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

July 15, 2021

World Youth Skills Day

It might not get as much press as other international days, but 15th July is World Youth Skills Day, and since it celebrates something that is very close to our hearts at Connect Three, we wanted to do our part to spread the news about the great work that happens internationally because of it.

What is World Youth Skills Day?

The UN created the day back in 2014, with a goal of "celebrating the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship".  Now, annual events in countries across the world are held to create a dialogue between young people, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, firms, employers’ and workers’ organisations, policy makers and development partners.

Why is it important?

Did you know:

  • UNESCO estimates that schools were either fully or partially closed for more than 30 weeks between March 2020 and May 2021 in half the countries of the world.
  • In June, 19 countries still had full school closures, affecting nearly 157 million learners and 768 million more learners were affected by partial school closures.
  • Young people aged 15-24 have been even more severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis than adults. Globally, youth employment fell by 8.7% in 2020, compared with 3.7% for adults.

The consequences of all of this disruption to the early labour market experiences of youth could last for years to come.  So what can be done?

What can I do?

If you want to attend the live event, you can register here.  Otherwise, why not use today and this week as an opportunity to start dialogues with the youth in your employment about what skills they need to develop in order to progress this year and beyond.  If there are no people in your employment under the age of 24, now is the time to discuss with your team how you can help address that, and prepare for the next wave of graduates and the additional skills help they might need after the events of the last 2 years.

June 30, 2021

Reflecting on Pride Month 2021

On Monday some of the team took the morning off from virtual meetings and went for a walk up Ben A’an as part of our Wellbeing initiative, headed by Katy.  We also took the opportunity to make it a learning day around the theme of Pride, since it’s pride month and our walk coincided with the 51st anniversary of the first ever Pride march.
We asked each other questions from a quiz, which sparked amazing conversations and stories, and learning, about Pride and what it means to us as individuals and as a team.

June 21, 2021

What do Insights’ colours really mean?

Barbara Clark

As an Insights Practitioner, I see the world and people as colours – Red, Blue, Yellow and Green. I don’t view the world like this to label or define, but to recognise and understand the person. I love this! It thrills me to work with people and really help them understand themselves and others. Why they think the way they do; why they react the way they do; why they communicate (or not!) the way they do and how this can build brilliant working relationships.

Over the past 12 months, I have had the chance to really put myself to the test with my own work and team. I have been working a lot with my brilliant colleague David. We have been doing lots of work for Connect Three behind the scenes as a team, and also working closely on projects and delivery with our partner Scottish Enterprise, creating bespoke support for the Seafood Industry in Scotland as well as a large project for NHS Lanarkshire doing Management Development.

What did I know? David and I, according to Insights, are opposite types. He is Blue / Green, and I am Red / Yellow. David is methodical and detailed and works really well collaboratively. He also cares a lot about what he does and the people he works with. He is fun and witty, can be serious when needed. I am not all those things, particularly the methodical and detailed part. I am energetic, flexible (David fed this back to me), I am honest, direct (sometimes harsh) and say it like it is. I also get bored easily and distracted far too easily.

What did we do? To work well together we knew we had to communicate. Often and clearly. Pre COVID we did not know what was coming and agreed to meet for lunch. We talked, set expectations, and shared our excitement at the opportunity to work together on these brilliant projects.

Then… we all know what happened next. David and I were still working together – remotely. We were designing and delivering programmes, having client meetings, project meetings, team meetings, all online.

What did I learn? Whilst using cool blue energy does not come easily to me, I know and understand why David asks questions. It is not to drain my very excitable sunshine yellow energy. It is because, to do the best job he wants to understand. He wants to understand to get it right and be prepared. Fiery red energy comes easily to me. This can be great when decisions need to me made and things just need to happen. But sometimes it is best to get someone else’s opinion and input. Put my earth green hat on and say, let us work together on this. Sometimes we have not had that luxury, and that is ok. Though the difference is we can say this, and both understand why. I have also learned to embrace the structured approach. I can see where this helps and why it works, with flexibility built in.

What have I learned most? That it is not only about labels and opposites. Its about intention and understanding and sharing a purpose to do not just a great job, but the best job. That by really being empathetic and self-aware, we can have great working relationships even with those who have opposite styles and approaches to ourselves. I have an appreciation of others’ styles more than ever. Whilst I will never really love a spreadsheet, I will always love working collaboratively with those that can create one for me.

Find out more about Insights

 

 

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