August 6, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Connect with Shona

Next up in our 'Connection Series' is our Client Development Director Shona:

  • Let's start with an introduction, what's your role at Connect Three and what do you do?

I've been an associate for nearly 2 years and last year this evolved into being our Client Development Director. In plain Scottish this means that I have responsibility to create and develop our key client relationships, explore and develop our commercial partnerships and work in partnership with our Head of Development to create relevant products and solutions for our evolving clients’ needs. I still love getting stuck into coaching, delivery and facilitation with clients especially when there is the opportunity to use psychometrics, the most recent one being the Insights Discovery Profile which I became accredited in while we were in lockdown.

  • Wow, that's a lot of different responsibilities! Out of everything, what has been your favourite moment in Connect Three so far?

So far, I would choose designing and delivering a session on our Principally Women programme to help delegates create their personal vision board. Why this? It was an opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone, try something different and experiment with a story telling approach. I enjoyed demonstrating our values of be bold, be curious and be you…and the positive delegate feedback proved it paid off!

  • Amazing, so what are you reading right now?

Apart from when I’m on holiday I’m not the best at losing myself in books. When it comes to work related reading I tend to dip in and out of them and have a few on the go at any one time……currently there is The Science of Organisational Change, The Squiggly Career and Ikigai. I’m a bit of a magpie for articles and blogs that pop up through my LinkedIn network which spark my curiosity and only recently started to listen to podcasts… with so much out there I find recommendations from others a great starting point.

  • Well those are some great recommendations from you right there! So, who would be your dream person to coach?

My dream person to coach is anyone who has clarity about what they want to achieve from our coaching conversations, has the courage to show some vulnerability and is prepared to indulge my curiosity to create those lightbulb moments which cause them to take action. If I could choose my dream executive coach it would be Dawn Flockhart who introduced me to NLP and made sure every conversation helped me to discover a little bit more of the inner me. Sadly, Dawn is no longer with us and I often find myself reflecting on what she would ask me to change, do or learn.

  • And one last question for you Shona, if you could only give one piece of advice to the leaders and future leaders reading this, what would it be?

Follow your dreams, work hard and trust in yourself. Once I realised that true success comes from doing something that matters, playing to your strengths and surrounding yourself by equally amazing people then my leadership journey enabled me to achieve more than I had ever imagined possible…and continues to do so.

Brilliant, thank you! Look out for our next connection in a week or two 🙂

July 2, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Working Lives in Scotland

CIPD Scotland has created an insightful report on job quality in Scotland as part of their commitment to championing better work and working lives for all Scottish people.  What’s really interesting about this report is that it offers pre-COVID-19 analysis and insights on workforce health and wellbeing as well as skills and careers development.

This report adapts the CIPD Good Work Index to the Scottish Fair Work Framework.  If you have worked with Connect Three before you’ll know that we are passionate about helping businesses meet the Scottish Government’s Fair Work Framework.  We are proud to have been awarded the Glasgow Business Award for Fair Work last year, and in the last 12 months we have worked to help others create the same engaged, innovative workplace that we have been recognised for building with our own team.

So what are the key findings from the report?

One finding that we feel has extra relevance in our society right now is the positive correlation between flexible work and job satisfaction.  Now that more businesses have been pushed into creating flexible working environments for their staff, how will they move forward when we all return to office environments?

Connect Three’s Founder, Colin Lamb, says: “We have long been champions of flexible working and are happy to see this report’s finding that there is a positive correlation between being flexible and having a happier workforce. Flexible working practices allow everyone in your organisation the chance to shine, regardless of what’s going on outside of work.”

A finding that we were disappointed to read was that both personal and career development opportunities differ, often significantly, by gender, age, sector and occupational class.  The statistic in this which stood out to us was that there is a significant gap in the perceived skills development opportunities for the 45-54 age bracket.  It has started some interesting conversations amongst our team as to the skills development opportunities appropriate and available for this age group.

“One of the five pillars of the Fair Work Framework is opportunity.” says Gordon White, Connect Three’s Operations Manager. “Seeing this perceived gap in skills development opportunities for the 45-54 age bracket drives home how important Opportunity is when creating a happier and more productive workplace.”

Other key findings:

You can view all of the results from the report and download the unabridged version here.

For more information on Fair Work and creating Opportunity within your organisation, get in touch with Connect Three today on hello@connectthree.co.uk.

July 2, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Connect with Craig

Next up in our 'Connection Series' is our finance wizard Craig MacMorran so let's find out who is the man behind the spreadsheets...

  • Let's start with an introduction, what's your role at Connect Three and what do you do?

Hi! I am the Finance Manager here at Connect Three, so my job is to make sure everything is finely tuned. Being an incredibly dynamic, fast growing organisation, it is important that we track and predict the internal and external environment for us to be able to make the most impactful investments and to be able to adapt and maintain efficient processes...I am also in charge of the music.

  1. Haha! Love it! Next up, what has been your favourite moment in Connect Three so far?
  2. My favourite moment so far was our end of year meeting. During the year it can be really difficult to take the time to reflect on what we have achieved as we are all extremely busy and looking into what can we do next. It’s amazing to see what has changed since joining part time from university when my interview took place in what I can only describe as a construction site (What is now our lovely training room) up to this amazing team we have now.

    • Good choice it was a great day! Next question - what three things would you take with you on a desert island?

    A good once a day Suntan lotion, a case of beer and a magic lamp for three more wishes.

    1. Always with the future planning Craig! So which business leader would you like to have a cup of tea with?
    2. Sir Alex Ferguson (and not just because Barbs picked Klopp!). Being a long-suffering Manchester United fan, and after meeting the man himself twice, I decided to pick up his book ‘Leading’ a couple of years ago. After reading this book, I was amazed at the intricacy of his management style. It was clear that Sir Alex took great care and thought about anything he implemented and that he constantly took advice from others with his coaching style. One piece of advice that stuck came early in his career where his assistant manager at the time had told him that instead of running his training, he should sit back so that he can listen and observe.

      ‘It was the best thing I ever did. It didn't take away my control. My presence and ability to supervise were always there and what you can pick up by watching is incredibly valuable.’ Sir Alex Ferguson

      After all, if the most decorated football manager in history says it’s the best thing he ever did, its maybe something we all should do from time to time.

      • Awesome. OK, last one - if you could only give one piece of advice to the leaders and future leaders reading this, what would it be?

      If I could give one piece of advice to the leaders and future leaders reading this, it would be to challenge. Nothing is more disappointing when leaders accept the way things are done because that’s how they have always been done. The only way you grow and learn is to change the way you do things even if they do not lead you where you planned to be.

      Fabulous Craig, thank you so much. Look out for our next 'Connect with' interview in a few weeks time.

July 1, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Build Back Better with Workplace Innovation

As COVID-19 lockdown measures slowly begin to ease, is your business ready to restart, grow and strive to be better than ever?

The Build Back Better Workplace Innovation Progamme is designed to help businesses identify steps they can take now to not only transition from survival to growth, but to emerge stronger following the crisis. This includes taking a fresh look at business strategy through new ideas and thinking, leading teams through change in an unprecedented time, whilst placing a strong emphasis on the importance of employee engagement and connection.

This is a free programme of 3 half-day workshops delivered by Connect Three in partnership with Scottish Enterprise.

Workshop 1 - Refocusing your business

  • Changing business landscape - take a fresh look at the business strategy
  • Move from Chaos to Opportunity - reposition the business to emerge stronger from the crisis
  • Turning new ideas and thinking into action

Workshop 2 - Leading through Change

  • Supporting leaders to reflect on their own role in leading the business out of lockdown
  • Examine what leadership behaviours & style are required to support people coming back to work
  • Delve deeper into the priority’s leaders need to set for the business, following Workshop 1

Workshop 3 – Engagement & Connection

  • Identifying ways to engage in a virtual world and build a culture of trust and psychological safety
  • Create purpose and align this with contribution in the new workplace
  • Being courageous to make right and fair decisions for the business and its people in the long term

**UPDATE**
The first Build Back Better Workplace Innovation series is now fully booked. The second series starts on 15th July. Register your free place today!

May 15, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Why is Remote Working so Exhausting?

Are you finding working from home is more exhausting and you are more drained than when you had to commute to and from a busy office?

I’m sure you are starting to read more about ‘Zoom Fatigue’ or Teams Tired’.  As with any new experience, by using these platforms which we may not be used to we are training new neural pathways in our brain.  This is one of the reasons why learning is tiring, even more so when we start down what was a familiar pathway (the work looks the same) but then have to divert to do the work in a different way (virtual meetings, mastering new platforms, presenting or receiving information in a different way).

Added to that, we are having to respond to multitudinous ways of being contacted; if my WhatsApp is stupid busy with work, personal and family calls at all times of the day, then it’s hardly surprising my ‘on’ button feels like it got jammed.

I recently saw this model from Nir Eyal on a former colleague’s LinkedIn post and all of a sudden it all made sense. His view is that technology can perpetuate a vicious and seemingly constant cycle of responsiveness. The alerts that go off at all hours seem endless.

When we look at the science behind our almost addictive reaction to such pings, it’s not surprising that our brains are exhausted. Somehow, that need to find out who needs us, wants something from us, needs to speak with us grows more and more irresistible – especially when many of us are missing out on our usual social interaction over a coffee, lunch or just someone wandering past your desk.

Experiments on response to stimuli with mice found that providing the same treats every time a mouse pressed a lever was less motivating than varying the rewards.  So, when we don’t know who could be needing us or what they could want it gets harder and harder to resist the ping. We tell ourselves it’s just a quick look and Bam! we get our attention fix – again; and by taking that quick peek (it never is) those neural pathways to fire up all over again.

Devices and platforms use triggers such as notifications to encourage us to take actions—opening the app, looking at Slack, checking LinkedIn etc. Variable rewards - messages coming in more frequently and from a wider social sphere -encourage us to take action every time: checking our inboxes, refreshing social feeds, and the like.

I for one have a hard time resisting the alerts, and an even harder time not ‘just quickly checking’. In fact - there goes my phone now!

CJ

--

If you are a leader struggling to set ground rules to protect the well-being of your remote teams, you may find value in our free one-to-one coaching sessions.  Find out more by emailing hello@connectthree.co.uk.

May 12, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Connect with Barbs

Next up in our 'Connection Series' is the inimitable Barbara Clark, aka Barbs. So without further ado, let's ask her some questions.

  1. Good morning Barbs - let's start with an introduction, what's your role at Connect Three and what do you do?

Hello. My role is an Organisational Development Consultant. What I do is a great mix of Leadership Development, 121 Coaching, Project Managing and Delivering our Essential Leadership and Workplace Innovation programmes, as well as bespoke support to our clients. I support people to help them, and their business, to grow.

  1. Awesome, thanks!  So what has been your favourite moment in Connect Three so far?

Celebrating my 2-year anniversary in the company, which actually was almost a year ago! I am the longest serving employee at Connect Three, and our team and business has grown a lot since I started. This is testament to our culture and the team I work with.

  1. That is a LOT of changes in 3 years! OK, let's get to know you a bit better, what three things would you take with you on a desert island?

Bath, book and wine (should I say my kids???)

  1. Nah, I fully support those choices!  How about...which business leader would you like to have a cup of tea with?

I have two (sorry). Jacinda Ardern (PM of New Zealand) and Jurgen Klopp (Manager of Liverpool FC). Not technically business leaders and it’s not about politics or football but I use both as case studies of leaders who put their people first and are living examples of this.

People are at the core of their Values Based leadership; how they talk to and listen to people, how they make decisions, how they do the right thing and particularly how they lead team and country during the times it matters most.

  1. And to finish, if you could only give one piece of advice to the leaders and future leaders reading this, what would it be?

Relationships with people are everything…. Get to know them all, no matter their role; what motivates them, who/what are they doing it for…. Know your weaknesses and their strengths!
 

Thanks for answering my questions Barbs, it was lovely getting to know you a little better.  Look out for our next 'Connect with' interview in a few weeks time.

 

May 5, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Connect with Gordon

The Connect Three family has grown a lot in the last 6 months and with so much disconnection in the world right now, we thought it would be a good time to revisit our 'Connection Series' and introduce you to some new, and not so new, faces in the team.  Each post in the series shines the spotlight on the work of a member of the Connect Three team, and hopefully gives you a little insight into what we do, and how we can help you.

First one in the newly refurbished hot seat...is Gordon White.

  1. Good morning Gordon - let's start with an easy one, what's your role at Connect Three and what do you do?

I’m the Operations Manager – a new role created in 2020 to help the business get better at managing itself. Like all growing businesses, we spend so much time making sure our clients get what they need and have the tools to grow, that we often forget to ‘turn the lens inwards’, for want of a better phrase.  My role is to work ‘on’ instead of ‘in’ the business – ensuring our people have what they need to succeed, and the business has processes in place to allow us to continue our growth for the future.

  1. Wow, that's no small task!  OK, so what has been your favourite moment in Connect Three so far?

My favourite moment so far has to be the first all-team meeting I attended in January, followed by dinner and drinks. It was great to see everyone in action together in the office (we’re so often out on the road), and even better to get to know people. It clicked with me that night that our team has very much been curated to make sure they are not only the right fit skills wise, but personality-wise as well. So often managers and leaders overlook team dynamics and focus too much on who can do what well.

  1. That was a brilliant day.  Time to get personal - what are you reading right now?

Elton John’s autobiography ‘Me’. There are parts of his life I’d love to experience, in particular this quote “To pre-empt your question: no, I have absolutely no idea how Stevie Wonder successfully piloted a snowmobile through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado without killing himself, or indeed anyone else, in the process, but he did.”

  1. Love it.  How about...which business leader would you like to have a cup of tea with?

Steve Jobs – he was such a visionary, and despite all the negative posthumous comments we may hear, he genuinely did change the way humanity communicates. I’d also love to ask him about the (awkward) period when the company he founded unceremoniously sacked him; what was his immediate reaction? How did he pick himself back up? We often say that failures and rejections are just speed bumps, but how many of us truly behave like they are?

I’d also love to know just how dignified in victory he was when they picked up the phone a few years later begging him to come back when they were on the brink of bankruptcy.

  1. And to finish, if you could only give one piece of advice to the leaders and future leaders reading this, what would it be?

One word: people, people, people! I cannot stress enough just how important the people in your company are. It sounds cliched, but it is genuinely true. It’s one of the (many) reasons I joined Connect Three – we put people at the heart of everything we do, and help our clients and partners do the same. The old adage is certainly true; look after your people, and they will look after your clients.

 

Thanks for answering my questions Gordon, I'll let you get back to keeping us all in line!  Look out for our next 'Connect with' interview in a few weeks time.

 

April 29, 2020Comments are off for this post.

How Taking Our Business Digital Has Taught Us To Be Human

We’re in week six of working from home and now this really does feel like normal. We’ve all embraced video conferencing with gusto, we’ve found new and innovative ways to service and support our clients, and we’ve just got on with things as best we can, under the circumstances.

While some aspects of working from home have certainly proven challenging, there has been one huge and surprising advantage; we’ve got to know each other and our clients a whole lot better. We check in regularly with each other to see how we’re all doing. We’ve seen each other’s kitchens and living rooms and noted each other’s taste in art and interiors. We’ve said hello to children and partners. We now know who’s messy and who’s tidy, who the good gardeners are, the best bakers and cooks. From a business perspective, we’ve developed a strong understanding of our clients’ unique, immediate and longer-term challenges and how we can best support them.

Most of all, we’ve really understood how this crisis is impacting every single one of us at both a personal and professional level. I think it’s fair to say, we’ve all become more human as a result.

This has also manifested itself in some of the changes we’ve made to our internal communications. At Connect Three, we now have a weekly session with a focus on providing regular updates on how the business is performing and how that’s changing week-to-week. Added to that we have a Friday Happy Hour where we commit to hanging out with each other, taking part in trivia quizzes (we know who the music nerds are now) and having a virtual look round each other’s houses. We also send out a weekly survey to gather how everyone is feeling about the week ahead (we have all gone through ups and downs) and what each person is focussed on achieving, not just at work but for themselves.

We all agree that we know each other a lot better than we thought we did before and want this to continue into the future. It has made a real difference to how we communicate and ask for help.

Looking After Our Health

Of course, looking after our mental health has taken on renewed importance in recent weeks. Some of our team have recently taken on the challenge of running 5k every day to get out in the fresh air, have a bit of mental downtime, and support and encourage each other in getting through lockdown.

For the Most Part, it's Still Business as Usual...

Although it is impossible to run in-person programmes at the moment, there are a number of clients who remain incredibly dedicated to continuing to develop their staff, especially those in the food, telecom and finance sectors. Almost all clients, however, are looking for support and advice in helping to scenario plan the best approach to strategy review, and the best way to pick up their business again as we move towards the relaxing of lockdown and coming out of furlough in the coming months.

As a result, we’ve put more focus than normal on understanding our resource capacity. We’re regularly assessing who’s over stretched and who might have more availability to assist. This has allowed us to maximise resources right across our team and, importantly, help each other out as needed, spreading the workload to meet changing client demand.

It also has an added benefit in allowing our people to experience working with each other in a different way on client accounts that they may not have experienced before, and to learn some new skills or ways of working.

In many respects, business continues to move on and be done, albeit differently to how it might have been done just a few short weeks ago.

What Comes Next?

In some sense, we’re very much in a holding pattern at present, waiting for the economy to reopen and get started again. The real work will begin when we return to the office, and while it’s almost impossible to say how the books will look at the end of 2020, we’ve already made some estimates as to where we hope to end up and adjusted costs accordingly.

For now, however, we’re mostly looking forward to a return to our offices in Glasgow, meeting up with colleagues, partners and clients again, all hopefully in the not too distant future.

We can help with many aspects of your business, both during and post-lockdown, so please get in touch to find out more.

CJ

April 29, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Creativity and Innovation in Problem-Solving

There is no one way to define creativity; from artistic expression, to invention and problem solving.  The 21st April has been designated as ‘World Creativity and Innovation Day’ (WCID) by the United Nations to raise awareness of the role of creativity and innovation in all aspects of human development.

On WCID, the United Nations encourage us all to remember that innovation is essential for harnessing the potential of our nations.

“Innovation, creativity and mass entrepreneurship can provide new momentum for economic growth and job creation. It can expand opportunities for everyone, including women and youth. It can provide solutions to some of the most pressing problems such as poverty eradication and the elimination of hunger.”

By fostering innovation and creativity among our teams, we can improve the culture in our organisations and contribute more to our economy and the world at large.  We urge you to mark the day in your own organisation by looking at the processes you have in place for inspiring creativity and innovation among your teams.  If someone has a great idea, how do they pass it on?  If someone does something innovative, how are they recognised?

In our Workplace Innovation workshop series, we introduce the different practices behind the concept of workplace innovation, and we demonstrate how they can help you to achieve positive benefits for your company.

For more help with workplace innovation and Fair Work practices, get in touch with Connect Three today.

 

April 17, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Shona: Three Ps from Me to You…

So, with nearly four weeks of lockdown under our belts and it being another three weeks until we find out what decisions are going to be made next, I felt the time was right to share some of my reflections.    As I’ve connected with friends, colleagues and clients over the last month it has become clear that while we’re all experiencing the same thing, the way we’re experiencing it is unique to each of us.

Everywhere we look there is a plethora of insights, thoughts, tips and techniques about how to make the most of the world we’ve found ourselves in.  Personally, I’m glad to be through the binging stage and while I found some of it helpful, some of it positively unhelpful.

These three Ps are definitely not new concepts, nor are they anything that many of us weren’t already doing, but the context for each of us has shifted as we’ve all found ourselves in uncharted territory.  My intent behind sharing them is that they might go some way to helping you make sense of your thoughts with either yourself or with the support of a trusted friend or external coach.

Prioritise ~ I find that I’m now making more conscious choices about how I’m spending my time and who I’m spending it with.  I’m dropping ‘should do’, focusing on the ‘want to do’ and as a result I’m connecting more with my purpose (the Start with Why concept from Simon Sinek) and identifying were I can be most proactive (the Circle of Control concept from Stephen Covey) as well making the most of my days both personally and professionally.

Practice ~ I like to think of this as experimentation with purpose.  If you don’t dip your toe in the water and practice you’ll never know.  No one said it would be easy and progress is better than perfection (admittedly I’m still struggling with this concept!). I’ve recently discovered the work of Susan David which has taken my own thinking on resilience and emotional agility to a deeper level.   Seeing it as a set of skills to learn, grow and thrive as a person is helping me overcome the blips in my practice and reframing stumbling blocks as stepping stones is helping sustain and build my self-confidence.

Positivity ~ I’m a practical optimist and by encouraging my inner critic to speak to myself like I would speak to my best friend I’m starting to judge myself a bit less and show myself a bit more compassion.  Without doubt, understanding when Imposter Syndrome is hampering me and being able to deploy ways to manage that has been a game changer and is equipping me to develop stronger connections with my tribe and seize the right opportunities when they arise.

I’m starting to see how these three Ps are helping reframe my approach to each and every day… definitely starting to feel less discombobulated and connecting more with my ‘buildbackability’, while accepting some days will be better than others and there is no right way to feel right now.

I’d love to engage and explore the above in more depth so if what I’ve shared has resonated with you and you’re curious to explore more, please reach out to me.

Thanks, Shona

 

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