Want to enjoy work? Become the office Elvis

OVER 60 per cent of people admit that they are not engaged at work, according to a Towers Perrin/Gallup poll. Chris Barez-Brown, a career coach, says this need not be the way. All the bored and frustrated need to do to bring office work to life is “Up their Elvis.”

“When Bono, the U2 star, goes into any organisation on his mission to eradicate Third World debt, the first question he asks is: “Who’s Elvis around here?” says Barez-Brown. “It’s a fantastic question. Bono is looking for the person who stands out, breaks the rules, makes things happen and shines brightly, and loves every minute of it.” Businesses need Elvises, he explains, hundreds of them if possible: “If companies want exceptional performance from their staff, they need to make sure they’re putting their heart and soul into the work. The standard cookie-cutter approach won’t achieve this.”

Barez-Brown is so passionate about Elvis he quit his partnership at the creative consultancy What If and started the company Upping Your Elvis that coaches the likes of HSBC and Coca Cola. He says: “We specialise in getting people more excited about their work.” He doesn’t just want multinationals swinging their hips though. He’s written a book to get the likes of you and I rocking around the office.

But who needs this? “People who let the world manipulate them rather than manipulating the world around them.” What does he mean? “These are the people who allow the printer running out of toner or the weather to affect their mood and those who simply work to pay off the mortgage.”

How does it work? “It’s often a matter of ‘avoid, adapt or accept’,” he says. “Avoid” means that you recognise that your job is not for you and go looking elsewhere. “Adapt” just means tapping into the things about your job that “make you tick and give you energy,” doing more of those and minimising what you don’t like. While “accept” means just accepting that some things about your job are not perfect and you need to simply accept they are not going to change.

“If employees can convince their managers to let them shine and be themselves they can get so much more out of work.” He stresses that getting better, more regular performance feedback is fundamental to this. Dan Walker, chief talent officer at Apple, banned yearly reviews, Barez-Brown explains. “He figured that reviews should be a constant process. Employees should always know how they were performing. He’d walk around the office and ask people. If they didn’t know, he would have words with their line manager. Nobody can grow, learn or enjoy their job if they don’t know how they’re doing.”

Barez-Brown’s book is out tomorrow. Maybe the whole City will be singing “Doing the best I can” next week.


Chris Barez-Brown was a partner at the creative consultancy What If. In 2009, he set up the coaching and inspiration firm called Upping Your Elvis. His clients include Coca Cola, Comic Relief and HSBC. He works with them to encourage their management teams and employees to be more innovative and creative. He is the author of SHINE: How to Survive and Thrive at Work, out tomorrow from Portfolio Penguin at £9.99. For more information visit www.howtoshineatwork.com