SPRING 2021 / ISSUE 05 THE MAGAZINE FOR CMI MEMBERS
THE POWER WITHIN TO LEAD POST-CRISIS, DIAL UP THE SKILL S THAT GOT YOU THIS FAR
TAKE YOUR BUSINESS FORWARD With a Management Apprenticeship
In the depths of the COVID-19 crisis, management apprenticeships have given leaders the skills and resilience that they have needed, creating a positive impact within their organisations
The Positive Impact of Apprenticeship
9 out of 10
Apprentices felt they had made a positive contribution to their business as a result of completing their apprenticeship.*
Of current apprentices reported confidence in their ability to do their job more effectively.*
8 out of 10
Apprentices said completing their apprenticeship had given them better career prospects.*
It pays to hire an apprentice With the recent Government increase in incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice, it’s never been a better time to invest in the future and your organisation! •
Robyn successfully completed Team Leader/Supervisor Level 3.
It’s helped me to develop and get my promotion. It’s prepared me for the next stage in my career. Robyn Donaghy, Team Leader, Veolia
Watch Robyn’s story #ApprenticeManager
£3,000 cash incentive for any employer who hires a new apprentice between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021 This is in addition to any £1,000 16-to18 year old cash incentive A total of up to £4,000 cash incentives available to employers for employing a new apprentice
To find out more please visit: Government incentive payments or CMI management apprenticeships * Results taken from our Apprentice survey 2020
‘ m a n a g e m e n t t r a n s f o r m e d ’ report in 2020, managers and leaders told us that ensuring staff well-being would be their number one priority for 2021. As the world edges towards reopening, the importance of this supportive role is becoming clearer all the time. A recent CMI Managers Voice poll revealed the extent of the mental health and well-being challenges facing managers.
More than half of managers said that their employees’ overall well-being/ mental health had worsened as a result of the pandemic
Six in ten managers said that the well-being/ mental health of particular team members had been or would be affected by the return to the workplace
Check out our feature on the rise of digital mental health solutions on page 44, or visit our mental health hub at managers.org.uk
More than two-fifths of managers said that their own overall well-being/mental health had worsened
The majority of managers said that poor mental health could damage an organisation, with 93 per cent reporting a hit to staff morale, 87 per cent concerned about productivity, 80 per cent noting changes in sickness absence rates, and 72 per cent pointing to the effect on service delivery
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ANN FRANCKE OBE CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CMI
You’ve got this! many economists and commentators believe that we’ll that end, I’m pleased to be on the advisory council for the see a productivity uplift as a result of the coronavirus UK government’s new ‘Help to Grow: Management’ scheme, pandemic. But will we build back better? That’s one of the which aims to help small and medium-sized companies boost key themes in this CMI magazine. The past year has been their productivity. an enforced hiatus, a time to reflect on and improve the way If you have any feedback about what we’re doing for we go about things. As you’ll discover in several stories in CMI members and how we can improve, please contact me this edition, the best managers and leaders have seized the direct or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org opportunity to accelerate digital developments, improve the way they communicate and engage with their people, CHARTERED MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT become more agile, and be more aware of the community In the spirit of driving up professionalism, we’re excited and context in which they operate. to be officially launching the Chartered Management We’re all part of the process of building back better; how Consultant (ChMC) award at the end of April. This is you behave as a manager is the key to unlocking great the product of a joint partnership with the Management performance. The secret, as you’ll read on page 26, is to dial Consultancies Association (MCA), the trade association for up the behaviours and skills that got you this far. Keep up the the UK’s leading consulting firms. The award celebrates process of self-reflection (a cornerstone commitment to excellence, ethics, client of the Chartered Manager process) and trust and assurance. We’ve been running commit to learning and development. various pilot waves of the award for the For example, at CMI, we have focused past 18 months, and we now have 350 on self-improvement and delivering on ChMCs and a further 1,500 people on our mission over the past year, and this the path to assessment. At present, 25 consulting firms are working to accredit is producing some great results. There their in-house training programmes. are now a record number of Chartered Managers (11,500, up from 8,500 at the ETHNICITY PAY REPORTING end 2019/20) bringing a positive and As well as building back better, we must professional approach to organisations around the world. More than 100,000 are also build back more inclusive. At CMI, we learning with us, and ever greater numbers were disappointed that the government’s of students are becoming CMI members. Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities This means our management community is only recommended a voluntary approach Chartered Managers – now more than 150,000 strong. And we’re for organisations to report their ethnicity that’s a record! supporting those managers and leaders pay gaps. Organisations of all sizes benefit with digital events, content and forums, from greater transparency – as we’ve seen as well as new benefits such as access to with gender pay gap reporting – and it mental health and well-being resources. would have been a catalyst for change to managers in our make this requirement mandatory. We’ll As ever, we also strive to encourage the community latest best practices in management. To be keeping up the pressure on this.
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“The Duke of Edinburgh had a 50-year association with the Chartered Management Institute, having become an Honorary Fellow in 1969 and CMI’s Royal Patron in 1992”
HRH THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH
All of us at CMI were deeply saddened by the passing of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, who died on 9 April aged 99. The Duke had a 50-year association with the Chartered Management Institute, having become an Honorary Fellow in 1969 and CMI’s Royal Patron in 1992. We were very grateful that he was a guest of honour at our 2017 President’s Dinner, shortly before his retirement from public life. The Duke devoted his life to public service and made an invaluable contribution towards CMI’s mission to increase the number and standard of professionally qualified managers and leaders. Our thoughts are with his immediate family and with the countless people and organisations around the world on whom he made such a powerful impact. • —
To discuss any of the topics covered in this issue, tweet Ann @cmi_ceo
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09 rethink Welcome to the humanocracy, plus nine other insights from the 2021 CMI Management Book of the Year longlist
19 Dial it up! What does peak performance look like after COVID-19? These companies are stepping up to a new level. Plus the global economic picture
26 Just a bit more... Boost your personal performance with these tips, and 20 questions to check you’re in tune with your team
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32 Lab leadership Is your leadership guided by the science? Lessons in management from Scymaris, one of the UK’s top laboratories
40 The four-day week (*Tell me why*) I don’t like Mondays... Here’s why the four-day working week may actually be within reach after all
44 Mental health Need counselling? There’s an app for that. Digital mental health tools are proving a valuable lifeline for stressedout employees
48 Blended learning Sorry Alice Cooper, but school’s very much in again. Even so, I wouldn’t delete Zoom just yet if I were you...
57 CMgr That’s the lockdown essentials covered! Meet the Chartered managers delivering a vaccine centre in Didcot and reliable internet in the Pacific
64 Conversations Julia Heslop recalls the decommissioning of Aberthaw Power Station – a tough process involving many redundancies
67 close Are you helping your team members or hurting them? Kevin Murray explains how to give your “emotional signature” a health check
“People often look to leaders to be strong and resilient, but we also need leaders who can admit or talk freely about their vulnerabilities” 67
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CHARTERED MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT AWARD (ChMC) GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE BY BEING APPROVED AGAINST THE COMPETENCY FRAMEWORK...
ARE YOU READY TO BENEFIT FROM BEING CHARTERED?
84% say their self confidence has increased
100% say it allows them to demonstrate a level of excellence and credibility to clients
98% say it demonstrates integrity and commitment to ethics
CHOOSE THE RIGHT PATHWAY FOR YOU AND YOUR EMPLOYEES
Route to ChMC
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For our clients, having consultants who have Chartered status is invaluable. It helps them to understand who out of the profession actually meets a certain quality standard. Charles Newhouse, BAE Systems, Applied Intelligence Hear what our ChMC Consultants have to say
Find out more about how you can get Chartered or have your organisations learning and development programme accredited leading to Chartered status for your graduate trainees. managers.org.uk/chmc
H AV E YOU C H A NGE D T H E WAY YOU L E A D?
10 transformational ideas from the people writing the future of management
The way we lead was changing even before COVID-19 struck. Now those changes are being turbocharged. Over the past few months, we’ve been reviewing the contenders for the 2021 CMI Management Book of the Year award. In advance of the winner being announced – and in case you don’t have time to read all 20 books – here’s our 2021 leaders’ playlist...
-------A N A LY S I S B Y E M M A D E V I TA F I N D O U T M O R E AT M A N AG E R S .O RG .U K / M A N AG E M E N T- B O O K /2020 -AWA R D S
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It’s hard to plan for the future when the future keeps getting more unpredictable. Margaret Heffernan’s stand-out book Uncharted makes the case for ditching forecasts (the world is far too complex for these to be useful) and for abandoning the idea that the solutions we used for similar situations in the past can be replicated. Being prepared, she argues, means developing a practical form of r e s i l i e n c e that capitalises on our knowledge and experience, as well as the power of imagination, creativity and compassion. This will help us better identify where the opportunities for experiments lie.
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If there’s one thing the past year has shown us, it’s that the quality of our relationships makes or breaks our success at work. Knowing how to rub along with everyone else under intense pressure, and to cleverly
resolve conflicts when they do arise, is a must-have skill for managers (even more so when most of our interactions are on Zoom). In Connect, siblings Guy and Tami Lubitsh-White show us how to dig deep and make better connections.
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The leader of tomorrow needs to be an e x p l o r e r , argues Jacob Morgan in The Future Leader. This means being someone who believes in questioning assumptions and challenging the status quo; someone who’s curious, a perpetual learner, has a growth mindset, is open-minded, agile and nimble. This mindset and these qualities cannot be faked. You already have it in you somewhere. Now’s the time for you to liberate it.
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From our workplaces to our planet, now is the time for us to r e i m a g i n e o u r e n v i r o n m e n t s , argues Rae André in Lead for the Planet. As we slowly reconvene post-lockdown, it’s time to rethink what we use our workspaces for. Hybrid working seems to be here to stay, so should our offices be maximised to suit the creative, collaborative and social parts of our working lives? At the big-picture level, business leaders need to become ‘climate leaders’ who inspire their organisations towards global solutions and who take their sustainability initiatives beyond the confines of their businesses.
There’s one word in leadership circles that keeps buzzing, and it’s p u r p o s e . Whether it’s the ‘we’re all in it together’ community spirit or the huge number of volunteers who came together to get us through the pandemic, creating a sense of purpose is something that managers should try to carry over into their working lives. That’s why Alex Edmans’ book Grow the Pie chimes so well right now. The question on every leader’s lips should be: how do great companies deliver both purpose and profit?
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Could the pandemic be the final nail in the coffin for the five-day working week? Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of Shorter, encourages companies to think seriously about allowing their workers to work a f o u r - d ay w e e k in the knowledge that productivity will only increase. The Silicon Valley consultant says the pandemic has brought an unexpected productivity upside to many businesses, which might now be brave enough to experiment with fewer hours.
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Innovation is one of those buzzwords that we’ve all grown sick of. It’s easy to pay lip service to the concept, but f e a r l e s s i n n o vat i o n , as Alex Goryachev argues in his book of the same name, means doing innovation for real and weaving it throughout the culture and processes of your organisation to become something that can be measured. Innovation 2.0 means going back to basics and taking it seriously.
We’ve all had to dig deep into our reserves during the pandemic. We’ve had to be brave in facing the uncertainties and difficulties that COVID-19 has thrown at us. Let’s not lose that c o u r a g e . Leaders now need to think bold, choose brave and go beyond what they assume can be achieved, argues Terence Mauri in The 3D Leader. He refers to the Finnish concept of sisu, which is all about showing extraordinary determination, courage and grit in the face of extreme stress or adversity. You’ve proven what you can achieve when pushed beyond your limits, so why not start to capitalise on that fear and uncertainty?
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Creating organisations as amazing as the people inside them is the mission of management guru Gary Hamel, who – along with co-author Michele Zanini – has coined the concept of h u m a n o c r a c y . The advent of machine learning and AI (and the lack of our usual face-to-face social contact during the pandemic) has thrown into relief the importance of the human side of business and work. It’s time to ditch bureaucratic systems and organisational cultures that are hangovers from the industrial age. The 2020s are about encouraging human qualities and creating workplaces where everyone belongs. As Kathryn Jacob and her co-authors write in Belonging: “Without the involvement of everyone in the workplace, diversity initiatives will not succeed”. It’s not something that a CEO or head of HR can simply impose.
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Breakthrough performance is often built on a smorgasbord of existing ideas that are brought together in new ways. To create a more effective business d n a , leaders should be picking and mixing from the most inventive leaders and entrepreneurial experimenters, argues Peter Fisk in Business Recoded. This, in his terms, enables you to ‘recode’ your leadership and organisational approach so that you can thrive in the future. “Change drives new attitudes and behaviours, new ideas and solutions,” he says. Now’s the time for leaders to step up and recode their business DNA.
CHARTERED MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE Management House, Cottingham Road, Corby, Northamptonshire NN17 1TT 01536 207307 email@example.com www.managers.org.uk — CHIEF EXECUTIVE Ann Francke OBE DIRECTOR OF MEMBERSHIP Matt Roberts DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AND EXTERNAL AFFAIRS Niamh Mulholland HEAD OF RESEARCH AND INSIGHT Elizabeth Spratt HEAD OF POLICY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS Daisy Hooper SOCIAL MEDIA AND CREATIVE CONTENT MANAGER Ola Masha MEMBER CONTENT AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER Rebecca Kearley
THINK EDITORIAL TEAM EDITOR Matthew Rock CONTENT EDITOR Rosie Gailor ART DIRECTOR Ian Findlay MANAGING EDITOR James Sutton ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Kieran Paul EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Jackie Scully
The winner of the 2021 CMI Management Book of the Year will be announced soon...
See the full shortlist at: managers.org.uk/community/ awards/management-bookof-the-year/
© 2021. Published on behalf of CMI by: Think, Capital House, 25 Chapel Street, London NW1 5DH, 02037 717200 — firstname.lastname@example.org — CMI is incorporated by Royal Charter and registered as a charity (No. 1091035). CMI does not necessarily agree with, nor guarantee the accuracy of, statements made by contributors or advertisers, or accept responsibility for any statements they may make in this publication. — ISSN 0969-6695
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IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK INTRODUCING our brand new member benefit... to support your emotional well-being and mental health helping you to be a better manager. CMI are partnering with Kooth, the UK’s leading online mental health platform, to provide our members with a free, safe and anonymous space for online support and counselling.
KOOTH: TRUSTED AND ACCREDITED We chose Kooth for you because they are used in 80% of the NHS’s clinical commissioning group areas across the country. The services are fully safeguarded and moderated.
Kooth Student to support our student membership at university. Kooth Qwell designed specifically for CMI members and learners outside of university.
Community support Professional Counselling
Personal well-being tools Articles and tips to improve your mental health
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ONGOING SUPPORT WHEN YOU NEED IT AND NO WAITING LISTS
The COVID-19 pandemic is driving all of us – and our organisations – to higher levels of performance. Here’s the good news: the skills that have got you this far can also take you to the next level
A S T O R Y I N F O U R PA R T S --------1 . T H E C O M PA N I E S PAU S I N G , R E S E T T I N G A N D R A I S I N G T H E I R G A M E 2 .“A P RO D U C T I V I T Y P O S I T I V E ”: W H AT T H E E C O N O M I S T S S AY
3. FO U R WAYS C OV I D - E R A M A N AG E R S A R E D R I V I N G T E A M P E R FO R M A N C E 4 . 20 Q U E S T I O N S TO A S K YO U R S E L F TO I N S P I R E H I G H P E R FO R M A N C E
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“I F YOU C A N ’T A FFOR D SOM EON E TO SW EEP I T, W H Y H AV E A DI RT Y FLOOR?” Smart managers and companies have used the pandemic pause to rethink how they go about their operations PHOTOGR APHY / WILL AMLOT
david harris is one of the canny brigade. A plastics and packaging industry veteran, — David Harris and Harris was CFO of British Polythene Industries prior to its sale in 2016. Two years later, he his team at Chase bought Chase Plastics, a 55-year-old family-owned company based in Brandon, Suffolk, that Plastics, Suffolk makes recycled plastic pellets. A key factor behind his decision to purchase the company was the regulatory tailwind gathering strength behind it. From April 2022, the UK government is set to introduce a tax on plastic packaging with less than 30 per cent recycled content. The tax will add about 20 per cent to material costs. That, in a single-digit margin industry, is a big deal. Chase Plastics stands to be a major beneficiary but it needs to be ready to seize the day. “Many businesses will be forced to change, so we have got to have the capacity and confidence on the ground to take advantage of it,” says Harris. His ambitious growth and investment plans were hit by the arrival of COVID-19. Demand dropped when the pandemic hit. Chase Plastics’ and the ambitious growth and investment plans make for a 24/7 operations were cut to four days a week. positive convergence. Half of the shopfloor staff had to be furloughed. As the company has reassessed and focused on what really matters, there is now greater clarity. This can be seen, for However, one year on, Chase Plastics is set example, in the physical movement of materials around the to double its capacity. New hires have been site, or the elimination of poor housekeeping procedures. made at both senior management level and on “If you can’t afford someone to sweep the floor, why did you the factory floor. Customer volumes are up by have a dirty floor in the first place?” asks Harris. 20 per cent. Training and processes have been improved. “We have remobilised and returned Harris is gradually bringing in greater formality to processes. “Simple checklists are incredibly useful. Giving to 24/7 operations but we have not lost our talent people things that they have to do – be it hourly, daily or and skills,” says Harris, who is now “incredibly weekly – concentrates effort and provides visibility and confident” about the company’s trajectory. simplicity. It may be a small step, but good checklists have a The whole team at Chase Plastics has been really important role to play in changing culture.” keen – and relieved – to get back to work. What’s The company has made a point of keeping in touch with its more, they have returned reinvigorated. An customers. “Throughout the past 12 months, we kept calling enforced break, the protection of furlough our customers,” says Harris. “We did not allow COVID to hold us back. You are either fighting or you’re not.” And this has been a time for investment in employer branding – from the logo to workwear to how they recruit. 20 — SPRING 202 1
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“We must be seen as a smart, good place to work,” says Harris. Using local community Facebook pages, Chase has recruited four young people in recent months. They’ve injected freshness and change. “This is a generation that is happy to operate and adjust machinery with a joystick, not just a spanner,” says Harris. The digitisation of the factory also makes it more female-friendly and, he says, manufacturing in general benefits hugely from greater female involvement. Of course, the pandemic has been expensive and disruptive for businesses. It has resulted in the forced closure of entire sectors. It has pushed many over the edge. For many people and organisations, it has been a period of sheer misery. But it has also forced many management teams to rethink every aspect of what they do. Take this recent statement from the retailer Next, in which CEO Lord Wolfson says: “There has been much to learn from the experience. We have discovered powerful ways to improve our warehouse and call centre operations. Perhaps more importantly, the experience of having to work from home has opened our eyes to new and better ways of working, collaborating and communicating amongst ourselves and with our suppliers.” Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, the founder of Genius Foods, has also seen a “massive difference” in the quality and consistency of her company’s baked goods from its two factories. The two-metre rule forced the company to think differently about how it ran its lines. Genius also stopped using agency staff who, she says, tended to be less committed to the brand and were more likely to make mistakes. “We are down to an efficient permanent team who really care and are well trained,” she says.
— Harris is gearing up to take advantage of the incoming tax on unrecycled plastic packaging
Furlough forever? For Chase Plastics, as for thousands of other businesses, the furlough scheme has been a game changer, protecting the company just as it started to go through a process of transformation. “We have been able to adjust and deal with a crisis without a loss of skills because of furlough,” says Harris. Although it is an exceptional measure for exceptional times, the experience has made Harris think that it’s time to consider the creation of a smaller, modified version of the furlough scheme for the future, which could provide both employees and employers in skilled manufacturing businesses with a degree of protection during periods of poor demand. 22 — SPR ING 202 1
Does this idea have legs? Do you believe we should be examining some kind of permanent furloughing option for companies with fluctuating demand? How might such a scheme be applied and managed? We’d love to hear your views. Please email us at email@example.com
— Chase Plastics’ John Ellis keeps a watchful eye on the site
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“NO OFFICE COSTS, NO WAST ED COM M U T I NG T I M E = SA M E OU T PU T. GO FIGU R E” Many economists believe the pandemic will inevitably raise productivity time to widen the lens a bit. The creation of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine has demonstrated that it is possible to design, test, manufacture and roll out an innovative and complex product on a global scale, deploying people from across the world, at speed and scale – all under pandemic conditions. So is it possible that the past 12 months may prove to be a catalyst for an improvement in UK and international corporate performance and productivity? The Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane thinks so. He has gone public with his view that the effects of the pandemic may hold the key to reviving productivity growth, creating a positive productivity shock. In a recent Bloomberg conversation with Stephanie Flanders, Haldane observed that businesses and their employees have had to become “digitally match-fit” and that huge amounts of “unpaid, unproductive time” (aka commuting) has been redeployed. “If we are canny, it could be a positive,” he said. survey of global firms by the World Economic Forum last Haldane is not the only economist to think year found that more than 80 per cent of employers intended like this. The shift to remote working “has to accelerate plans to digitise their processes and provide got to improve productivity because we’re more opportunities for remote work, while half planned to getting the same amount of output without accelerate the automation of production tasks. commuting, without office buildings and Another survey of 500 global firms by Capgemini found that employee productivity grew at nearly two-thirds of without all the goods and services associated organisations during the third quarter of 2020. This was with that,” says the US economist Robert attributed to “less commuting time, flexible work schedules Gordon of Northwestern University. and the adoption of effective virtual collaboration tools”. Meanwhile, Lord O’Neill, vice-chair of the In the UK, many businesses start from a position nearer Northern Powerhouse Partnership, has noted the back than the front of the class. The lack of so-called that, now companies have been forced to think “diffusion” of best practice has been cited as one reason for and act outside of the box, the UK “might get the UK’s lower productivity rates than competitor nations. a productivity boost as a result”. Companies around the world are waking up Companies don’t have the ability to assimilate and take on to the opportunity of a productivity uplift. One board the lessons and knowhow of the best, and then to incorporate this knowledge into their own practices. That requires time, training and commitment. The Help to Grow programme unveiled by Rishi Sunak in his Budget is one response to this, and CMI is on the advisory committee. 24 — SPR ING 202 1
— The Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane believes that COVID-19 has helped businesses get “digitally match-fit”
The performance gap between --------Britain’s businesses about how they well-managed and poorly-managed invest and adopt new technologies companies may yet widen. “In highly and working practices. Having the “Remote working has got to productive organisations, employees leadership capability and the ambition improve productivity because have capitalised on new technologies to improve is what matters. we’re getting the same amount to stay connected with customers It’s too early for the lessons from of output without commuting, and co-workers during this time. We the likes of Chase Plastics and Genius without office buildings” estimate that the best organisations Foods (see pages 20-23) to show up in have seen productive time increase any economic statistics. But, as Next’s by five per cent or more,” say Bain Lord Wolfson has written: “Some & Company’s Eric Garton and Michael Mankins in the good has come from the upheaval. It is remarkable what Harvard Business Review. On the other hand, working from can be learned from shutting down your entire operation home “only made matters worse” for companies that were and slowly, department by department, store by store, warehouse by warehouse, bringing it back to life. It’s struggling before the pandemic, as “poor collaboration all the more challenging and informative with much and inefficient practices have reduced productive time by of the endeavour being managed by hundreds of our two to three per cent for most organisations”. There’s a fear that support measures taken by governments may colleagues sitting in their spare bedrooms, kitchens and just have created legions of so-called ‘zombie’ firms. conservatories! We have learned how we can work more Ultimately, achieving a post-COVID step-change in effectively. Lessons which, if we are careful to preserve performance throws down a gauntlet to the managers of them, will stand us in good stead for years to come.” M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 25
U YO T O G S! I TH 26 — SPRING 202 1
FOU R T I PS TO T U R N W H AT YOU USUA LLY DO U P TO 11 Want to keep your own and your team’s performance up in the age of COVID? Put your usual management techniques on steroids the past 12 months have been a year like no other. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives, disrupted the way we work and trapped many of us in our homes for months. No wonder burnout is up and productivity is down in so many workplaces. While data is still rolling in about the full impact, the Office for National Statistics reports that the number of adults experiencing psychological distress jumped from 24.3 per cent in 2019 to 37.8 per cent in April 2020. It is unlikely our collective mental health has improved since, and the strain is showing at work. A global survey by pioneering burnout researchers conducted in the autumn of 2020 found that 89 per cent of respondents felt their work life was getting worse, and 57 per cent felt that the pandemic had a “large effect on” or “completely dominated” their work. Research by consultancy Bain & Company has revealed that while a tiny sliver of high-performing organisations actually saw their productivity climb over the past year, the majority have seen a steep drop-off. (Search online for Bain’s report Time, Talent, Energy: Overcome organizational drag and unleash your team’s productive power.) This is probably not a surprise to most managers. The harder question is what to do to keep your team going. Here is where the experts have better news. While COVID-19 might be an unprecedented challenge, the best tools to help your employees get through it are familiar. As two of the researchers behind the --------burnout study point out: “COVID hasn’t led to a redefinition of burnout”, it has just A global survey by pioneering burnout aggravated it. The tools and techniques that you used to help your team shake off researchers conducted in the autumn stress and remain productive before are of 2020 found that 89% of respondents much the same as those that will get you felt their work life was getting worse, through this last stage of the pandemic. and 57% felt that the pandemic had Keeping productivity up simply requires a “large effect on” or “completely turning up the dial on these behaviours. > dominated” their work
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01. KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE HORIZON ---------
“It is absolutely vital for the top of the shop to have the vision of where they’re trying to get to now,” insists Julian Free CMgr CCMI, a deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Lincoln who previously spent decades in the military. Having served in places such as Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, he has frontline understanding of what drives people during crisis situations. Like many other leaders, Free spent the early months of the COVID crisis putting out fires and scrambling to move his team to a remote setup. Quickly, though, he and other leaders at the university realised that they’d have to offer their people more than remote work tools and immediate survival plans. A longerterm vision of how the university will emerge from the crisis and “build back better” was necessary.
02. R&R IS LESS FUN BUT MORE IMPORTANT DURING A PANDEMIC Clearly communicated longer-term goals are essential for beating back the toll of a very tough year, other experts agree. “Instead of lowering the temperature completely and feeling the effect of exhaustion and boredom, it might be a good idea to turn up the heat and go into fight mode,” says business psychologist Dr Merete WedellWedellsborg. “Take a good look at the battles that will meet you. How can you stay ahead of the curve? How can you prepare for the next stages?” If you feel your team is slowly drowning in the dreary details of day-today survival during the pandemic, now is the time to lift your vision towards the horizon. Setting out your goals for the longer journey can provide a shot of additional energy and motivation.
Many of us are daydreaming about sunny beaches and far-flung holidays, but taking leave right now is less appealing than normal. With so many restrictions in place, there aren’t many ways to enjoy your time off, so why not save it for later? If this is the thinking of either you or your team, you need to reconsider. “An engaged employee is about 45 per cent more productive than a satisfied employee, but an inspired employee is 55 per cent more productive than a merely engaged employee,” points out Bain & Company’s Michael Mankins, who co-authored its Time, Talent, Energy research. Keeping employees in the inspired column has been the biggest challenge during the pandemic, he feels, and doing so requires ensuring your people get enough rest. Mankins offers the example of Adobe, which has closed its offices one Friday each month during the pandemic to give employees additional time to rest and recharge away from pinging notifications and colleagues with “quick requests”. But simple vigilance from managers can be helpful too.
Did you know? Between 2008 and 2015, time spent in meetings grew by 7% a year, meaning it doubled every nine to ten years. Bain & Company’s Michael Mankins believes that the collaboration software that has made this possible has led to lower productivity 28 — SPRING 202 1
03. TAKE CONTROL OF MEETINGS AND TECHNOLOGY PROTOCOLS ---------
Free, with his military background, learned long ago how essential R&R is during times of stress. “In a crisis like this, you notice your key people aren’t taking leave. That’s a really, really bad idea. You need people to walk away, de-stress, reset, think about what they’re doing, recover.” He has carefully monitored whether his employees are taking leave over the past few months and is having sometimes uncomfortable conversations to urge individuals out the door. Forcing people to take a holiday might not be the first idea that springs to mind when you’re casting around for ways to increase productivity, but it could be as effective as it is counter-intuitive. ---------
“An engaged employee is about 45% more productive than a satisfied employee, but an inspired employee is 55% more productive than a merely engaged employee”
The culture of meetings has changed, and this could drag down your productivity. Bain & Company’s research shows that the number of meetings has gone up during the pandemic, while meeting length has gone down. Freed from the constraints of physical location, managers are inviting many more attendees to meetings. Together, this adds up to vastly more time lost to unnecessary meetings. Happily, fixing this is an easy win for productivity. The research also shows that, thanks to reduced commuting and more time spent online, the average employee is working around 45 minutes more per week during the pandemic. Much of that time, however, is wasted in a flurry of unnecessary emails, Slack messages and Zoom calls. If you can be disciplined with
your communications, the efficiencies of remote work may more than balance out any exhaustion-related fall in productivity. And, says Mankins, “the best have not allowed the number of attendees per meeting to go up. All of the meeting disciplines you had before COVID basically need to be put on steroids.” As a manager, you are also responsible for setting limits on your availability. Julian Free, for example, does not touch his computer or phone on Saturdays. “If anyone wants to get me on a Saturday, they’re going to have to ring my landline, and the barrier for someone to ring someone’s landline now is massive, so they’ll only do that if the wheels have come off. I think you have to put some barriers in,” he says. Free’s approach may not work for your team, but you may want to consider something similar to avoid burnout.
04. PROTECT YOUR TOP PERFORMERS ---------
The famous 80:20 rule applies to individual contributions in the office, too. “Eighty per cent of the most important interactions in a company are made by just 20 per cent of the people, so 20 per cent of a company are being asked to do everything,” explains Mankins, summing up the research on the subject. That’s true in good times and bad, but once again the pandemic has amplified an existing trend with both positive and negative consequences. Thanks to remote work, many top performers can now make an > impact on more projects. They can also be M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 29
bombarded with requests for help and collaboration at a time when most face additional stresses at home. Unchecked, that leads straight to burnout or even a decision to step back from the workforce entirely. If managers are aware of this issue and carefully monitor the workload of their top people, they can reap the productivity benefits of more flexible ways of working without the danger of driving their best talent to quit. “You have to be more vigilant in seeking input from your employees in terms of what their workload is. If you had pulse checks before and you did them quarterly, you better start doing them monthly. You may even need to do them weekly,” Mankins urges. His advice is typical of that being doled out to managers struggling to keep their heads above water after 12 months of lockdowns and uncertainty. It’s neither new-fangled nor complicated. In fact, it mostly boils down to doing more of what worked before. Great management hasn’t changed dramatically. It’s just more important now than ever. 30 — SPRING 202 1
20 QU EST IONS TO ASK YOU RSELF I F YOU WA N T TO I NSPI R E H IGH PER FOR M A NCE
This short self-assessment is designed to help you reflect on your key leadership competencies in relation to the past year.
Score each statement on a scale of one to five (one = strongly disagree; five = strongly agree). Bring this perspective to your answers: have I become more aware of how my behaviours affect other people’s performance since the pandemic started? Reflect on your answers and, if you feel you’re lagging in one area, visit CMI’s Career Development Centre, where you’ll find a huge range of resources, checklists and articles covering each of the self-assessment categories.
Communications 1. I make time to speak with my direct reports individually. 2. My colleagues trust me to manage conflict effectively and appropriately. 3. My direct reports would feel safe coming to me if they made a mistake. 4. I consider employees’ personal communication preferences (eg, phone call, Zoom, in-person, in groups versus individually). Prioritising well-being 1. I make sure employees are included in conversations about well-being. 2. When talking about the importance of physical and mental health, I lead by example. 3. I regularly check in with direct reports and teams, to see how they are doing. 4. I’m realistic about expectations when assigning work and deadlines. Focusing on productivity (not hours worked) 1. I am clear about what my team needs to accomplish by the end of this month. 2. I set clear expectations based on specific outcomes. 3. I follow through on my commitments in a timely way. 4. Employees are rewarded for performance, not hours worked. Culture 1. My direct reports have a sense of purpose in their work. 2. I celebrate large and small wins, and share credit among the team. 3. I champion flexible working, where employees take the lead on how they manage their tasks and schedule. 4. I have a good understanding of my team’s goals (both personally and professionally). Commitment to inclusivity 1. I make time to communicate the importance of diversity and inclusion. 2. Reverse mentoring programs have been set up and are used effectively. 3. I am personally involved in programmes and processes that have been set up to address diversity and accessibility. 4. Selection, development and promotion decisions are regularly reviewed to consider accessibility and diversity.
— Ian MacRae is head of workplace psychology at Clear Review and managing director of High Potential Psychology. His psychometric tests have been used by tens of thousands of people from dozens of countries around the world. He has written six books including High Potential: How to spot, manage and develop talented people at work. His new book Dark Social: Understanding the dark side of personality, work and social media will be published by Bloomsbury in November.
Once you’ve answered these 20 questions, we recommend heading to ManagementDirect, where you’ll find Checklist 280 – Reflective practice skills. This contains ten steps to take you further in your reflective journey. It will also walk you through the tried-and-tested “What, So What, Now What” model, and it has links to many other resources. Click here to access it now
M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 31
A R E YOU GU I DED BY T H E SCI ENCE? Science has informed our response to the pandemic and now offers us a route out. We go inside some world-class scientific institutions to find out whether it could also change the way we manage people and organisations in a post-pandemic world
WORDS / GEMMA CHURCH ON 12 MARCH 2020, just after the spread of the novel coronavirus
was declared a global pandemic, UK prime minister Boris Johnson made a speech full of foreboding. “I must level with you,” he said. “Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.” It was, for many, the moment when the gravity of the situation cut through. A few moments later, ordering people with symptoms to stay at home for seven days, he used a phrase that has become the government’s go-to response during the crisis. “At all stages, we have been guided by the science, and we will do the right thing at the right time.” (I leave it to future historians to decide whether the two parts of that sentence belong together.) For scientists, this was a milestone moment. It suggested that world leaders would be moving away from their usual instinctive leadership personas and trying to take a more rational, evidence-driven approach to decision-making instead. “What governments are doing for the first time, very publicly, is positioning scientific expertise front and centre > 32 — SPRING 202 1
— You lead, I’ll follow... Boris Johnson arrives at Downing Street with Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance
> M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 33
> in the decision-making process that affects our everyday I NSI DE SC Y M A R IS: lives,” says Ed Hayward, director of laboratory operations at NOR M A LISE CH A LLENGI NG Scymaris, a Devon-based chemical and pharmaceutical lab. O T H E R S T O B U I L D T RU S T For other scientists, Johnson’s choice of phrase was wide of the mark. “Questioning like science” might have been a --------better mantra instead. “Working in science, you question every single motive you have,” says Katherine Ridley, a spatial Down on the Devon coast, with transcriptomics laboratory manager at the University of stunning views out to sea, you’ll Cambridge. “You’re always trying to question why something find a laboratory that has been is happening, why it’s happening in that way and what more than 70 years in the making. alternative explanations there are for what you’re seeing.” The facility started life as a marine As Hayward puts it: “People often look to leaders to be science field station in 1948. Now strong and resilient, but we also need leaders who can admit it serves the pharmaceutical, or talk freely about their vulnerabilities, leaving them free agrochemical and chemical to draw on the expertise of others.” industries, researching everything The development of COVID vaccines from a chemical’s effect in the in just a year is a supreme achievement marine environment to its impact of science. So, can science provide on fresh water, soil and sediment. mainstream managers with a blueprint After a £15m investment from --------for leadership that answers questions AstraZeneca in 2008, the site now using expert opinion and facts, not “ People often look to leaders houses multiple state-of-the-art instincts? What can leaders learn from to be strong and resilient, laboratories. These are operated the way that science is conducted? We but we also need leaders by Scymaris, a contract research spoke to the leaders of some world-class who can admit or talk freely organisation with the agility to laboratories to get some answers. about their vulnerabilities” make the most of this world-class
— Ed Hayward’s background is in analytical chemistry, particularly on projects that demand a rapid turnaround
34 — SPRING 202 1
facility thanks to its expanding team and its expertise in both management and science. “Our goal is to help our clients understand the life cycle of their chemicals in our environment and the impact this has on the wider ecosystem,” says Scymaris director of laboratory operations Ed Hayward. Several members of the Scymaris team joined from multinational companies. Hayward explains that “while we take the best of what we learned working for such organisations, we also understand how things in larger companies can inhibit collaboration and teamwork”. Equally, other team members have spent decades working at that very site, “so we have people with various specialties and expertise that we can draw on to get any piece of work done”.
Scymaris was formed in 2016 and now employs more than 40 people, including 29 bench scientists working across two large analytical chemistry and environmental fate laboratories and other specialised ecotoxicology labs. The company works with everyone from multinational pharmaceutical and chemical companies to startups trying to get a new product to market, helping them comply with industry regulations and understand the impact of their product on the environment. Managing scientists across a range of different disciplines is not without its challenges. “Some scientists are in the lab by seven in the morning to attend to the biology of a test system, and others may pop in at ten at night to check on instrumentation or to review critical data. They all operate in different worlds,” says Hayward, “so, we’ve
been very conscious not to create silos. From the way we lay out the lab to the way we organise our office areas, we need everyone working in collaboration. That’s very different from other organisations, where biologists and chemists may operate in separate buildings. In our experience, that just doesn’t work.” This “highly integrated crossfunctional approach” is one of Scymaris’ strengths, according to Hayward, addressing one of the key challenges today’s scientists face: trust. “We’re open to challenging each other and questioning each other. We normalise the practice of asking questions, sharing information and challenging one another on everything from the scientific methods we use to our wider ways of working. By normalising that challenge, you create an environment where you build a lot of trust between teams,
THE SCIENCE OF LEADERSHIP: LESSONS FROM SCYMARIS
1. Normalise the practice of asking questions, sharing information and challenging one another on everything, which will help to build trust between teams. 2. Talk freely about your vulnerabilities. This leaves space to draw on the expertise or opinions of others. 3. B ring together people with various specialties, expertise and lengths of service. 4. Create an environment that inspires collaboration and teamwork – and prevent the formation of silos. 5. A flat structure means you can bring the right people onto a project, even if it’s only to address a small aspect. 6. Keep the manager’s role simple: bringing together the right minds, the right equipment and the right infrastructure to solve complex problems.
M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 35
and that transcends barriers of departments, specialisms and scientific disciplines.” This structure helps Hayward in his day-to-day work. “In my role, I essentially make sure we have the right minds, the right equipment and the right infrastructure to solve complex problems for our clients. Central to all of this is the quality of the scientific outcome. I’ve got access to a very deep well of knowledge across the organisation, including six senior analytical chemists in one team, one of whom has been on the site for 45 years. By adopting a flat structure, you’re not limited in bringing the right people into a particular project, even if it’s just to address one particular aspect of a project.” The coastal location of the laboratory in Brixham, Devon, means that Symaris can extract fresh seawater via a series of dedicated intake and return pipes for its tests, while providing staff with a beautiful place to live and work. “The site is one of our biggest assets and selling points. When people come to the facility, they get to see first-hand the work we’re capable of doing,” says Hayward. Video calls can’t do the site justice, but the company has successfully maintained its recruitment drive during the pandemic, completing three hires using Microsoft Teams. “We had to modify some of our usual practical assessments for the online interview, which was interesting, but it gave us the information we needed. We could see how the candidate behaves under pressure, test their basic maths skills and assess their scientific decisionmaking,” Hayward explains. “Being nimble in any sense is vital for any company at the moment. We’ve got to change because the world has changed.” 36 — SPRIN G 202 1
C OM M U N I C AT E A N D E D U C AT E : E M M A T H O R PE ’ S S T O RY ---------
Emma Thorpe CMgr is a laboratory manager at ALS Environmental, an environmental testing solutions company with laboratories across the UK and Ireland “I lead a team of nine analysts, working in one of our environmental testing laboratories in Wakefield. The majority of my day is dedicated to analysis of results, conducting meetings including one-to-ones with staff, dealing with customer queries and organising staff development and training. “Writing reports is another major undertaking, as I have to translate our experimental results into something anyone can understand. This will be an important skill set going forward, as more people rely on science and must understand what the science is telling them. “I also spend around ten per cent of my time working in the laboratory, often helping my team with their work and providing mentoring. “There are two senior analysts, six analysts and
one apprentice in my team. Everyone has a different level of experience, but we share the same lab space together and with another team working in a similar field. Across the site, we don’t have a lot of interaction with other teams, which is something we’d all like to change. The pandemic has certainly not helped us address that issue. “What skills would I rely on in a commercial, non-scientific environment? People skills are a must. If I started a new leadership role, I’d need to know what that team was doing, understand what each person does and where their key skills lie. The reports, meetings and staff development are universal tasks for all managers. But science teaches you to deal with problems by analysing them both at the data and people level.”
U N D E R S TA N D T H E W H O L E WO R K F L OW: K AT H E R I N E R I D L E Y ’ S S T O RY ---------
Katherine Ridley is a spatial transcriptomics laboratory manager at the University of Cambridge, working jointly between the Department of Paediatrics and the STEM Cell Institute at Addenbrooke’s Hospital “i manage the progress of the experiments in the lab at an organisational level, where I’m basically the expert or ‘super user’ of all the equipment within a specific pipeline for one experimental technique. I maintain the equipment, create presentations, maintain open communication with all members of the project and write that project up. The lab itself is interested in brain function and brain diseases. “I usually work with a lot of people at any one time – but we’re all on the same level, working on our individual projects. No one manages anyone. Instead, individuals are supposed to be motivated by their own projects. “Usually, the challenges come from managing the equipment and the experiments. The pipeline that I’m responsible for has hundreds of different components. There are many pieces of complex equipment, different chemicals and a microscopy and data analysis platform – each of which is made up of various stages that need to be managed. “It’s quite a convoluted process from beginning to end. I’m sure long and arduous workflows are
observed in regular management scenarios too, where something goes wrong and you need to troubleshoot that workflow. You need to have a good understanding of every single element of that workflow, because then you’ll be able to pinpoint where your problem is. “Science teaches you to be detail-oriented. A lot of science is taking a process and trying to figure out why that process is happening, often by removing one element. I think that’s quite an important perspective to have in the real world.” • ---------
“ I’m sure long and arduous workflows are observed in regular management scenarios too, where something goes wrong and you need to troubleshoot that workflow”
M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 37
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CATCH UP NOW Don’t miss Dr Lynne Green, Chief Clinical Officer for Kooth, discussing mental health and well-being with our CEO Ann Francke in support of Stress Awareness Month.
Thank God it’s Friday Thursday Five myths about the four-day week
WO R D S / M AT T H E W J E N K I N
40 — SPRING 202 1
lexible working has been growing in popularity for years, but access to it has been limited and often at the discretion of managers – many of whom firmly believe that working nine to five is the only way to make a --------living. No Silicon Valley whizzkid writing algorithms from bed at 11 in the morning was ever going to “CMI’s ‘Management convince them otherwise. Flexible working was a Transformed’ report perk, a “lucky if you have it” benefit. End of. discovered that future Then COVID happened. Overnight, offices closed working patterns are and workforces were forced to set up shop at home. Huge numbers of not just about the people got a taste of flexible working, whether they wanted it or not. where, they’re also It wasn’t long before staff and employers started to see the benefits. about the when” After the first UK lockdown in March 2020, respondents to a University of Birmingham survey said that they would prefer more flexible working in future, having benefited from a better work/life balance, increased productivity there is now growing interest in a four-day working week, and improved well-being during lockdown. with 79 per cent of business leaders open to the idea. The four-day working week has been trialled by many CMI/WorkL research showed a similar result, with many people saying they were more productive companies during the pandemic. In November, Unilever announced that it would move staff in its New Zealand office working from home. Employers seem to be listening too, with 74 to a four-day week on the same pay. It follows a similar trial per cent of firms planning to maintain more by Microsoft in its Japanese operations, and the supermarket homeworking after the pandemic. More than half chain Morrisons said in the summer that it would be moving plan to reduce their long-term use of workplaces. to a four-day week at its Bradford headquarters. But, as CMI’s ‘Management Transformed’ But despite studies showing that workers are more report discovered, future working patterns are not motivated and productive on reduced hours, there remains just about the where, they’re also about the when. a healthy amount of scepticism among many managers. Building on successful moves to homeworking, So, what are the issues and what do the experts say?
I T M E A N S S TA F F W I L L H AV E T O C R A M F I V E DAY S ’ WO R K I N TO FOU R
Alex Pang, author of Shorter: How working less will revolutionise the way your company gets things done: “The productivity improvements that we need in order to make a four-day week work already exist, it’s just that they are buried under this rubble of poor management and outmoded processes, and a culture that values time in the office over focus and attention. The average worker loses between two and four productive hours every day due to overly long meetings, technology-driven
distractions, and interruptions by colleagues. “One change that needs to happen is to introduce periods of ‘deep work’, periods of the day blocked out for intensive, focused work on your most important tasks. Managers also need to shift from valuing employees who can be in the office all the time, to respecting people who can work super effectively but then stop and leave on time. That's someone who knows their work, respects their time, is going to respect other people's time, and is going to do better work.” M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 4 1
I T ’S T O O R A DIC A L , W I T H NO G UA R A N T E E S T H AT I T W I L L BE A S U C C E S S
Joe Ryle, campaign officer for the 4 Day Week Campaign: “The most important thing is to get worker buy-in very early on. You can do that with staff surveys before, during and after the change to ensure that any kind of teething problems that crop up along the way can be fixed. The idea is that it’s a net benefit to companies and employees, so it needs to be done fairly, and it needs to be done with transparency and consultation.” ---------
Alex Pang: “Run a six-month trial. The idea is that you explicitly have this period where people can experiment and are free to change up everything. It might be a little bit uncomfortable at first, but give people permission to try out new ways of working while also having an end point. This is where, number one, the uncertainty is going to come to an end and number two, you’re going to make a decision about whether your company can really do this and adopt it permanently.”
“ Work out schedules where different employees take different days off. So, for example, you could be staffed at 80 per cent the entire week” Alex Pang
I T ’L L M E A N PAY I N G S TA F F L E S S
Joe Ryle: “With all the evidence showing that you can achieve the same level of productivity in a shorter time, it doesn’t mean you should pay staff less. It would be detrimental to staff morale. The right work/life balance is a four-day 32-hour week with no reduction in pay. This is about improving working conditions. If you look at the introduction of the weekend
To join our conversation about the pros and cons of a shorter working week, post and tweet using the hashtag #BetterManagers 42 — SPR IN G 202 1
and the eight-hour day which came in during the 1940s, that was on the same basis. “Showing employees that respect will not only help you retain staff, it can also attract fresh talent to the company. Businesses are always looking for ways to boast about being a good employer. Previously, we’ve seen companies offering the living wage to show that they are an attractive place to work – now it’s the four-day week which companies are using to show off.”
S TA F F W I L L BE L E S S AVA I L A BL E TO CLIENTS, A ND C L I E N T S WON ’ T LIKE IT
BU T W E ’R E DI F F ER E N T... W E N EED T O WOR K A FU LL W EEK
Adam Ross, CEO of global marketing firm Awin: “We began a six-month trial of a four-day week on 1 January 2021, after experimenting with half-day Fridays to give employees more time with family in the wake of the first lockdown. “We work with more than 16,000 clients. We measure client satisfaction scores, and people are tasked with making sure those scores remain high. It means employees have to think about how they organise themselves in order to maintain the same service. For example, people in client-facing roles can’t all take Friday off. We have also built centralised admin pools of staff that can handle client queries five days a week. As long as you carefully measure the outcomes, people will keep up the same standard.
“We absolutely had to communicate this change before it happened. We wrote and spoke to all our clients, explaining how it was going to work, how we were going to maintain the service, how we were absolutely committed to them still, that we fundamentally believed that this was the future of work and that it would benefit them in the end because people were going to be much more engaged and full of energy on the days that they did work. “Some of our clients have company cultures that clash with the change we have made, but others don’t. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and a lot of our clients have asked us to talk to their bosses about trying it themselves.”
Alex Pang: “Factories, restaurants, nursing homes and all kinds of companies from a variety of sectors are doing this. It's definitely not just creatives and knowledge workers who work on big projects with long deadlines “What companies have to think about is whether they already have a day of the week that is naturally slow. That could be the day of the week you lose. Essentially, it’s a question of balancing the rhythms of your business needs with the preferences
of your own employees. And don’t forget, there are plenty of places doing four-day weeks where the owners have to stay open five days a week. In which case, you can work out schedules where different employees take different days off. So, for example, you could be staffed at 80 per cent the entire week. Then, individuals get the benefit of a four-day week, but clients never notice that anything has changed. “Another model is the shift system, where workers might go down to six-hour days, but the office itself runs over 12 hours. The advantage of this option is that by lengthening hours, by lengthening availability of service, you’re able to serve more people.”
— Shorter: How working less will revolutionise the way your company gets things done by Alex Pang was longlisted for the 2021 CMI Management Book of the Year award
M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 4 3
“Is there anything you want to talk about?” Employers are turning to digital tools to support employees’ mental well-being during COVID
WORDS / CLAIRE READ
44 — SPR ING 202 1
M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 4 5
as diaries suddenly and unexpectedly sickness absence, and with the pandemic emptied of in-person commitments in the people have often got to the end of early weeks of lockdown, Emma Carney their coping limits – what with homeintroduced a new standing appointment: schooling and trying to work as well, a bi-monthly virtual group she jokingly plus isolation, bereavement and worries referred to as “Wine and a Whine”. about finances.” The invite list was select: junior --------colleagues at the PR agency where she was Here to help a senior manager. The agenda? The same There’s a question that naturally follows “ Data from the Office every time. “We’d have a glass of wine and for managers: how can they best support for National Statistics I’d just check in and have a chat: ‘How are their own mental well-being while also shows that 19% of adults you doing? Are you OK?’,” she explains. supporting that of colleagues, at a time experienced moderate Such support for the mental well-being when everyone is under pressure in one to severe depression of colleagues isn’t a new item on the to-do way or another? in November 2020, list of managers. But the pandemic has For occupational psychologist Roxane and 17% were affected brought greater focus and added major Gervais, the answer is not to have very by anxiety” complications in addressing it. specific conversations about mental In key-worker environments, there’s the well-being with colleagues. She advises challenge of ensuring staff feel as safe as simply asking open questions to find out possible while they’re in the workplace. In offices, there’s how someone is doing. “You don’t start off with: ‘What’s the complication of moving to virtual interactions – no more wrong?’ You start off with: ‘How are you? What’s happening opportunities for a quick, informal check-in while making a in your life?’,” she says. “Those are the things that start to cup of tea. And in many workplaces, there have been difficult make people comfortable, and once you make people conversations to have about furlough and even redundancies. comfortable they are a lot more willing to say: ‘I need support All this is against the backdrop of a pandemic that has with this, can you give me some help?’” changed more or less every aspect of life in a way which The value of that sort of approach is borne out by Emma naturally affects work. Little wonder, then, that the evidence Carney’s experience. The wide-ranging conversations she suggests there has been an uptick in mental ill health over the had with her junior colleagues – about well-being within and past 12 months. Data from the Office for National Statistics beyond the context of work – meant she was able to identify shows that 19 per cent of adults experienced moderate to a specific individual she was concerned may be struggling. severe depression in November 2020, and 17 per cent were “I knew her dad was ill with terminal cancer, that she was affected by anxiety – a significant increase on the one living in a house-share with a housemate she wasn’t getting in ten people who reported such problems pre-pandemic. on with, and that she didn’t know when she was going to Consultant psychiatrist Laura Pearse has a special be able to see her dad again.” interest in occupational psychiatry. She says that in many And so when this colleague had a mental health crisis, instances “mental health is being stretched to its limits”. Emma was immediately on the phone to support her and “Mental health issues are now one of the leading causes of rapidly arrange for counselling. 46 — SPRIN G 202 1
C M I A N D KO O T H In 2018, an estimated 17.5 million working days were lost to workplace stress, anxiety and depression.
— Tim Barker, CEO of Kooth, is on a mission to improve employees’ mental health and boost organisations’ performance along the way
To turn the tide, CMI is now partnering with Kooth to provide our members with free, safe and anonymous support and counselling. Learn more at managers.org.uk/ membership/resources/kooth
Going online Barker emphasises that managers should not assume that Support from mental health professionals has traditionally buying access to a digital service and sending out an all-staff been a face-to-face affair, but the need for social distancing email with the link absolves them of any further responsibility. has resulted in an explosion in the use of digital support. “Our objective,” he says, “is to help tackle the challenge of One of the companies offering such solutions is Kooth. mental health within the workforce and to help coach, educate Founded 15 years ago, its services are widely used for NHS and support managers so they can establish mental health patients – more than five million people are supported by the as a topic of business as opposed to an outlier of business. “The benefits are huge: increased employee productivity, platform – and the firm also offers its services to employers, engagement and retention. But there’s a conscious step under its Kooth Work offering. Tim Barker, Kooth’s chief executive, says that one of the change that an organisation needs to make from just ticking a advantages of a digital platform is that it can offer a wide range box – sending out an email to to your employees about mental of flexible support. “We offer self-help tools, a community health and saying you’re done – to embracing the mental so that you can engage with and hear from others who health and well-being of the workforce.” have been where you are, and we offer access to counselling.” That counselling is all text-based, an approach that Kooth Keeping mind and body together believes helps people open up. “You can express yourself A year on, Emma no longer holds her Wine and a Whine without having to do a phone call or a video call,” Barker says. meetings. But that’s only because she no longer works at the “It helps create a safe space for people to express themselves.” agency where she instituted them. She left the organisation The online community, meanwhile, takes the form of in December to launch a freelance career, having realised themed discussion boards where users can post about their that she was not enjoying her staff role. “A lot of that was to problems and discuss with those experiencing something do with [my own] mental health situation,” she says. Ultimately, supporting employees’ mental well-being similar. Such support is not unique. There are online forums serving all manner of informal peer communities, and many goes to the heart of being able to run a successful business health-related charities offer “official” or organisation. “You can’t disassociate the bodies boards providing advice and support. --------from the minds of your employees – it would be a What these digital solutions provide is very Victorian set of values that would drive you to something of a one-stop shop for mental “ We offer self-help do that,” says Barker. “So, I think, take the current well-being. In the case of Kooth, it’s one situation as an opportunity. Help your employees tools, a community have a work/life balance in this new remote-first that is entirely anonymous. Employees, and so that you can model. Help them establish boundaries. Because indeed managers, can set up an account and engage with and the future is, in so many ways, going to be about access support without needing to involve hear from others the sustainability of a more fluid working day.” • their bosses in the ins and outs of their who have been concerns. That said, leadership teams can — where you are, and access an anonymised breakdown of the Claire Read is a writer specialising in healthcare, we offer access sorts of issues the workforce is struggling technology and mental health. She was previously to counselling” with. This enables them to address any a comms manager in the NHS and is an associate member of The Royal Society of Medicine consistent problems that may be arising. M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 4 7
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THE YEAR L E A R N I NG W EN T W I L D COVID-19 forced educators and learners out of the classroom and into the great unknown: blended and hybrid learning. As we tiptoe back to normality, three top education futuregazers reveal the lessons learned along the way
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sn’t it gr atifying to be proved right? The desperate and hasty flight to remote learning during the early months of the pandemic provided some belated vindication for long-time advocates of blended and hybrid learning, who had long despaired as online learning was dismissed as the poor relation of “the real thing”. Not that all the teaching and learning delivered online over the past 12 months has been of the highest quality. But at least teachers and learners have now seen and understood what technology makes possible. Inevitably, there will be pushback – an initial desire to return to “the real thing” by rejecting remote learning and reaffirming the value of exclusively in-person teaching. A University of Cambridge survey of staff and students revealed dystopian fears of teaching delivered through virtual reality headsets, courses chopped up and sold off in bite-sized components, and the death of the traditional student experience. The backlash to blended learning will come. But it’s unlikely this particular genie can return to its bottle, now that so many > M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 4 9
> have tasted edtech’s exciting potential. They have glimpsed how technology can shoulder much of the heavy lifting, freeing up educators and learners to engage in more interesting, productive and even fun social learning projects, from all-night hackathons to immersive study visits. Educators are also grasping the opportunity to throw open their doors to a wider, more diverse range of learners. Birmingham City University, for example, has launched a flexible online nursing degree aimed at widening access into the profession for people who may have thought about nursing but couldn’t balance study with other commitments. Likewise, the University of Suffolk will be continuing its blend of online and face-to-face learning post-COVID after finding that the mix has worked well for its large proportion of mature students and those who work part-time. Not all post-COVID attempts to introduce blended learning will be successful. It will demand thinking that is designled, student-centred and accessibility-focused. So, ahead of research that CMI will be conducting later this year, we asked three leading thinkers to share their thoughts on the building blocks that need to be laid for an effective and sustainable migration to blended learning.
“ E D U C AT O R S N E E D T O T H I N K A N D AC T L I K E DESIGN ER S, SH A R I NG, T EST I NG A N D B U I L D I N G ON E AC H O T H E R ’ S WO R K ” Professor Diana Laurillard is chair of learning with digital technologies at the Institute of Education at University College London, which has launched an online course on blended learning skills for teachers
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EDUCATIONAL EXPERIMENTS HAVE SPRUNG UP DURING THE PANDEMIC. In Berlin, management school ESMT has transformed three auditoriums into “hybrid classrooms”, kitted out with huge video walls, intelligent microphones and tracking cameras so that it can offer similar learning experiences to both remote and in-person learners. At the University of Lausanne, a new Sony analytics tool extracts
During the pandemic, people learned that there is more to online learning than they thought. They discovered its benefits and found that there are some things you can do better online than you can do face to face, such as being able to engage a larger number of learners in discussion. Many students are shy or hesitant to take part in a class discussion, but online they can be more confident and take their time. Online also means not having to rely on the teacher to do all of the feedback thanks to automated quizzes or through an online peer review process where learners swap and critique each other’s work, according to a rubric. That can be a very valuable process, which also improves the quality of final, assessed work.
handwriting on the board for students to see whether they are learning online or in the room. Radiography students at Teesside University have been conducting remote experiments using a simulation tool that was built in-house. Investors are certainly excited by all this. Venture capital investments in edtech more than doubled to $16bn in 2020, according to consultancy HolonIQ.
There are many ways in which an online environment can help to personalise learning. However, there are still occasions – such as small group projects where the dynamics of social interaction are crucial to thinking and problemsolving – when a video call on Zoom or Teams cannot replicate the experience of a conversation around a coffee table. Technology is rarely invented to support the teaching and learning process. Educators find themselves having to borrow and adapt technologies that were made for business or gaming. That’s partly because in universities and other large educational settings, the senior managers are rarely close to the teaching function. They’re not asking, “What does it take to teach? What does it take
to learn? And how can technology help?” My great hope is that this will now change given the greater involvement of all teachers in thinking about online learning. We have also discovered over the past 12 months that online learning is not cheap. Blended learning means more design work for the teacher. There is more upfront investment required in designing what you want and need students to do. But after you’ve designed it, it can eventually run itself. So, there is a payoff… but it’s in the long run. In effect, teachers need to learn to act like designers, and also learn to share their ideas within their community, testing them out and building on each other’s work, in the same way knowledge is built in science and scholarship. Teachers ought to be able to work like that.
“ Educators find themselves having to borrow and adapt technologies that were made for business or gaming” M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 5 1
“R EBU I L D T H E SYST EM A RC H I T E C T U R E S O LEAR N ERS R ECEI V E A M O R E I N D I V I D UA L I S E D E X PE R I E N C E T H RO U G H S E L F-D I R E C T E D LE A R N I NG” Thomas Arnett is a research fellow in education at the Christensen Institute, a San Francisco thinktank focused on disruptive innovation The conventional approach to education takes a bunch of people of the same age, ideally with the same level of background knowledge or experience, and sits them in front of a teacher who provides the instruction to that group. That has long worked as an effective and pragmatic means of providing education to large groups of people. But different people have different needs. They come with different levels of background experience, different cognitive strengths and challenges, and different motivations for wanting to learn. An effective teacher can try to bridge that gap, adding a personal element to this one-sizefits-all monolithic system. But the system remains monolithic, aiming to give everyone the same learning at the same pace at the same time. As we exit this pandemic, we have an opportunity to create a better system. Instead of expecting learners to adapt or conform to the system in order to learn, can 52 — SPRIN G 202 1
we make a system that meets the needs of the individual learner? Student-centred learning doesn’t mean just plugging people into computers to programme their brains. But online learning does make it possible for learners to receive a more individualised experience through self-directed learning. It also frees up the educator’s capacity; instead of feeling pressured to cover a certain amount of material in their sessions, they can ask, what are my different students’ needs? How do I engage with them individually, to find out and better understand their needs, their motivations? And can I design a learning experience that meets those learning needs? Technological infrastructure is fundamental, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. Technology ---------
can assume some of the role of explaining foundational content in an engaging way and give students basic feedback on their understanding. But the real power lies in the freedom this gives educators. It’s a very different approach to the educator’s practice and mindset. Their role is not to dispense information to a group of people and answer their questions, but to provide them with the resources to explore. It’s about co-designing that learning experience with them, according to their needs. Learners need a new mindset too – shifting from just turning up and waiting to be told what to do. It gives learners responsibility for deciding when and how they are going to learn. So, learners will need to be coached in this new
“ Technology can assume some of the role of explaining foundational content in an engaging way and give students basic feedback on their understanding”
“LOST L E A R N I NG R E Q U I R E S A M U LT IY E A R R E S P ON S E ” Rebecca Montacute is research and policy manager at The Sutton Trust, a charity that aims to improve social mobility and address educational disadvantage
approach and given guidance in creating structures to help them learn on their own. But in the end, it will be more motivating for learners to have a purpose for learning as opposed to learning because someone told them to do it. While the past 12 months have introduced people to new ideas, concepts and technologies, we’re also seeing with online learning and distance learning what often happens with new technologies. The early cars were modelled on horse-drawn carriages. The first movies were filmed stage productions. We must break the habit of simply translating an old medium into a new technology. We have to redesign the system architecture to full realise the benefits of these new learning technologies.
The pandemic has brought to the fore many of the inequalities that were already affecting students. But these inequalities have had arguably more impact this past year. We’ve found through several different surveys that students from poorer families, on average, are less likely to have the technology they need at home, less likely to have internet access and less likely to have an adequate study space. There are some steps that can be taken to address those needs – we can buy learners a laptop and internet access through a dongle – but there are some things we can do little about, such as whether or not they have a study space at home or what their general housing situation is. The UK government has tried to address some of these needs, but it acted far too slowly. At the start of the pandemic, Ofcom estimated that up to 1.78 million children in the UK had no access to a laptop or other computer. The numbers of laptops that the government provided during the first half of the crisis was in the hundreds of thousands, not coming anywhere near what was needed. Remember, even where learners do have a computer in their house, they might have to share it with multiple siblings. So that 1.78 million is a large underestimate of the actual number of laptops needed. In February this year, the government announced it had distributed one million laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children and young people. But it’s still not enough and didn’t come when it was needed, months ago. These laptops and tablets are now in the school system, but it’s a cautionary tale as we consider more blended learning in the future. There are some difficultto-fix things around housing and access to study space that must be kept in mind when designing blended learning. Being in a school environment gives learners more equal access to good study space.
While the government has now confirmed that teacher-assessed grades will replace exams this summer, it doesn’t have any way to specifically take into account the learning loss of disadvantaged young people. If a learner hasn’t been able to access the necessary materials, for reasons outside of their control, there is no method for making allowances for that lost learning. This could affect their access to college or university. And if they do make it to college or university, will they have access to additional support to help them succeed and fulfil their potential? We’ve noticed too that during this period of online learning there has been a significant fall in participation in activities such as student societies and clubs, with a bigger decrease among learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. These experiences are really useful for employment and developing wider life skills. Again, young people will need support to make up for that loss, which could have serious knock-on effects on their employment prospects. The response needs to be a multi-year approach. Universities and colleges must take into account all that lost learning when they make their decisions and offer leniency and support to students who should be allowed to continue onto their next steps wherever possible. Employers too must continue to take into account what these learners have experienced and their lost learning, remembering that it doesn’t necessarily reflect on young people’s talent or potential. They shouldn’t have their futures blighted because of what has happened over the past year. • ---------
“At the start of the pandemic, Ofcom estimated that up to 1.78 million children in the UK had no access to a laptop or other computer” M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 5 3
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A shot in the arm for vaccine science
As the UK emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the government wants to strengthen its long-term vaccine manufacturing capability. Meet the Chartered manager helping to make when the chance came that vision a reality
for Julie Naish CMgr to join the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) as its head of HR in November 2020, she jumped at the chance. “The opportunity was absolutely incredible, not least because of all of the external factors that we’re currently going through, but the opportunity to help people around the globe.” VMIC is part of the government’s efforts to strengthen the UK’s longterm manufacturing capability for vaccines. It was incorporated in 2017 and up until ten months ago had about six employees. The facility was set to come online over a medium-term timeframe, with the aim of being operational by 2023. But because of the pandemic, the government moved the timeline forward. Now it needs to be operational by early 2022. That means some serious scaling up. “Originally, it was planned to be about 30 or 40 people,” says Julie. “But now it’s scaled up to about 100, with considerably more capacity in terms of manufacturing.” Julie is at the heart of the action, creating HR processes and bringing in talent through a remote recruitment process. “Any one thing would be a challenge. But if you add them all together and shave 12 months off the timeline, it’s incredibly difficult.” Fast-growing workplaces have long been a part of Julie’s career. Her passion for people management
PHOTOGR APHY / WILL AMLOT
started with an Investors in People accreditation via her then-employer, CBG Consultants. The company sponsored her training right the way through to a master’s degree in leadership and management. Her next challenge came from PsiOxus Therapeutics, another fastgrowing company that was developing novel therapeutics focused on cancer treatments. “I was the first permanent HR manager they had. Prior to that, the COO had dealt with everything.” The VMIC project combines a number of key themes from Naish’s career: the fast growth, the processbuilding and the engineering and life sciences specialism. “I like the challenge of setting something up from scratch,” she says. “I’m not filling anybody else’s shoes. In my last three organisations, all the systems and processes have been developed by me.” You need to be able to think on your feet in biotech, Naish explains. The environment in which the sector is operating is uncertain and volatile. “Biotech is definitely all about being first past the post. So if you’re seeing data coming out of clinical trials that’s not showing you exactly what you
want, you might have to pivot quite quickly into doing something else.” The facility, based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, is still being built, and the team must be agile. “We can’t be too rigid in our thinking because, frankly, we don’t have the time. We’re recruiting people that are at the top of their game and leaders in their fields. So we absolutely must exploit their knowledge and skills.” Julie regularly practises mindfulness to help her juggle the pressure of her workload and the demands of her two young children. “It’s important not to be too hard on yourself,” she says. “I can only do what I can do. That’s how I manage to keep going.” The pressure is worthwhile. “I can’t imagine working for a more worthy organisation. Looking into 2022, I want to make VMIC the employer of choice, not only because it will be a fantastic organisation to work for, but also to fulfil our vision of being an international centre of excellence.” • To find out more about progress at the UK’s first dedicated vaccine manufacturing and innovation centre, visit vmicuk.com
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How to boost your cultural intelligence Wai Loon Lee CMgr has to deal with stakeholders in 12 countries, each with different cultural norms and expectations. The key to dealing with this effectively, he says, is cultural intelligence. Cultural intelligence, or CQ, is a subset or continuation of emotional intelligence and can apply to businesses and local cultures, as well as national ones. It involves a lot of active listening and keen observation. Here’s a definition from Elaine Mosakowski and P. Christopher Earley in the Harvard Business Review: “Knowing what makes groups tick is as important as understanding individuals… A person with high emotional intelligence grasps what makes us human and at the same time what makes each of us different from one another. A person with high cultural intelligence can somehow tease out of a person’s or a group’s behaviour those features that would be true of all people and all groups, those peculiar to this person or this group, and those that are neither universal nor idiosyncratic.” Lee, who’s a transformation manager for the energy giant Shell, learned about the concept from CMI’s ManagementDirect resource and during his current executive MBA course. However, his own cultural intelligence has been honed through dealings with various cultures around the organisation. “I’m based in Singapore,” he says. “Generally, people in South East 60 — SPRING 202 1
How I’ve changed
Tuaneri Akoto CMgr, chief executive of charity Elevated Aspirations, gave up his troublemaking instincts to become a manager driven by kindness
“i’ve always had an abundance of confidence – it’s almost the opposite of imposter syndrome! However, CMI taught me introspection and helped me further develop existing skills such as empathy and humility, because confidence alone isn’t enough. “I’ve worked in the charity and not-for-profit sector for 38 years, supporting disadvantaged children and adults across east London, as well as colleagues who have been bullied. My ethos is about honesty, trust and integrity. They’re traits that I’ve incorporated into my working life thanks to my phenomenal CMI course supervisor. “I wasn’t always like this. I was mischievous and troublesome at school and was always being reprimanded. I was the kid who would get caught running in the corridors. “As I grew up and matured, I realised that who I was at school wasn’t the person I wanted to be. There were teachers and people on my side who encouraged me to be a better person. I remember thinking, ‘If someone
“ There are three components to cultural intelligence: cognitive, physical and emotional/ motivational” Asia are quite receptive and patient. Having exposure to those colleagues gave me a start as I then began working across other regions.” There are three components to cultural intelligence: cognitive, physical and emotional/motivational. Lee says that he exercises the first component daily – by, for example, using the first half-hour of meeting
a new person or group to identify their key personal and cultural traits. The second component is about understanding mannerisms and reflecting those back at someone. Being comfortable with cultural customs like this can be a crucial way to build trust. The third component is essentially about resilience and being able to
cares for me this much and makes me feel this good, I want to do that for other people, too.’ I’ve really grown to loathe bullying – and particularly bullying managers. “I became a CMgr because I wanted to further develop my humanity. I already had a degree, a master’s and an MBA, but the focus was always on managing people for profit. CMI is about managing for a particular outcome from a humane perspective.” “As I progressed, I realised I was taking too much on myself, to the detriment of my projects and my team. I created a better framework, with clear roles and responsibilities so that people could understand their parameters, giving them the autonomy to do their jobs while still knowing when to call upon more experienced staff. “I’m now fairly confident in my abilities as a manager, although I’m always trying to expand my knowledge. My current role is more focused on people and development, and thankfully I’m a good fit for that these days.” •
learn and adapt when you make a mistake or face a challenging interpersonal situation. “Ultimately, cultural intelligence is about treating people with respect,” says Lee. “It can sometimes take time to build that trust, but if you deliver and understand how to convey that information to your audience, you will build very strong relationships, no matter the culture.” • Don’t forget: as a CMI member, you get free access to our online resources through the ManagementDirect portal, where you’ll find more on cultural intelligence and the other ideas covered in this section Click here to go there now
Three ways to overcome self-doubt
Confidence issues can affect managers at any stage of their career. Three CMgrs offer advice on how to deal with it Turn it into a learning experience “In management, it’s normal to experience self-doubt or a crisis in confidence. It’s what you do with it that matters. I try to turn these moments into something positive. If there’s a particular issue or subject that causes these moments, I tend to use that energy to drill down into the subject. For example, you could try getting a little closer to the detail, researching more options or ways forward, or speaking to team members about the topic. By understanding the topic that’s causing self-doubt, confidence will increase and self-doubt will disappear.” Mike Hetherington CMgr, project manager at IMI Truflo Marine
The ‘five bums on a seat’ approach “When I’m faced with a difficult decision, I try to go back to the basics of ‘five bums on a seat’ – what’s the real issue, why is it an issue, who’s involved, where can I get help if I need it and when do I have to make the decision by? This generally gives me a way forward. It slows my thought processes down enough to calm my nerves and to help me focus on the issue at hand, which then bolsters my confidence because I know I’m making a decision that I can defend with integrity. It doesn’t always work, but with practice I’m getting better.” Janet Berry CMgr, head of conservation, Church of England Cathedral and Church Buildings Division
Ask for help “When overcoming confidence issues, I think it’s important to be open and honest with people in the team. I’m now working in construction, having come from a maritime background, but engineering is often the same, within reason. However, I do always check with specific trades if I’m unsure. This shows that I value their opinion and that I’m aware of my limitations. Hopefully, that attitude then filters through the team.” Phil Quinn CMgr, associate director, AESG
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Pressure in paradise The extraordinary story of how Dr Ranulf Scarbrough CMgr and team brought reliable high-speed internet to a remote collection of Pacific islands
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On 11 April 2020, Dr Ranulf Scarbrough CMgr got a call from the telecoms operator on Aitutaki, the second largest of the Cook Islands. Its satellite antenna dish was faulty. People in the tiny Pacific nation were suffering hourly outages in service. Scarbrough had a big call to make. They could, in theory, switch the internet provision to the newly installed submarine cable that would bring broadband services to the islands for the first time. But switching would mean launching at least four months early. With the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold, people were relying on the internet to keep up with news and connect with loved ones around
the world. But would the crucial new system hold? Scarbrough had been in the Cook Islands since 2018, working on the huge, high-pressure project to install cable internet. The islands had previously been reliant on expensive and unreliable satellite internet. Heavy rain was enough to disrupt the signal. “It was a bit like going back to the ’80s,” Scarbrough says. He’s driven by the belief that everyone should have access to good telecoms, no matter where they live. He spent 13 years at BT and a further two at Openreach improving services in places like Cornwall. Over the years, he has learned that the more remote a settlement, the more important its connectivity is.
Scarbrough celebrates a job well done with members of the Cook Islands government
“ It was a pressurised environment, despite the appearance of lovely palm trees and lagoons” Back to the Cook Islands. The project there was part of an international partnership between the islands, French Polynesia, Samoa and Niue, bankrolled in part by the New Zealand government and the Asian Development Bank. The finished Manatua cable would be 3,600km long, connecting six islands, including Rarotonga and Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. The other nations had telecoms organisations already established, but Scarbrough and his team would be forming a new one. “We were a little bit behind, organisationally,” he says. Any day of delay would potentially cost $50,000. Time was of the essence to get the organisation up and running.
There was no-one on the island with experience of installing submarine cables, so Scarbrough had to put the time in to identify islanders with transferable skills and traits. “I’d rather have someone who’s up for a new challenge, transferring their skills from another area to help us grow beyond where we are,” he says. “I’m quite sceptical about taking someone who’s done exactly the same job. Why would you want someone who has done exactly the same thing for most of their career? Where’s their drive to learn something new?” One member of the team, Tania Apera, illustrates Scarbrough’s point. Apera earned an electronic engineering degree in Auckland
and was working with the airport authority, which has a strong focus on quality and safety. That mindset was an asset to the project. “It worked really well and has given her a career path,” Scarbrough says. What’s more, Scarbrough himself had to fight the temptation to fit in with the local way of doing things. “I’d been brought in to give an outsider’s perspective on what needed to be done, but human instinct tells us to adapt in order to fit in.” At the same time, he had to teach the local team how the project should run, with the pressure of investor expectations hanging over his head. “It can be quite isolating and quite lonely,” he says. “Self-doubt can creep in.” Scarbrough’s family were with him for most of the time he was on the Cook Islands, but they flew back to the UK as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. Scarbrough wasn’t able to rejoin them until December 2020. “It was a pressurised environment, despite the appearance of lovely palm trees and lagoons.” When the time came in April 2020 to launch early, Scarbrough decided to go with it. After all, people needed the service. The system worked. The island was soon using the new cable technology without knowing it. “It’s what we had to do to keep the island online,” he says. “This is the thing about remote communities; they're resourceful and resilient.” That quick, decisive thinking kept the islanders connected at a time when it was necessary to monitor the progression of the pandemic. It also meant that the Cook Islands were the first of the four nations to have the cable service up and running. “We started from the back but finished at the front. I’m quite proud of that.” • Search ‘Manatua One Polynesia Cable’ on YouTube for a fantastic five-minute explainer of the submarine cable project
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Conversations Out and about with Britain’s most exciting leaders
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Aberthaw: the story of a closure
As management tasks go, handling the impact of large-scale redundancies is about as tough as it gets. We talked to Julia Heslop, former operations manager at the nowdecommissioned Aberthaw Power Station, about how to do the task with dignity
Julia Heslop will never forget 2 August 2019. At the time, she was an operations manager at Aberthaw Power Station in south Wales. She and all 150 employees there knew that the coal-fired plant was going to close at some point, but most were expecting it to happen in the autumn of 2021. Instead, Julia got an email at 7:30 that morning asking her to come in to the plant for a meeting at 8am. There, she and other team members received the news that the plant would be closing in March 2020. The process of informing the staff and ultimately
decommissioning the plant was to begin straight away. The next few months would test the Kiwi manager, who was 39 at the time, to her limits. But, drawing on deeply held personal values, the relationships she’d built up with colleagues over a number of years and the support of her own managers, today Julia looks back at the process with satisfaction at a management job well done. The hours and days immediately after the plant’s closure date was confirmed had a huge emotional impact. Many employees were not on
“ I always tried to put myself in my team member’s shoes and do what I could to support them both practically and in terms of understanding their emotional reactions” -------
site and therefore needed to be told by phone. Julia and her fellow managers had to call each person individually to break the news. “I had sheets and sheets of names to call. To begin with, I didn’t know whether I was strong enough to do it. I spoke to one young man who’d just got married and others who were going through divorce. It was really tough.” The core value she drew on was empathy. “I always tried to put myself in my team member’s shoes and do what I could to support them both practically and in terms of understanding their emotional reactions,” she says. And the emotions M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 65
were intensified because Julia and her fellow managers were also affected. “We were being made redundant ourselves while helping others.” The power station has been part of the fabric of south Wales since 1971. Many people in the area are Aberthaw through and through. As well as the power station itself, a whole way of life was being reshaped. The following 18 months were “incredibly difficult”, says Julia, and were made worse by the first lockdown in March 2020. But there were also positive moments. “Every time a member of my team secured a new role was a high point for me,” she says. Through the change programme, more and more people did find new jobs or were guided into retraining. The aim was to tailor the support to the affected 66 — SPRIN G 202 1
station staff. “Aspirational discussions” were held with every team member so they could personalise their training and redeployment to meet individual needs. Julia regularly met up with the station manager and other team leaders to talk about each individual in their teams and how they could best support any who were struggling. As time went on, many of the affected employees found their confidence and began to find future opportunities. Some took 18th Edition electrical contracting qualifications; others transitioned their energy knowledge into the renewables sector. The vast majority found new roles. “It’s easy to underestimate people who have come from ‘heavy’ industry, but they have great skills in innovation and real public-service values,” says Julia, who’s now
working at the Jeeralang Power Station west of Melbourne in Australia. Julia has a background in chemistry – she has a DPhil from the University of Oxford – but she has always invested in herself more broadly too. “I joined CMI to bulk up my management and leadership side,” she says. Looking back at her Aberthaw experience, she says she has learned some crucial lessons about leadership during tough times: ● Lean on your close colleagues who are going through the process with you for support to keep your energy high. Be there for them too. ● Regular, consistent communication with your team to give them as much certainty of information as you are able to about all the
parts of the process (eg, redeployment options, how retraining opportunities will be delivered and so on). This needs to be a consistent message from upper management down through team leaders. ● Make sure you look after yourself as well and take the opportunities for support that you’re offered. You can’t take everything on your own shoulders. Think strategically about what you are able to influence for your team and do whatever you can to bring that about. Julia is still in touch with friends, colleagues and fellow managers from that time. “The little nuggets of thanks and feedback from my team members for how I helped and supported them make me feel happy that I did my best by them.”
Are you the problem?
How you make your team members feel will determine how well they perform
we all have an emotional signature. It’s how we leave people feeling after they meet us. If we want people to be positive about us and, more W O R D S / K E V I N M U R R AY importantly, what we’re trying to achieve, we need to develop the skills that will enable us to have a really positive presence. This means being able to project warmth, being attentive and fully present, displaying compassion and empathy, being appreciative and praiseful, respectful of others, and most important of all, being a really good listener. Making other people feel good is easy with just a little practice. When you are warm and approachable, people are more likely to embrace your ideas. It can be as simple as making eye contact and flashing a smile. However, there are some behaviours managers unwittingly exhibit that are highly destructive to motivation, because they make people feel like they are not valued or respected. You only have to show that you have lost interest by looking at your smartphone or letting your eyes glaze over to make people feel like they don’t matter. Here’s a checklist of traits to avoid: strengths. This kind of behaviour will make every new assignment and every member of the team feel very unsafe. 1. Bad listeners are often bad managers – or worse, they either don’t care or are simply 5. Bad managers are disrespectful of everyone. They show contempt for their employees, their own bosses, and even their unaware of that fact. They regularly show customers. Disrespect is contagious, and very soon members of the employees that they have no interest in their input and perspectives and treat their views team will be disrespecting each other and disrespecting customers too, with contempt or disdain. Sadly, the worst with disastrous consequences. listeners often believe they are the best 6. Bad managers lack any charm and are cold and aloof. They are listeners; this is because they comprehend not interested in building relationships. things quickly and get impatient or switch off. They have no interest in the motivations This article is drawn Those are exactly the behaviours that make and personal lives of their team members. from research by Kevin others feel slighted. 7. Some managers are too goal- Murray CMgr CCMI for focused and pay little attention to his new book Charismatic 2. Managers who show little empathy or compassion for members of their team will work/life balance. As a result, their team Leadership: The skills you also have a hugely negative effect on morale members are constantly overworked can learn to motivate high performance in others and engagement. Even if a manager is simply with a high risk of burnout. expressionless while listening to troubles or 8. Worst of all, bad managers are (published by Kogan Page). not inclusive. They exclude people We originally published woes, this can be interpreted as uncaring. from critical conversations. They have it on our Knowledge & 3. Highly critical and vocal managers will seldom celebrate successes and will little tolerance for diversity. They prefer Insights hub, and it feels relentlessly and publicly interrogate failures, “birds of a feather” and are not interested just right for this edition’s never forgiving mistakes. They never offer in teams that are built on a diversity of focus on drawing out great second chances and can see no value in giving gender, race, culture or nationality. Even team performance. CMI the benefit of the doubt to others. if they have diverse teams, bad managers members can save 20% 4. Some managers will constantly search make little effort to ensure that everyone on Kevin’s book by using the code CMI20 is included in discussions or decisions. • for faults in employees and ignore their M AN AGER S .ORG.UK — 67