Can you ‘flex’ as a manager?

 ‘Flexible’ or ‘agile’ working has been heralded as the new way to create efficient workplaces and retain key talent. By switching up the locations for the daily grind, workers can get more out of their daily work and this can create a more creative and enjoyable work/life balance.

However, how much flexibility do you give your employees? How do you balance creating a high performing team while giving employees the flexibility they want

Here are a few tips to help you ride the flexible working wave and ensure that your team is both productive and motivated.

  1. Rules

For flexible working to function properly there has to be clear detailed rules which everyone in the office agrees on. One of the principles of flexible working is to move away from the ‘hub’ (the conventional office) to the home and roaming (which is anywhere that isn’t the office or home).This allows employees to work in their favourite café like their 20th-century Parisian heroes or at home watching urban foxes in their tiny garden, this can do wonders for mental wellbeing but without some careful managing can create a disconnect between manager and team.

However, what if everyone worked from home every Monday and Tuesday the working week would go off to a slow start. We would recommend creating a plan, where all employees need to be in the office for key meeting and team building exercises.

  1. Keep your team updated

Keeping your team in the know about the direction the company is going in, whether it be in the long term or the short term, can be difficult. Flexible working might make this even more challenging, especially when you aren’t sharing the same air in the office. Managers cannot rely on guesswork to understand how employees are doing and vice versa with employees and the company. Online collaboration tools can be an interesting and advanced way in keeping in touch and making sure that everyone is on the same page.

  1. Flexible working makes weekly team meetings even more important: Without passing your fellow colleagues in the corridor or on the way to lunch it is difficult to know how exactly your team is doing. Flexible working can impact each individual in a different way and is important for teams to come together to discuss it. Team meetings also encourage employees to reflect on how their week was and take a few minutes to address their own productivity.

Weekly team meetings can be used as a brilliant way to check in with your team members and to set objectives with them, within specific timeframes.

  1. Keep your team creative and innovative

Some employees may express that they find it challenging working in alternative locations and miss the ‘water-cooler moments’ at work or even the physical community of working together in an office. It may be difficult to create or maintain social connections. As a manager you can organise creative meetings outside the office and non-work related social events. Keeping your team connected allows them to bounce ideas off each other and work together to find solutions for problems.

  1. Embracing smarter work/ life balance

Flexible working represents the movement towards a “smarter” view of work. Be careful to make sure that flexible working does not become an excuse for employees to be constantly on-call or for them to do nothing at all. Setting defined working hours for each individual separates work from home life but also gives guidelines for productivity.

In summary, to make flexible work “work”, you need to embrace giving employees more options and the technology they need to make the transition work. However, employees also need to understand the flexible working does not mean they just do what they want, they need to keep to some simple rules to ensure that work is truly flexible rather than brittle. 

 

Can you Manage a Millennial?

 

millennial

Tis’ the season to welcome young and fresh new employees and graduates to your team. Many of these new employees will fall into the group, commonly branded as Generation Y or the “millennial”.

As a manager it may be difficult to connect with the young graduate, fresh out of university with looming debt and the life experience of a tadpole. While they may come across as a generation misguided, where the concept of a first date has morphed into “Netflix and Chill” (if you don’t what this means email us!). With 91% of Millennials not intending to stick with their job for more than three years (Future Workplace), here are a few tips to help get the best out of your millennials and encourage them to stick around.

Embrace this technology knowhow

As a manager you can utilise and take advantage of young graduates’ tech literacy.  Many have skills and knowledge that delve deep into the world of communication, this can be harnessed towards the good of the company. Listen and be open to new tech ideas: Generation Y are at the forefront of the technological revolution and may know more creative and innovative ways to engage with your clients and customers. Whether it be instant messenger over email or technology-driven logistics plans.

Tip: they live their life on their phone, therefore consider work-related, interactive apps and online platforms to encourage them to feedback and engage with your business.

Structure is stability

Young graduates are used to being at a loose end; with vague essay assignments, “optional lectures” and few contact hours a week. You need to bypass this inefficiency and get your new employees to manage their own time effectively and to set attainable goals for them and your whole team.

Help young graduates practice mindfulness by helping them move past disjointed work hours and guide them towards weekly reflection of their work and their objectives for the next week. Check in with them frequently, using weekly meetings as a team and regular one-to-ones to ensure that they and you are getting the most out of their work. Using online formats (Hint Motivii!!), you can check in with your new staff and map their progress and struggles as well as monitor your own performance as a manager.

So in summary, embrace your millennial employees. Tap into their technology savviness to boost your business, but give them some structure each week to centre them and make sure they are part of a winning team.

Brexit and how real time staff feedback can help the future roller coaster ahead

FlagSo it is the talk of the town, country and global markets – Britain leaving the EU. What does it mean for business, jobs and the future of work in the UK?  Who knows? The only thing we do know is that we are going to be in for a period of uncertainty.

I heard entrepreneur and investor Jon Bradford say that he’s “seen and heard more interesting debate in the last 2 days than the last 2 decades.” And it’s true. Debate is good, no matter what side of the fence you are on, debate and feedback leads to agreement in new direction. It’s just a shame sometimes that it takes such a big thing to shock people into action.

Many employees are worried what this new direction means for their jobs. Managers are worried about what it means for their teams. Organisations are concerned about what this means for the future of their business. So how do we manage these worries?

Apathy is not the answer. The solution I believe in is to keep talking, keep giving feedback and ensure that each of us participates in making things better. If we are not part of this conversation then we run the risk of other people setting the agenda for us.

One of the reasons I founded Motivii was to encourage staff to constantly feedback about how they felt at work, to encourage managers to get information on their team so they could better support them and to help organisations improve work by better understanding how their staff are feeling in real time.

I’m positive that by encouraging continuous feedback, we can help not only make work better but also help our country head in the right direction.

Simply Mindful

photo-1441716844725-09cedc13a4e7The recognised benefits of Mindfulness are vast; improved focus and attention, an improved immune system, improved relationships and a reduction in symptoms relating to stress, anxiety and depression all form part of a long list (Gotink, 2015).

Mindfulness simply means awareness and being present in the moment without judgment and draws on techniques used in meditation and yoga. Trying to incorporate Mindfulness into your working day can be a challenge but just a few minutes of mindfulness each day is enough to obtain many of the benefits so it is definitely worth giving it a go.

The good news is Mindfulness at work will not require you to take up the lotus position on top of your desk. In fact, no one need know that you are taking a few minutes out of whatever you are doing to be present in the here and now. Here are a few ideas that might help you fit in Mindfulness to your working day.

  1. A great way to start your working day is by taking a few minutes on the bus or train to close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Count the breaths if this helps. You will be amazed at how relaxed you feel afterwards.
  2. Set a reminder to take a two-minute break to repeat this breathing exercise at some point in your day. Don’t worry if you get easily distracted by your thoughts whilst doing this exercise – just gently bring yourself back to focus on the breath again.
  3. When you are eating your lunch, spend a few minutes to think about what you are eating; the taste and texture. If you are drinking a tea or coffee, spend a few moments thinking about how it feels to hold the cup.
  4. When you leave your desk to take a walk, focus your attention only on the contact of your feet with the ground and if your mind wanders, bring it back to this sensation.

Focusing your attention in the present and will allow you to recenter and recharge your energy for the rest of your day. Don’t forget to get in contact with us at Motivii to share your favourite Mindfulness at work tips! (hello@motivii.com).

3 is the magic number

3 Magic NumberHere are the thoughts from Eamon, the founder of Motivii on 3 being the magic number…

It all started by feeling overwhelmed with too many things to do at work. I always found when I listed all the things I needed to do instantly my motivation would dip.

Separately when I was pitching people they seemed to get confused if I tried to sell in too many benefits. Without realising I started to limit myself to never trying to explain more than three things in one go. Actions following a meeting started being limited to to three things. And it worked! People remembered more, followed up on the actions and I started winning more deals.

I thought that I was onto something special… then I realised I was not the first person to understand the magic of 3!

If you look at politicians explaining ideas typically the better ones limit themselves to just three points. Even counting it on their fingers while presenting.

You can see the rule to three appearing everywhere:

  • Beginning, Middle, End – story telling
  • Veni, Vidi, Vici – Julius Caesar
  • Stop, Look , Listen – highway code
  • Thinner, lighter, and faster – Steve Job’s iPad 2 launch
  • Work, Rest, Play – Mars advertising campaign.

If you talk to psychologists they will tell you the human brain is fine tuned to remember three things. Ask it to remember more and you start running into trouble. Even things like telephone numbers, most people break it into around three groups of numbers to make it easier to remember.

On realising, that I liked keeping things to three I started writing down my three highlights of the week, the three challenges and the three things I wanted to focus on the next week. This simple list started helping me reflect and plan better. It felt like I had less to do and I got more done. I started to call it my Top3 report. (Highlights, Challenges and Focus are three things by themselves).

I know it’s not rocket science, but when I started getting everyone I worked with doing their own Top3, the benefits started being huge. Communication improved, stress was reduced and we started really nailing the important things.

However, it was still a very manual process. I wanted to get automated reminders to complete my weekly Top3; I wanted to do it quickly on my mobile; I wanted to add the option to answer anonymous questions; get automatic summary emails for my team; and I wanted the system to generate insight like, word clouds, run sentiment analysis and more… (I can’t help but want more than three things 😉

Though I looked, I couldn’t find anything in the market that could help. So… if you can’t find it build it. 

One year later the magic of 3 has helped launch Motivii which is making work better at GSK, Lloyds Banks, Find My Past and many more companies. And yes, Top3 is built into the service helping create fast feedback for employees, managers and organisations.

I Fear Presenting Too!

PresentingAn amazing 75% of people fear public speaking, or “presenting”! As the CEO of Motivii, I’ve given hundreds of presentations and often hear feedback that I must not get worried or nervous about presenting nowadays. But here is the the thing… I do! I still feel slightly sick before each presentation, my heart rate rushes at the start, sometimes my mind goes blank and sleeping is somewhat a challenge the night before.

For a while I fought to get rid of and master these negative challenges around presenting. I read a lot, I talked to lots of people, I tried many different things. And then I had a lightbulb moment… these things are good! Without them I would never experience massive highs at the end of my presentations. I needed the nervousness to show myself that I cared, and that what I was presenting matters.

Based on my experience, here are some of the top tips for being a good presenter:

  • Welcome the butterflies when they appear, it shows that you care about what you are presenting, they are normal.
  • Relax, try and speak slowly. Your nerves normally make you talk faster than you realise.
  • Own the moment. You’re here, you’re doing this, so don’t back down when you stand up. Try and embrace the moment.
  • Pick one or two people to focus on in the audience, it helps calm you down and feels like you’re talking to an individual.

Finally, savour the moment at the end, well done and enjoy the rush.

Happiness vs Motivation

Whats better motivation or happiness?
Motivation vs Happiness

It is one of our big debates in the office… what’s more important: motivation or happiness?

Can you be unhappy but motivated? 74% of you, employees using Motivii, think that you can. So let’s examine each side of the coin.

Many organisations want to improve the happiness of their employees. And, as individuals, we all strive for happiness in our own lives too. Wanting to be happy is an essential human experience, however, as we all know, it’s never simple to achieve. What makes you happy may make another person sad.

Happiness is also a ‘peak emotion’. What that means is that something has to happen for happiness to be achieved. The harder something is to achieve, the more happy we are once we have achieved it. This is the happiness paradox which means that sometimes you need to struggle before experiencing happiness. So what keeps you going when things are hard?

This is where motivation comes in. Motivation acts as the fuel that keeps you going. The thought of being happy or achieving something motivates. Being in an engaging environment motivates. Having the support of your boss and colleagues motivates. Having the right package at work motivates. Dan Pink who wrote ‘Motivate’ the book, talks about motivation at work as being a combination of employee benefits (pay, package etc..) but also, importantly, having a purpose, becoming master of what you do and being given autonomy in your role.

Happiness and motivation are linked, they are both important. But happiness and what impacts it is a much more complex issue. The system of levers that affect motivation is a bit more clear cut, so it’s simpler for all of us as individuals or organisations to concentrate on the things that motivate, rather than figuring out what will truly make someone happy in that particular moment.

This is why Motivii focuses on motivation. Because if we can improve it, then we improve happiness, engagement, fulfillment and everything else that you feel once you have achieved something.