June 10, 2022

Men’s Health Week – Mental Health at Work


Men’s Health Week – Mental Health at Work

Every year the Men’s Health Forum takes one week to encourage men to turn attention inward and make the time to prioritise their health.  This is so important in 2022 as, during the pandemic, early-stage cancer diagnoses fell by one third in the first lockdown, and mental health problems increased exponentially.  It’s time to right these wrongs, and encourage everyone to get checked out – but why the particular focus on men? For one reason, male visits to the GP fell more than any other gender’s, and statistically, men are less likely to seek help for a mental health problem. 

This year the Men’s Health Forum has created some specific collateral that focuses on mental health, and they are encouraging all men to take a ‘Mental Health MOT’.  They have created a short manual that uses a simple formula as a gateway to helping men take the first steps in looking after their mental health.

The ‘Men’s Health MOT for the Mind’ uses a tool called the CAN DO approach:

  • Connect – Boost your connections with others
  • Active – Easy ways to get active
  • Notice – Enjoy greater awareness of your environment
  • Discover – Keep Learning
  • Offer – Give to Others

At Connect Three we teach the importance of prioritising people’s mental health in the workplace, and how by offering support at work, you can help to improve people’s quality of life in general.  So with that in mind, we asked two of our male team members to take a look at the Mental Health MOT manual, and review the CAN DO approach for our clients and people.

First, before we look at the manual, do you think men really need a separate campaign to encourage them to look after their health?

David: “Yes I really do. Men are less likely to pay attention to their health – mental or physical – or to have a natural outlet to talk about these things. And when a man has poor mental health it’s more likely that this will be ruining someone else’s life too, for example, by them taking it out on others at home, or work.”

Gregor: “I agree.  A targeted campaign will help men relate and be able to focus on mental health challenges that are more prevalent in men. The best way to shift how men view their mental health is for them to see other men lead by example. Separate campaigns can help showcase these examples and create change.”

Is an ‘MOT’ and ‘CAN DO’ approach the answer?

Gregor: “Well – actually I was quite put off by the title!  ‘Man MOT’ is stereotyped towards a ‘manly-man who likes cars’…I don’t think I’m the only person that would feel alienated by it.

“The CAN DO approach is a great, factually correct system, but I think it falls down in its execution.  If you’re mentally struggling, facing burnout, and you feel like there is too much going on, CAN DO implies you should push through rather than pause and reflect.  The whole guide assumes you are going to have the time and energy to be proactive, and have the headspace and motivation to try the challenges.  This might be really useful for some people, but for others, it’s too far in the future.

Looking after yourself starts with self-reflection; understanding where you are at, not jumping into adding more things.”

OK, so the idea of making connections, speaking up, and gaining more awareness is correct – but wording it to sound like ‘just push through’ might give the wrong message! 

So what should workplaces be doing to help support their male employee’s mental health, especially with burnout becoming a real problem for all sizes of businesses?

David: “The first step, like Gregor says, is reflection and education.  We need to find ways to make it as normal to talk about mental health in the workplace as it is to talk about physical illness.  Leaders need to help people to get past ‘I’m fine’, and raise awareness of the outward signs of burnout and other common mental health problems.”

Gregor: “I agree, education is key.  Leaders should offer resources that people can access without having to raise flags or contact HR.  Step one in getting help, especially for men, should not be ‘admit your problem to someone’.  A huge barrier to men seeking help is fear of embarrassment or ridicule. Let’s remove that by giving out resources before they’re asked for.

“Male senior leaders need to be role models and be open about their own challenges with mental health.  This will help others in the business be open, start to listen, and maybe start to chat.”

Gregor, you are part of the Wellbeing team in Connect Three, what can you share that we do that might help others get started?

Gregor: “At Connect Three we have wellbeing sessions where we all come together to discuss how we’re getting on and what support would be helpful.  These are incredibly useful and, personally, I gain comfort from knowing others are going through or have been through similar situations; and I gain knowledge on what might help me get through them.  Having mixed-gender sessions lets men see how other genders share and speak about things – both positive and negative.  A separate campaign for men is great, but collaboration can be really helpful too.”

Amazing – thanks!  Any final thoughts David?

David: “It’s great that men’s mental health is being talked about more and more but we still have a long way to go. Let’s use this momentum to have conversations and be open to how we’re doing from there we can look at ways to help each other and ourselves.”

March 14, 2022

Surviving the Great Reshuffle

In September 2021, the number of job vacancies in the UK surpassed one million, creating a new record for the market, and around 69% of UK workers have said that they are “feeling confident about moving to a new role in the next few months” according to a recent survey by Randstad UK.  This combination of events has lead to two major challenges for UK businesses:

  1. How do you retain and engage the talent you currently have in your organisation?
  2. How do you attract and recruit candidates when everyone else is trying to do the same?

What is happening?

While the Great Resignation implies people are leaving the workforce, a large group of workers are simply reconfiguring what their careers look like.  Some are leveraging the current hiring crisis to get into better positions; others have decided to work for themselves; many more are shifting into new industries and careers that offer higher wages or align more with their values. Rather than merely being a ‘Great Resignation’ in which people simply quit and walk away, the current disruption is seeing a huge proportion of employees move around the job market – more like a ‘Great Reshuffle’ as some have dubbed it.

Why is it happening?

Professional workers have agency like they have never had before, allowing them to fine-tune their life to allow for a better work-life balance.  Plenty of time at home has given people time to reflect on where their careers are heading and to make deliberate choices for their future.

Additionally, opportunities opened up by remote work mean millions of workers can now access thousands of new roles which were previously ‘off-limits’ due to geography.  As a means of attracting talent, many employers are either adapting their working models to hybrid or fully remote, or offering higher wages in response, attracting applicants from a much wider pool of talent.

Yes, the pandemic was a catalyst for this move to hybrid working, but we must be careful not to blame the pandemic for ‘how things are now’.  It isn’t the only reason people are leaving jobs.  Great places to work who focus on their people are still great places that focus on their people.  Businesses with existing bad management practices will have had their weak points exposed.  The pandemic isn’t the cause, it has just raised a mirror to the organisations to help them see where the weaknesses are.

Some weaknesses were only seen because of the quick step into hybrid working.  When line managers were forced into being people managers during the pandemic they were inadequately prepared to act without the in-office back up of HR.  They were more likely to deal with things ad hoc, or without asking for help, and the results have, unsurprisingly, not always been positive!

What can we do?

It is a scary time for businesses, and the temptation can be to act in a way that conflicts with your future goals or current values; for instance, not managing people for underperformance for fear of them leaving, or not investing time or resources in training for retention and growth as all of HR’s focus is on recruitment.

We cannot keep plugging gaps in the hull, we have to keep an eye on where we are headed.  Businesses must split their focus between developing and nurturing existing talent to ensure they are choosing to stay, and attracting new talent.  Luckily, these things are interdependent.  The reasons why people stay with a business can be a powerful message to use when trying to attract potential candidates.

Seizing the Opportunity

Instead of blaming the pandemic, why not embrace the opportunity to bring to the fore the things that conscientious HR personnel have been talking about for years? Like flexible working, employee empowerment, people well-being, tailored support?

It may take years for the current reshuffling to finally settle down, but organisations that delay making changes to their hiring and people policies could be left in the dust.  The Great Reshuffle is affecting all industries, and staff at all levels of business, and it is clear that the incentives of days pre-pandemic (high salaries, company cars, opportunities to travel…) just won’t cut it anymore. 

Companies need to offer support for their people’s mental health first, and wealth second.  Alison Omens, chief strategy officer of JUST Capital, which carried out the recent Stanford Study said:  “We asked people would they take a pay cut to work for a company that aligns with their values,” she adds, “and across the board, people say yes.”

If you’d like to find out more about creating a culture that cares, get in touch with the Connect Three team.  Our HR experts are here to help you.

March 7, 2022

International Women’s Day 2022

This International Women’s Day, I spoke with two of our Explorers, Katy and Barbs about our Scottish Enterprise Principally Women’s programme and to find out what they’ve learned from the programme, and what IWD and #BreakTheBias means to them.

  1. Can you tell me what the Principally Women programme is all about?

Barbs: “It’s a programme designed specifically for female senior business leaders to develop their leadership with a focus on the real challenges that are specific to women.”

Katy: “Absolutely – we’ve worked to make a space where women are able to truly be themselves, feel supported and safely challenged to develop personally and develop their businesses. It’s a place to feel confident and empowered.”

  1. Be honest, before we started running the Principally Women programme, did you think that there was a need for ‘women only’ or gender specific leadership training?

Barbs: “Unfortunately, yes. Women face situations, challenges and barriers that do not exist out-with their gender. The programme works to identify some of those challenges, and offer practical support on how they can address them.”

Katy: “If I’m honest, unlike Barbs I rebelled against the idea that women should have their own programmes/network, as I felt that we shouldn’t need our own spaces and should be able to be successful within a mixed gender environment.”

  1. We've run the programme twice now - having been part of it, is that still what you think?

Katy: “No! As soon as we had our first introductory calls with women on the programme, I very quickly saw how wrong I’d been. A women’s only programme, wasn’t a sign of weakness but of amazing strength.

Women do face differently challenges and barriers in the workplace to men, and men still hold the majority of leadership positions, that is just fact. Being in the minority can at times feel can feel wearing and lonely, but in a women’s only programme you don’t have to deal with the perceptions and stereotypes that may hold you back in a mixed group.”

Barbs: “I agree with Katy - the reality is that from birth that women are viewed in a different way, across continents and cultures, and we want to make sure that there are opportunities for women, and everyone, to thrive, no matter what they face. One of our key messages in the programme is about sitting with fear and courage. Acknowledge it, but don’t let it stop you.”

  1. What has been your favourite part of your involvement so far?

Katy: “All of it! These programmes have enriched me and I always look forward to the sessions as I know there are going to be some brilliant conversations. A huge privilege for me was sharing feedback that family members had given. Seeing the impact that this had on the women will forever make me smile.”

Barbs: “I love when the women share really personal experiences and we can support them, through great conversations, to find a solution, or even options. The women speak about the difference in their confidence that they have experienced after taking part in the programme, and this is the stuff that has the greatest impact for them, and me.”

  1. What struggles do you think that women in the UK still face in the professional world?

Katy: “There is still a perception that women are inferior to men and less able to be successful in roles of ‘power’. Unfortunately, I can give numerous examples to back that up with what I have experienced, and what the women we work with have told me. Things such as, women being left out of meetings, being described as “over-emotional” or “all women are weak” … I could go on. Gender pay gaps and representation also evidence this. It’s my opinion that every single challenge that women face, comes down to systemic gender bias.”

Barbs: “I was doing research last week to design more content for the programme, and I came across some interesting (and terrifying) stats on gender bias when it comes to influence and negotiation. There remains a lot of negative stereotypes about what a woman should or shouldn’t be, how she should behave, and the role men play in supporting women.”

  1. The theme of International Women’s Day this year is Break the Bias – what does this mean to you?

Barbs: “To me it means everyone taking a proactive approach (all genders) to what is not appropriate and what is not helpful and to know how to call that out not if they should. This can be behaviours, workplace cultures or practices. This is a responsibility of all. It’s about challenging those things we hear and observe every day in our workplaces and in all aspects of life, to give women their rightful place of equity in the world without fear or bias.”

Katy: “For me it’s about people being honest and taking in the fact that gender bias still exists. Open your eyes and don’t hide to this. From here you will be able to call out biases and call in those who have them to learn and do the right thing. There are amazing women out there that we haven’t even met yet, who haven’t had the opportunity to show how amazing they are. What a shame it would be if bias continues to dictate that.”

Thank you both so much for your time – if you would like to find out more about Principally Women, or International Women’s Day, follow the links or get in touch with Connect Three today.

January 6, 2022

Connect with… Nicola

Happy New Year everyone! Just before the festive break we welcomed a new member of the team – Nicola, our new Client & Marketing Executive.  So what better way to start the year than with one of our get-to-know-you interviews?

Hi Nicola! Let’s start with an easy one, what's your role at Connect Three and what do you do?

I am a Client & Marketing Executive. In a nutshell I’m here to help grow Connect Three through client relations, marketing and internal comms. My role will be very varied, and I expect I’ll be doing something different every week!

I have no doubt that will be true!  What was it about Connect Three that made you interested in joining the team?

I have always placed huge importance on authenticity and not bending my values. As a marketer, it’s my job to tell a story, educate and win people over. How would I sell something I don’t fully believe in?

The first time I met Colin and the team, I knew that my values were completely aligned with Connect Three and I was so excited to get involved. Connect Three’s B Corp status, business values and the team are all examples of how they’re putting their values into action.

That is so good to hear.  We’re so glad you joined!  Can I ask, what are you reading right now?

I am a HUGE Jodi Picoult fan, so I am actually between two of her books right now - The book of two ways & Wish you were here. I love the way she deals with really intense topics and always gives a few viewpoints.

Amazing, we love a book recommendation.  Next question - which business leader would you like to have a cup of tea with?

I would love to sit down with Whitney Wolfe Herd, the youngest self-made woman in history to become a billionaire! After founding dating app Tinder at 23, she was forced to leave the company after being a victim of sexual harassment. At 25, she founded Bumble – a company now worth over 14 billion dollars.

Good choice! Final question, if you could only give one piece of advice to people starting out on their career reading this, what would it be?

After being made redundant during the pandemic I really struggled to get back into the job market. I felt like I had been knocked back to the start and endless job applications with no-replies is really tough! Throughout my career I’ve learnt that knowing your own identity, values and purpose are the most important thing you can do. For me, this also meant I didn’t want to join a company that didn’t or wouldn’t meet them. After a long time of searching and waiting, I finally met Connect Three and it wasn’t just by chance.

I did a great mini exercise (thanks to Hannah Miller, the founder of Sidekick) when I was stuck and I would advise anybody just starting out, or confused about where to go next, to do it too by answering the following questions: Who am I? What are your passions? What do other people love in me? What frustrates me? What are my values? What do you want to be remembered for?

Love it – thanks Nicola, we’re so happy you joined the team!

December 2, 2021

Connect with…Gregor!

It’s that time again, another new face for me to introduce you to – everyone, say hello to Gregor!

Hi Gregor, welcome to the team. Tell us what your role is at Connect Three and what you do.

I’m the Learning Coordinator, my role is split between coordinating the learning projects, research and delivery of those projects and supporting business development.

Amazing! We’re so glad you’re here. I know you haven’t been with us long, but what has been your favourite moment in Connect Three so far?

Does finding out that our Chief Explorer was gluten-free like me count? It means there’s always snacks in the office, and beers at the parties that I can have!

Haha! I’ll let you have that one. I know like a lot of the team you are a big reader, so what are you reading right now?

Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’ by Susan Cain. As a very extroverted person it’s interesting to hear more from an introverted perspective.

Lovely, I like a good book recommendation. Next up - which business leader would you like to have a cup of tea with?

Yvon Chouinard – founder of Patagonia: I think all businesses should be led with his mindset.

Oh, great choice! OK, finally, if you could only give one piece of advice to people starting out on their career reading this, what would it be?

Take time to decide who you want to be and where you want to go. If you’re willing to spend 2 hours planning a week-long holiday then, by the same ratio, you should spend 6 months of working hours planning your career. I got this from 80,000hours.org and it completely makes sense to me!

Thank you so much for your time today Gregor – I’m sure we’ll be hearing from you on the blog again soon!

November 26, 2021

We are a B Corp! Connect Three achieves B Corp Certification

It's been a really exciting week for the team at Connect Three as we found out that we officially achieved our B Corp Status!  The accreditation rewards our work to become one of the UK's most ethical companies and achieving it has been our goal for a long time.  Giving Back is at the heart of our business, and we are passionate about living out our values and showing that business can, and should, put people over profit, and to be rewarded for our efforts has been a fantastic end-of-year boost for the team.

To become an accredited B Corp, every aspect of our business was graded against the association's rigorous testing system, 'The B Impact Assessment'.  We were judged on how our day-to-day operations create positive impact for our people, our community, and the environment, and what our business is doing to make a positive social impact in the wider world.

The accreditation shows that we’re using our business as a force for good, and that we are focused on driving positive change through how work every day.  We may be the first consulting firm of our kind to achieve this prestigious recognition, but we won't be resting on our laurels!  We have big plans for how we can continue to improve and expand our positive impact every day.

What is a B Corp? 

There are just 4,000 certified B Corps including international brands like Innocent, Patagonia, and The Body Shop.

"Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and non-profits alone. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose." B Corporation

What being a B Corp means to us

Colin started Connect Three with the goal of helping business managers to become inspirational leaders who build healthy businesses that are great places to work.  Now we work to help leaders become someone who makes a positive impact on everyone that they interact with.

"Connect Three is about educating others to have a positive impact in the world. To know that we have been held accountable for the ethics which we promote, and rewarded with this certification is a fantastic affirmation for myself and the team.  It's a real testament to what we've been working on for the last 7 years, and I could not be more proud of what we've accomplished."

November 3, 2021

How to Reboard your People

Your people are not going back to the same workplace they left in March 2020 when the first UK lockdown started.  In the last 18 months the world has changed, and these differences will be around for the foreseeable future.  Now we need to help our people to transition from the ‘temporary’ ways of working we’ve had in place since then, to a new, safe, and inclusive workplace.  This is the principle behind reboarding.

Reboarding is the idea of welcoming your people back in a similar way as you would ‘onboard’ new employees; creating training and resources to help them make the move back to the office, or whatever new ways of working you have envisaged for your business’s future.

Creating this plan and process can be daunting, but think of it as the chance to design a new, improved employee experience that you can be proud of.

  1. Agree on the Vision & Make a Plan
    Before you start, you need to be clear on what your new workplace will look like.  As with all things, we would encourage you to consult with as many of your people as possible rather than rolling out your ideal solution and discovering that it will not work for your teams.  Surveys are telling us that single people want back to the office and couples want to work at home; that Millennials want back to their desks while Gen X want to work from home forever – without trying too hard I’m sure you can think of a dozen examples from your people, friends, and family where these generalisations do not apply, so please don’t assume that you know what people will want to do.  Just ask them instead.
  2. Support your Leaders so they can support your People
    Once you have your vision and plan in place, get your leaders ready.  You need to support them so that they are in a place to support their teams.  Many of us have relied on our managers to take on new responsibilities around the wellbeing of their teams when we were thrust into lockdown the first time.  Now as we seek to change their ways of working again, your people may feel anxious and out-of-place, and you need to equip your leaders to help support your teams through this.
  3. Prepare, Train, and take Feedback
    Ensure leaders know where they can access resources to help them to reboard their teams successfully; offer them updated training so they are confident about answering their people’s questions and addressing any concerns; and provide them a way to pass feedback upwards on what the teams are asking for, and let them know that this feedback is being acted on.
  4. Respect Individual Needs
    If there was one simple lesson that we could impart on the businesses working through their reboarding plans right now, it is ‘treat your people as individuals’.  No two people had the same experience of the pandemic, and it could be that no two people in your organisation require the same support as they return to the workplace.  Recognise their unique experiences, discover their needs, and your people will thrive.

For support developing your reboarding plan, get in touch with Connect Three today.

October 19, 2021

Connect with…Ajeya

Our team is growing so time for another round of interviews! First on the (virtual) hot seat is Ajeya...

Hello Ajeya, and welcome to the team! Let's start with a nice easy one to warm us up - what's your role at Connect Three and what do you do?

I work as the Finance Assistant. My job includes invoicing, preparation of financial accounts, cash and liquidity management, planning, forecasting, and managing financials

What was it about Connect Three that made you interested in joining the team?

The environment that is performance oriented and at the same time welcoming and accommodating.

That's great to hear, let's get a little more personal - what are you reading right now?

I am currently reading 2 books simultaneously. The first one is called Barbarians At The Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, and the second one is called The Woman in the Window.

And the question I ask everyone - which business leader would you like to have a cup of tea with?

I would like to have a cup of tea with Mr. Peter Lynch who is considered one of the greatest money managers of all time. This is because one of my key areas of interest is investment management.

Love it - and finally, if you could only give one piece of advice to people starting out on their career reading this, what would it be?

The advice that I’d give is to be proactively involved in networking with people belonging to the industry of your interest since the early career stage.

Thanks for your time Ajeya, it's great to have you on the team!

October 1, 2021

October is Menopause Awareness Month | Making a Menopause Friendly Workplace


According to Rachel Weiss, founder of The Menopause Café, too many companies still believe that it is acceptable to use the term ‘menopausal’ as a slur or insult in a workplace, and cites plenty of examples[1].  In 2018, the Deputy Head of the Bank of England[2] reported that the UK economy was ‘entering a menopausal phase’, meaning it was past its best in terms of productivity. What other situation is there left in the UK that it is acceptable to mock or discriminate against someone for in the workplace?  Or is being menopausal the last taboo in the UK office?

According to the NHS website[3], there are more than 30 symptoms associated with menopause, from psychological and physical challenges affecting sleep, concentration, mood, and anxiety levels, along with more visible symptoms including hot flushes.  It is tough to go through menopause in silence and even tougher to be working in an environment with no support.

You cannot let the senior leaders of your organisation leave with their considerable talent, knowledge, and experience just because their needs are not supported.

So how up to date is your support policy for menopausal women?  Wait…you don’t have one?  Well, you aren’t alone, but we are here to help.

Becoming a Menopause Friendly Workplace

Let’s start now. World Menopause Day is this month on 18th October and is a great opportunity to open discussions in your company.  From here, there are two clear steps for you to walk through in your mission to becoming  Menopause Friendly Workplace:

Step 1: EDUCATION and AWARENESS

Education of your people is key, as is training leaders to know how to make provisions for menopausal employees when required.  Your goal should be creating an open culture where mentioning menopause is as natural as raising any other health, mental health, and general well-being topics.  Women need to be able to have an open and honest conversation about what they need to help manage their symptoms, and reduce any negative impact on their mental health or the business.

Step 2: MAKE A POLICY

You need to create and implement a specific menopause policy so initial enthusiasm makes way for long-term changes.  By offering similar wellbeing policies and procedures as those in place for mental health support, stress management, new parents, and bereavement, you can support your female leaders at a time when they are vulnerable.

You should consider in your policy:

  • Options for flexible working models.
  • Training and development for team leaders.
  • Work environment comfort.
  • Access to specific healthcare information for affected women.

For more help with getting your policies in place, get in touch with Connect Three today.

RESOURCES:

Get started on your own education by reading some of the guidance on these sites:

 

SOURCES:

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/aug/17/my-bosses-were-happy-to-destroy-me-the-women-forced-out-of-work-by-menopause

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44138229#:~:text=The%20Bank%20of%20England%27s%20deputy,and%20no%20longer%20so%20potent%22.

[3] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/symptoms/

August 30, 2021

Key lessons in returning to the workplace – The Scotsman

Repost of Colin's article in The Scotsman

Over the past 16-months the pandemic has forced employers to adapt to extremes never considered before, and it has taken strong leadership to steer things in the right direction.

However, as restrictions ease and we all prepare to return to the workplace, we must adapt again to changes that will last beyond the pandemic – and it falls again on leaders to navigate their people on the road to recovery.

Over the past 16 months, organisations have changed immeasurably, and so have the demands placed those in the driving seat. What has become clear is that ina crisis, the leadership approach must change too.

Let’s break this down into three phases: emergency – the pandemic; return – getting people back into the swing of ‘normal’ working; and recovery – what happens next.

In the emergency phase, leaders had to move to the frontline and fight the fires. However, in the return phase, leaders must step back and spend more time supporting their teams.

In recovery, leaders need to strike a balance between guiding a smooth return while maintaining the pressure to renew and rethink the future.

So what does this mean for leaders in the ‘new normal’ and what should they be thinking about as we emerge from the pandemic?

1. Recalibrate what you do and why you do it.

This is a crucial step – often overlooked – but an easy win. Re-tell the story about your organisation and why it exists, what it does and what is important. Many people have now re-evaluated their personal priorities and whether they are still aligned with those of their organisation. Spending time here helps everyone to get ‘back on the bus’, know the destination, how they will get there, understand what seat they are in and how they can contribute to success. Don’t overlook the obvious just because you know the way ahead, and if you don’t know the way, keep listening, talking and asking for contribution.

 2. Rethink how work gets done.

Clearly, the pandemic changed the way we work forever. For some this may be minor, but for others this could mean a change of role entirely. This is an opportunity. Don’t slip back into your old organisational structure – you need to better understand how your business needs to operate and then think about what that means for the roles required and the people you have. Capitalise by resetting the organisation and reviewing if you have the right structure for now – not the past. Include your team in this. It helps people shape the right structure and roles, and they often have a better understanding of how things work day-to-day. This helps identify where gaps and development areas are in knowledge, skills and behaviours that are necessary going forward.

3. Elevate your authentic self (NB this is key).

It can’t all be about the business strategy and structure. Leaders must be explicitly authentic. What does this mean? Well, leaders need to role model vulnerability for a start. Why? Because everyone is probably feeling a little vulnerable and nervous about the future of work, and the truth is no one really knows what the coming months and years have in store. Leaders need to be honest, transparent and show vulnerability. They need to connect with their human-side and be able to express their feelings and display emotions for others to understand that ‘it is okay, not to be okay’.

We have had to immerse ourselves in being more resilient and focus on our wellbeing over the last 16 months – this cannot and should not stop. We need to ensure we are putting our own lifejackets on before helping others. Leaders need to look after themselves, to be able to look after others. To do this, we can ensure we are booking in regular maintenance and re-fuel time so we don’t burn out. There is a fine line, and leaders need to know themselves better to manage their impulse control and emotions to create a safe psychological environment for people to feel they can come forward with concerns or questions.

4. Navigate your people back to work

Going back into the workplace should not be overlooked. This is a BIG deal for most people – especially if the set-up has changed. We all know the importance of how people see their physical place of work and why some have battled with the introduction of hot-desking in recent years. You should create a staged campaign here to get people excited about going back into the workplace (once it is safe to do so). Pilot different ideas and bring people in to help test and ask for their feedback. Re-think why you are asking people to return to the office and consider how you can still offer flexibility for teams and individuals who have improved productivity from working from home.

For most, the move to digital and working from home (or anywhere) has really elevated industries – creating an opportunity to rescope how the office is used and how to work in a hybrid way.

We would also recommend ‘re-orientating’ workforces on their return. I don’t know how many people we have spoken to that have forgotten how the printer works or how to set the alarm. Going back over the basics and bringing teams in to go through a re-introduction to the workplace shouldn’t be missed. It will help create a buzz and start reforming relationships again. Top tip – take the small stuff seriously.

5. Promote ‘out with the old and in with the new’

Leaders need to encourage and role model change. Recovery isn’t about going back and slipping into old habits. This is an incredible opportunity to assess pre-pandemic routines and behaviours, then determine which ones serve the organisation, and which ones are best left in the past. “Renewal not return” is the term used by leaders such as Siemens Chairman Jim Hagemann. Leaders who have created a psychologically safe culture with their teams will be able to progress, promoting and rewarding others to help do things differently, faster and better. This is when you can get creative and innovative with teams – form huddles and create the environment for creative problem solving and looking at ways to improve processes and workflows. This is pivotal to your people feeling part of and contributing to the change your organisation needs to be a success. It is not about the leader having all the ideas or solutions – it is about creating the right culture and environment for your people to take ownership and accountability here and bring their own ideas of how they can improve productivity.

Colin Lamb is founder of Connect Three, a Scottish consultancy which helps businesses improve through their people

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