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Friday Focus

Friday Focus – 26th February

This week’s Friday Focus are five text messages you will have to think about when planning your return to the office or planning the Hybrid Office.

These questions will help you improve your working environment and build a better hybrid workforce.

1/ Fears around returning the office and not liking their colleagues .
Action: think about how you make the office more inviting and applicable to everyone.

2/ Your team’s not wanting to return to a soulless co-working space.
Action: Think about how you reduce the stress of co-working spaces, how you enable better conversation and more deliberate work.

3/ Many colleagues will not want to return to the office.
Action: The office for many builds anxiety and causes stress, how will you be able to improve their experiences and build spaces for better concentration and deep work.

4/ Expecting your team members to come into the office as some managers do not know how to use certain software.
Action: Think about how you will be able to collect training requirements and reduce stresses for colleagues who could have worked remotely or from home to get more work done.

5/ WFH was much easier for some individuals, how are you doing to enable those who found it easier to work from home vs asking them to work back in the office?
Action: Consider how you enable booking in and booking out of the office, how you encourage those who work better remotely to stay connected.

Remote & Distributed Work Resources

For some ways to shape your thinking, we have two dedicated posts that will help and guide you through some of these struggles

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Complete Change In Career

Today’s anonymous career advice post is common for many people with a desire a complete career change.
Although today’s question is super-specific the recommendations apply to many other situations.

Dear Focus, I have been working offshore in the Oil and Gas industry for 13 years now. Never really worked a job on land. But I feel that this chapter of working offshore has to end. My problem is I have no idea what to do next.

Changing your career is always a big change, it can seem daunting but often it is something you can break down piece by piece.

Not knowing what to do next is not uncommon, the majority of us have no idea of what we would want to do next. You have the opportunity to build towards your next step.

One thing you should do is make the time in knowing what the next career move ideally is.

Firstly, your skills are always transferable, many skills seem specific on the surface but once you evaluate you will see how they often apply to so many roles.

Most of the skills I learnt in part-time work when I was 17 and working in QSR still applies twenty plus years later.

Your industry is a specialist industry and might seem unique however almost all of your skills are transferable and it is something for you to explore, map out and explore.

The question to ask yourself is what role do I want to do and what makes me great for that role. These are going to be the first questions the hiring manager and HR team will ask.

Below is a series of actions you should take:

Actions

  • Find areas of new work you will want to work in
  • Review places like Glassdoor for reviews of interviews and the workplace
  • Review LinkedIn for people who have these roles and their backgrounds, often you will see there isn’t always obvious steps to the roles they have
  • Create a hitlist of jobs, roles and levels you are applicable for
  • Find as many people within that sector that would make time to discuss the job and their roles with you
  • Write a detailed pros and cons list of the role and your fitting
  • Write a SWOT analysis and be brutally honest, you will be surprised how many strengths and opportunities you
  • Start writing or recording content about the subject matter and the area you would like to go into – clearer thoughts and ideas will really help you
  • Look at free online courses and take as many as possible in your spare time
  • Write a standout cover letter, explain why you are relevant, these are questions you will have to answer before they question you
  • Create bespoke CV/resume for each role – this is something many fail to do
  • Lean into the free resources available, dive into webinars, YouTube is full of useful content
  • Self-learning is essential, show how you have developed yourself and those around you

This list should help you understand the steps to take and how you will be more applicable than you think.

Best of luck.


Read The Previous Anonymous Career Advice Articles:

Categories
Business Performance Company Culture

The New Hybrid Office – The Arena

At the start of the year, I spoke at a number of virtual events, at The Future Of Work & Workforce presentation I introduced the concept of the next office, the arena. Although the office had performance based work and many performed for their audience at work, we are seeing the shift to the hybrid workplace.

The hybrid future is going to be a forcing function to revamp the office, changing the HQ from a traditional office, to the office 3.0 – the arena.

The Office Was:

The agreed place to perform a series of work tasks. 
To improve the performance and revenues of the company.
A place to develop and advance your career. 

The Arena Is:

The place to bring people together with a shared connection or love for something. 

A place: 

  • To connect 
  • To collaborate 
  • To guide 
  • To perform  
  • To entertain 
  • To put on a show  
  • Enable (safe) collaboration  

These are essential elements of contrast but also of similarity, many of these elements were seen in the office, they were not clear elements of the office much thought of or understand.
These elements are going to essential parts of embracing the hybrid future and enabling success for all staff whether they are working in the office, a designated satellite office or working remotely or working from home.

Why The Shift From Office To Arena 

  • We will need to be able to collaborate in small groups in bigger spaces 
  • Mandatory based trust 
  • We have seen remote & WFH work & be productive 
  • There will be a demand to offer flexibility 
  • We will need to be able to create presentations that are interactive, enables in-person and remote presentations with the same experience & interaction 
  • Enable shows like in an arena meaning tribal surroundings of safety alongside ensuring you have the best equipment for streaming high-quality audio and high-quality video – for live broadcasts and on-demand replays. This is close to live concerts streamed or sporting events broadcasted 

In the rest of the actionable presentation, I discuss the importance of the office, the importance of the hybrid workplace and how you build for the future by amending the office into an office as an arena for people and business successes.

I include tools to use, ways to think and concepts to consider when approaching the office as an arena and building for future successes.

The Actions To Take:

  • Adapt your office into an arena, build-out safer larger spaces in existing or new offices, invest in technology; video, audio, connectivity and purpose-built software not just forcing the current software to do the job 
  • Invest in better IT software and hardware, invest in to better microphones, better webcams or connecting smartphones to work laptops 
  • Value others time – be deliberate in reducing grabbing or stealing others time 
  • Adopt principles, write internal memos, share & explain interactively i.e screen records etc 
  • If you are large enough consider building satellite offices to enable onsite, not offsites 
  • Build out hybrid offices and look at membership to offices so it is flexible and safe, that offers choices to your teams 
  • Invest in tools developed for hybrid offices, virtual HQ’s, project and campaign based tools that enable video recordings, screen recordings via tools like Loom 
  • It is essential to bring teams together by building stronger bonds and connections 
  • Help departments connect internally through better relationship building and being more deliberate with asynchronous communications – deliberate > over-communicating
  • Help cross-functional teams understand objectives & create the right kick-off meetings and engaging updates

If you would help redesigning your office or converting your office into an arena and develop your environment, happily get in touch.

Want A Copy Of The Office As An Arena Presentation?

For a copy of the Office 3.0 Office As An Arena PDF please click the button below to request a copy.

Welcome to building the future, The Hybrid Future.

Danny Denhard

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 37

Read, Listen, Watch Recommendations

Dear leaders,

I trust you are well today and halfway through planning Q2 and creating the action plan for your department or team to be successful. 

I have spoken on a number of virtual panels and presented a number of presentations (including the future of work), one of the common themes of these online events has been offering the best reading materials and supporting content to the audience. 

For one event, I was asked to provide three recommendations of what to listen to, read and watch.

I wanted to share some of the recommendations for you to digest and consider reading and then you can share with your teams. I have added why you might be interested 

Read

  • The Dip by Seth Godin
    Why? The best short book on knowing when to stay with something or know when the dip is going to be painful
    Link  
  • 1000 True Fans
    Why? A must-read for anyone in business, particularly in modern times when everything is about an engaged audience and a way to reconsider how you create content and engage the 1000
    Link
    A newer spin on 1000 but totally inspired. 100 true fans. Link
  • Black Box Thinking (link) & Rebel ideas (link) by Matthew Syed.
    Why? These books will change your ways of thinking and shape how important your colleagues and having a diverse set of thinking and people around you truly are. These are dense books, there are talks on YouTube that will give you a tease into these. Listening to the books on Audible is a great option with these books.

Watch

  • Danish TV Advert. All that we share
    Why? Brilliant advert in English to help you understand how are all different but all connect on levels.
    YouTube Link
  • How Musically (now TikTok) was built.
    Why? How Musically (now TikTok) was fundamentally differently by thinking deeply about culture
    YouTube Link
  • How Facebook got to the first billion users
    Why? An unapologetic explainer of how Facebook got to their first billion users by being 100% driven by their goals of connecting people and understanding the first x friends or x actions improved experiences
    YouTube Link

Listen

  • Finding success in the music industry
    Why? Breakdowns the music industry so simply and helps you to understand how challenging industries have formulas & channel based thinking.
    YouTube Link
  • Business Movers Walt Disney Podcast
    Why? Captivating listen about Walt Disney, the complexity of being a genius who truly believed in stories and brand. As relevant today as then and will be relevant for decades to come.
    Podcast Link 
  • Spark and Fire Podcast – Soul Pixar edition
    Why? The best supporting podcast to a movie (Soul) I have heard, the lead writer talks about the process and insane level of details that go into Pixar movies
    Podcast Link

Thanks and have a great week,

Danny Denhard

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Career Going Backwards

In this week’s instalment of focus anonymous career advice, we cover something many of us face, is our career going backwards?

Dear Focus, I feel like my career is going backwards, I have not been promoted for two years, my manager cannot answer why this has not changed, unless my boss leaves I won’t get a title change, what should I do?

This sounds like an issue so many people face, you have hit your ceiling within your business and there is nowhere to go unless you feel like they leave.

There are a couple of sides you should consider:

– Have you evolved in the last two years?
– Are there any development opportunities within the company?
– Can you arrange a skip meeting with your bosses boss and discuss what potential steps there are?

The more obvious the question, the more important it is to answer the question.

Something that is important to keep front of mind and something you should continually ask yourself is what have I learnt and have I evolved?

Personal development and being the person who evolves your career is the easiest hack, you have the ability to learn from millions of resources online and the option to ask for specific training courses from your company. Not developing yourself in this situation is holding yourself back.

Often managers cannot answer these tricky questions, for many reasons, often this is because they are concerned for their role, for the competition from you, for losing you to another business and you are a secret weapon or hidden leader and rely on you more than know.

Many businesses have top-down company culture, meaning your boss has far more influence on you than the business around you, it is important to understand if this is happening across the business or just in your situation. Be delicate in asking these questions, for yourself and so this does not fed back to your boss.

Something that Netflix openly encourage is for you to understand your worth and take external interviews, taking an interview or interviews will help you to understand where you are at, what other companies are looking for and if you can take a step up in another business. Often this is a great way to know if you are undervalued or underachieving or frankly in the wrong business.

Ceilings are everywhere, as the number of headcount and senior people has to be limited (despite some companies feeling the opposite).
This does not mean there are not any other opportunities or leadership roles internally or options to own other projects outside of your current roles and progress within this organisation.

Many times businesses are looking for leaders to step up and move laterally to improve the company. This is common in many of the larger orgs and something I and many others have benefitted from.

The harder truth might be, to develop or gain a promotion, you will likely have to move on or wait for your manager to leave, this is not a foolproof plan.

For what it is worth: Titles do not really mean as much until you look to leave a role, often titles are overly internally focused that what internal title you have is completely different externally.

Good luck with this, I would recommend having the open conversations with your boss or bosses boss, look for interview opportunities to understand where you are and consider how you might take the step up by taking on different projects.
The key here is to be super proactive and drive your own career forward.


Ask Your Own Question


Categories
Friday Focus

Focus Friday – 19th February

The High Performance Podcast is one of my must listen to podcasts every week.

The vodcast and podcast interviews successful business and sports people around high performance and what makes high performance to them.

I personally have taken a lot from the sporting episodes as there are so many similarities between sports and business world, particularly with the continued corporate pressures on performance and how it now influences players, coaching and sponsorship within sports.

Here are the best High Performance Podcasts you will want to listen to:

Business

Sir Clive Woodward
Why Listen? Rugby and business and the demand of making individual great

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

For the Sir Clive Woodward high performance podcast listen here

Baroness Michelle Mone
Why listen? For unfiltered personal experiences, on the ups and downs of business and influence of personal appearance

Sports

Eddie Jones
Why Listen? Eddie Jones talks about his successes, failures and knowing what you need to do to as a great coach, motivate individuals and provide a trust based environment.

Rio Ferdinand
Why Listen? On the demands on being the best and sustaining high performance

Steven Gerrard
Why Listen? Talks openly about his slip, the impact it has had, Steven’s approach to being a young coach and the importance of bringing those more experienced around you

Sir Chris Hoy
Why Listen? On having the right mindset in sports, business and creating the right set of guiding values

Dame Kelly Holmes
Why Listen? The impact of being the best of the best and talks openly about self-harm

Happily let me know which podcast is your favourite by

Categories
Business Performance

Why over-communication is a bad recommendation when working remotely

You have likely read and heard that you should over-communicate when working remotely.

Over-communication is a terrible recommendation for the remote workplace. 

Communication has to be thought through, deliberate and timely. 

Taking time and flow from others is similar to stealing valuable time and energy. 

Deliberate communication is far more important and far better advice. 

A quick update is rarely quick if the update is not thought through and concise.

Communicate often but be more deliberate. 

Think communicate often vs over communicate. Clarity over having to work through the confusion. 

Create milestones where you will need to communicate.
Understand who needs the update, when and how you will deliver it. 

Channels Are Important 

Communication takes time for both parties, the receiver often has to decode what the sender means, you will be stuck in slack or teams for much longer than you need to be. 

Understand what channels and delivery methods are going to work most efficiently for you and your business. Every business ultimately works differently. 

Not everyone is built for video updates, however, adding audio over a spreadsheet or a document (presentation etc), allows for a richer experience and less need real-time conversations. 

Connect The Dots 

Communication is supposed to connect important dots – connect the dots on projects, campaigns and performance.
If you would like to update on personal situations or would like some help, don’t be put off – choose who can help.
It is important to understand that grabbing a few minutes to discuss remotely tends to be harder and more time consuming than quickly in person.   

Communication Principles

Create a set of principles you and your colleagues will follow. What channels work, what times work, what your expectations are. 
Communication principles will enable everyone to follow the same rules on the same tools.

Different Timing

Understanding how, when & to take the opportunity to communicate is harder remotely but can be worked out. Grabbing someone coming out of a meeting, returning to their desk, bumping into them in the hallway or kitchen doesn’t really happen, there are ways to help with this, by adding statuses on internal chat tools, enabling calendar views and having open rooms where you pop in for virtual HQ chats. 

It is also important to know having your own time for your own thoughts and deep work is important, keeping those around you updated will be important, a reminder or blocking time out will work. 

Internal Comms Battle

On many occasions, internal comms is often harder than external comms. Internal comms has to answer many more questions. Internal FAQ’s or project hubs will help improve this and keep everyone updated simply. There are plenty of tools available to help with this. 

Decision Document

Create a decision document or centralised document to have a timeline of updates, if you miss one update or miss a link in the chain, the wheels should not come off.

Leverage Tech 

Use spreadsheets, words, pictures and record video explainers were required. 

Tools like mmhmm, loom, canva & even instagram all make it free or low cost and possible to create explainers. You can also create this style of internal update on Macs or your smart phone.  

Five Quick Fire Tips 

  • Secret no-one wants to offer up: Save time for you, colleagues, your team &/or your boss, this feels obvious but time remotely is priceless 
  • Have communication hubs, have internal wiki’s, shared knowledge centres you keep up to date. This will reduce quick questions and long email threads 
  • Always question: Can I remove meetings and write a concise update or update the project overview and send a link instead? 
  • Consider the RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed) model of updates 
  • Can you use BLUF? BLUF is a military communications short for bottom line up front, it is essentially communicating with the most important details first, with clear tone and a clearer ask. 

Recommended Reading

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 36

Three Questions To Build Relationships

Dear Leaders, I hope you are doing well.

I asked a CEO I mentor how they were doing and their response last week was “you are the first person connected to work who has asked me how I am doing in months”.

It is likely feeling a little harder as a manager as of late, alongside being a support network and a confidant.

For almost everyone, its important to know you got this, you have likely done a better job than you know and you will likely have some time off booked that will help you refresh.

With that said, I have three questions for you to ask your team to help you feel like you are making progress and some exercises to follow up with.

The 3 Questions

When was the last time you reconnected with your team members individually?

Yes, this seems counter to my opening of the leader’s letter, however, it is an activity that brings people closer together and allows all parties to want to connect. Arrange a speed round of connecting to your team individually and asking for their advice or their opinion on something important coming up in 15 minutes slots. Short and concise meetings are essential to connecting.

I suggest this is done on the phone or through a video call and a project that you will need their help and guidance on.

When was the last time you found out something new about your colleagues?

Letting you into a little secret, in the Focus remote company culture workshops, the first thing we do is ask you to answer a number of quick-fire questions as a group, aiming to bring you closer to your colleagues by finding something out you would not know today. Starting with a positive is something we learnt from leaders letter 2 from Disney chairman Bob Iger and this is a great way to achieve this.

A very popular free template we launched recently will help you do this and enable your team to find out new things about you that will help to bring down some fears or barriers to asking how you are and if they can help you. This template works with teams, departments or companies and will kickstart improving your department’s subculture.

When was the last time you surprised your team?

Being remote has been a challenge logistically for almost every company, as a manager, one of the best ways to engage and connect with your team is to surprise them.

I know you have a number of tasks to complete and big projects to smash, however, if you are in a place to, consider making the time and thinking about how you might send a small thank you to your team members or the leaderships team around you.

It could be something small like their favourite snack or could be a new notepad with a handwritten thank you note.
Liaising with HR will be important re addresses etc but small gestures go a long way to (re)build trust and connection and importantly, showing you are thinking of them and how they are doing as people.

By giving to others you are taking the time to connect, to build stronger bonds and offer yourself a rest bite.

Have a good week answering the three questions and actioning small but significant gestures, and you will be surprised what you learn and how colleagues will want to connect in a reciprocal relationship.

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

How about sharing a few teamwork quotes?

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Stealing Ideas

This week’s anonymous advice column is quite common and something you will likely face, stealing ideas and passing them off as their own.

Dear Focus, one of my colleagues steals ideas and passes them off as their own. It happens multiple times a year, what do I do to ensure the company know they are mine or my team’s ideas?

Firstly, I am sorry you are experiencing this, unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence and is something that I would imagine that everyone goes through once or twice a year.

What worries me if it happens multiple times per year and if this is an occurrence of the last couple of years, it is either
(a) they do not know they are repacking ideas,
(b) they know they are doing it as you have not brought it up with them or
(c) potentially they are in a better position to push this idea forward.

We are always taught to apply the best intentions first, I imagine in this scenario the best way to address this is to arrange a meeting and raise these ideas with dates and how they have taken them on and packaged as their own. Conflict is difficult for many staff members especially between colleagues, however, you have to address it.

Many businesses are built so the best ideas bubble to the top and brought forward for the best of the company, this is something to keep in mind and ensure you remember whilst having the conversation and response you may receive.

Importantly, moving your career forward you will come across this situation and resolution in most companies, the way you deal with it is addressing in a positive manner and the first move is to raise and then address this. In times of conflict, many will see the best of you, versus the worst traits of you.

If the ideas are being repackaged and they are aware, this is where you have to make a decision, bring the best ideas to the right management team or action these ideas in your team and write the specification to bring other teams into the project.

Working transparently and showing off your work and ideas are essential, not only for more transparency within your business but for colleagues recognition but personal development within the business.

It’s important to remember the jobs in this situation:
– Your job is to make the company successful.
– If you have a manager or fellow leadership team, this is their job to take notice, attempt to address or be made aware of this is happening and how you are going to resolve this while making the company progress.
– The company’s job is to push these business decisions forward and enable success.

Good luck with address this, if you cannot address this personally, I would recommend bringing in your manager and showing examples but keep in mind this is likely going to raise more questions. I would recommend not raising this issue with the management team unless you are in the MT and consider how you work transparently and present ideas.

Best of luck.


Submit Your Own Question

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Friday Focus

Friday Focus – 12th February

This week, we have hand-selected five important content pieces for you to enjoy and learn how to improve company culture, company strategy and knowing your colleagues better.

Read: How being funny at work is so important

Read: Why your ideas are not your identity – being your best self

Listen: Find out why company culture was so deliberate but combat based
Related read – The Netflix Culture Book Review

Watch: How to improve your sleep

Watch: What happens in your brain when you pay attention


Important Related Must Reads: