The Future of Work: Navigating the Evolution of Remote and Hybrid Working

Over the past couple of years, the global workforce has undergone a seismic shift due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote and hybrid working arrangements have become the norm, challenging the traditional fixed workplace model. As we look towards the future, it is essential to understand how the dust will settle in our approach to work and the workplace. In this blog post, we will explore the insights of key commentators in this area and propose strategies to thrive in this evolving landscape.

The Rise of Remote and Hybrid Working:

According to Sara Sutton, CEO, and founder of FlexJobs, “Remote work is here to stay.” As organisations worldwide adapted to the pandemic, remote working proved its feasibility, benefiting both employers and employees. The flexibility and improved work-life balance offered by remote and hybrid models have been highly valued by many professionals.

Remote work has proven its staying power and is poised to become a permanent fixture in the world of work for several compelling reasons. First and foremost, remote work offers unparalleled flexibility and work-life balance. Employees are no longer bound by geographical limitations or rigid office hours, allowing them to structure their workday around their personal lives. This flexibility not only enhances job satisfaction but also enables individuals to better manage their responsibilities outside of work, such as caregiving, pursuing hobbies, or engaging in further education.

Moreover, remote work has shown that it can boost productivity. Many employees have experienced increased focus and reduced distractions when working remotely, resulting in higher levels of output and efficiency. Without the disruptions of office noise, commuting, or frequent interruptions, remote workers have the autonomy to design their work environment in a way that best suits their individual needs and preferences. This autonomy, coupled with the absence of long commutes, often translates into improved concentration, reduced stress levels, and the ability to achieve a better work-life integration.

Embracing Flexible Work Arrangements:

A study conducted by McKinsey & Company emphasises that companies must adopt a hybrid model that combines the best of remote and on-site work. By embracing flexible work arrangements, organisations can empower their employees to work from anywhere, enabling access to talent pools worldwide while reducing commuting time and costs.

Embracing flexible work arrangements is crucial for organisations to empower their employees and maximise their potential. Here are some key strategies that organisations can implement to embrace flexibility and support their workforce:

  • Establish Clear Policies and Guidelines: Organisations should develop clear and comprehensive policies that outline expectations, guidelines, and procedures related to flexible work arrangements. These policies should address aspects such as working hours, communication protocols, performance evaluation criteria, and availability requirements. Transparent guidelines help employees understand what is expected of them and create a sense of trust and consistency across the organisation.
  • Invest in Technology and Infrastructure: To enable successful flexible work arrangements, organisations need to provide employees with the necessary technological tools and infrastructure. This includes secure remote access to company systems, collaboration platforms, video conferencing software, project management tools, and cloud-based document sharing platforms. By investing in reliable technology, organisations empower employees to work effectively from anywhere and maintain seamless communication and collaboration.
  • Train Managers and Leaders: Managers and leaders play a crucial role in implementing and supporting flexible work arrangements. Organisations should provide training and resources to help managers develop the skills needed to lead and manage remote or hybrid teams successfully. This includes training on remote communication, performance management in virtual environments, and fostering team collaboration and engagement. By equipping managers with the necessary skills, organisations can ensure that flexible work arrangements are implemented effectively and supported at all levels.
  • Foster a Culture of Trust and Autonomy: Flexible work arrangements thrive in an environment built on trust. Organisations should encourage a culture that values outcomes and results rather than mere presence or hours worked. Managers should focus on setting clear goals and expectations, and then provide employees with the autonomy and flexibility to achieve those goals in their preferred work arrangements. Trusting employees to manage their own time and workload empowers them to take ownership and responsibility for their work, leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction.
  • Prioritise Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication and collaboration are essential in flexible work arrangements. Organisations should establish regular channels for communication, such as team meetings, virtual check-ins, and project updates. Collaboration platforms should be utilised to facilitate real-time collaboration and document sharing. It is crucial to create opportunities for social interaction and team building as well, as these contribute to maintaining a sense of connection and belonging among remote or hybrid teams.
  • Continuously Evaluate and Adapt: Flexible work arrangements are not one-size-fits-all solutions. It is essential for organisations to continuously evaluate their approach and gather feedback from employees to identify areas for improvement. Regularly assessing the impact of flexible work arrangements on productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall organisational goals allows organisations to make adjustments and refine their strategies to better suit the needs of their workforce.

By embracing flexible work arrangements, organisations can empower their employees to achieve a better work-life balance, increase job satisfaction, and improve overall productivity. This approach not only attracts top talent but also fosters a culture of trust, autonomy, and innovation within the organisation.

Redefining the Purpose of the Office:

According to Chris Herd, CEO of FirstbaseHQ, “The office will become a tool for collaboration, not a requirement for it.” As remote and hybrid working become more prevalent, physical offices will likely undergo transformation. Instead of being a primary workspace, offices will serve as hubs for collaboration, social interaction, and fostering company culture.

Here’s how offices can fulfill these crucial functions:

  • Collaboration Spaces: Offices will be designed to provide dedicated areas that facilitate collaboration and teamwork. These spaces may include meeting rooms equipped with advanced technology for seamless virtual collaboration, brainstorming areas for creative sessions, and project-specific zones where teams can work together on specific initiatives. By providing purpose-built collaborative spaces, offices encourage face-to-face interactions and foster a sense of collective problem-solving and innovation.
  • Social and Community Areas: Offices will offer social and community spaces designed to facilitate informal interactions among employees. These spaces may include lounges, cafeterias, or outdoor areas where employees can connect, engage in casual conversations, and build relationships. By providing opportunities for spontaneous interactions, offices create a sense of camaraderie, strengthen interpersonal connections, and enhance team cohesion.
  • Company Culture Reinforcement: Offices play a crucial role in fostering and reinforcing company culture. The physical environment can be designed to reflect the organisation’s values, mission, and brand identity. From the layout and aesthetics to the choice of furniture and decor, offices can be intentionally designed to create a sense of belonging and alignment with the company’s culture. Additionally, office events, celebrations, and team-building activities can be organised to further strengthen the company’s culture and sense of community.
  • Mentorship and Learning Spaces: Offices can provide designated spaces for mentorship programs and learning opportunities. These spaces may include training rooms, libraries, or dedicated areas for knowledge sharing and skill development. By creating physical spaces that promote mentorship and learning, offices encourage professional growth, knowledge exchange, and continuous learning within the organisation.
  • Well-being and Wellness Facilities: Offices can incorporate facilities and amenities that promote employee well-being and wellness. This may include wellness rooms for relaxation and meditation, fitness areas, or designated spaces for healthy snacks and beverages. By prioritising employee well-being, offices contribute to a positive and supportive work environment, enhancing productivity, and overall job satisfaction.
  • Hybrid Collaboration Technologies: As remote and hybrid working continues to be a part of the work landscape, offices will also need to embrace hybrid collaboration technologies. These technologies enable seamless communication and collaboration between on-site and remote workers. Offices can be equipped with state-of-the-art video conferencing systems, virtual collaboration tools, and interactive displays to bridge the gap between physical and virtual team members, ensuring that everyone feels included and connected.

The future of offices lies in their transformation into hubs for collaboration, social interaction, and fostering company culture. By providing spaces that encourage collaboration, reinforce company values, and prioritise employee well-being, offices will remain essential in cultivating a sense of community, innovation, and collective identity within organisations, even as remote and hybrid working models become more prevalent.

Emphasising Digital Literacy and Cybersecurity:

As remote and hybrid working continue to evolve, the importance of digital literacy and cybersecurity will become paramount. Employees need to be equipped with the necessary skills to navigate digital tools and platforms effectively. Organisations must invest in comprehensive training programs to ensure their workforce remains proficient in remote collaboration tools and security protocols.

Digital literacy refers to the ability to effectively and confidently use digital tools, platforms, and technologies. It encompasses skills such as navigating digital interfaces, using collaboration and communication tools, and managing information online. Organisations should prioritise digital literacy to enable their employees to work efficiently and adapt to changing technological landscapes. Here’s how organisations can emphasise digital literacy:

  • Training and Education: Provide comprehensive training programs and resources that equip employees with the necessary digital skills. This can include workshops, online courses, and tutorials on various tools and platforms.
  • Ongoing Support: Offer ongoing support and resources to help employees continuously develop and refine their digital skills. This can include access to knowledge bases, internal forums, or dedicated support teams.
  • Collaboration Tools: Implement user-friendly and intuitive collaboration tools that facilitate effective remote communication and collaboration. Provide training and guidelines on how to use these tools effectively for virtual meetings, document sharing, and project management.

Cybersecurity:  As the digital landscape expands, organisations face increased cybersecurity threats. Protecting sensitive data, preventing cyberattacks, and maintaining privacy are critical priorities. Organisations need to prioritise cybersecurity and implement measures to safeguard their digital assets and protect employee and customer information. Here’s how organisations can emphasise cybersecurity:

  • Security Training: Conduct regular cybersecurity training sessions to educate employees about common threats, best practices for password management, recognising phishing attempts, and safe online behaviour. Ensure that employees understand the importance of cybersecurity and their role in maintaining a secure work environment.
  • Strong Authentication and Access Controls: Implement multi-factor authentication and access controls to protect sensitive data and systems. Limit access to critical information based on roles and responsibilities.
  • Data Encryption and Protection: Encrypt sensitive data both in transit and at rest. Implement strong encryption protocols and regularly update security measures to stay ahead of evolving threats.
  • Incident Response and Monitoring: Establish incident response protocols and systems to detect, respond to, and recover from security breaches. Regularly monitor networks and systems for any suspicious activities or vulnerabilities.
  • Regular Security Audits: Conduct regular security audits to identify potential vulnerabilities, assess compliance with security standards, and make necessary updates or improvements.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Stay up to date with relevant data protection and privacy regulations to ensure compliance and avoid legal and repetitional risks.

These proactive approach helps protect sensitive data, prevent cyber threats, and in-still a culture of digital responsibility within the organisation.


The future of work will undoubtedly be shaped by the lessons learned during the remote and hybrid work period. The office will transform into a collaborative space, and flexible work arrangements will become the norm. Trust, collaboration, digital literacy, and employee well-being will play crucial roles in ensuring the success of this new era. By embracing these changes and adapting our work practices, we can navigate the evolving landscape and create a future of work that is both efficient and fulfilling.

The Ripple Effect: How People Influence Each Other

Humans are inherently social beings, constantly interacting and shaping the world around them. Whether we realise it or not, our actions, words, and even our mere presence have a profound impact on those we come into contact with. From the way we dress to the ideas we share, the influence we exert on others is a powerful force that can shape their thoughts, beliefs, and actions. In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating dynamics of human influence and how it can create a ripple effect that spreads far beyond our immediate interactions.

The Power of Social Interaction:

Human beings are wired for social connection. We seek validation, acceptance, and belonging from the people around us. As we interact with others, we not only share experiences but also exchange ideas and emotions. These interactions have the potential to inspire, motivate, and transform individuals, making social influence an essential aspect of our lives.

Observational Learning:

One of the primary ways in which people influence each other is through observational learning. Humans are highly adept at observing and imitating the behaviours of others, particularly those they admire or consider influential. This process starts from childhood, as children learn from their parents, siblings, and peers, and continues throughout our lives. From learning basic skills to adopting cultural norms, our behaviour is shaped by the people we surround ourselves with.

Social Norms and Conformity:

Society establishes a set of norms and expectations that guide our behaviour. These norms often influence our choices and actions as we seek acceptance and approval from our social groups. The pressure to conform to societal norms can be significant, even to the point of suppressing individuality. However, it is important to recognise that norms can be both positive and negative, and challenging the status quo can lead to positive change.

Emotional Contagion:

Emotions are contagious. We can’t help but be affected by the moods and emotions of the people around us. This phenomenon, known as emotional contagion, is a powerful form of influence. Positive emotions, such as happiness and enthusiasm, can uplift and inspire others, while negative emotions, like anger or fear, can spread like wildfire and fuel negative behaviours. Being mindful of our own emotional states and their potential impact on others is crucial for fostering positive influence.

Persuasion and Communication:

Effective communication and persuasion skills are essential tools for influencing others. Whether through verbal or nonverbal means, our ability to articulate ideas, present compelling arguments, and listen empathetically can shape the perspectives and decisions of those we interact with. Understanding the power of language, body language, and active listening can amplify our influence and foster meaningful connections.

The Ripple Effect:

Every interaction we have, no matter how small, has the potential to create a ripple effect. When we positively influence someone, they may, in turn, influence others, creating a chain reaction of positive change. Similarly, negative influences can propagate destructive patterns. Recognising the broader impact of our actions empowers us to be more mindful of the influence we exert and strive to create positive ripples in the world.

As social beings, we have an inherent capacity to influence and be influenced by others. Our actions, words, and even our mere presence can leave a lasting impact on those we encounter. By understanding the dynamics of human influence, we can harness its power to inspire, motivate, and foster positive change. Great managers and organisational leaders understand and develop their ability to influence across the entire spectrum of rational logical reason through to emotional forms of influence.  Surfacing your personal consciousness of how you are being influenced and how you are influencing others is a strong learning tool in fine tuning how you nudge outcomes into being, throughout your career.  

The Three Biggest Issues Managers Are Facing in 2023 Are…

Being a manager is no easy task, and each year brings its own unique set of challenges. As we delve into 2023, managers are grappling with a range of complex issues that demand their attention and strategic decision-making. In this blog, we will explore the three biggest issues that managers are facing this year, supported by relevant data and sources. So, let’s dive right in!

1. Navigating the Remote Work Transition:

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly reshaped the workplace, accelerating the adoption of remote work across industries. While remote work offers various benefits such as increased flexibility and improved work-life balance, it also presents challenges for managers. Here are some key concerns they face:

a) Maintaining team cohesion: As teams work remotely, building and sustaining a sense of camaraderie becomes crucial. A survey conducted by Owl Labs (2022) found that 34% of managers struggle with fostering team collaboration and engagement in a remote setting.

b) Overcoming communication barriers: Effective communication lies at the heart of successful remote work. According to a report by Buffer (2021), 20% of remote workers consider communication and collaboration their biggest struggle, making it essential for managers to find efficient communication tools and strategies.

c) Ensuring productivity and accountability: Managers are challenged with monitoring employee performance and ensuring productivity in a remote work environment. A study by Gallup (2021) found that 29% of remote workers feel their manager does not effectively communicate expectations, leading to reduced performance and engagement.

2.  Adapting to Technological Advancements:

Rapid advancements in technology have transformed industries, and managers must stay abreast of the latest tools and trends to ensure their teams remain competitive. Here are some key technological challenges managers face:

a) Embracing automation and AI: Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are revolutionising business operations. A survey by McKinsey (2021) highlighted that 47% of managers struggle with understanding and integrating automation into their workflows effectively.

b) Data management and privacy: The proliferation of data presents both opportunities and challenges. Managers must navigate data management and privacy regulations while leveraging the insights data provides. A study by Gartner (2022) revealed that 38% of managers struggle with data governance and ensuring compliance.

c) Cybersecurity threats: With the increasing reliance on digital infrastructure, managers must be vigilant in safeguarding their organisations data and systems against cybersecurity threats. The Cybersecurity Ventures (2021) report estimates that cybercrime will cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, highlighting the importance of managers prioritising cybersecurity measures.

3.  Nurturing a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce:

Building a diverse and inclusive workforce has gained significant attention in recent years, but the journey is ongoing. Managers play a crucial role in creating an inclusive culture within their organisations. Here are some key challenges they face:

a) Overcoming unconscious bias: Unconscious biases can hinder the hiring and promotion processes, impacting diversity within teams. A study by Harvard Business Review (2019) showed that 45% of managers struggle with recognising and addressing unconscious bias.

b) Developing inclusive leadership: Inclusive leadership involves valuing and leveraging diverse perspectives. However, a survey by Deloitte (2021) found that only 19% of managers feel confident in their ability to lead diverse teams effectively, highlighting the need for additional training and support.

c) Retaining diverse talent: Managers need to create an inclusive environment that fosters employee satisfaction and retention. According to the McKinsey report “Diversity Wins” (2020), diverse and inclusive companies are 36% more likely to outperform their peers, emphasising the importance of retaining diverse talent.


As managers navigate the complexities of 2023, addressing the challenges of remote work, technological advancements, and diversity and inclusion will be paramount. By staying informed about these issues and actively seeking solutions, managers can guide their teams towards success in an ever-evolving business landscape.


The Key Elements of a Great L&D Strategy

Simply to stay competitive organisations really has to prioritise the continuous learning and development of their employees. A well-crafted Learning and Development (L&D) strategy is crucial to foster growth, enhance performance, and drive innovation within an organisation. In this post, we will explore the key elements of a great L&D strategy and provide a step-by-step process for creating one.

Assessing Organisational Needs:

The first step in developing an effective L&D strategy is to assess the current and future needs of the organisation. This involves identifying skills gaps, understanding business objectives, and aligning L&D initiatives accordingly. Conduct surveys, interviews, and performance evaluations to gather relevant data and insights.

Defining Clear Objectives:

Based on the needs assessment, clearly define the objectives of your L&D strategy. These objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Examples of objectives could include improving technical skills, enhancing leadership capabilities, or promoting a culture of innovation.

Designing a Variety of Learning Methods:

A great L&D strategy encompasses a diverse range of learning methods to cater to different learning preferences and styles. Incorporate a mix of classroom training, online courses, webinars, mentorship programs, workshops, and on-the-job training. Blended learning approaches that combine online and offline methods often yield the best results.

Creating Engaging Content:

Engaging and relevant content is vital for effective learning. Develop high-quality learning materials that are interactive, visually appealing, and easily digestible. Incorporate real-life examples, case studies, simulations, and gamification techniques to make the learning experience enjoyable and memorable.

Personalisation and Individual Development Plans:

Recognise that each employee has unique learning needs and aspirations. Offer personalised learning experiences by providing individual development plans. These plans can be created through a collaborative effort between employees and their supervisors, focusing on specific skills or competencies required for their role or desired career progression.

Establishing a Supportive Learning Culture:

Building a supportive learning culture is essential for the success of an L&D strategy. Encourage a growth mindset, where employees are empowered to take ownership of their learning journey. Foster a culture that values continuous improvement, knowledge sharing, and innovation. Recognise and reward employees who actively participate in learning initiatives.

Measurement and Evaluation:

Regularly measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your L&D initiatives. Track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as employee engagement, skill development, knowledge retention, and business impact. Collect feedback from participants through surveys or focus groups to identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions.

Continuous Improvement:

L&D strategies should be flexible and adaptable to changing needs. Continuously gather feedback, monitor emerging trends, and update your strategy accordingly. Embrace new technologies and innovative learning methods to keep your L&D initiatives fresh and engaging.


A well-designed L&D strategy is crucial for the growth and success of any organisation. By assessing needs, setting clear objectives, offering diverse learning methods, creating engaging content, personalising development plans, fostering a supportive culture, measuring outcomes, and embracing continuous improvement, you can create a great L&D strategy that drives individual and organisational growth. Remember, investing in your employees’ learning and development is investing in the future of your organisation.

Need some help?

If you’re seeking professional assistance in building a robust and effective L&D strategy, you should be able to lean on your learning solutions partner. As experts in the field of learning and development, many training consultancies offer comprehensive services to help organisations create tailored strategies that align with their unique needs and objectives. 

With our 23 years of experience, understanding industry trends, best practices, and cutting-edge technologies, we would obviously love to guide you through the entire process, from conducting needs assessments to designing engaging learning materials and implementing measurement frameworks. Our team will work closely with you to develop a customised L&D strategy that addresses your organisations specific challenges and maximise the potential for success.  

Bob Bannister

Ships Captain

Management Skills – Communication.

It is crucial for a manager to be an effective communicator to maintain a productive and harmonious work environment. In this blog post, I will identify the specific qualities that make a manager a good communicator and give real business examples to reinforce these ideas.

  1. Clear and Concise Messaging

A good manager must be able to convey their message clearly and concisely to their team members. This means avoiding the use of jargon or complicated language that may confuse their team. They should also be mindful of their tone and body language to ensure that their message is received positively.

One great example of clear and concise messaging is from Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. In his annual letter to shareholders in 2017, he highlighted the importance of avoiding jargon in communication, stating that “it’s not just a problem in business writing; it’s a problem in any kind of writing. Excessive jargon is a nuisance.” This shows that even the most successful leaders understand the importance of clear communication.

  1. Active Listening

A good manager should also be an active listener, paying attention to their team members and giving them the opportunity to express their thoughts and concerns. This helps to build trust and strengthen the relationship between the manager and their team.

One example of active listening comes from Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. In an interview with CNBC in 2019, he emphasized the importance of listening to his employees, stating that “the key is to listen deeply to what employees are saying.” By doing this, he has been able to improve the work environment at Microsoft and promote a culture of innovation.

  1. Empathy

Empathy is another crucial quality for a manager to possess when communicating with their team. This means understanding the emotions and feelings of their team members and responding in a way that is supportive and compassionate.

One business leader who demonstrates empathy is Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. In a 2020 blog post, he addressed the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it was having on his employees, stating that “I’m hopeful that the steps we’re taking now will help get us to a better place and that we can all look back on this period with pride at how we supported one another.” By acknowledging the difficult situation and showing empathy towards his team, he was able to provide them with the support they needed during a challenging time.

  1. Transparency

Finally, a good manager should be transparent in their communication, sharing information openly and honestly with their team members. This helps to build trust and foster a culture of transparency within the organization.

One example of transparent communication comes from Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. In a 2018 letter to shareholders, he discussed the challenges facing the company and how they planned to address them, stating that “We want to have a culture of radical honesty and transparency.” By being transparent with their shareholders, Netflix was able to maintain their trust and continue to grow their business.

By possessing these qualities, a manager can build strong relationships with their team members and create a positive work environment that promotes productivity and innovation. The examples provided by business leaders like Jeff Bezos, Satya Nadella, Mark Zuckerberg, and Reed Hastings demonstrate the importance of these qualities and how they can be applied in real-world situations.

So what is psychological safety?

Psychological safety is a term used to describe the perception of feeling safe to take interpersonal risks within a group or organisation. It is a critical component of high-performing teams and fosters innovation, creativity, and growth. Tim Clarke, an expert in organisational development and change, has identified four stages of psychological safety that teams go through as they develop.

Stage 1: Inclusion Safety

The first stage is Inclusion Safety, where team members feel included and accepted within the group. They believe that their contribution is valued, and they are an integral part of the team. At this stage, team members feel comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas without fear of being rejected or excluded.

To create a culture of inclusion safety, leaders must foster an environment where all team members feel valued and respected. This can be done by encouraging open communication and active listening, promoting diversity and inclusion, and recognising and celebrating individual and team achievements.

Stage 2: Learner Safety

The second stage is Learner Safety, where team members feel safe to learn and grow within the team. They are comfortable with taking risks, making mistakes, and experimenting with new ideas. They believe that their failures are opportunities for learning and growth, and they are not afraid to seek feedback and constructive criticism.

To create a culture of learner safety, leaders must encourage continuous learning and development, provide opportunities for growth and development, and promote a growth mindset. They must also encourage team members to take calculated risks and experiment with new ideas, while providing support and guidance along the way.

Stage 3: Contributor Safety

The third stage is Contributor Safety, where team members feel safe to contribute their unique skills and expertise to the team. They feel confident in their abilities and believe that their contributions are essential to the team’s success. At this stage, team members are willing to take on new challenges and responsibilities and are committed to the team’s goals.

To create a culture of contributor safety, leaders must provide opportunities for team members to use their skills and expertise, encourage autonomy and ownership, and recognise and reward individual and team contributions. They must also foster a culture of trust and transparency, where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions.

Stage 4: Challenger Safety

The final stage is Challenger Safety, where team members feel safe to challenge the status quo and push boundaries within the team. They are comfortable with questioning assumptions, challenging existing processes and systems, and advocating for change. At this stage, team members are committed to continuous improvement and are not afraid to take bold and innovative steps.

To create a culture of challenger safety, leaders must encourage and support experimentation and innovation, reward risk-taking and creativity, and promote a culture of continuous improvement. They must also foster a culture of psychological safety, where team members feel comfortable challenging existing norms and advocating for change without fear of retribution.

Respect and permission

Respect and permission levels are crucial in achieving Challenger Safety within a team. This stage requires team members to feel safe to challenge existing processes, systems, and norms without fear of retribution or punishment. To achieve this level of safety, team members must respect one another’s opinions and ideas and have the permission to speak up and challenge the status quo.

Respect is essential because it creates a culture of trust and openness where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas without fear of judgment or ridicule. Leaders must promote a culture of respect by modelling respectful behaviour, creating an environment where everyone’s voice is heard, and addressing any disrespectful behaviour immediately.

Permission levels are equally important because they allow team members to feel empowered to speak up and challenge existing processes and systems. Leaders must provide clear guidelines on what is acceptable behaviour and encourage team members to take calculated risks and try new things. They must also provide support and resources to help team members navigate the challenges that come with challenging the status quo.

Leaders must create an environment where team members feel respected, empowered, and supported to challenge existing processes and systems without fear of retribution. By fostering a culture of psychological safety that includes respect and permission levels, teams can achieve high levels of performance and innovation.

Psychological safety is a critical component of high-functioning teams, and Tim Clarke’s four stages of psychological safety provide a framework for understanding how teams develop and progress towards a culture of psychological safety. By fostering a culture of inclusion safety, learner safety, contributor safety, and challenger safety, leaders can create a team environment where team members feel valued, supported, and empowered to take risks, learn, grow, and innovate.

One small thing that can have a MASSIVE impact on your people management skills!

Managing people can be a daunting task, and it can often feel overwhelming to keep track of everyone’s needs and preferences. However, there is one small thing that can have a massive impact on your people management skills and it’s simply this;  listen first and then speak!

True listening is the act of fully concentrating on what the other person is saying, both verbally and non-verbally. It involves paying attention to the speaker’s words, tone of voice, body language, and emotions. By deep listening to your employees, you can gain a better understanding of their needs and concerns, and you can respond to them more effectively.

Here are a few ways that active listening can improve your people management skills:

  1. Builds trust and rapport: When you really listen to your employees, they feel valued and respected. They are more likely to open up to you and share their thoughts and feelings, which can help build trust and rapport between you.
  2. Increases empathy: Really listening requires you to put yourself in your employees’ shoes and see things from their perspective. This can help you develop a greater sense of empathy, which can improve your ability to understand and connect with your employees.
  3. Improves problem-solving: By really listening to your employees, you can gain a better understanding of the issues they are facing. This can help you identify potential solutions and work collaboratively with your employees to address the problem.
  4. Reduces misunderstandings: When you really listen to your employees, you are less likely to misunderstand their intentions or motivations. This can help prevent conflicts and misunderstandings in the workplace.

This should be the easiest management technique in the book, but honestly, it’s practiced so infrequently.  It doesn’t really need anything more complicated than keeping your mouth shut for longer!  Focus on the speaker and avoid distractions and give the speaker your full attention.   Try it, it will pay dividends.  

Getting the best out of online breakout rooms…

While online meetings provide a convenient way to connect with colleagues and clients, they can also be challenging in terms of engagement and retention. In this blog post, we will explore specifically how to improve engagement in online meetings through the effective use of breakout rooms.  

One of the significant challenges of online meetings is keeping participants engaged and attentive. It can be easy to lose focus when attending a meeting remotely, especially if you are working in a distracting environment. However, there is a technique that can significantly improve online meeting retention and engagement: breakout rooms.

Breakout rooms are a feature available in many online meeting platforms that allow participants to split into smaller groups for discussions. Breakout rooms can be used for brainstorming sessions, problem-solving, or team-building activities. By splitting participants into smaller groups, it creates a more intimate and engaging environment, encouraging more active participation and fostering collaboration.

To make the most of breakout rooms, it is essential to set clear objectives and guidelines for the discussion. Ensure that each group has a specific task to accomplish or a particular topic to discuss. Assign a moderator to each group to keep the discussion on track and ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute.

From our experience, here are some good principles for running breakouts.  

  1. Clear Instructions: Provide clear and concise instructions on what participants should do in the breakout room. Make sure they understand the goal and outcome of the activity.
  2. Time Bound: Set a specific time limit for the breakout room activity. This helps to keep participants focused and gives them a sense of urgency.
  3. Small Groups: Keep the groups small, ideally no more than 4-5 participants, to ensure everyone has an opportunity to contribute.
  4. Icebreakers: Start the breakout room activity with an icebreaker or warm-up question to help participants get to know each other better.
  5. Variety of Activities: Use a variety of activities such as brainstorming, problem-solving, or role-playing to keep the activity interesting and engaging.
  6. Visuals: Use visuals such as slides or videos to support the activity and keep participants engaged.
  7. Feedback: Provide feedback on the breakout room activity, highlighting key insights and ideas generated by participants.
  8. Rotate Groups: If possible, rotate participants through different breakout room groups to allow for new perspectives and to keep the activity fresh.
  9. Follow-up: Follow up with participants after the breakout room activity to reinforce key learnings and ensure they understand how the activity relates to the overall meeting objective.

The impact of stereotype threat on this racing driver!

Once a month for seven months throughout the season you will find me strapped into my little race car sitting on the grid of some UK race circuit.  As I sit there, waiting for the red lights to go out and the grid to erupt into a noisy jostling of wing-mirrors as we descend on the first corner, my performance is in fact in danger of succumbing to stereo type threat!  Yes really.  I am one of the oldest drivers on a significantly younger grid, and I feel the pressure of that.  These youngsters (all around me) somehow have a different fear threshold, and typically older drivers do not perform as well against them.

Claude Steele’s work on stereotype threat is something that is helping me to conquer that mental challenge and increase my race competitiveness.

Claude Steele’s stereotype threat theory is a concept that explores how the fear of confirming negative stereotypes about a particular social group can affect their performance in academic or intellectual tasks. This theory is relevant in a society where people belong to diverse social groups and face unique challenges based on their identity. In this article, we will explore what stereotype threat is, how it affects people’s performance, and what can be done to mitigate its effects.

Stereotype threat is the fear of confirming negative stereotypes about a particular social group. It occurs when individuals are aware of the negative stereotype that exists about their group, and they worry that they might confirm it. For instance, women might worry about confirming the stereotype that they are not good at math, or black students might fear that they will confirm the stereotype that they are not intelligent. When individuals are under stereotype threat, they become anxious, and their performance declines.

Claude Steele’s research on stereotype threat began in the 1990s when he was a professor at Stanford University. In his research, Steele found that stereotype threat can significantly affect people’s performance in academic or intellectual tasks. For example, in one study, Steele and his colleagues found that black students performed worse than white students on a standardized test when they were told that the test was designed to measure their intellectual abilities. However, when the same test was presented as a problem-solving exercise, without any reference to intelligence, the performance gap disappeared.

Steele’s research shows that stereotype threat can affect people’s performance by creating anxiety and reducing their confidence. When individuals are under stereotype threat, they worry that their performance will confirm the negative stereotype about their group, which leads to anxiety and reduced confidence. This anxiety and reduced confidence can affect their ability to focus and perform well in the task at hand.

To mitigate the effects of stereotype threat, Steele suggests that individuals should be reminded of their competence before engaging in an academic or intellectual task. For example, if women are reminded that they have performed well in math in the past, they are less likely to be affected by the stereotype threat. Similarly, if black students are reminded of their intelligence before taking a test, they are less likely to be affected by the stereotype threat. This intervention is known as “wise interventions” and has been shown to be effective in reducing the effects of stereotype threat.

In conclusion, Claude Steele’s stereotype threat theory is an important concept that explores how negative stereotypes about a particular social group can affect their performance in academic or intellectual tasks. Stereotype threat creates anxiety and reduces confidence, which can affect people’s ability to focus and perform well in the task at hand. However, by reminding individuals of their competence before engaging in a task, it is possible to mitigate the effects of stereotype threat. This theory is relevant in a society that values diversity and inclusivity, and it highlights the need to create environments that are free from negative stereotypes and biases.

Getting to why…

Simon Sinek is a well-known author, speaker, and marketing consultant, who is best known for his book “Start With Why”. In this book, Sinek introduces the concept of the Golden Circle, a simple framework that helps individuals and organisations identify their core purpose, or their “why”. By starting with why, Sinek argues, we can inspire and motivate others to take action and achieve great things.

But getting to why is often easier said than done. Many of us struggle to identify our true purpose or passion, and we may feel lost or unmotivated as a result. In this post, we’ll explore some techniques that can help you get to why and discover your true purpose.

  1. Start with introspection The first step in getting to why is to look inward. Take some time to reflect on your own values, passions, and strengths. What drives you? What are you good at? What makes you feel fulfilled? Write down your thoughts in a journal or notebook, and try to be as honest and introspective as possible.
  2. Identify your mission Once you’ve done some introspection, it’s time to start thinking about your mission. What problem do you want to solve? What change do you want to create in the world? Think about what you’re passionate about and how you can use your skills and talents to make a difference. Write down your mission statement and keep it somewhere you can see it every day.
  3. Seek feedback from others Getting an outside perspective can be incredibly helpful in identifying your why. Ask friends, family members, or colleagues to share their thoughts on your strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Ask them what they think you’re good at and what they think you could improve on. This feedback can help you gain a better understanding of yourself and your purpose.
  4. Look for patterns As you reflect on your own passions and seek feedback from others, look for patterns or themes that emerge. What do people consistently praise you for? What activities or hobbies bring you the most joy? These patterns can help you identify your core purpose and what drives you.
  5. Experiment and iterate Finally, it’s important to remember that discovering your why is a journey, not a destination. You may need to experiment with different roles, projects, or hobbies to discover what truly excites and motivates you. Don’t be afraid to try new things and iterate as you go. Your why may evolve and change over time, and that’s okay.

In conclusion, getting to why is a powerful tool that can help you discover your purpose and inspire others to take action. By starting with introspection, identifying your mission, seeking feedback, looking for patterns, and experimenting and iterating, you can uncover your true passion and create a fulfilling and meaningful life.

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