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
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: 

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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
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
Categories
Friday Focus

Friday Focus – 23rd April

This week’s Friday Focus, here are five updates from brilliant leadership coach David Marquet.

I highly recommend reading Turn the Ship Around, it’s a must-read for leaders and will improve how you think about being better communicators, being more impactful and respected at a deeper level.

The Five Leadership Gems:

A leaders job:

Open & Curious

A Leader Is A Farmer

Teams: Happy Then Success

Leadership Principles

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Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Virtual Interview Failures

In this week’s anonymous career feedback, we tackle virtual interviews and how to handle potential difficulties and how to impress,  

Dear Focus, I keep stumbling at interviews, what can I do to improve my virtual interviews? 

Interviews are difficult, whether they are in person, completely virtual or in the future hybrid, some in-person others virtual.

Virtual interviews should not be too much different to in-person interviews, however, the feel and flow can be offputting and each internet connection and quality of connection alongside the quality of headphone, the quality of your sound via your microphone, the background distractions and how good your webcam is can feel like competitive edges or a negative from the first hello, how are you. 

In 2021 the majority of interviews will be virtual, or virtual first with a second or third in person, if you have worked for a large international business or in a senior role this process has not changed but for many less experienced in these scenarios will feel daunting and hard to gage. 

No interview is ever the same, some interviewers are bad interviewers, some interviewees have off days or days they struggle to interview well. Like a good video meeting or session, there are components you can control and set yourself up for success rather than failure.

The best advice we can provide is: 

Pre-Interview 

  • Be prepared
  • Write down the questions on a notepad so as not to flick between screens or applications 
  • Ask clarifying questions before the interview during interview can take any flow away the interview and talking openly 
  • Arrange your desk and camera so you are looking at the camera and having “dedicated eye contact”
  • Do your research – let the interviewing panel know you have prepared 
  • Get yourself a drink and anything you might need like a tissue etc 
  • If you have a mac switch on do not disturb, there is a similar mode on PCs
  • Download the web client natively, browsers can be slow or need processing 
  • Join on time 

During The Interview 

  • Eye contact as much as possible 
  • Remember you are on camera 
  • Focus on the interview, not interior distractions 
  • Let the interviewers know you are taking notes 
  • Go through your list of questions, it is completely fine to take notes and ask numerous questions 
  • If the tools or software struggles call this out early and recommend logging back in or using another tool, do not struggle through with, own and lead interviews 
  • Answer as openly and honestly as possible 
  • Show you know the deck or document you have created, reading each slide bullet by bullet doesn’t show you are prepared or confident 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions and let interviewers know there could be a delay 
  • If you have been asked to prepare anything consider how you can leverage third-party tools to record the video or send a copy of the information before the interview like you might with an important pitch or strategy session 
  • Ask about the company culture and recent failures – this shows you are interested and you ask important questions 
  • Think timelines, budgets and delivery – these are typically the three sections and story arch you have to deliver on 
  • Understand what the timeline is you are working towards 
  • If you have other interviews let the team know

Post Interview 

  • Ask follow up questions 
  • Ask for feedback 
  • Take the time to send through any links referenced 
  • If you wish you had said something, you can liaise with the team to provide more content 
  • Take the time to collate your thoughts and ideas 

Often your best work is not what the interviewing panel is looking for, often you will go over and above and you miss crucial summaries (exec summaries are priceless) or talk in the language of the panel, everyone has different challenges in interviews it is about being prepared, being able to connect with the interview panel and having a direct point and reference to guide your interview towards.

This year won’t be easy but often practise makes perfect and if you can practise with friends, family or a potential management coach or professional mentor.  

Categories
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:

Categories
Friday Focus

Friday Focus – 16th April

This week’s five for Friday to focus on breaks down 5 things you are told are bad ideas or silly but are essential parts of the business world.

Ask The “Stupid” Question 

Why? Very often in a meeting with more than three people, there is a fear to appear stupid or ask the most obvious question no one else is asking. Ask it, stupid questions clarify situations.

State The Obvious (when no one else is

Why? In busy environments, it is essential you have a centre point, an agreed place where you are operating or the problem you are tackling. Very often the obvious needs stating to align and drive projects and campaigns forward.

Think Bigger & Longer Term

Why? In the majority of businesses they are often only thinking of the next few weeks (aka the tactical level), businesses commonly operate with a few weeks cycle, you should know to drive a business forward you need a couple of smart future seers to think and plan while others action.

Remember the Focus approach to company strategy:

  • Think 5 years ahead
  • Plan 3 years ahead
  • Action 1 year ahead

Ask If Your Boss Is Ok 

Why? It is rare unless you have a direct or personal relationship that you ask the boss or your boss if they are ok. This will likely come as a shock to most leaders (they are just not used to being asked) however it helps to understand how your boss is feeling and if they need to talk or run things past you. Company culture and organisational health have to work for everyone from the least experienced to the most experienced and most senior.

Say “I Don’t Know, I’ll Come Back You”  

Why? Not knowing an answer is completely ok, not wanting to make something up or take a guess is completely acceptable and responsible. Often coming back with the right data, the correct information and being a few steps forward will ensure progress. Many businesses are powered by the quick answer, not the right answer or smart approach.

Looking to become a better or more thoughtful leader? Sign up to the Focus Newsletter

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Recent Focus Blog Articles To Help Your Business

Categories
Focus News

Are You Creating The Right Company Culture?

Let me ask you a couple of questions…

Have you held a recent Zoom or Teams call where there was an atmosphere?

Did it feel like tension was controlling the call? 

Did a seemingly trivial question create a ripple throughout your business?

If the answer to those questions is yes: you’re not alone. In today’s chaotic workplace, the feeling of a business – the company’s interactions and behaviours – have never been as important. 

If the answer is no: believe me, think again.
I’m willing to bet you have experienced these situations.

Maybe you’re just not seeing it or know what is happening within your business. You could be too disconnected from the business – running through obstacles versus tackling them. 

These are the feeling of a business.

And these feelings, or senses, are just a layer of what Company Culture is. Often high performing businesses have a healthy and guiding company culture where everyone can add value.

Company Culture is co-created, not dictated by the leadership. 

But Company Culture is more than the feeling.

It includes the vibe, the connections between colleagues, the frictions, the unexplainable that makes the teams click.

It includes unwritten expectations, cross-functional collaboration, the reduction of egos, and work pride.

Company Culture has several important components.

It encompasses…

  • The environment you set
  • The workplace (including remote working spaces)
  • The connections between the teams
  • The chemistry your colleagues have
  • The acceptable and unacceptable behaviours

The workplace is now more than ‘the place we all use to perform our work tasks’.

There is an updated version that must include working from home and remotely.

We need to know work can happen anywhere, that we are still the same company with the same objectives, and we can grow personally and professionally. 


The way we work is shifting.

The world is shifting, and so too is the workplace.

In this move towards a successful hybrid workplace, the right Company Culture becomes an unfair advantage for those who have embraced Emotional Intelligence (EQ) as much as IQ.

So take it! It will help you hire the best employees, retain your best performers and develop an award-winning business.

Here is a list of actions you can take to make your workplace and Company Culture work for the next three to five years: 

  • Co-create guiding principles that everyone signs up to; these will act as pillars and guide your decision making 
  • Create a company compass to help guide every decision, especially when you’re unavailable 
  • Enable personal development plans and have direct and actionable steps to take to let your team know how to be successful 
  • Build psychological safety by connecting colleagues 
  • Develop your employees’ EQ as much as IQ – the more compassion you build, the better 
  • Have an updated knowledge centre to keep everyone up to date on the what and the why 
  • Build a hybrid workplace where you book in and book out of the office – knowing where and when people will be working helps reduce stress and improve trust 
  • If there are issues, create ‘power half hours’ to clear the air and remove stumbling blocks. Healthy debate leads to more open and honest conversation, reduces problems and reconnects people  
  • Leverage asynchronous communications – be more deliberate in written communications vs having too many face-to-face or online meetings 
  • Build separate spaces for collaboration, for heads down (concentration), and to eat together 

This article was supplied to The Business Clubhouse magazine supporting Hitting The Wall Podcast I appeared on.

Listen To The Supporting Podcast:

A conversation with Danny Denhard of Focus Hitting the Wall

In this week’s episode I chat to Danny Denhard from Focus who’s on a mission to change the world of work. We discuss all things culture and leadership, digging into how businesses thrive when they put culture in the workplace first. You’ll learn about the power of creating personal eco-systems, and why enabling conflict in the workplace is a good thing. We talk about business being a badge of honour, prioritising culture before the workplace collapses, and why gossip is so important. Danny also takes through his personal manifesto for change, why being back-to-back is damaging productivity and whether the new habits we’ve created in the last 12 months are beneficial to people and businesses A fascinating discussion Weekly digest Of the best articles from the week you likely haven’t read – https://mustreads.substack.com Weekly inspiration every Monday on improving leadership – https://blog.focus.business/leaders Focus aka fixing the broken world of work Website https://www.focus.business/ Manifesto – https://www.focus.business/manifesto Connect on social media with me https://dannydenhard.com/linkedin https://dannydenhard.com/twitter