Navigating Office Politics When There Is No Office

by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Dorie Clark

Across jobs, companies, and industries, people’s success has always depended not just on what they produce or deliver, but also on their ability to navigate the murky waters of office politics. A great deal of scientific research has explored the hidden potent forces underlying the formal and informal power dynamics in any group or organization, unsurprisingly highlighting the pervasive and sometimes toxic nature of office politics.

But what happens to office politics when you remove the office? Although virtual work has existed for some time now, the pandemic has dramatically changed the context of work by fully removing the office, eliminating interpersonal contact and physical human interaction — and with it, opportunities to engage in tactics of manipulation or impression management. As one of our clients recently lamented: “Without the office, how can I pretend to work?”

Many people have by now recovered a certain degree of normalcy by returning to the office, albeit less often, and without as many colleagues around. In fact, for a large proportion of the industrialized workforce, the big bulk of work continues to be done from home, with most work interactions confined to Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. Continue reading

Navigating Office Politics When There Is No Office

by  Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Dorie Clark

How to Manage a Hybrid Team

Your employees’ needs are always varied. But right now, as many companies navigate returning to an office in some shape or form, your team members are likely contending with vastly different situations. Some have limited or no childcare or are managing their kids’ online school; some have health issues that preclude them from returning to in-person work; and some are eager and excited to get out of the house and head back to their cubicles. As the leader, how do you manage these various circumstances while treating everyone fairly? What protocols can you put in place to ensure that the employees in the office are in sync with those working from home? How do you remain flexible given that plans may change at any moment? And how do you help your employees manage their stress levels through this transition?

What the Experts Say

Having a team in which some employees are co-located in an office and others are doing their jobs remotely presents a number of challenges for managers, says Liane Davey, cofounder of 3COze Inc. and author of You First: Inspire Your Team to Grow Up, Get Along, and Get Stuff Done. Some of these challenges might feel familiar. For instance, there could be an “us versus them” undercurrent among colleagues “similar to the phenomenon of having a head office and a satellite office,” she says. There could also be the same kind of communication, team engagement, and coordination issues that are common with geographically distributed teams. But other challenges are new, according to Linda Hill, professor at Harvard Business School and the coauthor of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader. For example, working under the shadow of a global pandemic adds another layer of stress and complexity. That’s why it’s critical to lead with compassion during this time. Hill suggests you start by asking: “What is the experience my employees are having at work, and how can I empower them to do the best they can?” Here are some tips.

Offer support

First things first: your primary role as a manager, pandemic or no, is to support your employees. And do they ever need it. Amidst a global health crisis, economic uncertainty, and ongoing social unrest, it’s been a harrowing year. “Employees are under immense stress” and some of them “may be in shock,” says Davey. It’s incumbent on you to reach out. Have socially distant conversations with colleagues at the office and one-on-one video calls with your remote workers. Ask them about their individual circumstances; find out about their worries. You may have done a lot of this when the pandemic first started but continue to check in, as circumstances have likely changed. Continue reading

Hiring in 2020 from your perspective

With the pandemic, the traditional face-to-face interview was suddenly replaced with video conferencing using tools such as Zoom, Skype and Go-to Meeting– leaving many in the interview space scrambling to figure out how to best assess candidates in an entirely new way.

Since everyone is adapting and learning in real time, we thought it would be helpful to crowd source ideas for improvement from our network of professionals. We can all benefit from understanding the challenges you have faced and the actions you have taken to foster improvement around interviewing.

Below are questions to consider. Please feel free to choose from them and/or contribute your own thoughts and insights.

For Hiring Managers

  • What steps have you taken to transition interviewing to a virtual environment?
  • What have you done to set the stage for professionalism in a virtual interview?
  • How have you conveyed the company culture when candidates don’t have the opportunity to see your office and meet your team?
  • How have you made it comfortable for candidates to be their best selves virtually, especially if they are unfamiliar with your conferencing tool of choice?
  • What have you learned by doing virtual interviews? What tips can you offer?

For Candidates

  • What steps have you taken to understand the company that you didn’t need to do for a face-to-face interview?
  • What tips on dressing can you offer to ensure you and your environment reflects a professional image?
  • What have you learned by doing virtual interviews? What tips can you offer?

Many thanks in advance for your contributions and please let us know if you would or would not like us to use your name in our published report.

Thank you in advance for your time and contribution to our blog. We will send you a link when we have compiled the results.

Please email us:

Larry Janis janis@issg.net

Jeff Bruckner bruckner@issg.net

Integrated Search Solutions Group

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Why Now Is the Perfect Time to Rethink Talent and Leadership

Startups and scaleups worldwide are facing a make-or-break moment with coronavirus, a health crisis with vast and unprecedented economic consequences. Each entrepreneur is in a unique situation, whether they’re well-funded, planning their next funding round or struggling through the uncertainty.

As a result, founders are turning to their VCs and mentors for support and conversations are, unsurprisingly, centred around cash. In the UK, while £81m has gone to startups that haven’t received investment previously, there’s been a 31 percent decrease in deal numbers compared to the same period last year—so it’s a pressing issue.

But cash alone only presents half the story. As startups seek advice on how to weather the storm and find positives in the situation, the conversation broadens. To survive this period of instability, growing businesses should look toward the key cornerstones of success: talent and leadership. After all, the best founders never waste a crisis and now is a good time for them to refocus.

The vision could be great, the founders innovative and cash readily available, but without strong leadership and world-class talent, businesses can’t continue to thrive in this climate. How to look after and manage teams during this time, as well as understanding what staff cuts to make and how, are important considerations that startups are looking to VCs for support and advice on.

A conservative approach. 

Any business plans that organisations had in place ahead of the pandemic are now likely to be irrelevant. Businesses need to start from scratch with a clear view of their burn rate and shouldn’t be afraid to rip up the rule book and abandon existing plans. Startups already doing this have looked to renegotiate their office rents, contracts with providers and suspended online advertising, for example.

Reducing such costs is sensible in a challenging fundraising environment. Deals have slowed down and the Pitchbook European VC Valuation Report points toward a decrease in early seed rounds. New investments certainly have stopped and great companies always get funding, but many investors are focusing on how to support their existing portfolio. The crisis isn’t over yet and, with further outbreaks still possible, now is the time to be conservative. Continue reading