Will You End Up as Digital Roadkill?

by Caroline Rook, Lecturer at Henley Business School, and Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, INSEAD Distinguished Professor of Leadership Development and Organisational Change |

Most of us are so digitally connected that we have become utterly disconnected.

Michelle, the COO of a multinational corporation, was one of the most respected executives in her industry. A true workhorse, she was famous for her ability to multitask and constant online presence. While her staff admired the way she worked, they felt pressured to do the same. Recently, several of them were signed off from work, citing burnout, and two others had handed in their resignation.

During a session with her executive coach, Michelle described how she exercised every day before going to the office and used that time to discuss work with colleagues over the phone. Similarly, she optimised every minute of her travel time in her car or on planes. Any spare time was devoted to maintaining a strong presence on LinkedIn and other social media. She took pride in replying to all the messages and comments she received.

Michelle wondered whether this busyness had begun to hurt her ability to concentrate and think for the long term. She found it hard to sleep at night and had a creeping sense of feeling overwhelmed. She believed this caused her to make more mistakes and be less productive than usual. “Could mindfulness training be of help?”, she asked.

The heavy toll of tech-enabled productivity

Given Michelle’s work habits, what is happening to her and her team should come as no surprise. They suffer from technostress, the inability to cope with the digital world in a healthy manner. Digital technology was supposed to make us more productive – and it has to some extent – but those benefits have not come without costs.

The combined pressure of constant virtual presence and continuous information bombardment have had negative consequences on our health. Aside from creating potential work overload, technostress has paved the way to anxiety, feelings of frustration, job dissatisfaction, poor job performance, absenteeism and retention problems. Burnout and mental health problems, including digital addiction, always lurk in the shadows.

When RescueTime (a time management software company) ran a survey on the use of digital technology in the workplace, only 10 percent of respondents said they felt in control of how they spend their days. Data from more than 50,000 RescueTime users showed that people have only 1 hour and 12 minutes a day when they aren’t using communication tools or being distracted by them. The survey also found that 70 percent of employees keep their inbox open all day and only 20 percent have a deliberate strategy for dealing with their e-mails.

The tricks our brains play on us

Why are we obsessed with being constantly connected? Why do we find it so hard to resist the beeps and alerts of incoming messages and notifications? Obvious explanations include the fear of missing out, the need to feel (or be perceived as) productive, procrastination and the compulsion to feel connected in an increasingly virtual world. The latter is especially true for senior executives who often suffer from the loneliness of command.

Underlying these motivations are deeper biochemical and psychological forces which bear a strong resemblance to those seen in gambling addiction. Just like compulsive gamblers who live for the thrill of the occasional win, we feel compelled to constantly check our inbox as it may contain a message we are eagerly awaiting or some other “nice surprise”. In both cases, random rewards stimulate the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that motivates us to repeat the triggering behaviour.

In the corporate world, there is a growing awareness that people must disconnect in order to carve out time for reflection. This shift is great news, but we must guard against quick-fix solutions. For example, a high performer like Michelle cannot work manically and then expect a few mindfulness sessions to save her from impending burnout.

Learning to self-manage

The challenge for people like Michelle is to learn how to keep technostress at bay. This requires self-control. Leaders must create environments that satisfy the human need for connection while also enabling their people to disconnect at times. It is about recapturing what was once a sacred space – the one reserved for reflection and creative thinking.

To free themselves and their staff from the prison of technostress, executives must define clear boundaries for how and when to use digital communication tools. This could include guidelines about appropriate response time to different types of contact. Some suggestions are:

  • As a rule, e-mails should not require an immediate response. Truly urgent issues should be resolved through a phone call.
  • Staff should refrain from accessing e-mail outside of working hours or whilst on holidays.
  • People should not stay in the office outside normal hours unless absolutely necessary. The same applies to virtual meetings out of hours.

Another measure to combat technostress consists of a brief, automated e-mail response indicating that the message has been received but will only be addressed within a particular time frame (e.g. at a specific hour in the morning and in the afternoon).

There is a difference between a lightning-fast response and one that really adds value.  In this context, it is also worthwhile to clarify that nobody in the office is expected to know everything.

Working smart

It is up to leaders to promote a “work-smart” mindset that advocates taking breaks for reflection. Even when it seems that we are not doing anything, our brains are often working on important issues surreptitiously.

Considering this reality, is your commute really the time to check messages or call team members and clients? Or should it be ‘news’ time, a space to disconnect from work while staying abreast of political and economic developments? Could you use this time to read some fiction or just look out the window and enjoy the scenery?

If you can’t block time alone for reflection when you’re in the office, why not step outside to get some fresh air and have a stroll? A short nap can also be very helpful, as it is a proven way to restore our alertness, memory and decision-making ability.

There are many ways to disconnect from the virtual world to create the headspace needed to engage in truly important activities, such as rethinking corporate strategy or creating a vision for the future. These moments of deliberate disconnect are a countervailing force against dopamine-driven, compulsive behaviours.

Executives should do everything in their power to avoid becoming digital roadkill. They would do well to realise that the more digitally connected they are, the more they disconnect from their fellow human beings. Although communication tools have their uses, face-to-face interactions have the most potential for meaningful and durable impact.

Source: INSEAD

GBS leaders must align their shared services for the digital age or face extinction

by Jamie Snowdon

Enterprise leaders are under increased pressure to pivot their businesses to meet the needs of consumers and ensure operations are agile enough to support these needs. Yet, the engine room of most organizations’ services — global business services (GBS) — often struggles to do little more than apply cosmetic changes that fail to address the complex changes really needed, placing the future of many GBS leaders in jeopardy.

GBS must increasingly provide innovation and agility

Over the past couple of decades, GBS has been a key operational lever enterprises could use to balance efficiency, cost savings, and quality of internal services. However, organizations are increasingly expanding this remit to include a new dimension — a source of innovation and agility across the organization. We used this to change the old IT adage, “We offer three kinds of IT services: good, cheap, and fast. You can only have two.”  We replaced “fast” with “innovative.” You can have innovative and good, but it won’t be cheap.

  • You can have good and cheap, but it won’t be innovative.
  • You can have cheap and innovative, but it won’t be good.

Crucially, the common GBS criticisms we hear are linked to innovation and agility—the very areas enterprises are looking to expand. Typically, these complaints stem from GBS’ inability to: Continue reading

Sales Opportunities

Our client is a 30-year-old mid-market IT services provider offering solutions in security, virtualization, cloud and managed services. They were taken private in 2015, have successfully completed a restructuring to add managed services to their existing VAR business. The company is now focused on the growth phase of their strategy and has been aggressively hiring experienced salespeople. The management team would like to accelerate the pace and are exploring the option of acquiring a complete and operational sales team.  The target is 5-7 members with a sales manager currently operating in the mid-west or northeast US.

The financial structure is unique and unusual: up-front compensation in exchange for a multi-year commitment, along with a base (not a draw), benefits, and substantially above-market payments on Gross Profit sold. The team must have a demonstrated track record in selling managed services deals in the $500K to $5 million range and be free of non-compete constraints.

This is an exceptional opportunity for the entrepreneurial-minded team: grow your franchise on an established, high-performance platform under a compensation plan that rewards both past as well as future performance.

Please contact us if you and your team are in a position to join our client at such an exciting time in their history.

If you are interested in exploring this opportunity, please let us know!!!

Jeff Bruckner,  Phone:(973) 761-5613 E: bruckner@issg.net 

Larry Janis,  Phone:(516)767-3030   E: janis@issg.net

Should I stay or should I go?

The topic of counter offers is an interesting one. I am sure you have seen articles and thoughts about the subject and they are usually one person’s perspective on the topic. For a somewhat different approach, we’ve reached out to people in our network to gain their thoughts and perspective on the topic.

We asked:

You have just received an offer to join a new firm. You are giving notice to leave your current position and your employer makes a “counter offer” to keep you from leaving. You start to think about whether or not to take that “counter offer.”

Why would taking a counter offer can cost you more in the long run?

If I know someone is looking to leave or has done that already, I might offer them a counter to stay if the engagement they are currently working on would be hit hard by their departure, but I can guarantee that I will remedy that situation as quickly as I can by making sure that others are up to speed on tasks this person is doing and that multiple people in the organization have a comparable skill set.

This person would not likely get extra consideration (at least in the short-term) regarding training or new project work, etc. as I am still fully expecting them to leave at some point in the future.  The reason they started looking to begin with was likely not related to money, but rather something that more money won’t fix in the long term.  People can “stand” a lot of stuff when the money is good, but all of the things that caused them to look will likely still be there and sooner rather than later those same issues will bubble back to the top.

Now they have just one less company to get a job with because they burned that bridge.

I would rather have someone leave and want to come back because the “grass wasn’t greener” then offer a counter.

In the one case where I did that, it only took the person about 3 months before they were back in my office resigning again…but this time we were prepared and wished them well.

                                                Mark Anzmann, Executive Vice President, SYSCOM, Inc.

One persons perspective:

Why to Accept an Counter Offer

– Your reasons for contemplating a move are clearly understood by your firm

– Your reasons for contemplating a move are respected by your firm

– The firm has come to the table with the right terms to make you want to remain

– You prefer to stay, have not checked out mentally, and believe you have long-term opportunity

Why Not to Accept

– The firm doesn’t clearly understand why you are entertaining a move but throw $$ at it

– The firm grudgingly admits to your contributions knowing they will have something to lose, but still not truly valuing / respecting you

– You have burned some bridges along the way with people that matter – that never ends well

– You are mentally checked out and not happy with the firm, role, your boss, etc. regardless of the $$

                                                                                    Bill Beck,, Client Partner, Conduent

I’ve been in that situation years ago and also recently, but this time as the jilted hiring manager.  Here are my thoughts as to why accepting a counter-offer is generally a bad move.  For the employee to seriously pursue the new job, one or both of two things must almost always be true:  1) The new job must be really good in ways that are important to the employee, or 2) There must be something significantly wrong with some aspect of the old job.  So to give up one or both advantages by reversing course and accepting the counter-offer is logically a negative for the employee and must be at a minimum offset by something positive.

The easiest scenario to imagine is that pay was the problem with the old job, that the new job would have cured it, but the counter-offer now also cures it.  There are two reasons why the employee doesn’t want to go there: First, do you want to be working for a company that knows they’ve been underpaying you (which they acknowledge by making the counter-offer) and wouldn’t fix it until you threatened to walk?  Will you have to keep doing that every year?  And second, now the old employer feels that you are being paid too much, which will surely have a dampening effect on future raises.

Or suppose the problem is non-cash, something like the employee wants to work from home or needs flexible hours and the old employer says no but the new employer is fine with it.  If the old employer gives in and agrees, human nature says they will hold that against the employee.

An analogy in this political season would be the politician who makes a lot of promises around election time, and the voters wonder, “Gee, you’ve been in office for four years now and you haven’t done any of this for me.  Why did it take you so long to start talking about it now.”

Almost always best to be sure you want to leave the old, and know why, before searching for the new.

       Hack Heyward,  Partner and Practice Lead – Energy, ISG

 

We hope you find these perspectives interesting. If you would like to share your thoughts on this for future blogs, please let me know.

Larry Janis, Managing Partner, ISSG, janis@issg.net

Sr. Manager: Global Business Services- Outsourcing & Shared Services

 

Achieve the next level of Performance!  Leading businesses are now using Global Business Services (GBS) to create alignment among their business units. Instead of operating numerous shared service centers and managing outsourcing vendors separately, organizations can integrate governance, locations, and business practices across the enterprise to achieve transformative performance improvements. In this way, GBS serves as a single enterprise organization or network that can drive collaboration and sharing to improve delivery efficiency, effectiveness, and business outcomes.

Work you’ll do

You along with dynamic colleagues will help organizations create a single enterprise organization or network of Shared Services and Outsourcing relationships.  As a Senior Manager, you are expected to contribute to the firm’s growth and development in a variety of ways.  You will be responsible for engagement management: Lead engagement planning  and budgeting; mobilize and manage engagement teams; define deliverable structure and content; facilitate buy-in of proposed solutions from top management levels at the client; direct on-time,  quality delivery of work products; manage engagement economics; manage engagement risk.  Senior Managers manage day to day interaction with executive clients and sponsors.  You will be expected to participate in Business Development, develop and maintain contact with top decision makers at key clients; organize and lead pursuit teams; participate and lead aspects of the proposal development process; contribute to the development of proposal pricing strategies.  Senior Managers must contribute to Practice Development & Eminence:  Develop practical solutions and methodologies; develop “thoughtware” and “point- of-view” documents; participate in public speaking events; get published in industry periodicals.  We invest in our people, as a Senior Manager you will be responsible for people development, performing the role of counselor and coach; provide input and guidance into the staffing process; actively participate in staff recruitment and retention activities; provide leadership and support for delivery teams and staff in local offices.

 

Qualifications

Required:

  • A minimum of 10+ years consulting and/or industry experience is required
  • Must have subject matter expertise and project experiences in Shared Services, Outsourcing and/or Offshoring industry, or multiple back-office functional optimization
  • Shared Services Feasibility Assessments, Implementations, and Optimization
  • Ability to analyze and apply outsourcing trends
  • Practical experience with the full lifecycle of functional optimization, BPO and/or shared services programs
  • Core vs. Non-Core Assessments
  • Understanding of vendor landscape
  • Ability to interact at all levels of the client organization
  • Business Development and Delivery experience
  • Bachelor’s Degree

Preferred:

  • RPA experience
  • Ability to work independently, manage small engagements or parts of large engagements
  • Strong oral and written communication skills, including presentation skills (MS Visio, MS PowerPoint)
  • Strong problem solving and troubleshooting skills with the ability to exercise mature judgment
  • Willingness to mentor junior staff
  • An advanced degree is preferred

If this opportunity sound like a great fit, please reach out to:

Larry Janis, Managing Partner, janis@issg.net

or

Jeff Bruckner, Partner, bruckner@issg.net