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January 18th 2021

Alan Harrison

Our speaker is Dave Murray, District Governor Elect.
President Elect Alexander Kopf was in the chair, as President Alan Davidson was unable to attend due to illness. Alexander gave the “Thought for the Day”.
Forthcoming Speakers and Events
Jan 25th President Alan Davidson on Robbie Burns
Feb 1st . Grace Van Zyl, a Peace Builder Club
8th John Joe Ryan. Yugoslavia disintegration
15th Hugh Loughlin - Japan, the link with opportunity
22nd Terry Nolan - Tom Crean, Antarctica Explorer with Shackleton
Mar 8th International Women's Day (actually 11th March)

Rangers Walks
Cancelled until further notice.
Honorary Secretary Tony McCourt advised last week’s meeting that he had received apologies from President Alan Davidson, PP Ethna Fitzgerald, and Jonathan Pim.

There were 20 Members in attendance. There were two guests namely Vasiliy Ogievsky, introduced by President Elect Alexander Kopf. Vasiliy explained he is a friend and colleague of PE Alexander and that his name comes from the Russia/Ukraine region. He is a member of the Engineers Toastmasters Club, Dublin. Our other guest was Eamonn Allen, introduced by his wife Vice President Delma Sweeney.

President’s Announcements
President Elect Alexander asked everybody to remember our late member Colum McCabe who had died recently and those present observed a minute’s silence in memory of Colum. Then PP Tom O’Neill spoke briefly about his friend Colum McCabe of whom he had fond memories from when they knew each other when Tom worked in Monaghan. One thing that Tom felt that many members were not aware of and explained why Colum was unable to attend more regularly at our Monday meetings was that he was also very involved in the organisation Special Olympics Ireland which also met on a Monday. Rotarian Frank Bannister offered to write an obituary of Colum McCabe for The Dubliner which was welcomed. And Rotarian Mary O’Rafferty also said she was very sorry to see Colum had passed away, as she had found him a very good ‘neighbour’ when they shared a table at our Monday lunches.

Hon Sec Tony McCourt advised that he had received a card from the mother of young patient at the National Childrens Hospital thanking us and in particular Santa and his little helper PP Paul Martin for the kind gift her daughter had received before Christmas.

Last Week’s Speaker.
Our speaker last week was John Murphy who had been a member of this club in the 1990s before leaving his then business and starting to work in other countries. He is now an international management consultant. When with our club he had helped to set up the Trust Fund.

John Murphy began by thanking the club for inviting him to speak and explained that he is now living in the south of France (to which there were a number of audible sighs and remarks about “well some people have to”). John explained that he is a team coach for big and small businesses which takes him all over Europe and indeed also to the US.

He has a podcast “A Life and A living” in which he interviews industry leaders and he wants to get their thoughts on management in the teeth of the Covid pandemic. Some of the companies and businesses have their teams operating locally, many others had staff working remotely.

John Murphy asked the question what if Covid 19 had happened 20 or more years ago? Working remotely has been a saviour for many businesses. John explained that he has been working remotely for over 10 years, and we should be grateful for the assistance provided by technology in the Pandemic.

John also believes that managers need to be aware of the expectations of staff in terms of when it is expected that the Covid 19 pandemic will be over. It is not helpful to forecast an end when in fact no one really knows when this is likely to end and that there will be a return to some form of normality. So, managing expectations in business has been a key part of recent developments. And for the business leaders to be cognisant of the difficulties faced by many people, such as those who do not have good broadband and other good facilities. It is important that managers take account of the different circumstances people find themselves in and let people know that they are aware of this. It is important to make sure that your business has a good set up. And another important factor is to be clear about expectations and what is actually deliverable.

John said leaders need to define what success looks like in the short, medium and longer term. It is important to get feedback from staff on what they perceive as success. There is a need to be aware of what working from home really means, particularly when home may be a small premises. If staff are confined and there is no social contact, then it is important to ensure that social connection is fostered through social media and other means, as it would be in a ‘normal’ workplace.

John also said that it is important to get the balance right between “checking in” and “being checked up on”. Staff would be wary of this. Coaching becomes more important, which is different from the managing process. People are coached, whereas processes are managed. There is a need to be transparent about “good” and “bad” news.

To sum up John Murphy said his conclusion is that Covid 19 has been an accelerator of technological advance and has provided new ways of working which will remain for years to come. It should make for more efficiencies and certainly that is the feedback that he is getting from the many companies, big and small, that he works with. It will lead to a war on talent over the next couple of years as there will be a shortage. There will also be optimisation of technology. Leaders who work and manage through this will have become part of the war on talent themselves.

In a brief question and answer session after his talk John answered some questions from those present. In answer to PP Kevin McAnallen as to whether the performance of his clients has been affected by Covid 19 and also does John perceive a change in how offices will be used, John said that this will depend on the industry. Retail and entertainment are being very badly hit. It means many of the large office buildings may in fact become redundant in the future. And in answer to a question from Mary Rafferty who also mentioned that, in her coaching business, she has come across some managers who state that the day never seems to end, now that they are operating from home. She suggested that the managers need to take account of health and safety for themselves and their staff. John Murphy agreed with this, stating that the number of anti-depressant pills being prescribed now has jumped considerably.

Then in answer to a question from Frank Bannister, John answered that there have always been four types of meetings: (1) the meeting set up by pre-arrangement, (2) the meeting where one goes looking for the person in the building, (3) the accidental meeting and (4) the accidental on-purpose meeting. John felt it is still possible to have these meetings as they can, to a certain extent still be arranged by technology but there is a real need to separate work and home and that there is no interruption of the home time. PP Bernadette Mulvey also reminded that employers have a duty of care to their staff. Working from home has been tried in the Civil Service over the years. It is not easy and especially for younger people and couples. Speaking personally, Bernadette felt, that she has probably been working many more hours from home, than she would if in her office.

Rotarian Roger Owens quoted former US President Eisenhower, who practised the art of getting someone else to do something, because she or he wants to do it. Roger predicts that we are about to see dramatic changes in the way people work. However, he also suggested simplicity in all things can get the job done and in this he thanked John Murphy for a very interesting and informative talk to the meeting last Monday.

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