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Finding yourself lacking some essential workplace skills or just not able to get everything done. Learn to COMPLEMENT THYSELF. 

No, this isn’t an exercise in telling yourself how clever/witty /lovable (delete as appropriate) you are, this is about complementing yourself in a work sense – in a strategic recruitment sense.


Unless you have autocratic career aspirations (hopefully you don’t by the way, autocrats never have the last laugh), then your success is not all down to you. To be able to reside in the splendour of your work Utopia, you are going to need to surround yourself, or at least plan to surround yourself, with people – your team, your colleagues, your gang – who shine where you’re a bit dusty.


The right colleagues are not a threat, they’re an asset; utilise them properly and be aware of their needs, and you’ll fly. 


Put it like this, you can’t make harmonies if you’re singing alone. The all-girl Nineties pop sensations the All Saints (if you aren’t old enough to remember them, we recommend that you download their smash single Never Ever) were a British-Canadian group who epitomised the notion of complementing yourself.


Cool chick and smooth singer Melanie Blatt and song-writing genius Shaznay Lewis got the All Saints ball rolling. Natalie and Nicole Appleton then joined and brought with them their pap-friendly, scandal loving lives. Together, the All Saints were an incredible force. Their contrasting character traits and assorted capabilities combined to create booty-swinging songs that were the height of cool.


The Spice Girls, of course, did a similar thing but with much less subtlety. You don’t need a Sporty, Baby and Posh in your work department, but a blend of understated All Saints magic will make for a killer team – with a very successful lead singer (that’s you).


The River Café opened on the River Thames in Hammersmith in 1987. Founded by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, the pair worked together as partners until Gray’s untimely death from cancer in 2010. Their partnership, Rogers believes, is part of the reason that the River Café’s remains one of London’s most highly regarded restaurants.


‘I had no experience when we opened,’ admits Rogers who at nearly 70 years old is still in the kitchen daily. ‘Rose knew a bit about cooking; but what was special, one of the greatest parts of my career, was having a female partner. We didn’t need to explain anything to one another; there’s a look in the eye and we both always knew what the other was thinking or wanted to do. We both treated the restaurant as we did our families – we gave everything. We lead through hope rather than fear, and we always helped just as much as the waiters and kitchen staff. Everyone participates because we are a unified team.’


When we are able to get our River Café type team groove on, we then need to open the gates of communication (we’re planning ahead, see). A lack of communication, by the way, was one of All Saints’ failings, and in the end the band collapsed. Conversely, at the River Café there is complete transparency. ‘They know that I am here to listen; leadership is about direction and listening; listening to what they have to say and being brave enough to sometimes say no. A restaurant is very much about the people who work there; if you invest in your staff and invest in the people it comes back to you in spades.’


As Rogers’ says, great teams require great listening skills. Feedback doesn’t only come from within; it comes from those around us too, which is something we often One way of discovering ourselves more fully is by chatting to those around us and seeing things (seeing you) through their objective eyes.


When we set a precedent of regular discussion meetings (How am I doing? Was that what you were looking for?) we discover ourselves more fully – and we work in teams that are open and communicative. Try talking to bosses, peers and juniors and try not to be too sensitive to anything negative that pops up. Criticism, as we know, can be as constructive as can be crushing. Look around you at work. In particular, observe how other people approach tasks in a different way to you – especially when they are successful. By critiquing their traits and qualities, we learn something about ourselves and the way we work too. 


tep 1: Take 3 Minutes to assess your skill set. Where are you strong? Where could you use more support?

Step 2: Look at the team around you. Where can they step into the breach or where could you take a step back and let them shine? More important still, where are your strongest skills and how could you use them more? 

tep 4: The final 4 minutes is where the magic happens. Plan how you’ll communicate this vision to your team. Let others know where you value their input and advice, just as you get more vocal about where you can lead. Plan to catch up with all team members at least once a month and ask for feedback weekly on something you’ve done. 


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