Paternity leave, gender equality and the changing role of fathers

January 28, 2016

Greg Canty and Brendan Canty

I listened with interest at the discussions about the new proposals regarding paternity leave and I fondly remembered (not!) how it was when my kids were born.

It was August, 1991 and Ellen, our second child was due. It was a busy time in work at that time of the year with my role as Financial Controller as I had to get all budgeting finalised for the following year. We were part of Guinness so it was a complex process.

I knew that when Ellen was born I wanted a little free time to enjoy the moment(s) and to be there to look after my son, Brendan who was two and a half at the time. I worked day and night and weekends leading up to that time so that when she was born there would be no issue and I could take a few days off.

Ellen was overdue and a date was set for her to be induced. I informed my boss,  Charlie of the date and he wasn’t very pleased as he was planning a management meeting on that date!

What could I do?

The hospital had a gap in their scheduling and Ellen was induced a day earlier ….my beautiful daughter arrived on the 21st August!!

My childminding role kicked in for the next few days. Two days later I popped into the office to check a few things and I was stupidly expecting a round of “congratulations” from all of my workmates.

Instead I got a serious look from the Sales Manager..”You’re in trouble“. I was dumbfounded at what I heard.

What the hell could I be in trouble for and by the way it was a girl!!” I responded.

It turns out that because Ellen was born a day earlier everyone reckoned I could and should have made the “crucial” management meeting. I grabbed Brendan and we left.

A day or two later I was back in work and was summoned to Charlie’s office ..I don’t think I even gave him a chance to open his mouth.

He got it full belt “I always put this stupid place first and this time you can well and truly f**k yourself as it is one time I am putting my family first” and stormed out. I don’t think we ever spoke about the incident again.

Two years ago in Fuzion we had our first ‘baby‘!

A few months before that one of our team announced that she was pregnant. While it was fantastic news for her and her husband, it did cause an issue for the business. She was a senior member of the team and now we had to plan about replacing her with a quality replacement.

She would be out for 6 months and she also planned on taking the extra two months. I also learnt that while she would be out she was entitled to holidays and bank holidays, so effectively she would be out for 9 months. This would be disruptive to the business as well as costing us – it was the most expensive baby I ever had!

This is life and our business had to make arrangements and cope but it did strike me that this ‘issue‘ was one that we had to solve with her. Where was the guy in this equation? Was his work disrupted or would it carry a cost for them?

Maybe she was more than happy to put her career on hold for a while and take off that precious time with her new baby but maybe she might have liked to share this gift with her husband? No one had a choice.

I imagined a different world where her husband announced to his boss that “they” were pregnant and that he was opting to take half of the parental leave. This is how it works in Denmark so it isn’t such a stretch.

I’m a dad and I’m a parent and I would have loved to have those precious days when Ellen was born back again to enjoy…maybe more than a few days?

If we are serious about the guys role as a parent and we are really serious about gender equality then us fellas need to be treated as equals.

Two weeks paternity leave..nah!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Invest in making your wheels turn

January 26, 2016

Flywheel

This is a really interesting client.

This company has been around for a few generations and have done absolutely everything to survive the recent tough times,

They employ nearly 100 people and insist on manufacturing their products themselves in Ireland to preserve the quality control and the ability to provide the best solutions for their customers at all times.

They have their own retail outlets and also sell through some stockists.

They purchased a similar business overseas for the sole purpose of acquiring more potential volume so that production levels are kept up and the production facility remains viable.

One of the survival tactics like so many businesses during the recession was to cut back on overheads and cut out ‘unnecessary’ costs.

Of course the first to get the chop was the Marketing budget… advertising gone, sponsorships gone, exhibitions gone, customer evenings gone and PR gone.

Despite chopping these budgets the wheels didn’t fall off the business (well not immediately) – of course it didn’t as the business had a long established reputation, good recognition in the sector and a big collection of legacy customers who knew all about them.

A few months went by and the sales dropped, a few more months passed and they dropped again and so on. While the sales did not plummet immediately the lack of promotional activity meant the business gradually disappeared from view.

An aggressive overseas competitor spotted the gap and entered the Irish market, got some fantastic deals on adverts and started to win significant business.

The client has a large business with big payroll costs, an expensive production facility and a retail network all requiring big sales volume to sustain and there is virtually nothing being spent on attracting new business.

This is the “priority trap“.

We were preparing a plan for them but we were warned in advance that the budgets for promotion were tiny – surely generating new business was essential?

If you don’t invest in ‘telling your story‘, promoting your products and getting those wheels turning you will eventually have no business.

Should the first priority for the business be promotion and not the last?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

Friend or Foe?

January 18, 2016

Gladiator - Greg Canty

I found myself in the middle of a series of emails back and forth with a business colleague (I hate that word) who I have a really great relationship with.

There was some confusion about an issue and we clearly had a different interpretation of the ‘facts‘ and as result our explanatory emails to each other were not helping!

What I was saying to him was clarifying nothing and vice versa and as a result a little tension and frustration had crept into our communications.

You could see an edge creeping into the tone and the language both of us were using…. this was heading to a bad place. It would have taken very little at this stage to drag the tone lower and raise the tension and before you know it we both would have our swords and shields out ready to do ferocious battle.

In the blink of an eye a great and very productive and enjoyable relationship could be ruined forever.

Both of us thankfully avoided the awful trap and we picked up the phone recognising that an actual conversation was the best way to sort out the issue.

Step back, take a deep breath and make a decision to be a friend and not a foe… It’s s much better place to be.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

#GoGreg – Dublin Chamber Council and my 5 Priorities

January 14, 2016

Greg Canty - Fuzion Marketing & PR, Dublin and Cork

As we are doing a lot of work in Dublin and I am getting more and more involved with Dublin Chamber of Commerce (I co-chair the Business Owners Network that meets every second Friday) I decided I would take the next step and try to get even more involved.

I have decided to run for Dublin Chamber Council which would give me the opportunity of influencing how the Chamber is run and trying to shape the strategy and direction that it takes about key issues.

While I believe that Dublin Chamber is doing a really good job I do feel that it could do even more..

My Pitch!

No 1 – Passionate about Entrepreneurship

I am passionate about start-ups, business ownership and the SME sector and believe that Dublin Chamber should become a natural hub for all activity in this area. I don’t believe this is the case at the moment.

Dublin Chamber was founded by business owners and we should strive to get back to a scenario whereby successful business owners of all sizes are proactive members driving, supporting and encouraging enterprise in Dublin. We need their voices, influence and expertise to start shining through.

Successful entrepreneurs are asked to speak at Dublin Chamber events – we need them as proactive  members!

For my part I have had my own businesses since the age of 13!

No 2- Influence

I believe that Dublin Chamber should have a much bigger voice and influence in how our city and country is run. I hope with more involvement and through my own expertise I can start to support Chamber in communicating our messages even stronger through more use of traditional and digital media.

Also I believe my communications experience and my insights from working closely with some politicians and other key influencers could be of benefit here.

No 3- Fresh Perspective from the ‘Not so shy’ Cork boy!

I admit it, I’m not from Dublin!

While some might hold this against me as being a negative I feel it is a real positive. I operate a business in both Dublin and Cork, spending my time equally between both locations. I believe I offer a unique fresh perspective as a result, which could benefit the Chamber.

No 4 – Destination Branding Insights

I was recently part of the Destination Branding team that created a Brand book for the Cork region with a focus on attracting Irish and foreign direct investment.

The learnings from this process could be quite valuable to Dublin Chamber.

No 5 – Fun

My last point is a very serious one!

While there is serious business to be done I do believe we need to have a much bigger element of fun to the networking and the business of Chamber. In my view the best networking is done in a relaxed atmosphere and when people are enjoying themselves. I always try my best to achieve this and for anyone who attends my Business Owners Network sessions I chair once a month, I hope this is witnessed.

To give you a taste of the fun we have check out the incredible rendition of “White Christmas” that the Business Owners Network managed in December on YouTube!  

For these reasons I am asking the Dublin Chamber members who would like a fresh, challenging and different voice for Dublin Chamber Council to consider me when voting opens on the 18th January.

I am also asking members to also consider voting for David Lafferty, an accountant who runs his own practice and someone who is busy flying the flag for the SME’s and business owners. He is an active member of the Business Owners Network and has worked on the Budget Task Force with the Chamber.

For Dublin Chamber members the voting is open from the 18th till the 29th January.

#GoGreg !!

Greg Canty - Dublin Chamber

What advice would you give your older self?

December 31, 2015

Yoko Ono Quote

I was chatting to one of my kids buddies who was running their own business for the first time and they asked me a very genuine question.

With all that I have learnt along the way, what advice could I give them?

This was a really good question to ask because just like any other ‘older‘ (a very loose definition!) person I have accumulated a collection of valuable life experiences and learnings from my many different situations, which you would hope could benefit someone younger and with less experience.

I heard a series of interviews on the radio over the past few days with a similar theme: “What advice would you give your younger self?

This is a clever thing to ask because it is all about passing on wisdom that has been learnt along the way and trying to crystallise this into solid pieces of advice.

The only problem with all of this is that it is a little bit too retrospective and doesn’t do a whole pile for us!

Ok, we did learn things that might help those with less experience and we can give theoretical advice to our younger selves. Brilliant!

Instead how about asking that younger person with all of their freshness, different perspective, raw energy and enthusiasm to give us valuable advice about our lives and then apply our accumulated wisdom and knowledge and then do a totally different exercise…

Answer this question:

What advice would you give your older self?

Write down the answers and start following that advice straight away …what are you waiting for?!!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

The Culture Creep

December 29, 2015

Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh, CEO and founder of Zappos speaks about culture in a very clear way “Our belief is that if we get the culture right, most of the other stuff – like delivering great customer service, or building a long-term enduring brand and business will happen naturally on its own

He believes in this so much that every year he produces a ‘culture book‘ for the company. This isn’t something that management drafts with rules and guidelines and inspirational words but it is something that all employees, partners and vendors are invited to feed into.

The submissions are not edited except for typos as it is intended to capture the culture of his special club.

He gets that the culture of the business is the driving force behind it but he also gets that you can’t dictate it – it is what it is and he uses the book to capture the pulse of the organisation in a clean way.

If you read Hsieh’s book ‘Delivering Happiness‘ you will learn the lengths the company goes to, to ensure that the right culture is ingrained in every employee from the minute they join and even some novel ideas to encourage people who “don’t fit” to quickly exit (they will pay you €2,000 to quit!) to ensure they don’t infect the business.

Culture creep

An article caught my attention recently in the Daily Telegraph about the recent VW scandal with the headline ‘Emissions rigging scandal was caused by the firm’s culture

VW Scandal

The chairman, Hans Dieter Potsch stated that “misconduct, flaws in our processes and an attitude that tolerated breaches of rules” had been allowed stretching back over a decade and ending with the company deliberately cheating pollution control tests on a massive scale.

He went on to state “This was not attributable to a once off error, but an unbroken chain of errors“.

The day an employee starts a new job they quickly learn the lay of the land – what is the place like, what does it take to progress, what things get you in trouble, what are the golden rules?

These important things aren’t what is printed in the ‘hand book‘ or on the company website but they are the living, breathing dynamics of everyday work life that you need to learn quickly if you want to survive and progress in your new job.

Ironically on the VW website they have a campaign called “Think Blue” . Read the blurb: “Everyone can help to treat our environment better. At Volkswagen we are not satisfied just to build cars with lower CO2 emissions. Instead we have taken a much more holistic attitude towards ecological sustainability: “Think Blue.

I couldn’t find anything on their website about the culture and values of the company.

What happened at VW ?

It seems that a culture creep happened whereby my boss thought it was ok to bend the rules because his boss thought it was ok because his boss said it was and this obviously crept up and down the organisation until a culture of honesty and integrity (corporate buzzwords you will regularly see as key values) had virtually disintegrated. This however didn’t stop the marketing machine with their ‘Think Blue‘ campaign!

This culture creep obviously took years to infect the company but it did have to start somewhere with people in senior positions for whatever reasons (pressure, bonuses, incompetence?) making really damaging decisions, which have possibly irrevocably wrecked the proud reputation of this fabulous company built gradually since the forties.

A strong culture is a core element of your brand and it needs to be nurtured and protected by every single person in your organisation. The branding, inspirational taglines, value statements, books and brochures should be expressions of this culture but they must be real and must genuinely reflect the ethos and ‘truth‘ that exists in the business.

Anything else will eventually be found out..

Greg Canty is a Managing Partner of Fuzion Marketing, PR and Design.

 Fuzion provide Crisis PR services and run Brand Workshops for clients from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

Building your Reputation Wall

December 28, 2015

awards wall

We were back at this point again with a client of ours.

We were being asked by the media if our client would do interviews as a result of some really great news that we had pushed out in a press release.

Of course we had advised our client that this would more than likely happen but she was adamant that she did not want to do newspaper and radio interviews “I hate to be seen as blowing my own trumpet” and “won’t the media be quick enough to cut the legs from you when things go wrong?“.

These were really ‘hard set‘ beliefs that she had and there was no shifting them. As her communications advisers we had to push her and explain that doing these interviews would be great for the business and would help to achieve the objectives that they had set for us.

Her last comment really struck a chord with me – “Won’t the media be quick enough to cut the legs from you when things go wrong?”

To be honest when things go wrong everyone will question what happened and this is the general public and the media. Mostly you can’t predict when these things happen but sometimes you can. In either case you should be prepared by having carefully built up your reputation wall.

Reputation Wall

Imagine all of the good things that you and your organisation does – these things will help to start building a “reputation wall” for you.

Great products, excellent customer service, paying your suppliers on time, being courteous in business, being a responsible corporate citizen, looking after your team and doing charitable work are all fantastic things that help to build that reputation wall with your various stakeholders.

They are a great company” is what you want people saying about you.

PR can help to accelerate your good news and with the help of some careful planning this reputation wall will be built even higher by reaching a much wider audience through the media and other communications channels such as social media.

Your reputation wall will hep you win business, get loans, get credit, get planning permission, get landlords wanting you as their tenant, attract great staff but this isn’t the only time it will help you.

In the event that something does go wrong (and it often does unless you are extremely lucky) your organisation will be seen as one that should be believed and trusted and as a result you will be forgiven for whatever has gone wrong. The higher and stronger your wall is the more it will protect you.

I explained all of this to my client and thankfully she did listen to me and agreed to do one of the radio interviews. I smiled as I listened to her doing her fantastic company proud.

How is your reputation wall?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR who offer PR and Crisis PR services in Ireland from our offices in Dublin and Cork

The Team Challenge and listening to that Voice in your Head

December 18, 2015

Team spirit

It’s that time of the year again and we are planning our ‘team day‘ to sign off another year.

This is always a special day when we discuss our plans for the new year, do a few team things together and toast the successes during the year gone by.

My team is really important to me and while this is made up of a group of individuals it is the collective that makes it so special.

We work hard to create a special atmosphere that allows a team spirit to thrive – this is always about respecting each other, working hard, having fun, encouraging, praising, supporting, celebrating special occasions, team days and every Friday we go to lunch together and break bread.

We call this #WinHappy and it is about working hard together in a good, enjoyable, supportive atmosphere – when you get this right you win with a big smile on your face!

The team spirit process starts when we recruit and we place a big emphasis on the character of the individual as well as their technical ability. In our job specifications we make it clear that we want ‘heart and soul‘ team players.

While we work hard to create that special atmosphere it will only happen when the individual plays their part, which does involve a sacrifice on their part.

Team sacrifice

Will I stay on for drinks after work, will I give up my Friday lunch, will I stay back and help, will I attend the networking event, will I give up my night and celebrate with the team? Why can’t I just punch in my time and head home once my work is done?

While I would love to say we always get it right in Fuzion and succeed in creating that special team spirit there have been times when this just hasn’t been the case. Invariably the reason for this has been that someone who doesn’t fully buy into or fit into the Fuzion ethos has started working with us and it quickly upsets the whole dynamic.

When this dynamic isn’t right it is very damaging for the whole business and everything becomes more difficult. It is like playing a match with a big weight on your back and at the time you realise that something is wrong but often it’s not a very easy thing to sort out.

When it is not right you end up with unhealthy cliques, sniping and personal agendas, people not helping each other, upset and stress, jealousy, silly games, poor work and a lack of commitment. This will impact on the quality of the work at some point.

Even worse in our own business I have witnessed the transformation of great, positive people into disheartened, unmotivated and disruptive individuals in a matter of months when the wrong atmosphere develops. Just one person who isn’t the right fit can change everything.

On each of the few occasions when this happened it has been quite easy to pinpoint the individuals who upset the team balance and in every single case during the recruitment process I can recall that clear voice in my head saying “they are not a fit for Fuzion” or  “this just doesn’t feel right“.

In each of these scenarios I forced myself to ignore the voice in my head when the evidence on their CV’s was so strong convincing me that they would be a great fit for Fuzion – none of these appointments have ever worked out!

I wonder if each of the individuals themselves knew they weren’t a fit? –  I guess when you need a job you too can ignore these voices.

I’m looking forward to our team day, to enjoying the year ahead together and making sure that I always listen to those reliable voices.. 

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

The difference between Leadership and a “Spokesperson said”

December 8, 2015

Councillor Joe Queenan

Last night Fianna Fail issued a statement after the resignation of disgraced Councillor Joe Queenan (don’t you love the camera hidden in the box of tissues!)

The statement was as expected:

Following the Primetime Investigates Standards in Public Office programme, a Spokesperson for Fianna Fáil commented, “Tonight the Party has accepted the resignation of Cllr Joe Queenan. Some of the behaviour displayed in tonight’s programme was shocking and completely unacceptable. The instances where there appear to be clear breaches of the law need to be fully investigated by the Gardaí and prosecutions brought where appropriate.”

Click to view the full Fianna Fail Joe Quennan statement.

It was an appropriate statement and it was very important that Fianna Fail issued it quickly but I do have a big question – why a Spokesperson?

Why do organisations like this choose to go this anonymous, nothing ‘spokesperson‘ route instead of grabbing the opportunity and demonstrating clear leadership, authority and direction?

We don’t want a ‘Spokesperson‘!!

Instead we want a leader, someone who speaks out, someone who is willing to take responsibility and put their name behind the statement and show clearly what is expected of their organisation.

We want a person who will take the interviews, face the music and show some conviction.

Next time you are writing a press release try to avoid the bland, cop out of the “Spokesperson said” if you want to show leadership and authority and you want people to take you more seriously.

Well done to the Primetime Investigates team at RTE!

Greg Canty 

Fuzion PR Services – Cork and Dublin, Ireland 

 

Jurgen Klopp and his Ten Management Tips

December 7, 2015

Jurgen Klopp

I’m writing this a little bit depressed after a very disappointing defeat away to struggling Newcastle but in general we have seen a transformation of Liverpool FC in the last two months since Jurgen Klopp, the manager has arrived.

The players have been transformed, the same squad that we thought were lousy purchases are now looking like great players and we have had a few very impressive results of late (except for Newcastle!) and it does seem to be wholly down to the charismatic manager (the self declared Normal One) who has previously enjoyed huge success in Germany with Borussia Dortmund.

Pretty much every Liverpool fan believes that success is around the next corner, which was certainly not the case before he joined the club.

How can a manager make such a difference and can the lessons we learn from him be applied to our own businesses?

What does Jurgen do that is so special?

1.”Belief” 

The first thing he did when he joined the club was he made a declaration to the fans “We need to change from doubters to believers

He gave every fan and player something to think about – we must believe if we want to achieve, which is a simple and yet powerful statement.

He went on to say that he believed in the team at the club, which was why he joined in the first place – if you were a player listening to these words you would feel good about yourself.

Do you believe in your team?

Jurgen Klopp

2.Honesty, openness and no jargon

When he is asked a question by the media he gives a straight, honest and open answer. He talks in a simple way that we all understand and can relate to.

He tells us that football is a simple game ..he is right!

Can you be open and honest with your team?

Jurgen Klopp hugging

3.Don’t be afraid to hug!

We watch him going onto the pitch after the matches and playfully hugging the players. This seems to be a lot more than professionals doing their jobs!

Are people happier when they are treated like this?

4.Have fun

Jurgen loves to laugh, he has a huge smile and he seems to do it all of the time and it is infectious. At the press conferences the media laugh with him.

He tells the players to enjoy themselves on the pitch.

Can work be fun?

Jordan Henderson with Klopp

5.Don’t take it too seriously

Unlike Bill Shankly the legendary Liverpool manager who said football was “more important than life or death” Jurgen says it is just a game and that it should be enjoyed and not taken too seriously – you can see he lives this.

Are your team so stressed that they can’t function properly?

6.Work Hard

This is a key success factor with him. All of his teams are known for their ferocious work ethic – without hard work you won’t win.

This is totally non-negotiable with him.

Are your team prepared and motivated enough to give  you 110%?

7.Have a plan

Already he has managed a few historic victories against some of the big teams and he puts this down to hard work combined with good planning. In one of these matches he fielded a surprising team who played exceptionally and won – he explained after that he had time to plan and prepare with this group of players so there was no point using some of the bigger stars.

Are you planning carefully?

8,Things go wrong – that’s football!

He commented that with the Liverpool team he noticed that they would implode if they conceded in a match and as a result could not recover from this situation.

He has taught the team to accept that things will go wrong and that this is part and parcel of competing – just learn not to give up when it happens!

Do your team have resolve?

9.Mr Motivator

He does seem to have the gift of bringing the best out of each and every single player. He seems to know when a hug works, when a few positive mentions in press conferences will work and when helpful advice from the sideline works (he does scream and roar during the matches).

We clearly don’t see everything that goes on but the players have gone on record as to the huge difference he has made to them.

Do you feel motivating your team is important?

klopp celebrating

10.Passion

Take just one look at him when he celebrates a goal or even when he lives every kick and moment of the matches…he is incredibly passionate!

If you aren’t passionate can you expect your team to be?

What factors would you add to this list?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,149 other followers