Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

What three actions to take to kick off 2022 well?

In the end of the year instalment of anonymous career advice, a leader asks an important question to kick off 2022 well.

Dear focus, I want to kick off 2022 well. What are three things I can do as a mid-sized business leader? 

In most businesses the leader has to show the direction you are headed, why you are looking forward to the year ahead and how the departments and teams will be leading from the front and where they will be collaborating. 

In all of the businesses I have worked in, worked with or consulted on, there are a number of selective characteristics that are run through. All involving direction setting, thanking and ensuring you reference the importance of your people and their performance (collectively and individually).

Remind yourself of the two P’s when creating the 3 action points below: 

The Two P’s 

The people (company culture) and the performance (strategy). 

The three actions below can be live or can be pre-recorded. Pre-recorded allows you to practise and get it to where you are happy. Powerpoint, Google Slides and Keynote all offer recording and inserting video per slide or across the presentation.

Live is great for connection building, pre-recorded will benefit those of you looking to manage the time and asking for Q&A and being able to prep. 

Only you as the leader will know what works best for you and your style (personality type). 

Have notes and links to hand to send across post three actions. 

1/ Personal Statement 

A quick statement of the company, what you are looking forward to seeing, what you are excited for and what behaviours you love to see and are agreed across the business that will likely be rewarded. 

Slides will help you here.

FYI: There is nothing more awkward than asking for each member of the leadership to have comments or offer their one minute to ten-minute statement.

2/ Quick Positive Review Of 2021 

Here is a breakdown of what to include and flow through:

  • A reminder of the journey you went on (timeline) 
  • What did the team do well? 
  • What made you proud? 
  • Any stand out examples of cross-functional collaboration and delivery 
  • Was there any big campaign, releases or launches? 
  • Were there important milestones hit and which milestones were hit? 

Remove all mad and sad parts of the review, glad (happy and proud) is the most important to concentrate on and start with a micro-moment

3/ Walkthrough the company-wide strategy for 2022  

Here are 4 steps to include and run through quickly. Double click on the elements you were weaker on in 2021 and requires more work. This should be informed from the staff feedback throughout 2021:

  • Strategy: What beliefs do you have, what bets are you making and what pillars are going to guide the teams 
  • Action points ahead: The key sections of work from different departments 
  • Product roadmap overview: top level don’t go into long details just key points and what you are looking to release or deliver by when (use the think big, act small, by when framework if required) 
  • Milestones: The milestones you would like to hit and how you are looking forward to the teams developing this out 

Remember To Resight Metrics: If you have a number of metrics you have signed off on and agreed upon, share this on one slide presentation or a short image you will share post-presentation / speech, this way you will create a guidepost to allow the company to understand their targets and what they are building towards. 

Remember the longer it takes to sign off-targets and north stars the more difficult it is for the teams to hit the ground running and get ahead of the hard tactical battle ahead. 

Something to keep in mind, Steve Jobs was the ultimate internal sales and marketing person for Apple and this role is vital for success any year, none more so with such uncertainty people look for leadership with direction and trust signals. Drive this by driving the business forward on day 1.

Best of luck and have a good end to 2021 and a successful 2022. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Ask your own

.
Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Should We Re-onboard Our Teams?

Dear focus, we are a series a startup, we are inviting our teams back into the office, something we are struggling with hybrid is how do we get everyone connected, will onboarding help make us efficient? 

It is great to see you are setting the new norms today.

The short answer is Yes! The secret to success for any business in covid is always and regularly re-onboard. 

The new office environment should likely be an arena vs being your traditional office, even in countries where people have returned to the office frequently, the office operates for more collaboration and performance vs headphones in trying to concentrate like many offices were in early 2020. 

As suggested in the return to the office guide

You should always re-onboard teams who are re-entering the office and entering the office at different times. The key with any return to the office is understanding that hybrid is multi-location and generally working online as location really should not be a point of contention in the hybrid work world. 

Playbook For Success

This means when returning into the ‘central space’ you require autonomy, you require the right guidelines and the most important question to answer is:
Why you are inviting teams in on a specific day or for specific reasons?  

One of the core flaws many businesses are operating in with hybrid is when teams are coming into the office they are doing it to have everyone face to face as they believe this builds more trust, reconnects teams and allows teams to get to know each other. 

Some of this is true, some are not as true, particularly when you take into consideration status games and hierarchy, personality types and how familiar teams are with working in person, many have always worked indirectly and asynchronously. 

Sales will naturally crave returning to the office, whereas Dev and Product teams may prefer not to return. Marketing may enjoy a couple of days per month, whereas Finance might prefer working remotely. Those whose roles are collaborative may actually have a new cadence that works best for them remotely, especially ticket-based activities vs being pipeline based. 

Guidelines = Win

Guideline 1: Written rules work best. 

Guideline 2: Create clear guidance for your teams coming back into the office: 

  • Pre read including 
  • Objective 
  • Agenda 
  • What success looks like from hybrid and being in the office 

Guideline 3: It is essential to ensure any important decisions are made are documented and shared officially with hybrid colleagues or those unavailable to come into the office. Wiki’s and knowledge centres are always best. 

No Tier 2 Systems

You have to have inclusive work and never a two-tier system of citizen a (who can come into the office) vs citizen b (those who cannot attend) and be flexible for commute times etc. 

Something to keep front of mind: some teams will want to and proactively opt-out of wanting to come back to office even if it is just for a day a week or makes less sense for their teams, if you decide it is some teams or departments in and some out – you have to remove proximity bias and create a deliberate communication and feedback loop based company. Companies that will succeed in hybrid work will be deliberate in communicating, typically moving forward asynchronously.

Important areas to keep in mind throughout the re-onboarding process: 

  • New work tensions – these are natural upon the first few times of reconnecting and meeting new team mates 
  • New relationships – there will be teams who have brand new colleagues and have to form brand new relationships it is essential you let these grow organically. Many who formed a strong bond online often struggle in real life, consider this. 
  • F2F – First time face to face for team members are often the hardest, be prepared to offer a game or an exercise to go through. Potentially consider the get to know me 4 question game
  • Team bonding can be organised – but the balance to enabling it to organic. There should be as much bonding as work for the first two meetings 
  • New locations within the office or specialist neighbourhoods – there will be many offices that look different, they operate differently and many have been reshaped, it is important that this is my desk or this was my desk to be addressed and discussed if you are rolling our hot desk only. 

Blending IRL and online first is going to be a challenge for every business, building the hybrid company culture norms is going to be key to your success. 

Good luck in your return to the office and remember if you work out quickly that the office just is not working, you can 

Important elements to also keep in mind in hybrid 

Reduce mirror anxiety 

Hybrid politics 

What makes great remote leaders

Designing the hybrid office

Will a strict return to the office work?

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Is An External Profile Important As A Leader?

Dear focus, is having an external profile important as a department or business leader? 

This is a question that is not asked enough and one many will not have a chance to consider if they are not proactively looking at developing out their career. 

An external profile is something you have to craft, build, stay active with and balance alongside your workload. 

In recent years, a spokesperson or a company rep has interchanged from external spokespeople to an internal spokesperson or selected people.

Demands constantly change but the representation of brands and industry leaders will always be an important pillar. 

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

How To Connect Company & Company Leadership Team

In this week’s anonymous career advice column, we hear from someone who is facing common struggles many of us do. 

Dear focus, many of the company is struggling with connecting with their bosses and the ELT. They are disconnected and really wrestle with being approachable and being able to commit to the direction we are going. Any tips?

Thanks for sharing your experience today. I will take a guess this has happened for a prolonged period of time and likely started before the forced work-from-home experiment. 

There are five givens within businesses who are going through a phase of change, it sounds like you are experiencing three: 

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Is it possible to have a non subject expert as a department lead?

This week’s anonymous career advice centre’s around a common issue where the department lead is not a subject matter expert and struggles with driving their own teams forward.

Dear focus, my department lead (my direct boss) is not a subject matter expert. They struggle with having the right level of in-depth conversation with the team and it’s impacting our department and delivering important products.
What would you recommend? 

This is more common than you believe and something many of the readers will be questioning or have questioned recently. 

There are often a number of ways to look at this and typically falls into two sides or two schools of thought. 

The Two Sides 

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

How To Reduce The Work Life Blur?

This week’s anonymous career advice comes from a manager that is looking to help their department in reducing the blur between work and home life, especially with many businesses now operating in the hybrid model

Dear Focus, What are the five things you would recommend to help my team reducing the work and life blur?

This is actually something many managers just are not thinking about and I want to thank you for stepping up and asking this question. 

There are much bigger methods in tackling this but requires a fair-sized budget shift and significant change from your team members, however, here are my five simple but ultimately actionable recommendations:

Adding work boundaries helps to guide teams to work to core hours and not react to each request out of work hours

1: Add Boundaries

Ensure you set the right level of boundaries for your teams: 

  • Whether that’s their workday or out of hours
  • The teaming knowing it is ok to not have to reply to slack, teams or emails out of hours
  • Your boss emailing you outside of working hours does not need a reply 
  • Some teams will have to work out of hours, this does not mean the company does and knowing that you will receive 

I have worked for companies that operate across multiple time zones and setting the expectations that your time zone is when you work and respond is important.

Likewise, if you are a senior leader or executive, you work different hours to the rest of the business set the example and allow teams to know you do not expect the same and do not want them to blur the line. 

Remember sending an email or instant message is only ever convenient to the sender, rarely ever to the receiver.

Having worked agency-side and ran agency business operations, it is important for you set the precedent at your agency that working hours and delivering on deadlines happens within work hours.
This will be a huge selling point for your agency and operationally savvy agencies tend to outperform less operational smart agencies. 

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

How To Win At Hybrid Office Politics?

Today’s anonymous career advice is around the upcoming issue many are going to encounter, hybrid office politics, concern over conversations that happen in person or was had in person while you are working remotely or from home and impact you, your department or the direction of an important project.  

Dear Focus,
I’m struggling with the ongoing leadership politics and the political shifts while working hybird, how do I keep up and stay on top? 

This is going to be an important lesson for many professionals to understand and decide how they tackle the new political battle. 

Something to remember, being political is always an option, there are many executives who can operate without being consumed and they concentrate on their teams delivery. 

With that said, unfortunately, (PQ) Political intelligence is usually a vital skill many do not develop and keep on top of the political pulse within their business. 

Some businesses are built on politics, it’s how it operates and likely was bred into the management subculture. 

A thought process to go through, can you reduce the demand for you to get involved? 

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Designing The Ideal Management Team

This week’s anonymous career advice is connected to organisational design and scaling businesses in the right way. I break down five essential roles to be successful with.

Dear focus
We are struggling to build our leadership team, we are growing and it’s time to mature, what does the ideal management team look like? 

Management teams and leadership teams are unique to every business.

Every business requires something a little different, from the way you are created, the people you included and then those you invite regularly to the team you rely upon to make the most important decisions in the growth and in some cases the survival of your company. 

When designing your organisation, team design is difficult, department design has more complexities, the management team is typically seen as the easiest part as you invite the most senior around the table. I believe this is where many companies get this wrong, your management team should be those who excel at their jobs and take the extra responsibilities on and “play their role” and something that is constantly overlooked destressing the business. 

Here are the roles I believe you should have on your leadership team: 

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Should Every Team Have A Roadmap?

This week’s anonymous career advice is a good question asking should every team have their own roadmap?

This is an important question around being transparent, collaborating and being a collective in changing and adapting how you work for the success of the company.

Q: Dear focus, should every team actually have a roadmap?
And should we connect to the company roadmap?
 

This is a great question! 

I talk about this topic a lot and the process of creating a roadmap for most teams is something I am a fan of.
Anything that actually moves teams away from a finger in the air Gantt Charts is a step in the right direction and takes a list of work and turns it into more deliberate work. 

In the recent strategy articles, I suggested in WTF is strategy and why strategy is often misunderstood for tactics, strategy is the overarching plan of action for the whole company to get behind and work inside of.
Strategy is the important guide for your company, adding in the successful boundary lines. Roadmaps are the same.

Like strategy, a roadmap has to be clearly defined and understood, there should be no misunderstanding of what a roadmap is and is not, what it includes and why these important items are included.

Like strategy, the activity of planning and reviewing is about what you are not going to do and why these handful of items made the cut onto the roadmap. 

Typical product roadmaps need improving but helping to guide new teams will be essential to helping your business to succeed
Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Google Manifesto It’s Ok To

This week’s anonymous career advice centre’s around Google’s Manifesto which has been shared far and wide praising their approach to working from home or working remotely. It’s important businesses consider the influence Google have and the internal PR machine behind this before creating their own manifesto.

Dear Focus, Google’s manifesto has been all over LinkedIn and my team have asked me why we don’t have one? What’s the best way forward? 

Google are in a place where they can share internal best practices and it will always be shared and leak externally. 

This is often something that just happens, something to consider is how much of this is true and how much of their internal manifesto actually happens and is accepted.