Do you really communicate with your colleagues?…

It’s easy to stop and moan about work or discuss a work related project but how often to you ever stop and just have a little chit chat with your work colleagues on a more personal level?

At HR Revolution we like having a bit of office banter, finding out what our colleagues did during their holidays or at the weekend, we think it’s important to remember that we all have interesting lives outside the workplace.  Establishing a conversational comfort level with your colleagues will allow you to talk to them about anything and make it easier to share your ideas.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Be the first to speak. It doesn’t pay to be shy, so just go ahead and ask a question to get the conversation started. They might be pleased that someone has stopped to talk to them.

It’s ok to be nosy, sorry I mean inquisitive! People generally like being asked about themselves, just don’t get too personal or sound like you’re trying to get the dirt, you’re supposed to be having a light hearted conversation.

Be positive,  again it’s meant to be light hearted so don’t drone on about a miserable experience, focus on something good, like a new fantastic restaurant you’ve tried, maybe a new box set that has you hooked (if you’re like me, I love a box set, Game of Thrones, Line of Duty, Walking Dead to name but a few!), this will definitely get them interacting.

Remember to listen in return. If you plan too hard what you are going to say they won’t get a word in edgeways, and next time they won’t bother engaging with you at all. Besides they might have some great ideas you can use too.

Be discreet. They may also be “inquisitive” about you but they don’t really want to know the in’s and out’s of your life’s back story and remember you do have to work with these people so keep some things to yourself!

Know when to draw the conversation to an end. Remember this was a quick chit chat, and shouldn’t detract from your working day, but make sure you end it on a high, maybe with a “we’ll talk about that next time”! which also then lends itself to be an inner for the next one.

I hope this helps and encourages you to talk to each other, communication is a key factor in good relationships and the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Click this link now to download your FREE guide to Communicating Effectively:

HR Revolutions Guide – Are you communicating effectively

If you would like to discuss any HR issues, please give HR Revolution a call we’d love to help, call us on +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

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How SME owners can prevent an always on culture

Small businesses are the powerhouse of the UK economy, employing 15.7 million people and accounting for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the end of 2016. So what can small business owners do, if anything, to prevent this always on culture from manifesting and resulting in an absence epidemic as research findings predict?

We’re all trying to keep up

Wendy Read, Founder and Managing Director of HR revolution, an HR consultancy with the mission to revolutionise the way in which businesses work with HR, says that in her experience many business owners have an open attitude to absence. “A lot of business owners expect to be able to see if there is a problem and hope that their employees will let them know when they are feeling stressed or in need of down-time, but in reality many working environments are so fast-paced, highly-energised and driven to succeed that anyone not on the treadmill gets left out of the loop quickly.”

She goes on to say that, “a standard working week is no longer Monday to Friday it can be 24/7, we all have mobile devices that keep us in the loop whenever we request and a culture that means we want to be included and up to speed constantly updating our apps and email to see what’s going on. Downtime is often still ‘online’ so there is still no real separation angle. This does then tend to lead to a mentality where we are always on. If this is not managed properly it can lead to many more stress related absences and longer-term workforce management issues.”

Business owners want action

Wendy believes that it’s tough for business owners to change this mentality. ”They want action,” she says. “If someone is thriving on working long hours to deliver and over achieving, why should that be a bad thing? The employee wants to develop and build their skills; the business gets the input and ultimately the success rates rise. As a business owner myself I get it, I can really see why many of my peers will always ask, ‘What’s the issue?’”

However, the issue is that, according to breatheHR’s sick report, not only do one in three business owners think it’s fair game to contact staff whilst they are on holiday, over half (51%) of business owners contacted staff whilst they were on sick leave. The source of their persistence is clear with 85% of business owners admitting that staff absences have an economic impact on their business. This is leading to more than half of employees (54%) not taking their full annual leave entitlement and feeling pressured to continue working despite being on paid leave, with 52% responding to work emails whilst on annual or sick leave.

Setting a good example

Spin the situation round and we see it really is truly a short-sighted vision for your workforce and not a positive example to set. Business owners don’t take holiday themselves (on average business owners have taken 18 days annual leave in the last 12 months) and they contact employees whilst they are on holiday which in turn leads to employees calling in sick to have rest, but not succeeding. It’s a vicious circle that businesses are increasingly becoming caught up in.

“Short-term it leads to stress, anxiety and lack of sleep, which then potentially leads to workforces that don’t take their full holiday, fearful they may miss out or lose work. This is likely to result in more time out with stress and ultimately burn out. This is not a sustainable solution and makes for a stressed-out unhappy workforce that means ultimately your business will lose them through absence, resignation or burn-out” warns Wendy.

She goes on to advise that helping to change this mentality has to come from the top and that business owners, managers and mentors have to embed a sense of achievement and success, alongside the ability to be able to take some time out. “We almost have to start retraining our workforces to encourage downtime to allow true focus when employees are working and switch off when they are not. Always working; actively monitoring emails, apps and web traffic is not a healthy way of working. There are many ‘switch off and slow down’ policies that are starting to work their way into the workplace, but many of these still aren’t taken seriously.”

How you can prevent an ‘always on’ culture

It’s clear that this always on culture isn’t manifesting itself in a positive way for employees. What can begin as a refreshing thirst for drive could soon lead to burnout. But how can you redefine your workplace culture? Here is what Wendy thinks you should do to prevent this from happening because it’s not as simple as rolling out a policy.

“Rolling out a policy and hoping that resolves things won’t work. I believe it’s about setting an example, providing support, and training staff to explain why switching off and taking your holidays is important; for wellbeing, for longevity and for business success. This isn’t just the case for employees. As a business owner or manager you need to lead by example. It’s so important that you have down-time and are fresh and energised, as you are responsible for the development and support of not only yourself, but also your business and your workforce.”

Making sure your workforce has a way of raising any issues that enables them to seek support when they really need it is as important and is how you can ensure you get to the root of the problem. Here are some of the ways you can make this happen in your workplace:

  1. Set up great management, mentoring and support functions. Employees need someone they can turn to.
  2. Utilise an Employee Assistance Programme
  3. Research more holistic solutions such as massage or relaxation programmes like yoga. Chill out areas are built as standard to many office environments as its important to have somewhere that employees can get away from work.
  4. HR support for allocation and usage of holiday time to ensure employees are fully supported in scheduling time out of the office.
  5. Return to work support for those that are absent due to stress or illness.
  6. Wellness training in-house to help support your team’s development
  7. For the more serious levels of support many workplaces offer counselling support through their medical or EA programmes that can help directly with specific issues.

Join Wendy for this webinar to see how you can implement these ideas in your small business to prevent your staff from taking sickies.

Conclusions

Fostering an always on culture is causing an absence epidemic. Whilst business owners reap the rewards from an engaged and driven workforce they are subsequently not considering the long-term effects this has on their employees. Small businesses are thinking about their people too late, and are being hit in the bottom line because of it. Through setting a good example, encouraging communication early on and supporting their staff this can all be prevented.

HR Revolution – www.hrrevolution.co.uk

How to deal with a boss who is a psychopath…

I’m glad to say that at HR Revolution my boss is not a psychopath!! but apparently psychopathic bosses are alarmingly common, but not to worry as there are ways of dealing with them.

And at this moment in time this man is the absolute epitome… Last month Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, a turn of events that still have left many people reeling and for those still adamantly opposed to Trump’s ascendancy there’s yet another unpalatable fact they may not want to digest.

Oxford University research psychologist Kevin Dutton recently used a standard psychometric tool – the Psychopathic Personality Inventory – to rank former presidential candidates and a series of historical world figures based on eight psychopathic traits. Trump scored 171… two points higher than Adolf Hitler.

But Trump is in good company. Recent research by psychologists at Australia’s Bond University, conducted among 261 senior leaders working in US supply chain management, found that 21% demonstrated clinically significant levels of psychopathic traits. This figure compares with around just 1% of the wider population.

Many in HR may not find this that surprising. The higher prevalence of destructive, ruthless and risk-taking behaviours among leaders has been well-documented over the years, not least in relation to the financial crisis. And managing such behaviours is something a fair few HR Directors will be no stranger to.

More surprising, perhaps, will be the claim from some that psychopathic qualities are not always inherently a bad thing. Being a CEO requires ambition, tenacity, determination, risk-taking and having a positive view of yourself and your abilities, which are “all more natural if you have psychopathic wiring, or else self-doubt gets in the way”.

While psychopathic CEOs will not be appropriate for all environments – and can cause a lot of damage – they may be right for some, she adds. These include fast-moving, high-risk commercial cultures such as financial services or organisations that require someone to take them through a major restructure.

But in more stable people-centric operations such individuals are likely to wreak havoc. A senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University’s business school, explains: “People with psychopathic traits are generally very charismatic and have lots of energy, vision and confidence, but there’s a piece missing for them, and that piece is empathy. You could almost feel sorry for them as it’s just how their brain functions – apart from the fact they leave a trail of destruction behind them.”

The upshot is that the business is likely to start haemorrhaging talent, particularly at the senior manager level as they will be directly affected by the CEO’s inability to relate effectively to others.

If you’ve got toxicity at senior levels it makes it more challenging to have a positive culture as that kind of behaviour reverberates around the organisation. People often unite against the toxic executive, but it can cause quite large ripple effects and is a huge distraction.

One possible way of minimising the impact is to create a strong team around the boss, not least to deal with people issues and put out fires.  If you frame it in such a way that it’ll make the CEO’s life easier, for example ‘they’ll take over the stuff you can’t be bothered with so you can focus on the things you love doing’, the CEO will almost certainly sign up to anything.

But the real danger comes if such leaders are surrounded by ‘yes men’ that cannot or do not challenge them.  It might sound scary but it boils down to how you present difficult issues and, just as importantly, possible solutions.

People are afraid to tell CEOs the bad stuff because they’re scared of the repercussions, but some people are simply not aware of how they come across. So if you point out ‘this is what you’re doing and this is the impact’ it can make a big difference.”

While bosses who are true psychopaths will not care if their behaviour is having negative repercussions on others, being clear about the negative consequences in business performance terms will make a difference because it reflects on them and taps into their likely narcissism.

Psychopaths hate drawn-out processes so if they decide they want to fire people, make sure that they are made aware that people aspects won’t go away and they’ll lead to legal issues, which will cause a lot of hassle; so you need to follow the rules’.

As with any boss, the most successful way of handling such individuals is to think about what they need from you – which will not be how you feel about x or how well you have collaborated on y. Instead it will be about talking the language of results, facts and deliverables and spelling out in clear business terms the prizes that are to be gained or the pain that will be suffered if a given action is taken.

However maybe the days of the psychopathic boss are numbered, not least because millennials may increasingly refuse to put up with such behaviour.  If they don’t like a situation they’ll just move on and then we’ll see companies having to explain what they are doing about it.

Need any advice handling on a toxic employee, give HR Revolution a call +44 203 538 5311 or email: info@hrrevolution.co.uk

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A version of this article first appeared in HR Magazine.

How to be a great Consultant…

What is Consultancy?

So let’s address the consultancy side of things: believe me I completely get that making the move from being an employee to becoming a consultant has its challenges!   So this blog is something for those of you considering the move, hopefully this is something that will help support you in your transition into the wonderful world of consultancy.

A couple of pointers that may help;

Value Add & ROI

The top of your list as a consultant/freelance/contractor should always be return on investment for your clients.  Can they look at the amount of month they have spent with you and see value add and progression? If the answer is yes then they will continue to work with you – if no then you will end up with a cancelled contract or a client who purposefully begins to distance themselves from you.

Considerations:  Make sure you can deliver a service that adds real value, something that is different to your competitors or your industry standard, even if the value is your time and specialist knowledge/experience.  Ensure you tell your client what the benefits will be to working with you and reinforce the message throughout your consultancy with them. Start building your relationship.

Visibility & Focus

Both are key to make sure that your clients really do feel that the time you spend with them is their time. When onsite with your clients always ensure you have 100% focus on their projects, never be caught out checking emails, browsing the web or generally not being focused.  It’s a very quick way to put doubt in your clients mind about how committed you are to their projects and how often you are really working on them. To make your relationship work they have to be confident that they are top of the important list.

Considerations: Make sure you interact with the client and their teams, but not to a point where you are using their time to socialise and distract their employees.  Make sure they all see that you are focused on your own project delivery. It may not be the client that you have to impress; they may ask the team what they feel about your input into the workload/projects you are working on.

Onsite Time

This is your time in front of your client and their teams. Again really important to make sure when you are onsite with them you are 100% committed to them (as far as they are concerned you have no other clients!).  If you need to take time out to do other things then shorten the time onsite and confirm it with them so that they are happy and understand time-frames.

Considerations: Confirm your time onsite – down to the last 15 mins so that your client can see exactly what you have been doing.  Use activity logs or online time tracking apps, whichever works best for you but ensure every minute of your time spent is easily accountable and able to be shown to the client on a regular basis should they need it.

Project Clarity

Making sure you are all on the same page is essential to ensure the delivery of the work you are hoping to achieve.  You can’t achieve if you aren’t sure what the outcomes and successes are meant to be. You definitely can’t succeed in the eyes of your client if they aren’t aware of what you have outlined as your successes.

Considerations:  Make sure you are clear, concise and have agreement with the key people.  Make sure you document and sign off on the projects you will be working on, what they entail and what the successes will be.

I know from experience that if I’d been told these things at the very beginning of my launch into the consultancy world  I’d have gotten to where I wanted to be a lot quicker. So I’m hoping these pointers really do help.

Happy Consulting! 

 

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Should I change career?

After trying my hand at several things after finishing University, and my thirties getting ever closer, I had that scary thought … where am I going in my life, my career??

At that moment in time, I was working in the recruitment business and had been for three years and it started to dawn on me that this was not the career for me.

After considering my strengths, values and what I enjoy, I decided HR would be an interesting option, I had a recruitment base and as a ‘people person’ I felt it could be the right match!

Further research into this confirmed to me that this could be it, so I braced myself for the inevitable salary hit and started applying enthusiastically for junior HR roles. This career change which I thought would be an easy transition…. No way – my hopes of this change being easy were quickly dashed as the rejection emails came flooding in because I had no previous experience.

However, despite this set back, I didn’t give up, ok so I may not have the experience, so I decided to get qualified and enrolled to study for my CIPD Level 3. This was tough – studying every evening and weekends alongside working full time, not to mention the financial element as it was self-funded!

I am pleased to say though my efforts paid off…  after many applications and job interviews later, I landed myself my perfect role at HR Revolution, giving me the chance to gain the HR experience I was looking for, with the added bonus of being able to work with a variety of clients across a range of industries.

I feel a change in career takes courage, flexibility and motivation to deal with the tough times it can bring, however the rewards once you succeed are certainly worth it!  I’m 7 months into my new role in HR Consultancy, CIPD qualified and love it…

If you need any help or advice with changing career, why not give HR Revolution a call, maybe we have the job for you…

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Keep your employees focused during the festive period…

Although Christmas is technically celebrated over three consecutive days, Christmas obsessed, festive loving individuals will always go out of their way to make Christmas a month long celebration. Now I am no Scrooge, but the business world doesn’t stop just because copious amounts of fairy lights go up and Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas’ gets stuck on repeat. For this reason it is good to strive for a balance that reflects ‘being all for the Christmas celebrations’ whilst keeping your businesses productivity levels high.

How to integrate Christmas into your business without losing sight of ‘getting the job done’.

1. Start a Christmas committee; anyone who LOVES, LOVES, LOVES Christmas can get involved. The idea is to have an initial meeting surrounding the planning of Christmas activities and then allocate time throughout December to carry them out. When you allocate time to Christmas andthe celebrations from ‘worktime’ it will give those who love Christmas something to look forward to, making them less inclined to lose focus at the times where they shouldn’t. This could be secret Santa, decorating the office, planning the office Christmas party, organising a Christmas bake off/morning tea or encouraging ridiculous dress up themes.

2. Have a Christmas or end of year party away from the office and after hours; when you put on a paid for function, you will generally find that people are happy to attend in their personal time and it also means you’re not taking your employees away from their work. Parties during work hours are fine too, however be prepared for the best part of the day to be unproductive.

3. Set the pace; if your business is generally quiet this time of year, create proactive things for your teams to do/put in place to ensure they continue to keep busy (while you continue to pay them). This will keep the team focused on getting organised for the New Year which is integral if they are not dealing with their typical busy work load. These things could be anything from a spring clean, to getting your team to write their ‘to do list’s/plans’ for the following year. You could also use this time for training and development, to ensure all that training that you’ve been meaning to do actually gets done!

4. Set the expectations AND the right tone; try to avoid the condescending “keep focused emails” as they tend to make your team feel like you have no confidence in their commitment. Instead send THANK YOU emails! Say how much you appreciate their hard work this year and that would you love their help in making December productive, so you can finish the year with a bang! Reminding your team how much you value their dedication and commitment is a great way to ensure it continues throughout December.

5. Manage the festive spoilers; if someone is persistently late into work /coming back from a break or arriving at work hung-over or drunk, these behaviours need to be address separately and privately. No matter how well-meaning a group message might be, this is highly likely to disengage those who are doing the right thing. On the other hand, if it is not addressed, it can bring down the office productivity levels. Don’t be tempted to let these issues slide just because it’s Christmas… If you need to have these conversations, then you need to have them… promptly!

It is probably a good time to check your employee handbook to ensure you have relevant time keeping, alcohol and other related behavioural policies in place. Visit HR Revolution’s one stop document shop for all your policies and procedures www.hrrevolutionshop.co.uk

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Highlight the positivity in your workplace

We all know that the environment you work in has a big impact on how you feel, but did you know as adults we spend over two thirds of our life at work!! a very sobering thought indeed…

So it is really important as an employer to create a positive workplace, where employees have mutual respect, feel valued and appreciated as these things strongly contribute to creating happy employees.

Listed below are ways to help achieve this:

  1. Acknowledge accomplishments – It is a proven fact that employees respond to praise and appreciation expressed through recognition of their good work, because it reinforces their work is valued.  When employees feel like this, their satisfaction and productivity rises and they are motivated to keep up or improve their good work.  Doesn’t everyone appreciate a ‘pat on the back’ to make them feel good, I know I do!
  2. Listen to employee feedback – As we know feedback whether good or bad is fundamental in the workplace.  You need to discuss with employees what they have accomplished and what is going well in their job, a good way of making sure you make good use of their strengths or demonstrate what they can improve upon.
  3. Reward good work – In the current climate, as an employer you may not always be able to reward by means of a pay-rise, but you could implement exciting incentives that give the employee something tangible to work towards.  Gift cards are a good cost effective way to do this, and gives the employee the choice of what they want.

Does your company have any novel ideas of keeping morale high, we’d love to hear them, please comment below.

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Friday fun… 6 fun ways to show your employees you care…

I know, we all sometimes get too busy and caught up with deadlines, meetings, the list goes on and on, and after a while this can translate into an employer not caring enough to notice the hard work of their employees.

Wouldn’t it be a great idea, and we like to do this for the employees of HR Revolution, random acts of appreciation, a little reminder to staff that you do recognise all they do…

Here are a six simple and more importantly low-cost ideas to try, who knows they could catch on in your workplace:

  1. Send a “well done” email and cc the “big” boss.  It’s one thing to say that an employee did a good job, but another to let more senior people know.  I know this would be much appreciated by me!! (sorry that sounded like I was dropping a hint he he he).

2. After finishing an important deadline, why not let employees leave a little early, or start a little later the following day.  Who wouldn’t appreciate a little work-life balance, not to mention a lie in on a work day… blissful!

3. Offer a casual dress-down day, even if you have a workplace dress code policy, letting people wear jeans once in a while won’t hurt.

4. Treat an employee to a surprise coffee (or tea!), or maybe croissants or doughnuts, just because.  It just shows a little thought.

5. Tie a fun balloon to an employees desk chair, this way everyone in the office will see.  People will come and ask why and offer their congratulations, a great way to foster team spirit.

6. What about a card of thanks with a small gift card enclosed, for cinema tickets or an iTunes voucher.  It might not make up for not being able to giving a payrise, but it still shows the employee their efforts are being noticed.

None of the ideas above take much effort, but they could have long lasting effects on employees morale and motivation.  What could be better than your employees or colleagues feeling part of a team that helps and supports each other?

If your company does something to make their staff feel amazing that we could try, we’d love to hear about it, so please share in the comments section below.

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Friday fun… 5 things that you will absolutely talk about in the office… SOON!

There is a certain chill in the air in the mornings, Autumn is most definitely on its way… and that means these 5 fun facts will absolutely happen in your office in the very near future… A few have already happened in the HR Rev offices, sadly summer is a long distant memory…

  1. You will moan at anyone who starts talking about Christmas – however, secretly you will be getting really excited about what you want to get for a secret Santa present!! – only 87 sleeps people… (remember crimbo, does bring with it a crimbo party, but that’s a whole other blog!)
  2. The office temperature goes from tropical to artic – too hot in the Summer, too cold in the Autumn queue moaning.  Are blankets or duvets ever acceptable work attire? – you may want to check your Dress Code policy on that one!!!!
  3. Tea and coffee rounds increase (who’s turn it is, is a whole other convseration!!) and are one of the sole sources of warmth – everyone gets excited about the new flavoured drink – mines a pumpkin spiced latte from Starbucks thanks!
  4. On average you will lose about 3 umbrellas – and won’t realise until you need to walk a mile tothe office in the pouring rain…  Then the day you do bring it, the wind will blow it inside out anyway… windproof… yeah right!
  5. You go to work in the dark – and you come home in the dark too… that’s why we have a cheese board at Christmas, to make up for the lack of vitamin D we aren’t getting from the sun… which we never see anymore! Ok, so I made that bit up, good excuse though!

Hey, it’s not all doom and gloom though… those extra large tubs of choccies are already in the shops… YAY!!

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5 tips for getting the best out of your employees…

At HR Rev we think there are two general areas that you need to cover in order to get the best from your employees:
Firstly, Give them clear instructions about what you want from them
Secondly, Win over their hearts and minds so that they want to do a good job for you

If you can cover these two, then you are probably 90% of the way towards getting the best from your employees.  So in practice what can you do to improve these areas?

1.    Give them a clear job description

Oh yes, I can hear you!  You’re saying “it doesn’t matter that my staff don’t have a job description, they know what they’re supposed to be doing – and anyway we don’t need more paper around.”

Well of course you think they know what they are doing, and if you ask them they will say they do – because they don’t want to sound stupid in front of you.  OK they probably do know 80% of it, but if you want them to do the best job (not just OK) then it makes sense to start with the basics and make sure they are very clear about your expectations.  So get those job descriptions up to date and refer to them with your employees regularly so that they stay relevant and up-to-date.

2.    Set quarterly performance reviews

Of course the job description is a general statement, but the detail and the priorities will vary and for a senior job there will also be special projects that come and go.  So have a review meeting quarterly with each employee where you discuss what has worked and what hasn’t over the last quarter and then set targets for the next quarter.  I know it seems like alot of work, but believe me, everyone feels better afterwards.  It will give both you and your employee a boost and when you get into the habit it becomes easy and rewarding.

3.    Weekly 1-2-1s 

Again, I can hear you thinking that this is a waste of time, but it really does work.  It is a simple discipline of a weekly ½ hour catch up when you discuss how things went last week and set priorities for the week ahead.  But the major thing it does is provide a time when they can bring up minor concerns and you can pull them up on minor things too.  So the little niggles get dealt with while they are just niggles and don’t build up to be big issues.

4.    Listen to your employees

Find time occasionally to take relaxed moments with your employees, when you can get them talking and then listen carefully.  Hear their view of the world and what is important to them.  It may seem irrelevant, but there may come a time when you need to draw on that relationship, so it will pay off in the long run.

5.    Be seen to be fair

It is important to be fair with your employees, but even more important to be seen to be fair.  So when you catch yourself favouring an employee, just make sure they know why and, if possible, others know why too.

 

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