For this month’s reading recommendation, we picked up a copy of Thorsten Heilig and Ilhan Scheer’s new book, Decision Intelligence: Transform Your Team and Organization with AI-Driven Decision-Making.
Thorsten is the Co-Founder and CEO of Paretos, a company with access to cutting-edge AI technologies that use Decision Intelligence to equip organizations to independently tackle complex challenges and gain a significant competitive advantage without needing any prior knowledge on data science.
Co-author Ilhan is a Managing Director at Accenture, a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud, and security.
Together, they have authored a book which offers a practical and comprehensible guide for professionals who are navigating the decision-making landscape. Thorsten and Ilhan expertly explore the intersection of behavioral science, data science, and technological innovation and present the latest technologies and methodologies that are shaping these dynamic fields, highlighting how they can play vital roles when making business decisions.
As AI continues to become increasingly popular as a business tool, this book perfectly captures just how instrumental data and AI are in making informed future decisions by harmonizing human and business considerations across its five key points of coverage:
In the age of working smart, organizations who are able to effectively integrate AI into the fabric of their company are the ones who are going to be able to best optimize its use. As the corporate world becomes increasingly digital, this book is a great way of keeping in stride with these sweeping technological changes.
And if you would like to discuss how we can help shape your HR strategy to seize the opportunities presented by AI technologies, please get in touch with us!
A lot of the time (but not always!), skepticism is construed as managing risk.
Personally, I believe that skepticism has become a mindset that has gained major footing in American culture. It’s like a screen that colors our daily sentiment. We are weighed down by it, and a lot of the time will approach a new situation with a level of negative skepticism as a defence mechanism so to avoid meaningful change.
But I think what’s key to note here is that it’s fine to be skeptical on a topic. Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Great intellects are skeptical,”. However, it can be detrimental to be a skeptical person. This mindset will only hold someone back from their potential, their ability to grow, and their ability to be their best self.
Whilst middle managers may lean ever so slightly towards the skepticism end of the risk management scale while they develop broader situational development, executives should be in risk management mode to best lead the organization and their teams.
This is about incorporating a healthy dose of risk management when making decisions and strategizing to push the company to a new level. It’s about understanding how to navigate compliance and regulatory, protecting company assets, understanding economic outcomes, and communicating plausible scenarios. It’s not about apprehension to change, distrust in the new perspectives, reluctance to evaluate new opportunities, and being suspicious of the unknown. Managing risk versus skepticism is often the difference in making inclusive decisions and creating a culture for broad, needed change.
If we were to apply this to a chief financial officer’s (CFO) role, being seen as skeptical will mean that the most creative and innovative ideas will go around them. It is likely that they won’t be brought into the decision-making process if their lens is always a skeptical and pessimistic one; they will be pushed away from the decision table. To be a good partner to these potential innovations, they have to have a healthy sense of risk management. This means covering potential blind spots without stunting innovative growth opportunities.
However, just like being too far on the skeptical side of this scale can hold you back, being too far on the optimistic side can also have drawbacks – most notably, making decisions without considering the risks at all.
Finding a balance between these two will make for an executive who is managing risk while also taking risks, as without any risk there is no reward.
If you would like to discuss how we can help coach an effective risk management strategy to your executive team, please get in touch with me at email@example.com
After recently gaining my Prism Certification from SurePeople, I was struck by this thought: how do leaders who are particularly motivated by external validation bring their best?
Being recognized for one’s efforts is something that a lot of us enjoy, regardless of our position in a company. Not only is it nice to be validated, but when someone recognizes and rewards our efforts, our brains actually release dopamine which makes us feel happiness and satisfaction.
When a leader thrives from external affirmation, however, recognition can become a bit trickier. As a society, we expect leaders to offer recognition and rewards to their team rather than receive them. Leadership is often lonely, and for those leaders who are extrinsically motivated, this can be an even harder challenge to face. The natural energy derived from recognition may no longer be available.
This begs the question, is being an externally motivated leader a good thing? Let’s take a quick look at some of the pros and cons of this leadership aspect:
It’s a fine line to walk. On the one hand, if you are a leader who is motivated by affirmation, you may be a driver for innovation and have fantastic interpersonal relationships with your team. There are organic boundaries, however, that must exist between leaders and their direct reports to maintain an effective level of professionalism and ensure all members of the team feel evenly valued and included. Sometimes, needing this affirmation can blind a leader and result in some of the drawbacks outlined above.
If you feel that you are a leader who is extrinsically motivated, I think the most important strategy to enhance effectiveness is to establish balance. There are plenty of ways to feel validated and recognised for your contributions – whether this be through your team excelling, through getting your name published externally, or receiving recognition from stakeholders – but as a leader, you also need to have a sense of self-affirmation.
Working with a coach is a great way to find this balance. They can help identify what energizes you and how to effectively “recharge.” This allows you to maintain healthy boundaries with your team while still being approachable and considerate.
If you would like to discover your motivators and discuss how to best leverage them to improve your effectiveness as a leader, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Currently, many HR buzzwords and phrases originate from the same place: TikTok.
First we saw the rise of ‘quiet quitting’ take TikTok – and then the wider internet – by storm. And now we are seeing a new trend with over 5 million views: ‘Managing Up’.
Managing Up is when employees work out how to best manage their manager; determining their manager’s working style and then adjusting their own approach to engaging with the manager to make both their jobs easier and more productive.
There are some great benefits that could emerge from this growing trend. For one thing, this counters the outdated idea that the relationship between manager and employee is a one-way (downward!) street.
Managing Up aims to cultivate a connection that is rooted in optimized, two-way communication.
By recalibrating this traditional hierarchical model of the manager and ‘the managed’, Managing Up allows for mutual understanding and respect to be built. This results in a more dynamic relationship between colleagues that allows them to work more cohesively and productively.
The accepted wisdom is that when a company hires someone, there is a relationship to be fostered between the hiring manager and candidate. Well, Managing Up highlights that there is a relationship to be fostered in the other direction as well.
If staff know the best ways of engaging with their managers, this will create a culture of openness where managers become more approachable regarding concerns that may not have initially been brought to their attention. This gives managers the ability to address issues that, traditionally, would not have been ‘on their radar’ which, in turn, will help create a higher-performing team.
However, a potential barrier to Managing Up taking root in an organization is team members not being able to successfully identify their manager’s working style. If they assume they know it and run with these false assumptions, what should be a respectful exchange can quickly break down.
This is where a psychometric profiling would be a great investment. OrgShakers’ technology partner SurePeople offer the robust and affordable online psychometric tools organizations need to create detailed profiles of managers and their teams along with practical advice on how those individuals can work together to optimize relationships, build trust – and accelerate performance.
In short, to deliver the promise of Managing Up.
If you would like to discuss how embedding online psychometric tools into your business can boost individual and team performance, please get in touch with us via our contact page.
Last year, Ketanji Brown Jackson made history as she became the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court. And while her experience, expertise, and skill all warrant her place there, none of this would have even truly been taken into consideration if President Biden hadn’t nominated her.
It can be somewhat bittersweet, as it plays into this ‘white savior’ narrative that without a public endorsement from a powerful White figure, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson would not have achieved this feat. However, the fact is that disparity still runs rampant, so while the battle against systemic racism continues on, it is so important for those White people who are in positions of power to wield this power responsibly.
The same idea is also true for the corporate world. On many occasions, I have noticed managers or executives taking certain members of staff under their wing. This “sponsorship” gives those staff members who have been selected by the executive access to more opportunities and more chances to climb the corporate ladder in comparison to their other colleagues.
Now the issue with this informal sponsorship is that it is riddled with disparities. Typically, it’s the same type of people who are being offered this advantage, but this trend goes relatively unnoticed. Employers identifying strong candidates and wanting to help them grow their career isn’t a bad thing, but there needs to be more diversity. Different types of people need to be given these opportunities to grow and accelerate their careers, not just from a social perspective, but from a business perspective as well.
Racially diverse companies have been proven to be 35% more likely to outperform other organizations. Having a C-suite that is comprised of the same type of people, with the same ideas and perspectives, will halt any opportunity for innovation to take place. Alternatively, being intentional about sponsoring different employees at entry-level and helping accelerate them to managerial roles will make all the difference to this. New ideas will be considered, new perspectives will be heard, and new markets will become accessible.
But much like Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s story, what we’re seeing in the world of work isn’t a lack of qualified professionals, it’s a lack of access. In the UK, Black employees hold just 1.5% of top management roles in the private sector, while in the US, Black workers make up 7.8% of management positions – compared to 83.6% of White workers. This highlights the importance of those that are in executive positions in a company, as they are the ones who are responsible for ensuring that their C-suites and boards are diverse and accessible to all, which directly links to the sustainability of their business.
As it stands, we have a way to go before opportunities are truly equal and accessible to all. So until then, it is crucial that those who have power are using it to make these opportunities more attainable. Much like President Biden using his platform to endorse Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, recognizing the power of diverse talent is step one; paving the path for this talent to thrive is the next step. On Black Leaders Awareness Day, this message is more important than ever to remember. If you would like to discuss how to start embedding diversity, equity and inclusion strategies into the fabric of your business, please get in touch with me at email@example.com
Hybrid and remote work have been the talk of the town the last few years. This highly successful alternative work style is a fantastic demonstration of corporate perseverance, resilience, and adaptability.
And yet, while many businesses have been operating like this since 2020, a recent study from Microsoft found 85% of leaders said the shift to hybrid work has made it hard to be confident that employees are being productive. Even though 87% of workers report performing better at home, only 12% of employers have full confidence their team is being productive.
Subsequently dubbed ‘productivity paranoia’, it’s clear a large proportion of leaders may be struggling (even though employee satisfaction for hybrid work is extremely high, and from an economic perspective businesses have become arguably more profitable).
Why are some employers plagued by this paranoia, and how can they begin to mitigate their concerns?
It’s not uncommon for managers to encounter paranoia in one form or another during their career. Important to note is that while hybrid and remote work has proven effective, the way it came to be was not traditional. Companies felt pressured to adopt this way of life due to COVID-19. When change feels forced it can be much more difficult to work through any accompanying negative feelings. For example, a person’s supervisory routine might be intensely disrupted, and suddenly they must learn what it means to supervise a group of people who are no longer physically around them.
It can be challenging to modify engrained work habits, especially when the need to address them comes as an urgent surprise. In addition, the concept of presenteeism has been rooted in corporate culture for decades, which makes it a hard habit to change even though we now know it is inherently flawed: being able to physically see someone does not guarantee they are more productive than when they can’t be seen.
For leaders who are experiencing productivity concerns related to hybrid or remote work options, it may be time to step back, dig deep, and honestly explore what truly disturbs them about this situation. The answer could reveal a lack of trust in the team, reluctance to embrace change, or singular focus on the performance of one team member.
To help identify the root cause of why a leader or manager might push back on hybrid or remote work solutions, HR professionals can suggest they complete a Johari Window, or an Immunity Map Worksheet. These steps can help managers focus their thoughts and address specific concerns.
It is also key for HR to determine whether this is a potential coaching or organizational culture matter. For example, managers may develop productivity paranoia based on the inequitable nature of remote work within a company. Companies frequently have a variety of positions, some of which are able to work remotely and others that cannot. This may lead to divisiveness in the workplace and a manager may be resistant not because of the remote work itself, but rather the rising contention and its echoing effects on the harmony of the company.
HR plays a key role in helping employers manage productivity paranoia. Whether it be from a leader optimization or a culture cohesion perspective, we are integral to helping leaders unlock the people power in their organizations.
To discuss how OrgShakers can help you do this, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) plays a pivotal role for their organization – they are typically seen as the second most important person in a company, and oftentimes find themselves having to juggle enterprise transformational dynamics, lead functional business partner teams, as well as pursue their own personal goals.
The problem that many companies end up facing, however, is that when they hire or internally promote a leader to CFO, there is an expectation that this person will already know how to do everything that is required of them. However, in reality, while their technical knowledge is no doubt there, having the skills to actually be a strategic transformational executive do not just appear overnight.
My consulting research has found that the average tenure of a CFO is only 4.4 years, which is alarmingly low. And a reason for this is because over 60% of CFOs are first-timers, with nearly two-thirds of those being internally promoted. What this suggests is that a lot of those entering into a strategic CFO role are doing so for the first time, and with limited day-to-day thought partnering. In order to ensure their success and foster the organization’s strategic objectives, companies need to be investing in them from the offset and continuously.
Organizations need to create formal support strategies that are aimed at professionally developing their CFOs. By having structured support for those first-timers, the overwhelm and eventual plight of becoming a strategic CFO will be mitigated significantly. This will make the executive better at their job in a faster manner, and increase the likelihood of retention in the future.
The fact is, gaining an in-depth understanding of the company’s priorities, its investors, external stakeholders, fellow senior leaders, and their team – as well as proactively building relationships with all these parties – can be a lot for someone who hasn’t before navigated the complexities of the CFO experience. Employers need to let go of this predisposition that being promoted to an executive automatically means someone knows how to be a successful strategic CFO– there is a gap between the two, and the way of bridging this gap is specialized advisory support.
And this doesn’t just mean generalized support on leadership skills, but rather specified advisory being provided by someone who understands the intricacies of a CFO role. Someone who has a grasp of the dynamics and challenges that will be faced on a day-to-day basis.
Finding the perfect CFO for your company is an important decision, so when you do find that person, be sure to take the time to invest in them to ensure the success of them and of your business. This will lead to a stronger leadership team with a confident and successful CFO who will go on to do great things – companies just need to be creating that foundation for them to build on.
If you would like to discuss the CFO Success advisory support services we can offer for your CFO, please get in contact with me at email@example.com
Leaders play a pivotal role in any organization, and can be the difference between a company that thrives and a company that falters.
It is worrying to see that 43% of workers have left a job at some point in their career because of their manager. And more than half of workers (53%) who are currently considering leaving their jobs said they were looking to change roles because of their manager.
Are managers also leaders, you may ask? While there are distinct differences between leadership and management, managers who are also effective leaders have a significant advantage when it comes to engaging and retaining employees.
So, what does a leader that employees want to work for actually look like? Consider:
There is no such thing as ‘perfect’, as perfect can look different to everyone. When it comes to being the best leader you can be, however, there are proven power skills, hard skills and characteristics that can help you become a leader your team will want to stay with. If you would like to discuss how OrgShakers can help coach you to become this leader, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have ever worked with Maister, Green & Galford’s Trust Equation, you’ll know that perceived self-orientation (i.e. someone who comes across as focused on their own agenda) is the quickest way to undermine a relationship of trust.
Generally, we have come to associate the word ‘ego’ with this idea of being self-centered, but actually, an ego is not always as bad as its initial connotations. While leaders being egotistical can lead to retention problems (especially with more than two in five employees having left a job because of a bad manager), they can also be a force for good. However, it is important to get the balance right – leaders need to develop and utilize a ‘healthy ego’ in order to optimize their leadership abilities.
So, what does a ‘healthy ego’ look like?
Well, one way to think about this is by considering the airplane safety briefing. When the cabin crew are doing the safety demonstration just before take-off, they remind everyone that in the event of needing oxygen masks, it is imperative that you put your own mask on first before attending to those of children or others around you. This is a great analogy for a healthy ego!
The fact is, nothing is going to unsettle an organization more than employees lacking faith in their leader. Staff want to know that their higher-ups know what they are doing, are good at what they do, and have confidence in the future of the company. There is some level of ego that every leader must have in order to believe that they are the right person for the job and have the ability to make the hard decisions and delegate where need be.
I believe the key to balancing this out and making this ego healthy is inclusivity – even though a leader benefits from being confident and having credible experience, they need to also have a growth mindset and be willing to listen and incorporate other opinions and use this when making a decision.
As well as this, if a leader is making their intentions clear by being transparent and communicative with their teams, then they do not risk this display of ‘ego’ being misconstrued as vanity or self-orientation.
If you would like to discuss how to find that perfect balance to create healthy egos in leaders, please get in touch with me at email@example.com
When an employee passes away, it is difficult to know what to do and how to respond – especially as an employer. It is important, however, that leaders approach the bereavement as compassionately and as empathetically as possible, as failing to do so can have a noticeable and long-lasting impact on the workforce.
There are three main areas that employers need to address if a staff member dies, and these will allow the organization to offer its support and condolences, while also dealing with the legal and administrative implications.
Upon hearing the news, employers should reach out to the family of the employee and offer their sympathy, as well as ask if there is anything they can do to help. After this initial contact, a more formal set of condolences can be sent – potentially in the form of flowers, or a book of condolences from the team.
It may also be appropriate to ask the family about the best way to commemorate their loved one at work – this will help highlight how valued they were as a team member and that the family is in the employer’s thoughts. Additionally, if the family agree, colleagues may wish to attend the funeral to pay their respects and have some closure.
It is also important to ensure that the family are aware of who and how to get in contact with the company in regard to the legalities of a sudden termination of employment due to these circumstances (such as pay, pension, life insurance).
It is very likely that some employees are going to be hit hard by the loss of a colleague, especially those who were particularly close to the deceased. It may be appropriate to consider offering compassionate leave to those greatly affected, as well as either directing them to in-house support services (such as Employee Assistance Programs) or external services such as Mind or the Good Grief Trust.
Be mindful that employees may grieve differently. If employers notice a dip in productivity or a change in the quality of an individual’s output, they should consider having a one-on-one meeting to see what they can do to help. From an inclusion perspective, religious and cultural beliefs can also influence how someone grieves, so this has to be taken into account (for instance, if someone requires a space to pray).
From an organizational perspective, it is important for employers to ensure that they are taking the necessary and correct legal and administrative steps after the loss of an employee. While it can seem harsh, it is important that employers formally terminate the contract of the deceased staff member. This will be marked down as their ‘leaving date’ from a payroll perspective, and they should be paid the remainder of their salary for the month, as well as any accrued holiday pay.
Employers must also contact pension providers and notify their revenue service of the employee’s passing, as well as pass on the appropriate information about life insurance benefits the employee may have been receiving to their next of kin.
Dealing with the death of a co-worker is difficult and can have reverberating effects on colleagues and the wider organization. HR plays a vital role in helping to respond to, manage, and mitigate these effects, and so if you would like to discuss how we can help assist you in consolidating policies around this topic, please get in touch with us.
Coaching is a fantastic way to draw the potential out of leaders. It helps improve confidence, productivity, and is a sustainable form of development, as what is learned is taken and applied independently afterwards. And this is a proven fact – on average, an individual increases their productivity by 86% when training is combined with coaching, compared to only 22% with training alone. But in order for coaching to be effective, the context of who is being coached, and when, must align with what coaching has to offer in order to actually reap a significant return on investment (ROI). Coaching works well alongside training when it supports the embedding of new skill sets which have been the subject of the skill building. More often, however, coaching at this level is focused on shifting a mindset. In that situation employers must first be able to identify if the leader’s needs are, indeed, coachable.
Coaching requires you to explore, support and challenge a leader’s thinking in order to help realign their perspective. However, an executive can only be coached to think and operate differently if they are open to doing so. Coaching isn’t designed to change people fundamentally, it acts as a way of unlocking unrealized potential – this new approach was always an option, it just needed to be teased out in a methodical way.
How can you tell if this is the case?
The individual should have exhibited a desire to be coached in some way, and previously displayed behavior of wanting to learn, as well as change in response to feedback. Coaching can be an intimate experience and can sometimes feel judgmental, when in reality it is designed to push the coachee so that they gain a sustainable form of development. If a leader has previously shown the want to improve and strengthen their abilities, then this person will be a perfect fit for executive coaching and will likely benefit greatly from it.
Also, timing matters! Coaching is extremely effective when a leader is at a learning inflection point. This can take shape in many different ways, but will typically be a moment of realization, a challenge they are facing, or noticeable dissonance. These all act as coaching catalysts, as they spark the focus needed for coaching to be successful. Once this inflection point has been identified, the coach can then help the leader map out the goals of their sessions and pave a clear path to meet them.
Executive coaching is rising in popularity – in 2022, it was estimated that the global executive coaching market was valued at $9.3 billion – which is almost a $1 billion increase from the previous year. This is because the satisfaction rate for coaching is near to 100%, but to ensure that it remains that way, employers must be able to identify the correct context for successful and meaningful coaching to take place. This ensures that money is not being wasted, but instead converted into a high ROI.
If you would like to seek out coaching at a leadership level or are interested in being coached yourself, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Positive workplace ‘banter’ is a good thing.
Having a cohesive workforce and a strong workplace culture is something that all employers strive for. And friendly relationships in the workplace increase productivity, as employees are more committed, communicate better, and encourage each other. Banter can play a pivotal role in cementing these relationships.
There is, however, a fine line between ‘playful’ banter and what might be considered bullying and harassment.
Recent research found that a third (32%) of UK workers have experienced bullying masked as ‘banter’, while it is estimated that about 30% of the American workforce (which equates to roughly 48.6 million workers) feel bullied at work. And the number of employment tribunal claims citing allegations of bullying increased by 44% in 2022, which was a record high.
To mitigate the risk of this happening, regularly updated management training is essential.
The current workforce has the largest ever mix of generations working together, which means that lot of workplace banter risks being ‘lost in translation’ due to the fact that the boundaries of acceptability and what is tolerated have shifted so much across the decades. Consequently, what one person may intend as a joke, another may perceive quite differently.
Having managers who have been trained to understand what is acceptable means that they can diffuse these situations and act accordingly if someone feels that banter is going too far. But this training needs to be regularly updated as boundaries of acceptability are constantly shifting.
It is also vital that managers appreciate that cyberbullying is becoming much more common at work– especially with the rise of remote and hybrid working models.
Passive aggressive emails, pestering messages, and group chat banter can all result in employees feeling they are being put down, so it is just as important to establish positive online working policies in an evolving working world.
Finding the balance of banter at work can be difficult – but it is important to embed a culture of acceptance and inclusivity to avoid playful exchanges tipping over into bullying and harassment.
To discuss creating a positive and inclusive workplace culture in more detail, please get in touch with us.