The rise of workplace incivility

An fe3 podcast on incivility

A podcast inspired by a recent mindstretch® on incivility in the workplace.

Is incivility a ‘thing’? Or are we all just too sensitive? And what is incivility? To discuss these questions, Karen talks with Fiona Eldridge, Head of Membership from the College of Policing, and Matt Hyde, Chief Executive of the Scouts Association.

Thanks to:

Neil Davey for technical help, and bensound for the music.

A champion of evidence

For many years, fe3 has been a champion of evidence.  Our mindstretch® sessions began in 2002 and we’ve debunked myths, exposed fads and hopefully stretched minds. We believe that as Oscar Wild said – ‘The truth is rarely pure and never simple.’

Because of this, we run mindstretch® sessions. These are events where our guests are asked to contribute their ideas, take part in the discussion and give their experiences. They offer participants a chance to get away from the phones and take some time concentrating on a specific aspect of organisations.

Interested in joining us?

We run sessions regularly.  So if you’d like to come to the next session, please drop me a line below.

Coaching contract win for fe3

A recent tender for a coaching programme has enabled fe3 to expand into the North of the country.  The company has been awarded a coaching contract with International Nuclear Services for senior executives and middle managers, scheduled to last for three years.

Time of growth

Director Karen Drury said:

“Obviously we’re delighted with this contract win, which will support the development of senior and middle management in a time of great growth for the nuclear industry.  It adds to our existing coaching work with Civil Service Learning and the College of Policing, plus our individual client work.”

Karen will be joined in the work by associate Charlie Phelps.

Is there a limit to creativity? An article for HR Zone

Creativity is a big thing in organisations – it influences, apparently, everything from individual productivity to product innovation, from financial performance to competitive edge.

It’s widely seen as a driver for growth and development, enabling companies to thrive in dynamic environments. Without it, technology companies in particular would be out of business in no time.

Academics and practitioners have been studying creativity since the mid-1950s in the guise of communication and problem solving. Creativity research has experienced a resurgence of late as the pace of technological development demands more new ideas, focusing mainly on Amabile et al’s 1996 definition of creativity as the generation of ‘novel and useful’ ideas.

But can everyone be creative?

Read the rest of the article here.

The mother of invention – creativity: a mindstretch®podcast

Doing more with less

Public service employers are straining to cope with demand, needing to do more, with a lot less. It seems obvious that what worked previously is unlikely to work now.  Employers are demanding creativity from their employees. But are they offering the right environment for new ideas? How does innovation ‘land’?

In the private sector too, technology is impacting business strategy, people management, customer service. These organisations also need to develop new approaches. In the case of technology, organisations need to innovate – or die.

A call for creativity

We looked in our June session at individual and organisational creativity. In the session, we considered if everyone was creative and if organisations can encourage new ideas and if so, how. We asked about the role of leaders in developing a creative organisational climate.

Emma Wootton, Director of Surethought and long-time associate of fe3, guided participants through The NOODLE Plan; a simple, but highly effective process for getting to creative solutions. This used a real issue, provided by TfL. Our podcast tells us what they thought of the results and offers some thoughts about leadership when encouraging creativity.

We’d like to thank Emma Wootton, TfL’s Simon Williams, Head of Business Change Project Management for their sterling contributions. Thanks also to Neil Davey, for his technical help and to bensound for the music.

A champion of evidence

For many years, fe3 has been a champion of evidence.  Our mindstretch® sessions began in 2002 and we’ve debunked myths, exposed fads and hopefully stretched minds. We believe that as Oscar Wild said – ‘The truth is rarely pure and never simple.’

Because of this, we run mindstretch® sessions. These are events where our guests are asked to contribute their ideas, take part in the discussion and give their experiences. They offer participants a chance to get away from the phones and take some time concentrating on a specific aspect of organisations.

Interested in joining us?

Our next session is will be in September. This will look at incivility in organisations – and all the ramifications of it.  So if you’d like to come to the next session, please drop me a line below.

Evidence-based practice – an fe3 mindstretch®podcast

We’re living in an era of ‘post-truth’, where evidence-based practice is optional. Here, popular opinion, propelled by emotion rather than logic, holds sway. Because organisations are not immune to this type of thinking, fe3 prides itself on supporting organisations to implement what works, rather than what is merely popular.

Recently, we ran a mindstretch® which discussed why the debate on evidence-based practice is important now. It considered how organisations make decisions on the management interventions they introduce, and the dangers of management fads. We also looked at ‘good’ evidence and how organisations can make better choices.

Our first mindstretch® podcast.

Now, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, we’ve created our first mindstretch® podcast. We hope there will be more to come.

Our guests discussed the importance of evidence when making business decisions. We don’t think that business uses it enough and therefore often makes the wrong decisions. This short snippet talks about ‘fake news’, management fads and a particular example from Save the Children.  It also offers an approach to using evidence effectively in making decisions in the future.

We’d like to thank Vic Langer, Director of Influencing and Operations at Save the Children, for her contribution, and to Neil Davey, for his technical help.

A champion of evidence

For many years, fe3 has been a champion of evidence.  Our mindstretch® sessions began in 2002 and we’ve debunked myths, exposed fads and hopefully stretched minds. We believe that as Oscar Wild said – ‘The truth is rarely pure and never simple.’

Because of this, we run mindstretch® sessions. These are events where our guests are asked to contribute their ideas, take part in the discussion and give their experiences. They offer participants a chance to get away from the phones and take some time concentrating on a specific aspect of organisations. Join our mailing list here!

Remote workers – out of sight, out of mind? An article for HRZone

                                                                              ©Pixabay

When remote working was introduced, it was hailed as a step forward in work-life balance. For many people, it is, enabling them to combine caring responsibilities and work more easily. Organisations saw it as a way to benefit employees as well as cutting costs.

Nortel estimates that they save $100,000 per employee they don’t have to relocate and some studies quote average real estate savings with full-time telework is $10,000/employee/year.

A mixed picture

However, research on the impact of remote working on employees is decidedly mixed. As well as the benefits, academics have identified issues from an increasing sense of isolation, to a fear of being passed over for promotion.

IBM, according to one respondent in a study, stands for ‘I’m By Myself’. People miss the sense of community, and the richness of collaboration.

Work intensification, where employees work harder and longer hours than office-based staff, has been noted as a by-product in numerous studies, even those that also found increases in job satisfaction for employees based at home. This will be exacerbated when working across time zones.

New issues – old solutions?

The issues of virtual teams are well-documented – top of the list comes communication and trust, common themes in the organisational and management literature­­­. The reasoning for communication issues is that if you can’t see the non-verbal cues in the communication, complete information has not been exchanged.

The potential risks with communication may account for findings in the literature about conflict in virtual teams; with less face to face interaction, not only is it more difficult to fix the issues, but they may stay hidden for longer.

And conflict itself may be a different thing. Being mad and frustrated with Fred in a video conference call might be different from being mad and frustrated with Fred when he’s right in front of you.

It’s not clear if this is properly understood by managers, and organisations may be trying to solve a new and different issue with old tools.

Unintended consequences

As organisations shrink their office space and set up workers to work elsewhere, they may not realise that distance may impact the relationship they have with their employees.

For example, a strong corporate culture may be more difficult to maintain. The development of culture comes primarily through social interaction between employee and other co-workers. This transmits shared beliefs, values and perceptions. Being remote may make it more difficult to learn ‘how things are done around here’.

Corporate culture seems also to place a lot of emphasis on the visible – dress, behavioural norms, symbols. These things are constrained for remote workers, who need to rely instead on the psychological, rather than the physical dimensions of their organisation.

Closely linked to culture is the concept of employee identity. This is associated with numerous organisational benefits such as organisational citizenship, intent to stay and supervisor satisfaction.

However, the level of employee identity, although flexible, is predicted by the extent of contact between the individual and the organisation, and the visibility of organisational membership, usually displayed through logos, building architecture, uniforms, rituals and ceremonies.

It’s easy to see that working remotely impacts the organisation’s ability to continue this connection.

Time for a new approach?

Some of the issues may be improved through training and better thinking. It would be interesting, for example, to see if organisations coach people on how to work remotely, explaining expectations (both employee and employer) and covering time management.

It would be equally interesting to see how many management training courses focus on the difference between leading remote workers and leading those based in the office. Not many, I imagine.

Here are a couple of key differences:

For remote workers, communication is generally all about the project – they miss the coffee-station/corridor/over lunch chats which will flavour their feelings about work and their employer, let alone spark new ideas. 

  • So, to fulfil that social and informal agenda, you may need to build in more time to communicate

Being apart from the physical organisation may create for remote workers a sense of having limited influence.

  • To counter this, ensure communication mechanisms can accommodate the voice of the remote worker, an important element of the employee-employer relationship. Remember – two-way does not automatically mean email!

For good or ill, it seems remote working is here to stay. Interestingly, the maximum benefits are gained when remote working is part time; meta studies indicate that a maximum of three days appears to create most productivity and worker satisfaction.

For those workers who don’t have that choice, it may be that organisations need to work harder at maintaining the connections.

After all, for a virtual worker, the costs of leaving an organisation they no longer see or feel seen by, will be fairly small.

 

This article was featured in HRZone on April 11 2017

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Change and dry cleaning – a small, personal example of change

A year ago, our launderette changed hands. This was the first change in our local shops. I had used this launderette, scruffy and a bit down at heel, since we moved in eight years ago.

Gone was our friendly assistant who took special care of our bedclothes and made particular efforts to use the conditioner we wanted. Who washed the tea and butter stains out of our linen after careless breakfasts in bed.

In its place was someone we didn’t know, and a new set of machines. Instead of giving us a ticket, they took our mobile number.

When our washing was ready, the shop pinged us messages. We hated it, but it was so convenient, we didn’t feel we could go anywhere else.

The losses of change

It struck me that I’d gone through most of the losses associated with change, albeit in a minor form. fe3 associates change with five kinds of loss and uses a model developed by Dave Ulrich. These are: loss of colleagues, of control, of competence, of confidence and of core purpose.

We missed our previous assistant who we knew well – we even exchanged Christmas cards! In our old shop, we chose when we collected our clean washing. Now, we’re nagged by text message that it’s ready. I was initially a bit flummoxed by the messages and felt irritated when we had to give our mobile numbers. We weren’t sure that we’d get on with the new owners – could we believe they would do our washing as expertly?

Although we didn’t feel the loss of core purpose, we did wonder if our lovely local shops were going to be overtaken by technology and that the endearing Heath Robinson shops around us would disappear.

But a year on, we now appreciate the swift service and friendly assistants. Our washing is clean and well pressed and the new assistants have learned our preferences for fabric conditioner. The shop sparkles with new chrome machines, and is light and welcoming.

Our change of launderette is a tiny example of how painful change can be, even when the end result is better. Imagine what people go through when their roles are changed, new technology is introduced or redundancy programmes are started?

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Four Spaces – building a network to be proud of

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It’s rare that you get the chance to build something from scratch, unless you start your own business.  I was having a drink with an old friend, and some of her friends, when we began to speak about those brain-numbing, toe-curlingly embarrassing networking meetings.  These are the awkward situations where real conversations are the exception rather than the norm, and where people often spend time avoiding others because they’re ‘not in the market’ to buy anything. (This is not what networking is about, but I’ll cover that another time.)

Another way to network

We all thought that there must be another way to do networking and, fuelled by the wine, we began to think about events where we’d rather be – somewhere we learned something, or tried out something new.  Somewhere where as well as learning about the hottest trends in fashion, we could also learn about how to make a career as an electrical engineer, or what wine goes best with spare ribs.  In short, we wanted to be treated as intelligent human beings where all sides of women – not just the business side – could be acknowledged and celebrated. We came up with the idea of Four Spaces, an event where people could make real connections and have proper conversations, rather than just the sterile exchange of business cards.

Head, heart, hands and histories

Four Spaces is where we look at four elements of women – heads (where you learn something new), hearts (where we engage with emotions), hands (where you try something different) and histories (where you tell your story and listen to those of other people).

We ran our first event in June with our mates and now we’re about to do another event at the end of this month – 27 October to be precise in Central London.  Have a look and if you can spare an evening and twenty quid, please join us!

True to form, it’s not just our development we’re interested in – we’re raising money for The Girls Network, which aims to mentor teenage girls from the most disadvantaged communities.

So if you’re fed up of exchanging meaningless polite chat, come and throw some opinions around with us. We’re looking forward to meeting you.

Change – but the right change

 

I’m a Dilbert fan, primarily because among the often caustic comments, there’s always more than a grain of truth.

This one reminds me of my coaching practice.

Clients often come to me with the wrong idea about what they want to change. They’ve got an initial thought – it’s my time management, it’s my boss, it’s my job – but what I’ve found time and time again is that, deep down, this is not what they want to alter. What it is, is a presenting symptom.

The way I work drills down into what really should be different, which will make a long-term difference to the way they feel about themselves, about their role, their job.

For example, one client came to me recently saying that their CV wasn’t getting them the interviews they thought they deserved.

The CV issues were easily dealt with, but what was at the heart of the issue wasn’t whether to put a profile summary at the start of the document. What was at the heart of the change was the way in which the client felt about themselves after a disastrous experience when they were asked to do the impossible with no support. This ‘leaked’ into everything else, through the words on the page and doubtless into the way they spoke to new companies.

Working out what the change needs to be is at the heart of effective coaching.

It’s pointless spending time on something which won’t make a real and long-term difference. Often more than one coaching session is spent finding out what the client really wants to work on.

The second message is that if you want to achieve something different, you need to do it differently. Coaching is the most personal kind of change, and it requires effort to succeed.

While stopping everything you currently do might not be the answer, stopping some of the things you do will almost certainly be required. Part of the job of coaching is to be a cheerleader for the client’s success in doing this or to support them in making the changes.

But the key skill of the coach is to help people concentrate on the right things.