I recently read an article called ‘The Quiet Achiever’, written by Damon Kitney and published in the June edition of The Australian’s The Deal business magazine. The article featured Peter Nash, chair of KPMG and reflected on his career and accomplishments.
Having worked for KPMG for nearly 30 years – very unusual for a modern executive – Nash relayed in the interview with Damon Kitney the keys to his career success and it seems to me that one of these is his ability to build trust and gain confidence.
Nash is quoted as saying: ‘I could, without hesitation, say that over 28 years at KPMG I have never raised my voice once. Never. I have never had the need. Raising your voice never solves a problem. You have to sit down and talk it through.’
One of the rules Nash lives by is to ‘bite the bullet’ and have the tough conversations with staff. ‘Sometimes you have to work at delivering a constructive message rather than avoiding it and saving it for another day. You have to focus on that because it is important for the staff member. They need to hear it for their development.’
Another Nash principle is that you need to keep learning throughout your career, to avoid getting bored and tired. He also believes that we should ‘work to live, not live to work’. Despite a gruelling travelling schedule, Nash has always kept a sense of work-life balance and made time for his family.
Questions for discussion
How important is the ability to build trust and gain confidence to a line manager? To customer relationships? What are some of the ways you build trust and earn people’s confidence?
Do you think it’s ever acceptable for a manager to raise his or her voice? If so, under what circumstances?
Do you consider yourself to be a continuous learner? How highly does your organisation value learning? What do you do to help your team members keep learning and stay engaged?
How do you protect your work-life balance and help your team members achieve work-life balance?
Do you agree that managers owe it to employees to deliver the ‘tough messages’, even though it may be a difficult conversation to have?