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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

Quiet Quitting Is About Bosses, Not Employees

“Quiet quitting” is a new name for an old behaviour. The authors, who have conducted 360-degree leadership assessments for decades, have regularly asked people to rate whether their “work environment is a place where people want to go the extra mile.” Their data indicates that quiet quitting is usually less about an employee’s willingness to work harder and more creatively, and more about a manager’s ability to build a relationship with their employees where they are not counting the minutes until quitting time.

Every employee, every workday, makes a decision: Are they only willing to do the minimum work necessary to keep their job? Or are they willing to put more of their energy and effort into their work?

In the last few weeks, many of those who choose the former have self-identified as “quiet quitters.” They reject the idea that work should be a central focus of their life. They resist the expectation of giving their all or putting in extra hours. They say “no” to requests to go beyond what they think should be expected of a person in their position.

In reality, quiet quitting is a new name for an old behaviour. Organisational psychologists have been conducting 360-degree leadership assessments for decades, and they’ve regularly asked people to rate whether their “work environment is a place where people want to go the extra mile.” To better understand the current phenomenon of quiet quitting, we looked at the data to try to answer this question: What makes the difference for those who view work as a day prison and others who feel that it gives them meaning and purpose?

The data collected indicates that quiet quitting is usually less about an employee’s willingness to work harder and more creatively, and more about a manager’s ability to build a relationship with their employees where they are not counting the minutes until quitting time.

What the Data Shows

We looked at data gathered since 2020 on 2,801 managers, who were rated by 13,048 direct reports. On average, each manager was rated by five direct reports, and we compared two data points:

Employees’ ratings of their manager’s ability to “Balance getting results with a concern for others’ needs”

Employee’s ratings of the extent to which their “work environment is a place where people want to go the extra mile”

The research term we give for those willing to give extra effort is “discretionary effort.” Its effect on organizations can be profound: If you have 10 direct reports and they each give 10% additional effort, the net results of that additional effort are increased productivity.

The graph below shows the results. We found that the least effective managers have three to four times as many people who fall in the “quiet quitting” category compared to the most effective leaders. These managers had 14% of their direct reports quietly quitting, and only 20% were willing to give extra effort. But those who were rated the highest at balancing results with relationships saw 62% of their direct reports willing to give extra effort, while only 3% were quietly quitting.

Many people, at some point in their career, have worked for a manager that moved them toward quiet quitting. This comes from feeling undervalued and unappreciated. It’s possible that the managers were biased, or they engaged in behaviour that was inappropriate. Employees’ lack of motivation was a reaction to the actions of the manager.

Most mid-career employees have also worked for a leader for whom they had a strong desire to do everything possible to accomplish goals and objectives. Occasionally working late or starting early was not resented because this manager inspired them.

What to Do If You Manage a “Quiet Quitting ”Employee

Suppose you have multiple employees who you believe to be quietly quitting. In that case, an excellent question to ask yourself is: Is this a problem with my direct reports, or is this a problem with me and my leadership abilities?

If you’re confident in your leadership abilities and only one of your direct reports is unmotivated, that may not be your fault. As the above chart shows, 3% or 4% of the best managers had direct reports who were quietly quitting.

Either way, take a hard look at your approach toward getting results with your team members. When asking your direct reports for increased productivity, do you go out of your way to make sure that team members feel valued? Open and honest dialogue with colleagues about the expectations each party has of the other goes a long way.

The most important factor is trust. When we analysed data from more than 113,000 leaders to find the top behaviour that helps effective leaders balance results with their concern for team members, the number one behaviour that helped was trust. When direct reports trusted their leader, they also assumed that the manager cared about them and was concerned about their wellbeing.

Our research has linked trust to three behaviours. First, having positive relationships with all of your direct reports. This means you look forward to connecting and enjoy talking to them. Common interests bind you together, while differences are stimulating. Some team members make it easy to have a positive relationship. Others are more challenging. This is often a result of differences (age, gender, ethnicity, or political orientation). Look for and discover common ground with these team members to build mutual trust.

The second element of trust is consistency. In addition to being totally honest, leaders need to deliver on what they promise. Most leaders believe they are more consistent than others perceive them.

The third element that builds trust is expertise. Do you know your job well? Are you out of date on any aspects of your work? Do others trust your opinions and your advice? Experts can bring clarity, a path forward, and clear insight to build trust.

By building a trusting relationship with all of your direct reports, the possibility of them quietly quitting dissipates significantly. The approach leaders took to drive for results from employees in the past is not the same approach we use today. We are building safer, more inclusive, and positive workplaces, and we must continue to do better.

It’s easy to place the blame for quiet quitting on lazy or unmotivated workers, but instead, this research is telling us to look within and recognize that individuals want to give their energy, creativity, time, and enthusiasm to the organisations and leaders that deserve it.

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.axios.com/2022/09/07/quiet-quitting-pandemic-labor-jobs-unions
https://www.gallup.com/workplace/398306/quiet-quitting-real.aspx
https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/02/how-quiet-quitting-became-the-next-phase-of-the-great-resignation.html

Have Remote Employees Lost Touch with Customers’ Needs?

Before companies went remote or hybrid, non-sales employees usually had some minimal interaction with customers. However, as time moved on, teams with no customer interaction started to lose their connection to them. Losing sight of customers means internal teams are more likely to double down on their own agendas, putting the organisation at risk of being out-innovated and eventually becoming irrelevant (in the long term). There are ways in which leaders can bring customers “back to life” for teams who don’t interact with them.

After months of successfully working from home, the finance, HR, and legal teams of a mid-sized bank decided that they were going to adopt a hybrid model, permanently. Covid-induced remote work had proven that physical presence wasn’t a requirement for productivity.

Some employees elected to be 100% remote, others came in a few days a week, and those who wanted to work in the office were given safe spaces to do so. It all seemed fine at first; productivity stayed high. Yet after several months, they began to realise that something was missing from their daily conversations — or rather someone. One operations leader put her finger on it when she said, “We used to start meetings talking about customers. Now we hardly mention them at all.”

While much has been written about the need to keep teams connected to each other in a virtual environment, losing your organisational edge in regards to the customer is more dangerous.

In many of our clients, we have observed the following: Before their companies went remote or hybrid, most employees throughout the organisation had some sight line to customers. Even if they didn’t interface with them directly, they had regular conversations with customer-facing teammates, and when the organisation talked about “customers,” everyone was clear on who they were and what they needed. And when the pandemic hit, people rallied. The top priority was keeping the business afloat, so teams leaned into taking care of customers.

However, as time marched on, non-customer-facing teams started to lose their connection to customers. The hallway conversations stopped. They didn’t run into a sales rep in the elevator or sit next to a customer success agent in the cafeteria.

In this environment, even the most well-intended remote employees can forget that customers are their organization’s lifeblood. Internal teams are more likely to double down on their own metrics and agendas. In the short term, this puts the organization at risk for silos. In the long term, an organization without a clear sight line to customers is at risk of being out-innovated and eventually becoming irrelevant. One need look no further than Sears, Blockbuster or Monster.com to see what happens when an organization loses their tether to customers.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

When leaders are intentional about bringing customers to life for internal teams it creates an emotional (and practical) connection. It infuses the why of the business into the organizational groundwater. This has been proven to result in greater engagement, which creates bolder innovation, resulting in faster, more lasting growth.

Here are three ways leaders can bring your customers to life for teams who don’t interact with them.

1. Talk about specific customers (instead of the aggregate “customers”)

Ask yourself, which is more engaging: “Customers are counting on us!” or “Ken’s Plumbing Supply is counting on us to fill this order. Without it, he won’t be able to keep his team on schedule.”

Specificity matters. Instead of discussing customers in the aggregate, share details about individual customers to make them more real. Without this, remote employees will more likely see customers as abstract numbers on a page, rather than real-life human beings.

To build this tangible connection, we recommend leaders have regular conversations with customers, asking customers not just about what they bought, but about how what they bought is impacting their life and/or business.

Then, leaders should share what they’ve learned about specific customers (who they are, what they do, their daily challenges, etc) with all non-customer-facing remote employees. Telling an IT, or Finance, or HR team how a specific customer improved their life or business as a result of the organization’s offering infuses a purpose-driven ethos into the organization. Stories about specific customers are more memorable and repeatable than a generic value proposition.

2. Ask “How will this impact our customers?” during decision-making

Even if the decision seems like it has nothing to do with customers, putting a customer-oriented lens on decision-making enables teams to think more holistically and deeply consider the potential impact of their choices.

We recently worked with a team from a financial services firm charged with improving the cash flow of the organization. The organization had some long-standing process hiccups that were only made worse when the team shifted to working remotely.

The team met and quickly came to a decision: to require vendors to agree to 60-day payment terms in advance of working for the organization. At first blush, the decision seemed sound. Cashflow would improve and customers wouldn’t even know … or would they?

When the team asked, “What impact will this have on customers?” they realized some fatal flaws in the plan. For example: The organization had just partnered with an IT vendor who was supporting them through major internal system changes. A big part of the project was training all the teammates, some of whom are customer-facing, on the updated system.

If it took the vendor 60 days to get paid, the vendor would be required to fund staff while still waiting on payment. As result, the vendor would likely not allocate their best trainers to the project, meaning their teams wouldn’t have top-notch support and training to do their jobs. And an under-supported and undertrained team can’t support customers effectively. The team soon realized that their policy, which at first seemed unrelated to customers, could ultimately end up doing damage to customer relationships.

The ensuing conversation — which was challenging and took a while — resulted in a breakthrough. The team created a system to help vendors get paid over time, as they complete the work. This helped fend off major cashflow spikes, it made sure vendor relationships stood solid, and it enabled the organization to keep delivering for customers.

When non-customer-facing teams assess decisions and projects asking, “How will this impact customers?” it changes the frame. This simple question can be asked of any project or decision. In our experience, when internal teams make a regular practice of asking this question, the resulting priorities and projects are better aligned to improve the organization’s market position.

3. Include non-customer-facing teammates in customer meetings

When it comes to bringing customers to life, nothing is more powerful than meeting with a real, live, breathing human. One of our clients, a building supplier, began inviting one backstage team leader to each annual customer business review. When leaders like the head of supply chain, the HR manager, and the safety lead got the opportunity to meet with actual customers, even virtually, it shifted their perspective. They understood in a real and visceral way who the organization serves.

After seeing the impact, which ranged from increasing empathy for customers to actual policy shifts, the senior leaders of the organization went one step further. They made it part of each leadership role (no matter what functional area they led) to attend two or three customer meetings a year. Their only job was to listen.

After joining the customer meetings, the department leaders then briefed their teams on what they learned about the customers’ business goals and needs. This helped everyone see their customers more vividly.  After hearing the head of finance describe her meetings with several customers, one staff accountant said, “These customers used to be just numbers, now I see they’re businesses with their own hopes and dreams.”

In a world where customers have more choices than ever, it’s crucial that leaders help all employees understand who your customers are and how you serve them. Bringing customers to life for backstage teams does not have to be difficult, but it does require effort. Using these three techniques will ensure that everyone in your organization has a direct line of sight to the people who actually drive your business, your customers.

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/2021/02/financial-targets-dont-motivate-employees
https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/07/22/5-common-problems-plaguing-remote-workers-and-what-to-do-about-them/
https://www.pwc.com/us/en/industries/consumer-markets/library/prioritizing-customers-in-hybrid-work-environment.html

Organisational Change: High-Risk – High-Reward & How to Do It Right

Most organisational change efforts take longer and cost more money than leaders and managers anticipate. In fact, research from McKinsey & Company shows that 70% of all transformations fail. Why does this happen though?

For many reasons: a weak culture that isn’t aligned with the mission, leadership misalignment, lack of participation and buy-in, under-communicating a powerful vision, over-communicating a poor vision, competing priorities, not enough training or resources, and so on. But one very critical roadblock standing in the way of bringing a change vision to fruition is what experts call ‘change battle fatigue’. Change battle fatigue is the result of many elements such as past failures plaguing the minds of employees, the sacrifices made during the arduous change process, and rollout strategies taking longer than anticipated. When a transformation is poorly led, fatigue can set in quickly.

And not only do 70% of organisational change fails, but that failure rate may even be increasing. According to older but still very relevant 2008 research from IBM, the need to lead change is growing, but our ability to fulfill a change vision is shrinking. Hence why people often get discouraged and eventually give up. Even when companies make great strides while building a change culture and preparing for the ‘change battle’, fatigue can derail even the most valiant efforts for change—essentially leading to losing the ‘change battle’.

It’s difficult for managers and staff to get motivated when they believe that the latest ‘new initiative’ being preached from above is going to die just like the last one—no matter what they do. Furthermore, fear makes change intensely personal. People become concerned about their jobs, families, and long-term career path. When people are afraid, most can’t hear or think as well. It’s much harder for them to absorb important information when panic starts to set in. This can be a big distraction that undermines the team’s ability to focus and stay productive. And times of change are when you need them more focused than ever.

Thus, the often-cited failure rate of organisational change continues to hover around 70%. If you’ve got a major change on the horizon, here’s how to avoid the most common ‘saboteurs’ of organisational change.

Underestimating the work

Simply put, most leaders want organisational change to be easier than it is. By its nature, transformational change creates discontinuity because it touches the entire company. In the case of a financial services company, shifting from product to service centricity meant every aspect of the organisation, from sales to operations, is going to be touched by the need for change.

By contrast, incremental change — for example, implementing a new technology platform or launching a new product — touches discrete aspects of the organisation. Most companies makee the same mistake: They assume that a larger volume of incremental changes would add up to a complete transformation. Henceforth, they spray the organisation with numerous, disconnected initiatives whose efforts weren’t coordinated, that were actually under-resourced for what they were expected to deliver, and whose project leaders lacked the authority to make material decisions or impose consequences on those unwilling to cooperate. Instead of accelerated change, the result was obstructed change — a system clogged with an overload of disparate efforts that everyone stopped caring about.

A multifaceted transformational change needs to be appropriately scoped, resourced, and integrated. Every initiative must be linked to every other initiative. In the case of most organisations, efforts to market the benefits of newly positioned services need to be synchronised with the efforts of operations people to actually deliver those services. Messages to customers needed to sync with new skills those delivering the services needed to acquire. Centralised services from corporate needed to work closely with local branch offices’ ability to customise services. And it all needs to be sequenced and paced in a way the organisation could productively absorb. Once these efforts are appropriately integrated, means and ends will begin to match, and real organisational change eventually aligns with the messages.

Creating Cultural Experiences That Support The Vision

Cultural experiences are imperative to instill the proper mindsets and beliefs that drive actions that get results. What are cultural experiences? They can be anything from how people interact, the work environment, how the company approaches its customers, company meetings and events, hiring mechanism, to where people sit.

There are four types of cultural experiences as they relate to organisational change:

(1) positively impact change and needs no interpretation;

(2) positively impact change but needs more interpretation to engage the team;

(3) has no positive or negative impact the change effort;

(4) has a negative impact on the organisation.

Type 1 and type 2 cultural experiences help drive engagement and belief in the mission. They keep the team energised.

Emotional Intelligence & Increasing Situational Awareness

In combat, situational awareness is an obvious necessity. Not always easily achieved but a constant priority requiring good communication and leadership at every level. Situational awareness at the individual level could also be described as self-awareness – a key component of emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is widely known to be a key component of effective leadership, especially when navigating change and uncertainty. The ability to be perceptively in tune with yourself and your emotions, as well as having sound situational awareness, can be a powerful tool for leading a team in VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) environments. The act of knowing, understanding, and responding to emotions, overcoming stress in the moment, and being aware of how your words and actions affect others is described as emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence consists of these four attributes: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

For example, a study of over forty Fortune 500 companies showed that salespeople with high emotional intelligence outperformed those with low to medium emotional intelligence by 50%. The same study showed that technical programmers who fell in the top 10% of emotional intelligence competencies were producing new software at a rate three times faster than those who fell in the lower ratings.

Emotional intelligence also improves employee satisfaction, something vitally important during any change effort. A West Coast bank was forced to cut almost one-third of its staff due to the economic downturn back in 2008. Determined to survive the ‘change battle’, the leadership team invested in assessing the remaining staff for their levels of emotional intelligence. The results supported their transformation goals to ensure they not only had the right people on the bus but that those people were in the right seats—doing jobs best suited to their capabilities. The company survived and is now more productive and more profitable with fewer employees.

It’s hard to make organisational change turn out the way you want to. But by doing your due diligence and creating the plan that makes the most sense for your company, you’ll increase the chances your change management efforts are successful. As a result, you’ll have a strong, healthy company that’s well-positioned to keep dominating for some time to come.

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/2021/04/how-leaders-get-in-the-way-of-organizational-change
https://www.pulselearning.com/blog/6-steps-effective-organizational-change-management/
https://www.tinypulse.com/blog/sk-successful-organizational-change-examples

Has the CEO Position Evolved to a Two-Person Job?

When Netflix announced this summer that it was elevating Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos to co-CEO, sharing the title with founder Reed Hastings, the move cut against conventional wisdom. Salesforce.com, SAP, and Oracle all had abandoned co-CEO structures within the last year, leading The Wall Street Journal to ask: “Co-CEOs Are Out of Style. Why Is Netflix Resurrecting the Management Model?”

In the hierarchies of corporate America, there’s nothing ambiguous about the position of “chief executive officer.” Whoever holds the CEO title sits at the tip-top of the org chart; it’s right there in the capital C. But what happens when that designation—and the power it implies—is shared? 

That’s the unusual experiment that several companies have undertaken in the past few months, splitting the role of CEO between two executives. In September, WeWork’s parent named two interim CEOs, Sebastian Gunningham and Artie Minson, to replace founder and spiritual guru Adam Neumann, who stepped down as the embattled shared-office giant postponed its IPO. (The pair will be replaced in February by a single new CEO, Sandeep Mathrani.) Software giant SAP in October named Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein co-CEOs—the third time the German company has opted for the dual-leader arrangement. And in January, luggage startup Away wound up with two CEOs after former chief Steph Korey returned to cohead the company just weeks after reports of toxic work behaviour prompted her to step down. She’s now splitting the position with Stuart Haselden, the former Lululemon executive whom Away had initially tapped as Korey’s lone replacement.

The truth is the archetype of the omnipotent CEO — the lone commander atop the corporate pyramid — is increasingly a relic of 20th century management thinking. There are some notable exceptions: Founders like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg still command and control. But in our research with the American Psychological Association, we’ve found that for most mere mortals, it’s simply too hard to go it alone. The modern business landscape is too fast-moving and the demands on a CEO have become too innumerable for a single person to set an organization’s strategic direction and oversee a multitude of internal decisions, all while acting as its public face to stakeholders.

Tellingly, while executive teams have doubled in size over the last three decades as different corporate functions have gained importance (human resources) or have come into existence (digital strategy and data security), the top job has largely remained a solitary grind. As entrepreneur Joe Procopio has observed, “The math on giving 110% usually breaks down to giving 10% across 11 different priorities.”

At the same time, the expectations of modern leadership have evolved. Organisations are more agile, less hierarchical, and must adapt quickly to the sudden dislocations we have today. Generational shifts in the workforce and society bring rising social consciousness of inequalities and a mandate for including others with different experiences into decision-making. These exigencies have made non-traditional soft skills essential additives to leadership.

There are four basic rules on how to 2 CEOs should cooperate when they both are running the company.

1. Pick the right partner. Co-CEOs are in a very real sense professionally married. The foundational qualities of such an enduring personal relationship also apply in a shared C-suite: a common vision, clear communication, and most important, deep trust. This sustains the partnership when, inevitably, there is a disagreement. Each must remember the other’s talents and make decisions knowing it’s still one P&L both must own. You cannot go into this arrangement without believing in the character of the other and vice-versa.

2. Set expectations. Critics of dual CEOs argue that shared accountability amounts to no accountability at all — if two are in charge, no one is. But properly managed, the opposite is true. The idea of joint accountability means setting performance standards that put each partner in the position of having to live up to the other. Ideally, this creates a healthy competition. Would-be CEOs are typically high-performing individuals, so clear lanes help each partner drive improvements in the other. Indeed, a 2011 paper published in Financial Review found that co-CEOs’ mutual monitoring can generate enough accountability to substitute for board supervision.

3. Define roles and responsibilities. The organization must understand who is in charge of which aspects of the company and where decision-making authority lies. We have a highly decentralized workforce — the two of us live in different cities — yet our managers intersect with us with a clear understanding of what types of decisions we are each responsible for. This is liberating in that it takes some daily responsibilities off each CEO’s plate. It also frees up time for skill-building around one’s dedicated areas, yielding more focused mentorship. And one leader can come into another’s problem from a fresh outside perspective. Clearly delineating areas of responsibility also mitigates another common criticism — that co-CEOs are a bottleneck. In fact, the structure often facilitates a quicker response because one individual has authority to make a decision from a greater depth of experience and knowledge.

4. Distribute authority but not responsibility. While each partner has individual duties, both must fundamentally remain a leadership unit, one in which successes and setbacks alike are owned together. These successes and setbacks should be reflected in short- and long-term compensation. They must be prepared to be rewarded or penalized as a unit and accept the consequences. With the right chemistry and trust, it incentivizes both healthy competition and having each other’s back. Another benefit of this conjoined career planning is that it can both temporary or long term. Some companies may see a co-CEO arrangement as a grooming opportunity for a junior leader.

Let’s be honest: The modern CEO is often overwhelmed by unrealistic demands. Netflix’s move to co-CEOs says less about the limitations of individual leaders than about a system that sets them up to fail. We believe business pyramids are stifling innovation, when a division of authority can unleash it. In unprecedented times like these, more companies should rethink their structures and embrace co-CEOs, putting their leaders in positions to succeed.

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/2020/09/is-ceo-a-two-person-job?ab=hero-main-text
https://marker.medium.com/heres-when-it-actually-makes-sense-to-have-2ceos-64827d0ddb5c
https://fortune.com/2020/02/17/co-ceos-model-companies/

Does Productivity Soar by Working from Home?

Amid the Covid-19 crisis, working from home has become the norm for many. But even as remote work has normalised, it’s a recent development: doing your job from your couch was less mainstream before the coronavirus – and even stigmatised.

“Have you punched into Google image search, ‘working from home’, and looked at the top 20 images? They’re basically naked people, a guy drinking champagne in what looks like a jacuzzi. I mean, almost none of them are positive images,” says Nicholas Bloom, a professor at Stanford University in California. He’s made a career out of studying work practices, including remote work. And he thinks the attitudes around working from home are finally changing.

“One silver lining with the Covid pandemic: it’s going to kickstart working from home [moving from the] fringe to a mainstream technology that is commonly used across the country,” he says. That process is already under way; firms including Fujitsu and Twitter have already announced plans to make remote work a permanent option, even after the pandemic.

A study done by Nicholas Bloom, professor at Stanford University, back in 2013 somewhat forecast this trend: in his experiment, Bloom worked with a Chinese company to study remote-work productivity. Somewhat to Bloom’s surprise, the company’s staff became notably more productive by working from home four days a week.

Now, six months into the global pandemic, an increasing number of companies are asking: should we work from home indefinitely? And if they do decide to make major organisational changes about remote work, could they see similar leaps in productivity?

How Do Knowledge Workers Spend Their Time?

In 2013, knowledge workers spent two-thirds of their time either “managing across” in meetings, often with many colleagues, or doing “desk-based work” on their own. Externally focused work (e.g. talking to customers), managing down (coaching and supporting subordinates) and managing up (interacting with the boss and other senior people) all got very little time, while training and personal development got almost none.

How has this picture changed during lockdown? There were two significant shifts: 12% less time managing across through meetings and 9% more time doing externally focused work. Desk-based work continues to take a third of our time. Other changes — a little less time managing up and a little more time on training and development — were not statistically significant.

Standing back, the evidence suggests lockdown has helped us more effectively prioritize our work. We still need to get through our emails and report-writing. But we are significantly less likely to get drawn into large meetings, and this leaves us more time for client or customer work and for training and development, which most people would argue is a good thing. However, lockdown doesn’t seem to have helped with hierarchy-spanning activities (managing up and down), presumably because it’s impossible to have the short, spontaneous meetings that used to be possible.

How Do Knowledge Workers Decide What to Do? 

While most knowledge workers have a written job description somewhere, it is well understood that they take responsibility for choosing what to do and when to do it based on a variety of factors, including tasks outside of their formal role when it appears sensible to do so.

To get a sense for how these decisions are made, we asked study subjects to choose among four options for every activity: It’s a standard part of my job/my boss asked, a peer or colleagues asked me, I did it spontaneously, or it was important and I found time. In 2013, respondents said 52% of their activities were standard, 18% requested by a peer , 24% independent but important, and 3% independent and spontaneous. In 2020, we are still spending half our time on standard activities, but we are doing only 8% because a colleague asked, and a full 35% because we thought the activity was critical.  Both these differences were statistically significant. Spontaneity rose to 6% but this difference was not statistically significant.

What’s going on here?  It seems we have been taking more direct charge of our time during lockdown. Working from home gives us a bit of breathing space: We don’t have colleagues or bosses badgering us, and we don’t get drawn into meetings by force of habit, just because we happen to be around. The result is a reassuring increase in us making time for work that matters most to us.

Concerns and Challenges

Working in lockdown has helped us to focus and to take responsibility. But that’s not the whole story. Follow-up interviews revealed some of the areas of concern that we as individuals — and as leaders of others — need to understand.

Some respondents cited the potential for shirking: “I am worried there is some slackening of effort. People are starting to get a bit too comfortable working from home,” said one. In our view, this is not a huge problem: There are many ways of informally monitoring how much time your colleagues are putting in via Outlook, Slack and other tools, and we should really be evaluating knowledge workers on their outputs not their inputs anyway.

The bigger areas of concern were around the things people couldn’t do well in a virtual environment. Take managing across first: It’s not so hard for an existing working group to stay on course when working remotely, but the challenges of getting started on something new (the forming/storming stages of team development) or resolving internal conflicts are enormous. Of course, these activities can be done over Zoom – just not as well. Few people are energized by informal online get-togethers. As one person said, “We are slowly losing the social glue that holds us together.”

Managing up and down are no less tricky under lockdown. Most respondents had instituted regular one-on-one catch-ups with their teams and bosses, but they usually focused on immediate task and personal well-being issues, rather than longer-term development. They missed the opportunity to bottom out difficult issues: “You cannot challenge a person quite so well over Zoom. You tend to hold back,” said one. They also lamented the loss of growth opportunities for their teams: “I used to throw people into new assignments, where they learned on the job, watching and learning from experienced colleagues. That’s almost impossible to do in a virtual setting.”

Finally, some people worried about their own development. While time spent on self-education went up during lockdown, this was mostly due to online webinar and course attendance — which helps build knowledge but doesn’t encourage the active experimentation and personal reflection that help us really grow.

For many of us, the new socially distanced mode of working may continue for some time.  The good news for knowledge workers from the first phase of this experiment is that lockdown has helped us better manage and prioritize our schedules to favor the most value-added work. The challenge — as we move into the next phase where some face-to-face meetings are allowed — will be to bring back the informal and social elements of office life that are so vital to organizational and individual success.

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:

B_txt_14

Sources:

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200710-the-remote-work-experiment-that-made-staff-more-productive
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/study-working-from-home-means-more-time-on-computers-but-workers-arent-more-productive/
https://hbr.org/2020/08/research-knowledge-workers-are-more-productive-from-home?ab=hero-main-text