do what you're told."

[00:05:15] Scott: We're not gonna ask you for your expertise or your opinion and ask you as a, an equal or a partner. We're gonna ask you as essentially an outsourced team that we've just said, "Just do it." And you see that in IT, HR, Comms, you've gotta change that mindset as you've said there. We're not a supplier, We're a professional employed with skills to advise you on the right thing to do.

[00:05:35] Scott: Have you been able to turn that around in the teams you've worked with? It's tough, isn't it? There's that cultural, "just do what you're told and we'll throw stuff over the fence at you" and "why haven't you done it? And here's another 20 things while we're at it."

[00:05:46] Joanna: I think it is tough, but it's not innate and it definitely doesn't have to be that way forever. I think definitely as you become more a senior and probably a bit older, you have more confidence and can be more assertive. It gets a bit easier. But I think if you do recognize yourself in this sort of frantic communicator, high volume of work, drowning and stuff, firefighting mode, don't worry because it's not stuck forever.

[00:06:11] Joanna: I'd say the first step is recognizing that you are operating in a very reactive way. So self-awareness is the first bit, and the second step is deciding to make a change. I think the very first practical thing you can do if you haven't done it already in your organization is to set out your stall.

[00:06:28] Joanna: So what is the purpose of your team or your role? What are you here to do for the business? And really importantly, what are you not here to do? That bit's probably the most important bit. So for example, you might decide that your role is giving confidential advice to senior leaders on change management.

[00:06:48] Joanna: But that you're not going to provide a graphic design service for the organization. So that's very clear on, "I'm here to do this. I'm not here to do that". And it makes saying no to stuff easier then, because you've mapped it out and said, actually I'm not really here to do that, but I can help you with this bit.

[00:07:02] Joanna: And I would say the second bit then is just to make a commitment, even if to yourself, it's to your line manager, to your team, that you're not going to be the organizational post man anymore. So when I say organizational postman, I mean you're not here to take messages from one person and deliver them to an audience.

[00:07:21] Joanna: That's not what a good comms team should do. You're here to broker understanding around key parts of the business to get everyone aligned around that to make sure they understand it the same way. Your job isn't to tell everyone the microwave is broken because Mary wants you to. And in order to move away from that reactive postman way, you need to get yourself really familiar with the business strategy.

[00:07:46] Joanna: So if you think about it now, don't cheat, don't look at your intranet. But if you think about it now, do you know the top three or four business priorities for your organization? And if you don't, that's a piece of work you need to do immediately. So what's really important to your C-suite? What's the business trying to achieve next year?

[00:08:04] Joanna: So it might be they want bigger market share, higher profits, higher levels of customer satisfaction, whatever it is you need to know because that's the stuff you need to be focusing on. And I think as well, and Scott, you'll be all about this. You really need to have some structures and some processes in place.

[00:08:23] Joanna: And communications can be totally terrible at this. I remember one boss I worked for his idea of a kind of a structure or a process. He had this big whiteboard in his office and he just wrote down the names of communications campaigns he had delivered, just random unconnected stuff that he had done.

[00:08:43] Joanna: It was like a brag board, but that was his idea of a process. But there was no process for how do you intake requests, how do you assess what's important or not? And then I compare that with another boss I had once who brought us all into a room. She had a big blank sheet of paper on the wall.

[00:09:01] Joanna: With all the months of the year mapped out, and we started thinking through all the dates that we knew would be important for the year for this organization. And then you could start to build a picture of August looks quite quiet. June looks manic. There's five competing dates in June. What are we gonna do and what are we not?

[00:09:19] Joanna: And by the end of that meeting, we were very clear on what campaigns we were gonna deliver that year, what we weren't, what we were gonna say no to, why it was important, and what it was delivering for the. and like when I think through these examples, I'm reminded Scott of one of the first conversations we ever had.

[00:09:36] Joanna: I was working as Head of Internal Comms with the Irish police at the time, and I was trying to come up with how I could deliver a new internet for the organization, which was badly needed. And I was speaking with different people in different policing organizations, about how they had done this and I remember meeting you and like just got totally blown away.

[00:09:56] Joanna: By the clear processes and structures and your ability to say no to stuff that didn't matter. And specifically, I remember you had a process for it. People came to you with a request for a new intranet page where they wanted new content on the internet and you had a whole workflow around this and you made them demonstrate the need for it.

[00:10:16] Joanna: And why does your audience want this and what's your evidence for that? Can you talk us through that? Cause I just thought that was brilliant.

[00:10:23] Scott: Yeah, so we, we had a during the process of building it, we had a process in our heads that was saying, is exactly the stuff you were talking about there about, is it aligned to business objectives? Is there an evidence of business need? Does it deliver an outcome for somebody? Is it an organizational priority?

[00:10:38] Scott: All those kind of things were in our head when we were making those decisions, not what we would call vanity content, which I'm sure. You and a lot of internal comms colleagues will be familiar with where somebody senior says, "Hey, I've got this great idea. Just put it on the homepage of the intranet."

[00:10:52] Scott: It's that tension between understanding the internet is to serve our organization so they can help the customer, not. About all that vanity type stuff. So we actually mapped that process out into a transparent decision making tree essentially. And I can't remember the exact detail, but it's basically aligned to those things, is there evidence of need?

[00:11:12] Scott: No. We need to find some, what's the volume of users that are gonna benefit? Is it a small thing or is it a big thing? So all those kind of factors would be at play. But it's always again aligned to actually, is this the right thing to do? Do we have capacity? Rather than just, Oh, you've asked for it.

[00:11:27] Scott: You are senior. Yes, we'll do it. And it can make you unpopular. And it is that tension. I was interested in what you were saying earlier about, as you get more mature and more experienced, you might feel you're able to push back and it's saying no, but in a way that's, "let's work together to see what the problem is you're trying to solve."

[00:11:43] Scott: Which leads me on to the next point that it's probably good for us to explore now. I would have police officers say, "Hey, I've designed this webpage for you in Word." And I'd be like, "Okay, thank you. But with the greatest respect we're the web professionals, you are the police professional.

[00:11:57] Scott: I don't come and tell you how to be a police officer and whether you should arrest somebody or not. So the heart's in the right place and they want to help with the solution and people like the shiny thing. Have you got any examples where that's been a particular challenge for you? 

[00:12:07] Joanna: This is a big part of the bit where you're setting up your own kind of personal brand and your own credibility in the organization. So when I joined the police, for example, I was the only person, I was the first person in the hundred year history of the police to be Head of Internal Comms.

[00:12:21] Joanna: They'd never had a me before. They didn't quite know what I was there to do. So I had a lot of " will you help me finish this poster" or "will you tell me what size I should get this notebook printed?" They'd come with a very specific tactical thing." I want this on the front page of the intranet."

[00:12:37] Joanna: Yeah, and coming into a policing organization in particular, it's quite intimidating sometimes to have that conversation with someone who out ranks you in an organization where your expected to jump when someone out ranks you and do as you're told. But your role to really deliver business value is to then have a conversation with that person to say, "Let's take a step back from the poster for a second.

[00:13:02] Joanna: Let's park the notebook and let's talk about what are you're trying to achieve with this poster. So what are you trying to get people to do? Or do you want people to think differently about something? Do you want people to feel something? Maybe you want to instill a bit of pride. Let's start there". And this was a very different approach, certainly in the police and one that quickly became really popular because people knew they could come to me, not just to execute some stuff and get it off the list, but actually have some very thoughtful conversations.

[00:13:33] Joanna: And by the end of it, they're not gonna do that poster in the end and the notebook goes in the bin because they've realized actually when I want to change behavior in somebody, a poster isn't gonna do that. And they come to that realization by themselves. And often the answer is something that I don't even need to do myself because they need to go off and talk to their team or hold a town hall or it's something for them to do.

[00:13:56] Joanna: So I'm more in the advisor role, but that bit. It's definitely a red flag. If someone comes to you with the perfect solution and tactic identified, help them to take a step back. But you can do that in a helpful and collaborative way.

[00:14:09] Scott: Yeah, and it's about keeping your mind open to say, or, their mind's open. Say this might not be the right solution. Let's not think about the, as you said, just think about the problem we're trying to solve first, not jump straight to the solution. And even it gets worse, doesn't it? I've seen in organizations where, You create the solution for a problem that doesn't even exist, and then try and find a problem that meets the need of the solution you created.

[00:14:31] Joanna: Saw that actually in a previous organization. I saw that they were like, Oh, this other company. That's vaguely in our industry, that's not the same size as us, but they do this thing and we should definitely do this thing. And what do you think about this? And I was like that's an interesting idea.

[00:14:46] Joanna: But based on the knowledge that I have on our audience and how they respond to things and the channels they like, that's not a great fit here. And they took great umbrage at this. We had a conversation about it. So they eventually went, "Oh yeah, fair enough". But they'd gotten so far down the track of imagining this thing.

[00:15:03] Joanna: But again, it's always going back to that what's it trying to achieve and what's that doing for the business and why is it important stuff? And I think people do understand that when you talk them through it.

[00:15:13] Scott: Yeah. We had I think it was about 12 principles and we took inspiration from the Government Digital Service. So we varied them and created some of our own. And one of them was "lead don't follow". they were printed out and stuck on the wall next to our meeting table. And the lead don't follow was basically just cuz somebody else is doing something.

[00:15:29] Scott: It doesn't mean it's the right thing to. And that's because we had so many times someone come to us and say "these other the three police forces have this thing on their website. Why don't we have it on ours?" We'd say, "Okay, we don't have the data to tell us whether that actually works for that police force, just cuz they've got it on the website.

[00:15:46] Scott: We need to know if it's solving any problems for the citizen or is it actually annoying citizens? "So again, it's back to evidence and, became slightly annoying for people cuz, "oh, Scott just wants evidence all the time", . As you said at the start with 150 plus things hitting your inbox all the time, you have to prioritize and you have to prioritize that thing that is gonna move the needle and is evidence based.

[00:16:10] Scott: Otherwise, you're just fighting fires, aren't you? And just dealing with all these different pet projects.

[00:16:15] Joanna: Yeah, and you know what? I really think that can. It obviously gets you very stressed and you're not in a great place, but worse than that, it can make you stop enjoying your work because there's no satisfaction in just churning out stuff all the time. If you, for example, in the police one of the key parts of their organizational strategy was around human rights and embedding a new human rights focus on all of their work.

[00:16:37] Joanna: So I partnered really closely with the unit that was leading on this, gave them lots of advice. Help them work through lots of tactics and channels and push them as well on, " you're talking about embedding human rights. Let's get specific, what does that mean? What does that look like? If you were to do this successfully and you had a time machine, you could go forward five years.

[00:16:59] Joanna: What would the police be doing differently? What behaviors would've changed? How would you know that this was embedded?" These were difficult conversations and they weren't very happy sometimes cause they were like, "Oh, I thought we had this all figured out and now we have, I rethink some of this". But it was very useful.

[00:17:15] Joanna: And again, there wasn't much for me to execute on because it was more giving them the advice and then they could lead the charge and do that. And it's funny what you say about evidence cause I had some of those conversations too around show me the evidence and you think in a policing organization they'd love a bit of evidence they don't.

[00:17:33] Scott: So obviously we've talked about teams that are stuck in firefighting mode and you've obviously seen that a lot with your network and your own experience. How do teams start to break the back of that and get out of that?

[00:17:45] Joanna: I think the first option, which requires no budget is try to carve out some time for reflection. You can do this on your own as a team with your line manager, but to step back and think "what's not working here? And why are we drowning in all this stuff all the time and why are we not enjoying our work?".

[00:18:05] Joanna: And to try and map out the type of stuff he can start saying no to and what you need to focus on now for lots of teams, you're too much in the thick of it and you're too in the weeds and it's very hard to do that by yourself. And I would really recommend getting in some external help someone who does not work there, who does not know you to come in and help you with that.

[00:18:25] Joanna: And I think Scott, you're exactly the type of person actually that I would recommend because you're so good on clarity and structure on process, and you have no fear of saying no. So maybe you could talk us through what kind of training or workshop or advice would you give to someone listening to this who's really stuck in this firefighting mode?

[00:18:43] Scott: I think the first thing is, when I do help teams, it's, I break it into three stages. The first stage is what I call the mindset. So it's thinking about some of the stuff we talked about around you, trying to get out of that supplier mindset and realizing that you are an expert in your field and people know that, but it, you've gotta behave in that way as well to get that confidence of your leaders and your stakeholders.

[00:19:04] Scott: And so that mindset part is key. And then secondly, It's about the processes and processes that are effective and gonna work for your business. And not every process fits every business, and I'm very much against a kind of one size fits all cookie cutter approach. So I think one of the key benefits of it is actually trying to get that visibility of work.

[00:19:26] Scott: And you talked a couple of examples earlier with the, just stick it on a whiteboard. But that, that planner where you've got months planned out, great for the team, but also I'd strongly advise to share that with the people that are asking you to do work. So one of the most powerful things I found was getting the person asking you for the work to help you prioritize it.

[00:19:47] Scott: Say here's, if you've got the visibility of work to say here's all the stuff I've got, and here's it prioritized in a nice, transparent. That anybody non-technical can understand. I'm doing this. This is my next top priority because of X and it serves 5,000 people. You've just asked me to do this.

[00:20:03] Scott: Where do you think that fits in? In the priority? And in my experience, quite often if it's a vanity project they then in my experience will say, I'll come back next year or, I can see you're really busy.

[00:20:13] Scott: So I think it's getting teams one, that mindset to say "we gotta move out of supplier mode". And two, it's get some structure in an effective way to get work visible and accessible, not only to the team, to relieve some of that pressure around feeling overloaded, but actually being able to prioritize. One of the things that gets me is, " oh, these three things are a priority". They cannot be, the dictionary definition is priority is one. You have one priority. So it's trying to, again, just get your work into a place. Get it out of your inbox, get it out of sticky notes on your desk.

[00:20:46] Scott: Get it into a logical place that is accessible to the team and beyond, and then you'll start to really move the needle.

[00:20:52] Joanna: I think that's massive. Something I really think that all communications teams need to be using is some sort of a project management tool, a digital tool where you can collaborate in real time, like Teamwork is one such tool. It does a good job for this. But in the police, like I used a tool like this for all our editorial boards so we could map out all our content needs a month in advance.

[00:21:15] Joanna: Then we knew if next week was a bit scant, but the week after it was overloaded, you pull things aside. But you can also assign tasks to people, put deadlines on things, upload documents , you're getting away from what you said there, the sticky notes, the whiteboards, the scraps of paper, the hundred emails.

[00:21:32] Joanna: It's all in one place. And again, you can make that visible to people as well, so they can see. Oh Yeah. Okay. I can see what you're working on, why that might be more important than the little request that I have, but that bit about structure and clarity and purpose. It's just the most important thing I 

[00:21:49] Scott: Hmm. Because otherwise the work just lurks in multiple places, and the inbox is the worst. I know I've seen you posted a while ago on LinkedIn about your inboxes not to-do list and people do that. It's just certainly I was helping people in the police who were getting 200 to 300 emails a day.

[00:22:06] Scott: And you can imagine the stress of, Oh, I go on leave for a week and then come back to this hellish situation where there's probably some really important stuff in there. But as you're trying to get through it, there's more just coming in and coming in. So part of the thing is trying to get some control around that and.

[00:22:20] Scott: There's etiquette when I going into the whole email thing today but get the work out of there and again, get it into a tool like Trello or you've mentioned some others there where it doesn't just sit there in your inbox cuz every time you open that inbox your brain is going, Oh, there's some really important stuff in here, but also I've got it on in my calendar.

[00:22:36] Scott: I've got it on a post it note on my desk, or I've got it on a whiteboard in the office. You need to get some structure around it or you, it's just gonna mess your brain up.

[00:22:45] Joanna: And what I like about using a tool like Teamwork or Trello, or one of them is it does all that thinking for you. You don't need to have that cognitive load. "What am I doing today and what's on a deadline and when is that due?" It's all there. Let that worry about that. I think the other bit for internal communicators, and look, this is something I struggle with a lot.

[00:23:05] Joanna: It's my big thing to break the back of next year is you need to match your ambition to your resources. You cannot do everything that you want and you cannot have the super high standards for everything when it's just you and no money. I was on a coaching retreat recently actually, and somebody said, I was talking about this relentless pursuit of quality and that I won't compromise on quality, and she stopped me in my tracks cuz she said, " what if you are 100% is your boss's 200?

[00:23:38] Joanna: What if you didn't need to go that far, and what if you didn't need to get that exhausted?" I was like, "Oh yeah, that's quite a good point". So that can help communicators as well in some things just need to get done. They don't all need to be the Rolls Royce version. So get it in a structure, get it in a plan, and match your ambition to your resources.

[00:24:00] Scott: So what does life look like for you when you get out of this firefighter mode, when you know you're a highly effective comm's team? What does that look like for you?

[00:24:10] Joanna: I think the first bit is that you'll find you get much better and higher quality work done. Like you're not just churning out stuff, but you're doing stuff that matters and that impact on the business. And that generally leads to, you'll find it much easier to get resources. So if you go looking for an extra team member, if you need some more budget, that comes with a lot less resistance cause you've demonstrated your value.

[00:24:34] Joanna: And you'll also start to build much deeper, lasting, trusting relationships with colleagues because again, you're seen as not just the person who could do the PowerPoint, but actually you know, a good problem solver. And I think as well, there's a bit about personal branding here as well. If you move out of the reactive space into the strategic space, you can market yourself truthfully as a strategic internal communicator.

[00:24:59] Joanna: There's not that many of us, So you are in a good place. We're in high demand. It's really good for your career. And you know what? On a personal note. It's a lot less stressful. You will sleep better. You will enjoy your work better, and you'll just remember why you love job. 

[00:25:13] Joanna: But Scott, from your side, there must be people that you know, maybe your own team that have benefited from this kind of structured approach.

[00:25:21] Joanna: Can you give us an example?

[00:25:23] Scott: Yeah, so just in a nutshell we were in a very bad place many years ago and it was all the stuff we've been talking about. So the team were overloaded with work. It was difficult, if not impossible to say no, because we were already disliked. So why would you wanna annoy people more by saying no again?

[00:25:39] Scott: The team is stressed out, working long hours, inbox chaos unable to deliver projects, all that kind of stuff, and then discovered the techniques and the thinking that I help teams with now. And over a period of probably six to twelve months really started to transform things. We were no longer seen as a supplier. I would always say that we just wanted a seat around the table and that changed. We actually got invited to those senior meetings to help solve problems rather than just the meetings would happen.

[00:26:05] Scott: You wouldn't get invited. And then, oh, by the way, you picked up three actions and in meeting that you weren't at. And here, it was all that classic give you the solution. And the team did less of what didn't matter and more of what did. So we did the high value stuff.

[00:26:17] Scott: We prioritized, and that really made the difference being evidence based. Someone very senior once said to me, " you seem 

to always 

[00:26:23] Scott: be right about these things". It was, I was like, "I'm not a mind reader. It's just if you follow the evidence, then you tend to be right" . So yeah it was a very different place.

[00:26:35] Scott: And yeah, the stuff that I'm obviously incredibly passionate about now and help people with is the stuff that helps us get to the place that we've been talking about where work isn't stressful, it's enjoyable, you're actually delivering value. And that's one of the hardest things, isn't it? If you go home every day and think all I did was fight chaos and didn't deliver any value, didn't deliver any outcomes over time, that's just gonna wear you down.

[00:26:57] Scott: And then, working is just not enjoyable at all. And it affects your mental health outside of work as well. So I think, some of that is within the scope of what you can change yourself, but some people will no doubt find themselves, in organizations where that just, they're just not gonna be able to change that themselves.

[00:27:13] Scott: So my advice would be, start to look elsewhere.

[00:27:17] Joanna: I totally agree, particularly like a real sticking point. You may have the best intentions and you may want to completely change how you work. If you have a boss, for example, that won't say no to anything, that might be a big red flag for you that maybe this isn't going to work and I can't change the mindset.

[00:27:37] Joanna: But at the end of the day, you really have to remember as well. Cause I forgot when I was in the police, I was in the police during Covid, it was very high stress. I was working mad hours and I just, I think I lost sight of perspective for a while. I remember at one point I was communicating out to employees how to stay safe from Covid and the correct PPE to wear at crime scene and what the correct protocols were.

[00:28:01] Joanna: But I got convinced at one point I heard a police officer got covid and I thought that was my fault because I hadn't clearly communicated something like I was so deep down. So my advice is it's just a job. It doesn't matter what your job is, it's just a job. So if you're not sleeping at night, if you're really stressed or anxious all the time, god forbid you're crying because of your job, it's time to step back just.

[00:28:23] Joanna: stop Reassess things and like sometimes you just have to leave, go somewhere else, and that's okay, because your job should really not do that to your life.

[00:28:32] Scott: Yeah. So if you had some top tips, say three top tips to give somebody who's struggling right now, what would they be?

[00:28:40] Joanna: I think the tip number one is go and read your organizational business strategy. You need to know what's important to your business because that is what's important to you. So if you don't know that and you're just flapping around doing loads of stuff, stop immediately read that strategy. The second bit is to get organized.

[00:29:00] Joanna: So if you're not using a tool like Teamwork, or you're not using project management software, get on one, get everything down on paper, prioritize stuff. And like Scott said, you can't, you don't have five top priorities. You have one top priority. What is it and what's it doing for the business? And the third one is, if you're struggling with this, if you're struggling with, particularly if you're struggling with how to say no or you don't know where to start with all of this, you like the sound of all of this, but you don dunno how to do it.

[00:29:29] Joanna: Invest in some external help. So like Scott I think is a genius. I think he's brilliant. Get somebody in who has done this before, who can take that load off you, show you how to do it and help you get started and then you can keep going from there.

[00:29:44] Scott: Great. Thanks Joanna. And I'll pay you after for the plug. Thanks for that. So one of the things I ask all my guests, if you had one book you could take with you to a desert island, what would it be?

[00:29:56] Joanna: Oh god, that's a really hard question. There's a book I read a long time ago, which I keep meaning to come back to, which is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig, and it's a deep dive into quality. And what is quality and how do you know quality? It's a very philosophical, existential story of a man who goes across America on a motorbike.

[00:30:21] Joanna: But quality is it's just a theme of my life. Even my poor husband, if he comes home and he's determined to do diy, I get this face of Please don't, because I just insist on quality. So if you're into philosophy or open to an interesting but weird read, give that one a go.

[00:30:36] Joanna: Cause I would bring it to the desert island and read it again.

[00:30:39] Scott: Brilliant. I'll get that link in the show notes, so if anyone wants to get in touch with you and chat about this topic a bit more, how do they do that?

[00:30:47] Joanna: Yep. I'm on LinkedIn. I'm very active on LinkedIn. You'll find me, add me as a connection. Drop me a message. I'd love to chat. 

[00:30:53] Scott: And I'll get the link to your profile in the show notes as well. Joanna, it's been great chatting to you. Thanks for being on the show.

[00:30:59] Joanna: Thanks so much for having me.

[00:31:00] Scott: A big, thank you for listening to the Rebel Diaries show your time is precious, so it is appreciated. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to hit that subscribe button in your podcast app of choice so you don't miss the next one. There's a new episode every Monday morning, ideal for your commute to work or early morning walk. 

[00:31:18] Scott: Until next time, take care be a rebel and deliver work with impact.