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Building Everlasting Resilience

Over the last decade, a complex web of economic, social, political, and environmental crises has challenged the conventional laws of organisational physics, calling into question our resilience and relentless pursuit of operational efficiency. As a result, many leaders who spent their careers operating and investing in relative stability were caught off-guard, and many enterprises may not have survived the Great Recession or the Covid-19 pandemic without massive government support.

However, in our research, we have discovered a category of family businesses that are naturally more resilient — those who understand the existential need for sustained investment in organisational agility, even at the expense of efficiency and profitability. Their unique approach to managing risk provides an innovative playbook for leaders everywhere as we enter what everybody is calling a new Age of Uncertainty.

Many of these families have operated for decades and even centuries in emerging and frontier markets, where uncertainty is the rule rather than the exception. In these more volatile environments, threats to property and security are more pervasive, access to capital more limited, corruption more rampant, supply chains more fragile, planning horizons much shorter, and talent harder to find. This is in addition to the familiar organizational challenges that all businesses must manage in terms of operations, finances, marketing, and leadership.

Over the last eight years, thorough research has been documented on how enterprising families survive and even thrive in the face of these chronically-elevated risks. What follows are three simple lessons that we’ve seen families deploy successfully that can help all leaders cope with the sustained uncertainty that lies ahead.

Resilience requires intention

Family businesses that operate in more volatile conditions understand and anticipate that tomorrow could be materially different than today. In these environments, public markets and institutions are often weaker, less efficient, and more opaque. There is a natural scarcity of capital, resources, and talent, since all three prefer the predictability that comes with the rule of law, freedom of information, and reliable infrastructure. Family leaders can wake up one morning to discover that their companies have been nationalized, or their profits regulated, or that their work force is facing sniper-fire on their daily commute.

Having the foresight to anticipate and plan for such volatility requires a fundamental shift in organizational design — treating operational inefficiency as a feature, not a bug. I’ve observed that family enterprises who thrive under these conditions follow the wise advice of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus that “Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope.” Their managerial mantra is “just-in-case” rather than “just-in-time.” Consequently, they actively invest in organizational redundancy — frequently observed in resilient biological systems — to ensure that they can bounce back quickly from adverse shocks and sustain operations whenever they lose access to critical capital and infrastructure.

Consider the example of a Middle Eastern family that built back-up manufacturing facilities and an entire residential neighbourhood in a nearby country in anticipation of a devastating civil war. Or the Haitian hotel operator who invested in backup generators for their backup generators and multiple internet connections to cope with persistent blackouts and network failures. Or the Japanese soya sauce manufacturer who rescued the local community from famine countless times over the centuries by sharing the company’s strategic grain reserves — earning cherished access to the Imperial Court. Or the Hong Kong family that built an expensive offshore nest egg in Canada as a hedge against rising regulatory risks to their Chinese operating business.

Though each of these investments in redundancy required substantial time and resources — precious commodities for any organization — being intentional about foregoing profits to build resilience helped these families prepare for, withstand, and recover from serious disruptions and chronic stress. Like keeping a spare tire and a jack in the trunk of the car, these adaptations become a form of continuity insurance and are particularly valuable in uncertain environments, despite their additional cost. As the old military saying goes: “Two is one, and one is none.” In other words, always have a back-up plan.

In contrast, many leaders who have spent their careers operating in relatively stable markets often view these investments as wasteful or inefficient — until they are blindsided by Black Swan events like the recent conflict in Ukraine and are forced to reimagine their global supply chains, foreign currency exposure, and interest rate risk. After all, when conditions are relatively predictable — as they have been for most of the last half-century in the world’s most advanced industrialized economies — optimizing for efficiency can be one of the most reliable drivers of profitability and prosperity, so it’s no surprise that this strategy has become ubiquitous even if it is short-sighted.

Consequently, effective leaders in the Age of Uncertainty need to be more intentional about investing in resilience — paying the “tax” of organizational inefficiency to help prepare for the broad array of risks that lie ahead. 

Resilience is a systems-level challenge

For many leaders operating in more stable developed markets, the last few years have been a painful reminder that our external context can’t be fully controlled, and many outcomes can’t be reliably predicted, despite our best efforts. These investments must extend beyond internal structures and processes and project outwardly beyond the enterprise — aligning with broader efforts to support social and environmental resilience.

In the Age of Uncertainty, enterprising families need to understand that their long-term health and continuity is even more dependent on the ecosystems within which they are embedded — a form of symbiosis often observed in resilient biological systems. As in nature, neglecting or failing to adequately support the health and development of all their key stakeholders only undermines their own resilience. In other words, retreating behind the castle walls and hoping for the world to set itself straight is not a durable strategy for surviving a political revolution or an environmental catastrophe.

Once again, all family leaders should take inspiration from their peers in developing markets who have seen this all before. These resilient family enterprises are more inclined than their peers to invest in and care for their communities, in many cases funding critical infrastructure when public institutions fail to do so. Some of our client families have built roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, community centers, housing, news agencies, and even telecommunications grids, in the absence of government investment in these critical public goods. This not only fosters a loyal and trustworthy source of local labor, but also increases the likelihood of long-term success as norms of reciprocity emerge to sustain and expand the healthy ecosystem. In contrast, when companies and citizens don’t have reliable access to these resources, or they are willfully undermined by populism and campaigns of misinformation, trust in third parties is diminished, transactional costs increase, and the economic machine inevitably slows down.

Additionally, any efforts to invest in systemic resilience must also extend inwardly — by nurturing the familial and personal resilience of internal stakeholders. Chronic uncertainty generates a particular type of psychological distress that can significantly affect the wellbeing and performance of individuals and teams. Family business leaders who are dealing with this issue for the first time should draw wisdom from the vast literature on managing prolonged stress both personally, within families, and organisationally. They must also acknowledge that not all family members and business leaders will have the same exposure to risk, or cope with stress the same way. Finally, they should take comfort in the natural resilience of their peers in emerging and frontier markets, where strong family ties are often a powerful source of both individual and collective wellbeing.

Family matters

Extended kinship networks have been the dominant socioeconomic unit since the earliest human civilizations first emerged. Our primate DNA enabled and even encouraged us to form deep relationships with genetic strangers beyond our own kin to better manage resource scarcity and existential threat — sustaining the first durable micro-climates of trust. Bad actors in this context were quickly expelled from the extended family and left to navigate a sea of uncertainty on their own, while the increased chances of survival and growth for those who remained help to reinforce norms around trust and reciprocity.

Many echoes of this ancient tribal orientation persist in emerging markets today — from guanxi in China and blat in Russia, to wasta in the Middle East and compadrazgo in Latin America. In these countries, webs of familial connection help lower the frictional costs of doing business and provide an essential lubricant for the economy — conditions we have historically taken for granted in the developed world, where institutions like the judicial system and free press are (mostly) reliable and ensure that others will (mostly) follow the rules. As public institutions around the world continue to be undermined by populism, campaigns of misinformation, and budgetary constraint, family leaders will need to increase their strategic use of familial networks to ensure continued access to capital and opportunity. In short, the Age of Uncertainty will demand a fresh approach to continuity planning — one that extends beyond the conventional strategy, operations, and leadership frameworks taught in every business school and deployed in every boardroom. To succeed, families will also need to make deliberate investments to better prepare for, withstand, and recover from frequent shocks and chronic stress, develop a systems-level view of risk that considers both outward and inward resilience, and nurture deep familial ties to local communities to help sustain an oasis of stability amidst the chaos. Despite the inherent inefficiency and material cost of these investments, in uncertain environments like the ones that lie ahead, it will be much wiser to have them and not need them, then to need them and not have them.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2021/01/the-secret-to-building-resilience
https://hbr.org/2016/06/resilience-is-about-how-you-recharge-not-how-you-endure
https://hbr.org/2022/09/building-resilience-into-your-family-business

No Deadline Keeps People from Procrastinating

Usually, a deadline motivates us to do things we might otherwise put off, but the relationship isn’t always clear-cut. For example, although a long deadline theoretically gives us more time to finish a task, it often means that we postpone it over and over until eventually we forget all about it. Indeed, only 5.5% of the people who were given a monthlong deadline returned our survey, compared with 6.6% of those who were given just a week. But people who were given no deadline had the highest response rate of all: 8.3%. And they were more likely than the others to return the survey within three days.

They say procrastination is the thief of time—actually deadlines are

Mark Twain advised people never to put off until tomorrow what they can put off until the day after, and a lot of us listen. Estimates suggest that 15% to 20% of all people are chronic procrastinators, and that share goes up for situational delay: As one example, four in five people put off retirement savings despite knowing better. Then there are the innumerable office procrastinators, many identifiable by the mere fact that they’re reading this article.

The devious thing about procrastination is that while we tend to shrug or laugh it off as part of the work process, evidence suggests it’s far from harmless. At the root of the problem is our failure to differentiate between simply delaying a task, perhaps a healthy sign of organizational skills, and truly procrastinating on it, a self-defeating habit people know will hurt them later–a little like smoking. Not only does our work suffer from the real thing, but our well-being does, too.

Self-imposed deadlines – not as effective as external deadlines in boosting task performance

That puts strategies to counter procrastination at a premium. One of the most common is a self-imposed deadline, often scheduled long before an actual external deadline, an approach that acknowledges the problem and commits to resolving it. The intention here is great–instill some discipline in those moments when you have it–but whether or not self-imposed deadlines work is another question.

Some early research found that imposing a deadline might at least be better than waiting until the last minute. In a 2002 study, researchers Dan Ariely and Klaus Wertenbroch hired 60 students to proofread three passages. Some of these test participants received a weekly deadline for each passage, some received one final deadline for all three, and some could choose their own deadline. The readers got a dime for every error they detected but were docked a dollar for every day they were late.

Despite the penalty, participants who imposed their own deadlines performed worse than those given evenly spaced weekly deadlines in terms of detecting errors, finishing near deadline, and generating money (see below). Then again they did better than those given one final deadline. Ariely and Wertenbroch concluded in the journal Psychological Science that self-imposed deadlines, while a reasonable strategy to curb procrastination, “were not always as effective as some external deadlines in boosting task performance.”

A recent attempt to replicate that experiment found even less reason for hope. Researchers Alberto Bisin and Kyle Hyndman arranged for students to alphabetise three word jumbles. As in the earlier study, some test participants received evenly spaced deadlines, some a final deadline, and some could impose their own. Each finished jumble earned participants $15, though this time there was no room for tardiness; blowing the deadline meant blowing the cash.

A substantial number of participants who self-imposed a deadline reported themselves as being relatively low in conscientiousness–a sign that they were aware of being procrastinators and were using the deadline to address the problem. No matter. Bisin and Hyndman report that these participants nevertheless had the lowest completion rate of any group. Unlike in the earlier study, participants with self-imposed deadlines completed fewer tasks than those with just one deadline at the end.

Why the difference? Bisin attributes it to the type of deadline imposed. In the 2002 study, students had a “soft” deadline; in other words, they could salvage a little credit for finishing late. The “hard” deadline in the new study left no room for error. So procrastinators who waited until the last minute to start the task and found it too tough to complete in time simply quit, rather than press on and mitigate their losses.

“They think the deadline is helpful because it makes them do it,” Bisin tells Co.Design. “But they do it too close to deadline, and as a consequence, when they discover it’s harder, they drop it. This is the negative effect.”

When the deadline is self-imposed, its authority is corrupted and the motivation never materialises

Timothy Pychyl of Carleton University, one of the leading scholars of procrastination, isn’t surprised that self-imposed deadlines don’t resolve undesirable delays. Procrastinators may need the tension of a looming deadline to get motivated, but when that deadline is self-imposed its authority is corrupted and the motivation never materialises. “The deadline isn’t real, and self-deception is a big part of procrastination,” he tells Co.Design.

Which speaks to the distinction drawn earlier between time management and true procrastination. If time management were the essence of the problem, a self-imposed deadline should help. But Pychyl and other researchers have come to believe that emotional failures rest at the root of procrastination. Procrastinators delay a task because they’re not in the mood to do it and deceive themselves into thinking they will be later on. When that time comes and they’re not, they’re in the same emotional place but with less time until deadline.

Some experts believe that the best strategy for addressing procrastination is to find something enjoyable or meaningful in whatever task is before you. Easier said than done, for sure. But if you can make that chore or assignment almost as pleasant as, say, reading a book of Twain quotes, then maybe you’ll only put it off until tomorrow. You’ll have the whole day after to thank yourself.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/11/researchers-discover-best-way-to-avoid-procrastination
https://medium.com/productivity-power/can-a-self-imposed-deadline-help-beat-procrastination-13936992d1ea
https://www.fastcompany.com/3026895/self-imposed-deadlines-dont-stop-procrastination-heres-what-might

The Rise of The Meaningless Promotion & What To Do

Great news! You’re an asset to your company. You’ve been given more responsibilities…but no promotion. What can you do? Have you ever been given a boatload of new responsibilities without the title and pay increase to go with it? Or perhaps you got the title along with a vague promise that at “some point in the future” you’d get a raise to match your new responsibilities? It happens far more often than it should: A promised promotion that turns into nothing more than more work.

Promotions in title only aren’t a new phenomenon. Some leaders may think that by offering you a better title, they’re honoring your contributions and showing that they value you. Some might offer promotions in title only as a way to retain talent when attrition starts to spike. Or, with the pressure to show progress on their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commitments, some companies will be looking for shortcuts — without doing the meaningful work.

Since the “diversity tipping point” of 2020, companies have pledged more than $35 billion toward advancing racial equity. With renewed attention on the lack of representation of Black talent across many industries, companies are under pressure to have their employee bases reflect the changing demographics of the U.S. Adidas, Facebook, Salesforce, Target, and The New York Times are examples of organisations across industries that have published pledges on their commitment to increasing representation of Black talent and people of colour more broadly.

Additionally, with the pandemic having had a devastating impact on women, companies are under pressure to hire and advance more of them. According to the National Women’s Law Center, women’s workforce participation has already dropped to 57%, the lowest level since 1988. Movements including The Marshall Plan for Moms, founded by activist Reshma Saujani, are upping the pressure on the public and private sector to help women get back into and stay in the workforce.

Offering fake promotions can be a form of diversity washing, where organisations look for quick fixes to their public DEI commitments. Here’s what to do if you fear you may be the target of diversity washing and are being offered a fake promotion.

Determine if it’s a fake promotion

Start by assessing what you’re being offered. What level are you currently at, and what is the proposed title they’re offering? For example, if you’re a manager being told that you should start calling yourself a director, what’s the difference in responsibilities? Will you be compensated as a director now? Remember that base salary is only one part of a compensation package. For example, at some companies, the director level comes with stock grants, access to a company-appointed financial advisor, and life and disability insurance.

Watch out for these other telltale signs that you’re being offered a fake promotion: Your manager makes no organisational or team announcement to share the news of your promotion. Or you’re pressured to change your title in your email signature and on LinkedIn to indicate to clients and vendors that you’re now a senior team member, but you see no change to your title or level in internal human resources systems, such as Oracle PeopleSoft or Workday.

Finally, figure out who else has been recently promoted to the title you’re being offered and talk to them. If they aren’t comfortable sharing what they’re making, ask them what the elements of the compensation package are at that level. Comparing the promotion you’re being offered to how others with the same title are being valued will be key in determining what you do next.

Take the title

If your boss makes it clear that you aren’t going to see any increase in salary, fight for the title increase. Why does it matter? I mean, other than your mom being proud of you. It matters because recruiters use titles as a proxy for responsibility level. They don’t go down each line on a resume and make note of the individual responsibilities on the first pass through. (They do, once they’ve narrowed down the pile.)

But, on that first pass through, you’re more likely to be hired into a job as a manager if you already have a manager title on your resume. If you’re acting as a team lead, it’s best to have that on your resume–even if there’s no salary to go along with it.

You Would Have No Real Authority, But Would Be Accountable

So you got that promotion and now have some employees reporting to you. But you may find it frustrating to learn that while you’re accountable for your department’s performance, there are outside factors that impact your ability to control outcomes. Before accepting a promotion, try to gauge how much input you will actually have on key decisions.

Your Work-Life Balance Would Suffer

Is this new job going to require longer hours at the office? Will you be on the road constantly? Will you constantly be on call? You may be at a point in your life when you need to be home more often to care for kids or an elderly parent. Or maybe you just want more time to pursue various interests. CNBC last year reported on some dads who said no to promotions because they wanted to spend more time with their families. You should not be so reliant on that extra paycheck that you’re willing to sacrifice the quality of your non-work life.

Decide whether to accept the new title

If you’ve determined that this is a fake promotion and you can’t find allies in your organisation to help, your decision is now whether or not to accept the offer. You should weigh the pros and cons of accepting the new title being proposed. While a bigger and better title may seem like a good idea, it may also leave you with self-doubt and make you question why you aren’t being treated fairly and equitably compared to your peers.

With the pressure to ensure the inclusion and advancement of people of colour and women, organisations must ensure internal practices are actually fair and equitable. Fake promotions can be another diversity-washing tactic that might ultimately give you a reason to go for the exit. If your company is willing to give you the title, they should also be willing to pay you, value you, and recognise you.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.business.com/articles/when-a-promotion-is-not-a-promotion-what-can-you-do/
https://hbr.org/2021/11/so-your-boss-offered-you-a-meaningless-promotion
https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/what-makes-work-meaningful-or-meaningless/

Trouble in Hiring? Workplace Culture May Be The Answer

Workplace culture continues to evolve as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. If you’ve tried to recruit someone into your business over the past several months, you know how difficult it is to find qualified talent. If you’ve tried to recruit someone into your business over the past several months, you know how difficult it is to find qualified talent. While it’s easy to blame the pandemic for this disruption to the marketplace, this is likely a problem that will continue for at least the next decade.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are around 10 million positions currently open. At the same time, the Department of Labor reported there are 8.7 million potential workers who have been looking for jobs and are counted among the unemployed. That means we have a significant shortfall of available people to fill our positions. Employers are also reporting that the candidates who are applying have a mismatch of skills and they’re not seeing people who are able to meet their specific needs. Baby Boomers are exiting the workforce to enter retirement and are further complicating the already difficult hiring landscape. For companies that are trying to scale and grow, this is a challenge. If these same companies are willing to take a critical look at their workplace cultures and make adjustments now, hiring and retention don’t have to be quite so troublesome.

So, what is workplace culture? 

That’s a good question, because many people think of workplace culture as being about the look and feel of their environment. But an organisation’s culture is the set of behavioural norms and unwritten rules that shape how employees interact and get work done. Workpalce culture is critical to creating the best experience for employees. Corporate culture is formed from a company’s daily practices, traditions, beliefs, and programmes. When your workplace culture isn’t being treated as a priority, it’s reflected in employee performance, productivity, and retention.

Take a look at your culture to determine what’s working and what’s not

We have a tendency to look at the monthly profit and loss and the economic indicators of success in our businesses, but we also need to focus on our employees and their experiences working for our companies.

If you care about your customers and their experience with your business, you should also be focused on your employee experience. Customer experience is a direct result of employee experience. A well-designed employee journey allows your staff to understand their value to your organisation. They feel well cared for and are set up for success at every key milestone during their employment. If your company hasn’t conducted a culture audit in the last two years, or you’ve never completed this exercise, it’s a good practice to learn what’s really going on in your employees’ journey. The culture audit can be as simple as asking employees what’s going well and what’s not, as well as learning more about the challenges they’re facing in their daily jobs. If you’re feeling really brave, you can also ask them questions about what would cause them to leave your organisation.

How much does workplace culture ‘cost’?

Culture often doesn’t have a line item in the corporate budget, but it should. Efforts to improve workplace culture almost always pay for themselves. When you have a workplace culture that supports employees, retention becomes easier, recruitment and re-recruitment costs go down, diversity happens more organically, and productivity goes up.

What about ROI?

Consider this data: Gallup estimates that a 100-person organisation that provides an average salary of $50,000 could have turnover and replacement costs of approximately $660,000 to $2.6 million per year. Even if your workplace culture efforts only save a few employees each year, it’s worth it. Companies that really excel in improving their cultures typically see significant returns in the first year.

The time is now!

It’s simple: Organisations must work hard against the forced entrepreneurship culture where smart, talented, and able employees say: I know I can do it better than you, so I will. Gather information on the employees who prefer to work virtually and understand what the non-negotiables are. Look for compromise. When employees recommit, continue to help them forge their career paths so they know you are committed to their futures, alongside that of the company. Let them know that they are valuable members of the workplace: an ever-increasing mosaic of new cultures, beliefs, and values.

A business is more likely to succeed when its culture is focused on the way employees view the company as a whole. If any of these stats felt like they hit close to home for your business, then it’s time to look into how to improve your company culture, such as how to improve internal communications, and better recognise achievements and engage with your employees.

It’s important to remember that there isn’t any “one-size-fits-all” type of culture that results in every single employee being happy and productive. But paying attention to what is achievable in regards to improving your culture will pay off majorly for your employees and your business. 

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.saplinghr.com/blog/7-inexpensive-ways-invest-company-culture
https://www.morningstar.ca/ca/news/215638/moving-to-culture-20.aspx
https://fortune.com/2021/10/13/respectits-transform-your-company-culture-workplace/

Be Mindful When Returning to In-Person Work

After months of anticipation, returning to in-person work has been a disappointment for many employees. Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath is one of the biggest business challenges of our time. To keep operations going, most companies adopted new ways of working that left their offices, factories, and stores empty.

More than a year later, the world looks much different. As business comes surging back, management teams are responsible for leading their companies through these fast-moving changes. Boards of directors also play a role. They need to help management think critically about the development and execution of their return-to-work plans. This starts with understanding the in-person work challenges executives face in a post-pandemic world so they can ask the right questions and act as a sounding board.

In a recent Gartner survey revealed that 82% of company leaders will allow employees to work remotely some of the time, which means work life is going to look and feel very different than it did before. The pandemic has also increased fears of automation in many industries, leaving almost 40% of workers believing their jobs will be obsolete within five years. These changes, along with the challenges we continue to face at home, can be major sources of stress and anxiety.

Some employers, however, have realised that several of the pandemic’s workarounds are cost-efficient, and are considering making them permanent. There are many corporate leaders who still recognise that, in Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s words, “digital technology should not be a substitute for human connection.” But in what we might call a “Zoom forever” move, many other companies are contemplating radically downsizing traditional office spaces and making remote work permanent for large groups of employees.

The problem is, if millions of people never return to in-person work in a way that resembles the pre-pandemic world, it could have drastic consequences for our well-being. There’s nothing wrong with a partially remote situation—say, work-from-home Fridays or more flexible schedules. But going fully remote forever could exacerbate one of the worst happiness disasters of the pandemic.

Aggravation from commuting is no match for the misery of loneliness, which can lead to depression, substance abuse, sedentary behaviour, and relationship damage, among other ills. And it is simply undeniable that remote work usually leads to loneliness. In research conducted more than a decade before the pandemic about remote work among journalists, the organisational psychologist Lynn Holdsworth found that full-time telework increased loneliness over office work by 67%. Based on data from 2019, the 2020 State of Remote Work report issued by the social-media management firm Buffer showed that loneliness is the biggest struggle remote workers say they face, tied with problems of collaboration and communication.

Practicing mindfulness can help us navigate change and uncertainty with a bit more ease. It allows us to detach from what was, and instead accept what is. The mind prefers familiarity, certainty, and routine, so meditation makes us better equipped to adjust to whatever is shifting within and around us.

As we train our minds to be more comfortable with change, we can make the transition to post-pandemic life with less stress, fewer anxious thoughts, and more focus. Instead of needing to know how things will be, we become okay with not knowing. That’s how mindfulness helps us to become more resilient, so we can better handle whatever may come our way.

What makes change so scary?

We often tend to jump straight to discussing the topics of stress and day-to-day anxiety as reactions to change, rather than talking about change itself. What exactly makes change so difficult?

On a fundamental level, as humans, we are built to choose. We have a need to control. By making choices and exercising that control, we build routines and structure to create a sense of safety and stability in our lives. When things change, our sense of security can break down and we can experience a range of emotions, whether it’s an undercurrent of discomfort or actually feeling threatened, especially when change involves a radical shift, or introduces something we haven’t faced before.

Of course, what we don’t realise is that change is an inevitable part of life. If we pay attention, everything is changing all of the time, whether it’s external — businesses opening and closing, people coming and going, places evolving — or internal — our thoughts, emotions, physical sensations. But understanding that concept and embracing its reality are two different things.

It’s possibly why we often make change harder for ourselves by resisting it and staying focused on what we don’t want to happen, rather than understanding what is happening. We become too involved with the emotions around change, and that preoccupation is one way stress and anxiety can arise.

Why we might experience in-person work anxiety

Everyone experiences stress and general anxiety, albeit in different ways and with different levels of intensity. In a nutshell, stress is primarily a physiological response to an external threat, or a perceived threat. Anxiety arises in the mind as a reaction to the stress; usually triggered by a certain fear or the way we interpret stress, and it’s often oriented in the future. So when we encounter uncertainty — such as making the transition to in-person work after a pandemic — it’s normal to feel anxious as we try to make sense of a shifting landscape. Anxiety performs like a self-reinforcing cycle that kicks in due to a specific situation or event that leads to a worried or anxious thought — bringing feelings of fear, tension, or dread. Before we know it, we have bought into the entire storyline of anxiety that the mind has spun.

Typically, we then try to get rid of those feelings. Sometimes, we might even avoid the trigger point by trying to ignore it or distract ourselves. Other times, we might go the other way: seeking reassurance to try to control the situation. And while those control strategies sometimes work in the short term, we typically find that they don’t actually work to manage anxiety in the long run. The key here is that anxiety influences our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours in ways that will actually make it grow over time. And left unchecked, it can cause severe distress and impair our ability to function in daily life. One solution is to practice mindfulness to not only break the cycle of anxiety, but to transform our relationship with it.

Interrupting the cycle: how mindfulness can help

Mindfulness meditation can be a powerful tool for combating stress and helping people maintain focus once in the office, particularly as they navigate the transition back to the office from home. What makes it so effective is the element of attention training — bringing our attention to the present moment, and training the mind to be calm and engaged with each task at hand, without being easily distracted. Meditation activates an area in our brain called the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for higher-level skills like critical thinking, decision making, planning and focus.

While meditation can enhance areas of the brain responsible for thoughtfully responding to events, it can also deactivate regions and processes responsible for impulsively reacting to events. For example, it has been shown to reduce the size of the amygdala, an area involved with the fight-or-flight center, which is also responsible for fear and stress. Through a regular and consistent mindfulness practice, we develop the ability to turn reactivity into a considered, intentional response — and this establishes the basis of resilience. The more aware we are of how the mind behaves, the less influenced we are by its storylines and patterns. This leads to an incredibly valuable shift in mindset when it comes to navigating the kind of uncertainties the past year has presented, and the kind of changes we face in returning to the office. There are a few practical suggestions that are recommended for anyone who’s experiencing elevated day-to-day anxiety and stress right now. They’re all about limiting the impact of anxiety triggers and catching anxious thoughts. The more we understand and recognise the qualities of the anxious mind, the better equipped we are to interrupt the anxiety cycle.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2021/04/zoom-remote-work-loneliness-happiness/618473/
https://www.benefitspro.com/2021/10/28/return-to-in-person-work-has-been-disappointing-for-many-employees/
https://fortune.com/2021/08/02/office-return-covid-reopening-plan/

Flexible Work Arrangements For Your Workforce

As social distancing orders are lifted, and businesses reopen, employee requests for flexible hours and remote-work arrangements will be part of the new normal. Now that many employers have experienced how successful telecommuting can be for their organisation or how work hours that differ from the normal 9-to-5 can be adopted without causing dents into productivity, offering flexible work arrangements have become more commonplace.

Even in the absence of a pandemic, flexible work arrangements can improve recruitment and retention efforts, increase organisational diversity efforts, encourage ethical behaviour and help the organisation’s efforts to be socially responsible. Employers can experience cost savings, improved attendance and productivity, and an increase in employee engagement which almost always translates into more productivity.

Many U.S. workers now consider work/life balance and flexibility to be the most important factors in considering job offers. In fact, 81% of employees said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options, according to a 2020 survey by FlexJobs. However, offering flexible work arrangements can involve a paradigm shift for organisations, especially smaller ones that may not have the critical mass of technology, budget, management and competitive flexibility necessary to make extensive use of flexible work arrangements.

It’s tough to satisfy everyone. The following practical, real-world approaches will help you treat your people as the individuals they are without creating a chaotic mess of confusing, arbitrary exceptions.


Also Read: Top 13 Recruitment Assessment Tools for 2021


Start one-on-one to understand real employee needs

We might assume, a full 18 months into the pandemic experience, that we’re familiar with what our team members want and how they function best. But people change their minds, or want different things as their circumstances change. So before structuring schedules or work formats, take steps to learn about employees’ current situations in terms of physical work locations and scheduling and gauge their satisfaction with work assignments and career trajectory. Questions to ask include:

  • How well has your team been working together?
  • Do you have access to the decision-makers you need?
  • How well have you been able to arrange cross-functional collaborations?
  • Are there tools, information, or other kinds of support that would help you perform better?
  • How comfortable do you feel about your current work situation?

You won’t be able to satisfy every preference, but when employees trust that you have their best interests in mind, the likelihood of improved retention, productivity, and innovation increases.

Ensure alignment with your own employer branding

If you have a history and culture that treats employees as crucial stakeholders, they’ll expect you to give significant consideration to their preferences and needs. If you’ve always talked about “being like a family,” now’s the time to make that promise real and take care of all your “family members” by accommodating individual needs for schedule adjustments and even modifications to responsibilities when people are under particular duress. If you’ve emphasised that your employees are your most important asset, be sure that you’ve provided resources and communicated about how people can use them to ensure theirs and their families’ wellbeing. This might include providing access to or references or financial support for childcare, eldercare, or mental health services during what continues to be a difficult period.

Don’t mistake physical presence for loyalty

Many leaders once believed that employees speaking openly about wanting to protect or support themselves or their families was a sign that they might not be fully committed to their leaders, teams, organisations, or missions. Employees’ extraordinary dedication during the pandemic should have put that belief to rest. Today, leaders who are unwilling to accept employees’ commitments to the rest of their lives will have a significantly harder time holding on to staff. Whether they work on-premises or remotely, employees who feel supported in doing what’s right for their own lives are likely to feel even more strongly about their commitment to their organisation, rather than suffering from ongoing ambivalence, fear, or resentment — all of which are likely to have a negative impact on their work relationships and output.

This tailored approach will be challenging and time-consuming in the beginning, but it’s significantly less costly than watching your investment in critical staff walk out the door, or not being able to attract the specific talent you need. In the long-term, most employees will observe how well the organisation adapts to theirs and their colleagues’ needs and will end up gravitating to the most popular and effective programmes and solutions.

Advantages of Flexible Work Programmes

Defenders of flexible work initiatives point to the competitive advantages that such programs bring to companies that offer these sorts of programmes. Perhaps the single most cited reason for introducing a flexible work environment is employee retention. Indeed, many businesses stated that the recent trend toward flexible time and other programmes has made it necessary for them to introduce their own programmes or risk losing valued employees. “Another business argument for flexible work arrangements is that they allow companies to match the peaks and valleys of activity,” wrote Elizabeth Sheley in HRMagazine. “More organisations have shifted their focus to how potential changes in schedule will affect the product. Reduced absenteeism, though often overlooked, is also a legitimate business rationale; flexible options not only strengthen commitment, but also give employees more time to handle the very situations that sometimes lead to absenteeism.”

Flexible work programmes provide a way for businesses to increase employee loyalty without resorting to making fundamental changes in their operations. Indeed, Sheley observed that “the most popular flexible work options are those that involve the least change. Flexible time and compressed work weeks, for example, call for the same number of hours, at the same workplace, as in traditional work arrangements.”

Disadvantages of Flexible Work Programmes

Flexible work programs have many apparent advantages, but critics point out that ill-conceived programs can have a negative impact on businesses, and they add that even good programmes often present challenges that a business has to address. First of all, business owners and managers need to recognize that flexible work arrangements are not always appropriate for all people, jobs, or industries. Telecommuting and other “flexplace” arrangements, for example, can be disastrous (or at the very least a productivity drain) if used by employees who are unwilling or unable to put in a full day of work amid the non-work temptations (television, pleasure reading, housecleaning, etc.) of a home setting.

Critics also contend that flex programs often leave managers in exceedingly difficult situations. “Far too often, flex is embraced for its ‘family-friendly’ aspects long before the corporate support needed to manage it takes root,” wrote Martha H. Peak in Management Review. “In these companies, flexible policies are outlined in the employee manual but implementation is left up to individual managers. Then, when managers try to implement these programmes, they discover that to be fair, flex requires them to treat different employees differently.”

In today’s business world, flexible employment staples such as flextime and telecommuting continue to grow, in large measure because businesses that introduce them continue to prosper while simultaneously improving the quality of life of their employees. Looking ahead, it seems clear that flexible work programmes will continue to be used more and more frequently. With the rise of the Internet and rapid spread of high-speed connections to the Internet in homes and offices alike, the tools necessary to make flexible work programmes successful are multiplying. Creating a flexible work programme suitable for a particular business and company will continue to be an individual endeavour but one that is made ever easier with new technologies and communication tools.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2021/10/creating-flex-work-policies-when-everyone-has-different-needs
https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/managingflexibleworkarrangements.aspx
https://www.inc.com/encyclopedia/flexible-work-arrangements.html

Questions To Ask Your New Boss

No matter how many years you’ve worked, starting a new job is often nerve-racking. There are so many unknowns to figure out, and one of the biggest questions are about your new boss. How can you set your relationship up for success?

Understanding Your New Boss’ Expectations

When you get a new boss, things are bound to change. Your new boss will most likely have different expectations for you and your team, a different view of your department’s direction, different ways of communicating, and different priorities than your previous boss. Part of managing your career is taking a proactive part in understanding what is expected of you by your new boss.

Beginning a new job is always a little overwhelming. Not only are you adjusting to a whole new project, office, and set of coworkers, you’re also trying to figure out what your boss wants and how to deliver it. The answer is the same as with getting to know anyone new in your life, whether socially or professionally—you start a conversation, you ask questions.

Of course, it’s not always easy to be the one starting a conversation, but establishing good rapport with your new boss will go a long way toward creating and maintaining a positive work environment. Talking with your boss is the best way to get valuable feedback on your performance, even when it is not annual review time. And, more times than not your relationship with your boss is one of the key factors in advancing your career.

While there’s no universal or simple formula for improving your ability to get along (and work effectively) with your new boss, the good news is that you will make a great deal of progress if you can ask the right questions. Here are a few questions you may want to take into consideration.

1. Who should I meet with outside of our team?

This is why office politics are so important; your ability to figure out how to influence others will improve if you can get to a quick understanding of the unspoken or informal networks that govern the social dynamics of your new team or organization. Your boss is ideally placed to provide you with this intel. 

2. What’s the best way to ask for your input and feedback?

Establishing a cadence where you can get regular feedback on how you are doing, even via 15-minutes weekly chats or regular email check-ins, will help you regulate and calibrate your efforts to improve your performance. 

3. What would you do if you were in my shoes?

This question will not just invite your manager to empathize with you — allowing them to see things from your perspective — it will also show them that you respect them and appreciate their expertise. No matter how logical or insightful their advice may be, it can create a good connection between the two of you and further deepen your understanding of how your manager thinks, feels, and acts.

4. How can I further develop my potential?

Great leaders excel at coaching and mentoring their people. You can nudge your boss to play this role by asking them to assess and develop your potential. This means going beyond your performance to focus also on what you could do. In a world that is increasingly pushing us to reskill and upskill, it is hard to underestimate the importance of expanding our horizons and being open to reimagining or reinventing our talents to future-proof our career. Incidentally, this question will also clarify the existing criteria for promotion and advancement, which will help you be objective and pragmatic about your plans (and will keep your boss honest).

5. What could I be doing better?

After a few weeks on the job, asking this question may encourage your boss to provide you with much-needed guidance for closing the gap between how you are performing and what your boss expects from you. In their attempt to avoid conflict and maintain positive morale, many managers find it hard to provide employees with negative evaluations, so wording your feedback request in this way can help them focus on your improvement areas. It also signals that you are eager to understand how you can get better, even if you are doing well. 

A final point to consider: every person is unique, including you and your new boss. Invariably, this means that some of these questions might not be be applicable given the situation and your growing relationship. But the general rule still stands: you will accelerate your career success if you can manage your boss better. This requires you to understand them better, and a deliberate strategy that starts with smart questions can help. 

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2021/10/7-questions-to-ask-your-new-boss
https://leadhonestly.com/blog/9-questions-to-get-to-know-your-boss
https://www.donnaschilder.com/blog/leadership-blog/questions-to-ask-your-new-boss-to-quickly-create-a-productive-relationship/

Is It the Right Time for a Career Change?

Whether you call it “The Great WorkQuake,” “The Great Resignation,” or “The Great Reset”, up to 41% of employees are thinking about changing their career right now. There are a lot of reasons for them to consider leaving. A strong labour market is pushing up wages and benefits, and companies are offering additional perks to attract new talent. Some workers may be fed up with their existing company’s toxic or unappreciative culture, inflexible work arrangements, or pay inequity. Some may be suffering from burnout or general work/life dissatisfaction. Some are leaving their jobs simply because they can afford to — U.S. personal savings hit a record high of 33% this year. Add in the opportunities to “work from anywhere,” and you can understand why we’re seeing employees quitting in record numbers in 2021.

But before drafting your resignation letter, take a hard look at whether quitting is the best way to achieve your long-term career goals. So how do you know whether staying at your current company might be the better decision for you? Here are a few key factors to consider:

1. You have no idea what you want next – only that you don’t want what you have now

Too many aspiring career changers get so worked up resenting a job that isn’t ideal, yet they don’t have a viable alternative. By alternative, I don’t mean a new job in hand, but just a prototype for a job – roles that match what you want and companies that interest you. It’s critical that you are moving towards something you want and not just away from something you don’t.

I call this the pull-over-push reason for wanting a career change. You want to be pulled by the a glorious future – excitement for the role or industry, enthusiasm for what you can accomplish, eagerness to make a contribution in the new field. The pull is attractive to employers, and it’s a powerful guide to help you navigate the inevitable ups and downs of a career change. If you are just pushed out of your current situation – literally pushed out because your apathy caused your performance to drop or you quit out of feeling bored and undervalued – then quitting isn’t going to give you any more clarity. It’s just going to make you more anxious as your savings run down.

2. Your company may have unforeseen opportunities.

As key employees are departing companies, they’re triggering an organisational shuffle. Their departures could mean opportunities for you to take on new responsibilities, build new relationships, and be seen with fresh eyes by management.

If you’ve been building the right relationships, you can take advantage of this moment to both develop your skill set and add value to the organisation. You could end up with a new role — either a great lateral move or a promotion — or an opportunity to lead or participate in a strategic initiative that offers you increased visibility. The pandemic has led many companies to revisit their strategic goals and initiatives. As in poker, sometimes it’s best to just hold ‘em until you see everyone’s cards and can make an educated decision around your future.

3. You can’t name at least three professional connections who you could call right now to jumpstart your job search

Your network is so important to your job search and not just because it helps to have referrals. Even if you don’t get an introduction to a job, your network can provide information. For example, information about the people you’ll be interviewing with – what their personalities are like, what their work priorities are. Industry experts can give you nuance about the trends and challenges facing your dream employers so you can impress them with how much you already know. It’s so much more effective to tend to your network when you don’t need anything. Otherwise, getting back in touch feels contrived or even manipulative. Don’t be the person who only gets in touch when they need something. Before you quit your job, invest several weeks, if not months, on rekindling your professional connections. You want to flex your dormant networking muscles when you can take your time. Otherwise you risk rushing the process and overstepping your ask, a networking mistake even the smartest professionals make.

4. The best time to stretch your capabilities is in a job you hate

You can practice negotiating hard because if they fire you, that just means you get severance instead of quitting with nothing. You can practice pushing back on unreasonable requests or pitching ideas without fear of rejection because you have nothing to lose. You can finally set boundaries with your needy colleagues because you won’t see them soon enough. The best time to expand the negotiation, communication and relationship skills that you know you’re going to need in every job is in the job you have right now. At the very least, you were leaving anyway so if things get awkward, you’re out of there. But at its best, you might find that you greatly improve your environment, your relationships, even your stature. You might feel better enough about your job that you no longer want to quit.

5. It’s a great time to negotiate

Not completely happy with your current situation? Employees have unprecedented leverage at this time to reasonably discuss pay, working conditions, growth opportunities, workplace flexibility, and career-development benefits such as executive education and coaching support. Use this moment to approach your manager and have an open and professional dialogue around what’s possible and what will help you do your job even better. Keep it friendly and conversational — and come armed with data about your performance to make it easy for them to go to bat for you. Savvy companies are focused on retention and acutely aware of the risk and cost of losing great employees like you.

If you’re evaluating your work situation and not quite sure whether to stay or go, reflect on these questions:

  • How satisfied am I in my job now? Consider everything from equitable pay, meaningful work, acceptable working conditions, benefits, job stability, healthy workplace culture, and opportunities for continued growth.
  • What is likely to change (both positive and negative) at my company over the next six to 12 months? How could those changes benefit my career journey? Remember that a bad situation can still be an opportunity to grow given the right conditions.
  • What actions can I take to increase the likelihood of moving into a more fulfilling within my company? Don’t hesitate to ask this question of your manager or other trusted advisors.

If you believe you have the ingredients you need to make the most of staying put, speak with your boss, sponsor, HR, and other people who support you. Demonstrate a powerful case for what you bring to the company, and express your commitment to being flexible and achieving company objectives. Stay connected with others, creating informal information networks, and don’t stop building your industry connections. Know your organisation and manager’s goals and volunteer strategically to contribute where you can make a positive impact. Staying put and doubling down is often the most effective strategy to get you the role and work life you’ve been dreaming about.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/work/5-reasons-why-you-shouldnt-always-just-quit-job-you-hate.html
https://hbr.org/2021/10/5-reasons-not-to-quit-your-job-yet
https://m.economictimes.com/wealth/earn/7-right-reasons-to-leave-your-job-and-when-not-to-quit/articleshow/64803340.cms

How to Handle Major Change In Your Life

Many of us believe that unexpected events or shocks create fertile conditions for major life and career changes by sparking us to reflect about our desires and priorities. That holds true for the coronavirus pandemic. A bit over a year ago, in an online poll numerous people were asked how the pandemic had affected their plans for career change, 49% chose this response: “It has given me downtime to rest and/or think.” That’s a good start. But if you’re thinking about a (successful) career change, it’s that thinking on its own is far from enough. Yes, events that disrupt our habitual routines have the potential to catalyse real change. They give us a chance to experiment with new activities and to create and renew connections. Even in the seemingly “unproductive” time we spend away from our everyday work lives, we conduct important inner business — asking the big existential questions, remembering what makes us happy, shoring up the strength to make difficult choices, consolidating our sense of self, and more.

Yes, events that disrupt our habitual routines have the potential to catalyse real change. They give us a chance to experiment with new activities and to create and renew connections. Even in the seemingly “unproductive” time we spend away from our everyday work lives, we conduct important inner business — asking the big existential questions, remembering what makes us happy, shoring up the strength to make difficult choices, consolidating our sense of self, and more.

Enough has happened during this past year to make many of us keenly aware of what we no longer want. But the problem is this: More appealing, feasible alternatives have yet to materialise. Basically, we’re stuck in limbo between old and new. And now, with most Covid restrictions at last falling away and a return to the office imminent (in some capacity anyway), we confront a real danger: getting sucked back into our former jobs and ways of working.

How can those of us who want to make a career transition avoid that? How can we make progress toward our goals by building on what we’ve learned this past year? Research on the transformative potential of a catalysing event like the coronavirus pandemic suggests that we are more likely to make lasting change when we actively engage in a three-part cycle of transition — one that gets us to focus on separation, liminality, and reintegration. Let’s consider each of those parts of the cycle in detail.

Separation Benefits

Research on how moving can facilitate behaviour change suggests that people who found a new and different place to live during the pandemic may now have better chances of making life changes that stick. Why? Because of what’s known as “habit discontinuity.” We are all more malleable when separated from the people and places that trigger old habits and old selves.

Change always starts with separation. Even in some of the ultimate forms of identity change — brainwashing, de-indoctrinating terrorists, or rehabilitating substance abusers — the standard operating practice is to separate subjects from everybody who knew them previously, and to deprive them of a grounding in their old identities. This separation dynamic explains why young adults change when they go away to college.

Recent research has shown how much our work networks are prone to the “narcissistic and lazy” bias. The idea is this: We are drawn spontaneously to, and maintain contact with, people who are similar to us (we’re narcissistic), and we get to know and like people whose proximity makes it easy for use to get to know and like them (we’re lazy). The pandemic disrupted at least physical proximity for most of us. But that might not be enough — particularly as we rush back into our offices, travel schedules and social lives — to mitigate the powerful similarities that the narcissistic and lazy bias create for us at work. That’s why maintaining some degree of separation from the network of relationships that defined our former professional lives can be vital to our reinvention.

Liminal Interludes & What You Can Learn

Taking advantage of liminal interludes allows us to experiment — to do new and different things with new and different people. In turn, that affords us rare opportunities to learn about ourselves and to cultivate new knowledge, skills, resources and relationships. But these interludes don’t last forever. At some point, we have to cull learning from our experiments and use it to take some informed next steps in our plans for career change. What is worth pursuing further? What new interest has cropped up that’s worth a look? What will you drop having learned that it’s not so appealing after all? What do you keep, but only as a hobby?

Reintegration: New Beginnings On The Horizon

Most executives and professionals who have shared their pandemic experiences have said that they do not want to return to hectic travel schedules or long hours that sacrifice time with their families — but are nonetheless worried that they will.

They are right to be worried, because external shocks rarely produce lasting change. The more typical pattern after we receive some kind of wake-up call is simply to revert back to form once things return to “normal.” That’s what the Wharton professor Alexandra Michel found in 2016, when she investigated the physical consequences of overwork for four cohorts of investment bankers over a 12-year period.For these people, avoiding unsustainable work habits required more than changing jobs or even occupations. Many of them had physical breakdowns even after moving into organisations that were supposedly less work-intensive. Why? Because they had actually moved into similarly demanding positions, but without taking sufficient time in between roles to convalesce and gain psychological distance from their hard-driving selves.

Our ability to take advantage of habit discontinuity depends on what we do in the narrow window of opportunity that opens up after routine-busting changes. One study has found, for example, that the window of opportunity for engaging in more environmentally sustainable behaviours lasts up to three months after people move house. Similarly, research on the “fresh start” effect shows that while people experience heightened goal-oriented motivation upon after returning to work from a holiday, this motivation peaks on the first day back and declines rapidly thereafter.

The hybrid working environments with which many organizations are currently experimenting represent a possible new window of opportunity for many people hoping to make a career change, one in which the absence of old cues and the need to make conscious choices provides an opportunity to implement new goals and intentions. If you’re one of these people, it’s now up to you to decide whether you will use this period to effect real career change — or whether, instead, you’ll drift back into your old job and patterns as if nothing ever happened.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/cheryl-muir/3-ways-to-prepare-yoursel_b_7295334.html
https://possibilitychange.com/major-life-decision/
https://www.flashpack.com/wellness/life-change-how-to-happiness/

Price Increases & Why You Should Tell Your Customers

Covid restrictions are lifting in some parts of the world and the economy is booming in some sectors. Some labour and material costs are rising due to shortages, as is customer demand. Many brands have a high pricing power at the moment, making price hikes almost inevitable. Brand managers may be clued in on the size of their price increase, but it’s no easy matter to communicate this unwelcome news to customers.

Many companies, and even entire industries, routinely raise prices without ever telling customers. In the consumer-packaged goods space, for instance, it is common practice to reduce quantity (the grammage of a package, item count, etc.) and maintain the price. This increases the per-unit amount paid by shoppers but keeps the more visible package price unchanged. Alternatively, brands may cut down on trade promotions and other forms of discounting, raising prices indirectly. For instance, when faced with a shortage and soaring prices for chicken, KFC recently removed in-store promotions for its crowd-pleasing $30 fill-up bucket.

Whatever the reason for your price increase, how you communicate the news is just as important as planning the increase itself. Your communications need to provide clients with detailed information, address questions and concerns, and reinforce your value as their chosen service provider. 

However, these below-the-radar options are unavailable for products sold with subscriptions, leases, or contracts. In these cases, the manager must communicate to customers that prices have increased before the next billing cycle. This task is mined with pitfalls. When performed poorly, the news can lead to undesirable outcomes like customer complaints, social media outrage, and even worse, having to walk back the price increase, or losing customers altogether.

To avoid such fiascos and to blunt customer resentment, here are three actions that managers should take when communicating a price increase. They are backed by evidence found in academic research and shared experiences from working with companies.

Call the action what it is: a price increase

In emails and letters to customers, well-loved brands such as Netflix, Microsoft, Sling, and YouTube TV have all referred to a price increase as “updating price” or “adjusting price” in the past. This is common practice because managers are naturally reluctant to tell customers they are raising prices. While this may seem like a small thing, euphemistic messaging can cause serious harm, fraying the relationship with loyal customers. Decades worth of consumer psychology research has consistently found that attempts to obfuscate bad news rarely pay off for brands. Customers know that brands are trying to influence their opinions and behaviour and appreciate it when they use helpful, transparent, and informative influence methods.

Authenticity and honesty matter to customers, especially for bad news. When a brand uses a euphemism to convey a price increase, it does not distract customers or dilute the negative impact of the news, as managers may believe. Instead, it arouses suspicion, making recipients more vigilant and critical of the information contained in the announcement. Some customers may interpret the euphemistic phrasing as talking down to them. It may stoke indignation in others, leading to venting on social media and the potential to snowball into widespread anger. Even customers who are on the brand’s side may feel that they are being deceived. Where communicating price increases, it is best to call it what it is: a price increase.

Avoid apologising & over-explaining

Increasing prices is a standard part of running a growing business, and enables a company to continually provide better services over the long term. Rate fluctuations naturally follow a company’s growth plan. Nobody can grow by staying static. While it can be tempting to provide long-winded explanations and apologies for increasing your rates, giving too much information can take away from the key message you’re trying to communicate and ultimately confuse your clients. In addition, apologising could send a signal that the price increase will negatively impact your clients and/or that you’re not confident in the increased value you’re providing. 

When communicating a price increase to customers, ensure that your messaging only contains essential information and avoid adding unnecessary details. Don’t be afraid to own your decision! 

Offer plenty of advance notice

Although price increases are an expected part of doing business, it is important to give your clients sufficient time to process the information and potentially look at other service providers offering lower or competitive rates. (Depending on the significance of the increase, your clients may be required to secure additional approval or funding to continue to do business with you – especially if the business is facing challenges.)

To help your clients feel valued and give them time to make any necessary changes on their end, provide as much notice as possible before the price increase will come into effect. If you’re able to provide a few months’ notice, consider following up with a reminder closer to the effective date (either via email or over the phone) so the price change – and any consequential business changes – doesn’t turn into a last-minute disaster. 

Prove that the Price Increase Is for the Customers

The most effective price increase communications are customer-centric. They provide a value narrative — a vivid and compelling story for why the price is being increased that focuses on customer value. As an example, when United Airlines raised prices of its United Club membership, the company provided this explanation:

“To provide a more productive and relaxing experience, we’re investing more than $100 million in renovating existing locations and building new spaces with expanded seating areas, more power outlets and upgraded Wi-Fi. We’re also investing in a brand new complimentary food menu that you can now find at most of our hub locations across the U.S. and will be available soon at the rest of our locations.”

This explanation tells United Club members that prices are increasing to give them more benefits they’ve been asking for. A compelling value narrative establishes the sequence of actions for the price increase. It starts with customer feedback, then leads to identifying unmet needs, is followed by a significant investment by the brand, which results in new features, and finally culminates in the delivery of benefits that customers value.

As the United Airlines communication illustrates, the value narrative is concise — only a few sentences long. But it provides a credible explanation for the price increase that resonates with core customers. Most importantly, it places the customer at the centre of the price increase story, linking the price increase to substantial added customer value. A well-crafted value narrative conveys to customers that the brand has undertaken the effort to understand how its customers derive value and factored this knowledge into the pricing process.

At its essence that managers should approach the unpleasant task of communicating a price increase to customers with the same degree of sincerity, attention to detail, and customer focus that they bring to other brand-building projects like introducing new features or extending product lines. Such effort will be rewarded with a price increase that sticks and customers that feel like valued partners of an authentic brand with their interests in mind.

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Sources:

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-to-sell-a-price-increase-to-your-customers-2948463
https://www.workflowmax.com/blog/youve-decided-to-raise-your-rates-now-how-do-you-tell-your-clients
https://hbr.org/2021/06/if-youre-going-to-raise-prices-tell-customers-why