by Amy Bonsall
Meetings are broken. Something happened when work moved online in 2020 and opening up the office hasn’t fixed it. Every interaction with colleagues became a video call, and our days became a game of transactional Tetris: Where can I slot in this or that meeting? Now, with policies directing which days of the week to be where, the Tetris has gotten more complex.
In my work helping distributed and hybrid organizations flourish, I see employees commuting only to spend time in near-empty offices or on calls. It feels less like flexibility than a new constraint, and it’s not building the relationships we intended. It’s the worst of both worlds.
There is a better way. Instead of focusing on when and where we meet, we ought to start with why we’re coming together and let that dictate logistics. When I’m asked to help rebuild relationships and strengthen complex collaboration, I begin with foundational advice: The new work calendar isn’t about office or home, it’s about three gathering types and the conditions that serve them best.
Three Types of Gatherings
Why do I call them gatherings and not meetings? Names signal purpose. Meeting has a strong connotation, suggesting people around a conference table (or the online equivalent) and a tight agenda. Gatherings offer multiple purposes and release the idea that we must conduct a time-stamped march to check things off lists. Continue reading
BY MARLENE CHISM
According to a “Global Generations” study by Ernst & Young, 46% of US managers have been managing for over 10 years, and most not received any type of training to develop their leadership identity. The belief is that because this individual was a star performer, has seniority, is a subject matter expert, a rainmaker, or a technician, they should be equipped to lead others. This tacit assumption leads to leadership dysfunction. The star performer micromanages instead of coaching others. The subject matter expert knows it all. The technical operator is overly aggressive, and the one who got promoted due to seniority still feels like “one of them.”
No matter what the context, newly promoted leaders often find themselves unprepared for what’s required of leadership: making difficult decisions, initiating difficult conversations about performance or behavior, coaching others, and holding the team accountable. At the root is leadership identity. Here are five steps to building a new leadership identity.
1. Uncover your narrative
How do you define yourself? Are you a “hard worker” or a smart worker? Do you define yourself as a hard worker, or just “one of them”? How do you behave under pressure? Do you have the courage to initiate difficult conversations, or are you more of an avoider? Increase your self-awareness to build identity-based habits. Notice what you think, say, and do. What would you have to tell yourself to behave as you do? Behavior is your narrative acted out. Behavior drives identity.
BY CHRIS MORRIS
In its new report on state of the hybrid workplace, Microsoft says successful companies are backing off of office mandates
The hybrid work world has been a reality for several months now, but whether it’s working well is really a matter of debate. A new report from Microsoft, entitled “Empowering your workforce in economic uncertainty,” checks in with both employers and employees and finds there’s a definite divide between management and worker perspectives.
The study gathered data from a survey of 20,000 people in 11 countries, as well as incorporated anonymized and aggregated data from LinkedIn and Microsoft 365. What it found was that, when it comes to perceptions on productivity these days, there’s a huge chasm.
Some 87% of employees say they’re productive at work these days, but 85% of leaders are less sure of that. The change to a hybrid work environment has made it challenging for managers to know with confidence that people are being productive.
“What I’m finding, quite frankly, is leaders have tools they’ve developed through their careers to measure how productive their employees are–and without a physical workspace, many of those tools are inaccessible,” Jared Spataro, CVP of Modern Work at Microsoft, tells Fast Company. “So, there is a question of, in this new era, how do we look at productivity? We need to pivot away from looking at activity and looking at outcomes. But this productivity paranoia is really about activity.”
The paranoia comes from two sets of people who have different challenges. Managers, Spataro notes, have not been given a hall pass when it comes to results. They’re still expected to hit higher earnings goals, etc., which creates stress. So, their expectations haven’t changed during the past couple of years.
BY LIA BOSCH
It’s not uncommon to experience impostor syndrome and a whole host of other emotions when taking on a new leadership role.
Although it was over 25 years ago, I clearly remember my first job managing the work of others. I was half the age of some on the team and had even less experience. I was thrilled for the opportunity but intimidated to say the least. At my first team meeting, I blabbed on about HR theories to prove my mettle. Impostor syndrome? You bet! Who was I to tell them what to do? What did they think of me? Did I really know what I was doing? My concerns matched what many new managers experience, but there are ways through it that can place you on the path to extraordinary.
Lack of experience coupled with personal insecurities can lead us to adopt behaviors that make matters worse. As Isaac Newton said, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Take one of my clients who had been recently promoted to manager. She struggled to get her team to follow new safety procedures. At meetings, team members nodded their heads in agreement but out in the field, there was little progress. She felt they weren’t taking the procedures or her seriously, and she didn’t know why. As we gathered feedback from team members, we discovered that she became controlling when she didn’t see the results expected.
She began to mistrust her team and managed to assert her authority. In response, team members listened less and mistrusted her more. Her behavior made them feel incompetent. Although they shared her concern for safety, they were rebelling against her approach. She turned this dynamic around after considerable personal reflection and by taking concerted actions to re-build trust with the team.