Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Knowing it’s time to leave vs unfinished business

This week’s anonymous career advice is going to be applicable for many people over the next quarter, with more people returning to offices and continuing working in the hybrid environment, we will see staff of all levels question is it time to leave or complete your role at your current company.

Dear focus, I have been in a director of role for the last three years and a director of for two years before this at another company, although I feel like I have Unfinished business, I’m not sure if it’s time for me to leave and take on my next challenge. Can you help?

You are encountering something that many people will be wrangling with over the next six to nine months. 

Regarding your specific question, there are a few layers to unpack.

Service:
The job market has shifted a lot over the last 18 months, there are many businesses rehiring, there are many companies growing and expanding headcount, there are others making the calculated risk to hire and mature their teams with more senior hires. 

Gone are the days in many markets you stay with a company for over a decade most tenure is under four years, so you have been with this company in a senior role for a good time period. 

Service and tenure can work for you and against you, one thing to ensure is ‘have you used up your social capital’ and have you become part of the furniture vs adding real value and being listened to? 

Regularly this can be understood by speaking to those around you and those above you, if your influence has declined and you feel like this is hurting your career, it might just be time to explore and get back to high performance and being valued. 

Title:
Many titles can be misleading, it doesn’t necessarily indicate your influence within the company or the level you operate at externally. 

If you are disheartened about the same title or not being able to take a V title or a c-suite title, there might be ways to ask for the timeline when this might be available. 

Is promotion an important thing to you? Are titles important to you where you are at? If yes, you need to understand the timeline and understand how you are considered internally, often this is harder to gain feedback on, however speaking to your boss, your colleagues on the same level and HR can help you understand this. Be prepared for tough questions and honest feedback loops. 

Know Your Worth?
Something an old boss used to say to me and what Netflix tells their employees, take the meeting or the interview see what you are worth or what might be out there. 

An important question to ask yourself is do you doubt yourself or have you lost some confidence in your current role?

If yes, it’s probably time to look at updating your cv/resume and start having conversations with recruiters and headhunters. 

If you have been unhappy in this role and need some help I suggest reading the professional injuries blog post to help you break down what is happening and why. 

To answer if it is unfinished business or time to leave, you will know in your own mind, you will have a feeling, unfinished business is often a reason why many people stay in their role when they don’t know what they want to do or where they want to go next. 

I would really question if you having doubts, you should start proactively making a change,  start with LinkedIn, CV and start having conversations, external conversations will help you make the right decision. 

Sometimes better the devil you know other times it takes the right step forward to catapult your career onwards and upwards.  

I recommend you to use a Risk vs benefits framework you can easily see what risks you have staying and what benefits you might have.

You can then apply the same risk vs benefit analysis for leaving. 

Once you complete the analysis you will be in a better place to answer this question for yourself and for your future. 

I always recommend writing a professional SWOT when you are at a crossroads. This is likely the time to put yourself first.

Consider introducing interview practice runs into your department as it will help your colleagues and help you prepare for what might be to come. 

If you are looking for other advice and tips for virtual interviews read this leaders letter.

My personal experience is, if you feel like you have unfinished business and you can make the changes required, you should map this out in detail and if you have the feeling it is time to leave don’t leave it too late as you will kick yourself and you may feel like your career has gone backwards. 

Best of luck with your decision, if you are asking the right question – you are on the right track. 

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 48

12 Lessons From The “Trillion Dollar Coach” Bill Campbell​ For You To Apply This Week.

Dear leaders,

I trust you had a good weekend. 

In 2016 I was told about a legendary coach in Silicon Valley named Bill Campbell who had just passed away. 

A TLDR backstory of Bill:

Bill was a coach of an unsuccessful sports team for Columbia, Bill then moved into the business world and had successes at Kodak and Apple before becoming the go-to c-suite coach. 

Bill’s coaching roaster is a who’s who of Silicon Valley. Bill helped the likes of:

  • Google’s former chairman Eric Schmidt, founders Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and current Alphabet CEO Sindar Pichai,
  • Apple’s leaders including co-founder Steve Jobs, long-serving exec Phil Schiller and even current CEO Tim Cook.
  • Ex CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer
  • The current COO at Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg
  • Alongside leading Intuit’s Brad Smith and business hero Amazon’s chairman Jeff Bezos (read the business lessons from Jeff Bezos).

Bill’s life and legacy are told in a brilliant biography Trillion Dollar Coach by Former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Google’s Comms leader Alan Eagle and SVP’s of Product Jonathan Rosenberg. 

I took a stack of notes and have applied a number of these lessons to a number of my coaching clients. 

So, here are the 12 most applicable lessons from the biography and you can apply daily: 

  1. Don’t be the hero 
  2. Don’t be a fixer 
  3. Ask questions and push those towards the answer 
  4. Don’t assume employees respect you because of your title 
  5. Lean into the hard problems 
  6. Guide people to opportunities – many don’t see it myself 
  7. It’s not about you – it’s about the team 
  8. Listen to what people want and give them a process to an outcome 
  9. Never give people the answer 
  10. Park your ego – constantly put it in check 
  11. Treat everyone with dignity, even in failure
  12. Get rid of people with bad attitudes. You need people that care about the outcome 

I highly recommend reading the full book, if you don’t think you have the time, this video from The Tim Ferriss podcast with Eric Schmidt is worth the watch. 

The message: Don’t think you do not need help, you will benefit from a coach.

Good luck with rolling these out and remember often it’s about guiding people and offering a light at the end of the tunnel than giving the answer in success and in failure. 

Thanks, 

Danny Denhard  – Focus Founder & Head Coach (I offer management and executive coaching, start your career development today)

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

How to handle back to back meetings and stressed staff around you

This week, the anonymous career advice form received two questions that were very similar. Being in back to back meetings are taking up all of the work time and two frustrated individuals are facing an uphill battle to actually get their work done and in one case cannot even grab a lunch break. 

Dear focus, I’m finding work impossible, Constantly in back to back meetings, I am struggling to even find time to eat let and sometimes struggle to find time for a toilet break. I am never getting any of my work done and the icing on the cake; everyone is stressed and feel there is no way out.

This is something that really is unacceptable and I feel for you.
I have been there personally in a previous role and it is something that took  me a few weeks to tackle and get out of the other side. 

A trigger warning; this is going to take you 30 extra minutes to review and run through, I suggest doing this when you are fresh and can concentrate like it is deep work. 

Exercise 1: Take to list out the meetings and which ones to: 

  • Keep – essential and have to be a part and running ok 
  • Kill – unuseful, no one is benefitting and is wasting your time 
  • Cure – somewhat useful, can be optimised, review and optimise the parts that can be changed, reduce down the amount of chatter and focus around more actionable agendas 
Categories
Focus News hybrid office

The Future State Of Work Podcast

This week Nick and I discussed the future state of work, obviously, this is very topical with the return to the office and the chatter around how Basecamp has changed their policy and saw backlash, how Google are not giving clear communication to their employees and how the likes of Twitter, IBM and Slack are suggesting you can work from wherever you like vs having to be in one HQ or a satellite office.

With so much of this discussion being relevant to Focus, I wanted to share this specific episode for you to read and share with your executive team.

On the podcast we discuss:

  • The hybrid office and why it is the future
  • The relationship with Company culture and why hybrid is going to be a gift and a challenge for so many HR teams and poor managers
  • How company performance is going to thrive or drop depending on how good your management skills are
  • Why company strategy, is essential to making work work, and hybrid being a driver for positive change in strategy

The future can be hard to predict, however, Nick and I have broken down what and how as much as possible for businesses of all sizes.

This podcast helps you understand how you can overcome some challenges, how to be smarter with hybrid, what your options might be and how to learn from big companies like Salesforces approach to feedback loops and maybe on the other side, Coinbase and their move to close their HQ.

If podcasts are not your thing, happily read the full transcript below.

Useful Focus Resources:

If you would like to subscribe to the podcast

Subscribe On Your Favourite Podcast App: 

Apple // Spotify // Google Podcast // Audible // Amazon Music // Deezer // ListenNotes //  Mixcloud // PocketCasts // 
Simplecast // Breaker //
Or copy and paste this RSS into your podcast player

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 47

Virtual Interviews & Hybrid Hiring Tips 

3rd May 2021,

Dear Leaders, 

Over the past couple of months, I have been working with a number of businesses that are in a good position to grow and invest in their staff and ramp up hiring again. 

I have been lucky to interview a number of great candidates virtually, it was something I experienced before I created Focus, as a c-suite candidate you have a large number of rounds of interviews, with numerous committees, the experience was long, complicated and challenging for both parties, especially with time zones. 

Although I have not perfected the art yet, here are a few ways you can improve virtual interviews and hybrid hiring to improve the experience for both you and your candidates. 

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Is Being Visible And Playing The Game Necessary?

This week’s anonymous career advice we received a big question that is a simple one-word answer but requires more explanation and a deliberate decision to be made by you.

Dear focus, a simple question:
Is being visible and playing the game necessary?

A simple but important question!

The TLDR answer is YES!

Unfortunately, it is more necessary than many people realise. Every business I have ever worked in has had levels of the internal political game, some at low-level others it is all about playing the game at full speed.

The Important Truth

The truth that many companies will not tell you or do not onboard you with and empower you with the most important piece of information: How to succeed in this business.

This is months of detective work, asking questions and for many trial and error. This is where you need to build a strong and safe network around you and understand the motivations and drivers of those around you and above you.

Positive Being Visible

There are often times you will think being visible is a negative but actually being visible can be and should be seen as a positive for you, your career and your team.

Being visible often means you are keeping people informed, you are communicating well and you have ideas, insights and feedback (not just opinions) that will progress the company.
These are all important traits that leaders typically seek out.

Categories
Focus News

Announcing The Future State Of Podcast

The Future State of podcast is a series of conversations between Nick Walter, the CEO of an extended reality* company Vortic and I.  

Nick and I have known each other for over ten years and often have numerous phone calls and long message threads about the state of an industry and how we think and how we would tackle that industry moving forward.

Nick and I have worked in bootstrapped businesses, successful startups and large organisations we have a good perspective on what’s happening and where the industry is and potentially should go.

The Podcast Explained

Nick and I deep dive into important and up-and-coming business areas, we discuss the current state of that particular business area, we debate what the important areas are, the opportunity in the market and then we provide our hot takes and the future state of that industry.

The podcast is weekly and typically goes live on Thursday’s.

Research & Insights Driven

We take a number of hours each week to research and talk to business minds within the space to be able to tackle rich and immersive topics.

The Future State podcast was built to provide more than just what is happening in the news or what you can read with a quick Google search, we break down each episode with our full notes not just show notes and we share our notes and insights via email so you never have to take too many notes and never miss an episode.

Why Listen?

Nick and I don’t hold back on opinions and potential actions so it’s not just another bland business podcast without personality or qualified opinion.

The First Three Episodes Cover:

  1. The future state of brand endorsements and brand partnerships.
    Why Anthony Joshua and Revolut might just be another Instagram deal
  2. The future state of football.
    Why the business side of the European Super League is so important and overlooked
  3. The future state of conferences
    Why large conferences might have died and why going niche might just be the answer for the organisers, the attendees and the speakers.

Sign Up & Get Insights & The Podcast Delivered To You

Or visit thefuturestate.co.uk and read (and listen) to the full industry breakdown.

Listen To The First Three Episodes:

The Future State Of Work The Future State Podcast

The Future State Of Work 👩‍💻The future of work has been a hot topic for the past three years, the pandemic has really shifted how many businesses operate and highlighted how slow some companies have been to change their old ways of working. The future state of work is going to be led by a few but followed by many, even the big companies are struggling to keep staff engaged let alone happy. This week Nick and I discuss: The future state of work Why micromanagers are going to have to change Why so many managers have been shown upWhy HR isn’t the right team to lead The impact of a new hire – the culture community managerWhy hybrid is going to be a tougher choice for employees and businesses The challenge for old school managers to change with the times The investment required for businesses Some future thinking hot takes that you will want to hear including company currencies, the importance of mental & physical health being equal & Why part-timers & side hustles might be the choice for many Supporting Podcast Links Company Culture LinksAre you creating the right company cultureWhat is company cultureThe Hybrid office e-bookDesigning the hybrid office guide✚ Why you should listen to feedback – Funny TikTokNew tools to improve hybrid around.co – campfire video tool with integrated notes that send after the meeting and is floating head based so can work and conference call at the same time Butter.us – a way to ideate, brainstorm or present in a better way gatheround.com – better way to bring people together based on Q&A  Basecamp IssuesOriginal Story (link)Follow Up with 1/3 of senior workforce taking buyout (link)Open letter from ex member of the Basecamp teamSummarised on this week in startups (YouTube link)A Reminder: What Is The Podcast? The Future State – Modern business & future trends explored by Nick Walter & Danny Denhard. 
  1. The Future State Of Work
  2. The Future State Of Conferences
  3. The Future State Of Football – The European Super League

Subscribe on your Podcast app of choice: Apple // Spotify // Amazon Music // Listen Notes // Mixcloud // Deezer // Simplecast // or via RSS.


*What is XR

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Taking Over From A Bad Manager

This week in the anonymous career advice column, we tackle something many managers will encounter when taking over a team or a department.

Dear Focus, I have recently taken over from a bad manager, they have dented the team’s confidence and they have zero trust, what should I do?

One of the guaranteed occurrences in management careers is we take over from a bad manager.

However good a manager you believe you are there will be certain aspects of your management style that will remind someone of their previous manager and open professional scars or wounds that need to heal.

Almost all management styles differ, especially when you come in from another company and take over an existing team that have worked closely together for a year.

The best approach is to create a simple transition plan for the team to move forward and become a trusted part of the team and the company.

Our recommended approach is to listen and ask a number of questions and address these concerns and previous experiences:

StepAction
1 – Ask for insightsAsk your team for insights and examples of poor management. This should not be considered a session to be completely negative but a step towards a proactive therapy session
2 – Acknowledge poor leadershipOne of the most important steps is to identify and highlight there were a number of issues and recommend how you can work to improve this collectively.

Be clear everyone has shortcomings and you will try your hardest to remove these behaviours from your management
3 – Identifier your style and talk it through with the teamOne important step almost all leaders I have worked under or with has called out their style and talked through what they are good at and what they are bad at and how they like to work, especially now you are armed with important information.
4 – Create space The most important step is to take a step back and observe how the team performs and look to come to you with any issues or how they work through their issues when they think no one is watching.

Trust is built through experiences but also knowing they can come to you when they need to. It is vital to be available when they need assistance
5 – Ask for open feedbackOnce you have given the team space and become approachable, ask for open feedback in a form you can keep a record of and show you have made progress.

Recording feedback and keeping open dialogue gives you a way to encourage more open communication.

Know when to take it offline or move to one to one
6 – Meet monthly and celebrate Something that many good sports coaches do is meet with their players and teams directly regularly, this is also a trait some of the best people managers I have worked with or feedback I have received directly.

The next step: celebrate as a group and as a team to build more trust and recognise there has been both business performance improvements and personal developments.

When there have been examples of behaviours being repeated or removed, call it out early.

It is important to note: Good managers set behaviours, set their teams to succeed and help to guide company culture and improve organisational health, bad managers set environments and often create poor cross-functional collaboration and internal fighting. Bad managers can also completely by accident create strong team bonds – this can be great news for you or a challenge to be aware of, tribal behaviour can be combative against a new leader.
Learn when to guide or when just to get out the way.

Best of luck with removing the negative energy and previous leadership issues, this won’t be an instant problem to solve but one with a couple of positive steps and then a giant leap will be made. Think of the first few weeks as a hangover period that will clear and lift and clarity and delivery ensue.

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 46

My Go To Operational & Organisational Tips 

26th April 2021,

Dear leaders, I trust you had a good week and ready for the week ahead.

Some of the most popular leaders letters are me sharing my way of work and the frameworks I use.

So here is a select series of my operational ways of work:

Split out your browsers, inboxes and messages 

  • One for work 
  • Home for another. 

Helps you prioritise, maintain and apply prioritisation. 

Take and keep notes but have a system  

  • I am a huge note taker and keeping a record, especially of micro-moments, select one way of taking notes, often in person pen and pad works best, type up (or scan and copy text), 
  • Categorise and link to other notes. Think of the 1:2:1’s, the department notes you have to keep and actions you have given and the ideas you have on an ongoing basis.
    These are all-important to take notes, check in on progress and revisit. 
  • Revisit the Decision documents, company typically only work when ‘centralised knowledge’ is kept, updated and shared. 

No pointless or boring meeting rules

  • Meetings always have an owner – clearly called out and run by said owner
  • No attendees leave a well organised intentional meeting – be intentional and explain why they should attend and what their role is in this meeting and moving forward
  • Always have a no leaving rule (no leaving early or no leaving because you were invited to a bad or unorganised) – roll this out company-wide so it sticks 
  • Meeting feedback is a gift – offer an open document for feedback. Many businesses can operate with silent start meetings, meaning they have centralised documents and share their thoughts and feedback and then discuss with one chair who updates and then the notes are reviewed and discussed.

Statuses Work

  • Have work statuses. The ones that typically work for my clients:  
    • Available
    • Away
    • In a meeting
    • At lunch
    • Deep work aka Do not disturb 
  • Ensure everyone understands what to use and when. This is not checking up on colleagues, this is to help understand how to support colleagues time and energy
  • Even if the most senior management team members or the HiPPO contacts you, follow the statuses to manage expectations. 

Clear Internal Comms 

  • IM channels for quick updates not long threads
  • Stories style video updates work, even think about replacing in-person standup (Work in progress meetings definitely can be replaced and shortened)
  • Documents for more in-depth deliberate conversations 
  • One dedicated project management tool (Notion, Monday or confluence all work well)
  • Email for external comms and important internal updates 

Good luck rolling these out, happily get in touch if you have any questions around these points.

Thanks and have a good week,

Danny Denhard


Other Great Leaders Letters:

One problem two solutions framework

Risk vs benefit framework

Three questions to build better relationships

Fewer managers, more coaches and mentors

Commitment: Communicate clearly

Categories
Focus News

Manager Coaching Courses

As Focus mission is to fix the broken world of work, we have spoken to a large number of “leaders” and managers about what is broken in their workplace and how we can collaborate on fixing fundamentals to complex problems that they are facing as a business or as a leadership team.

Our dedicated weekly Focus newsletter, leaders letters, helps people with a senior title evolve and become leaders or improve their leadership skills.

The Elephant In The Room

Let’s address the elephant in the room, managers and above rarely receive or seek out management coaching or training.

This is a big problem…

  • for managers
  • for teams
  • and importantly for their businesses.

Why is this a big problem? Your personal development will slow, your career will likely stagnate and your business performance will only hit a certain level.

Managers of all levels and experience require constant improvement, yes you can learn on the job, however, typically you do not improve any of your core skills or arguably, more importantly, your core weaknesses.

How can you improve any baseline numbers or hit targets or KPI’s when you are failing to improve yourself?

Professional Business Requires Coaching

Sports and business have many parallels, the difference is in almost all professional sports you have dedicated coaches, you receive coaching daily for your professional career and the majority of the team you are coached on improving your weaknesses and improving your core skills and then applying this in a team and squad environment.

Even the worlds best and greatest athletes are coached seek help and receive coaching every day!
This should be no different for business professionals.

This very rarely happens in the work setting, the only time this happens is when executives are recommended a coach or a startup is maturing and the investment team seeks out a coach for a founder or the founding team.

Career Stagnation Is Your Problem

Almost every career stagnates at one place or another, this can be more many reasons, the most common; you stop wanting to progress and seek out help, seek out improving your weaknesses or seek out a mentor or a professional coach.

Step up and develop your career!

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

Put on your own oxygen mask is a famous business quote that translates to look after yourself first, this could not be truer notably when it comes to actually helping your team or business improve, if you are not improving yourself, how are you improving others?

Invest In You

One of the big takeaways in talking to leaders is they end up not using their training budget or “wasting it conferences”.

Stop wasting your annual training budget on conferences you learn small and disposable pieces of information or fail to attend because you are too busy.

Get Focus: Professional Management Coaching

Focus offers a tailored package that has been built for managers across all levels, whether you are a:

  • A newly promoted manager
  • A Head of Team or Head of Department
  • A Director who is lacking confidence or delivery is slipping away
  • A VP who is too busy juggling meeting requests and sitting in back to back meetings to develop themselves or their team
  • A C-suite member who has become detached from their discipline or lost their influence over their team.

We work together with you, we then:

  • Build a tailored package to your specific situation
  • Build a growth plan together
  • Build your skills, session by session
  • Build out your confidence and communications skills
  • Build out a set of templates for you to use and roll out internally

The Packages

The Focus 1-2-1 Coaching Packages can be brought in blocks or per session.

Each coaching session is 60 minutes and virtual. Each session is one to one, with homework to improve your skills and actions to tackle and roll out after every session.

No Timewasting! To ensure we are compatible and you want to be coached, we arrange a quick 15-minute session to run your situation and see if we would be a good fit.

The packages can be paid for directly from your business or if you are looking to pay for this yourself this can be set up. This enables you to invest in yourself or your company to invest in your long term success.

Get in touch below to start your coaching with Focus.

Coach Quote Eric Schmidt