How healthy will your workforce be post Covid-19?

For years, companies have been reticent to allow staff to WFH (work from home) because they believed the nature of their work, would make it impossible.

82 days later and the WFH exercise has been so successful that a client mentioned, this week, that their productivity has risen 25% since lockdown.

A 25% increase in productivity sets alarm bells off in my head, as people have been navigating the boundary, or lack thereof, between work and home. Issues brought to coaching include increased stress, not being able to switch off, not having enough personal time.

So whilst the exercise is proving ‘positive’ for many companies, for many people, it may have failed.

Human beings are creatures of habit. Just note how quickly we have changed our behaviour.

An early rise and 1 hour commute, is now a later rise, breakfast and an early start. That two hour commute every day, is now an additional week at the office,…every month. And, with little other entertainment e.g. meeting friends, going to the gym, or to the theatre; it’s no wonder that after only 82-days of WFH, that people are feeling frazzled.

Behaviour can change in as little as three months. People just need to be given the tools to change (in this case, broadband, computer equipment that communicates to company systems, and a place to sit comfortably and quietly). But, people also need reassurance that what they are doing, and how they are doing it, is right.

The Western world has had little to no experience dealing with change of this calibre, so it’s no surprise that we’ve given people the tools but we haven’t told them how to use them.

Self-belief is vital to success. If we gave an overweight person, food and a diet plan, but we omitted to tell them the quantities that they should eat, their weight may stay the same; in fact their weight may increase and they would become despondent.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts:

How healthy will your workforce be (mentally and physically) when Covid-19 is a thing of the past?

Have you ensured that your staff has the tools to WFH, given them instructions of how to use them and reassured them that they are on the right track?

I am happy to discuss this topic and share findings of my masters thesis (part of the MSc. Coaching and Behavioural Change, 2018), titled ‘Changing behaviour in 3-months’.

I don’t know what racism feels like.

In 1972, my family immigrated from Scotland to a very divided South Africa. As a child, I had no idea what racism was and I accepted, without question, the apartheid laws which were enforced; only questioning these, when I found my voice in my late teens.

Growing up, I saw racism and injustices in South Africa; mostly subtle, like the way that privileged whites spoke to blacks, and whilst I can’t remember witnessing any physical attacks, I’m sure that they occurred.

As a privileged, white, British, woman, I understand what racism is, and that this can be fuelled by unconscious bias, but I don’t know what it feels like.

I asked some friends and colleagues what racism feels like.

I don’t know what it feels like because I’ve never been doubted or questioned due to the colour of my skin.

I don’t know what it feels like to be disregarded for job interviews, due to my surname.

I don’t know what it feels like to be turned down for roles because I don’t fit in with the rest of the team.

I don’t know what it feels like to be the only woman of colour travelling in the first class section on the train, and the only person to be asked to show her ticket.

I don’t know what it feels like, to ask directions in the street and to notice how the person steps backwards a little and holds onto their bag just a little tighter.

I don’t know what it feels like, not to have loads of role models in the media, who look like me.

I don’t know what it feels like to have to consider racism in a country, before I book my annual holiday.

I don’t know what it feels like to see how few people, who look like me, hold senior management positions.

I don’t know what it feels like.

But, just because I don’t know what it feels like, doesn’t mean that I have no responsibility to make change; no matter how small. If I were to put the shoe on the other foot, how would I like to be treated?

I can make a difference by being more aware and self-aware; understanding what reactions my actions may trigger.

I can make a difference by including content, specifically about racism, in my leadership and management training and coaching, ensuring that all future leaders understand what it feels like!

What can you do?

The Stone Age didn’t end due to a lack of stones!

Can the Corona Virus also be positive?

We live in a consumerist society, producing and buying what we don’t need. Our world is broken!

Today, our world is already benefiting from the effect that curbed manufacturing is having on pollution, with clear skies over China; and Venice claims that their waterways have never looked so clear.

Satellite images released by NASA show a dramatic reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions across China. As the world’s biggest polluter, China contributes 30% of the world’s CO2 emissions annually, so the impact of this kind of drop is huge.

Perhaps by keeping humans away from their daily routines, the world can start healing itself. Let’s face it, I doubt the Stone Age ended, due to a lack of stones!

I understand that many people’s livelihood, here and around the world is under threat, and that saddens me, but it also begs the question how we can use this situation for good?

We don’t know how long this situation will last. Let’s use this time wisely, to consider what we can do to reinvent our world, our businesses and ourselves. Let’s make better choices that have a lasting and positive impact.

Mindset Matters

At work, we are more likely to notice what we can do better, before noticing what we do well.

Whilst this can result in Agile improvements, if we fail to recognise success, team members may become disengaged.

How do you keep your team motivated whilst remaining Agile?

Mindset matters and the act of simply changing our thoughts, can be the catalyst of great, positive change.

Let’s discuss how I can help you accelerate your (organisation’s) potential by changing mindset.

The largest source of current stress: bosses!

A recent survey from Korn Ferry, “Workplace Stress Continues to Mount,” examined the trend of increasing stress in the workplace.

Korn Ferry asked nearly 2,000 professionals what impact workplace stress had on them. 76% of respondents said stress at work had a negative impact on their personal relationships, and 66% say they have lost sleep due to work stress and 16%, have had to quit their job due to stress.

35% of the respondents say their boss is their biggest source of stress at work.

With only 30% of workers saying they are highly engaged in their jobs, how can we ensure managers have the tools that they need to become better at what they do, to make sure their team members are engaged? Let’s face it, they’re only human!

Over the last year, I have been delivering coaching and training as part of a leadership and management programme in the financial services industry. At the start of the programme, more than 40% of managers felt overwhelmed by their management responsibilities and described conflicts with team members, stress and a lack of confidence in carrying out their roles. After only 6 months, these managers had found confidence, which improved their board presence and client presentations; could manage their time more effectively, had formed better relationships with their teams; and they were generally happier and more engaged at work.

Managing stress in teams is only putting a plaster on an open wound. Let’s get to the root of the matter by offering managers the tools to excel in their craft, and rewarding good behaviour; which is a more positive step towards a workforce that is more engaged and stress-free.

Contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Are company values the glue in global friendships?

After more than 5 years apart, my ex-colleagues and very firm friends, flew in from Australia, Japan and Hong Kong to meet me in London. We enjoyed each other’s company; reminiscing about both the good and the bad times; whilst discussing the power of global friendships.

We were born and raised in different countries; we are from different backgrounds; we were all hired at different times across Asia Pacific; either collaborating or working on the same team.

Having survived corporate life and company politics, today we are all entrepreneurs, enjoying work which inspires us. We are all so different, and yet, we have so much in common.

There was however something about our company experience that bonded us. Was it the company values or the culture?

After further discussion with the team and personal reflection, I believe that we chose the company based on our common values and how they matched those of the company. We tend to agree that a company’s culture may change, depending on the behaviours that senior leaders allow to creep in; either strengthening or weakening it.

When I coach clients about career choices, I advise them to consider very carefully how their values are aligned to a company’s.

I would therefore be curious to hear your views. Is it our friendship that acts as the glue that bonds us, or do company values extend way past the walls of a company?

Which wolf do you feed?

There’s a story which I tell frequently when I am training or coaching future leaders, as many suffer from what is known as ‘imposter syndrome’ i.e. a psychological pattern in which the person doubts their own accomplishments.

An old Cherokee Indian chief was teaching his grandson about life.

‘A fight is going on inside me,” he told the young boy, a fight between two wolves.

One is evil, full of anger, sorrow, regret, greed, self-pity and false pride.

The other is good, full of joy, peace, love, humility, kindness and faith.

This same fight is going on inside of you, grandson…and inside every other person on earth.’

The grandson ponders this for a moment and then asks, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”

The old man smiled and simply said, “The one you feed.”

The wolf that you choose to ‘feed’, determines your success. Choose wisely.

#mindfulness #selfbelief #selfesteem #impostersyndrome

How women can help women succeed

I read today that the future of the Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald changed when legend Marilyn Monroe helped arrange Fitzgerald’s debut at the Mocambo nightclub.

Fitzgerald claimed her good fortune was due to Monroe’s support: “I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt… she personally called the owner of the Mocambo and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him — and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status — that the press would go wild,” Ella Fitzgerald, August 1972 issue of the MS magazine.

We talk about glass ceilings, board quotas and gender diversity and inclusion however, reading how Marilyn Monroe helped Ella Fitzgerald, highlights to me that women could be helping each other a lot more than we are.

Ladies, how are you helping a female colleague, peer or friend to achieve her success?

#peercoaching #coaching #mentoring #genderdiversity

Learning to unlearn

Learn to unlearnAs managers, we believe we are doing the right thing by sending our employees on leadership and management training.

Would it therefore surprise you to read, that only 5 to 10% of learning is retained and can be applied after traditional methods of training?

Research on the forgetting curve, shows that within 1 hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50% of the information presented. Within 24 hours, they have forgotten an average of 70% of new information, and within a week, an average of 90% of information will have been long forgotten.

“Whole-day training can be a catastrophe. Our cognitive load is exceeded,” says Itiel Dror, a neuroscientist specialising in learning. His message to L&D practitioners is unequivocal: “Don’t do whole-day learning.” Dror’s view is supported by research by Paul King of the Christian University of Texas, which suggests that not only is traditional whole-day learning ineffective, but it can even be counter-productive. Once the brain’s capacity has been exceeded, learners can’t absorb any more information and they then begin to dump the most recent things that they have learned (HR Magazine, 2016).

Whilst many leaders will agree that one-day courses are ineffective, ‘they find them invaluable for networking, knowledge-sharing and disseminating a strong sense of company culture’ (HR Magazine, 2016).

So, as a manager or a learning and development leader, how do you ensure that you don’t throw away 90% of your training budget, but guarantee that your employees can network, collaborate and learn from others?

Would it interest you to hear how you could reduce this financial drain to below 30%?

While doing research for my dissertation on ‘changing behaviour in three months’, I stumbled on some fascinating facts, which have since been proven and developed further over the last year.

We are so focused on teaching our employees new skills, that we have forgotten to tackle the behaviours and limiting beliefs which are standing in an individuals’ way of successfully applying what they have learned.

Before change and new behaviours can be adopted, the previous behaviour needs to be unlearned or discarded (Lewin, 1946) yet, most organisations are focused on the ‘learning process and do not encourage unlearning structures’ (Argyris).

The AURA approach is based on Kolb’s ‘Experiential Learning Cycle’ (1984) which helps learners ‘learn how to learn, by consciously following a recursive cycle of experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting’ and increases their learning power.

AURA starts with an Assessment (psychometric and 360-feedback) and takes individuals through a process of Unlearning (reflecting & thinking), Relearning (experiencing) and Application (acting); to help them act with purpose.

When leadership and management training is broken up into bite-size chunks, it is retained with ease, but there’s still the bonus of meeting others and sharing ideas. The difference of this approach is that it’s combined with one to one coaching and that’s where the bonus lies. Between the bite-size modules, coaches hold individuals accountable for applying what is learned, ensuring that individuals unlearn old habits, have the confidence to apply what they have learned and ultimately change their behaviour sustainably.

Who wouldn’t want a better return on investment for their training budget? To learn more about unlearning, contact me.

Making change work!

I moved to a new house but, I continued to walk home to my old one?

One may quickly question the sanity of this individual as it goes without saying that ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’, Henry Ford.

But, ‘how do you facilitate change in your organisation?’

When processes, product lines, strategies, company beliefs and values are changed, are the impact that these changes have on the workforce even considered? Will employees be required to work differently and how will this be supported?

Change has become a constant and managing it has become an expanding discipline. Yet, research states that ‘70% of change projects fail due to resistance to change’, Beer & Nohria.

How leaders facilitate behavioural change determines how employees embrace change, as well as the outcome for their organisation.

It’s natural for individuals to resist change. Oftentimes they don’t believe in their own ability to change; with doubts arising like ‘am I able to do this new job?; ‘will I shine in this new world, as I did before?’; and it seems easier to retain the status quo, than to rally behind transformational change.

My latest research focuses on changing behaviour in 3 months, with a success rate of over 70%, which balances the odds of your change programme failing.

By training and coaching individuals through change, it feels far less uncomfortable.

Are you letting your employees take the long route home? Or, are you ensuring that new behaviours clear the path to success?

Let’s talk!