April 2, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Can you do training courses during lockdown?

If you are an employee on furlough or self-employed and unable to work because of lockdown, it may seem like the perfect time to keep up to date on your skills, or take part in personal development, but will that affect your government support?

If you are seeking help through the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme there is nothing in the potential support that will be affected by you undertaking self-development.

If you have been notified you are an employee on furlough, while you are not able to work for your employer, you can undertake training (subject to following the current public health rules) as long as you are not making money for your employer, or providing services for your employer.  Ultimately, whether or not you are required to do the training needs to be agreed between you and your employer, but it is a discussion you should be able to have comfortably with them.

Should you do training now?

Learning new skills, taking part in group events (even if they are online), and keeping your brain active can all be really important steps in combating the negative effects of self-isolation.  It can be all too easy to become lonely, complacent, bored and even depressed during this uncertain and turbulent time.  By taking steps towards self-development, and focusing on the future, you can bring a positive light to the situation.

Can I receive Coaching now?

Similar to group training, one-on-one coaching can be hugely beneficial to both your personal and professional development at this time.  Find out more about Connect Three’s pro bono coaching offering this month.

Disclaimer: all information correct at time of publication. If in doubt, we recommend you seek advice from HMRC or your employer.

March 31, 2020Comments are off for this post.

COVID-19 Scottish Business Support Summary

Our friends at Glasgow City Council were kind enough to share this guide which Business Gateway has prepared.  It offers an at a glance summary of the help and support available to businesses and individuals from HMRC, the Scottish Government and other sources.

Download your guide here

March 31, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Helping your People through Tough Times

At Connect Three we believe in the importance of employee engagement and its power to drive the success of our business and the businesses that we work with.

Amid the Coronavirus outbreak, and the uncertain times ahead, it is even more important that we focus on driving the engagement of our people. Even if we are not sure what lies ahead, our people need to feel confident that we are leading them in the right direction.

The Connect Three team has already been approached by clients, partners and friends to help them to understand what key points they need to consider in the short term for their people, and how to apply strategic thought to decisions made in the coming weeks when it is so hard to tell what the long term impact will be on your employees and business.

In the absence of a crystal ball, it is essential that we remain as positive as we can and assume that a new normal service will resume so make decisions now based on what you want the future to look like for your employees and ultimately your business.

There is plenty of government information on how to keep your employees healthy, so this short guide is designed to help kick start your thinking on what you need to be doing for your people, and what help is available for your business.

Download your copy of the guide.

March 25, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Pro Bono Coaching in April

The Connect Three team is offering pro bono, remote, 1-2-1 coaching sessions for up to 30 business owners/leaders during April to help support people during this tough time. Maybe you are concerned about the future, or want to build personal resilience. Perhaps you are just looking for ways to be your best self, or navigate complexity and change.
 
Whatever your reason might be, we are offering a safe space to talk to someone who is trained to coach you through this crazy time. We will listen, coach, and help you to identify your best options for the way forward.
 
We want to help as many people as we can so please share this far and wide. If you could use some help, email hello@connectthree.co.uk and we'll be in touch.

March 20, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Creating Psychological Safety for Remote Workers

Being an effective team leader in a digital environment is not an easy task.  When there is physical distance and even time zones separating team members, there can be a real challenge to maintain culture and a sense of collaborative working.  How do you develop an office environment where staff feel safe to speak their minds, make mistakes and ask questions when they are not in the same room?  Essentially, how do you create ‘psychological safety’ in a digital workplace?  The term, coined by Prof. Amy Edmundson, can seem like an alien one when put in the context of a remote team interacting digitally; but it can be done.

Now that Scottish schools are closing, and non-essential travel is banned, teams used to sharing a workspace may be forced into a remote working situation and culture can instantly suffer.  Here are some quick tips for helping your team maintain a psychological safe environment while working digitally:

  1. Choose your technology carefully

Email, Slack, HipChat, WhatsApp and other text based systems are likely to be used frequently with remote teams, but users need to be aware that it is hard to convey tone by text.  Comments and jokes can easily be misconstrued, and emojis are not the answer!  By making use of video calls body language, facial expressions and tone of voice are all much more apparent and easier to interpret.

  1. Consider a buddy system

A buddy system ensures that everyone has someone whom they are comfortable to go to for support and advice.  You know that two minute chat over a coffee in the office where you sense check an email before you send it?  When your team works remotely it can make a big difference having someone to depend on for simple questions like these.  It can also help to make everyone feel valued when they know that someone is equally reliant on them for help and advice.

  1. Keep social

Do not forget to allow for ‘water cooler’ chat.  With social distancing being promoted as a solution to the COVID-19 epidemic, creating a space for people to socialise is more important than ever.  Set it apart from daily work updates by creating a different chat group, or slack thread specifically for the ‘fun stuff’.  As a leader, set challenges like getting people to answer questions about themselves, or take photos of their desk or videos of their home town – ensure everyone has an equal chance to talk about what they consider to be important.

  1. Ensure that failures, lessons and successes are shared

Even when times are tough, and you think that people need ‘a win’, do not shy away from sharing the bad news with the good.  Missed tenders are as important as won contracts when building comradery between staff.  It is important to ‘walk the walk’ when aiming for a psychologically safe workplace – sharing your own mistakes can help others feel comfortable asking for help when they are struggling.

  1. Maintain 1:1 conversations

Check in regularly with your team on one-to-one chats, by phone or video call as well as email and text chat.  Not everyone communicates in the same way and some may feel too intimidated to speak up in group chats and email chains.  Use these private conversations to discuss projects, progress and longer-term goals.  Remote teams can easily drift apart and having a shared long-term vision is important.

If you are a leader and you are feeling daunted by the prospect of suddenly managing people remotely, get in touch with Connect Three and let us know where you are struggling and how we can help.

March 20, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Remote Working with Children at Home

It’s been mere hours since our First Minister announced that we have 2 days to prepare for the schools closing thanks to the COVID-19 epidemic.  Since the story broke on Twitter I’ve already had a frantic phone call with my husband, my mother, and I’ve had a teary call from a friend who is a single working mother.  I have 3 children aged 8, 6 and 3 - how on earth am I going to work from home with stir crazy children in the next room?

Firstly, I don’t have all of the answers.  I am lucky enough to have a dedicated office space in my home, and I will be working with my husband who will happily take on as much child wrangling as I will, but I know that not everyone is in this good a position – or anything like it.  I have, however, been working from home for over 10 years and I have weathered every childhood illness, in service day and snow day going.  I once recorded 13 hours of online training material with a new born baby on my knee… so if nothing else qualifies me, I have some experience in remote working with kids.

So here is my guide for parents getting things done while the schools are closed:

  1. Make a Schedule

If you are not used to working from home, the best suggestion I can give you is: treat it like you are going to the office.  Get up at your usual time, get dressed and get started.  Make a schedule and stick to it as much as you can.  It might take a while, but it means that your children will start to understand that even though you are at home, the rules are different than on a weekend, and until it is a certain time, you are not able to play.  It is a two way street though, so when playtime comes – put the laptop away and get playing!

  1. Communicate with everyone

Speak often to your partner, your kids, your team, your boss – let them all know what you are doing and when.  Explain any problems you are facing and share solutions.  Communication will stop you from feeling isolated and ensure projects progress as planned with as little interruption as possible.

  1. Get help when you can

You cannot work non-stop from 9am-5pm with kids in the house if you are the only responsible adult available.  Someone is going to need juice when you are on a conference call, or a toddler is going pull the entire pot cupboard out onto the kitchen floor when you need to proof-read a document…you get the idea.  I cannot advocate bringing other people in to look after your children at the moment when we are being advised to self-isolate, but if you have someone who can safely help you, do not be too proud to accept the help.

  1. Work the hours that work for you

If you can, be flexible with your hours.  A translator I work with puts in a 7 hour work day, split into two blocks with 7 hours off in the middle while her partner works and she has the children.  Consider shifts, get up early, or sleep in and go to bed late, utilise nap times - do what works for you.

  1. Draw a line somewhere

When the boundaries between work and home, family and business get blurry it can be easy to never fully ‘switch off’.  My advice is to be present.  Commit to whichever activity you are doing – if it’s playing with the kids, then put the phone down.  If it’s work, then set some guidelines for the family, get somewhere quiet, and get focused.  Boundaries and guidelines are the remote working parent’s friend!

  1. Be Mindful

If you have found yourself in a remote working environment that you did not plan on, would not ask for, and generally are not prepared for, it can be hard to stomach the ‘you are so lucky’ comments that others will be making.  Try to embrace the change in circumstances by mindfully appreciating the opportunity you have to maintain your career and spend extra time with your children.  Be grateful that you get this time to enjoy with them, and that technology and your company are allowing you this opportunity when many others are not so lucky.  Try to gain some perspective and practice gratitude as you and your children settle into this new rhythm together.

  1. Relax

Things will not go to plan.  If things go wrong, the schedule falls apart, and you spend the 30 minutes you had planned for emails on sorting out a dispute over Netflix – it’s ok.  Kids will be kids, work will be just as unpredictable, and the shops will continue to run out of toilet roll.  Breathe.  Speak to your team, your friends and your family.  Share war stories with other working parents, take time to yourself whenever you can and celebrate the small victories.

This is my plan anyway, I’ll check in on day 25 of quarantine and see if I’ve stuck to my own goals! Good luck to all the dads and mums out there.  Please chat with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to let us know how you are getting on.

March 8, 2020Comments are off for this post.

How Can a Business Celebrate International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day “should be a day when brands say publicly that they are going to do something to support women, whether it is their female staff or their female consumers. And do it with authenticity and credibility.” Tanya Joseph.

International Women’s Day this year falls in the week that Connect Three will launch the incredibly exciting Principally Women programme.  Working in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, this programme represents an amazing opportunity for us to develop a new way of working with senior female business leaders and providing tailored support where they need it.  But as we developed the ideas for the workshop topics, it quickly became apparent that these types of programmes are prone to…well, let’s be nice and say ‘misguided intentions’!

As our whole team sat around the table, sharing ideas for the programme, we told stories of “women’s” events we had been to where they had missed the mark.  I have been to a conference where the keynote speaker presented pink slides for the women’s survey responses and blue slides for the men’s answers.  My colleague had been to a prestigious women’s business award ceremony and received a branded nail file from an accounting firm while her male counterpart received a pen.  As these stories continued, we began to worry about what we could get wrong in the new programme rather than focusing on what would work well.

This is probably akin to how most companies feel when faced with celebrating International Women’s Day.  Brands who have got it wrong in the past are paraded in the news for their prehistoric ways and irrelevant ideas, while those who have done it well have been briefly saluted then forgotten about.  Those who do nothing risk even more wrath online, so what should a small business do?

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EachforEqual so before you celebrate equality in your workplace Tanya Joseph, architect of the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign at Sport England, suggests that authenticity is key.  Figure out if you are truly committed to doing something to improve the lot of women with a simple gender equality audit for your workplace:

  1. What are you doing as an employer of women?
  2. Is there a gender pay gap in your organisation?
  3. Do you have flexible working options that really are workable?
  4. Are women being recruited, promoted and retained in your business?
  5. Is your workplace one in which women are not subject to unwanted attention?
  6. Do women get a voice in your organisation?

You may not ace Tanya’s test, but committing to improving on each of these points is a step in the right direction.  In addition, “a workplace which works for women has the added bonus of working for men too.”  It cannot be a surprise that men want the same things in their working lives as we do, so how supportive is your business towards flexible working for men?  Why not use International Women’s Day as an opportunity to engage your male colleagues and staff in the conversation and get real feedback on what would improve your culture for all genders?

As always, at Connect Three we will never claim that we get it all right, but we do our best to practice what we preach, and I am so proud of the role our team has played in developing both male and female leaders in companies across the UK.  So this year we will do what we always do on International Women’s Day in March and International Men’s Day in November; get together and talk about our pledges from last year, see how we did against them and make some new ones for 2020.  It is the collective work of all members of our team that has helped guide and shape Connect Three’s policies and culture into something I am so proud of, so thank you team.

CJ Morley

February 24, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Connect Three Helping Drive Growth in Glasgow’s SMEs

The team at Connect Three has been selected to be advisors on Glasgow City Council’s new Glasgow Business Growth Programme.  The programme is designed to create a connected and collaborative network of specialists and experts.  We will be part of a group of top Scottish firms including Harper Macleod and Wylie & Bisset, working together to deliver an unrivalled level of support in the UK for local SMEs.

The programme aims to deliver sustainable growth for small businesses, and to improve the city’s business start-up and SME survival rates.  SMEs will have access to a range of specialist support from Connect Three under our capacity in Leadership, Skills and Resource consultancy.  We will provide support including reviewing existing Leadership Development processes and reporting on their future suitability, making recommendations for future actions.  We will also provide a range of support across leadership and management skills including  Organisational Development, Succession Planning, Capacity Building and HR Support.  Businesses will receive support based on their needs and their commitment to inclusive economic growth.

Colin Lamb, Connect Three’s Founder and Chief Explorer says; “It is rare for a programme to come along that offers real support for SMEs across their entire business lifecycle.  Whatever stage they are at, whatever potential they have, or problem they might be facing, the Glasgow Business Growth Programme has a solution for that, and at Connect Three we are pleased to be a part of it.”

Connect Three has been part of the Business Growth Fund’s Programme since the Framework initially launched in 2017 and we are so pleased to be part of the new programme until December 2022.

You can find out more about the Glasgow Business Growth Programme here.

February 20, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Leadership and Kindness

How does being kind have a positive effect on your leadership goals?  Kindness is a concept taught in most major philosophies and religions in the world today, but you don’t need a specific spiritual belief system in order to impart kindness into your leadership.  We are taught as children to be kind, generous and to care for those around us, as in turn, they will be kind back to us.  Obviously, in individual situations, a kind approach can be applied when leading your team, but in a more general way, how can you be #BeKind as Leader?

Maria Gamb offers 4 “Be’s” to consider when trying to embrace Kindness in your Value-Based Leadership approach:

  1. Be of Service
    “A good leader, a kind leader, helps to remove obstacles so a team member can do their job to the best of their ability”.  Through coaching and support, a kind leader is of service to their team members.
  2. Be a Guardian
    You are the guardian of your team, ensuring that they get the recognition with you and you are not the only one in the spotlight.
  3. Be Generous
    Be aware of what your team need – whether it’s encouragement, inclusion, honesty, or something else – and provide it generously. Give them what they need to succeed
  4. Be Diligent
    When considering the ramifications of your decisions and actions on others, use kindness and common sense.

Kindness as a leader may be most noticeable in tough times, perhaps because that is where it is least expected, but it should be integrated into your daily leadership seamlessly and without fanfare.  If you are only kind in order to receive praise in return, you risk looking like an attention-seeker.  In Value-Based Leadership, we should work to embody kindness without waiting to be acknowledged for it.  As a Leader, when we can be anything to our team, it is our responsibility to be kind.

January 31, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Happy Birthday to us!

Today Connect Three is 5 years old. When we started in 2015, our plan was to use the power of creativity to support and shape businesses, developing their people and pushing them to reach their potential. Over the years we have pulled together a dynamic team of Consultants who are all on the same page, in the same book, in the same library. Today we are going to celebrate all of the people and businesses we have worked with and seen develop and flourish.

We are proud to practice what we preach, and it has been great to be acknowledged for our work in people development and Fair Work, with some brilliant awards over the years. These awards are not why we do it, but it's always nice for the team to be recognised!

Really, we just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported us and worked with us to date, we would not be here without you. Here's to the next 5 and beyond! 🥳

Glasgow: 18-20 Orkney St, Glasgow, G51 2BX     |     London: Scotland House, 58 Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y 0DS