How To Manage The Mental Health Challenges Of Working Remotely

Stress, anxiety, burnout and depression are on the rise for as millions of people work remotely. That's why it's imperative to make emotional well-being a top priority for you and your colleagues. This video provides practical tips and advice from leading experts to help you and your organisation.

Hire With Tomorrow's Culture In Mind

There are four kinds of change:

1) Transactional change – do what we have always done, better.
2) Transitional change – significant change but we have time to evolve.
3) Transformational change – significant change now.
4) Exponential change – increasingly impactful and unrelenting, continuous step change enacted in a compressed period of time.

Transitional and even transformational change have, for a brief period of time at least, a potential end-state. Exponential change is like compound interest, each step is significantly greater than the one that went before. Success leaves its own fingerprint (or not).

Any form of change that moves beyond improving "what is" implies working on the organisation's culture. Here we have to face the harsh reality: the so-called, "modern organisation" – perhaps the 20th century's greatest innovation – is ill-equipped to deal with the scope, complexity and speed of change we now face.

Good intentions and/or edict won't turn a hierarchical, bureaucratic, head and hand way of thinking into an innovative, entrepreneurial, first to market, breakthrough business. Think reinvention … not rework.

In a world where agility, ideas, collaboration and global reach dictate who wins and who fails, tomorrow's organisation will, of necessity, be fast, flat, flexible, focused and structured as a network of networks.

Think of a team of teams … not traditional top-down leadership. Think jazz ensemble … not a marching band. Think work … not employment. Think community … not tribe. Think contribution … not title. Think collaboration … not cooperation. Think ideas … not ideology. Think values … not rules.

As for leadership, the market for talent will put a premium on software savvy, the capacity to leverage big numbers, speed of learning, comfort with ambiguity, personal resilience and the capacity to build community. The dilemma: top talent is going to be more difficult to find than ever.

Think hiring with tomorrow's culture in mind … not hierarchy. Think leading the charge … not being in charge. Recognise that we will need super teams more than we need superstars.

Insights from "If It Can Be Digitalised, It Will Be Digitalised (PDF)".

Creating An Environment For Innovation

Charles Darwin is long remembered for informing us, based on years of study as a naturalist and biologist, that it is not the strongest of the species that survives, but rather, the one most adaptable to change.

At least partly for this reason, business owners and global executive leaders rather predictably call for significant innovation when crafting their annual business growth plans.

Be this innovation grounded in expected technological advances, market research, organisational restructuring or hefty financial investment, the linkage between better results and doing something new or perhaps even bold has never been stronger.

There are, after all, a great many examples of people and enterprises taking small ideas and changing the world, along the way enriching themselves and their stakeholders. That's the kind of result the Chief Executive Officer wants to realise, and no doubt, you and your teams as well.

And there are likewise many business tales about the cost of standing still, of watching customers and markets change around them, and ultimately, realising it's simply too late to save the company.

So, if your company's greatest potential for innovation hasn't yet been realised, what's been holding it back?

That is a serious question worth asking and worth exploring until one can gain some answers particularly if you and your team have been tasked with ideating the next big thing for your enterprise.

For in order to innovate, one must operate in an environment where such exploration and risk is encouraged and rewarded. Further, one must find the time and resources to commit intense study and focus to just one pursuit at a time when the pressure to multitask and deliver results on multiple projects remains.

If one were to ask Darwin, today, about what to expect on the road to a true breakthrough, it may well be that setting up the dynamics and environment for innovation must indeed come before the great success. That is, there may be bureaucracy, internal politics and/or stubborn managers stuck in their old ways standing in the way of agility and change.

Darwin himself is also credited with this quote:

To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact!

Especially true in these times. The implication for today's global executive is that one must study whether the organisation has the ingredients, the environment, the culture and also the true resolve to innovate. Much like a scientist studying the natural world, one must assess whether the pre-conditions for life, or, in this case, for breakthrough discoveries that can revolutionise or accelerate the business are present or not.

By carefully considering the opportunities as well as the obstacles to innovation, one should be able to see the potential for great success more clearly. This improved vision could translate into a defined set of actions required to nurture experimentation.

If your mandate is to innovate, or to drive innovation, you would be well served to understand whether you have the people and the will to fight through organisational barriers. Otherwise, you might only realise that despite the rhetoric about change, your company only wants to keep spinning its old wheels.

Will Your Organisation Stand Proudly Amongst The Winners?

If you want to thrive as a leader, grow your business, or leave a legacy … you have to first recognise that tomorrow will not be a continuation of today. Not remotely. Exponential shifts in technology will change the job landscape forever. Continued disruption and uncertainty demand new thinking about organisation design. A new generation entering the workplace redefines past assumptions about what it means to be a leader.

Will your organisation stand proudly amongst the winners? To even stay in the game you will almost certainly have to:

1) Be unwavering in meeting your commitments to the capital markets.
2) Make organisation culture the centrepiece of your approach to competitive advantage.
3) Develop the capacity to create tomorrow, today.
4) Fully engage those in the middle of the organisation.
5) Make your organisation values come to life in everything you do.
6) Consistently change (learn) faster than the competition.
7) Find ways to unlock the innovative talent both inside and outside (e.g., crowdsourcing) of the business.

No doubt your organisation has faced significant challenges in the past. Take it as a given, those difficulties were merely the hors d'oeuvres. The main course is coming up. Moreover, if you are not working to reinvent yourself the market/competition will (painfully) do it for you.

It's all-too-easy to push concerns about the future to one side. In 1907 that's what a buggy-whip maker in Detroit did. "That damn fangled Ford machine ain't going to affect us much."

A hundred years later, it's why a driver in New York spent a million dollars buying a taxi medallion (owning his own cab). "I now have security for life!"

It's what Nokia did. "We've got a really great phone; let's move production to China in order that we can make it cheaper."

It's what BlackBerry did. "Why would anyone want a camera in their phone?"

It's what Kodak did. "Photography will always be about chemical processing." To make matters worse, Kodak actually invented digital photography.

These businesses were run by really smart people. Unfortunately, if you drive the bus by constantly looking out the back window a crash is guaranteed. In the meantime, "Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress." Alfred A. Montapert.

Insights from "The 4th Industrial Revolution".

Three Key Ingredients For Creating A Positive Candidate Experience

Not only is a positive candidate experience vital to attract talent, it's also critical from a reputation standpoint. Given the power of social media, candidates who share poor experiences online can cause significant damage to both the corporate brand and employer brand. Conversely, great experiences that are shared online can have a positive effect.

There are many steps to create a positive candidate experience, but here are three key ingredients for success.

1. Open communication

It's critical to keep candidates updated on your process and your decision. When candidates don't hear back in a timely fashion, they often move on to other opportunities, sometimes carrying negative emotions about the process if left in the dark.

Communicate with the candidate throughout the process and provide council to them as needed. Clearly explain next steps and when they can expect to hear back from you. Advise them early on if they're not going to be part of the short list, speaking with them weekly and sometimes daily throughout the search.

2. A positive interview experience

The interview is perhaps the most vital interaction a candidate has with a prospective employer. According to a LinkedIn survey, 83% of candidates surveyed said a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked. Conversely, 87% of those surveyed said a positive interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once doubted.

A positive interview experience is simply a matter of respect. It starts with the courtesy of being on time for the interview and thanking them for participating when it's over.

3. The human touch

While technology is transforming HR and the hiring process is becoming increasingly automated, the human touch is still critically important. A personalised approach will make candidates feel like they truly matter and keep them engaged, which will help an organization stand out in the candidate's mind.

Infuse every interaction with a personal touch. For example, help new hires with the offer negotiation process and serve as a sounding board to them, as well as an advisor. Also, follow up with new hires on their integration into the company and meet with them 30 days into their new role for a coaching and feedback session.

Adapted from "Why The Candidate Experience Matters More Than Ever - And How To Improve It" by Howard Pezim, Partner, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Bedford Consulting Group Inc.

When Business Goals And Company Culture Clash

Business growth and profitability is the stuff of legends. Companies that astound investors, employees and the business media with sustained or unprecedented expansion become the darlings of the global financial markets and the spotlight grows on the careers of the executive officers, non-executive directors and innovators who made it all happen.

It is not surprising, then, that we are all chasing the same dreams. Growth leads to new opportunities. New opportunities present the potential to change the things around us. And recognition enables influence on a scale sometimes unimagined.

Yet there comes a time in the development of any company - large or small, public or private - when the risk of significant imbalance between corporate objectives and company culture escalates and begins to threaten continued business growth.

It is time like those that define companies. It is in such instances when the owners of a company reveal their true intentions, inhibitions and fears. And this is precisely when high performing executives begin to ask themselves whether it makes sense to work "all out" for the growth of their business when the reality is that corporate culture or fears about how growth may change it is holding them - and their organisations - back like an anchor.

Particularly for companies with long legacies or foreign owners, the stakes are very high when it comes to aligning business growth objectives with the corporate culture insiders see as the key, unifying force that has positioned the organisation for success in the first place.

The simple truth when it comes right down to it, is that even the most ambitious corporate plans for growth may collapse under the weight of questions about retaining company culture. That is why it is essential for executives already in a key leadership role, or contemplating a move to a new company and management opportunity, to probe considerably on the state of balance between business goals and company culture.

Questions one might ask could include:

  • "What elements of the culture are the owners willing to sacrifice in order to achieve business growth?"
  • "How much growth would the owners need to realise to be convinced that the culture needs to change?" and,
  • "Am I being compensated to preserve company culture, achieve business growth, or both?" And in the very likely case the response from company owners is "both", how are the financial incentives and rewards balanced to recognise both sides of the coin?

The pursuit of big dreams forces these tough questions and requires thoughtful answers. There is a natural conflict between ambition and identity. On a human scale, it is a question of knowing one's self. In corporate terms, it is a matter of sacrifice versus comfort and the willingness to confront one's fears.

Finding Your Real Allies In The Organisation

There are lots of different personality archetypes within today's modern, global corporations. Just be careful not to judge a book by its cover. Seasoned executives are continually being surprised, and in some cases, utterly humbled, by experiences that shattered their spot judgments and biases.

To accelerate the pace of change in any organisation, savvy global executives already know they must earn and enlist the support and trust of business colleagues and confidants whose internal influence is critical to moving in the direction of something new.

These are the people to whom others go for insight, guidance and support in good times and in bad. These are, very much, the unsung heroes of the organisation. They are the employees who go the extra mile, consistently, to ensure the trains run on time, that leaders project their best image to the rest of the organisation, and who work until the job is done.

They are the people who care most not only about what gets done, but how it gets done. They understand how the organisation defines right and wrong, and they challenge problems when they see them.

Odds are you already know who we're talking about here. You already know someone - a person on your team, or with whom you interact on business affairs from time to time - who qualifies as a real all-star. Someone who exhibits true example, work ethic, attitude and consistent commitment to excellence makes them memorable and admirable and must rank among your very best employees.

The people who define the culture of your organisation and who already wield the most social capital, because of who they are and how they treat others, are your best possible allies. Find a way to tap and align with their credibility, and you will be capable of realising the change you want to make.

Culture Assessment

Download your complementary copy of "Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis" and go through the assessment either individually or with your team. Review the assessment with two central questions in mind. "Where are we today on the 5-1-5 scale?" And using the same scale, "Where do we need to be?"

Consider, which descriptor best describes where your organisation is today? Score (X) to capture your level of agreement with that statement (5, 4, 3, 2, or 1). A "5" suggests you strongly agree. Repeat to describe where you believe you need to be (✓). How far you look into the future is a factor of the business sector you are in. A good default assumption, however, would be 24 months. It is quite possible, that on any single question, where you are is where you need to be.

In thinking through "Where do we need to be?" consider the following:

  • What did you learn from the Covid crisis?
  • What is special about your business that you must retain?
  • What do tomorrow's customers want to buy and how do they want to buy it?
  • What would it take to attract the customers that are currently out of reach?
  • What would it take to attract and retain the very best people?
  • Digitalisation isn't simply a matter of investing in technology. How are you going to "rewire" the organisation in order that you optimize the return on investment from that technology?
  • What do you need to do to become more agile?
  • What will it take to move faster?

It is also important to ask: "Do we have the leadership in place to make this happen?" "Are all of those in pivotal roles totally committed to this degree of change?" After going through the assessment (including any "From What to What?" dimensions you may have added) identify:

  1. What elements of today's culture are critical to tomorrow's success (Roots); and
  2. The five to seven key changes demanded if we are to start to create tomorrow's culture, today (Wings). More than seven will make the challenge overwhelming.

Joining the points that describe where we are and, similarly, joining the points that describe where we need to be, will give a very helpful, visual "map" of the cultural journey.

Download your complementary copy of "Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis" today.

Mental Health, Virtual Integration & 'Remote' Compensation

After enjoying the comfort and cost savings of working from home, would you rule out a potential job if remote wasn't an option? Ever struggle logging into a video meeting and then face "technology bias"? How about your employees' mental health – are you seeing resilience or deepening depression?

These compelling questions and issues, impacting workforces the world over right now, were explored recently during TRANSEARCH USA's Executive Human Resources Virtual Roundtable.

The following are key themes that emerged and some useful guidance for HR professionals.

Read "Mental Health, Virtual Integration & 'Remote' Compensation" leadership insights

Leaders Must Lead!

There is no substitute for inspirational leadership, someone who:

  • Takes people where they otherwise would not go;
  • Employs the head, empowers the hand, engages the heart and enriches the spirit;
  • Builds a great team;
  • Creates tomorrow in the room today;
  • Is skilled in orchestrating "change".

To those core attributes add resilience, digital savvy, coaching mastery and all that is implied by the word 'focus'.

Here the waters are somewhat muddied by a past body of work defined as "change management". Its origins lie in a time before digitalisation, before ongoing disruption, before today's blazing speed of change and before the need to continuously reinvent possibility. Still an overriding theme in many organisations and, no doubt, invaluable in the past, it is a body of work that needs to be revisited.

Push technology aside today at your peril. That is not to suggest - as many appear to do - that digitalisation/technology/AI, etc., are, on their own, a source of lasting competitive advantage. Culture is a dynamic system and technology an integral part of that system. Culture is the stage - technology one of the lead players. And sitting in the audience? The ever-vigilant customer.

The resilient nature of culture is that it is essentially a series of deeply enshrined habits. And changing a habit doesn't happen overnight. Culture will thus, especially in the short term, always have primacy. For that reason, launching new technology into a culture that doesn't fully support it is a pretty good way to destroy value. For example, although AI has the potential to move the business to a whole new level, implementation is lagging expectations.

In introducing breakthrough technology, organisations need to similarly start with a rich and compelling 'why'. For an intervention that will, literally and irrevocably, change their lives - higher productivity, faster response times and/or a greater understanding of who buys the company's product and/or service are, on their own, a tough sell to the typical employee. Motivation without meaning is change without commitment.

And what does a great 'why' sound like? A group of young executives in a bionics company were asked why they do what they do. They answered, "To make the wheelchair redundant". Where do I sign up?

None of this takes anything away from the value of a holistic template (model) - one that captures how all of the various elements of change come together. Indeed, the further you venture into the upper levels of management, the greater the degree to which learning how to learn comes to the fore. Provide that map but recognise that leaders must lead. Acknowledge that leaders, real leaders, do lead!

Insights from "Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis".

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