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STRATEGY

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Relationships Emotions matter

Historically, many organizations played down the role of personal relationships at work. Work was a place where you did your job and got paid in return. Relationships and social connections happened outside the office. Now a greater understanding of the role of relationships, not only at work but in business in general, is coming to light. Google began an interesting study in 2012 to examine its highperforming teams and determine exactly what made them great. As it turned out, results had nothing to do with the order that was put in place to keep teams on track, and everything to do with the emotional connection between team members. This emotional connection made all the difference to what appeared, in some cases, to be a very messy team process.

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Diversity Bias is recognized

Let’s be frank. Diversity has been the focus of many organizations in the later part of the 20th century, largely because of government mandates and laws – not necessarily because we value differences. Meeting quotas seemed to be the prevailing approach of many companies at that time, and still is now. Companies have indeed met the quotas, but diversity is always at the lower levels of the organization – and seems to remain there. With all the policies, programmes and quotas put in place over the years, the diversity barometer has changed only modestly. The proportion of women chief executives has increased by just 17% since the late 20th century. The figure for minorities is similar. We have to understand the root reasons why the needle has not moved substantially. Based on my research and experience, the root cause is unconscious bias. And by the way, we all have bias, even the most forward-thinking managers. The brain is wired to take mental shortcuts and react quickly to the 11,000 cues we receive per minute. Our mind and emotions react before we’re even aware of it.

Is it any wonder organizational change is so challenging? In order to create a truly inclusive environment with a level playing field for all, we need to understand the role of unconscious bias, and the role the brain plays in our ability to connect with people who are different from us.

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Technology Digital goes mainstream

In the 20th century, computing technology was in its infancy. It was used to speed communication, make information more readily accessible, and improve work processes. Efficiency was the primary goal, and sometimes the only goal. The 20th century breakthrough in technology was largely missed: the ability to communicate, collaborate and enjoy our work. But it’s not too late. The 21st-century breakthrough in IT is about discovering patterns that were previously invisible. For example, predicting certain outcomes, particularly in medicine, will forever change healthcare. In the 20th century, technology was relegated to the chief technical officer and the IT department. Today, we’re all technology officers. And, as a manager, technology must be a crucial component of your approach – leveraging every tool to enhance communication and collaboration.

Results had nothing to do with the order that was put in place to keep teams on track, and everything to do with the emotional connection between team members

Distribute the future “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” William Gibson, The Economist

Your job as a manager is to distribute the future. These times, if embraced with human purpose, can make a difference in your workplace and create a profitable company where everyone matters. The future isn’t for the chosen few, but for those who care enough to help others transform their lives. — Linda Sharkey, leadership development expert, is global managing director of Achieveblue. Morag Barrett is chief executive of SkyeTeam

Q3 2017 Dialogue

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Dialogue Q3 2017