We spend a lot of time teaching managers/workers what to do, little time on what not to do.

When working with any organisation it is common to find that their processes and management style are designed to demonstrate positive action. Quite often in a recruitment exercise I am asked to find somebody with a ‘can do’ approach.

Likewise our daily activities are organised in a similar way. Either literally or in our minds we will start most days with a ‘to-do’ list. We may even take it to the stage where we do something not on the list but afterwards write it on the list only to cross it out or tick it off. The sense of achievement of getting these things done is reward in itself.

Similarly the reward system or bonus’ within organisations are geared to meeting a target or achieving an objective. In other words towards doing something.

All of which is very necessary but in our can do world there is no system for honouring or even recognising the avoidance of bad behaviours or bad decisions.

How about a ‘To Stop’ as well as a ‘To do’ list

43947076 - 3d illustration of man with word text stop making stop pose body gesture. 3d rendering of human people character

We have all worked with colleagues who are probably effective at their roles but have irritating habits or mannerisms that negatively affect people around them or stop them achieving more. Do you know anybody who is always on their mobile phone during meetings? You probably work with somebody who obviously does not listen to you but is thinking about what they are going to say next. Or they may carry on working on their laptop when you are talking. What about the manager who is inclined to take the credit for the idea of their subordinates? The list is endless.

These are destructive behaviours that can poison the atmosphere of any organisation and comprise the effectiveness of a team or organisation, but they would only require a minor adjustment in our behaviours to resolve. Trouble is the adjustment is simple to understand but not easy to do.

Enlist the help of colleagues and friends.

What is wrong with saying to a colleague or somebody who works with you, “What can I do to make me a more effective manager or colleague?” “Are there any habits or behaviours I have that affect your productivity?” Again the list is endless.

The important thing though is not to justify or defend your behaviours but say “Thank you” or show a genuine interest to sincerely investigate further. You do not have to agree but you may discover negative or even destructive behaviours that you were not previously aware of. It may even start a ‘To Stop’ list.


Who am I? A chap living in Nottingham, United Kingdom who perhaps has a much higher level of enthusiasm than ability leading to an interest in many things but mastery of none. A father of three no longer dependent children, or so they tell me, and husband to a one-time nurse who now works with me (or rather I work for). I attempt to take photographs and occasionally fluke half decent shots though thank goodness I no longer have to buy film. I endeavour to practice karate but with advancing years spend more time instructing them participating but actively participate in the more gentle tai chi. Professionally I have spent the last twenty years in recruitment – not always the most highly regarded ‘industry’. For my part I take great pleasure in helping companies to find the right people and a lot of satisfaction out of seeing them thrive and succeed. More recently I have spent a lot of time helping people who have, or fear they may, lose their jobs. For many putting a CV together is so difficult and then finding opportuniteis can be a major challenge. Interviews can be a different problem altogether but with a little help most people can perform a lot better than they otherwise would.

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