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: 

Apple // Spotify // Google Podcast // Audible // Amazon Music // Deezer // ListenNotes //  Mixcloud // PocketCasts // 
Simplecast // Breaker //
Or copy and paste this RSS into your podcast player

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Is Being Visible And Playing The Game Necessary?

This week’s anonymous career advice we received a big question that is a simple one-word answer but requires more explanation and a deliberate decision to be made by you.

Dear focus, a simple question:
Is being visible and playing the game necessary?

A simple but important question!

The TLDR answer is YES!

Unfortunately, it is more necessary than many people realise. Every business I have ever worked in has had levels of the internal political game, some at low-level others it is all about playing the game at full speed.

The Important Truth

The truth that many companies will not tell you or do not onboard you with and empower you with the most important piece of information: How to succeed in this business.

This is months of detective work, asking questions and for many trial and error. This is where you need to build a strong and safe network around you and understand the motivations and drivers of those around you and above you.

Positive Being Visible

There are often times you will think being visible is a negative but actually being visible can be and should be seen as a positive for you, your career and your team.

Being visible often means you are keeping people informed, you are communicating well and you have ideas, insights and feedback (not just opinions) that will progress the company.
These are all important traits that leaders typically seek out.

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 46

My Go To Operational & Organisational Tips 

26th April 2021,

Dear leaders, I trust you had a good week and ready for the week ahead.

Some of the most popular leaders letters are me sharing my way of work and the frameworks I use.

So here is a select series of my operational ways of work:

Split out your browsers, inboxes and messages 

  • One for work 
  • Home for another. 

Helps you prioritise, maintain and apply prioritisation. 

Take and keep notes but have a system  

  • I am a huge note taker and keeping a record, especially of micro-moments, select one way of taking notes, often in person pen and pad works best, type up (or scan and copy text), 
  • Categorise and link to other notes. Think of the 1:2:1’s, the department notes you have to keep and actions you have given and the ideas you have on an ongoing basis.
    These are all-important to take notes, check in on progress and revisit. 
  • Revisit the Decision documents, company typically only work when ‘centralised knowledge’ is kept, updated and shared. 

No pointless or boring meeting rules

  • Meetings always have an owner – clearly called out and run by said owner
  • No attendees leave a well organised intentional meeting – be intentional and explain why they should attend and what their role is in this meeting and moving forward
  • Always have a no leaving rule (no leaving early or no leaving because you were invited to a bad or unorganised) – roll this out company-wide so it sticks 
  • Meeting feedback is a gift – offer an open document for feedback. Many businesses can operate with silent start meetings, meaning they have centralised documents and share their thoughts and feedback and then discuss with one chair who updates and then the notes are reviewed and discussed.

Statuses Work

  • Have work statuses. The ones that typically work for my clients:  
    • Available
    • Away
    • In a meeting
    • At lunch
    • Deep work aka Do not disturb 
  • Ensure everyone understands what to use and when. This is not checking up on colleagues, this is to help understand how to support colleagues time and energy
  • Even if the most senior management team members or the HiPPO contacts you, follow the statuses to manage expectations. 

Clear Internal Comms 

  • IM channels for quick updates not long threads
  • Stories style video updates work, even think about replacing in-person standup (Work in progress meetings definitely can be replaced and shortened)
  • Documents for more in-depth deliberate conversations 
  • One dedicated project management tool (Notion, Monday or confluence all work well)
  • Email for external comms and important internal updates 

Good luck rolling these out, happily get in touch if you have any questions around these points.

Thanks and have a good week,

Danny Denhard


Other Great Leaders Letters:

One problem two solutions framework

Risk vs benefit framework

Three questions to build better relationships

Fewer managers, more coaches and mentors

Commitment: Communicate clearly

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
Business Performance

Reducing Anxiety & Returning To The Office Checklist

We are about to see many companies ask their teams to start planning for the return to the office.

Some large banks and institutions have already asked for their teams to be back in the office full time. In many businesses, a return to the office is something many teams are dreading and have had many personal changes since March 2020.

There is a high percentage of anxious people who have fear about returning to the office or actually want to stay working at home or move to a flexible and the next normal, the hybrid office (our free hybrid office ebook is a must-read).

It is now time for businesses to become flexible and ensure work works for everyone and more flexibly.

If you are anxious or feeling concerned about this, there are a number of steps you (as an employee) can take & questions to ask. 

Managers and senior leaders will have concerns and be nervous, particularly with the extra responsibility they would have had to take on and now understand how they manage a team in a hybrid set up.

At Focus as we are on a mission to fix the broken world of work, it is essential we break our recommendations down for both leaders of a business and the staff members who may be nervous and have anxiety about returning to the office and how to get the best for both parties.

For Leaders For Staff 
Have a detailed plan to share for the return to the office plan If you have not received a plan, ask for the work in progress plan and timeline of when you are likely to have to return
Demonstrate with imagery and videos of how the office has been amended to include more space and how you are limiting the attendance in the office.

Include capacity numbers and links to the software you will be using for booking in and booking to work remotely
Ask how the business has taken the steps to make the office have more space, more distance and more protection, alongside how to liaise with your manager to enable remote work
Have a dedicated HR stream for those who require more specific requests or have had their commitments change or been impacted by COVIDLiaise directly with HR on how they are going to support you in your personal situation, especially if you have been disconnected from your manager or team
Prepare to offer a dedicated long term mental health and mental wellbeing helpline(s) and support groups Ask for details of mental wellbeing support being offered by your firm.

If this is not yet an option ask HR how you could go about claiming sessions back until there is a formal policy  
Have one policy for why certain people or teams are returning to the office Ask for the workings out around the staggered return to the office policy and why you and your team need to return
Show how you have invested and improved the technology set up, more connective equipment, better audio and more camera’s to connect in the hybrid office.

The office as an arena is an important concept to consider and share internally.
Ask questions to understand the steps taken to improve technology to help remote and in-office teams to be one team, not have an a team (in office team) & b team (those working remotely)
Set up regular Q&A sessions to keep teams up to date with changes and reduce stressKeep a track of important follow-up milestones and questions and ask for regular updates from the management team
Show the hybrid guidelines and the principles for communications and how to be successful in the new hybrid office.

Have principles around informing colleagues that you will be in the office or working remotely  
Ask to understand if there is a way to book in and out of the office and software. Many software still do not talk to each other have an agreed status on instant messenger tools to enable colleagues to know you will be in or out of the office

Ask if there are a minimum or maximum you can work from home or work from the office
Have a decision document to show how decision were made and offer transparency to discuss through Ask questions at the decision level and ask questions to calm down your fears.

If you are a people manager look to collate questions from the team and answer with fellow decision-makers
Offer back to the office training sessions online before the return to the office.

Many system and processes will have changed and it is important to align everyone
Ask what has changed and what are the requirements for training sessions.

How long they will be and the benefit of these sessions.

Online training and online zoom sessions have caused fatigue, explaining the why is really important here
Reduce anxiety by having a traffic light system of those who have reservations or commitments and treat as a way to help manage anxiety and flow into the office. Ask what the requirements are for:

– Red (highly concerned). Requires one to one discussions. Will require a personalised run-through of the amendments, the process that will be followed and discussions with the department lead to reduce fears and consider how highly anxious people can return in the near future.

– Amber (concerned), what would the requirements be and how can your manager or department lead (alongside HR) help to reduce any concerns

– Green (ready to return)

Best of luck with your return to the office plan. Happily get in touch directly if you need consultancy.

Important Related Reads

  1. Will an off-site reconnect my team?
  2. Planning the post pandemic return to the office
  3. The culture as a service movement
  4. Recording micro moments and micro-events
  5. It is time for management pods to improve leadership teams
Categories
Company Culture

The Culture As A Service Movement

2020 and 2021 have been hard, extremely hard.

It has been some of the toughest mental challenges we have had to face as a globalised population.

We have seen many teams just survive, we have seen a few do well and a tiny percentage thrive the last 15 months.

In recent weeks we have seen huge investment into the software side of company culture.

This is great news.

Human First Hybrid Company Culture vs Software First Culture 

(Company) Culture as a service or CaaS for short is an area so many businesses are going to have to look at in the hybrid world of work. 

Company Culture (aka organisational health) has often been seen as an important and unique aspect (a USP to some) to many businesses success and if you ask a mid manager to senior exec they will make a comment of how important company culture is and why it is central to their company goals. 

This has not always been true and often a crafted narrative companies use to attract staff or manage internal expectations.

A Reminder: Perks Are Not Culture

This is the same way perks were confused as company culture from tech firms and have failed to keep colleagues happy once these were removed or rightly seen through. 

As we are on a mission to fix the broken world of work, Company culture is one of our core pillars, Focus have called out the importance of company culture and drive for organisations to add as much weight to company culture to the one company-wide overarching strategy.  

As we are planning the post pandemic return to the office it vital we understand the right steps to take forward.  

In the hybrid office world, we have seen the culture shift, we have seen virtual first communications and virtual first connections disconnect many teams and even the closest of colleagues. 

Deliberate & Hybrid 

In the hybrid office future, where the office will turn into a performance centre and be seen as an arena, it is clear that we have to be even more deliberate, we have to be deliberate in reconnecting teams, we have to be deliberate in connecting teams to their departments and co-build the right hybrid environment for cross-functional collaboration for your company to succeed from the short term to the long term. 

Sharing Moments 

The sharing of moments, the unplanned collaboration, the unplanned problem solving and getting around the whiteboard has been missed by many however in this new world of work we have to make these occurrences as seamless as they would in person and as hybrid as possible. 

Company Culture As A Service 

Company culture requires two things,
1/ willingness to want to address the issues and
2/ taking internal and external ownership of a company culture issue or truly co-building a company culture that you are proud of. 

Software Second  

The right software can help however it is imperative to understand that the right human-first approach is taken and then the right tools and software are introduced to complement connection, understand a deeper level to surveys and engagement feedback, providing an opportunity to address any underlying issues or the foundation to improve company culture. 

Listen To & Hear From Everyone

Leadership, HR and staff of all levels need to be heard, have open and transparent conversations and treated as equal partners. This is the way you build connective culture and not a series of subcultures,
“the we are always going to outperform many solo me’s”

Software and tools are often the go to procured solution to company culture however the right internal and external agencies or culture consultants will guide you and your company forward in the right approach for your company and your current and future employees. 

Culture Is More, It’s Deeper

On-demand Culture and (CaaS) culture as a service are going to see huge areas of growth, many businesses have already thought about the importance of culture but allowed it to peter out or implode in the work from home experiment.

It is essential that business place company culture and strategy on the same level and plan an intentional and deliberate plan of attack for improving and building company culture. 

Tools will always be important, software is central to 95% of our days but our people, the beahviours we co-create, the chemistry and connections we build peer to peer and the environment we build and nurture helps to shape company culture and success. 

Remember when making a choice between an internal team and an external company or software, you remember collaboration is key to success, hiring the right partner for the quick wins is important but company culture will take a long term partnership, a dedicated and flexible plan and most importantly everyone to be on the same page, it cannot be dictated to or from the 10 bad HiPPOs sitting around the conference room table. 

Categories
Company Culture

Why The World Of Work Is Broken

At Focus we are on a mission to address the many foundations of the broken workplace.

Simply put, here are the most common broken elements to the workplace.

Company Culture

  • Bad and toxic cultures
  • Company Culture is seen as a soft skill
  • Company Culture is shaped by the wrong people, leadership and HR are too far removed and dictate, don’t hear or feel what is broken
  • Company Culture is not traditionally connected to company performance – this is incorrect

Communication

  • Bad communication habits became the default
  • Under communicating important decisions and why actions were taken
  • Hiding behind statements and buzzwords – rather than being deliberate and taking the time to write clearly
  • Communication live and die by the spreading of the most valuable pieces of information, being kept in private channels, chats and emails do progress businesses forward

Strategy

  • Lack of one company-wide strategy
  • Everything became a strategy to become important
  • Tactics and action plan is mistaken for strategy – this is confusing teams, departments and companies
  • Deliberate plan of actions that do not connect, it breaks companies progress

Leadership

  • Leaders are too busy to lead, let alone manage
  • Managers have no leadership training or coaching
  • The best staff members are often promoted to become a manager to lead people, when they are not capable of leading
  • Leaders do not manage, they do not coach, they do not mentor – this is not leadership

Busy

  • Lack of feedback and open conversations lead to everyone being busy and people being deliberate
  • The badge of honour everyone has had to wear
  • Busy became an excuse to not deliver
  • No one has owned removing busy to become effective

Bad Meetings & Too Many Meetings

  • Default to decisions being made in meetings
  • Back to back meetings have become a hiding place for staff of all levels
  • Virtual meetings happen to update poor managers
  • Status updates that have to happen in a meeting as blinded by meeting culture

These are just four examples per broken functions of work.

The Focus mission is to fix the broken world of work and help businesses evolve.

Find Out About Our Service Fixing The Broken World Of Work

Important Related Reads To Help You Improve The Broken World Of Work

Prefer watching videos? Here is the focus manifesto

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