Let’s Talk About Systems (WT709)

Let’s Talk About Systems (WT709)


WT 709 Let's talk about systems

The past few Weekly Thoughts have focused on mindset and leadership.

This week we need to talk about systems.

I’ve been working with a couple of clients the past few weeks, helping with recruitment and creating new finance systems. It’s been a big reminder to me of the value of having systems and processes that others can follow when key people are absent.

Let me give you some examples.

Client #1 – a key support team member resigned after having worked with the company for 3 years. A team of sales professionals relied on the support and whilst they are actively recruiting for a replacement, the sales team now find themselves having to complete the administrative tasks as well as focus on sales.

Client #2 – it’s the end of the school holidays and a long term employee wanted to take a week’s leave to enjoy with her children. The employee works in the finance team. Obviously not everyone in the team has the same permissions to access the company finances so the employee ended up logging in just about every day to complete some tasks.

These companies represent most of the companies I work with.

Most are small, family owned businesses, unlike the then NSW Department of Motor Transport, where I was employed as a 17 year old typist.

After a few years working in the one motor registry, I transferred to what was known as “Relief Staff”. This meant that I travelled around NSW, relieving workers who were on holiday or sick leave.

Every motor registry had the same systems and processes so I could turn up at any registry and do the work.

I was shocked when I left the government to work in small business.  “Where’s the relief staff?” I would ask. “What do you mean my work will be waiting for me when I get back?”

This never happened in the motor registry.  The relief staff did the work and for the most part, when we finished each day and balanced the cash register, we went home and forgot about work until it was time to do it all over again the next day.

This doesn’t happen in small business.

There isn’t the luxury of extra staff because there aren’t enough offices or roles to keep someone employed relieving for 11 months of the year.

So, talking systems, processes and procedures, the best ones are those that are documented in such a way that anyone could follow the procedure and get the desired outcome, even if they have never done it before. They might be slower at first, but at least they could finish the task.

What are your systems, processes and procedures like?

Are you using looms or other screen capture applications to show people what they need to do?

Are you using programs like otter.ai to transcribe an audio or video recording?

Are you using document management systems like TKO to keep all of your procedures in one place, that’s available 24×7?

Are you automating your processes or still wasting time doing things manually?

It’s time to talk systems and if you’re interested to follow the method I use when I consult with systems clients, you can purchase a copy of my book The Loyal Lieutenant: How The Second-In-
Command Brings The CEO’s Vision To Life by going to https://shirleydalton.com/books or you can search Amazon for an electronic copy.

It’s time to talk to systems.

Let 2024 be the year you get yourself, your team, your work and your business systemised, so you too can go on leave and fully rest and recharge without thinking about work.

P. S. Invite your friends to get the Weekly Thoughts delivered directly to their inbox. Go to https://shirleydalton.com/weekly-thoughts.

To AI or Not to AI (WT679)

To AI or Not to AI (WT679)


WT 679 To AI or not to AI

You’ve probably heard all the hype and excitement lately about AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ChatGPT4 in particular, so I thought I’d trial ChatGPT4 to write my Weekly Thought.

Here’s what I asked:

i write weekly thoughts. they are a dose of inspiration, education and support. Please write me a 200 word article on the difference between having ai write my thought and me actually writing the thought.”

I can’t help myself. Even though I know it is a machine, I still use my manners. Mum would kill me if I was impolite at any time.

The article that came back was too long, so I asked for it to be reduced to 100 words.

Here’s the response:

Title: The Essence of Thought: AI Assistance versus Human Expression

In the realm of thought creation, a juxtaposition arises between AI-generated and human-written musings. While AI can produce coherent content, the distinction lies in the authenticity and emotional depth present in human expression. Human thoughts are infused with personal experiences, unique perspectives, and genuine vulnerability, fostering connections on a deeper level. The act of personal creation taps into imagination, intuition, and introspection, allowing for exploration, inspiration, and cognitive growth. Collaborative synergy further enhances human-written thoughts, as diverse perspectives and feedback foster evolution and innovation. Embrace the symbiotic relationship between AI and human creativity, combining their strengths to shape a world where thoughts thrive with a harmonious blend of technology and the human spirit.


That’s certainly not something I would write.

Firstly, there are too many polysyllabic words (words with more than two syllables). When writing in Plain English, we want to use less syllables, e.g. instead of “receive” use “get”.

Sentences should be limited to no more than 14 words, which is why my Weekly Thoughts often have one sentence to a line.

When communicating, you need to write for your reader and the Weekly Thoughts are not meant for publishing in an academic journal.

They are simply my thoughts that I share in the hope they inspire you or educate you and certainly encourage you to think about the topic.

Whilst I am a fan of ChatGPT4 for creating checklists and giving me content, I won’t be using it to write my Weekly Thoughts. Afterall, writing the thoughts is like journaling and it’s a form of therapy for me.

And just in case you’re wondering what GPT means, it’s “Generative Pre-trained Transformer” and it’s used to generate human-like text, complete sentences, or even whole articles based on a given prompt or context. GPT models excel at tasks such as text completion, language translation, question-answering, summarization, and generating conversational responses. They leverage the knowledge and patterns learned during pre-training to generate creative and contextually relevant outputs. (Source ChatGPT4)

There you have it, to AI or not to AI. For me, it’s a blend of both, just like ChatGPT4 said:

Embrace the symbiotic relationship between AI and human creativity, combining their strengths to shape a world where thoughts thrive with a harmonious blend of technology and the human spirit.

P.S. Today is the last day to save with the Early Bird Discount for the next Leading Yourself and Leading Others Experience in August. Find out more here https://shirleydalton.com/leading-yourself-leading-others-may2020/.

P.P. S. Invite your friends to get the Weekly Thoughts delivered directly to their inbox. Go to https://shirleydalton.com/weekly-thoughts.

Are You Shirleying Me? (WT676)

Are You Shirleying Me? (WT676)


WT 676 Are you Shirleying me?

Thirteen years Lucky!

Today we celebrate 13 years of Weekly Thoughts.

I can hardly believe it myself. Cancel Cancel that negative thought.

I am so proud to say I have not missed one week in all that time and today is no exception, so here’s your thought.

I was coaching this week with a client, we’ll call him Jack, who was explaining how he did his best to reassure one of his employees that everything would be alright. The business is undergoing some changes. The client is a Coach personality and the catch phrase of the Coach is “we’ll figure it out”.

The employee is a Counsellor type personality and that phrase does not reassure them. The Counsellor wants certainty. The Counsellor wants a plan. The Counsellor wants to know it has been figured out before taking action NOT taking action and figuring it out.

I listened to Jack and when he had finished describing the situation, I reminded him that even though his intention was pure, telling a Counsellor type personality that they’d figure it out was actually a roadblock. It stops the conversation.

It didn’t come as any surprise to me that their conversation ended up with the Counsellor walking off, leaving the situation unresolved.

Fortunately, both Jack and the employee have completed my Leading Yourself and Leading Others Experience, so I reminded Jack of the skill of active listening.

Jack’s eyes widened as he got the Aha. “Yes, of course. OMG! Right, active listening. I’m going back to work and I’m going to active listen”.


So we practised to refresh his skills.

A few hours later I received a text message. “Employee to Jack, ‘Are You Shirleying me here?’ Thanks. Appreciate you.”

That little text message made me so happy. It brought tears to my eyes. It’s the reason I do what I do. I want you to be able to listen to each other; to really hear and understand each other and to be able to demonstrate that to each other. I want you to be able to get what you want and to have deep meaningful relationships and conversations with each other.

My belief is that there is nothing that can’t be cleared up in conversation. It just takes you to be willing to have the conversation; to revisit the conversation and to listen; really listen to understand what’s going on for the other.

We’re all different personalities so it also helps to understand that too, both for your personality type and the other.

If you’d like to learn or improve your skills, the next Leading Yourself and Leading Others Experience starts in August. Early bird discount ends 30th June. Click here for more information https://shirleydalton.com/leading-yourself-leading-others-may2020/.

I’d love for you and your team to be able to recognise and appreciate when you’re being “Shirley’d”.

And to celebrate 13 years of a weekly dose of inspiration, education and support, I am giving away a spot in our next Loyal Lieutenant Masterclass Series. Retailing at $1997, it’s a 9 week online course led by me where I teach you my methodology for streamlining operations and you practise and we debrief your work so that you are getting it done during the course.

If this is of interest to you, all you need to do is reply to this email and answer the question, “What do you get out of reading the Weekly Thoughts each week?”

The winner will be announced next week.

Thank you sooooooo much for being part of my community. I am so grateful to you because without you, there would be no-one to write for.

P.P. S. Invite your friends to get the Weekly Thoughts delivered directly to their inbox. Go to https://shirleydalton.com/weekly-thoughts.

P.S. Leading Yourself and Leading Others Experience starts Thursday 3rd August. Save $1,000. Early bird discount ends 30th June. Thursdays, 3rd, 17th, 24th and 31st August. Find out more here https://shirleydalton.com/leading-yourself-leading-others-may2020/.

When You’re All Over The Place (WT671)

When You’re All Over The Place (WT671)


WT 671 When you are all over the place

I have a feeling this week’s thought will resonate with many of you.

Let’s talk about how to focus when you’re all over the place; when you’re feeling overwhelmed and you have too much to do.

You know that horrible feeling you get when you just can’t focus. You can’t seem to prioritise or get into your tasks.

What do you do?

I have a few “go to” strategies that I turn to:

  1. I tap. (I use Emotional Freedom Technique, not tap dancing.)
  2. I breathe.
  3. I meditate.
  4. I go for a walk.
  5. I sit and have a cup of tea and stare out the window.
  6. I chant the phrases for Ho’oponopono.
  7. I write.

When we’re in this state, which David Bayer calls the “Primal” state, we can’t think. 

We can’t solve our problems.

We’re not creative because all our body and brain are doing is looking to survive.

Should I stay and fight? Should I run? Should I freeze?

When this happens, the first thing to do is to stop what you are doing and notice that you are in the primal state.

Awareness is the first step to moving out of it.

Take a breath. Calm yourself.

It sounds counter intuitive because you have so much to do and yet you’ll achieve far more and be more efficient and effective if you take a few minutes for yourself.

Another strategy that helps me is what I call my “Data Dump” method. I list everything that’s on my mind.

If I can, I use the whiteboard.

When I can see it, I can prioritise it.

I create a plan for when things have to be done.

I look to see who else can help. What can I delegate or request support for or negotiate an extended deadline?

Allowing yourself to stay in the primal state is a choice. It’s similar to worry.

There are many strategies and tools that will help you to focus and get back into the “Powerful” state.

What will you choose?

If you’d like to learn more, our next Leading Yourself and Leading Others Experience starts next week or you may prefer individual coaching.

Remember, next time you can’t focus and you’re all over the place. Stop. Become Aware. Choose.

P.S. Invite your friends to get the Weekly Thoughts delivered directly to their inbox.
Go to https://shirleydalton.com/weekly-thoughts

Don’t Wear Long Pants in the Shower (WT592)

Don’t Wear Long Pants in the Shower (WT592)


WT 592 Don't wear long pants in the shower

Over the past two and a half years of travelling in the motorhome, I’ve seen many many amenities blocks in caravan parks.

The last one we stayed at before heading back to Newcastle with a “For Sale” sign on the back of the motorhome was most impressive.

The cubicles were much larger than usual and there was plenty of pressure for the hot water. They were new and clean.

As I emerged from my cubicle another lady commented on how good the amenities were.

She mentioned the difficulty she normally has with small cubicles, especially when she’s trying to pull on her long pants.

As she was telling me, she was demonstrating how she would lose her balance, doing her best not to get her pants wet or fall over.

“Don’t wear long pants in the shower”, I thought to myself.

I learned that lesson a long time ago.

It doesn’t matter how cold the outside temperature is, I always wear shorts.

I’m often surprised to see people wearing long pants or worse, leaving their slippers and thongs under the door, instead of wearing the thongs in the shower.  Yuk.

Not wearing long pants for me is about being pragmatic and having foresight.

It’s a simple thing, but if you think about your objectives you can always find an efficient way to meet them.

For example, I only ever take clean underwear, a towel and a bar of soap with me, unless I have to wash my hair, then I take a “dilly bag” with shampoo.

I’m often amused and intrigued at the size of the bags that others take to the shower along with wearing their long pyjamas and long dressing gowns. There’s nowhere to place it, that isn’t at risk of getting wet. The less you take, the less that can go wrong.

Of course, this story is a metaphor for looking at situations and being creative to solve problems and increase efficiency.

Why take extra things that I don’t need like deodorant and cleanser and moisturiser when I can use these things in comfort back in the motorhome.

How about you?

Do you invest the time to look at situations and think about them beforehand?

Do you identify the potential hazards, barriers and obstacles?

Do you look for the most efficient and systematic way to complete a task or do you simply carry out the task without thinking; without stopping to think whether it could be done quicker, better or more efficiently?

In case you’ve never thought about it, my strong recommendation is “Don’t wear long pants in the shower”.

P.S. Invite your friends to get the Weekly Thoughts delivered directly to their inbox. Go to https://shirleydalton.com/weekly-thoughts.

Everything is Draft – Until it is Final (WT576)

Everything is Draft – Until it is Final (WT576)


WT 576 Everything is Draft Until it is Final

You know that I do a lot of systems and procedures work for clients.

One of my mantras is “Everything is draft – until it’s Final”.

I often say this to my clients because they can be reluctant to provide feedback if we haven’t quite gotten the procedure down pat.

I don’t take offence.

I prefer to get the procedures correct rather than having unhappy clients because they don’t speak up.

What I’ve found is that often we need to encourage people to speak up. Many won’t speak up because they are afraid of hurting our feelings.

Once I give people permission and even encouragement to speak up, I can see them visibly relax before they share the changes.

We can’t fix what we don’t know about.

What would you rather? Would you rather someone be polite to you and not tell you or would you rather them share what’s going on for them so you have a chance to resolve any issues?

This seems like such a minor concept; getting people to correct some procedures, however it leads to a much more critical and major concept and that is a concept known as “Group Think”.

MindTools.com describes Group Think as “a phenomenon that occurs when the desire for group consensus overrides people’s common sense desire to present alternatives, critique a position, or express an unpopular opinion. Here, the desire for group cohesion effectively drives out good decision-making and problem solving.”

One such example was the team of engineers working on the Challenger Space Shuttle. They knew that the O rings were faulty and yet said nothing because they didn’t want to delay the project or risk bad press. Unfortunately, we know how that ended.

If you’ve got something to say; if you have information to share, I encourage you to be courageous and share it. You might be surprised at the response you get. You might find that even though your message might not be exactly what people want to hear, they will respect you for speaking up and having the courage to get things changed.

Your challenge this week is to speak up. Go ahead, say what’s on your mind. Share what needs to be shared. Nothing can be improved or resolved if you don’t.

P.S. This month’s free online training is scheduled for Friday 16th July at 11:00am Sydney Time – Discover the Secrets to Finding, Hiring and Keeping the Right People. You can register here: https://shirleydalton.convertri.com/finding-hiring-keeping-the-right-people

P.P.S. Invite your friends to get the Weekly Thoughts delivered directly to their inbox. Go to https://shirleydalton.com/weekly-thoughts.       

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