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Anonymous Career Advice

Is there a better way of quarterly planning?

In this week’s anonymous career advice column we tackle the dreaded planning phase, a team lead asks how to improve their planning

Dear Focus, When it comes to planning my team hate it, they struggle to complete the required documents and prefer just to do it. Is there a better way of planning? 

Almost every company has a slightly different approach to planning, whether thats campaign, projects, monthly, quarterly, annual or long range planning. 

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Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 53

The Role Of The Rebuilder 

14th June 2021.

Dear leaders,

This week I was reminded of one of the more challenging roles I have held and some of you will be about to face.

I call it The Rebuilder.

The rebuilder is a manager who is taking over an existing team or department and their job to truly complete is:
To rebuild the team, rebuild the foundations, rebuild the confidence of the team or department and bring back performance throughout the team. 

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Company Culture hybrid office

The Future Of Work Keynote Presentation

I recently was a keynote speaker for the online Future Of Work Conference.

The future of work presentation was created to help businesses consider the future of work and the future of their business.

This presentation should act as a guide and inspiration on how to rethink your current approach and lead your company and lean into the future.

As a huge advocate for hybrid work and the hybrid office (aka an arena), many businesses are requesting their staff to return to the office at least 3 days a week (including Apple & Google), with this in mind, the presentation enables any version of hybrid to work.

The key message of the future of business

Business is going to be culture first.

The Full Future Of Work Presentation

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Company Culture Leadership

Lessons From Apple’s 3 Day A Week Return To The Office Situation

Apple recently wrote to their employees and suggested they were going to be rolling out a three day work from the office rule to start in September.

Tim Cook (the Apple CEO) suggested in an internal memo that most employees will be asked to come into the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

Many tech firms have landed at three days per week back in the office. This shows how important to the business that internal collaboration, proximity and secrecy plays vital roles to the business.

Apple’s Past Leading The Future?

Apple is a product company and is notorious for secrecy, keeping their tech projects top secret and reducing any leaks is their primary objective.

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 52

The Unfollow Button

7th June 2021.

Dear leaders,

Today I want to introduce you to a concept that many people have not really considered.

I call it the unfollow action.

Most important unspoken action in business – the unfollow

We are used to having to actively ‘follow’ colleagues, from a small number of colleagues to hundreds of colleagues in larger businesses.

You follow their work, you receive their emails, their reply all’s, you are pinged on internal chat tools, in countless work meetings with them, notified of their updates on your project management tool and in some cases, you follow their career and help to mentor and coach them

The unfollow action or in many cases, an unfollow/mute button is where colleagues actively choose to:

  • unfollow colleagues
  • unfollow goals
  • unfollow the mission they are set
  • and unfollow business leaders

This action goes unspoken but happens daily.

The ‘unfollow’ happens and can have huge impact

In 2020 into 2021 we saw a huge unfollow materialise, this as much by the situation and environment as much not being in proximity of people in the office, you had fewer interactions with acquaintances and fewer interactions with colleagues.

This can be a noisy work graph – too many connections

This all led to passive unfollows, this is not always a negative series of events, it does mean there is a conscious unfollow and unconscious unfollow.

2020 – 2021 we saw the great unfollow by situation and lack of proximity

In the coming months, we will likely see an increase (due to offices being reopened safely) in connections, this does not mean there will be more follows, it could mean there are more unfollows as the less relevant or the more frustrating colleagues become it can all lead to more unfollows.

Not being as close to the outer circle, the ‘People in the office’ will lead to fewer follows, it is up to you to ensure ‘people in the office’ are kept in the loop for important updates, important insights are shared and when required aware of their interaction levels with you.

The question for you to answer in the coming weeks is the unfollow a positive or a negative for your team, department or company?
How do you keep buy-in into your leadership, into goals and into your colleagues and team?

Have a great week and consider how the unfollow might happen within your business.

Danny Denhard

PS The images in this week’s leaders letter are part of my future of work keynote presentation on June 10th. For the full download click here or watch the video below

Read more about the future of work and improving your organisational health.

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Anonymous Career Advice

Will a strict return to the office help my team get back together?

This week’s anonymous career advice question:

Will a strict return to the office help my team get back together? 

Dear Focus, Our office has been told they are expected back in the office in the coming weeks. My department’s performance has dropped and you can see cracks appear. Do you think this will help our department get back to performing? 

This is going to be a big question for many department heads and leads in the coming months. 

If there is a performance issue it’s likely not simply down to being remote and video call fatigue that we have all heard about in the last six months. 

It’s likely down to many more factors of work: 

  • The general blurring of work and life, 
  • Relationships falling apart 
  • Colleagues leaving 
  • A change to furlough or headcount 
  • A team subculture that requires more than a bandaid or an away day. 

Here are just a few categories of questions to ask yourself and your team around what the causes are and answer collectively. 

Bonding 

  • Has there been a breakdown in communications? 
  • Has there been a project, product or campaign that has failed? 
  • Has there been turnover or lack of refill of headcount? 
  • How do you propose to bring the teams closer together if there are numerous fractions or your internal influencer or secret weapon is unhappy?

Proximity 

  • Proximity is an important factor within interpersonal relationships but does it apply or add value in 2021?
  • Being close or within one office doesn’t mean better communications and the old bad habits won’t come back. 

Something I always recommend to read and develop out is the Allen curve within your business, as the study shows the closer and more frequent you are by proximity the better relationships were.

Here is a good LinkedIn post to understand more of an updated review. 

Being a good leader from anywhere 

  • Asking if this was going to be full time back in the office? 
  • Have there been consistent communications? 
  • Regardless of where your team are located your role shouldn’t have to change, often remote can be easier to manage times and interruptions 

Resentment for having to come back in

This is something many team members are expressing. 

Likely voicing their concerns or frustrations around having to return to the old way of working. 

Although it doesn’t sound to have been easy or plain sailing many people have realised this way of working works better for them and their situation. 

Can you adapt this for a team member?

Swamped in routine 

One common mistake is not mixing up routines and not listening to feedback. 

Old routines won’t likely improve the issues that occurred while forced working from home environment. 

Is this an opportunity to change the routine? I would suggest this is a great time to revisit and restructure routines.  

Cost of over-communication

Many businesses were telling teams to over-communicate, this was one of the common mistakes over the last year. 

Communications have to deliberate. 

There has to be for a reason and managed by channel. 

Can you reduce friction by reducing communication or more likely over communication? 

Ability to deliver anywhere

  • The question everyone seems to struggle with, have we set our teams to succeed and deliver from anywhere? 
  • Do you actually have one rule that applies all within your business? 
  • Where your team set up to succeed? 

Best of luck with your move towards going back into the office, as we suggested the office should be rethought as an arena and this is an important read to help reshape your office while returning to the office safely. 

Helpful Reads To Improve Your Management

Good Manager Examples

25 Bad Manager Examples

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Leadership

Internal Influencers – The Importance Of The Internal Influencer

Have you ever had a coffee break in an office and observed how people gravitate to each other. 

Or when one colleague speaks many others stop what they are doing and listen? 

Or have you been in a meeting and there is no agreement and then someone speaks up and things fall into place or the lightbulb seems to go off collectively? 

Another scenario you may have witnessed is when something has failed to gain pick up and someone else simply suggests the same thing in slightly different words and manages to push it ahead. 
Yes, by their gravitas. 

These are all factors of an internal influencer

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Focus News Leadership

20 Lessons In 20 Minutes From 20 Years Experience

I was invited to speak at an online event, it was broad brush on what I would like to talk on.

As it was planned for a 20 minutes talk with a lot of Q&A, I created a 20:20:20 deck, 20 lessons in 20 minutes (around 20 slides) from my two decades of work.

The majority of lessons are those that I leverage through Focus but there are a few more specific Marketing and Growth lessons that go against the grain of “the standard” advice.

Here is the 20:20:20 deck, which you can download at the bottom of the post and I have broken down the advice below for slightly more context.

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 51

Internal Podcasts

Dear leaders, 

I have had a number of conversations with business owners, founders and leaders about how they gain more cut through with their teams and how to be more open, more transparent, help everyone understand what they are trying to achieve. 

There are a number of businesses that offer AMA’s, I am a huge advocate of AMA’s and opening up, there are many ways you can gain more feedback and answer questions, but enabling open conversations and allowing people to relax podcasts are often the way many professionals open up.
So much so, there are specific media training courses covering podcasts alongside TV interviews. 

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Broken Promotion Track

This week’s anonymous career advice column is closely connected to a previous question submitted is playing the game necessary?

Dear focus, at my company the promotion track is broken. It seems to be who shouts the loudest and who has more time with the local CEO. What can I do? 

This is one of the questions I am asked in different ways quite a lot in my coaching

Interestingly as much from those at ‘the top of their hierarchy’ to those in Heads of and Director roles.