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Fast-Track Your Contractors

 25th July 2017 by gihan

In an ideal workplace, the perfect team would come together to work on a specific project, then disband after the project is complete, and another team would form for the next project.

That might be the norm for future teams, but we’re not quite there yet (because of offices, permanent employment, and so on). Instead, we still have teams largely made up of the same people, but with a few people brought in for each project.

One of the most important kinds of those “outsiders” is the external contractor.

Contractors join your team for a fixed duration because they bring in specific skills, and then move on. They make your team more fluid and flexible, because you’re getting the best people for the job – not just the people who happen to be occupying the cubicles in your office right now. They also bring their experience from elsewhere, which means they inject fresh ideas and perspectives.

On the other hand, they also have less internal experience, which means it takes time for them to be fully productive. If you can accelerate this integration process, while still tapping into their fresh ideas and experience, you get the best of both worlds.

Recruit with flexibility in mind

In addition to considering their skills and expertise, look for contractors who are likely to be more flexible in your workplace.

This doesn’t mean you want people who will only fit in. That will certainly help you integrate them into the workplace faster, but might not help you tap into their ideas and experience. Ideally, you want people who are flexible enough to fit in and speak up: They fit in to make the work run smoothly, speak up when they can offer something better, and have the good judgement to know the difference.

Get them on board fast

Experienced contractors already take responsibility for fitting in to a new team, but will still look to you for guidance. You might be able to give them some standard material – such as an employee handbook, online training, and access to your documented systems and processes – but that is not enough. Consider how to share the informal knowledge of your team as well.

For example, their HR material is probably for the entire organisation. You might have specific team documents to share as well – for example, case studies, templates, a team wiki, and other informal documentation.

If you have many informal processes and undocumented systems, assign one of your other team members to help the new contractor.

Ask for their ideas

Invite your contractors to share their ideas, suggestions and experience with you and the rest of the team.

If you already have a culture of openness and innovation in the team, they should welcome the newcomer’s ideas. However, don’t take this for granted, and be sensitive to resistance or resentment. If in doubt, start small. For example, start by scheduling private meetings with the contractor to discuss their progress, and ask for their suggestions in those meetings. Over time, as the team accepts the contractor and recognises their expertise, you can ask for their ideas in a more open forum.

Invest in their future

Your contractors assume they are only available for the current project, but consider their long-term development as well. For good people, this is an investment in your future as well as theirs.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Ask them what they want: If you know what they want, it’s easy to find low-cost high-value opportunities for them. For example, if they want to be better presenters, coach them to run a team webinar.
  • Test their boundaries: Give them opportunities slightly beyond their expertise in order to understand how they can help you in the future. Sometimes they won’t even realise themselves that they have additional skills.
  • Give them development opportunities: Give them access to training, coaching, mentoring and other development opportunities. This doesn’t have to be an extra expense either; sometimes it can be as simple as giving them time to enrol in online education.
  • Give them leadership opportunities: Don’t keep all the best leadership opportunities for your permanent staff. Give contractors the opportunity to shine as well, as part of their leadership path.

Above all, don’t treat your contractors as one-off resources. It’s tempting to only look as far into their future as the length of their contract, but that’s a mistake. Treat them as valuable team members who could make a meaningful contribution for a long time, and you increase the chances that they will.

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Stunning Slides – Free Webinar on Thursday

 21st July 2017 by gihan

Have you ever sat through an online presentation with boring PowerPoint slides? Of course you have! But the problem is not with PowerPoint, but with the way the presenter used it. One of the most important factors in the success of your online presentation is the design of your slide deck – especially in an online presentation, where your slides are the visuals (not just visual aids). Text-heavy slides and bullet lists bore your audience and you lose their interest. That’s why you must design engaging visuals that grab attention, keep them interested, and enhance your message.

Join Gihan Perera, speaker and author of “Webinar Smarts”, as he shows you simple tricks to make your presentation more professional and engaging through creative and effective slides.

You will learn:

  • Strategies for designing and optimising slides for online presentations
  • Tips to build attractive slides quickly and easily
  • Sources of free and low-cost graphics you can use legally
  • Little-known PowerPoint features that turn bullet lists into attractive graphics – in seconds!

When: Thursday 27th July 2017, 11am BST (U.K.), 6pm Perth, 8pm Sydney/Melbourne

Register Now

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The #1 Habit That Boosts Innovation

 19th July 2017 by gihan

Just as most plants don’t grow in an arid space but flourish in a fertile environment, if you want to build a culture of innovation, you must create the right environment for it.

You don’t need special rooms with bean bags and coloured walls to inspire creativity. But you must make innovation part of your regular environment – and a big part of that is giving them time for innovation:

  • Allocate team time: My colleague and innovation expert Nils Vesk recommends that at your weekly team meeting, you ask team members to share something interesting, innovative or inspiring they found outside work in the past week .
  • Allocate private time: Google became famous for allowing their engineers to use 20% of their time to work on their private projects, completely independent of their main work. This led to innovations like Google Maps, Google News, and Gmail. Even if you don’t make this a formal rule (and even Google has moved away from that now), give people time to work on their own projects.
  • Find out what else they like: Ask your team members what lights them up, especially outside work. You never know what might spark great ideas, especially if you can find overlap between these interests and their work.
  • Allocate personal time: Take this a step further and give them time to work on community projects or other non-work-related activities (even personal interests). This not only motivates them and helps the community; it also gives their brain “free time” that can help their creativity and innovation.
  • Create friendly competition: Instant Offices, a company that brokers serviced offices, challenges employees to work in random teams to develop and present ideas in a format like the reality television series Dragon’s Den (or Shark Tank) .
  • Make it easy for them to speak up: Finally, make it easy for them to share their ideas. One way is to allocate time in team meetings (as noted above), but don’t make that the only opportunity. You could have, for example, an online “suggestion box”. British Airways does this for their employees, and was rewarded with one idea (descaling toilet pipes on its planes) that saves £600,000 a year .

Some leaders see these activities as a waste of time, because they take time away from the core business. But they are essential for innovation.

Author Ori Baufmann, in his book The Chaos Imperative, calls this “creating white space”. Think of this as like the margins in a book, which surround the text but don’t have any information in them. However, margins play an important role: They give the eyes rest, keep the text away from the paper’s edge, and provide space for scribbled notes.

In the same way, the “white space” in your workplace is the time away from core project activities, so team members have freedom and flexibility to experiment, try new things, discuss new ideas, and make mistakes without facing penalty.

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The Future of Training

 14th July 2017 by gihan

In the past, workplace education was done mostly through training courses. But digital disruption has transformed the education industry, and there are now so many other ways to learn and teach. The best organisations use a combination of learning environments – including in-person workshops, online learning, one-on-one coaching, and more. By tapping into a variety of ways to accelerate learning in your organisation, you cater to individual needs, build on existing knowledge, and create exponential learning.

You can watch the recording here:

After the webinar, I asked participants “What was the most useful thing you learned today?” Here are some of their answers:

“Learning and awareness.”

“MOOC Learning”

“Cost effectiveness of time in training vs time doing post work etc.”

“The notion of Reverse Mentoring”

“slack & trello”

“That the information I have been taking from my children has a name:)”

“Reminder that we are living in times of rapid change where different cultures co-exist.”

“Flipped program and flipped teacher including reverse mentor. I think these could be very valuable opportunities in our organisation”

“Always a pleasure to hear great speaker put wonderful content in a succinct & useful way.”

“Stats from Columbia uni re: the importance of flipping the classroom”

“MOOcs and reverse mentoring”

“Flip the teacher and classroom. Reverse mentoring”

The Future Proof Webinar Series

The Future Proof webinar series will keep you in touch with our future - what's ahead, what it means for us, and how to stay ahead of the game.

In each webinar, I'll cover an important topic about the future - for example, the shift of power to Asia, the changing workplace, healthcare technology, the shift to customer-centric business, big data, and more. This is not just theory; I'll also give you practical examples and ideas for you to future-proof your organisation, teams, and career.

Register here

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Disrupted!

 10th July 2017 by gihan

Many industries are experiencing disruption – sometimes from inside the industry, but more often from outside. Are you going to thrive and survive in a time of disruption and change, or will you nose-dive and disappear?

Listen To the Episode

Find out more about becoming more future proof

The Fit for the Future Podcast brings you regular ideas, interviews and insights about how you, your teams and your organisation can become fit for the future.

More ways to engage with me:

The Stealth Attack That Could Disrupt Your Business

 5th July 2017 by gihan

I’ve had a credit card merchant facility for my business for almost 20 years, and I recently saw some alternative options that would make it cheaper and more convenient. I investigated two options, and had two very different experiences …

Scenario #1: New merchant account with my current bank

Four phone calls …
45 minutes on hold …
3 new forms to fill in …
Have to actually go into a branch and line up …
Two weeks later – still not resolved!

Scenario #2: New merchant account with Square

Walked into OfficeWorks and bought the card reader for $19 …
Signed up online in 10 minutes …
Selling products the next day!


(Image: Rosenfeld Media)

This is not just a complaint about the bank …

I’m sure the bank – one of Australia’s Big Four/Five – thinks they are a leader in their industry, and offering a world-class product and superior customer experience. But they’re not. They’re just not.

Perhaps they are doing a good job compared to their traditional competitors.
And perhaps their customer satisfaction scores are still on an upward trend.
And perhaps they have customers who would still rather deal with a traditional provider.

But they just don’t hold a candle to an upstart like Square, which doesn’t play by the same rules, and offers a far better product and experience.

What is the equivalent in YOUR industry?

It’s no longer good enough to be better than last year, or even in the top in your industry. The businesses that survive in the future look outside their industry as well, and know how to compete with the upstarts that could disrupt the industry from outside it.

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The Training Fix That Builds Skills Fast

 27th June 2017 by gihan

When a team member needs some training and development, consider an online course as an option.

Although we’re still in the early days of online training, it’s still advanced far enough to be valuable. It’s also fast, accessible and affordable, which makes it ideal for your team members.

For some of your team members, particularly the digital natives who have grown up with online access, learning online is natural, and they wouldn’t want it any other way. Even if they had the option to learn the same material in a training workshop, they might prefer the online version.

Why choose this option?

Online courses are generally more efficient than traditional training courses, because:

  • Your team members don’t need to “down tools” for entire days or weeks. They do the online training modules in smaller chunks, fitting it in around their other work, and some will even do it on their own time.
  • Even if the course runs to a particular schedule, they can do it at their own pace (for example, skim-reading material they already know if they want to go faster, or watching a video three times if they need to go slower).
  • It takes up less of your time supervising and coaching them.

But be careful, because it’s easy to take online training for granted! Because you don’t have to engage a trainer, book a training room, and set aside time for the participants, it’s tempting not to take online training as seriously as a workshop. But treat it with the same respect as any other development activity for your team.

Evaluate the course

First make sure the online course will deliver what you need.

You can do the research yourself, or ask your team member to do the research and bring it to you for review. Then ask these questions about the course:

  • What will they learn?
  • Is an online course the best way to learn it?
  • Why did they choose this course, and from this provider?
  • How much time do they need to set aside – including the online lectures and reading, assignments, study and tests?
  • When will they do the work?
  • How and when will they check in with you to report on progress?
  • How will they apply this in their work?
  • How can they share their learning with the rest of the team?

These questions will help them get the most value from the course, and will help you leverage that value in the team. However, don’t push too hard to force them to justify their choice. They shouldn’t feel that they have to do a full cost-benefit analysis! Ask these questions to help them, but give them the benefit of the doubt.

Online courses – and MOOCs in particular (Massive Open Online Courses) – have their share of critics. Most of the critics point to the high drop-out rate, which can be as high as 95%. That sounds terrible (and is, compared to an in-person training course), but happens because it takes almost no effort to sign up. Many students enrol without making a real commitment to seeing it through to the end. Some are just curious about the technology, others underestimate the effort involved, and others choose a course without checking the content. So don’t judge a course by its drop-out rate.

Enrol in online courses yourself

In my conference presentations, I often ask how many people have done any online courses. Typically, only about 10% of people raise their hands. If you’re like the majority and haven’t yet attended any online courses yourself, it’s time to do so! Until you do, you won’t really understand their strengths and weaknesses. Don’t start with a large MOOC provider such as Coursera.org, because that takes a large time commitment. Start instead with a smaller – but still reputable – provider, such as Open2Study.com, which is backed by leading Australian and New Zealand academic institutions. The courses are shorter and less intensive, but still give you a taste for online learning.

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The Future of Conferences

 22nd June 2017 by gihan

Videoconferencing, online meetings, telepresence and other collaboration technology are gaining traction. Does that mean the in-person conference is obsolete? No – not by a long way! But its role has changed. In this webinar, I’ll show you the trends affecting our professional and personal lives, and how great conference organisers – and speakers – take advantage of them.

This is a MUST WATCH webinar for anybody involved in conferences – including businesses, conference organisers, bureaus, delegates, and speakers.

You can watch the recording here:

After the webinar, I asked participants “What was the most useful thing you learned today?” Here are some of their answers:

“All of it was useful and the most useful thing is: From event to journey”

“Explore different ways of delivering conferences “

“Pre-conf prep … most conferences don’t do, well not in the health area”

“Future demographics in 2050”

“Will do more research on participation methods/strategies for conferences”

“The power and influence of social and future virtual connectivity and the flow on affect for the future of the traditional conferencing model”

“The options available now and in the not too distant future for better conferences, forums and even meetings.”

“Direction of options for future conferences”

“Expect the unexpected”

“That our world is changing rapidly”

“Participation ideas, BRiN, International Speakers Conference, Connected conferencing ideas”

“Ways to engage delegates into being participants and looking at the VR options for future conference”

“This was one of the most interesting webinars you’ve given – and they are all interesting. Especially as I’ve just returned from attending a ‘real’ conference that included many of the elements you mentioned”

“Identifying platforms like Brin and Virtual Speech”

“Conference attendees are no longer just attending but expect so much more engagement before, during and after the event”

“I’m going to try to buy the book – Disrupt Yourself as it seems to be a follow through from the Webinar”

“The potential of virtual reality- I will order the kit as suggested”

“Prepare for change !!!!”

“The future of conferences, great tips on apps and resources”

“Generational differences eroding traditional conference model. Other alternatives for face-to-face conference speaking”

“Very thought provoking about the future!”

The Future Proof Webinar Series

The Future Proof webinar series will keep you in touch with our future - what's ahead, what it means for us, and how to stay ahead of the game.

In each webinar, I'll cover an important topic about the future - for example, the shift of power to Asia, the changing workplace, healthcare technology, the shift to customer-centric business, big data, and more. This is not just theory; I'll also give you practical examples and ideas for you to future-proof your organisation, teams, and career.

Register here

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