Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 26, 2018
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2min241

Bookings for make-up artists and stylists to UK workplaces has more than doubled in the last year, according to a firm providing call-out services.

Beyou, an app that books stylists to arrive at locations chosen by users, has found that the number of ‘time-poor’ professional women has led to a jump of over 100 percent in call-outs to offices.

Charlotte Green, Beyou CEO and co-founder, said: “Whilst most bookings remain in homes and hotels, this year we have seen a monumental jump in the number of people seeking makeup artists and hair stylists to go to their workplace. These clients tend to be successful but time-poor professionals wanting to look their best for daytime meetings, power lunches and after-work events.

“Typically they’re at the top of their game career-wise.  They have the ability, the skill set, and the work ethic, but often struggle finding the time they know is important for them to look great.

We ‘get’ this completely. We spent several years living the corporate lifestyle in Dubai with limited time, but an understanding of the importance of looking good. There we got used to the fast-paced digital beauty services offered at the click of a button. This changed our lives and is ultimately why we decided to set-up Beyou here in the UK.”

 

 


Natalie Harris-BriggsNatalie Harris-BriggsNovember 21, 2018
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11min400

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a person happy in the workplace is a productive one.

Technology has made our working lives more flexible, faster, more efficient, and more accessible than ever before.

So, if you’re contemplating a revamp of how you do things in your workplace, we have a list of ways you might consider to improve the productivity of your team.

After all, creative workplace interiors and the appropriate application of interactive technologies contribute towards the priming of the Employee Experience; set for greater productivity.

Read on for tips on how to use interactive technologies to improve your workplace productivity.

1. Thinking differently about computers

Computers are smaller, more mobile, and more flexible than ever before. Consider clearing your desks of all the clutter and paraphernalia associated with clunky old desktop PCs. Speed up your working day with hardware that actually works.

Think tablet. When tablets first hit the market, they were considered more toy than professional workplace essential.

But touchscreen technologies have blossomed and born fruit: the processors in even mid-range tablets such as the Amazon Fire HD range are powerful enough to run the majority of your business-essential applications.

Also, they’re cheaper than ever to buy and maintain. Microsoft Office 365, Apple iWork, and Google Docs make mobile working a genuine possibility.

There’s a wide range of free work-based applications such as Apache OpenOffice, WPS Office, SoftMaker FreeOffice and LibreOffice – many of which have reliable mobile versions.

Tablets are compact and portable, but if you hate typing on the glass, Bluetooth keyboards have come a very long way. 

2. Interactive displays

Interactive displays offer amazing flexibility for group meetings. With 4K touchscreens in dimensions as large as a whopping 65 inches, collaborating in the boardroom has never been easier. Some interactive displays come with native compatibility for Windows 10, Office 365, and Microsoft Teams, facilitating collaboration on your projects in brand new ways.

If your meeting requires remote participants, they can be seen on the screen, while far-field microphones and built-in conference cameras can seamlessly enable interactive communication and participation in the entire meeting process. 

3. Project organisation

Working on projects can get messy – especially if you have team members from various sites all working towards the same goal. Emails get missed, key workers find themselves out of sync with each other, and milestones get lost along the way.

There’s a wide variety of networking applications that make collaboration more natural and more user-friendly.

Borrowing from social media-style platforms, applications such as Yammer, Slack, and Zinc offer group discussion threads in a familiar format.

However, these interactive technologies aren’t just Facebook-style gimmicks.

They help everybody stay in sync – with live updates and notifications that help the team remain in contact, without trawling through email threads lost inside a bulging inbox. They’re compatible with tablets and smartphones, making them ideal for agile workplaces.

With instant messaging and clear project timelines, these networking applications can truly improve your employee engagement and productivity.

4. Virtual teams

Virtual teams provide genuine workplace flexibility while significantly cutting costs. Gather experts from around the world to collaborate on a single project – without ever meeting them in the real world.

Video conferencing platforms – such as Zoom, Cisco WebEx, and Skype for Business – that facilitate screen sharing, group collaboration tools, and break-out rooms, provide a versatile platform that helps improve the productivity of virtual teams.

5. Customer Relationship Management platforms

If you’re working with virtual teams, a shared CRM such as GreenRope, Zoho, and Pipedrive provides access to a central system in the cloud, so that everyone can serve your customers remotely.

Shared cloud storage provides access to databases and everything that your team will need to do a productive job.

6. Project Management Tools

One of the most useful innovations to have emerged in the workplace over the past ten years are web-based PMTs.

PMTs such as Basecamp, Wrike, and Apollo, offer a broad suite of applications to help project managers stay on top of team productivity.

Common features of project management tools include:

  • Real-time KPI dashboards
  • Discussion forums and message boards
  • Secure file storage
  • Email and desktop notifications
  • Shared team calendars
  • Shared meeting schedules
  • Time-tracking for billing
  • Reporting for project progress
  • Native invoicing for freelancers

Accessed from anywhere in the world that has internet access and a browser, PMTs offer agile solutions that boost productivity. 

7. Chatbots

If your business has a customer-facing component, you’ll know that providing good customer service is both a challenge and an imperative. While chatbots can only currently answer FAQs on your website, it frees up your team to be more productive in other areas of the business.

Chatbots will always give the right information – keeping your message with your customers consistent and reliable. They give rapid answers with fewer errors, they keep your visitors on your website and can handle simple transactions, such as transferring money, buying train tickets, and booking hotel rooms.

Some of the most popular AI chatbots include BotEngine, NanoRep, and Twyla.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 13, 2018
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4min509

Getting to and from work now takes five minutes longer than a decade ago, according to new analysis published by the TUC to mark the annual Commute Smart Week organised by Work Wise UK.

Rail commuters face the longest journeys, taking an average of two hours and 11 minutes every day – an increase of four minutes on the last decade.

Drivers spend 52 minutes on the road to work and back (up by three minutes), while bus commuters must set aside 79 minutes a day (up by seven minutes). Cyclists (44 minutes) and walkers (29 minutes) have the quickest daily journeys.

Most UK nations and regions have seen increases in commute time in the last decade, with the exception of Northern Ireland. Londoners take the longest to get to and from work, travelling for 1 hour and 21 minutes each day, which is 23 minutes longer than the average across the UK.

The TUC blames growing commutes on three main factors: low government spending on transport infrastructure, employers not offering flexible and home working, and real wages falling while house prices have risen, making it harder for people to live close to where they work

For this year’s analysis, the TUC has taken a closer look at BME workers. The average commute for BME workers is one hour and nine minutes, compared to 57 minutes for white workers.

UK census data shows that BME people are more likely to live in urban centres, especially London. BME workers in the capital twice are also twice as likely as white workers to travel by bus.

BME workers have lower average pay and are more likely to work nights. They are therefore more likely to be reliant on night buses. And to save money they may also be more likely to choose long bus journeys instead of faster options.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s great we’re investing in high speed rail between some of our major cities. But people more often use their local buses and trains on their daily commute. These need to be upgraded too.

“Privatisation of trains and buses is a big failure. Journeys are too expensive, too slow and too unreliable. We should bring services back into public ownership. And cuts to public funding for bus routes should be reversed.

“Employers can make a difference too. Home working and flexitime can cut journeys and help avoid the rush hour. And if staff have fewer stressful journeys, they can focus better on their work.”

Work Wise UK Chief Executive Phil Flaxton said: “Long commutes have become a part of the UK’s working culture. But the excessive time spent commuting is one of the main factors contributing to work-life balance problems. Not only is the time spent commuting an issue, the 9-to-5 culture with its peak travel times generates congestion. And the rush-hours on railways, underground and road networks increase stress for commuters.

“The overall message for employers is that job satisfaction can be improved, and stress levels reduced if workers have opportunities to cut their commuting time. That could mean working from home occasionally or staggering their hours.  It could also be good news for employee wellbeing and retention, with lower costs to businesses.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 13, 2018
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6min453

Every business has its challenges, and most organisations want quick fixes for them – something that’s easy to implement, cost-effective, and requires few resources.

Executives from lesser performing companies often return from visits to superior operations charged up to achieve similar results. In their enthusiasm, however, many overlook the fact that the effectiveness they admire comes from steady progress from the entire organisation that takes time.

In the pressure to get things done, many leaders fear being patient. They focus on fighting fires rather than on instituting processes to solve and eventually prevent problems and to identify unsuspected opportunities. They work in micro-teams behind closed doors, assuming the problem and the solution, and often skip the necessary effort in communicating change to the organisation.

Most companies that take this approach achieve unsatisfactory results, both because the organisation does not truly understand its problems or the processes and resources needed to resolve them. Instead of better performance, the net effect is overworked employees who neither solve problems well nor do a good job of maintaining the day-to-day business.

In short, organisations are:

Solving the wrong problems

Trying to solve them in a bubble

Failing to effectively communicate change

But everyone at your organisation needs to become a problem solver. Together, managers and employees should take the initiative not just for identifying problems but also for developing better processes for fixing problems and improving products or services.

This approach does not depend on key senior executives taking charge and telling people what to do.Instead, the entire organisation needs to learn how to learn. The key to this culture shift is understanding that there’s really no magic bullet or overnight fix – that this learning is a process.

Organisational leaders need to provide employees and managers a simple framework to help them learn how to solve problems as a team. The first step is restructuring your organisation so each and every employee is focused on the customer and their needs, including:

1) Implementing a new organisational structure, breaking the organisation out into teams to make it easier for everyone to focus on problems that matter to customers, instead of on individual functional goals.

2) Have each team talk with key customers to learn their needs and develop plans for responding. Let the team managers set their own agendas.

3) Executive leadership needs to ensure that teams always have direct access to them and reiterate that the organisation is committed to finding resources to implement discovered solutions.

4) Authorise everyone to ignore crises and stop fighting fires. Predictably, your first month might be a disaster, with problems piling up and seemingly nothing to show in return. But before long, the learning process will begin to pay off.

Your goal is to utilise your new teams to fix fewer but higher leverage problems, fix problems faster, and learn from each experience to make subsequent efforts more effective. With your organisational framework in place, your teams can begin the process of collaborative problem solving through a four stage process:

1) Find the Bleed: When something goes wrong, the product or service is fixed before it is sent to the customer.

2) Determine the Cause: Identify root causes to problems, where front-line employees, not managers, take the lead because they understand better than anyone why problems are occurring.

3) Compare to Actions: Develop new or refined processes to keep problems from occurring, comparing what’s working today versus what needs to occur.

4) Confirm with Data: Anticipate new customer needs, by putting your problem-solving teams in front of customers to help them understand how their customer’s businesses work.

While this approach has worked for others, moving onto unfamiliar ground yourself can be a very different thing. The idea of turning to your people and asking them to solve business problems sounds less bold and risky now than it did 20 years ago, but it still can feel uncomfortable.

Yet one mark of a world-class organisation is that its managers seem to have easy jobs. Operations flow smoothly, and people put more time and energy into making improvements than reacting to problems. Such an organisation will typically spend 80 percent of its time on problem analysis and anticipating customer needs. In contrast, a lesser performer is likely to spend 90 percent of its effort in fighting fires.

Where does your company fall?


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 12, 2018
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3min468

More than two-thirds (68 percent) of UK workers in the 18-35 age bracket have career wanderlust and want more international travel opportunities, according to new research.

A survey of 1,000 people, carried out by sports retailer Decathlon, found that although 55 percent of 18-35 year-olds have travelled internationally for work at least three times in the past year – some as many as seven times – just 32 percent were satisfied with the amount of air miles clocked up during this time.

What’s more, 63 percent of respondents in the age bracket also said that they would be more likely to accept a job that offered round-the-world opportunities; 21 percent higher than the average figure across all age groups.

When quizzed on why they would like to travel more, 53 percent of 18-35 year olds said they think it would make their job more exciting; 37 percent see work travel as a cost-effective way to see the world; and 23 percent also said that they don’t like to be tied to one place in their career or life.

Perhaps worryingly for some employers, 19 percent of 18-35 year olds say they would be likely or very likely to leave their current job within the next 12 months to go travelling, due to a lack of opportunities to satisfy their wanderlust in their role, highlighting the consequences of not offering (or not being able to offer) international travel to their staff.

Given that experts predict that these age brackets will make up 35 percent of the workforce by 2020, it’s a vital demographic to pay attention to.

Thibault Peeters, CEO at Decathlon UK, said: “The hyper-connected, technology-focused nature of today’s global landscape, coupled with cheaper air fares and the growth of new, developing markets has made international business trips more commonplace than ever before. Clearly, this had led to both an appetite and an expectation amongst younger workers to travel internationally in their chosen career.”

He added: “Career wanderlust is therefore something that employers should recognise, take into consideration and offer to prospective candidates as part of the job package in order to stay competitive. Those that don’t could find themselves lagging behind and will feel the strain of a weakened talent pipeline as a result.”


Mark GreenMark GreenNovember 9, 2018
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5min386

In business, the adage “It starts at the top” can prompt an uncomfortable question: “Can the boss finish what he or she started?”

Many CEOs and entrepreneurs wrestle with this challenge, with both short and long-term implications. Meanwhile, a disconnect develops between the CEO’s initial big-picture vision for the company and its seemingly sporadic execution toward those goals.

The Global Leadership Forecast 2018 highlights issues of greatest concern to CEOs;  among them is a lack of alignment among senior leaders. The last problem any CEO  wants is an inability to get everyone on the same page, aligned and executing their strategy.

I’ve witnessed CEOs struggle with this question: ‘”Why is it so difficult to execute what I already know I should be doing”. They and their teams generally know what to do and how to get it done. But they avoid the decisions and actions they know could advance their success.

All roads lead back to obstacles within your mind. New behaviours leading to execution require new ways of thinking.

Here are five ways for CEOs to change behaviours that obstruct them from leading their company efficiently and effectively:

If/when, then

A study on influencing behaviour by German researchers found that formulating an “if/when, then” plan – stating a specific time to accomplish a task – provided a cue to provoke the desired response. I’ve worked with many CEOs who were not classically trained in accounting and finance and are overwhelmed by numbers. Such fears drove them to avoid financial information and reports. Making an if/when, then statement compels them to change the behaviour.

Relate and repeat

To change, one needs to believe that change is possible. Cultivate relationships with those who can help you see that the change you desire is attainable. Then repeat by testing out the new behaviour or thought pattern and seeking feedback.

Know when to say no

As the company leader, being a giver is important – but not to the point where sacrifice damages your own performance. Credible research shows that high-performing givers knew when to say no. Track your yes-to-no ratio. It’s the only way to protect your time, energy, and focus as a leader.

Forget perfectionism

Perfectionism is a waste of time and energy for a CEO. The 80/20 Rule – also known as the Pareto principle, first articulated by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto – holds that roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. The 80/20 Rule also applies to perfectionism – the majority of the value in any endeavour comes from a small amount of the overall effort. Perfectionism frequently limits our progress and fuels our fears. If you can keep the 80/20 Rule in mind, you can reduce your fears and accomplish more.

Hold yourself accountable

One way CEOs and entrepreneurs can judge their performance is by asking themselves self-assessment questions daily. You need accountability strategies that require you to evaluate your progress and focus on the importance of your goals. Often, the best way to modify a behaviour is just to jump in. Seek out examples of the behaviours you want to employ, embrace some discomfort, and emulate them until they begin to feel natural.


Simon de CintraSimon de CintraNovember 5, 2018
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7min395

When looking to unlock your business voice it is important to try to push boundaries to reach the goals you are aspiring to.

With the old proverb in mind, to not regret what we didn’t try rather than what we did, it is worth taking that risk. Though this might seem daunting, looking to yourself, identifying the areas that might hold you back, and some extra preparation can help you overcome them.

In the first instance, it is important to know your own limitations, your intentions, and your desired outcome. Though it may not seem it, it is these limitations that could have been holding you back for so long.

Labelling any issues can be powerful in helping you begin to understand them and in turn calling out these concerns brings the control back to you. These fears will not seem so of putting when you put some boundaries around them. Once you can do this, it will allow you to move forward from them enabling you to let go of these worries holding you back and move on.

Back in my days studying chemistry, one of my teachers emphasised the importance of having a clear plan especially before throwing anything in a test tube. With his well-known saying ‘Don’t be a bucket chemist’ conveying the meaning you can’t just chuck things in and expect your desired reaction. It will only be with preparation that you will achieve your aspired results.

When looking at career progression it is less about having more knowledge than your colleagues and more about developing importance through your vocal presence. The My Business Voice Methodology has combined the proceeding components to give you the aim, variables and process to conduct your own business voice experiments.

Once you have created a plan and by following the below methods it will enable you to reach your full potential. You will get the results if you have a clear VOICE in your head and in writing before you start.

Vocation – Make sure your desired outcome is realistic

Observation – Try to use qualities you admire in others

Intention – Create a recipe of Intention

Casting – Try to exploit and stretch your natural casting

Experiment – Try finding a rehearsal buddy and finding the best method to suit you

Take some time to think about the ‘Parallel Universe’ as this can be key to your success. Learning to use this as a place within your own imagination, used correctly, can provide the perfect basis for your own experimentation. Keeping in line with the rules around morality, legality, and ethics you can use this platform to practise saying what you like with the benefit of no consequences.

Not being positioned in a celestial space, the Parallel Universe can easily be created to imagine what you deem necessary. This is what makes it the perfect place to experiment away from your fears, giving you the opportunity to explore and set your internal dials by practising for all eventualities.

The importance of finding a like-minded buddy to work with you on unlocking your business voice can be a great asset and in turn increase the speed and consistency of our progress. Use these benefits to your advantage, and make the most of all rehearsal sessions by setting an agenda. As obvious as this might sound it is advisable to prepare as you would for any big meeting. As a coach I believe that my chief responsibility is to be there to facilitate good rehearsal and encourage experimentation with an attribute of great coach is knowing when to get out of the way of their client.

Understanding the emphasis on the metaphor ‘the internal dial’ will help to give a clear message. This part of the methodology allows you to tune up your own capabilities rather than be expected to put on techniques and characteristics that you can’t fulfil.

In my career as a coach I have seen people try the latter but not to great success. I have had the honour to see the progress my clients have made over years with a familiar observation of the transition from a role of technical and knowledge based expert to becoming an implementer and influencer. It lies with the discovery of a new foundation for a person’s confidence and competences to grow.

In conclusion time is something that can be overlooked but this is one of the most powerful and precious resources available to us. Used well it can give you the opportunities to experiment and allow yourself to develop a vocal presence.

Time spent developing your communication will be time well spent in the long run, allowing you to grow in confidence and benefit you professionally for the rest of your career. No one truly knows how much time is available to us, with not everyone getting the same, the key is learning how to use it wisely.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 31, 2018
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11min471

There is an article on PeopleHR.com that will give a manager food for thought.

Despite the scrapping of nursing bursaries, student nurses in the NHS  are still motivated to stay within the profession. In the 2017 NHS staff survey, the staff was asked a series of questions which were translated into an index.

The decrease in motivation index is relatively tiny, from 3.92 to 3.90. Why is this so? The hours are long, staff is overstretched, and there has been a pay freeze for several years. By rights the drop should be more, yet motivation is still strong across the board.

Could it be that money is not always a motivator?

We all work for money. At its most basic level, employment is a financial transaction. It illustrates that in order for the effort to be expended, employees need to be paid. 

How often do we hear colleagues saying out loud in frustration “I am not paid enough for this” or “This job is way above my pay grade”? This also seems to indicate that if paid enough, we can be motivated to accomplish certain tasks; and if we are not paid enough, we will not feel motivated.

Money is the answer to some of the questions

The gender pay gap has been a contentious issue for some time but it is gaining traction lately due to several high profile cases. Mark Wahlberg was paid a cool $1.5 million to reshoot a few scenes in a movie whilst his female co-star received an extra $1000. 

Claire Foy, the lead for Netflix’s successful series The Crown was reportedly paid £10,000 less per episode compared to her male co-star, a backpay of some £300,00. Then there was the BBC, which was in hot water when the salary lists of its presenters was leaked and it showed that males were paid a lot more.

In the cases above, it is not so much about the amount of money, but the principle behind it. Such a huge disparity illustrates the disrespect for the talent and all the hard work that the women put in. In a more “real-life” situation, salary is a thorny issue. In general, people like to be treated in a fair, equitable way. Any news of a discrepancy between staff may cause friction and will cause demotivation.

The function of money as a motivator is complicated

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs illustrates that on various levels from the base of the pyramid to the apex, a person has needs that should be met. Money falls at the base. Without money, it is unlikely that a person could meet basic needs such as food and shelter. 

Once these are met, a person moves up a level and different motivating factors come into play. Higher up the pyramid, getting more pay is not as strong a motivator. Employees at this stage of the pyramid crave other things like recognition for their expertise or self actualisation. While the move up the pyramid looks linear, it has to be noted that a person’s needs could change at any time. A major life event may have a strong impact and their needs may regress downwards, instead of upwards.

Herzberg’s Theory of Hygiene Factors offers another slant. A person’s salary has always been considered one of the hygiene factors, but in the parameters of this theory, money is not a good motivator. While a good salary can initially motivate the employee, over time he will get used to it. 

When it becomes a standard, the motivational effect will wear off. In certain cases, having money as a motivator can have the opposite effect. For example, if employees are used to a five percent increase in pay year-after-year, it becomes an expectation. They are likely to be very disappointed and demotivated if they subsequently receive less.

In an article in Harvard Business Review, Dr. Tomas Charmorro-Premuzic touched upon intrinsic and extrinsic motivators and discussed how money is an extrinsic motivator. He argues that the effect from an extrinsic motivator, such as a pay raise, is likely to be brief and then goes on to explain how our relationship with money can also have an effect on motivation. Besides what is termed the “psychological symbol” of money, the individual’s income goal also plays a factor on motivation.

So what really motivates us to work?

Dr. Tomas also discussed how intrinsic motivation, such as having a sense of purpose or meaning, is likely to have a more lasting effect. Perhaps this will go some way in explaining why nurses and doctors are still dedicated to the NHS.

What is interesting in both the NHS survey and Dr. Tomas’ article, is that the quality of leadership plays a huge role in employee motivation. In the NHS survey, the staff is more satisfied with support they are getting from their line managers. They found the quality of appraisals and training better, and their confidence in raising issues was also good. In his article, Dr. Tomas also mentioned that incompetent leadership will lead to staff disengagement.

In view of the above, a leader has a big role to play in employee’s motivation

What is also clear from the various motivational theories, is that one size does not fit all. Different employees will have different motivating factors – not all of them money. Thus motivating should begin at an individual level. A leader should be able to identify the different factors that drive the individuals and work out the best way to motivate and gain their commitment. 

For example, a team member who is starting on his career could be motivated by the provision of training that would upgrade his skill set while a more experienced team member could be motivated by giving him a mentoring or coaching role that would recognise his experience and skills.  

Tailoring motivating techniques according to each individual is a huge task. It will mean the leader will have to invest time in getting to know his staff – a very worthwhile venture bearing in mind the benefits that will come. Often motivation changes depending on the individual’s situation. 

By maintaining open channels of communication, the leader can be aware of this and tweak their motivation techniques. Motivated individuals who are happy at their jobs create a positive ripple effect that will affect the whole team.  

Without motivation, an individual or a team could possibly still do the job they are tasked to do but there will be growing dissatisfaction. They will feel that their work does not matter or their efforts are not being recognised. It would be difficult for the leader to get buy-in or commitment from the team member if they feel that they are not being appreciated.

Once each individual person in the team is happy, the leader could then focus on motivating the team as a whole. 

In conclusion…

Money is not always a motivating factor. People are individuals with their own hopes and dreams. There is no one-size-fits-all and there are many other ways to motivate a team which does not involve monetary rewards. The best leaders would know how to motivate each individual member of their team and it does not necessarily mean giving them a pay rise every other month.

 

 

 

 


Nicole BachmannNicole BachmannOctober 25, 2018
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7min499

I’m always fascinated by the many different reactions I get to the question: “What is your company strategy?”

They range from: “Of course we have a strategy!” (a nice way of not answering the question), to some very succinct verbalisations of the company’s three-to-five year aims.

Let’s explore the purpose of a company strategy, and what it needs to become meaningful to the leadership team first, and the whole company afterwards.

Start by taking a closer look at business. The purpose of a business is to make money (so it can do all the other good stuff, like investing in the future, developing the people in it, ensuring progress of society, etc.).

To make money, a business usually needs people who collaborate effectively. To collaborate effectively, people need to harness their joint energies. To harness their joint energies, people need a thorough understanding of what the business is aiming to achieve and the direction it is going in.

If the understanding about the business’ aims and direction is lacking, people will deploy their energy in the way they choose to be the best. As a result, the different energies of the people in the business will dissipate, which slows the business down. In the worst case a business might find it has one foot on the accelerator and the other firmly on the brake at the same time – and we all know what happens to progress (and profits) in those instances.

So maybe we can agree that clearly stated aims and a common direction are needed for a business to be effective. The verbalisation of these aims and common direction is normally called the ‘strategy’.

The purpose of a company strategy is, therefore, to give the people in the business a clear direction, which they can easily understand and use to prioritise their tasks and projects in collaboration with their colleagues.

This allows them a clear line of sight on how their daily work contributes to the continued competitiveness of the company they work for.

As you might have noticed, for the purpose of this article I’m explaining this with broad brush strokes. It would be easy to pull it apart with all the other things that are needed to make a business fulfil its purpose. However, the principle it represents is sound, and sometimes it is useful to keep things simple and concentrate on the basics.

So, let’s continue to explore what a strategy needs to become meaningful to the leadership team first – and all the people in the company a close second.

In our experience the most powerful thing you can do to engage your people – from the leadership team to the rest of the organisation – is to involve them in the actual creation of it.

I can just hear your sighs of resignation/exasperation, and the questions:

“How the hell could that possibly work?”

“We’ll never get it done if we want to involve everyone in the business.”

“What does the person who stands on the production line all day know (or care for that matter) about strategy?”

And yet, the companies that have successfully implemented their strategy have succeeded in involving all staff in the process of creating it.

Granted, that does not usually mean involving every person in every single element of the strategy. In the end, creating a uniting vision, purpose, and mission for the company is an essential dimension of leadership.

Therefore, it is apt that the leadership team comes up with those, as well as works out the critical success factors (each linked to at least one Key Performance Indicator) and the company’s strategic priorities.

Once the leadership team has achieved the above, each member then involves everyone in their own teams in breaking them down into strategic priorities for each department, followed by measurable and targeted objectives, initiatives, and all the way to individual action plans.

This then allows everyone in the business the clear line of sight to the organisation’s vision, purpose, and mission, which helps them prioritise their daily work – which in turn ensures the implementation of the company strategy.

In addition to the involvement of all staff in the breaking down of the strategic aims and direction of the company into departmental priorities and individual action plans, there is another area of the strategic process that allows a wider involvement of everyone at an even earlier stage: agreeing on the company values.

In the values, a company describes what it stands for, its ethical principles, how it wants to be perceived, and how it wants to go about achieving its aims and direction.

Only in a brand-new start-up business do those need to be created from scratch – and even then, they will probably develop gradually from the founders’ beliefs, and get adapted with each new hire.

In our experience, any company that has been around for a while already has a certain set of values.

The question that usually arises early in the discussion, however, is whether those values are what the company really wants to stand for going forward.

This is when involvement of all staff (and even additional stakeholders like customers and suppliers) in identifying the company’s values from the beginning really makes a difference.

Involving everyone in the discussion right from the word ‘go’ ensures ownership of the set of values agreed upon, which makes people holding each other accountable for living the new values much more likely.

 


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamAugust 9, 2018
Employee-Enaggement.-Growth-by-Design-wL-min-1280x832.jpg

5min992

Experts in background music and technology experiences for the retail and hospitality industries, Startle International has seen outstanding growth since beginning trading in 2015.

A start-up moulded by its team members and an employee-first culture that translates across all operations, the company adopted a remote-working model from the start. Aside from the vast employee benefits of no commuting cost or stress, flexibility, and more control over time, this meant that Startle had significantly low operating costs, allowing more to be invested in the development of the business.

Startle recently took home the award for Employee Engagement – Growth By Design in the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards, showcasing how the business has made ‘working from home’ work exceptionally well for them. With some of the team now based in North America, a common question asked is how Startle will maintain its highly-regarded Employee Experience reputation and build on their remote-working culture as they continue to grow.

Founder and Head of Operations, Adam Castleton, advised that, while there are certainly challenges in working as a remote team, he is confident that the business will continue to benefit from doing so. He explains:

Operating remotely has been our plan from the beginning, and we’re proud to do things differently! Our team members embrace this, and we continue work on the challenges of communication while benefiting from Deep Work, enabled by fewer distractions. Expanding internationally means we’ve already faced complexities of time-difference and have had to invest more in building relationships with our American colleagues, we’ve always found ways to innovate and make this work in our favour.”

In the next year, Startle plans to implement a host of initiatives to improve team communication, productiveness, and subsequently, happiness.

The first of these is to arrange local satellite hotdesking areas for each employee, allowing them somewhere to work from outside of their homes if they want a change of scenery or prefer to meet face-to-face with a colleague. These spaces will be offered for employees to use as much or as little as they wish, giving more flexibility and everyday support.

Secondly, while Startle has always treated its team to fun-filled Christmas getaways (including an all-expenses-paid trip to a German theme park last year, for which the US team were flown over), the company has now introduced what will be an annual Summer ‘retreat’.

A mixture of company workshops and social activities, these whole-team getaways help to strengthen relationships, brainstorm ideas for growth, and importantly, celebrate success. The theme for this year’s retreat was The Customer Journey, which was entirely broken down, analysed, and re-mapped to create what the team will now collaborate towards in the months to come.

Along with a personal development programme that steers team members towards progression as Startle grows, and a share scheme that means all employees are owners of the business, these initiatives signify a forward-thinking business that, as described by Employee Experience expert, Ben Whitter, has “thrown out the tatty old rule book” and “created their own rules through experience and innovation”.

In the coming months, Startle hopes to acknowledge and celebrate its achievements further at the 2018 International Customer Experience Awards, for which the whole team will be flown to Amsterdam. But, shhh!…they don’t know that yet!




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