Business Performance

The Five Roles For Success In 2021

Back in September I wrote the 5 roles for success in 2021 to help business plan their hiring and prepare their Q4 and Q1 2021 for success.

The roles were

  • Culture Community Manager
  • Retention Marketer
  • Project Manager
  • Growth Specialist
  • Innovation Specialist

The reason why I wrote this was to drive a different thought process than just hiring what your team managers are thinking about looking around their teams but instead look at the gaps in most businesses and drive cohesion and delivery.  

The Case For A Culture Community Manager

Within your business you have someone who knows: 

The pulse of the company, the temperature of how it is operating and how people are feeling, importantly they understand your people.

They understand the business, how it operates, they want to know the numbers, and what makes the business tick (or in some cases, what used to make it tick) 

They have trust amongst colleagues and the most important aspect, the respect of the business (ideally they have the support of the leadership team)

They most likely don’t work in HR and likely are not part of the senior leaders, they understand why these things matter but haven’t been given the right company-wide role to formally influence the business. 

This is who should be your Culture Community Manager.
If you cannot identify them quickly, go and find them ASAP.
For the last two years, I have been a big advocate for this role.
Speaking to numerous businesses and understanding their ongoing issues, the next most important role the most important upcoming business issues are likely within culture, staff retention and happiness. It is essential to keep in mind, this is a political role, this is a role that takes time to formally bed in but a lot less time to influence change, it requires good IQ and high levels of EQ. It also needs a lot of self-confidence and backing from leadership and HR to build out the highest level of trust to drive change within your business.

Having worked with companies and helped to roll this role out, it is important this person is already in your business and likely one the secret weapon

As I suggested in no rules rulescompany culture is something Netflix was very deliberate with and they had senior management (the top 10% of the company) were always focusing on culture and the inner workings. 

Another role I believe that will be essential is the Project Manager. 
In many organisations the Project Manager fell out of fashion, it was not about delivering to a set date, it was when the product was as close to perfect as possible. Or rolling out a MVP that isn’t something that a Project Manager typically owned.

As I have stated before, in business we have lost our focus and it is time we bring back focus and direction and an owner who drive projects to delivery and keep everyone up to date with the right information. If you have ever worked with a brilliant PM you will truly know their influence and the importance of well communicate, good delivery on time. 

Upon reflection, I noticed these roles are actually intertwined:

  • Culture Community Manager to look across the company and connect people with teams, connect cross-functional projects, build connections and layers of support, all connecting with the strategy and goals of the company. 
  • Retention Marketer role to connect with customers and existing customers, helping the customer to come back and stay engaged, this will help the company to stay connect and aligned with their users. 
  • The Growth Specialist job is to help persuade, encourage and tip those users in your product to actually use it and get the most benefit, Growth and Retention go hand in hand.
    These roles should connect with the Culture Community Manager to help them talk confidently about the customers and help these to connect to the strategy and the mission you are on.
  • The Project Manager helps to deliver vital updates and programmes while keeping everyone to date
  •  The Innovation Specialist is then to be the future seer and drives development in and out of the company. These roles build trust, executes on delivery, builds direction and build trust throughout the organisation and with the customers. 

These links build out on some of Focus’s foundations for success: 

Communication ➡ Culture ➡ Trust ➡ Delivery ➡ Strategy

I highly recommend you and your business have a think about the roles you need within your organisation or agency, understand there are likely people within the org you can shuffle into some of these roles and identify which roles you are short on and help decide how you shuffle your company around or how you re-shift your 2021.

Friday Focus

Friday Focus – 27th November

Here are five brilliant pieces of content to help you and your teams for the weeks before Christmas and beyond.

1. Leadership & Understanding Your Team:
Simon Sinek’s: How to leverage your introversion

2. Mentorship:
How reverse mentorship can help make better leaders

3. Mental Health.
LinkedIn’s podcast series This is working – Chef David Chang discusses the impact of the kitchen, forced kitchen closures and mental health

4. Managing Stress:
How stress impacts your brain and body

5. The Hybrid Future
How Dropbox is building towards the virtual first workplace – Podcast Link

Company Culture Uncategorized

Isolated Talks – Hidden Leaders

In our second video for Isolated Talks, here is a build on Hidden Leaders.

Find out:

  • If you are a hidden leader
  • What hidden leaders are to their companies away from performance metrics
  • Why hidden leaders are so important to companies
  • Why, when they leave companies, companies really struggle to understand why

Hidden Leaders Video

If you are in the position to help today, please consider helping those who are someone struggling in isolation.

Hidden Leaders Presentation

If you prefer a presentation to flick through, this is the presentation for the video.

Business Performance

Isolated Talks – The Focus Manifesto

It was a great privilege to be able to support Isolated Talks with one of two videos for the cause to help those struggling with isolation and various different lockdowns.

The Focus Manifesto was written at the start of the first lockdown, it is Focus’ reason to exist, to fix the broken world of work.

With this Focus Manifesto video we get to support a great cause!

You can support Isolated Talks by clicking the button below and donating to Samaritans.

Leaders Letter

Leaders Letter 25 – Google’s Answer To Preventing Burnout, No Meetings Week


Dear Leaders,

2020 has been one hell of a year. Hopefully, we will not have to live through another nine months like we have had to again.

December is notoriously difficult, wrapping up projects, delivering the most critical product rolls outs, historically December is when companies start turning profits and when staff can feel the pressure the most and work-related illness increase double digits.

This week Google announced their approach to preventing employee burnout.
The first is providing those who ‘can’ with two extra days off, the second is no meetings week.

Both sound like good measures right?
From a headline perspective these sound good measures and potentially the right steps to take, unfortunately having lived through both options there are some downfalls and here are a few things to consider when looking to roll out similar within your teams or organisations.

Extra Days Off:

  • Extra days off work if your colleagues are in a place to take the time off and can finish their work, if not you add additional stresses and can feel particularly unfair to those who aren’t in a place to take the extra days off.
  • Many colleagues struggle to use up their annual leave additional days annual leave requires more management and processes. Does your organisation allow days to be rolled over? Consider how this could be helpful within your business. Is there a way you could reward staff with afternoon’s off?
  • While working remotely the line is blurry, the pressure to check emails, instant messages and check-in are found to be much higher, it is important as leaders you manage this and allow colleagues to actually take the extra time off.
    The always-on generation struggles to shut off as do many leaders.
  • Recommend Action: Proactively manage these steps and allow colleagues to take the time off and manage expectations that they will likely have to finish projects and campaigns before they take these extra days off.

No Meetings Week:

  • Have you worked in organisations where no meetings day work? The likelihood is they struggle to make these stick or work, the typical reason is like I call out in the Focus Manifesto this is where so many decisions are made or the only way decisions are made. Help your teams know how you are going to replace decision making and how you will let your colleagues know what the decision is and how you are going to collectively action it.
  • The question for many businesses will be what constitutes a meeting and what doesn’t. Especially in the remote world of work we operate in currently, anything on Zoom, Teams or Hangouts would appear to be a meeting. Help the teams to know what a meeting is and is not and how to replace. A meeting subculture can often have a long term effect on company culture.
  • Help your colleagues to understand how to communicate your actions if meetings are used as status updates and the actions you are taking for the week ahead. Standup’s, sitdowns, wrap up’s, are all technically shorter meetings so think about how you could replace with video or audio updates and centralised.
  • Management teams have to follow this and have to proactively promote following the no meeting week. Without this, you will see meetings take over again.
  • Recommend Action: With meetings etiquette, even the most forward-thinking companies have meetings and follow similar patterns to the most traditional and out of date companies, consider this an opportunity for a small SWOT team to come together to rethink meetings for 2021 and how to reduce reliance on meetings and roll out recommendations to address meeting fatigue and burnout.

I applaud Google for openly calling out these steps to reduce burnout and burnout within their companies, there will no doubt be many smart people who consider the first to third order effects within Google.

Moving forward many of your colleagues will likely read the headline, share internally and feel like this is something you should be following, manage expectations, explain why this likely won’t work within your org and how you are tackling to make it better within your own business and the steps you will be taking to reduce burnout in December and for 2021.

Thanks and take some time to consider your approach to burnout and optimising the end of the year for a better more proactive 2021.

Danny Denhard

P.S, Read my hybrid perks should be on your agenda ASAP

Company Culture

Rethinking Office Perks & Introducing Hybrid Perks

In the move to the Hybrid Office, the office perk has been lost for many businesses.

The move to remote first has become a level playfield for others who struggled to offer the same level of perks as other companies.

The Perk Problem

The office perk was often mistaken for company culture, whether that was the ping pong table, the food, bi-weekly healthy snacks, free after work drinks or the office dog.

I strongly recommend you read what is company culture if you are struggling with what company culture really is and what perks are and how they work together but should not be considered the same thing.

Some of the office perks were included in job descriptions and considered in the reason for wanting to join a company over another or whether you stayed in your current role.

If you are lucky enough to be able to hire or looking to expand your hiring, perks will now have to look and act differently and appeal in completely different way, especially if you are connecting into your company’s mission or include as part of your unique company culture.

Craving For Old Normal

There are a number of people who deeply missed the office, they miss their desk, they miss their colleagues, the interpersonal time, their favourite breakout space, their routine and likely even the less fun elements like fighting over meeting rooms and causally gossiping.

There are a number of businesses that crave for their teams to get back to working in the office, to work safely onsite vs the now normal working remotely.

Some organisations are actively developing ways to entice and encourage colleagues back into the office with in-office perks, with more courses, more apps, more flexible working hours while working in the office. There are some companies proactively looking at their office and environmental design to build a new in office working experiences, enabling more space and more open collaboration in the next normal and other fresher ways to encourage teams being back together and an attempt to differentiate against competitors for 2021 and 2022.

Move To Hybrid Perks

The Hybrid Office is a new way and an opportunity to rethink an important element of your company subculture, it is a new path to build out layers of perks and move to what Focus calls Hybrid Perks.

What Are Hybrid Perks?

Hybrid perks are as they sound, a way to reward your employees and colleagues while working remotely, instantly hybrid perks should be available to all and should not be limited to be based in the office. Hybrid perks can include:

  • Offering extended mental health support and paid subscriptions into mental health and therapy apps
  • Expanding out physical health membership and paying for remote classes
  • Offering help with building out your home office, ring lights, microphones and dedicated webcams for improved online meetings (remember important humans cues are being lost with poor video and internet connectivity)
  • Supporting staff with better WiFi connectivity,
  • Ensuring healthy snacks are available and can be delivered to employees homes
  • Localised discounts for local stores
  • You can borrow one of Focus’ offering of an anonymous text helpline for colleagues to have external support.

These are all areas in which Hybrid Perks can help your teams function as well as possible and build a remote company culture that people are proud to refer your company to other people and potential new talent.

So rethink your office perks system and look to build out a hybrid perks programme you and your teams will be happy to receive and be part of.

Want to know more about what company culture is?

Here is the Focus what company culture deck

Friday Focus

Friday Focus – 20th November

Here are five focus points and questions to ask yourself and your leaders next week

1. What impact are we having? 

As a manager or part of the leadership team, you should ask what impact are we having as a team. 

2. What type of leadership style do we have? 

Have we defined this, do our colleagues know what we and what style we have. In the Focus Remote Management Team Training, this is an important focus area.

3. Do you know the boundaries of your role? 

Does your team know what your role is and what it is not? Do they know what your boundaries are and where they take over?  

4. Ask and Answer: We Are

Ask you and your team, we are, complete a ten we are questions, we are strong, we are decisive, we are the industry etc. This will help you develop your identity, your brand and your offerings. 
Your hidden leaders will bubble up to the surface with these questions

5. What is our Defend 5 and our Attack 5?

What are you going to defend, think areas of your business or market, what five things are you are going to attack, that need to improve or gain the most attention from our teams.  

This will help you and your business move forward, put your company strategy first, enable strategic steps forward and encourages you to build better long term company culture.
These are also area’s you can use in your next company-wide AMA.


It Is Ok To Want To Move On As A Leader

There has been much made for many years around company loyalty, the job market and being a leader and looking to move on. 

Leader Loneliness

As a leader, you are under so many more pressures than your team and colleagues realise and will even know. 
You keep it bottled up and find one or two people you can vent or download on to.

Team Before Me

Many times as a leader you have to make calls that are best for the team.
Rarely are you given the opportunity to make the calls that are good for you specifically.

Obviously bad and inexperienced managers do put themselves first.

As a leader (not a manager) you make decisions to empower those around you and move towards the department or company targets. 

Often as a leader, it can feel like you are too busy to think about your career, you often end up neglecting opportunities to develop your own career, you tend to put those around you or the business first. When you get a chance to look up it can feel like you are going backwards. 


There comes a time when almost all leaders have that realisation. You will often realise the company is just not what it was or going where you want it to go or it’s just not for you anymore. 

This can feel more daunting the higher up you go. Especially in more recent times with lockdowns and pandemics. 

Questions From Leadership Team

You might have experienced this first hand or likely have asked it as a leader…are you committed to the company?

There is also only so many times someone can truly disagree and commit. 

Knowing when it’s your time

When you realise it is your time to leave, you are actively making the decision to improve the company culture, often when we know we are looking we have the tendency do drop the ball or have passed to the wrong player. It is also completely fine to look to leave for a better company fit for you.

So a new year can be a fresh start, you can look to leave and as many won’t suggest it is good to understand the market, understand or remember your value or worth, remember in no rules rules, Netflix actively encourage you to go for other interviews and understand your value. 

Leaders Lead

Do not let questions from other leaders or do what people expect to hold you back. A leader has to lead, and typically it has to start with yourself. So yes, it is always to leave, even if you are the CEO.

The important thing to remember is to leave your company or organisation in a great place and set them up to succeed for as possible.

Leaders Letter

Leaders Letter 24 – Turning Being Strategic Into A Company-Wide Playbook


Dear Leaders, Happy Monday.

Over the past six months, I have written to you weekly on important topics, leadership, company culture, trust and strategy.

I truly believe that beliefs and bets (leaders letter 5 is a great read on why beliefs and bets are essential) are the best way to frame and building a long term successful company-wide strategy.

A strategy is supposed to be hard but reworking work for the year ahead, in short, the strategy is the act of deciding what not to do, it’s agreeing on the actions you are going to take, the steps you will take and the tactics you will follow.

As soon as you add in layers and layers of tactics you are moving away from the top-level leadership piece a strategy has. Details are essential at a department and team level but sharing all of this information makes a strategy a detailed playbook, and this is actually a great way to breakdown a complicated business for everyone within the business to understand the steps you and fellow teams are taking. This also ensures everyone knows the next steps forward and where it all aligns, and if the playbook needs updating it can be and send out notifications tactical elements have changed.

Recently I have heard be strategic, being strategic and strategically minded as ways to explain acts of being deliberate or making the time to think clearly and plan.

This is not directly bad, however, allowing teams to hide behind being strategic by planning means many take this as a strategy when it is being deliberate and rolling up or into one company-wide strategy.

A strategy is not a list of tactics or channels its the action plan for the business, a strategy is being able to:

  • 🧠 Think 5 years ahead, understand the lay of the land,
  • 📝 Plan 3 years with firm bets and beliefs of where your market and products are going
  • 💪 Act 1 year, being absolutely ruthless for the year head and the exact actions you will take.

The playbook is an essential part of connecting this all together.

Moving forward focus on removing the confusion around strategy and tactics.
Enable teams to understand they are part of the bigger company-wide strategy, their plans of actions are essential in company success, however, ensure they roll up and align with the core pillars you have to serve and hit and should all be found and updated in the centralised playbook.

An action to take is to write the beliefs and bets out, serving a small number of pillars and then ask the teams to create their plan of action and ensure it reads simply for the wider business so it can fit into a company-wide playbook for the year ahead.

One recommendation I have for all of my consultancy clients is to have one person who leads the playbook project and ensures update are made and communicated.

Thanks and have a good week,


PS, Take a read of its time for management pods.

Friday Focus

Friday Focus – 13th November

In the second instalment of Focus Friday, I recommend five actionable tips around company culture, the Hybrid Office, preplanning training and organising an internal conference.

  1. Remote company culture has reduced collaboration and communication between strong links in businesses. Encourage more collaboration and informal chat around projects and themes.
    Read how remote work has impacted company culture.  
  2. With Christmas Parties and traditional annual celebrations being limited or removed this year.
    Encourage a Secret Santa or present exchange. This will boost morale and encourage people to get to know one another. 
  3. Hybrid Office Preparation – Start preparing plans for the Hybrid Office. Work with your colleagues to understand when they will need to be in the office, when off-sites will likely need to happen, when team onsite’s can happen safely and what tech tools and software you will need to improve the experience
  4. Plan Training – Something that is always discussed and added into a budget line but rarely is planned out effectively. Your junior to mid-level staff will have limited exposure to planning, budget management and forecasting, set up training for these staff and create a culture of sharing important business skills. This not only improves team connections and a culture of sharing and training it increases the quality of the next level of management coming through your organisation.
  5. Introduce Management Pods – In this week’s blog, I suggested a different concept in tackling poor management team connections and a way to develop collections ties and departmental connections.

If you have any tips you would like to share or contribute to, happily email me below