The word change written on blocks

Be a Master of Change

Change is tough sometimes. Well, it can be hard all the time. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s just as hard or easy as we let it be.

We all know change is inevitable and there are so many clichés around change that we have all heard so many times, like

the only constant is change

change or die

it’s the most adaptable to change who will survive (thank you, Darwin)

Don’t get me wrong, they’re all valid and true – and I say them all the time myself, but clichés can turn people off and rarely lead to great results.

We need to be inspired by change, rather than threatened by it, we need to find a way to look forward to change, to see the possibilities of change.

We need to LEAD change, not just manage it.

A few ways to actively lead change could be:

  • Become a trend spotter; keep an eye on the industry, market, competitors, other industries – to become aware of trends and next potential opportunities.
  • Listen to your customers: what are they saying, wanting, needing? And how could you use that information to create/lead necessary change?
  • Listen to your peers, your colleagues, your team members. Discuss: what change(s) could/should we make to become even better, more relevant, more successful, more sustainable? Share your thoughts and insights too.
  • Make change your friend: Find the benefits in changes that have happened 
  • And if you encounter changes that didn’t bring the expected benefits and results, discuss/explore: how can we improve this, to make something better?

Let’s be masters of change, rather than victims of change

The words workplace culture written on cogs

There’s nothing “fluffy” about culture

There is always a culture. Wherever you work, there will be a culture and the culture can either be left to its own devices or it can be consciously created, adjusted, tweaked or changed.

In a way culture is quite simple, it’s “how things get done around here”. It is usually implicit rather than explicit and can be hard to pinpoint. It is the ‘how’ of business. It is how people react, behave and interact every minute of every day. It is not something complicated or fluffy, it is something quite simple. It is the glue that holds an organisation together. The challenge with culture is that the concept is simple but the transformation can be complex and habits die hard, and to change behaviours takes time – but it can absolutely be done.

As mentioned, the behavioural norms of an organisation can be either implicit or explicit. Implicit norms are made up of behaviours we observe or undertones that we can pick up on, whereas explicit norms are what we are told to do, guided by for example the corporate values. And implicit rules will always trump explicit ones. We learn from what others do.

Imagine a company that say it values and respects people’s work/ life balance. Leaders then reward and praise people who work long hours, sacrificing their personal lives. And as well intended as that may be, we can all agree that it is not a behaviour in support of work/life balance.

Culture is all about what we actually do and not just what we say.

So if you for example want to have a culture of sharing ideas, then start sharing ideas yourself as well as putting it into people’s goals and that will help drive the behaviour of sharing. You role model the behaviour while also encouraging the same behaviour in others through the goal system.

Think about the power of culture and remember that you can make it manageable and tangible, rather than soft and fluffy – because it’s not – it is the strongest driving force of an organization and needs to be taken seriously.

And it starts with each person, every day, every minute. You are all creating it through every interaction you have. You are creating it through the behaviours you display and through the behaviours you let others get away with, any unproductive behaviours you collude with. Whether you are a leader or a team member; every interaction you have is creating the culture.

What culture are you creating today?

crystal globe on a bed of leaves

Microsoft’s Approach To Green Business

Across the technology sector we need to recognise that datacentres will rank by the middle of the next decade among the largest users of electrical power on the planet. Our closest partner, Microsoft was in fact one of the first large enterprises to implement a global internal carbon fee model, charging each business unit a fee based on the carbon emissions of its business operations. This provides a powerful incentive to find carbon-saving alternatives and invest in carbon-reducing innovations. Microsoft was ranked by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the second largest user of green power in the United States.

I don’t think that digital technology will ever take away the humanity of storytelling, because storytelling is, in and of itself, a wholly human concern.

– David Fincher, Director of Fight Club and The Social Network
Businessman holding up Help sign

5 Hot Tips For Overcoming Email Fatigue

Do you also feel like you drown in emails at times? Do you dread coming back from holiday finding 100s or even 1000s of emails waiting for you? While knowing that it will take you hours if not days to catch up? You’re definitely not alone. You’re probably suffering from “email fatigue”, a common organisational ailment. 

Emails are great in so many ways, sure. But there are just so many of them!

A large majority of organizations we meet have communication challenges. There’s nothing strange about that. Communication is one of the most complex aspects of business; trying to communicate relevant information or exchange knowledge and ideas for innovation – when each person is unique, when everyone has different attention spans, preferred ways of communicating and maybe even different interests. 

“There’s not enough communication”

Most employees we’ve met over the years don’t think there’s enough communication – from leadership in particular, but also collaboratively across the organization. On the other hand, most people think there are way too many emails. 

When emails were first introduced at work, they revolutionized communication, without a doubt. But over time, emails have almost become the default communication channel for all types of communication, regardless of whether it’s the best way of communicating in a given situation. 

Different subjects, different situations, different messages, different audiences demand different types/channels of communication. Email is one such channel, but it’s far from the only one.

More and more tools are introduced as a way of staying in contact, across organizations and outside of them. But tools is not the whole solution. People and the way we work and collaborate is a big part of that solution. 

5 Top Tips for curing Email Fatigue™

Take the pressure off email (in fact, it was quite unfair to make email such a dominant communication player in the first place) by taking a more strategic and practical approach to communication and finding the most appropriate habits as well as set of tools for your communication. 

Don’t get lost in the plethora of tools available, carefully choose and agree which one to use for what. This saves a lot of time and frustration and can quickly enhance collaboration too.

Here are our “5 Top Tips for curing Email Fatigue”™

1.    Create a day-to-day communication strategy and plan – don’t leave communication to chance (or habitual email!)

2.    As a team or organization, agree what your communication needs are – who needs to communicate what and with whom and when. For example:
o    Weekly/monthly senior management business update from senior management to all employees
o    Capture spontaneous ideas for continuous innovation
o    Team goal progress 

3.    Discuss and agree (it’s always better that this is an inclusive process rather than just a top-down decision) which channels are best used for each communication need. For example:
o    Senior management weekly/month updates via video on Vimeo or similar.
o    Innovation ideas collected on Teams (Office365)
o    Regular face-to-face meetings, supported by reporting on Planner (Office365)

4.    When using email, be restrictive with whom you copy into emails. Many cc-emails are never ready anyway. Only copy in those people who really need to be aware right now. If you’re only sending information that they can refer to if and when they need it, it might sit better somewhere else, categorized and clearly labelled in OneDrive (Office365) or GoogleDrive for example (once that’s been agreed as a principle and people know when and where to look for it).

5.    Before sending another email, ask yourself: Is this the best way of communicating? Will I be heard more effectively this way? For example, if you need a quick response and want to avoid long email chains, it may make more sense to pick up the phone and call people instead of using email.

Carefully choose your communication approach

Emails are great, but not the answer to every communication need. If you don’t already have it, put together a communication strategy and plan. Make it easy for people to communicate and enjoy doing so rather than just going down the email route. 

There are so many clever tools around (that were not around when email was introduced), give them a chance too. Become strategic about how you communicate and choose your approach carefully. As long as it’s clear and easy to use, a variation of communication methods/channels creates more interest and cures Email Fatigue. 

Building work and road closed sign

Hey you, don’t keep digging up the road!

The gas company needs to check the pipes, so they dig up the road and fill it back up again. The water company needs to maintain their pipes, so they do the same. The fibre optic company needs to- well, you catch our drift. Wouldn’t it be smarter to work together?

If this sounds familiar that’s because it is, and not just on your street. Many organisations the world over address their requirements in a broken way, with HR, Finance, Sales, Marketing, Legal, Operations and the Board often using disintegrated solutions to address their individual challenges; missing the strategic view.

Making real change happens starts with what are you really trying to achieve? – moving away from digital and operational patchwork solutions and moving toward a plan that brings results for your business, driving the growth and competitive edge you need. 

Celebrity Mr Motivator leaning on chair

Keeping fit keeps business healthy

Your physical fitness is more important to your company than being at your desk by 9am.

Mental firepower is directly related to our physical regimen. Fact. So why, so often, are we prepared to consider the gym or the sports field the most expendable part of our routine? And why, so often, do we see the 9am start – often disallowing morning exercise for significant-distance commuters – so rigidly applied?

Studies suggest a 15-20% improvement in productivity just from a morning jog. Over the course of a working day, that’s potentially 2-2.5 hours of more effective work than you’d have achieved if you hadn’t take that 7am spin class. Over a year, that’s about 83 working days.

So, how else are you going to squeeze 83 more working days per year per person, for free?

The gym gives us more than just slimmer waists, a healthier heart and a more attractive physique. Social scientists have amassed rafts of evidence on its impact on the way we think. Harvard Business Review lists these cognitive benefits of regular exercise on your work performance:

Sharper memory

Faster learning

Prolonged mental stamina

Enhanced creativity

Improved concentration

And if improvements to mental wellbeing isn’t tangible enough for you, within six years after creating an employee health and wellbeing department, the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, US, reported that lost work days had declined by 80%. Cost savings totalled USD1.5 million.

So if employees are keen, how can you inspire your people to keep fit? One business that is getting it right is women’s workout-wear boutique Sweaty Betty, who win all sorts of healthiest employees awards year-on-year.

Among its initiatives are complimentary exercise classes for employees. The 70-strong support team based at Sweaty Betty HQ in Fulham can attend classes daily, ranging from yoga to HIIT workouts in their ground-floor studio. They also have access to a free on-site gym and a weekly running club. And the 300+ staff that work in their boutiques can attend free classes run by local fitness specialists – anything from dance to yoga. Also, staff can claim an annual allowance to support learning outside of work that’s related to living an active lifestyle, such as training to be a yoga instructor. And they get a generous allowance of free Sweaty Betty kit each new season, as well as a 50% discount year round – this is more important than you might think. Fancy gym kit might seem like a triviality but researchers from America’s Northwestern University have discovered the phenomena of “enclothed cognition” – essentially, if we’re wearing the right gear for an activity we become more focused on it. So there could be more to being able to invest in a pair of Asics than meets the eye.

By having healthy employees you will have lower rates of sickness, lower rates of stress and healthier focus, teamwork and productivity.