How to Conduct a Video Interview

Video interviews have become a necessity for businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the realities of lockdown and social distancing. Companies are still having to hire staff and continue moving onwards, and with in-person interviews being an unnecessary risk, interviews are more easily carried out remote using video calling software.

But if you have never carried out interviews via video before, it can be difficult to get it right. Video interviewing techniques can be somewhat different from those in-person, as you have to make up for the fact that you can’t always read expressions, and that some aspects of the interview may be more challenging.

Here we take a look at how you can successfully conduct a remote video interview.

 

How to do a video interview iManage

 

How do video interviews work?

To a certain extent video interviews are similar to normal in-person interviews. The questions can be the same, they can be the same length, and you can expect to get as much out of the person being interviewed.

However, the real skill in conducting a video interview comes beforehand. Picking a location is critical – it should be somewhere that is quiet and well-lit. Being able to hear and see the interview as best as possible is a vital aspect of getting your interview right.

It is also important to treat this as seriously as any other interview. When you interview the candidate, you should be dressed appropriately, and not be treating it like it is anything other than a normal interview. This can help to put the interviewee at ease. Naturally, you should do anything that you expect from your candidate.

How to prepare for a video interview

It is important to prepare properly for your video interview. Of course, any interview requires preparation but there are aspects of video interviews that are unique in this regard. In fact, the first thing to mention is that you should ensure that your technology and setup is prepared in advance and also that you have tested it thoroughly.

There is nothing worse in an interview setting to have it interrupted due to technical issues. And this can be a more serious problem if you are working to a schedule with multiple interviews lined up one after another.

It is also a great idea to have a backup plan in place. If your video calling software misbehaves, you should be ready to switch to a different option, or even a phone-based interview.

Online interview tips

It is important to understand how to conduct your interview properly. Of course, every interview is different depending on the role and the information that you need to get out of the candidate, but there are some things that can be done for all interviews that can really help the process and make things easier.

  • Test run everything with a colleague – sometimes it can be difficult to see beyond your idea to how it is going to work practically. Once you have planned out your interview, do a trial run with a colleague to make sure that everything works properly and makes sense.
  • Prepare an icebreaker – sometimes it can be difficult to portray warmth and establish rapport in a video interview, so have an icebreaker ready just to get everyone loosened up. This could be as simple as giving the candidate information about your background.
  • Follow up with a thank you – sometimes it can feel a little strange for the video call to end once the interview is over. In an in-person setting candidates walk with the interviewer and continue chatting before leaving. It can be worth doing something simple like following up with a ‘thank you for attending’ email, letting them know that you’ll get back to them soon.

At iManage Performance, we understand that everyone is still getting used to the idea of doing more aspects of their work remotely. That’s why we provide comprehensive training sessions to help employees get more out of their remote work. If you would like to learn more, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us today.

The Most Important Lesson Ever About Managing Remote Workers

Remote working has been growing in popularity for many years. It’s easy to understand why; it’s extremely popular with staff (some surveys have suggested that as many as 51% of on-site workers would like the opportunity to work remotely) and it can have a wide range benefits and advantages for employers, including reducing costs and increasing productivity.

Interestingly, however, whilst it has caused many problems, the COVID-19 pandemic has managed to accelerate business adoption of remote working as a normal working arrangement. Of course, under the conditions of lockdown, employees were told that they should work from home if they could do so. Government statistics here suggest that around half of the UK population worked from home at some point during the lockdown.

More recent government advice has been advocating for employees to work from home where possible, and whilst policies change very rapidly, we can expect to see working remotely being part of the ‘new normal’ under this pandemic. However, there is evidence to suggest that this trend will continue even once normality can resume.

What this means is that businesses will need to get used to the idea that remote working has been normalised and will be far more common in the future – not just as a way to combat COVID-19, but as a practical part of life. It is important, then, for organisations to get a better understanding of how to manage remote workers and how to get as much out of them as possible.

Possibly the most important lesson ever about remote working

During the Working from Home Show, we gave a keynote presentation about possibly the most important lesson ever about remote working and we want to share that with you. We draw on real-world experiences that contain absolutely vital lessons about managing remote workers.

Common challenges

Before we can understand how businesses can effectively manage remote workers, it is essential to first recognise some of the challenges that remote working can create for businesses. Yes, despite its popularity and benefits, some issues can make remote working more difficult to manage from a business perspective.

Too many video calls?

Firstly, it’s worth acknowledging that we are still learning about the effects of large-scale remote working. A good example of this is the fact that it seems that many people working remotely appear to be spending too much time videoconferencing. Employees are spending significant portions of their days in video call software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. It has been seen as a replacement for meetings and general talk in offices, but spending excess time on video calls can interfere with productivity.

It is also likely that videoconferencing is side-lining some employees and this potentially slowing down work, as louder, more talkative staff tend to dominate video calls, sometimes drowning out other voices.

Ambiguous electronic communication

Another challenge comes in the form of electronic communication. Where face-to-face communication was once the norm, we are spending our days communicating electronically where there is more opportunity for misunderstandings.

A lack of social cues can often make meaning ambiguous, especially in asynchronous forms of communication such as emails. This can lead to a huge reduction in social learning – learning from witnessing or overhearing colleagues in the office.

Loneliness and technical issues

Perhaps some of the other challenges regarding remote working are more obvious; 46% of remote workers admit to experiencing loneliness and it is also common for people who work from home to find themselves easily distracted. There can also be more technical issues regarding remote working, especially concerning whether workers are easily able to get access to the information they need to do their job.

What are the benefits of remote working?

If this is seeming to put remote working in a bad light, it might only be because we need to understand the negatives in order to find solutions. It is also vital to stress the reason why it is genuinely essential to find these solutions because remote working is not only here to stay, it can actually be hugely beneficial to companies across many industries.

More relaxed employees

Firstly, remote working can give employees a huge boost from a personal perspective. Being able to work at home often means that they will be around family members or may be free to get things done more easily – that can actually lead to a reduction in stress levels in their personal life. And of course, feeling relaxed at homes makes it more likely to feel relaxed at work too. 58% of staff say that they are happier working from home.

And that comes full circle when we consider that happier and less stressed employees are likely to have higher morale and be more engaged at work.

Ditching the commute

As a side note, it’s worth pointing out that being able to work from home stops the need for commuting. When you consider that the average commute is nearly two hours per day. Across the year, then, working from home actually saves employees around 20 full 24-hour days across the year. This time can be used for personal development, being productive at home, or even getting the better night sleep you deserve.

There is also the suggestion that staff are in this for the long haul – 73% of workers say that they would like to be able to work from home permanently.

How can managers support remote workers?

Given that remote has challenges as well as benefits, it is up to managers of remote staff to find ways to minimise the former and maximise the latter.

Managers need to focus on communication as their main priority as it through communication that so many issues are dealt with. This starts first with regular updates and one-to-ones between manager and the member of team. These should be structured sessions giving both parties the chance to talk and discuss their opinions and ideas.

Of course, remote social interaction between members of staff should also be encouraged, and companies should make use of a range of options in terms of communication including messenger apps and video calls.

It is also important for managers to remember that their overall goal is to help workers succeed. This can mean helping them to get the tools and software that they require to do their job more efficiently and effectively.

Staff face many different types of pressure and uncertainty through their remote working day, so managers must be placed to help them with these. The idea here is that managers need to make things as easy as possible for staff to do their work – this gives them more time and confidence to deal with these pressures.

6 top tips for managers

It becomes important to consider how best to influence staff working remotely. Here we take a look at some top tips for managers who are having to manage remote workers – remember that this may be something completely new for a manager.

    1. Focus on synchronous communication – we have already mentioned that email is a form of asynchronous communication – this is because it is not an ongoing conversation – however, there are forms of technology that do allow for synchronous communication such as messenger software and video calls. These provide something similar to the kind of natural human communication that occurs in the office.
    2. Engage with the team – managers need to engage regularly with their team and not assume that they can be left to their own devices – as we have discussed, remote working can get lonely. It is up to manager to arrange times to chat with their team members.
    3. Don’t forget about career paths – the old saying goes: out of sight, out of mind. This is relevant to remote working as it seems to be the case that remote staff are overlooked for the work that they do – the irony being that 51% of staff feel that they are actually more productive working remotely. This can make them less likely to be promoted. If staff feel like there is nowhere for them to progress in the company, they can lose motivate. It is up to managers, then, to ensure that staff feel that they have a career path in the business.
    4. Make meetings essential – sometimes managers have to go out of their way to ensure that a member of staff attends meetings. While we have discussed the perils of excessive videoconferencing, it is nonetheless extremely important that staff attend meetings, not only to keep up with the team socially but also to aid work.
    5. Trust your team – it is vital that you should the team that you work. Of course, this is easily said but, in practice, it can become trickier. Because managers aren’t able to see employees working, there can a tendency to think negatively about what they are doing without supervision. The air of suspicion plays on the minds of staff too – it can lead to them actually overpromising on what is possible and in what time frame. This leads to further problems as managers feel let down. Ultimately, managers need to have faith that their team is working correctly and not look to micromanage or push for unreasonable deadlines.
    6. Use emojis and gifs – it might seem unprofessional, but actually using more emojis and gifs in internal conversations can help to make the meaning clearer. It is unfortunately the case that electronic communication can be ambiguous and specific meaning can get lost. Emojis, GIFs and other ways of applying meaning to written words can be extremely useful.

 

Helping staff achieve business goals

While remote working, it is important for staff to remain goal-orientated. Everyone needs to be working together to push for the success of the company as a whole. Managers must help their team understand the objectives that they are working towards and help them do it.

Increasing recognition is one of the most important ways that this can be more easily achieved. Staff like to see that their hard work is being noticed and recognised – but this is something that often gets forgotten with remote staff. Yet it is more crucial than ever before, so look at putting systems in place not only recognising hard work but also encouraging creativity and innovation.

Motivation is another important issue and companies should be doing everything they can to keep their team motivated. When motivation drops, we see a decline in the engagement of employees and a fall in productivity.

Debunking remote working myths

There are a number of myths that are unfortunately prevalent regarding remote working. It’s worth taking a look at some so that you have the opportunity to examine your own ideas about remote working, as well as understanding ideas that are commonly had about remote work.

    • Myth: remote workers deliver less work – companies expect a significant drop in performance from remote staff when actually most workers feel that they either do as much work remotely, or are actually more productive. A bigger concern that you may need to address is the fact that workers are aware that they need to impress when working remotely, so may spend too much time doing things, or rush through tasks to get more done.

 

    • Myth: staff are less available – many businesses are concerned with staff away from the office they will be more difficult to get hold of. Once again, the reality appears to be the opposite: staff are far more likely to be available constantly. This can ultimately have negative consequences as it could lead to burnout.

 

    • Myth: staff won’t work a full day – this calls back to the perception that if managers can’t physically see a member of staff, they are more likely to assume something negative about them. There is a fear in organisations that having staff work without the supervision of managers will lead to them working shorter days and having longer lunch breaks. And again, the opposite is borne out by the facts: 27% of staff say that they work longer days when working remotely, while many work into the evenings and weekends to get tasks completed.

 

Final Thoughts

Remote working has both challenges and benefits. To get the most out of your remote staff it is important to have leaders who understand how to manage the team effectively – and this can be very different from leading a team in the office. At iManage Performance, we specialise in helping business leaders and managers understand how to more effectively lead their remote staff for benefits in staff morale, engagement, performance and productivity.

Get in contact with us today if you would like to learn more about what we can do for you and your team.

Time for adjustments to the new normal?  

This week the UK Prime-minister has hinted that the current restrictions are likely to be in place for a further 6 months.  Many organisations are suggesting that they are unlikely to return to the same ways of working post covid, so there is definitely a new normal.  Both in the short and long term we are going to need to settle down and get on with life in the lockdown world of remote working.  

Given this is the case, perhaps it’s a really good time to take stock and consider any adjustments that we might need to put it place if we are going to thrive one the coming months.  There has been a few things I’ve changed recently; it’s dawned on me that the past six months have provided some lessons that are helpful in informing my priorities in the coming six.  

This is not ground breaking, it’s simple adjustment, but they are things that would have been detrimental if left uncalibrated.  

I’m making changes in three areas. 

My eating!

The reality is, I have put on weight that I don’t want over the period.  As strange as this may sound, in my 55 years I’ve never dieted!  I’m diabetic which has meant that I’ve always eaten healthily, but the increase is sedatory living, home comforts, ready access to beer and wine has resulted in a belly that I don’t like or want.  It’s a covid legacy that I’m going to lose before the next six months turn it into another additional 4 KG.  

My Exercise

Clearly the second adjustment is very linked to the first.  I was a very active person, constantly on the go, frequently marching across cities and airports, running for trains planes and automobiles; standing most of the day in workshops; attending my local gym multiple times a week alongside a regular game of squash.  A huge percentage of that activity had dropped off for obvious reasons.  

Our gym didn’t even reopen when it could have, and to be honest I wasn’t sure about mixing with everyone in that environment pre vaccine.  

So I’ve made an adjustment, we’ve bought a Peloton, a bench and some weights, and converted a spare bedroom into a humble, but practical home gym.  The benefits have been very noticeable immediately, not least that my blood sugars are suddenly way easier to manage again compared to the past months.  

Managing the diary with a different priority

My final mid lockdown adjustment is going to be to my work diary.  Pre Covid I would deliver 2, 3 or occasionally 4 days of training a week.  That always meant that there was down time to do other things.  In the past 6 months, I’ve almost totally been delivering 5 days of training a week (something that would have been impossible before, due to the travelling required).  

It’s been fine as an experiment, but I’m finding it too fatiguing and pressured, as I have zero time to do all the other things needed in a small business.  

For the coming 6 months I’m going to force non client days into the weekly schedule to redress the balance.  

We are all getting used to the new normal, but have a think, are there things that you need to adjust before we move to the second period?  Maybe not, but if there are then it’s a great time to address them.  Ask yourself if you are 100% happy with the current arrangements and if not make some adjustments that will make the next 6 months happier and perhaps healthier.  

Bob Bannister

Ships Captain

Distance Leadership 

Just these two words together should raise the alarm bells!  What good leader ever distances themselves from their followers?  To lead people, we need to be visible, present and accessible.  So even the idea of distance leadership feels uncomfortable when we look at the typical recommendations for physically present leaders.  

So if you are now a remote manager or leader, what can you do to stay present in the minds of the troops?  

Here are three simple ideas that can help you to reduce the distance, and increase the authority of your leadership.  

1. Evaluate your presence as if you were a brand that needs marketing.  

When distance leading, you need to step back and think about how you are being seen.  This is rather like a marketeer planning the marketing strategy for a brand.  Until you start to promote that brand, it is in effect invisible.  You have to regularly and repeatedly present that brand to its target audience.  It’s the only way it will grow and become significant.  

As a distance leader you have to think the same way.  How are you promoting yourself to your target audience?  What are you doing on a monthly, weekly and daily basis that will keep you front of mind?  Whats your route to market; how are you reaching out to your audience? What brand messaging do you want to portray?  

Don’t leave it to change, it’s unlikely to happen if you do!  Instead get detailed and plan out your strategies to be present when you are not physically there. 

2.  Schedule ‘touch time’.

Make use of your diary to schedule time with your people.  This is not optional, it needs planning into your busy diary so that you make it happen.  Look for a period every week when you will deliberately reach out to your team members, individually or collectively to have dialogue with them.  

It might even be good to make this regular (like a good podcast that always publishes the same time every week).  By using the same period each week, your people will start to look for it and value it.  

3.  Strengthen the clarity of your vision. 

It’s hard enough making a vision stick when you are constantly present with your team.  When leading from a distance this is going to become much harder.   The trick here is to step up your clarity.  Make the vision abundantly clear, all the time.  Think in terms of a 10x or 100x improvement factor.  

If you do nothing your vision will be diluted like a bucket of die in the Thames or Hudson rivers.  People receive so much communication, tens of thousands of words in a quarter.  You need to compete with that noise.  You need to step up the communication of your vision to the extent that it is not washed out by the many other words your people will be receiving.  It’s almost impossible to over communicate your vision when remote leading, don’t be afraid of repetition either.  It’s one of those things that will help it to stick.  

Bob Bannister

Ships Captain

Becoming an Intrepreneur

Many organisations are exploring what it might be to have staff that behave like entrepreneurs.  Some are calling this Intrepreneurship.  It is a topic that feels more at home in corporates, now so many of us are remote working, literally from home!  This may be due to the ‘lone worker’ stereotype of the entrepreneur setting out on their own.  

With people working more alone, could they be more exciting in the way they bring their skills and expertise to bare?

We have been exploring this topic and building some insight into what it would take to behave more like an entrepreneur in a corporate organisation.  During this research, one model that stands out is Professor Hindles ‘Model of Entrepreneur Process’.  We think this is really rather good!  Look it up, you can find reference to it very easily on the web.  

I love the way it gives order to the entrepreneur behaviour set.  Stating the obvious, it starts with the identification of an opportunity.  This is such a helpful observation.  If you want to behave like an entrepreneur yourself, then look for opportunity.  This doesn’t have to be ground breakingly new, it just needs to be an organisational opportunity to make something better than it is today.  You can do this whatever job you are in.  Seek out opportunities that make a difference and explore their viability with key stakeholder s and others around you.  

The second thing that strikes me about the model is that, ‘personal commitment’ comes way later than you might have thought.  

Many of us would assume entrepreneurs personally commit to an idea very early on.  Well, that’s not the case.  Not for successful entrepreneurs!  What they do is understand the business case and then commit.  This makes so much sense to me.  Failure is a real possibility for the person who personally commits ahead of understanding the whether the numbers work out OK.  You will have a far greater chance of success if that order is switched.  Yes, we still need to commit, but not until we have as much certainty as possible that the business case is sound.  

The entrepreneur is a person who organises, operates and assumes the risk of a business venture.  

Understand what that venture is (opportunity), and commit only once the risks are fully weighed in the balance (Business Case).  

Bob Bannister

Ships Captain

Managing stress: Returning to a post COVID workplace

With the continued slow progression toward normality, many of us are now returning to a post COVID workplace. Some people feel excited to return to comfortable routines, others are tentative about the prospect, others still are downright fearful. And COVID related health concerns are not the only stressor at work. For many there is anxiety around the prospect of returning to the pressure and expectations associated with working life. As we face a new beginning, it is important to be mindful of our stress levels, and do what we can to manage them.

In fact, a global pandemic has an enormous impact in each of the four major stressor categories; significant life change, catastrophe, daily hassle, and ambient. Much could be said in each of these categories, but for the sake of brevity i’ll leave you to fill in the blanks!

The problem is, all this added stress is not good for our mental and physical well being.

Your heart is a lot like the internal combustion engine. They both have valves and pressurised chambers, and in the same way the engine of your car provides the energy to make all of the technology run, your heart is responsible for the performance of all other organ function. It provides them with blood and nutrients, enabling them to do their job.

Now a car has the capability to accelerate pretty quickly when it needs to. This is sometimes for fun, but it also serves another purpose; safety. If you pull out on somebody at a roundabout and you only notice them once you have already joined the roundabout, you will increase the revs and accelerate out of the way of that person to avoid a collision. So this is a safety feature, and the human body has a similar capability.

Your heart and blood vessels respond to stress by kicking things into overdrive. Your heart rate and the force of contraction increase, and the blood vessels tighten up in order to provide more blood and nutrients to the needy organs and muscles. And this is a very positive thing, indeed a very necessary thing if we are responding to a challenge or a threat, because it enables the organs, tissues and muscles to perform at a higher rate.

But here’s the thing. It would be damaging to drive around at maximum revs in your car all the time, you would blow the engine up. In the same way, it is damaging to maintain the physical conditions of a stress response continually. Having our heart running on overdrive constantly is not a good idea.

So as we re-enter the workplace under unusual conditions with added anxiety, I want to give you two tips to help you manage and cope with stress.

The first tip when returning to a post COVID workplace is to trim the fat. There are always ways in which we can cut away unnecessary stress in our lives. I’m not suggesting that we shrug of all responsibility and give up every challenging aspect of our work or home lives, but there may be one or two small areas which we could surgically remove. It could be as simple and painless as delegating a portion of your work to somebody who is able to absorb it. This happened recently here at iManage. Bob who is the ships captain at iManage is often extremely busy, and was struggling to find time to fit CRM tasks into his daily workload. So, to take some of that pressure away and relieve some of the stress of a large workload, I was able to absorb those CRM tasks. This was a small and simple way of trimming the fat for Bob, and making a seemingly small adjustment that reduces workload based stress like that could have really positive effects.

But what if you simply can’t delegate the tasks that are causing you stress? Or what if you do find a specific task stressful, but actually in order to progress in your career you want to address the root causes of this stressor so that you can carry on with the task but find it less stressful? Well this brings me nicely on to my second tip which is to ask for help.

If you are in a situation where you need or want to get past the stressor rather than remove it from your life, then you would be wise in seeking help. This could be as simple as doing some research and getting your hands on some useful books. Maybe you will find that your perspective is transformed through reading helpful on the subject of your stressor (most stressors are not unique, there is probably at least 5 books on how to handle your particular stressor!).

Another approach would be to ask for help at work. Maybe some coaching would be beneficial, some guidance from a more senior and experienced person who you trust in your organisation. We shouldn’t feel nervous about asking for help in this way at work. In fact, you can be sure that an attitude that says, “yes I really struggle in this area but I am ready and willing to learn and overcome the challenge” is going to be very warmly received and commended.

The last approach to asking for help which I will mention is getting some outside help from someone who is trained in psychological healthcare like a councillor or a therapist. In the UK, all that is required to get some support in this way would be to schedule a visit with your local GP. Be honest about your issues, and you will be referred to the appropriate free service from there. On top of this there is of course the option to seek private sessions with a professional.

So two tips returning to a post COVID workplace; trim the fat, and ask for help.

How Working from home can give you 20 days of personal investment! 

This week we are exhibiting at the first ever ‘Working From Home Show’ all without a single minute of commute time.  

Every week now we are receiving calls from companies that are talking to us about changing the status quo and adapting to more home working following the global experiment of the past 5 months.  

The upshot of all this, is that you and I and most people around the globe are looking for an opportunity to do less commuting, spend less time travelling, improve our general quality of life and increase our wellbeing too.  Property guru’s tell us city house prices are set to decline as people move to the suburbs to capitalise on a better lifestyle, all facilitated via the increase in home working.  

This change is huge, it’s truly life changing, at least it can be if you switch on and realise the potential.  Here’s how to do it…

The current average commute time in the UK is a very accurate 84 minutes!  That equates to 14 full 24 hour days a year.  If you nudge that up to say 2 hours commute per day, you are spending 20 days of your life moving backwards and forwards to work.  So here’s what the smart home workers are doing.  They are investing that time.  

It would be very easy to lose it, or in other words not take advantage of it.  Just to let it morph into the new way of life.  The alternative is to make some choices with that time and make those choices count.  Here are three things (and there could be hundreds of other suggestions) you could do to make those additional days count.  

Replace the commute with something of value 

Firstly – Improve your wellbeing

Probably the first consideration should be how to improve your personal wellbeing.  Our health is finite, sooner than you imagine the years will catch up with you and it will (I promise you) become a greater priority.  You can take the topic of wellbeing in a thousand different directions, but work out what you need and substitute your commute time for it.  

Secondly – Work at your relationships

Unattended, strained or broken relationships create heartache sorrow and long lasting pain.  We are humans, we thrive on love care and attention.  Our relationships are utterly precious and they can give and give again if tended, cared for and nurtured.  Don’t make the mistake that you need to receive before you give.  It’s the opposite, give generously to others, expect nothing in return, and the benefits will be invaluable.  Choose your people carefully, an ancient proverbs suggests ‘One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.’  Invest your time in those you are closest too.  

Thirdly – Enrich your own capability.  

Investing in your own knowledge, skills and capabilities will never be a waste.  Identify an area that you would like to develop and get down to it.  Enrol on a course, join a programme, read, explore, be inquisitive.  Enrich your ability by learning, developing, so that you are better than before.  Effective people spend quality time on things that matter.  Your own growth and improvement should matter so work out what you need and use the time effectively.  

Bob Bannister

Ships Captain

The Innovation Factor

Innovation is the action or process of imagining a new method, idea, product, etc.  It is not invention, which is the act of taking that imagined idea and progressing it into reality.  Both are super valuable in todays organisations, but without the former, the later won’t exist.

Many companies are crying out for innovators right now, to help them pivot and reinvent themselves in this fast changing world.  Having the innovation factor is a great attribute to stay relevant and ultimately employed when others are struggling.  

Yet there is something very significant about innovation, it is seldom if ever the imagining of something utterly, totally, uniquely brand new.  Innovation is evolutionary.  Ideas emerge through the feed of insights that any day and age offers.  Let me give you a clear example.  The fitness equipment company Peleton Interactive provide spin cycles alongside an interactive live spin class environment via a big interactive screen on the front of the cycle.  None of these elements are in and of themselves new.  The innovation has come from bringing them together.  The spin exercise bike, the touch screen, subscription based streaming, live spin classes etc.  All these things come together to bring their highly successful invention into peoples homes.  At the time of writing their share price has tripled since it’s March (covid induced) low.  It’s a major success story, yet none of the ingredients were new,  it’s the innovative combination that delivered value.  

So to be innovative, to have the innovation factor, we do not need to be massively creative (the act of creation, something entirely new).  Instead we need to be good observers of the world around his, and have these three attributes:

An attitude that says innovation is critical. 

Innovation becomes second nature when there is no choice other than innovating!  Imagine a situation where you have no choice but to do something different, you will likely do something different.  Uber Technologies are an example of this.  They have suffered massively through the lockdown months, as people stopped moving around the planet using their innovative taxi service.  With a slow recovery of their original business likely, they have had to pivot and innovate further.  So they’ve turned to home delivery; take aways, shopping, you name it, Uber can now pick it up and deliver it for you.  Why, because it is critical that they do so.  

The more we perceive we have no choice but to pivot, the more innovative we will always be. 

A preparedness to invest. 

Innovation takes investment.  Investment is never without some element of risk.  To be innovative, we have to add time, money, effort into the equation.  We cannot expect to innovate unless we value it enough to spend; mentally, emotionally and sometimes financially.  Innovators cut out time and expend effort in its pursuit.  If we want to innovate, we have to do the same.  

A willingness to do something different. 

If we do the same thing, we will get the same thing.  A starting point for innovation is to do something different.  If I start to change things, alter them up, mix them up, then I open the door to innovative thinking.  I generate the space for the ‘what if’ question.  Remember innovation is seldom ground breaking but nearly always incremental.  That makes innovating much easier for us to replicate, experiment with and suggest within our organisations.  

I often think that many business do everything they can to stop innovation.  They like the stable stuff, the routine, the regular.  It’s safe after all!  But is it really?  When the world changes all around us, then we need to innovate, failure to do this could even result in disaster or decay.  Take the classic examples of Kodak, turning away from the digital camera, or Blockbusters failing to embrace streaming.  

Bob Bannister

Ships Captain

How to influence when working remotely

We have a number of clients who are asking how influencing skills change when working remotely.  Often times it’s been connected to customer relationship management, or procurement, buyer / seller negotiations.  The topic however is useful for us all to consider in this new post covid world.  

To be clear here, I am not referring to online influencing of consumer behaviour as they visit your website.  In this blog I want to address the simple idea that I (as a person) want to influence you (as the other person) although we are working remotely in some way.  

First off, don’t drop everything you’ve learnt about influencing in the real world.  Those skills and insights still apply, you just have to be more focused when working remotely at influence.  Here are two questions that can help you make things happen remotely.  

What is it you want to achieve?

Be crystal clear about your desired outcome.  It is pointless trying to influence an outcome when you don’t know the intended destination.  It is even more pointless when remote working.  It will help to define your intent in emotional terms as well as in rational logic.  The numbers only tell a part of the story in influencing; you can present as strong a logical case as possible, but recipients will still need you to fill in the emotional story.  Work out what the emotional journey needs to be in the mind of the other person and craft a story line that gets you there.  For example, you are trying to influence the section of potential supplier B over A.  Then express why supplier B is the better option, not only in the numbers, but in their values, aligned culture, style, ways of working etc.  

How do I look on webcam?

This may seem a shallow question, but it is far from it.  We communicate and influence massively through visual cues, this includes: what my environment looks like; what I am wearing; my posture; my animation; my expression; my gesture; my micro movements (e.g. a raised eyebrow).

Think about it, these are all areas you have total control of when connecting with another person remotely.  If that’s the case, why leave any of it to chance?  Think about it, analysis how you look and work at fine tuning it.  One of the things I really encourage influencers to do is to spend a small amount on a good quality external cam.  You can totally change the perspective if you have the cam 1 to 2 metres in front of you rather than the typical ‘up your nose’ lap top perspective!  Anyone doing a lot of remote working needs to do this.  

We all influence all the time, it’s whether we are influencing for good or bad that matters.  If you charge in and don’t consider the impact of these two simple areas, you will still influence, but influence others not to come with you.  Remember most influencing (with the exception of coercive power) is incremental.  It seldom occurs in a single movement, instead it’s in the many little nudges that bring change and buy into to a view or position.  Plan those nudges carefully and you will start to reap the dividends of being increasingly influential.  

Bob Bannister

Ships Captain

Give me what I want!

Here’s a very quick blog that has massive potential.  I want to suggest that there are three things that every person wants from others.  If we know what they are, then we can become super expert at winning over others and building strong lasting powerful relationships.  

These are not difficult things to fake, but who would want to do that anyway!  No, we need to genuinely own these three, demonstrate them, and from that starting point develop the connection.  Here they are:

Attention 

Everyone you interface with desires your attention.  Not half hearted attention, but full on attention!  They want you to connect with them, and almost just them.  They don’t want you to be connected to your phone, or looking out of the window, or watching others out of the corner of your eye.  They just want you to engage one on one and connect with them.  

Interest

The second thing they are crying out for is your genuine interest.  They want to feel you are engaged with them.  Not asking meaningless questions, but in a dialogue that is generative.  A conversation that is buoyant, alive and discovering things.  

Care

The third requirement is simply to be shown care.  They want to interface with people who  will be caring, empathising, connecting with genuine concern.  Not treating them flippantly or just as one of the crowd, but expressing true concern for their wellbeing.  

You should give these three a try, work at them, you will quickly find reciprocal behaviour and growth in relationship that has loads of potential.  

Bob Bannister

Ships Captain

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I'm Bob Bannister, owner, and trainer at iManage Performance, the specialists in training for remote workers and managers with over 20 years of experience in this sector.

As the UK has rapidly shifted towards working from home, this challenges the norms in which we work and manage We can help to fast track your remote management or team skills. Speak to us about our training options today.

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email bob.bannister@imanageperformance.com