To Avoid the Secondary Effects of the Crisis, Pause the Business Agenda and Focus on Your People

My Post (20)Jesse Sostrin is Salesforce’s Global Head of Executive Development, which means he spends a lot of time thinking about the future of leadership. He is the author of five books, including “The Manager’s Dilemma,” “Beyond the Job Description,” and “Re-Making Communication at Work,” all of which helped to establish his place in the next generation of influential thinkers challenging conventional ideas about management, leadership, and success on the job.

Here on the Salesforce Blog, Sostrin’s column offers periodic insights on the challenges of leading people, teams, and organizations into “the next normal.” In today’s edition, he explains how people managers can increase their visibility and transparency in order to engage employees at a new level and rebuild productivity after a crisis.  

Every crisis has two phases. First comes the disruptive event and the actual damage it causes. Then there is the collective impact from the reaction to the event itself. While leaders cannot control the first phase, their mindset, behaviors, and public actions have significant influence on the second.

Consider a natural disaster. There is the event itself — an earthquake, hurricane, pandemic — and then the compounding human response that follows. A positive response can inspire hope, swiftly deliver humanitarian support, address infrastructure issues to relieve safety concerns, and collectively limit the damage from the first phase. However, ineffective responses, whether from a breakdown in communication, planning, or misalignment, fail to deliver those positive resources and risk making the first phase of the event worse than it needed to be.

Any positive response needs a strong and consistent focus on people, including their hopes, fears, motivations, and needs. Of course you need to solve problems quickly, but focusing too much on the technical issues from the triggering event itself can leave leaders disconnected from what their teams, clients, and stakeholders need most – a champion of their ultimate concerns.

As circumstances evolve and leaders refine their approach to the next phase of the crisis, here are three human-first leadership strategies to help your people grow through change — not just work around it.

Be people-obsessed, not solution-crazy

Great leaders strive for a different outcome after a crisis – one that elevates people and leaves the entire situation potentially better than before. To achieve this, leaders have to resist a primal instinct to fix things.

This is easier said than done because, for leaders, the desire to act in adversity is overwhelming. Often, their resilience compels them to take ownership of what they can influence and work quickly to “make things better” no matter the circumstances. Think about international development teams that might install irrigation systems in developing communities to increase crop production, only to see an explosion of waterborne illnesses. Or technology companies that optimize their product with new features nobody asked for, only to destroy the user experience that made their customers loyal in the first place.

Notwithstanding unintended consequences from well-intentioned solutions like these, the “fix things first” mindset can blind even the best leaders to the human element. It’s also true that fast and ambitious action and the obsession with solutions is not the same as smart action. The key is to suspend brute force problem solving long enough to fine-tune a wiser, more people-centric approach to resolving issues.

To develop a people-first obsession with your crucial relationships, increase the frequency of check-ins and make room for the whole person when you do connect. Pausing the business agenda momentarily may feel like a risk, but it’s not nearly as risky as losing your vital connection with the person. – Read more

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Creating A Performance Based Culture At Workplace During A Crisis

My Post (17)Most companies work hard to build and sustain a positive performance culture at their workplaces. Different companies have different kinds of culture.

While some companies tend to have a formal performance culture with fixed rules, some other companies prefer to have a casual culture that has flexible rules.

This totally depends on how the company is run and on a few other factors like how large the company is and how they measure the performance of their employees.

What do managers need for creating a performance based culture at workplaces? What does it mean and why is it important for an organization to focus on this aspect? Firstly, every organization’s success depends on the productivity of their staff. The productivity of teams in an organization depend on how engaged and satisfied the employees are with their current workplace culture.

Here are a few qualities of an ideal performance based workplace culture:

  1. Change is welcome
  2. Employees from different levels are allowed to make decisions
  3. Teamwork is the norm
  4. Constant effort to better the existing operational strategy
  5. A sense of accountability among the team members

While it is hard enough to create and sustain a high performance culture at a workplace during normal times, the current pandemic hasn’t made it any easier for the management. Here are a few tips to creating a performance based culture at workplace during the current Covid-19 crisis.

Clear And Open Communication

Communication is one of the most important aspects of running an organization. Communicate the values of your organization to your employees. It has become more important now more than ever to make your employees realize how their contribution affects the values of the organization.

Assign SMART, short-term goals to your employees and help them align those with the company values. Encourage your employees to come forward and communicate with the management. Make sure that you handle any sort of information from the employees sensibly.

Feedback Culture

Real-time feedback that is delivered throughout the year goes a long way towards fixing the damage caused by annual performance reviews. This makes the annual performance review a quick and short meeting because of having most of the groundwork laid before. A survey by Zenger and Folkman revealed 92% of respondents agreed, “Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.”

Continuous employee feedback has a direct impact on things like productivity, customer retention and has many benefits like employee retention, performance improvement, quick analysis of problem, open channels of communication, etc. Most companies these days want to invest in retaining their existing talent so that their employees are skilled enough to take care of the constantly changing needs of the industry. – Read more

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Out of constraints comes creativity, out of chaos comes growth: Ashton McGill share their silver linings during Covid-19

My Post (18).pngIn the face of crisis, we all have to find ways to adapt and come out the other side stronger.

“The main thing we’ve had to pivot is how we maintain our culture remotely and keep providing the same level of service to our clients,” says Andy McGill co-founder of Xero award-winning practice, Ashton McGill.

We caught up with Andy to see how Ashton McGill are getting on, and what silver linings they’ve experienced along the way.

Staying connected

In the recent weeks, practices have had to suddenly transition to working remotely full-time, with many utilising communication tools like Slack and Zendesk to stay in regular contact with their teams. But for Ashton McGill, this was just the norm: “As a fully digital practice from day one, our travel-hungry team can work from anywhere, and we often do. Before Covid-19, a portion of our team were already based remotely, so we were used to managing remote teams, and we’ve always actively encouraged a remote working culture,” says Andy.

Whilst remote working is the norm for some, others thrive from an office environment. An office can provide structure and social interaction, and without these things it can be difficult to stay motivated and connected. To remedy this, Andy and his team start each morning with a Zoom call, where they have coffee and chat about things outside work. “It’s really important for us to stay connected, to check in with each other and support each other’s wellbeing,” Andy told us.

Afterwards, the team posts daily deliverables in Slack providing a level of transparency that helps with motivation and productivity. “We’ve been busy helping clients on the latest government advice with loan applications and making furlough claims. We’ve also been providing ongoing support to them throughout the process and managing ongoing compliance work,” concludes Andy.

Client initiatives

Ashton McGill’s mission to help clients navigate the current situation and come out the other side even stronger is evident when you consider their recent initiatives.

“We’ve recently launched an online Business Model Training Course that we’re running over Zoom. It’s a 10-week course where we help businesses harness design-thinking tools and techniques to transform their organisation. It’s open to everyone and we’re suggesting donations of £25 each for the course, which we’re donating to the NHS. However, the course is free for those who are in the position where they can’t donate right now,” Andy told us.

So far on the course, they’ve heard from some great experts on design-thinking, business model innovation, and how to improve your business model to better meet the needs of your customer. It’s no surprise then that the majority of their clients (and non-clients) have signed up for the course.  – Read more

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