Luke and I have been connected since 2020 and the work he and Reddico are doing to place culture and performance at the heart of everything their agency does really has enabled them to become one of the best places to work in the UK and win company culture awards.
Luke has helped to move Reddico to a self-management model and they have made it work which is a huge feat. This is a must-listen if you are looking to transform your business, help to improve your company culture and think more clearly around how performance and company culture works together.
How do we fix our toxic company culture is the most common question I am asked by any manager or exec of a company when it comes to company culture work and workshops.
There is nothing worse than working in a toxic work environment or having toxic colleagues.
As a manager or HR manager, it can impossible to manage, but as a colleague, it will take a toll on your performance and mental health.
There are many versions of toxic company culture, every company has a variation or a different level of negative to toxic company culture.
A negative environment can start from tiny behaviours, it can surface when colleagues do not get on or when the business can start to struggle and a blame culture starts, it is essential you understand the start of the issues and how they manifested within your business.
If you list the traits of a toxic culture almost everyone will supply you a number of words and a few actions that are toxic. Keeping a record and centralising is a great first step in diagnosing the issue.
This will also highlight the issue of company culture and behaviours within businesses. It means different things to different people.
It is important to know from the start of the process: It is rare that every employee within your business will consider the culture to be toxic, this is not to say it is not, it highlights how important the subcultures and the culture is to some and not others and why some people are heads down and happily “just do my job”.
You have likely read and heard that you should over-communicate when working remotely.
Over-communication is a terrible recommendation for the remote workplace.
Communication has to be thought through, deliberate and timely.
Taking time and flow from others is similar to stealing valuable time and energy.
Deliberate communication is far more important and far better advice.
A quick update is rarely quick if the update is not thought through and concise.
Communicate often but be more deliberate.
Think communicate often vs over communicate. Clarity over having to work through the confusion.
Create milestones where you will need to communicate. Understand who needs the update, when and how you will deliver it.
Channels Are Important
Communication takes time for both parties, the receiver often has to decode what the sender means, you will be stuck in slack or teams for much longer than you need to be.
Understand what channels and delivery methods are going to work most efficiently for you and your business. Every business ultimately works differently.
Not everyone is built for video updates, however, adding audio over a spreadsheet or a document (presentation etc), allows for a richer experience and less need real-time conversations.
Connect The Dots
Communication is supposed to connect important dots – connect the dots on projects, campaigns and performance. If you would like to update on personal situations or would like some help, don’t be put off – choose who can help. It is important to understand that grabbing a few minutes to discuss remotely tends to be harder and more time consuming than quickly in person.
Create a set of principles you and your colleagues will follow. What channels work, what times work, what your expectations are. Communication principles will enable everyone to follow the same rules on the same tools.
Understanding how, when & to take the opportunity to communicate is harder remotely but can be worked out. Grabbing someone coming out of a meeting, returning to their desk, bumping into them in the hallway or kitchen doesn’t really happen, there are ways to help with this, by adding statuses on internal chat tools, enabling calendar views and having open rooms where you pop in for virtual HQ chats.
It is also important to know having your own time for your own thoughts and deep work is important, keeping those around you updated will be important, a reminder or blocking time out will work.
Internal Comms Battle
On many occasions, internal comms is often harder than external comms. Internal comms has to answer many more questions. Internal FAQ’s or project hubs will help improve this and keep everyone updated simply. There are plenty of tools available to help with this.
Create a decision document or centralised document to have a timeline of updates, if you miss one update or miss a link in the chain, the wheels should not come off.
Use spreadsheets, words, pictures and record video explainers were required.
Tools like mmhmm, loom, canva & even instagram all make it free or low cost and possible to create explainers. You can also create this style of internal update on Macs or your smart phone.
Five Quick Fire Tips
Secret no-one wants to offer up: Save time for you, colleagues, your team &/or your boss, this feels obvious but time remotely is priceless
Have communication hubs, have internal wiki’s, shared knowledge centres you keep up to date. This will reduce quick questions and long email threads
Always question: Can I remove meetings and write a concise update or update the project overview and send a link instead?
Consider the RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed) model of updates
Can you use BLUF? BLUF is a military communications short for bottom line up front, it is essentially communicating with the most important details first, with clear tone and a clearer ask.
In the past few weeks, I have spoken at a couple of events, the first was for experienced business owners and the second, leaders from agency owners.
The theme has been the future of work and the future of the workplace.
As part of The Focus Five series, I wanted to provide you with a snapshot of the ways Focus is planning for the future and helping business shape their future successes with the ‘future of the work’ series.
The Future Of Work & Workplace Summary
Welcome to three people, the first is Jeff, Jeff is old school, misses working from his office with his seat and being listened to constantly when he spoke. Jeff does not understand the rush towards a fully remote workforce apart from a bottom-line perspective.
Jeff has not really truly considered the evolution that has been happening in recent times, the evolution of trust, from WFH meaning it was people not working until in recent times when people could get their heads down and actually hit deadlines.
WFH Trust Timeline
Something to note and pay attention to is how very few businesses were deliberate in creating the right online and virtual environment for their teams to success.
Grace has been on this journey and embraced it. Unfortunately, throughout this change, Grace has seen pros and cons, most specifically around her line manager and being able to have effective one to ones, while managing her team, alongside her deliverables and helping her team hit their deadlines.
This is a challenge many people have struggled with and have not been trained or supported in the shift to forced working from home.
Training and preparation for the Hybrid workplace are paramount to your future successes.
The Current Employee
The office despite the politics that majority of people encounter had clear dynamics, you had your layers of connections, you were able to connect to more people and have closer relationships with colleagues and make a support network of friends in and outside of work.
Clear Office Dynamics Have Changed Forever
What many people miss is the work version, their work identity, their people around them, their desk (despite not being able to sit there often enough) and the place where they had the battle of who actually booked the meeting room and awkwardly waiting outside of the meeting room or someone else’s office.
These have all been changed and it took a number of months to adapt and adjust to new dynamics.
The next shift in the workplace is enabling hybrid workforces, this means old ways of tackling the office layout and where people sit and why look and operate differently, booking into the office, being able to work safely and with your project team is going to be something dedicated people will have to look after and own.
The forced WFH experiment we are living through means offices and dynamics have shifted and many of us are seeing the passive future playout, without the element of satellite offices and small collaboration spaces.
The Future & Rewriting The Future
We have most likely seen the end of your desk, your seat and your department all being in the same small space. It is important to note this is the future and to manage the expectation of the ~40% who crave to work from their seat with their people around them.
Messy Remote Dynamics
The shift in working from home and the future of working in multiple locations have led to the shift in dynamics, between office acquaintances – those who had passing conversations and in the lift chats to colleagues being less connected (the Allen Curve is an important read) to work friends losing their closeness and with the level of interactions (proximity bias) means less work BFF’s and less close colleagues. This can be negative but also could be a positive enabling better collaboration without conditioned affinity to friends.
2021 and Beyond
An important layer we have to consider and place front and centre of the future of work and workplace is safety, and knowing the customer will be in charge, the customer will want brands to be loyal to them and be rewarded showing loyalty and creating safety, ordering online and respecting a new world of commerce.
The Future – Hybrid Employees
Meera is the future, she is a Culture Community Manager, she enables the workforce to work flexibly, she understands her performance and what is required from her business and works in shifts to ensure the best work life balance alongside getting the best professional performance.
When the return to the office is safe many business will have to develop more mentors, not more managers, a flexible working environment and an office which acts like an arena.
The Future Will Have Battle Grounds
There will be areas to address, there will be many options, working from the office, working from home, working remotely, working in co-working spaces, working from the area’s (client offices or agency offices) and encouraging this to be logged and supported by managers of all levels and experience.
The Office Will Be An Arena
The office has to be turned into something different, performances will be needed in the hybrid workplace, the arena is a place to perform, entertain, to put on a show in a safe and collaborative space.
The Hybrid Office – 30/70 rule
Despite this being a Linkedin poll, over one thousand professionals indicated the future is 30/70, 30% in the office, 70% out, 3 in ten days in the office, 7 in the other ten as remote. This is hybrid and is the future of the workplace.
The Future Of Comms: Asynchronous
The future of comms looks like multiple arrays of asynchronous tools, deliberate in the ways we communicate and explain projects, product developments and campaigns, we will see tools like mmhmm, loom and audiograms becoming everyday tools and documents not just with text and imagery but with video explainers.
Presentations with video, audio and interactions will be essential to winning the hybrid workplace battle. Plain Excel sheets lacking commentary will be redundant, PowerPoints or Google Slides with links and basic imagery will be things of the past.
Are you ready to make the shift? This is the future of collaborative work and adding to your remote stack today is going to protect you and your business.
The workplace should also see a reduction in requirements for all at the same time / real-time meetings, reduce attendance with more deliberate agendas and interactions.
Platforms Influence On Shaping The Workplace
Here are a number of important learnings and lessons you will have the implement and be deliberate in shifting old ways of work and embracing new tech and new formats from platforms the workforce uses every day outside (and some inside) of work.
The shift into chat workplaces has not gone unnoticed and many have struggled to manage and apply processes to ensure success and standardised usage of tools like Slack, Teams and Facebook’s Workplace.
The importance of video and story formats will be evident in the next year, the importance of replacing in-person connection will be essential, as will keeping and engaging staff in short but very deliberate communication messages. Video first means we operate in a new performative space however this means creative members of the team and employees with growth mindsets will thrive from introverts through ambiverts to the biggest extroverts.
Layers To Remember For Hybrid Success
It is important to step for staff, clients and customers and embrace change.
There are a number of area’s which couldn’t be covered in this summary of the presentations however building the right environment must include:
Increasing the space and distance between teams and departments and how you can enable a safe environment
Fluid offices – removal of rows of desks and fixed office layout
Tech that understanding performance and apply smart but human analytics
Technology within the office with heatmaps of where people work safely
Employee wellbeing and emphasis on mental health and mental wellbeing
Talent wars and retaining staff and retaining teams
More access to natural light and allowing outdoor space
Knowing the future is hard but building towards the future in a smart and intentional way will enable you and your business for successes in the future.
If you would like to get in touch or would like a dedicated workshop on the future of work, get in touch with the details below:
Thanks for reading and looking to embrace the future of the work and the future of the workplace.
Danny Denhard – Focus Founder
Focus Dedicated Workshops
We have created dedicated remote workshops that you can book to help with your company performance, improve your company culture and start you on the road to the future of work. Get in touch if you would like more information or want to book Focus to help you fix the broken world of work.
Back in September I wrote the 5 roles for success in 2021 to help business plan their hiring and prepare their Q4 and Q1 2021 for success.
The roles were
Culture Community Manager
The reason why I wrote this was to drive a different thought process than just hiring what your team managers are thinking about looking around their teams but instead look at the gaps in most businesses and drive cohesion and delivery.
The pulse of the company, the temperature of how it is operating and how people are feeling, importantly they understand your people.
They understand the business, how it operates, they want to know the numbers, and what makes the business tick (or in some cases, what used to make it tick)
They have trust amongst colleagues and the most important aspect, the respect of the business (ideally they have the support of the leadership team)
They most likely don’t work in HR and likely are not part of the senior leaders, they understand why these things matter but haven’t been given the right company-wide role to formally influence the business.
This is who should be your Culture Community Manager. If you cannot identify them quickly, go and find them ASAP. For the last two years, I have been a big advocate for this role. Why? Speaking to numerous businesses and understanding their ongoing issues, the next most important role the most important upcoming business issues are likely within culture, staff retention and happiness. It is essential to keep in mind, this is a political role, this is a role that takes time to formally bed in but a lot less time to influence change, it requires good IQ and high levels of EQ. It also needs a lot of self-confidence and backing from leadership and HR to build out the highest level of trust to drive change within your business.
Having worked with companies and helped to roll this role out, it is important this person is already in your business and likely one the secret weapon.
As I suggested in no rules rules, company culture is something Netflix was very deliberate with and they had senior management (the top 10% of the company) were always focusing on culture and the inner workings.
Another role I believe that will be essential is the Project Manager. In many organisations the Project Manager fell out of fashion, it was not about delivering to a set date, it was when the product was as close to perfect as possible. Or rolling out a MVP that isn’t something that a Project Manager typically owned. As I have stated before, in business we have lost our focus and it is time we bring back focus and direction and an owner who drive projects to delivery and keep everyone up to date with the right information. If you have ever worked with a brilliant PM you will truly know their influence and the importance of well communicate, good delivery on time.
Upon reflection, I noticed these roles are actually intertwined:
Culture Community Manager to look across the company and connect people with teams, connect cross-functional projects, build connections and layers of support, all connecting with the strategy and goals of the company.
Retention Marketer role to connect with customers and existing customers, helping the customer to come back and stay engaged, this will help the company to stay connect and aligned with their users.
The Growth Specialist job is to help persuade, encourage and tip those users in your product to actually use it and get the most benefit, Growth and Retention go hand in hand. These roles should connect with the Culture Community Manager to help them talk confidently about the customers and help these to connect to the strategy and the mission you are on.
The Project Manager helps to deliver vital updates and programmes while keeping everyone to date
The Innovation Specialist is then to be the future seer and drives development in and out of the company. These roles build trust, executes on delivery, builds direction and build trust throughout the organisation and with the customers.
These links build out on some of Focus’s foundations for success:
I highly recommend you and your business have a think about the roles you need within your organisation or agency, understand there are likely people within the org you can shuffle into some of these roles and identify which roles you are short on and help decide how you shuffle your company around or how you re-shift your 2021.