hybrid office

Is Slack’s Digital First Mentality Correct?

It is unusual you would hear a company be as bold as suggesting
Companies Miss Out on Talent If Not Offering Remote Work‘.

This is not a new narrative but one that is extremely timely and will resonate with many potential candidates looking to make the shift from other tech giants looking to enforce a return to the office.

In the supported video, Slack’s chief people officer Nadia Rawlinson speaks very openly and well on how Slack are handling remote hiring and talent when it comes to working remotely.

The future of work has to be flexible and hybrid.

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 52 – The Unfollow Button

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.

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. 

Business Performance

25 Meeting Recommendations


Meetings take up to 15% of all time within work. In very few organisations they teach you how to run successful meetings, how attendees are supposed to participate and what success looks like at the end of each meetings.

Company success is often shaped as much by meetings as their company strategy. 

Bad meetings impact company culture and often are the causes of teams misaligning and interpersonal conflict. 

With the number of meetings increasing, the lengths of meetings reducing but the frequency of repeat meetings, it is essential we reduce the friction of meetings and help to structure, optimise and improve meetings. 

On our mission to fix the broken world of work, we collated our 25 most suggested meeting recommendations to help your organisation to succeed. 

  1. Ask the question: does this have to be a meeting?
  2. Answer: Could this be a memo? 
  3. Whole company agreement: No meetings to have another meeting 
  4. AHA: Always Have Agenda’s 
  5. Keep track of ‘meeting moments and movements’ – centralise all notes, decisions and actions and share across to all invitees and if open allow all to view
  6. Always answer what is the objective of this meeting
  7. Agendas are great for meetings that require structure 
  8. Always have refresh agendas – with 50% of meetings repeat and agendas recycled you are fighting against yourself 
  9. No agenda = No attendance can work if enforce top to bottom 
  10. Agendas remove creativity – think of this when brainstorming and problem-solving 
  11. Always explain to each attendee why they are attending, what their expected role is and how they can help move the meeting forward 
  12. HiPPO’s have to encourage and support employee first engagement 
  13. Have no spectators rules – Steve Jobs would remove people who did not contribute to meetings 
  14. Remove awkward starts to meetings 
  15. If the meeting fails quickly gift people their time back 
  16. Feedback is a gift, survey attendees and asks for feedback sessions in the last five minutes of meetings (open documents for open feedback) 
  17. Always have a social element to meetings, never dive straight in, scientific studies and cultural differences have proven no social elements break social bonds and trust in the work environment 
  18. Meeting recovery syndrome is a hugely under-recognised issue within businesses, reduce the number of meetings and 
  19. Employees need help to manage calendars especially in hybrid environments, help to manage and have a meeting champion to share tips and best practices and offer training 
  20. Hybrid meetings are challenging, applying the same attention to those remote as those in the office, you must follow the no a team (in office) and b team (working remotely). Checking on remote attendees and asking for their opinions will be equalisers. Reviewing meeting notes and document updates will be important 
  21. Have meeting attendance guidelines. The quality of meetings drop the more that attend
    1. Other companies rules:
      1. 10 people (Google)
      2. 6 people (Apple)
      3. 2 pizza rule (Amazon) & 7 people + approval by senior meeting
  22. Remove meetings after 16.00 – least productive and often rushed.
    1. If you are an international or tri-time zone company consider how you can rotate these meetings  
  23. Silent start meetings are great for longer-form meetings requiring insights, discussion and alignment. 
  24. Keep and update your decision document to keep clear communications and a canonical home of decisions 
  25. Remember how we are engineered, information architecture is essential, an easy way to find out information and find relevant historical notes for those who were not at the company helps understand how to be successful.
    Meeting name > Date > Project > Department often works best  

Important Related Reading To Improve Business Performance:

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 43 – Have you been the boss for so long you try and boss everything and every situation?

April 5th, 2021.

Dear Leaders,

For the past few months, I have been working more regularly with more founder-led businesses. 

Founder led businesses are notoriously more difficult if you do not know how to ask the right questions and you answer their questions quickly and concisely with a focus on delivery. 

One question that has bubbled up with each founder 

Have you been the boss for so long you try and boss everything and every situation?

The answer is 90% of the time, no, the 10% are the more open and transparent and typically say yes. 

The yes answer is good, they are aware of where they are and know they will be pushed to step back and challenged to understand where to let go.

The 90% have a few more sessions to go, they are unaware of having to control not boss each situation.

The 90% then split into two camps, those who want to change and those who want to control. The controlling group are those who need more coaching and guidance, you need to show where they are being too hands-on, too overbearing, too much talking nowhere near enough listening. 

So the question for you to ask is have you been the boss for so long, you attempt to boss everything? 

If yes, step back, challenge yourself to listen more and understand where you need to take a leap back or leap into action and where possible bring in external help or hire more people to remove some friction. 

Have a good week and remember being the boss doesn’t mean making every decision and kicking every ball it means knowing when to bring others to the table, bringing support in for you and the team and then being clear and concise when delegating. 


Danny Denhard


5 Timeless Lessons From Industry Leaders

In the summer of 2020, I went on a leadership mission, I spoke to as many leaders from as many fields as I could. This was a way to improve leaders letters, it was a way to learn from leaders to improve the leaders and leadership teams I work with but to also share these experiences. 

The leaders I interviewed came from many different and diverse backgrounds, including banking and finance, military, teaching, traditional business owner, a Chief Medical Officer, co-founder of a large remittance company and experienced startup leader. 

I took away many lessons and I hoped to turn the series into a Focus leadership podcast (maybe in the future), I thought I should share five of the lessons I took away from the brilliant conversations so you could ponder or implement. 

Lesson 1: Military Leader

“Outcomes for the group is essential: the mission for the team, the objective for the unit, crystal clear task for the individual.”
This cycle has to be understood completely, with no fussy or blurry lines. This then has to be understood at the team, unit and individual level. Often it is life and death and the most vital pieces of information have to be clear, concise and as up to date as possible. 

Lesson 2: Head Teacher

“Always have an open mind”, always learn from other sectors, increase your reading, share and empower those around you with your learnings and take feedback from whoever it is. Staff, parent, governers and then walk that walk.
There is a lot packed into this but so many lessons to take away and apply. 

Lesson 3: Co-Founder Remittance Company

“Ask for advice – is not a weakness!” Many leaders truly believe asking for help is a weakness, it is not it is a strength, especially when those around you or seeking those in a better position will drive you and your business forward.  

Lesson 4: Chief Medical Officer

“Replace ego with empathy – Read between the lines (there is always an agenda) find out what is really going on and explore together.” 

Lesson 5: Serial Startup Founder

An essential job for the founder is recruitment, it is to create the right environment for the organisation to thrive by blending people, positions and passions. 

These five lessons are all actionable across leadership at any level, all of these resonated with me for different reasons but mostly because leadership is about being clear, understanding and delivering instructions, asking for help, replacing your ego with empathy and the culture you create impacts your team every day. 

Sign Up To Become A Better Leader With Our Weekly Newsletter

Anonymous Career Advice

Disconnected From My Department

In today’s anonymous career advice, we tackle a senior leader being disconnected from their teams and department and how to address their concerns.

Dear Focus, I lead a fifteen person department with four teams, I know I am disconnected from my department and it’s hindering performance. How do I reconnect?

In the world of work we operate in, there will be many department heads who have not thought about how connected they are or are not with their teams and department.

It is a positive sign you understand you have become disconnected or someone in your department has stepped forward and let you know.

You have a number of options that can help you and the teams make progress, the questions you need to answer are:

  1. Have the teams lost trust in you?
  2. Why did you lose contact?
  3. Are there internal influencers who can
  4. Has there been a hidden leader or a co-pilot who has stepped up and taken the rains?
  5. Has the department performance dropped?

Be A Leader

First things first, as a leader your job is to guide, shape and call out and address bad behaviours, as you know you are disconnected, you should call this out, whether this is on a call, a video call or in writing.
The more personal the better for you in your situation.

Secondly, you should connect with your managers but be completely aware that you should skip them and connect with all levels of your team and gain feedback, listening is far more important than talking here.

Take many notes, review and then evaluate where the team is and what type of leader they require currently, often a job of a leader is to get out of the way and allow those around them to flourish and step up.

Understand The Politics

In the workplace, we all experience politics at some level and many middle managers feel like they have to play the game. You should understand if there has been a move to help move you further away from your teams, this could have been a result of your stepping away or a powerplay, truly understand this and give the benefit of the doubt. Read your managers reviews is a great step to understand your manager’s abilities and how they have performed if you have disconnected from your management team.

Internal Influencers

Your secret weapon is likely the best person to connect with, they are typically an internal influencer and hold a lot of weight within the team and see if they are willing to support your move to reconnect. This cannot be fake and has to be for the best of the team.


Something you will need to ask yourself openly and honestly, has your department’s performance been impacted? Is yes is it positively or negatively? If positively, how will add to their momentum or add to the flywheel? If negatively how will you review, analyse and then inspire.

Be There & Be Present

From being disconnected you cannot then replace that with not being present and not being available in the future, it is important you are available and present in the meetings, in the standup and in planning sessions.

So in short: follow these actions to reconnect:

  • Do not fake your motives
  • Make the time to reconnect
  • Take the time to listen
  • Understand if you need to connect more deeply
  • Or understand if your management team have stepped up or overstepped
  • Encourage open comms and you will be available for coaching, mentoring and guiding those around and below you.

Here are some supporting Focus resources that will help you:

Friday Focus

Friday Focus – 19th March

This week I offer five podcasts you will want to check out to help improve your business culture and company performance.

The 5 Podcasts

1/ Hitting The Wall Podcast

I join Ash Taylor to talk leadership, company culture, why the arena as an office will help improve connection, why the future of work is hybrid and work will be flexible for the employee, not the employer.

Key Quote:

Yeah, so there’s a is a combat and conflict, which a lot of people teach.

So a lot of the time it’s done to sentiment, right. So being combative tends to mean sort of banging heads and enforcing something conflict can be, and it can be enabled to have in a conversation and the right conversation. I think it comes down to you as a, like, if you’re a leader trying to trying to address it.

Or trying to move things forward. I think you need to understand people at a human levels. You need to understand them individually and you need to know their motivations. If I was ever going to say the best way to, to understand people is just to know how they’re motivated. So if you’re an introvert and ambivert or an extrovert, everyone’s going to be motivated differently.

So I would say like no people stages, so know how they can be on stage. So some people are extroverts what love and argument, because it enables them to step up and perform and be this different person. Whereas introverts can be the greatest people when it comes to conflict or combat, because they’ve taken a step back.

They’ve digested, what people have wanted to say, and then they’re, they can be far more articulate. When it has to, when they want to be able to, it has to happen. Now I know I’m, I’m the ambiverted when I need people, I’ll go to them. And when I don’t want them, I’ll run away and get back in my shell. And, and that’s, you know, some teams needs an extroverted leader because they need someone who’s going to put on a performance and be strong and talk it through.

So for me, it’s a way of enabling the right conversation, but also telling people that we. It’s been able to be confident enough to say we’re going to have this conversation. If you’re confident now or comfortable now it’s, it’s the right time to be able to come back and have your say and it’s it’s for a chairperson to go around and ask everyone’s opinion.

Yeah. So, you know, Dave, what do you think, Ahmed? What do you think, Sarah What’d you think? Zara, what do you think? Is important, you go around, you know, and you ask people their opinion. Some people aren’t ever going to be confident, or comfortable in talking in front of a group, but you can always say here is thirty minutes where you can go away digest it.

2/ The Science of Networks

Marissa King joins host Patrick on Invest Like The Best and discusses her book Social Chemistry: Decoding the Elements of Human Connection and the three types of social networks.

Key Quote: “What we know from close to three decades of research in the social sciences is you can break down social networks. What’s common to all of these is they propagate on social networks. So we can think about our networks, just the traces of interaction that connect us all. And those traces can actually be boiled down into three fundamental elements.
So I call these in my book brokers, expansionists, and conveners when you’re applying them to the individual. But by starting to understand those three very basic fundamental pieces, it’s really what makes the world small.

3/ Eat Sleep Work Repeat – Ripping Work A New One

Scott Galloway Joins Bruce Daisley on Twitter Spaces (so has more beeps than typical podcast) to discuss the importance of cities, the office for the young and why the power of touch is so important in the workplace.

Key Quote:
“There’s usually three people up for a promotion, it’s usually the person who has the strongest relationship who gets it”

4/ Finding Your Own Superpower with Jo Malone.

Jo Malone CBE talks candidly about her career, how dyslexia helped guide her thinking, her fight with cancer and why people’s energy is so important.

Key Quote:
“I still didn’t let that define my dreams, I am a dreamer, I dream big

Here are Focus’ favourite must listen to high performance podcasts.

5/ Annie Duke: Decision Making Secrets

I am a big fan of Annie Duke and her books, thinking in bets is a great read and the way Annie challenges how you think and record good and bad decisions is invaluable to business leaders.

Key Quote:
“lets think about what a great decision is and a great decision is the forecast of the future,”

Ghosting – The Real Business Issue

In the modern world of work, we have seen a number of behaviours from outside of the workplace creep into the business world. 

We have experienced the influence of chat apps like iMessage, WhatsApp and messenger have huge impacts on how we communicate. It has moved communications from clear and concise to long-running threads that often end in meetings to clear up the objectives and how to be successful. 

We have seen the influence of video, more specifically stories video format influence how we update each other in standups and on large projects and become a stable of engineering and product teams. Zoom, Teams and Meet have been essential to the majority of meetings, however, do we really need more video or do we need more directions, purpose and understand if the video function becomes a distraction. 

Unfortunately, behaviours like ghosting are becoming an unwanted but accepted behaviour that is definitely influencing relationships, company culture and performance. 

Ghosting is
“the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication”.
– Oxford Lexico Definition. 

Ghosting was always a possible function of work, however, it was more specific to conversations or communication chains.
More recently it has become a pattern that is becoming more deliberate and defaults for colleagues and business partners. 

Over the last two years and coinciding with more electronic communication, ghosting has become a default for many people.

Ghosting is prevalent from a couple of activities, the first is when staff do not know the answer or how to answer a question posed and the second is when communication is harder than a simple response. 

Both of these are detrimental to business and reflect your people, teams and company’s reputation. 

This has to stop, this is a small part of the broken world of work many operate in. 

There are two ways to tackle bad behaviours:

1. Train all staff how to communicate when the information is not to hand or when the answer is not positive to the recipient 

2. Have dedicated templates created where your staff can copy and edit to their colleagues or external partners. 

Ghosting should never be an option, particularly in the world where we rely on electronic communications, however, as many are experiencing ghosting and having a negative impact on business performance, it is a business leaders duty to remove such behaviours, for personal development and the business performance. 

The simple message: identify the issue => train staff => remove the fear => remove bad behaviours and => improve how you operate as a business. 

Here are the big problems business face and how to address them.

For more business and leadership advice sign up to become a better leader with The Leaders Letters below


Important Related Reads:

Business Performance

The Focus Corporate Speak Bingo Card

The business world is full of corporate buzzwords, they are typically shared on a Forbes or HBR article and make their way into the boardrooms and creep into email chains, slack chats and teams channels.

There are 100’s of examples but here at Focus, we have collated our personal favourites and put them into a handy corporate buzzword bingo card.

The 2023 Edition

The Corporate Buzzword Bingo Card 2023 - Focus

The full buzzword bingo list:

Bang For Your Buck
Blue Sky Thinking
Circle Back
Deep Dive
Get Ducks In A Row
Hit The Ground Running
Hard Stop
Just Looping In
‘Let’s Socialise This’ (new)
Low Hanging Fruit
Low Performers (new)
Macroeconomics (new)
Microeconomics (new)
Mission Critical (new)
Move The Needle
Moving Parts
No Brainer
On The Radar
Pain Points
Put On The Record
Quick Win
Quiet Quitting (new)
Reinvent The Wheel
Return To The Office aka RTO (new)
Signing From The Same Hymn Sheet
Special Sauce
Take This Offline
Tech Debt (new)
The Bottom Line
There Seems To Be A Disconnect
Thinking Outside The Box
Under The Bonnet
Up The Ladder

How many do you use in leadership meetings? Long range planning and AOP’s?

The 2022 Edition

This year we saw hybrid work and asynchronous really break into the corporate vocabulary but many stay from 2021.

Are you looking for resources for your annual planning session or long range planning get away? Here are 11 free resources to help you improve long term success.

Compare with the 2021 Edition

Business Buzzwords From 2021

Below is a more detailed list you have likely heard each one this week

Bang for buck
Blue sky thinking
Break bread
Bring to the table
Buy in
Circle back
Closing the loop
Deep dive
Game plan
Get ducks in a row
Get shit done
Hack hit the ground running
Hard stop
In the pipeline
Lean in
lets circle back
Let’s take this offline
Low hanging fruit
Lunch and learn
Move the needle
Moving parts
No brainer
On the radar
Open door policy
Pain point
Put on the record
Reach out
reinvent the wheel
Signing from the same hymn sheet
Special sauce
The bottom line
There seems to be a disconnect
Thinking outside the box
Under the bonnet
Up the ladder
We are like family here

Turn Buzzwords Into A Game

If you wanted to create a game with your leadership team, you could treat it like a swear jar for every mention of the buzzword you could donate the money to charity or put it towards a team meeting for when you can safely meet up or have a working from home remote lunch together.

Sign Up

If you would like weekly suggestions for you and your leadership team sign up for our weekly leadership newsletter in the form of an emailed letter.