Something you will notice is how popular quotes are. Whether this is on social media or shared internally.
Some leaders love quoting others, others share the same quote over and over (like the famous Mike Tyson quote: “Everyone Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth”) however here are the best quotes for teamwork and leadership.
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” –Michael Jordan
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” –Helen Keller
“None of us is as smart as all of us.” –Ken Blanchard
Something that is crystal clear is; remote work has disconnected even the closest of teams, departments and even work friends.
This is creating performance issues in many businesses.
Company culture has never been as important as today’s forced working from home environment.
As per our deep dive into the future of work we have seen the workplace completely change from clearer dynamics to messy dynamics where colleagues fail to connect.
The Future Of Work TLDR
Workshopping Is A Solution
The way many are attempting to tackle this issue is in workshops or one big workshop. In the workshop environment, you are juggling a good facilitator alongside personality types.
Introverts will be introverts, extroverts will be extroverts and many ambiverts will have to lean into their extroversion to compete. You are then relying on individuals to get out of their comfort zone and then challenge louder voices.
Big collective sessions are currently being managed over a video conferencing tool like Zoom, with an open document, with a virtual shared space or open canvas like Miro and a series of notes.
This approach can work, however, often this doesn’t allow for questions or follow up sessions with more personalised and connecting questions between colleagues.
At Focus, we believe connections happen with natural interactions, with infrequent connections, with questions and answers and natural connections being formed by uncovering connections or quirks.
A Fresh Focused Approach
When you join a business you are often provided with a new starter form or a template to complete, it’s shared around and then nothing happens until the next new starter or a conversation happens.
Why wait for this to fizzle out or to be ignored? Especially when many businesses will struggle to hire and are struggling to connect colleagues together.
Below is a series of questions to share around to everyone to complete, all answers are shared on the knowledge centre or your internal wiki and encourage teams to explore each other’s answers and discover new and old colleagues by the questions they answer.
You can encourage connections over email, over instant messenger or over video calls. You will be surprised how connections are made from uncommon questions or different answers.
The Question Template
What does your work day to day look like
Like about your discipline
Dislike about your disciple
What did you want to do when you were growing up
Best working memory
One book you would recommend
Two songs that gets you every time
A film that has stuck in your memory
One brand you admire
If you would like a Google Doc’s version please click here
The important part of this exercise is to phase the rollout, in the big organisations there will be a flood of internal get to know me’s, this means many in the middle to the end will be lost.
Roll out week by week, have a morning where you share a batch of profiles or department profiles and encourage conversation directly with colleagues you don’t know, whatever peaks your interests.
Some organisations have randomised coffee catch up’s where you can meet your colleague or follow on the conversation. Suggest a time slot each week which is for connecting. This will allow connections to form and to become more habitual than feel like it’s something you have to squeeze in.
Make These Profiles Accessible In Many Digital Places
It is important you enable these profiles on instant messaging profiles, into your email directory and ensuring the profiles are on the internal wikis and knowledge centres.
The secret – always have one home, one canonical home that is the home for all information.
Although there are a number of virtual HQ’s now available and being developed, with long IT and software sign off process, this internal framework will enable better connections and refresh a way to bump into each other and or have hallway conversations and enable this in a flexible framework.
In the future, these answers and new connections will enable your leadership team to proactively host ask us anything sessions where the team can come closer together and communication improves.
Remember to suggest refreshes and all new staff that join to complete and share. The smarter the sharing, the better the engagement, the better connections will be formed.
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Kobe Bryant was a basketball legend, a LA Lakers hero and someone known for being hyper-driven. If you have ever seen Kobe play, you would have seen it from training, pre-game, during the game, to post-match press conferences and leaving the arena.
In one of my favourite leadership and management books; Eleven Rings, Phil Jackson former LA Lakers coach discussed how challenging it can be having such a brilliant and driven player, especially when he and the other star Shaquille O’Neal just didn’t get on for a number of seasons.
Being driven can be seen as a negative, however, the best colleagues and managers in my twenty-year career have been driven, had their own style of rules and deliberate in their steps.
Kobe was driven to be the best and is well know for having had ten rules he followed. This is similar to having shared team principles, the drivers of your team, department or company.
It is rare we see this sort of insight from the elite professional players.
Kobe Bryant’s 10 Rules Were:
Get better every single day
Prove them wrong
Work on your weaknesses
Execute what you practised
Learn from greatness
Learn from wins and losses
Believe in your team
My personal favourite is: Learn from wins and losses.
Why? This is typically down to management teams and leadership teams never writing down their own rules, guides and principles, it is just something that is ever taught or developed.
How To Make & Use Your Own Rules?
Set aside and dedicate thirty minutes to write down five of the principles or rules that guide you and your career
Rewrite the list for clarity,
Once as a list – A sentence, aka a short rule
The second as something you expand into two sentences. The secret is explaining as a short sentence and why
Use a design tool (Can be Word, PowerPoint, Keynote, Canva etc) and create the fives rules as one page with images to associate with.
When you next have a team meeting ask the team to follow the same steps.
Ask the team to share their one non-negotiable rule and consider how you could use these personal rules as team drivers.
Sharing the individual rules are important, aligning these to their colleagues really help the team understand their drivers and what makes their colleagues tick or keeps them doing what they do.
Moving forward I strongly recommend you and your team get to know each other by replicating Kobe’s rules and sharing as a team. The most important element of this, revisit the rules, allow them to guide you and enable yourself to grow and update when you grow personally and professionally.
Design Better Meetings: Design your meetings, question should this be a meeting, agenda’s as standard, reading materials, why people are attending, the expectations of the meeting, the follow up actions and owners and the delivery dates.
Time: Help colleagues co-manage their time and the line between work and life. Enforced remote work has been a challenge even on those who had experience with it or had to help everyone adapt to remote work
Develop: Build personal development plans in December and January and ensure you stick to quarterly outputs
Training: Champion internal training – arrange external & online training
Clear Company Strategy: Create a strategy one-pager, and a company playbook with all plans of actions from each department and team
Connect & Align: Constantly align and connect teams, assign owner and provide clear ownership boundaries
Better Communication:Asynchronous communication over chat tools
Talent: Talent retention will be harder, more colleagues will be looking at their options and looking for new or better challenges. Talent acquisition will be harder, bigger talent pool won’t mean easier to hire.
The Next Normal: Build your next normal, be proactive don’t wait for surprises
Throughout 2020 there has been a number of recurring themes, one of which is your role within the company vs the job title you have.
Role Vs Job Title
There are a few core tiers of role vs job title that often stands out and is important to raise and for you to discuss.
Often we see a hierarchy, we see it by the org chart, the title you have or the role you play within the business. This org chart rarely suggests or shows the different roles you play and how you operate. Hidden Leaders often play multiple roles within your org, they might not a manager but can be a coach and a mentor alongside being a high level operator.
Many hidden leaders are not ‘a people manager’ and this is actually a bonus to their career and the people around. I dislike the term individual contributors as this is so limited to what some people offer and the impact they have on those around them and the service they bring company.
In leaders letter, fewer managers more coaches and mentors we recommended a way to rethink your company set up and question do you actually need more managers and more hierarchy, or does reshaping your business with more mentors and coaches actually make more sense.
The Impact on Company Culture
Hierarchies will often dictate decision-making processes, the flow of information or in some orgs who is the ‘ultimate decision-maker”, this impact staff happiness and what is your company culture.
Leaders Are More Than A Title
Leader – Manager – Coach – Mentor – Operator for many are defined tags or labels you have and associate into your title. For others, these are hard labels you have and enter into a tiering system.
For me, these are interchangeable and should be used by companies to help colleagues understand different layers of leadership and development.
I challenge many managers to list down which of these roles are the people within their team and those who could offer reverse mentorship to them or identify a reverse mentor within their business who would help both parties and the company to progress.
The Roles Explained
Leader – A leader doesn’t have to have a C or V title. You do not have to be the most senior to be a leader, you can set the example and drive behaviour forward whether you are inexperienced or the most experienced or most senior. Leaders come in many forms and it is essential you understand the true difference between a manager and a leader. A leader can be a good coach and a mentor providing they have the time to dedicate and the energy to provide true value to their colleagues. Some of the smartest leaders have reverse mentorship and provides tremendous benefit to the org.
Manager – Typically a title, you can be a manager on a project and be less senior but have an important role to play on a project and manage those around you. Project Managers often drive businesses forward and made important decisions over more senior titles. Managers can be extremely busy and many are not taught to develop their team members or their department, this is where coaches and mentors will be valuable members of the company’s development and evolution.
Coach – Coaching is one of the most difficult and most challenging but is the most rewarding activity of work when you see your colleagues grow. A coach although typically older is someone who helps individuals grow, improve colleagues skills and helps to nurture the business forward. Some of the best coaches in business are inside of your org, they are likely in other areas of the business but can help improve your skills and might actually be lower in rank and title but will coach you. Remember the best sports coaches did not have huge professional careers, they have the best approach and methods for improving others.
Mentor – Mentors are often unspoken of, at any point you will see many people mentoring others, this is most regularly informal and is helping colleagues to guide others without having hard written goals or targets. I am personally extremely passionate about mentorship, many managers are just too busy to help you, often you can arrange fortnightly or monthly mentoring sessions with more senior members of staff and gain huge amounts by discussing your work, your aspirations and growing your role and influence. Many organisations will help you arrange a mentorship programme if you have not organised a mentor programme consider how you will match colleagues together. Try not to make the mistake many businesses do by only organising this for the raising stars or standout performers. A mentor will provide your business with a large amount of benefit, they will be guiding force and help those around them as much or more than most managers.
Operator – A specialist operator is hard to come by, they are often stand out performers and often led towards a management role. This does not actually benefit the operator or the business, this is often down to conditioned ways of thinking. An operator can be a better coach or better mentor vs having to take on formal management roles. As mentioned above an operator can be far more than just an individual contributor and offers far more than a flat title as this. A high-level operator (many from a developer background consider this the only way to progress) will feel pressure to ask for a manager or a senior manager, consider how you help to shape their careers and help the team or colleagues around them gain the most from the operator.
Move Away From Flat Titles
Moving forward I challenge you and your business to move away from flat and ignorant titles and build out layers in which truly reflect the impact and influence colleagues have within the organisation.
Pay special attention to developing out who would make great coaches, mentors and leaders and building managers who can manage their time, benefit from reverse mentorship and built out succession planning and the next evolution of leadership within your organisation.
If you would like to understand and develop this out further, I recommended reading a related and worthwhile article is what is leadership.
There is an art to building a great set of individuals to make a great team or department.
As a department lead you are ultimately responsible for building out a set of teams that can deliver a good working environment where people feel safe, valued and they have played their own part and recognised for it.
One of the most challenging aspects of this is balancing personalities, abilities and interpersonal connections.
Everyone had a job role but unlikely there is an informal and unwritten role assigned to them within a team or department.
Looking back two decades of my career, there is one role that is often overlooked but undervalued.
The role? The team or department joker.
The Role Of The Department Joker
The joker often is the smartest on their feet, witty and can create a relaxed and humour-led environment. When the environment can be tense or stretched, many colleagues look towards this person to lighten the mood or play their part in releasing the tension or offering a rest bite.
Like a hidden leader, there are some environments where this role can be overlooked. In many traditional setups, their role is downplayed, misinterpreted or dismissed.
I have found that the joker or humorous role plays a vital connector within the team and despite the odd side note or comment actually can align teams and drive them forward.
Company culture can thrive with the right blend of people including department jokers.
Develop The Joker
If you work closely with the joker, they are smart, they learn quickly and typically want to learn. They are usually good communicators and can gain cut through where others struggle. Learn from them, develop them, leverage their core skills.
In the remote world of work, the joker is harder to have an impact and release tensions but it is important as a leader you know how to keep engaged and playing to their strengths.
As I recommended in writing a letter to your team the value that the joker brings should be called out with praise within the letter and in the in-jokes should be enjoyed department-wide.
Maybe A Secret Weapon
Maybe the secret weapon within your company is a specialist, maybe actually it is the joker, maybe they act as the glue where if there weren’t with your firm anymore you’d potentially lose that extra layer in company culture.
Moving forward, I recommend you embrace your department joker, you work with them to help them develop their skills, help you learn from them around communication and insights and you create a team that can thrive with this person.
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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
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.