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THE Leadership Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Japan

Dale Carnegie Japan

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THE Leadership Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Japan

THE Leadership Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Japan

Dale Carnegie Japan

3
Followers
7
Plays
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About Us

THE Leadership Japan Series is powered with great content from the accumulated wisdom of 100 plus years of Dale Carnegie Training. The Series is hosted in Tokyo by Dr. Greg Story, President of Dale Carnegie Training Japan and is for those highly motivated students of leadership, who want to the best in their business field.

Latest Episodes

371: Furloughs And Firings Trigger Fear and Loathing Toward Leaders

Leaders do dumb things and sometimes they have to do difficult things. The line between which is which can sometimes be a bit hard to plumb. I clearly remember the senior bosses coming back from a boozy weekend offsite, embraced with the idea that we, the great unwashed salespeople, would identify the top guns working for our rivals, so that the firm could recruit them. What could possibly be wrong with this idea, in an industry that rapidly hires in market upswings and ruthlessly cuts staff in the downturns? Shareholder value in the US is another serious thing. Quarterly earnings reports are weighty matters, which drives leader behaviours in directions you just have to shake your head at. Capitalism gone mad in many cases. Fortunately, for most of the world, this lunacy has been restrained to some degree. Downturns turn out badly for employees. Lofty rhetoric is tossed aside and “thoughts and prayers” becomes the common lament, as they toss you out on your ear. The survivors are taking all of this in very granularly. They know, “but for the grace of God, there go I” – out the door. The lulls between the downturns and firings, saps the general despair toward the hypocrisy, as everyone gradually gets back to business. Deep down though, there is always that distrust of leaders. Now, here you are, a thrusting leader in the making or at the helm already, fervently devouring Harvard Business Review articles on how to engage your people. We teach an excellent programme called Step Up To Leadership and one of the modules deals with the issue that you, the new leader, should not imagine that what drives you drives your team members. They have different aspirations and goals and you cannot overlay your world view on to them and expect everyone to be happy, happy. This gap between actual motivators and the boss dispensed version is rife throughout the hierarchy of the organisation. In a global survey we conducted across 15 countries, we found there were some particular areas where team member expectations were mismatched with boss outputs. When we surveyed the top leadership, 86% sternly pronounced that respecting people’s opinions was important to inspiring people to do their best work. When we surveyed those being bossed around, we found a 28% gap in their observation of what the boss was actually doing. Think about your own case. In a busy world, especially now that we are locked away from each other at home or only half of the team are turning up on any given day, how good a job do you do seeking opinions? You may be a legend of handing out orders to solves issues, a firefighter without peer, but how good are your listening skills? Big bosses in 85% of cases said giving sincere appreciation was motivating for the troops. The troops however identified a 36% performance gap in this arena. “Good job” is crap, as far as giving appreciation goes. “Well done” is another meaningless piece of drivel, often shovelled out by supervisors, imagining they are successfully recognising their people. By the way, is this you? Here is a four step process, that should be the default for all bosses. Firstly, thank them, “Yamazaki san, I really appreciate your hard work”. Next, tell them exactly which part of their work was done well, “Your report was excellent, the analysis clear and succinctly explained, I could get the key points immediately”. Now, explain the value of what they are doing, “You saved me a lot of time and that means that I can work on the other high level things we need to get done around here. This will help us to move forward faster than our competitors”. Now, encourage them to keep it up, “Please keep making this type of contribution to the firm, it makes a big difference and we really appreciate you”. The biggest gap in the self delusion department was over admitting when you are wrong. Among the bosses, 81% thought this was important to motivate the people. The people however said in 41% of cases that didn’t happen suff

12 MIN1 w ago
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371: Furloughs And Firings Trigger Fear and Loathing Toward Leaders

370: How Leaders Can Do A Better Job Of Engaging Their Staff

Many decades ago, I remember a visiting Korean business delegation coming to my home town of Brisbane. At the end of the day, in thanking us for being their hosts, the leaders noted it was very valuable visit and said “we didn’t know what we didn’t know about Australia”. I had never heard that phrasing before and thought that was pretty cool and that these Korean chaps were pretty switched on. Nowadays, I realise how dangerous that “we don’t know, what we don’t know” business is in commerce and especially in leadership. Shocking statistics emerged from a recent research piece we did on engagement in companies across 15 countries. Respondents who had answered that they were “very satisfied” with their immediate supervisor, I would have expected were also among the most highly engaged staff in those companies we surveyed. If my staff said they were “very satisfied” with me as their leader, I would be pretty chipper and upbeat about what a legend of leadership I was. Unfortunately, when we correlated that group’s answers with other questions, we found that 13% who said they were “very satisfied” were actually actively disengaged. This means that we don’t know, what we don’t know about our staff’s commitment and big time. The survey was one of those tricky ones, where you have choose between two attractive answers, to really flush out what you think. When asked to choose between these statements about “which supervisor behaviour is more likely to inspire and motivate you to give your best at work”, they had to select from a leader who A, “is satisfied as long as I display competence in my defined role” and B, “a leader who encourages me and makes me believe in my ability to improve”. Interestingly, 84% of respondents chose B. As the leader, we might have been thinking that as long as we let them get on with their doing their job well, they will be highly engaged. With people working from home, we can tend to leave people to get on with it and expect they will act professionally and pump out the work. This survey tells us we have to be better in communicating our belief in them and create an environment where they can grow and demonstrate we are committed to their growth. Loads of apple pie and motherhood statements in there, but the critical question is “fine, but are you doing it?”. The next question was either A, “recognises improvement only with tangible rewards” or B, “praises me for any performance improvement I make”. The respondents voted for B to the tune of 83%. Are we as leaders thinking that bonuses, pay rises, perks, etc., are the key to gaining higher commitment and therefore better performance? The result would suggest that our communication skills are going to be very important. Often we will praise people at the end of a project or at the completion of a process. In fact, we should be handing out praise all the way through the completion of the project and not just at the end. It also means we are looking for opportunities to praise rather than just correct. When we don’t see our people anymore, because they are working from home, we need to be more vigilant about recognising their work and giving them praise. A third interesting response was to this choice, A, “makes sure I know how to do the work in advance” or B, “points out my mistakes in a tactful/indirect way”. In 78% of cases they went for B. This is always a difficult area when it comes to dealing with mistakes. The traditional Japanese leader technique is just to scream abuse at the culprit, in front of everyone, so that the rest of the team get the idea that we don’t tolerate mistakes around here. The response shows that we need to be very judicious about how we handle errors. A holier than thou attitude certainly won’t cut it. Nor will “I never make mistakes”. We need to begin by admitting that though we are the leader, we are also fallible and we can empathise with them, when there has been a mistake. Actually, it is a handy reminder to consid

12 MIN2 w ago
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370: How Leaders Can Do A Better Job Of Engaging Their Staff

369: How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part Three

In Part Two we have looked at getting engagement, having transparency and the impact of tech. One issue can be the lack of means to measure whether what the big bosses are saying is actually happening or not. The Culture Champions do measure and track progress, so that they can correct issues. These can be staff anonymous postings on speciality externally hosted third party sites, that allow the team to freely talk about problems with no fear of attribution. Staff satisfaction and engagement surveys also work. In the old days, these used to be every couple of years, but in some cases companies are doing light versions every quarter. When Covid-19 settles down, we are all returning to back to the War for Talent. Recruit and retain will again become major concerns of the organisation’s leaders. An attractive culture is a strong enabler in being successful in this regard. How will you fare in this talent grab scrap? The research we did was interesting, because even though the Culture Champions and the rest, both said that culture is a priority, 95% of the Culture Champions compared to 75% of the rest, recognised it had a strong impact on engagement. Mystifyingly, only 72% of the rest, compared to 91% of the Culture Champions connected the importance of employee engagement to achieving strong financial performance. In fact, regarding the connection of culture to delivering financial performance, only 62% of the rest thought it had a strong impact, compared to 89% of the Culture Champions. How about at your firm? Are your leaders making a connection between the company culture and engagement and between engagement and financial performance? The Culture Champions, when considering why they had a strong corporate culture, attributed it to creating a strong customer focus (52%), developing and maintaining trust in the leadership (46%), providing corporate training (46%) and providing a clear strategy and goals (44%). If we compared the priorities of your own organisation, how important would these elements be and to what extent do you think you can create a strong corporate culture without them? Are you taking action to improve your company’s culture? In the example of the Culture Champions, they reported in the survey that 86% had taken recent, specific measures to improve it whereas only 63% of the rest had done so. As dale Carnegie said, “knowledge is not power until it is applied”. After absorbing the results of this global survey are you going to apply the results to build your own company’s culture? There were four clear steps for the C-Suite leaders to work on, as a result of the research findings. Ensure there is a broad understanding of the financial impact of culture amongst the senior leaders. Clarify whether the leadership team truly believes in the value of an engaging culture. Check to what regard the leadership team has a firm grip on the current state of the organisation’s culture. Explore how the current culture aligns with the challenges of Covid-19 and are there any changes to be made? For the HR professionals, there is a lot of work to do. Are your current initiatives reinforcing or eroding the corporate culture you are trying to create? What are you doing to strengthen the culture you want and eliminate the aspects you don’t want? Have you developed any culture metrics? Do you hold the leaders accountable for the culture of the organisation? Are your own HR colleagues fully bought into these ideas? Are your training and HR policies strengthening the culture? These are weighty matters and I repeat this insight, “As much as half of the difference in operating profit between organisations can be attributed to effective cultures”. That gets my attention, I can tell you. It is obvious we should all join the ranks of the Culture Champions on the sunny uplands and let our competitors get stuck down there, fighting it out with each other in the mud and the blood.

11 MIN3 w ago
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369: How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part Three

368: How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part Two

How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part Two In Part One, we have looked at how to identify the culture in the organisation and if it is a keeper, the numerous obstacles to maintaining that culture. In this instalment we look at what the best in class companies are doing about building an unbeatable culture. Our proprietary research showed that for all companies the main challenge to both creating and maintaining positive culture was the pressure to produce results. This makes sense, because all of those high-falutin words coming out of the C-Suite, tend to evaporate by the time they loft down to the engine room and the down and dirty world of revenue production tends to take over everyone’s concentration. Saying you believe something is easy, but losing money to show you believe it, now that takes a lot more courage. In the good times, your CEO airily says cool stuff like, “Our staff are our most valuable resource”, “Our most important assets go down the elevator every evening”. This is very hip. However, when Covid-19 pops up on the radar, senior management immediately furlough many of those loyal, hardworking staff, because they are worried about damaging shareholder value and keeping their own job. What happened at your company? Were people instantly thrown overboard, to protect owner wealth or did you burn cash to keep the herd intact? When this type of dilemma arises, you find out the true value system of your leaders and the integrity of your culture. The second highest challenge was workplace transparency. Here the gap between the best performing Culture Champion workplaces and the rest was quite large. The champions registered 44% as a challenge, compared to only 27% for the rest. The top performing Culture Champions recognised this was an issue, that needed to be dealt with. Aspiring to a positive and great culture means being a lot more open with the staff. This is inclusive rather than exclusive thinking in action. Employees feel both trusted and valued, when they are told what is going on. Would you say the leaders in your company are open and transparent? This doesn't have to be a reactive process. There is an opportunity for the top leadership to be proactive about being transparent. They can be open, honest and willing to communicate both the good and bad news, as they explain their actions. Is this what happens in your organisation? Or is the good news trotted out and celebrated widely, while the bad news is quietly taken out the back and garrotted? Is the leadership walking the talk? The other push for transparency comes from the front line. Today, employees have a lot of access to information. The CEO gives a presentation at a Town Hall or via video broadcast and this goes out directly to the troops, with no filter. Matrix organisations also provide opportunities to access information from colleagues scattered around the firm and from a variety of managers, beyond your immediate supervisor. The old days of the Middle Managers monopolising information, to maintain their position power, has been undone to a great extent. At your firm, are the Middle Managers conduits of what is going on, happily sharing the news from the upper echelons or are they like squirrels, busily hoarding the news, to maintain their power over everyone? The advance of tech has also challenged the transparency of companies and the alignment of what they say with what they actually do. The Marketing Department and the Investor Relations Department, put out a beautiful version on what is happening within the firm. However, online forums will have insider information coming from current or former employees, which cannot be controlled by the company’s propaganda machine. If you want to know what is going on in your company, a quick search on social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook will also be revealing. Strong employee culture expectation are very much about “don’t tell me what you did for me yesterday, te

10 MINJUL 15
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368: How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part Two

367: How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part One

How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part One Harvard Emeritus Professor James Heskett’s comparative study of the impact culture has on corporate financial performance was shocking. He found that “as much as half of the difference in operating profit between organisations can be attributed to effective culture”. Half, wow. Now that is a big impact point, especially when we are talking operating profit rather than just gross revenues. What is going on here? Corporate culture is like a glue that holds everything together. It impacts the formation of the strategy, how decisions are taken and followed, clarity around the WHY, respect for those at the top and how customers are thought about and therefore how they are treated. Edgar Schein’s famous study of organisational culture identified how to uncover your existing culture. If you have a great culture, a so so culture or an underperforming culture, how would you know that in detail and where should you look. He found there were three levels of observable culture. Artifacts describe the layout, the furniture used, the dress code etc. Espoused Values are those rules around behaviour, and how the team represents the organisation to each other and to those outside. This will easily be found in the Vision, Mission and Value Statements gathering dust on the wall. The degree to which the team’s behaviours match the aspirations captured on glass protected, beautifully framed, parchment paper says everything about the culture and the people. Shared Basic Assumptions was his third indicator. These are the deeply embedded, taken for granted, this is how we roll around here, approaches on the part of the team. Toxic cultures are easy to spot. Widespread distrust, no accountability, depressing negativity, lack of a clear strategy, finger pointing, blame shifting, infighting and greasy pole climbing internal corporate politicians running amok. What about the rest of corporate humanity? What then is a good culture, apart from being the opposite of this tawdry lot of refuse dwelling, disease infested rats in the system? Actually there is no one size fits all solution in play here. It depends on a number of factors to do with the environment in which the firm operates. Following on from Charles Darwin’s ideas about adaption to survive as a species, there may be adaptions of culture in organisations which enable them to thrive in the environment in which they find themselves. It might mean being highly competitive internally or highly collaborative, incredibly creative or enforcing razor sharp discipline, etc. Even if you have plumbed a culture that really works for you, it is devilishly hard to maintain it. Past success promotes self propelling inertia. Covid 19 has shaken everything up and requires changes, but the organisation is stuck in ways which are familiar and which worked just fine in the past. They just can’t make the needed changes. This is especially tricky here in the Japan, the risk aversion epicenter of the Universe. Mergers and acquisitions rarely work and the most common reason is the disparate cultures can’t blend well enough together. The bigger player flexes their muscles and enforces their culture. The junior partner either collapses, as the best people depart or they descend into an internal guerrilla war against the invaders. Diverse Societal Cultures revolves round different ways of thinking , conflicting value systems, and expectations. The greenhorn gaijin CEO arriving in Japan, pre-briefed and recently instructed to shake things up and get these folks to fly straight, like everyone back home, is unknowingly on a kamikaze mission of self-destruction and folly. Leadership changes are such a huge factor in culture change. Never throw your strategy plans away, because every five years the CEO will change and that work you did previously, that has been shelved, will now be in demand. If it was consolidation, centralisation and discipline before, it is now

10 MINJUL 8
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367: How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part One

366: Leadership For Sales Managers In The Online World

Sales Leadership For The Online World Covid-19 hit business in Japan like a brick thown through a shop window. All of a sudden everything was a mess and there were glass shards, dangerously sprinkled around everywhere. We were all tiptoeing around trying to find a safe way through this catastrophe. Companies were upended and people were vanquished to their rabbit hutch homes to conduct business from there. Commerce ground to a halt, as we went into lockdown. Toilet paper, rice, pasta and Zoom licenses were selling well, but for most of us, things came to crashing halt. In this scramble to adjust to the new situation, sales leaders were struggling to handle the new working conditions, themselves now sharing a small space at home with the spouse and kids. Most Japanese bosses were not familiar with the new technology, so there was a period where a lot of energy had to be invested to learn how to connect using the new medium with the team. The first thing we all found was that communication was much harder. We discovered that coordination of things in the office was a breeze – a simple, efficient, painless process. Being remote from everyone, suddenly made coordinating things much more complex and time inefficient. The scramble to re-ignite revenue streams also meant we started short circuiting our communication. “When we will that deal get paid”, “What’s happening with this client”, “What are you doing about your sales funnel, it looks light and low?”. We became demanders and order giving bosses, instead of leaders. Language is so much more important in the remote world. We have to embrace that timeless wisdom from sales guru Brian Tracy when he said, “Remember, everyone you meet in life is carrying a heavy load”. The exodus to the home office, which for many meant the kitchen table, has been stressful. Our team are all carrying many varieties of heavy loads. They can’t concentrate at home, because their family are making a lot of noise. They are having trouble contacting existing clients, because they are also under stress and are at home too. They can’t attend networking events anymore to find new clients. Cold calling hasn't gotten any easier in lockdown. Engaging our sales staff to keep going hard despite the difficulties has three elements and one huge trigger. Their relationship with you, the boss, is number one. Are you speaking to them from an empathetic standpoint or are you just shouting out urgent commands from the bridge, like a pirate captain under enemy fire. What about their belief in the way senior management are handling this economic disruption? They will have worries. Are we going to run out of cash and go under? Will people start getting fired? Will I be furloughed home for months with no pay? What has been the communication flow from on high and from you, about the strategy for dealing with this crisis, the financial stability of the firm and the company’s prospects for the future? Do they still feel pride in the company? Have the internal levels of sectional infighting, blame shifting, finger pointing and political manoeuvring reached radioactive levels? As the boss have you grouped the team together to fight against the external threat of Covid-19 and united everyone to crush your weakened competitors? The biggie in gaining team engagement is that people have a sense that you care about them and they are valued. This feeling valued component encourages their confidence and empowers them. This is where boss communication skills are so critical. When we contact our people, are we spending some time to connect with them on a personal level, empathise with how they are feeling and telling them that we value them in this company. Or are we straight into interrogating them about their numbers? Before Covid-19, none of us were having a happy time recruiting sales staff, especially those with good English. The danger now is that through errors in leadership, we start seeing our good people leave and join

10 MINJUN 29
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366: Leadership For Sales Managers In The Online World

365: Back To The Future At The Workplace

Back To The Future At The Workplace Let’s presume you have all of the safety protocols in place for providing a safe working environment. How do we co-exist with Covid-19, while gathering together back at the workplace? Human interaction is definitely something that many people long for after months of working from home. Yes, there were the online catch ups, maybe even virtual lunches, coffee breaks and happy hours, but it has not quite been the same. It doesn’t mean everyone has to rush back to the workplace though. There may be some people who are better off continuing to work from home, so organisational flexibility is the key. In fact we must now question the logic of some of our workflows. This deadly virus may have also been deadly for workplace inertia. Pre-Covid-19,we just did things a particular way, because that is how it has always been done around here. Sharing our lock down lives is a good way of bonding the returning team together. With appropriate social distancing, get together in workgroups and share with each other how each of us found it. What was good, what was difficult, what was different? This sharing might have to be done in relatively small groups, for better safety considerations, but certainly make the time to do it. We can also spend some designated time together thinking about were there particular things we found while working from home, that could be introduced into a new style of working together. Hataraki Kaikaku or the workstyle reform is now well and truly upon us, rather than just being some speculative musing. Things we had previously thought to introduce, but delayed, actually happened at lightening speed. Things we thought impossible, became commonplace. Maybe we don’t need to commute at the same time, every day, anymore. Maybe, we don’t need as much paper flitting from desk to desk. Perhaps our electronic approval systems need a permanent upgrade. Do we still need a hanko seal for documents? We have some clients who ask us to send them the physical copy of the hanko imbedded electronic invoice. We walk over to the photocopier, print it out and then send it by post - quite crazy! The virus won’t cease to be an issue until a vaccine is found, so coexistence is the best we can plan for at this moment. Well then, what should we be planning for? Rather than fighting the battles of the past, brainstorm these issues, engaging the team in order to move forward as a unit. Dale Carnegie said , “people support a world they help to create”. Getting people involved in the “design in” stage, makes the execution piece much quicker and easier. The client’s world has changed too, so how can we position ourselves to best serve clients in their new world of work? While everyone was sitting at home in isolation, the boss was forced to become a micro-manager, constantly checking on projects and shepherding overall coordination. The normal channels of good communication broke down and bigger efforts were required to do relatively simple things. Because of this, during team separation, individuals had to be delegated more authority to make decisions. Now the boss has to be very careful about simply transporting this micromanaging “temporary” fix back into the re-imagined workplace. A lot of things have changed. Individuals who have stepped up and taken the lead, need to be recognised and encouraged, by giving them more responsibilities. The boss can’t keep doing micro-management. The leader needs to get back working on those tasks, that only the boss can do. These are the most high level tasks, that bring the most value, as opposed to the detritus that normally consumes the daily schedule. Charles Darwin didn’t talk about the survival of the strongest. He talked about the superiority of those species which could best adapt to change, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”. Covid-19 is a change that will be with us for a

11 MINJUN 24
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365: Back To The Future At The Workplace

364: The Great Safe Return To The Workplace Caper In Japan

The Great “Safe” Return To The Workplace In Japan Congratulations on escaping the Covid-19 virus by staying safe and working from home. We all want to see our businesses succeed and we all want to stay healthy. If it is time now to go back to the workplace, understand that there will be members of the team, who are concerned about their continued safety. As the boss, you have a responsibility to ensure a safe working environment for the team. Here are some things for everyone to think about. We all have to learn how to co-exist with Covid-19, so why try and replicate the old work style? Avoiding crowded transport and elevators are smart ideas. Try working from home in the morning, go in a bit later to the office to avoid the crowds and do the same thing by leaving earlier than normal. When you get back home continue working. Yes, it may mean continuing to work after 5.00pm or 6.00pm, but this is the trade off, for coexisting with the virus. You will get the same amount of work done in a day spread out over more extended hours. We all need to be more flexible about developing a new work rhythm. Why not check your own temperature at home before you leave, to be certain you are no risk to colleagues at the office. This takes about two minutes, so it is manageable, even for busy people. Avoid all surfaces when you are outside like stair or escalator handrails, subways straps and posts, elevator and vending machine buttons, etc. Wearing gloves outside makes a lot of sense, in addition to a face mask and maybe a face shield where appropriate. Directly touching others through handshakes, fist bumps, hands on the shoulder, pats on the back, high fives etc., are obviously now out, so bowing will be a much better alternative. We need to rethink how we work in the office. Does everyone really have to be there every day? Why not have teams permanently rotate. On certain days, some staff will go to the office while the others work from home. The so-called A Team and B Team interchange. Maybe Fridays is the day for everyone to work from home? Hold stand up meetings at the office to make them shorter and allow proper social distancing rules to apply. Do we actually need to meet together in person. Could we be in the office at our desks and still meet online? Certainly have coffee breaks together to catch up on what has been happening in our lives, but always use social distancing. Everyone can have their own cup, so there is no need to share any crockery any more. Masks and face shields are good ideas when we are gathered together and by making it a common rule, no one feels weird or out of place. Clear plexiglass barriers between seats makes sense. If reintroducing individual cubicles and offices makes more sense than open plan arrangements, then we are all going back to the future! Reduce the amount of paper which needs to be circulated by hand. What about “handing over meishi”? Is this now a thing of the past? Can we connect electronically? Anyone remember “Bump”, a discontinued app which electronically exchanged our business contact details on the spot at a networking event? There are several apps such as iCheck, Camcard, PiQy, Eight, and Shoot which may get a new lease of life now. Anyway, let’s make greater use of electronic document sharing and do all of our approvals on-line. Enforce best practice hygiene standards. We are continuously reminded to avoid touching our faces, eyes, noses and mouths, because this is how we get absorb the virus. Easy to proclaim, but not so easy to do. Regularly washing our hands with soap throughout the day, for twenty seconds, including the areas under the fingernails, between the fingers and up to the wrist are best practice. Soap breaks apart the container that holds the virus and then the virus is then washed away. Use a paper towel to dry your hands and turn the water faucet off with that paper towel as well. Also we should use hand sanitiser. With your colleagues, allocate teams throughou

17 MINJUN 17
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364: The Great Safe Return To The Workplace Caper In Japan

363: Seize The Moment With Your Leader Storytelling

Seize The Moment With Your Leader Storytelling Covid-19 has changed the world from a personal health risk point of view and has also trashed industries, careers and livelihoods. This is not the time for leaders to be simple observers of the meltdown, but to be collectors of stories from the devastation and the rising phoenixes. These stories can be for those “rallying the troops” moments or for public consumption in the wider world, as you detail your organisation’s saga. This crisis has a lot of dramatic tension bound within it, which lends itself to great storytelling material. So let’s make the effort to carefully collar what is going on around us. Typical business storytelling will have the hero’s journey and the trials, tribulations and triumphs therein. If this isn’t a time of trials and tribulations and hopefully, triumphant organisational survival, then I don’t know what is. It is easy in theory, but harder in practice. We can be swept up in the maelstrom of each day’s specific challenges and not be awake to the legendary dramas being played out around us and to us. We must embrace these stories, because they will be the source of powerful memories and emotional connections for many people in the audience. In the Covid-19 catastrophe, the heroes come under tremendous stress and strain. The opposition, obstacles, threats and their own personal frailties are all exposed. The heroes set about ensuring survival of the business. They gradually turn the problem around, as rivals beside them succumb and go into ignominious, commercial oblivion. We need to be keeping track of these exploits for future storytelling reference. The daily newspaper is full of stories every morning, but it ends up ferrying the fish bones and potato peelings to the trash can. We need a more permanent snare of what has taken place, day by day. Within the team, there are those who have stepped up and carried the banner aloft under tremendous pressure. We can’t let those efforts go unrecorded and just be allowed to join the forgotten fishbones and carrot peelings. We need to be creating the narrative arc of the journey, as the heroes learn and innovate as they push forward. They take blind alleys and make choices that don’t work out, but these tough times add to the credibility of the story in the retelling. The higher the walls in front of the team, the greater kudos for managing to scramble over the top and keep moving. The bigger the failures, the larger and more valuable the lessons in the recounting. Audience emotional resonance with the heroes is relatively easy, because this virus enemy is instantaneously threatening the whole planet. Everyone will remember what they were doing, how they were feeling, the losses suffered, the drama, the dangers and the close calls. Those listening to your story will quickly identify with the struggle and the people involved, becoming engaged in a way that is usually very hard to achieve. Cause and effect is how we define what we know to be true in the world. This thing happened and set off this reaction, which led to this outcome, involving these people. The leader’s job is to refine our understanding of what has been happening and why we are getting the outcomes we have been seeing. This needs intellectual, analytical work. Written records, observations, snippets of dialogue, blogs, podcasts, video records all become the historic archive needed by the leader. It sounds easy enough to do, except when you are in the middle of the disaster, it is hard to distance yourself from the business carnage going On around you. Nevertheless, the lessons being learnt need capture, the stories involved need to be told, the examples must be assembled and the raw emotion of today conveyed. Covid-19 is throwing up the material for a billion blogs and thousands of scholarly tomes on leadership. We are in the moment. We are the wartime correspondents, capturing what it is really like in the front line and understanding h

10 MINJUN 10
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363: Seize The Moment With Your Leader Storytelling

362: Social Intelligence For Leaders In Covid-19

Social Intelligence For Leaders In Covid-19 We admire people with very high IQs, as badges of intellectual prowess. Members of Mensa International are an elite group established in 1946, for people who scored in the ninety-eight percentile or higher in the standardised IQ test. We respect technical experts be they lawyers, medicos, engineers, architects, etc. The thing we desire most is that we be treated well by our boss, Mensa reject or otherwise. Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman was a bestseller and we would all prefer that our employers be people who voraciously devoured the gospel according to Goleman, chapter and verse. The obvious things for leaders are often subsumed by society’s devotion to brainpower. Having social intelligence means being able to get on well with all sorts of other people. It means being the boss the team would crawl across a mile of broken glass for. How do we up the ante on our social intelligence? We need to invest time in relationships. Too obvious you cry. Really? Busy bosses can be consumed by email, meetings, reporting to the upper echelon and trying to juggle their family responsibilities. In this melee of desired outcomes, the time for the team gets siphoned off and consumed by other competing requirements. If you want a reality check, then just grab your diary and look at how much time you are spending with the individuals in your team. Zoom, WebEx, Teams, etc., based broadcasts to the whole team are absolutely counted as the bare minimum, but do not rate a high score of investing in relationships with individual members of the team. We need to be having one on one online meetings or appropriately socially distant conversations with members of the team and showing our genuine interest in their well being. Imagining people are goofing off at home and calling them, to call them out on it, is ridiculous in this environment. Social intelligence means assuming everyone is hurting and carrying a heavy load, as they try to jam the square peg into the round hole offered up by Covid-19. We have transplanted people into their home environments and tried to fool everyone into believing this is now a viable working pod. Kids spiralling out of control while cooped up at home, no proper place to work in the rabbit hutch, that is the urban existence for most Japanese members of staff and this group oriented tribe is now imprisoned in imposed isolation. A boss with a supremely high IQ isn’t much help in this situation. We need our boss to feel genuine care about us. One of the ways to do this as the boss is to truly listen. Most of us breeze through life powered by the twin carburettors of the “ignore” and “selective” listening skill categories. “I don’t ignore my people”, you wail in the background. Really? When they are speaking and your brain suddenly populates a strong thought about something you need to say or a burning comment you must make, invariably you are now single tasking rather than multitasking and have lost the concentration on what your team member was saying. In effect you have ignored them to concentrate on yourself and your soon to be sallied forth brilliant intervention. Selective listening is slightly more human relations hygienic, but again we are searching for what we want to hear, rather than hearing our people in the entirety of what they want to say. Respecting people’s opinions is another one of those motherhood statements we all solemnly overlook, because it is in plain sight and not even hiding. Busy bosses though are now working harder and longer than before. The Covid-19 work day is much harder, as we struggle to coordinate things amongst our team. We are baffled by the balance needed between delegation and anarchy. We have to give people free rein in order to get things done, but they are adventurous and take things in directions we would never have imagined, let along anticipated. We can quickly find ourselves extinguishing the spark of originality and c

11 MINJUN 3
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362: Social Intelligence For Leaders In Covid-19

Latest Episodes

371: Furloughs And Firings Trigger Fear and Loathing Toward Leaders

Leaders do dumb things and sometimes they have to do difficult things. The line between which is which can sometimes be a bit hard to plumb. I clearly remember the senior bosses coming back from a boozy weekend offsite, embraced with the idea that we, the great unwashed salespeople, would identify the top guns working for our rivals, so that the firm could recruit them. What could possibly be wrong with this idea, in an industry that rapidly hires in market upswings and ruthlessly cuts staff in the downturns? Shareholder value in the US is another serious thing. Quarterly earnings reports are weighty matters, which drives leader behaviours in directions you just have to shake your head at. Capitalism gone mad in many cases. Fortunately, for most of the world, this lunacy has been restrained to some degree. Downturns turn out badly for employees. Lofty rhetoric is tossed aside and “thoughts and prayers” becomes the common lament, as they toss you out on your ear. The survivors are taking all of this in very granularly. They know, “but for the grace of God, there go I” – out the door. The lulls between the downturns and firings, saps the general despair toward the hypocrisy, as everyone gradually gets back to business. Deep down though, there is always that distrust of leaders. Now, here you are, a thrusting leader in the making or at the helm already, fervently devouring Harvard Business Review articles on how to engage your people. We teach an excellent programme called Step Up To Leadership and one of the modules deals with the issue that you, the new leader, should not imagine that what drives you drives your team members. They have different aspirations and goals and you cannot overlay your world view on to them and expect everyone to be happy, happy. This gap between actual motivators and the boss dispensed version is rife throughout the hierarchy of the organisation. In a global survey we conducted across 15 countries, we found there were some particular areas where team member expectations were mismatched with boss outputs. When we surveyed the top leadership, 86% sternly pronounced that respecting people’s opinions was important to inspiring people to do their best work. When we surveyed those being bossed around, we found a 28% gap in their observation of what the boss was actually doing. Think about your own case. In a busy world, especially now that we are locked away from each other at home or only half of the team are turning up on any given day, how good a job do you do seeking opinions? You may be a legend of handing out orders to solves issues, a firefighter without peer, but how good are your listening skills? Big bosses in 85% of cases said giving sincere appreciation was motivating for the troops. The troops however identified a 36% performance gap in this arena. “Good job” is crap, as far as giving appreciation goes. “Well done” is another meaningless piece of drivel, often shovelled out by supervisors, imagining they are successfully recognising their people. By the way, is this you? Here is a four step process, that should be the default for all bosses. Firstly, thank them, “Yamazaki san, I really appreciate your hard work”. Next, tell them exactly which part of their work was done well, “Your report was excellent, the analysis clear and succinctly explained, I could get the key points immediately”. Now, explain the value of what they are doing, “You saved me a lot of time and that means that I can work on the other high level things we need to get done around here. This will help us to move forward faster than our competitors”. Now, encourage them to keep it up, “Please keep making this type of contribution to the firm, it makes a big difference and we really appreciate you”. The biggest gap in the self delusion department was over admitting when you are wrong. Among the bosses, 81% thought this was important to motivate the people. The people however said in 41% of cases that didn’t happen suff

12 MIN1 w ago
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371: Furloughs And Firings Trigger Fear and Loathing Toward Leaders

370: How Leaders Can Do A Better Job Of Engaging Their Staff

Many decades ago, I remember a visiting Korean business delegation coming to my home town of Brisbane. At the end of the day, in thanking us for being their hosts, the leaders noted it was very valuable visit and said “we didn’t know what we didn’t know about Australia”. I had never heard that phrasing before and thought that was pretty cool and that these Korean chaps were pretty switched on. Nowadays, I realise how dangerous that “we don’t know, what we don’t know” business is in commerce and especially in leadership. Shocking statistics emerged from a recent research piece we did on engagement in companies across 15 countries. Respondents who had answered that they were “very satisfied” with their immediate supervisor, I would have expected were also among the most highly engaged staff in those companies we surveyed. If my staff said they were “very satisfied” with me as their leader, I would be pretty chipper and upbeat about what a legend of leadership I was. Unfortunately, when we correlated that group’s answers with other questions, we found that 13% who said they were “very satisfied” were actually actively disengaged. This means that we don’t know, what we don’t know about our staff’s commitment and big time. The survey was one of those tricky ones, where you have choose between two attractive answers, to really flush out what you think. When asked to choose between these statements about “which supervisor behaviour is more likely to inspire and motivate you to give your best at work”, they had to select from a leader who A, “is satisfied as long as I display competence in my defined role” and B, “a leader who encourages me and makes me believe in my ability to improve”. Interestingly, 84% of respondents chose B. As the leader, we might have been thinking that as long as we let them get on with their doing their job well, they will be highly engaged. With people working from home, we can tend to leave people to get on with it and expect they will act professionally and pump out the work. This survey tells us we have to be better in communicating our belief in them and create an environment where they can grow and demonstrate we are committed to their growth. Loads of apple pie and motherhood statements in there, but the critical question is “fine, but are you doing it?”. The next question was either A, “recognises improvement only with tangible rewards” or B, “praises me for any performance improvement I make”. The respondents voted for B to the tune of 83%. Are we as leaders thinking that bonuses, pay rises, perks, etc., are the key to gaining higher commitment and therefore better performance? The result would suggest that our communication skills are going to be very important. Often we will praise people at the end of a project or at the completion of a process. In fact, we should be handing out praise all the way through the completion of the project and not just at the end. It also means we are looking for opportunities to praise rather than just correct. When we don’t see our people anymore, because they are working from home, we need to be more vigilant about recognising their work and giving them praise. A third interesting response was to this choice, A, “makes sure I know how to do the work in advance” or B, “points out my mistakes in a tactful/indirect way”. In 78% of cases they went for B. This is always a difficult area when it comes to dealing with mistakes. The traditional Japanese leader technique is just to scream abuse at the culprit, in front of everyone, so that the rest of the team get the idea that we don’t tolerate mistakes around here. The response shows that we need to be very judicious about how we handle errors. A holier than thou attitude certainly won’t cut it. Nor will “I never make mistakes”. We need to begin by admitting that though we are the leader, we are also fallible and we can empathise with them, when there has been a mistake. Actually, it is a handy reminder to consid

12 MIN2 w ago
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370: How Leaders Can Do A Better Job Of Engaging Their Staff

369: How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part Three

In Part Two we have looked at getting engagement, having transparency and the impact of tech. One issue can be the lack of means to measure whether what the big bosses are saying is actually happening or not. The Culture Champions do measure and track progress, so that they can correct issues. These can be staff anonymous postings on speciality externally hosted third party sites, that allow the team to freely talk about problems with no fear of attribution. Staff satisfaction and engagement surveys also work. In the old days, these used to be every couple of years, but in some cases companies are doing light versions every quarter. When Covid-19 settles down, we are all returning to back to the War for Talent. Recruit and retain will again become major concerns of the organisation’s leaders. An attractive culture is a strong enabler in being successful in this regard. How will you fare in this talent grab scrap? The research we did was interesting, because even though the Culture Champions and the rest, both said that culture is a priority, 95% of the Culture Champions compared to 75% of the rest, recognised it had a strong impact on engagement. Mystifyingly, only 72% of the rest, compared to 91% of the Culture Champions connected the importance of employee engagement to achieving strong financial performance. In fact, regarding the connection of culture to delivering financial performance, only 62% of the rest thought it had a strong impact, compared to 89% of the Culture Champions. How about at your firm? Are your leaders making a connection between the company culture and engagement and between engagement and financial performance? The Culture Champions, when considering why they had a strong corporate culture, attributed it to creating a strong customer focus (52%), developing and maintaining trust in the leadership (46%), providing corporate training (46%) and providing a clear strategy and goals (44%). If we compared the priorities of your own organisation, how important would these elements be and to what extent do you think you can create a strong corporate culture without them? Are you taking action to improve your company’s culture? In the example of the Culture Champions, they reported in the survey that 86% had taken recent, specific measures to improve it whereas only 63% of the rest had done so. As dale Carnegie said, “knowledge is not power until it is applied”. After absorbing the results of this global survey are you going to apply the results to build your own company’s culture? There were four clear steps for the C-Suite leaders to work on, as a result of the research findings. Ensure there is a broad understanding of the financial impact of culture amongst the senior leaders. Clarify whether the leadership team truly believes in the value of an engaging culture. Check to what regard the leadership team has a firm grip on the current state of the organisation’s culture. Explore how the current culture aligns with the challenges of Covid-19 and are there any changes to be made? For the HR professionals, there is a lot of work to do. Are your current initiatives reinforcing or eroding the corporate culture you are trying to create? What are you doing to strengthen the culture you want and eliminate the aspects you don’t want? Have you developed any culture metrics? Do you hold the leaders accountable for the culture of the organisation? Are your own HR colleagues fully bought into these ideas? Are your training and HR policies strengthening the culture? These are weighty matters and I repeat this insight, “As much as half of the difference in operating profit between organisations can be attributed to effective cultures”. That gets my attention, I can tell you. It is obvious we should all join the ranks of the Culture Champions on the sunny uplands and let our competitors get stuck down there, fighting it out with each other in the mud and the blood.

11 MIN3 w ago
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369: How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part Three

368: How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part Two

How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part Two In Part One, we have looked at how to identify the culture in the organisation and if it is a keeper, the numerous obstacles to maintaining that culture. In this instalment we look at what the best in class companies are doing about building an unbeatable culture. Our proprietary research showed that for all companies the main challenge to both creating and maintaining positive culture was the pressure to produce results. This makes sense, because all of those high-falutin words coming out of the C-Suite, tend to evaporate by the time they loft down to the engine room and the down and dirty world of revenue production tends to take over everyone’s concentration. Saying you believe something is easy, but losing money to show you believe it, now that takes a lot more courage. In the good times, your CEO airily says cool stuff like, “Our staff are our most valuable resource”, “Our most important assets go down the elevator every evening”. This is very hip. However, when Covid-19 pops up on the radar, senior management immediately furlough many of those loyal, hardworking staff, because they are worried about damaging shareholder value and keeping their own job. What happened at your company? Were people instantly thrown overboard, to protect owner wealth or did you burn cash to keep the herd intact? When this type of dilemma arises, you find out the true value system of your leaders and the integrity of your culture. The second highest challenge was workplace transparency. Here the gap between the best performing Culture Champion workplaces and the rest was quite large. The champions registered 44% as a challenge, compared to only 27% for the rest. The top performing Culture Champions recognised this was an issue, that needed to be dealt with. Aspiring to a positive and great culture means being a lot more open with the staff. This is inclusive rather than exclusive thinking in action. Employees feel both trusted and valued, when they are told what is going on. Would you say the leaders in your company are open and transparent? This doesn't have to be a reactive process. There is an opportunity for the top leadership to be proactive about being transparent. They can be open, honest and willing to communicate both the good and bad news, as they explain their actions. Is this what happens in your organisation? Or is the good news trotted out and celebrated widely, while the bad news is quietly taken out the back and garrotted? Is the leadership walking the talk? The other push for transparency comes from the front line. Today, employees have a lot of access to information. The CEO gives a presentation at a Town Hall or via video broadcast and this goes out directly to the troops, with no filter. Matrix organisations also provide opportunities to access information from colleagues scattered around the firm and from a variety of managers, beyond your immediate supervisor. The old days of the Middle Managers monopolising information, to maintain their position power, has been undone to a great extent. At your firm, are the Middle Managers conduits of what is going on, happily sharing the news from the upper echelons or are they like squirrels, busily hoarding the news, to maintain their power over everyone? The advance of tech has also challenged the transparency of companies and the alignment of what they say with what they actually do. The Marketing Department and the Investor Relations Department, put out a beautiful version on what is happening within the firm. However, online forums will have insider information coming from current or former employees, which cannot be controlled by the company’s propaganda machine. If you want to know what is going on in your company, a quick search on social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook will also be revealing. Strong employee culture expectation are very much about “don’t tell me what you did for me yesterday, te

10 MINJUL 15
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368: How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part Two

367: How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part One

How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part One Harvard Emeritus Professor James Heskett’s comparative study of the impact culture has on corporate financial performance was shocking. He found that “as much as half of the difference in operating profit between organisations can be attributed to effective culture”. Half, wow. Now that is a big impact point, especially when we are talking operating profit rather than just gross revenues. What is going on here? Corporate culture is like a glue that holds everything together. It impacts the formation of the strategy, how decisions are taken and followed, clarity around the WHY, respect for those at the top and how customers are thought about and therefore how they are treated. Edgar Schein’s famous study of organisational culture identified how to uncover your existing culture. If you have a great culture, a so so culture or an underperforming culture, how would you know that in detail and where should you look. He found there were three levels of observable culture. Artifacts describe the layout, the furniture used, the dress code etc. Espoused Values are those rules around behaviour, and how the team represents the organisation to each other and to those outside. This will easily be found in the Vision, Mission and Value Statements gathering dust on the wall. The degree to which the team’s behaviours match the aspirations captured on glass protected, beautifully framed, parchment paper says everything about the culture and the people. Shared Basic Assumptions was his third indicator. These are the deeply embedded, taken for granted, this is how we roll around here, approaches on the part of the team. Toxic cultures are easy to spot. Widespread distrust, no accountability, depressing negativity, lack of a clear strategy, finger pointing, blame shifting, infighting and greasy pole climbing internal corporate politicians running amok. What about the rest of corporate humanity? What then is a good culture, apart from being the opposite of this tawdry lot of refuse dwelling, disease infested rats in the system? Actually there is no one size fits all solution in play here. It depends on a number of factors to do with the environment in which the firm operates. Following on from Charles Darwin’s ideas about adaption to survive as a species, there may be adaptions of culture in organisations which enable them to thrive in the environment in which they find themselves. It might mean being highly competitive internally or highly collaborative, incredibly creative or enforcing razor sharp discipline, etc. Even if you have plumbed a culture that really works for you, it is devilishly hard to maintain it. Past success promotes self propelling inertia. Covid 19 has shaken everything up and requires changes, but the organisation is stuck in ways which are familiar and which worked just fine in the past. They just can’t make the needed changes. This is especially tricky here in the Japan, the risk aversion epicenter of the Universe. Mergers and acquisitions rarely work and the most common reason is the disparate cultures can’t blend well enough together. The bigger player flexes their muscles and enforces their culture. The junior partner either collapses, as the best people depart or they descend into an internal guerrilla war against the invaders. Diverse Societal Cultures revolves round different ways of thinking , conflicting value systems, and expectations. The greenhorn gaijin CEO arriving in Japan, pre-briefed and recently instructed to shake things up and get these folks to fly straight, like everyone back home, is unknowingly on a kamikaze mission of self-destruction and folly. Leadership changes are such a huge factor in culture change. Never throw your strategy plans away, because every five years the CEO will change and that work you did previously, that has been shelved, will now be in demand. If it was consolidation, centralisation and discipline before, it is now

10 MINJUL 8
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367: How To Join The Culture Champion Workplaces – Part One

366: Leadership For Sales Managers In The Online World

Sales Leadership For The Online World Covid-19 hit business in Japan like a brick thown through a shop window. All of a sudden everything was a mess and there were glass shards, dangerously sprinkled around everywhere. We were all tiptoeing around trying to find a safe way through this catastrophe. Companies were upended and people were vanquished to their rabbit hutch homes to conduct business from there. Commerce ground to a halt, as we went into lockdown. Toilet paper, rice, pasta and Zoom licenses were selling well, but for most of us, things came to crashing halt. In this scramble to adjust to the new situation, sales leaders were struggling to handle the new working conditions, themselves now sharing a small space at home with the spouse and kids. Most Japanese bosses were not familiar with the new technology, so there was a period where a lot of energy had to be invested to learn how to connect using the new medium with the team. The first thing we all found was that communication was much harder. We discovered that coordination of things in the office was a breeze – a simple, efficient, painless process. Being remote from everyone, suddenly made coordinating things much more complex and time inefficient. The scramble to re-ignite revenue streams also meant we started short circuiting our communication. “When we will that deal get paid”, “What’s happening with this client”, “What are you doing about your sales funnel, it looks light and low?”. We became demanders and order giving bosses, instead of leaders. Language is so much more important in the remote world. We have to embrace that timeless wisdom from sales guru Brian Tracy when he said, “Remember, everyone you meet in life is carrying a heavy load”. The exodus to the home office, which for many meant the kitchen table, has been stressful. Our team are all carrying many varieties of heavy loads. They can’t concentrate at home, because their family are making a lot of noise. They are having trouble contacting existing clients, because they are also under stress and are at home too. They can’t attend networking events anymore to find new clients. Cold calling hasn't gotten any easier in lockdown. Engaging our sales staff to keep going hard despite the difficulties has three elements and one huge trigger. Their relationship with you, the boss, is number one. Are you speaking to them from an empathetic standpoint or are you just shouting out urgent commands from the bridge, like a pirate captain under enemy fire. What about their belief in the way senior management are handling this economic disruption? They will have worries. Are we going to run out of cash and go under? Will people start getting fired? Will I be furloughed home for months with no pay? What has been the communication flow from on high and from you, about the strategy for dealing with this crisis, the financial stability of the firm and the company’s prospects for the future? Do they still feel pride in the company? Have the internal levels of sectional infighting, blame shifting, finger pointing and political manoeuvring reached radioactive levels? As the boss have you grouped the team together to fight against the external threat of Covid-19 and united everyone to crush your weakened competitors? The biggie in gaining team engagement is that people have a sense that you care about them and they are valued. This feeling valued component encourages their confidence and empowers them. This is where boss communication skills are so critical. When we contact our people, are we spending some time to connect with them on a personal level, empathise with how they are feeling and telling them that we value them in this company. Or are we straight into interrogating them about their numbers? Before Covid-19, none of us were having a happy time recruiting sales staff, especially those with good English. The danger now is that through errors in leadership, we start seeing our good people leave and join

10 MINJUN 29
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366: Leadership For Sales Managers In The Online World

365: Back To The Future At The Workplace

Back To The Future At The Workplace Let’s presume you have all of the safety protocols in place for providing a safe working environment. How do we co-exist with Covid-19, while gathering together back at the workplace? Human interaction is definitely something that many people long for after months of working from home. Yes, there were the online catch ups, maybe even virtual lunches, coffee breaks and happy hours, but it has not quite been the same. It doesn’t mean everyone has to rush back to the workplace though. There may be some people who are better off continuing to work from home, so organisational flexibility is the key. In fact we must now question the logic of some of our workflows. This deadly virus may have also been deadly for workplace inertia. Pre-Covid-19,we just did things a particular way, because that is how it has always been done around here. Sharing our lock down lives is a good way of bonding the returning team together. With appropriate social distancing, get together in workgroups and share with each other how each of us found it. What was good, what was difficult, what was different? This sharing might have to be done in relatively small groups, for better safety considerations, but certainly make the time to do it. We can also spend some designated time together thinking about were there particular things we found while working from home, that could be introduced into a new style of working together. Hataraki Kaikaku or the workstyle reform is now well and truly upon us, rather than just being some speculative musing. Things we had previously thought to introduce, but delayed, actually happened at lightening speed. Things we thought impossible, became commonplace. Maybe we don’t need to commute at the same time, every day, anymore. Maybe, we don’t need as much paper flitting from desk to desk. Perhaps our electronic approval systems need a permanent upgrade. Do we still need a hanko seal for documents? We have some clients who ask us to send them the physical copy of the hanko imbedded electronic invoice. We walk over to the photocopier, print it out and then send it by post - quite crazy! The virus won’t cease to be an issue until a vaccine is found, so coexistence is the best we can plan for at this moment. Well then, what should we be planning for? Rather than fighting the battles of the past, brainstorm these issues, engaging the team in order to move forward as a unit. Dale Carnegie said , “people support a world they help to create”. Getting people involved in the “design in” stage, makes the execution piece much quicker and easier. The client’s world has changed too, so how can we position ourselves to best serve clients in their new world of work? While everyone was sitting at home in isolation, the boss was forced to become a micro-manager, constantly checking on projects and shepherding overall coordination. The normal channels of good communication broke down and bigger efforts were required to do relatively simple things. Because of this, during team separation, individuals had to be delegated more authority to make decisions. Now the boss has to be very careful about simply transporting this micromanaging “temporary” fix back into the re-imagined workplace. A lot of things have changed. Individuals who have stepped up and taken the lead, need to be recognised and encouraged, by giving them more responsibilities. The boss can’t keep doing micro-management. The leader needs to get back working on those tasks, that only the boss can do. These are the most high level tasks, that bring the most value, as opposed to the detritus that normally consumes the daily schedule. Charles Darwin didn’t talk about the survival of the strongest. He talked about the superiority of those species which could best adapt to change, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”. Covid-19 is a change that will be with us for a

11 MINJUN 24
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365: Back To The Future At The Workplace

364: The Great Safe Return To The Workplace Caper In Japan

The Great “Safe” Return To The Workplace In Japan Congratulations on escaping the Covid-19 virus by staying safe and working from home. We all want to see our businesses succeed and we all want to stay healthy. If it is time now to go back to the workplace, understand that there will be members of the team, who are concerned about their continued safety. As the boss, you have a responsibility to ensure a safe working environment for the team. Here are some things for everyone to think about. We all have to learn how to co-exist with Covid-19, so why try and replicate the old work style? Avoiding crowded transport and elevators are smart ideas. Try working from home in the morning, go in a bit later to the office to avoid the crowds and do the same thing by leaving earlier than normal. When you get back home continue working. Yes, it may mean continuing to work after 5.00pm or 6.00pm, but this is the trade off, for coexisting with the virus. You will get the same amount of work done in a day spread out over more extended hours. We all need to be more flexible about developing a new work rhythm. Why not check your own temperature at home before you leave, to be certain you are no risk to colleagues at the office. This takes about two minutes, so it is manageable, even for busy people. Avoid all surfaces when you are outside like stair or escalator handrails, subways straps and posts, elevator and vending machine buttons, etc. Wearing gloves outside makes a lot of sense, in addition to a face mask and maybe a face shield where appropriate. Directly touching others through handshakes, fist bumps, hands on the shoulder, pats on the back, high fives etc., are obviously now out, so bowing will be a much better alternative. We need to rethink how we work in the office. Does everyone really have to be there every day? Why not have teams permanently rotate. On certain days, some staff will go to the office while the others work from home. The so-called A Team and B Team interchange. Maybe Fridays is the day for everyone to work from home? Hold stand up meetings at the office to make them shorter and allow proper social distancing rules to apply. Do we actually need to meet together in person. Could we be in the office at our desks and still meet online? Certainly have coffee breaks together to catch up on what has been happening in our lives, but always use social distancing. Everyone can have their own cup, so there is no need to share any crockery any more. Masks and face shields are good ideas when we are gathered together and by making it a common rule, no one feels weird or out of place. Clear plexiglass barriers between seats makes sense. If reintroducing individual cubicles and offices makes more sense than open plan arrangements, then we are all going back to the future! Reduce the amount of paper which needs to be circulated by hand. What about “handing over meishi”? Is this now a thing of the past? Can we connect electronically? Anyone remember “Bump”, a discontinued app which electronically exchanged our business contact details on the spot at a networking event? There are several apps such as iCheck, Camcard, PiQy, Eight, and Shoot which may get a new lease of life now. Anyway, let’s make greater use of electronic document sharing and do all of our approvals on-line. Enforce best practice hygiene standards. We are continuously reminded to avoid touching our faces, eyes, noses and mouths, because this is how we get absorb the virus. Easy to proclaim, but not so easy to do. Regularly washing our hands with soap throughout the day, for twenty seconds, including the areas under the fingernails, between the fingers and up to the wrist are best practice. Soap breaks apart the container that holds the virus and then the virus is then washed away. Use a paper towel to dry your hands and turn the water faucet off with that paper towel as well. Also we should use hand sanitiser. With your colleagues, allocate teams throughou

17 MINJUN 17
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364: The Great Safe Return To The Workplace Caper In Japan

363: Seize The Moment With Your Leader Storytelling

Seize The Moment With Your Leader Storytelling Covid-19 has changed the world from a personal health risk point of view and has also trashed industries, careers and livelihoods. This is not the time for leaders to be simple observers of the meltdown, but to be collectors of stories from the devastation and the rising phoenixes. These stories can be for those “rallying the troops” moments or for public consumption in the wider world, as you detail your organisation’s saga. This crisis has a lot of dramatic tension bound within it, which lends itself to great storytelling material. So let’s make the effort to carefully collar what is going on around us. Typical business storytelling will have the hero’s journey and the trials, tribulations and triumphs therein. If this isn’t a time of trials and tribulations and hopefully, triumphant organisational survival, then I don’t know what is. It is easy in theory, but harder in practice. We can be swept up in the maelstrom of each day’s specific challenges and not be awake to the legendary dramas being played out around us and to us. We must embrace these stories, because they will be the source of powerful memories and emotional connections for many people in the audience. In the Covid-19 catastrophe, the heroes come under tremendous stress and strain. The opposition, obstacles, threats and their own personal frailties are all exposed. The heroes set about ensuring survival of the business. They gradually turn the problem around, as rivals beside them succumb and go into ignominious, commercial oblivion. We need to be keeping track of these exploits for future storytelling reference. The daily newspaper is full of stories every morning, but it ends up ferrying the fish bones and potato peelings to the trash can. We need a more permanent snare of what has taken place, day by day. Within the team, there are those who have stepped up and carried the banner aloft under tremendous pressure. We can’t let those efforts go unrecorded and just be allowed to join the forgotten fishbones and carrot peelings. We need to be creating the narrative arc of the journey, as the heroes learn and innovate as they push forward. They take blind alleys and make choices that don’t work out, but these tough times add to the credibility of the story in the retelling. The higher the walls in front of the team, the greater kudos for managing to scramble over the top and keep moving. The bigger the failures, the larger and more valuable the lessons in the recounting. Audience emotional resonance with the heroes is relatively easy, because this virus enemy is instantaneously threatening the whole planet. Everyone will remember what they were doing, how they were feeling, the losses suffered, the drama, the dangers and the close calls. Those listening to your story will quickly identify with the struggle and the people involved, becoming engaged in a way that is usually very hard to achieve. Cause and effect is how we define what we know to be true in the world. This thing happened and set off this reaction, which led to this outcome, involving these people. The leader’s job is to refine our understanding of what has been happening and why we are getting the outcomes we have been seeing. This needs intellectual, analytical work. Written records, observations, snippets of dialogue, blogs, podcasts, video records all become the historic archive needed by the leader. It sounds easy enough to do, except when you are in the middle of the disaster, it is hard to distance yourself from the business carnage going On around you. Nevertheless, the lessons being learnt need capture, the stories involved need to be told, the examples must be assembled and the raw emotion of today conveyed. Covid-19 is throwing up the material for a billion blogs and thousands of scholarly tomes on leadership. We are in the moment. We are the wartime correspondents, capturing what it is really like in the front line and understanding h

10 MINJUN 10
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363: Seize The Moment With Your Leader Storytelling

362: Social Intelligence For Leaders In Covid-19

Social Intelligence For Leaders In Covid-19 We admire people with very high IQs, as badges of intellectual prowess. Members of Mensa International are an elite group established in 1946, for people who scored in the ninety-eight percentile or higher in the standardised IQ test. We respect technical experts be they lawyers, medicos, engineers, architects, etc. The thing we desire most is that we be treated well by our boss, Mensa reject or otherwise. Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman was a bestseller and we would all prefer that our employers be people who voraciously devoured the gospel according to Goleman, chapter and verse. The obvious things for leaders are often subsumed by society’s devotion to brainpower. Having social intelligence means being able to get on well with all sorts of other people. It means being the boss the team would crawl across a mile of broken glass for. How do we up the ante on our social intelligence? We need to invest time in relationships. Too obvious you cry. Really? Busy bosses can be consumed by email, meetings, reporting to the upper echelon and trying to juggle their family responsibilities. In this melee of desired outcomes, the time for the team gets siphoned off and consumed by other competing requirements. If you want a reality check, then just grab your diary and look at how much time you are spending with the individuals in your team. Zoom, WebEx, Teams, etc., based broadcasts to the whole team are absolutely counted as the bare minimum, but do not rate a high score of investing in relationships with individual members of the team. We need to be having one on one online meetings or appropriately socially distant conversations with members of the team and showing our genuine interest in their well being. Imagining people are goofing off at home and calling them, to call them out on it, is ridiculous in this environment. Social intelligence means assuming everyone is hurting and carrying a heavy load, as they try to jam the square peg into the round hole offered up by Covid-19. We have transplanted people into their home environments and tried to fool everyone into believing this is now a viable working pod. Kids spiralling out of control while cooped up at home, no proper place to work in the rabbit hutch, that is the urban existence for most Japanese members of staff and this group oriented tribe is now imprisoned in imposed isolation. A boss with a supremely high IQ isn’t much help in this situation. We need our boss to feel genuine care about us. One of the ways to do this as the boss is to truly listen. Most of us breeze through life powered by the twin carburettors of the “ignore” and “selective” listening skill categories. “I don’t ignore my people”, you wail in the background. Really? When they are speaking and your brain suddenly populates a strong thought about something you need to say or a burning comment you must make, invariably you are now single tasking rather than multitasking and have lost the concentration on what your team member was saying. In effect you have ignored them to concentrate on yourself and your soon to be sallied forth brilliant intervention. Selective listening is slightly more human relations hygienic, but again we are searching for what we want to hear, rather than hearing our people in the entirety of what they want to say. Respecting people’s opinions is another one of those motherhood statements we all solemnly overlook, because it is in plain sight and not even hiding. Busy bosses though are now working harder and longer than before. The Covid-19 work day is much harder, as we struggle to coordinate things amongst our team. We are baffled by the balance needed between delegation and anarchy. We have to give people free rein in order to get things done, but they are adventurous and take things in directions we would never have imagined, let along anticipated. We can quickly find ourselves extinguishing the spark of originality and c

11 MINJUN 3
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362: Social Intelligence For Leaders In Covid-19
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