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No Worker Left Behind: The Change Management Idea Every Leader Should Follow (and Share)

 16th April 2019 by gihan

A few months ago, I was working with a group of CEOs in the healthcare industry, and we were talking about what it takes to attract and keep the best talent in their workplaces. Most of our discussion was about the top talent – smart, passionate, driven, and highly motivated – but one CEO asked the question:

“How do you motivate the people who have been there for a long time and just don’t want to change?”

More recently, another client – in the financial services industry this time – asked me a similar question:

“In our industry, we have a large body of highly-experienced employees who have been very effective for many years. But when younger generations are brought in to challenge the status quo and take the organisation forward, it leads to an inevitable conflict. How do leaders take those experienced workers on the journey with them?”

It’s a good question.

First, there are some people who just refuse to change, no matter what. They don’t realise there’s another way, don’t recognise the need for another way, or just don’t want to do things another way.

But those are not the people I’m talking about – and they are not the people my two clients above were talking about, either. We’re talking about people who genuinely have a lot to offer, and would contribute if they could, but they feel threatened because what has always worked for them doesn’t work anymore.

They might be worried that if they let their guard down, they might be overtaken, overrun, and over the hill.

How do you bring them along on the journey?

First, be careful of your language! If you use phrases like “need to change”, “don’t want to change”, “stuck in their ways”, or even “bring along on the journey”, you’re suggesting they need to be pushed, pulled, or carried. It’s almost like saying you would rather not have them there, but it’s hard work to let them go, so you’re going to make the best of a bad situation.

That’s not necessarily true.

These people do have value to offer – value that you can’t get anywhere else. And that value becomes obvious when you follow this simple principle:

Separate the “why” from the “how”.

When Albert Einstein was teaching at Princeton University, he was criticised by the staff because he gave his students the same exam two years in a row. But he said, “The questions are the same, but the answers are different”.

You don’t have to be an Einstein to know the same thing applies now. The world has changed, and there are different answers to the same old questions.

But everybody is talking about the answers, and many leaders forget about the important questions that haven’t changed.

The really important questions in your organisations are “Why?” questions, which are questions about your mission, purpose, vision, and values. For example:

  • Why was this organisation built?
  • What do we really stand for?
  • What problems do we really solve for our customers?
  • If we have to choose between A and B, what matters most in making a wise decision?
  • What gets us through the tough times?
  • When have we stood up for what really matters?

Of course, all these questions don’t literally start with “Why”, but – make no mistake – they are questions about your organisation’s “why”.

And who knows the answers to these questions? Those older, highly-experienced people you were thinking you had to drag kicking and screaming into the future.

Their experience has given them valuable insights, and that in turn leads to wisdom.

If you’re a leader, make them the guardians of your “Why”. They might not know how to travel the path you choose for your future, but they know why you should choose that path.

Use them for your compass, and then let others draw the map.

How can you make this work in practice?

If you value their experience, insights and wisdom, of course you will look for ways to share that in your organisation. And there are ways – many ways – to do just that. Here are just a few:

  • Pay them what they are worth!
  • Ask them to mentor younger, less experienced people.
  • Invite them to be “reverse mentored” by younger, less experienced people.
  • Interview them for your company blog, newsletter, podcast, or vodcast.
  • Invite them to join project teams – even if it’s just occasionally – to provide their insights and wisdom.
  • Create opportunities for them to share stories about people living the organisation’s purpose, mission, and values.
  • Give them the same development opportunities you offer everybody else.
  • Ask them how they think they can best share their experience and insights.

There’s wisdom in this diversity.

There’s a big push now for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but one of the most neglected areas is age diversity. Even when it’s considered, many leaders think only of the diversity that younger people – the Generation Ys (Millennials) and Generation Zs – bring. But don’t forget the value in the hearts and minds of your most experienced people.

When you combine their wisdom with the passion and drive of your “bright young things”, that’s when you truly future-proof your organisation.

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The #1 Thing That Gets in the Way of Flexible Work

 11th April 2019 by gihan

LinkedIn recently published its “2019 Global Talent Trends” report, which identified what it calls “the 4 trends transforming your workplace”.

They compiled this report based on surveying over 5,000 talent professionals across 35 countries, and also incorporated vast amounts of data from the online behaviour of LinkedIn members. Given their unique access to leaders, experts, and employees worldwide, when LinkedIn says something about the future of work, it’s worth taking notice!

It came as no surprise to me (and to many of the forward-thinking people leaders I work with) that one of these four trends is work flexibility. The other three are just as interesting, but let’s focus on this one for now …

What is flexible work?

When we say “flexible work”, that could mean a number of different things. For some people, having “flexitime” – where they can choose their start and end time each day (within limits) – is enough. For others, they want complete flexibility in when, how, and where they work. And there’s everything in between.

Obviously, this varies across different jobs and roles. Some people need to be there in person (a pilot can’t work from home when she’s supposed to be flying the plane!) and others need to be there at specific times (a salesperson must fit in with his customers’ working hours). But in many cases – especially for knowledge workers – you could offer more flexible work, if you put your mind to it.

LinkedIn is not alone!

There’s plenty of research showing the best people want more flexibility in how, when and where they work – for example:

  • 81% of employees want to be trusted when, where and how they work (Sage People)
  • 35% of people are choosing freelance work (Forbes)
  • 75% of UK employees want flexible working, and nearly a third prefer flexible work over a pay rise (Sage People)
  • 47% of Australian workers would accept a pay cut for more flexible working hours (Robert Half)

Make no mistake – the best people expect it now, and it could be a significant factor in whether they choose to work for you (or stay with you).

So, is it a no-brainer?

If you’re a leader who wants to attract and keep the best people, it seems like a no-brainer to offer them more flexible work, right?

Not so fast!

Yes, it’s a good idea in principle, but it’s not always so easy to put into practice.

Of course, there are some infrastructure things to consider – such as IT setup, HR policies, legal issues, running virtual meetings, and so on. But these are all relatively easy to address.

The biggest problem might be you!

Do you have the right mindset to make it work?

The big difference is that you must change your focus from inputs to outputs.

For example, when people work together in an office, they all see each other’s inputs: when they arrive (especially if it’s late), when they leave (especially if it’s early), what they do at work, and whether they’re “busy”. As a leader, you might be subconsciously influenced by these inputs, even if you claim to only measure their results.

When you have team members working remotely, you can no longer see their inputs, so you must rely on outputs. Instead of monitoring their processes, activity and time spent, you only measure the results they achieve, the quality of their work, and their contribution towards achieving your goals.

You might think it’s easy to focus on outputs, but it’s not. It’s not easy to change this mindset, especially if you have become unconsciously competent in the old way of leading people. But if you don’t make the shift, you won’t attract the best people, and those you have now won’t stay.

If you’re ready to step up, you might like this video, where I share 10 ideas for enabling and encouraging flexible work in your teams and organisation:

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Top 10 Healthcare Trends in Australia in 2019

 9th April 2019 by gihan

  1. By 2050, a quarter of the population will be aged 60+ everywhere except Africa (EY)
  2. AI uses patient data to improve clinical decision-making and personalise care (World Economic Forum)
  3. Wearable and portable devices empower patients to self-manage their care (Deloitte)
  4. The always-connected patient changes how healthcare providers engage with consumers (KPMG)
  5. Australian consumers want more options for interacting online with healthcare providers (EY)
  6. 75% of providers recognise the need for culture change and workforce optimisation (Australian Health Week)
  7. VR and AR technology present new opportunities for training and surgical simulation (World Economic Forum)
  8. New technology shifts the location of medical care from hospitals to the home (Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions)
  9. Recent Private Health Insurance reforms are a good start, but need more commitment (PwC)
  10. Digitisation of the healthcare system requires big investments in infrastructure, IT, and new processes (Deloitte)

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Magnetic Messages

 4th April 2019 by gihan

We’re bombarded by more information than ever before, so we all need to be able to cut through the clutter and deliver our messages with more impact.

We’ve all sat through business presentations that were so mind-numbingly boring you lost the will to live! Hmm … You might have even (gasp!) delivered this kind of presentation yourself.

It doesn’t have to be this way! In this session, I’ll share some simple ideas to help you build better presentations that cut through the clutter, make a point with impact, and stay in your audience’s mind even after they leave the room.

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:

“Ability to stream background music directly from within powerpoint”

“Practical powerpoint tips that I can apply straight away. Love that you show us all the steps and make it accessible.”

“How to use SmartArt and also introduction to skipping slides and having a ‘marker’ slide.”

“Framing & converting bullet point slides in SmartArt. I now have a hundred bullet point slides to convert!!!”

“How to convert bullet points into a great graphic”

“Keynote aids, setting up frame of mind early”

“Using Smart Art for slides”

“Gihan is a genuine creator & sharer of value :)”

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

More ways to engage with me:

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Are You Ready for Generation Z In Your Workplace?

 2nd April 2019 by gihan

Generation Z – the “dot com kids” – are people born between 1995 and 2009.

They are the largest generation ever, make up 20% of Australia’s population, and 2 billion people worldwide. By 2025, they will make up 27% of our workforce.

Are YOU ready for them in your workplace?

Here are 10 things to know about Generation Z …

  1. Most prefer a multidisciplinary and global focus to their work – so they get richer experiences and opportunities to travel (Deloitte)
  2. Most (70%) say a curious and open mind is more important than a specific skill or expertise (Ernst & Young)
  3. Their ideal work environment is a mid-size organisation (41%). Only 14% want to work in start-ups (Robert Half)
  4. 25% want their companies to incorporate virtual reality into the workplace (Future Workplace)
  5. Most (77%) expect to work harder than past generations to have a satisfying and fulfilling professional life (Robert Half)
  6. They are 2.5 times more likely to stay with their employer for five or more years if they have challenging, meaningful work (Accenture)
  7. Most (80%) think that embracing failure on a project will help them to be more innovative (Ernst & Young)
  8. Most (65%) feel confident they will be better off – financially and happier at work – than their parents (Ernst & Young)
  9. Nearly half prefer a fully self-directed and independent approach to learning. But only 20% of leaders plan to offer this level of self-direction (LinkedIn Learning)
  10. The most important quality they want from a boss is “honesty/integrity” (38%), followed by “mentoring ability” (21%) (Robert Half)

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People and Machines: Better Together – Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace

 26th March 2019 by gihan

There’s a lot of talk now about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the workplace. But as much as we hear about “robots coming for your jobs”, the reality is that the best workplaces will have people and machines working together.

Employer demand for AI in the workplace has more than doubled over the last three years, and the majority of leaders expect their employees and machines to work as “integrated teams” in the next few years.

The most innovative organisations are combining the unique skills of people and machines to create better workplaces, deliver superior customer experiences, and stay ahead of the game in a fast-changing world.

Choose your level of engagement.

None of us can predict the exact impact of AI in the workplace (or in life in general, for that matter). But, as you see new AI capabilities, decide how to integrate it into your organisation.

Broadly, you can imagine its impact at four levels:

  1. Replace: It completely replaces something you do in your organisation, and makes that function obsolete.
  2. Assist: It helps you improve the way you perform that function, so you can be more efficient or effective.
  3. Elevate: It frees you up from performing that function, so you can do more important things instead.
  4. Leverage: It creates completely new opportunities for you, not just in the functions you already perform, but with completely new products and services.

Don’t automatically go to the “replace” scenario, where AI will replace jobs or make you obsolete. Instead, think of ways it could assist or elevate your current offerings, and consider how you can leverage it even more in the future.

For example, this video shows 10 ways AI will help the people in your organisation:

  1. AI chatbots answer questions instantly in sales, customer service, and internal support.
  2. AI helps HR and recruiters find suitable candidates and identify potential people problems.
  3. AI manages simple, repetitive tasks like scheduling meetings and answering common questions.
  4. AI and IoT devices constantly monitor the workplace to create safer, more productive, and more effective work environments.
  5. AI handles complex repetitive tasks, such as reading and interpreting contracts.
  6. AI records meetings and transcribes conversations to simplify search and retrieval.
  7. AI monitors physical assets and inventory levels to optimise maintenance, ordering stock, and employee workloads.
  8. AI analyses user sentiment on social media and other communication channels.
  9. AI listens to sales calls in real time, and offers coaching tips to salespeople to improve their future calls.
  10. AI integrates with online learning tools to guide employees to improve their learning.

How can AI help YOU?

Consider both the positives and negatives – that is, the opportunities and the threats. The threats might be the long-term effects of this replacing you, and it’s responsible to consider these threats. But also explore the opportunities for it to assist and elevate your organisation, and consider how to leverage it to create entirely new products and services.

Thinking Ahead

To assess the impact of AI in your workplace, ask these three questions:

  1. What AI have you seen that’s seemingly unrelated to your industry but could have an impact?
  2. Do you automatically go to the most limited “replace” scenario, or do you consider “assist” and “elevate” scenarios?
  3. What AI could you leverage into offering something completely different to your customers?

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Are You Flexible Enough for Flexible Work?

 19th March 2019 by gihan

The best people want more flexibility in their working hours – as research shows:

  • 81% of employees want to be trusted when, where and how they work (Sage People)
  • 35% of people are choosing freelance work (Forbes)
  • 47% of Australian workers would accept a pay cut for more flexible working hours (Robert Half)

So what are YOU doing to provide more flexible work? Here are 10 ideas …

  1. Find out what flexibility your people really want – It might be easier than you think to provide it
  2. Measure their results, not their effort
  3. Move information into the Cloud for access anywhere at any time
  4. Have fewer meetings
  5. Pay for membership of co-working spaces for people who want to work there
  6. Don’t discriminate against people who don’t work in the office
  7. Offer the same opportunities to everybody – not just parents with family responsibilities
  8. Help them build their judgement, so they can work independently and autonomously
  9. Think of it as a strategic advantage, not just an employee perk
  10. Start planning for it now, so you can offer it before people start demanding it

Also read my Smart Company article here.

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Understand the Future Customer Journey

 14th March 2019 by gihan

A few weeks ago, I was in Brisbane speaking to the CEOs of private hospitals in Queensland about the future of healthcare. These are smart, savvy, experienced people who know healthcare is changing, know they need to change as well, but don’t know exactly what to do.

But I know some of them were taken aback when I said:

“The future of healthcare is not in hospitals.”

Even if you’re open to change (and these CEOs are), that’s still a confronting statement if most of your role involves building and leading a successful hospital!

Next week, I’ll be saying something similar to leaders at a banking conference:

“The future of banking is not in banks.”

But I firmly believe it’s true!

The future of healthcare is not in hospitals.
And the future of banking is not in banks.
Just as the future of education is not in schools.
And the future of retail is not in shops.

To understand the future of healthcare, banking, education, or retail, don’t start with hospitals, banks, schools, and shops. Those are just the way those industries served their industries in the past. The future might include them, but not necessarily.

The future of healthcare is in patients.
The future of banking is in customers.
The future of education is in students.
The future of retail is in shoppers.

In other words, the future is understanding the people you serve: patients, customers, students, clients, shoppers, whoever.

It’s too easy to fall in love with your products, services, systems, processes, and solutions. But remember these should all be solving problems for your customers. If they aren’t, you’ll soon be obsolete.

Understand your future customer’s journey.

You don’t know exactly how customers will behave in the future, but you can map your current customer’s journey, and then consider the impact of technology, trends, and other external changes at each step.

Here’s the healthcare example I shared with those CEOs …

Imagine a cardiologist who treats patients who suffer a heart attack. Her customer’s journey might start (literally) from the time the ambulance receives the emergency call and rushes the patient to the emergency room. She then performs the surgery, the patient leaves hospital, and constant monitoring happens over time.

Imagine how this customer journey might change in the future:

  • A self-driving ambulance collects the patient. Because all traffic is self-driving, other vehicles automatically stop to let the emergency vehicle through.
  • The patient’s wearables transmit data wirelessly to artificial intelligence software that combines this data from that of thousands of other patients to make a diagnosis.
  • A 3D printer in the ambulance prints a stent for the operation, customised for this patient.
  • Medical supplies are delivered by an autonomous drone, so the hospital doesn’t have to store and manage inventory.
  • After surgery, the patient uses an ECG app on their phone to take regular ECGs, which alert the cardiologist to any potential problems.

All this technology exists now, even if it’s not connected in this way – yet.

A forward-thinking cardiologist, hospital CEO, and anybody else involved in the current version of this journey would consider the impact of these technologies on their “customer’s” journey. Even if some of them are further away than others, they are worth including in the mix now, and then deciding whether you need to address them immediately.

This exercise doesn’t guarantee you will fully anticipate everything in the future customer’s journey, but it’s a good start.

Thinking Ahead

Ask these three questions to help you get fit for the future:

  1. Are you already mapping your customer’s journey, so you can identify how to enhance their experience?
  2. What new technology or trends could have a significant impact on the steps in your future customer’s journey?
  3. What seemingly-impossible things could so radically transform the customer’s journey that they could make you, your organisation, or your industry obsolete?

What Will the City of the Future Look Like?

 5th March 2019 by gihan

By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities.
What will the city of the future look like?

Here are 10 things we’ll see in the not-too-distant future …

  1. Most buildings source their power from renewable energy sources.
  2. Vertical farming uses land efficiently to feed larger, more dense, populations.
  3. Self-driving (autonomous) vehicles are the norm.
  4. Demographic changes create demand for new housing options and infrastructure.
  5. Offices are replaced by more flexible workplaces – such as co-working hubs.
  6. New housing options and “smart” infrastructure help older people age in place.
  7. Cities learn how to better manage environmental issues such as air quality and waste disposal.
  8. Eating habits shift towards healthier, protein-rich diets – even new cuisine like insects!
  9. WiFi is reliable and ubiquitous – as good as water and electricity.
  10. The city adapts to its residents with smart lighting, traffic shaping, and greater personalisation.

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Talent Magnet: 4 Trends To Future-Proof Your Workplace in 2019

 28th February 2019 by gihan

As a futurist, I’m always looking at the trends affecting workplaces and organisations, and I’ve noticed an interesting trend over the last 8-10 years.

A decade ago, we were in the early stages of the technology explosion – with social media, smartphones, and the first discussions around practical uses for AI and robotics. Everybody was excited about the technology, its opportunities and threats, and its impact on their products and services.

Then the conversation shifted from technology to skills – in other words, how we will cope, navigate, and lead in this brave new world that technology will create for us.

Now, the conversation has shifted again. We know there are people – smart, savvy, talented people – with the skills for the future. Because of their skills, they are in high demand. So the question now is: Will they want to work for you?

If you think there’s been a war for talent in the past, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Research by XpertHR says finding high-quality talent will be the top challenge for HR leaders in 2019.

So what do you need to do to create the sort of workplace that will attract, reward, motivate, and inspire these people?

Here are four key trends to help you future-proof your workplace.

1. Prepare for AI in the workplace

This is clearly the 600-pound gorilla in the room. There’s a lot of talk now about AI in the workplace. The report “Australia’s Future Workforce” suggests 40% of jobs in Australia are likely to be automated in the next 10-15 years. So yes, it’s a significant concern for many people.

But as much as we hear about “robots coming for your jobs”, the reality is that the best workplaces will have people and machines working together.

Employer demand for AI in the workplace has more than doubled over the last three years, but (according to Dell research) the majority of leaders expect their employees and machines to work as “integrated teams” in the next few years.

So, work diligently at enabling more AI in your workplace – but in a way that it augments, not replaces, your best people.

2. Offer a more flexible work environment.

The days of in-office, 9-to-5, Monday to Friday, work are dead … or, at least, dying – and technology allows you to provide more flexibility.

The best people want more flexibility in how, when, and where they work. When a 2018 Robert Half survey asked Australian workers what they would be willing to accept a pay cut for, 47% wanted flexible working hours and 40% wanted to work from home sometimes.

This doesn’t mean you have to provide a free-for-all when it comes to flexibility. In many cases, some flexibility will be enough to accommodate a more diverse workforce – for example, people with families, partners moving for their careers, hiring global talent, using freelancers and contractors, and so on.

Speaking of diversity and inclusion …

3. Embrace diversity as a strategic advantage.

No longer do the most senior people have the best expertise, experience, and wisdom to lead your organisation into the future.

According to the recent DCA-Suncorp “Inclusion@Work Index 2018”, employees in diverse and inclusive teams are:

  • 9 times more likely to innovate
  • 10 times more likely to be highly effective
  • 4 times more likely to stay
  • 19 times more likely to be very satisfied with their job

A diverse workforce is not just a “feel good” initiative – it’s a competitive advantage for future-proofing your organisation.

4. Stand for something that matters.

Finally, offer more than a pay cheque and a clean office. The best people today want work that’s meaningful, not just menial; and in a place where they can say they feel proud to work.

In fact, research by Cone Communications says 64% of Generation Y employees won’t take a job if a company doesn’t have strong CSR (corporate social responsibility) values. And this is no longer just a sideline initiative, it needs to be front and centre in the organisation’s mission.

What are YOU doing to be a talent magnet?

Which of these four initiatives can you implement – or enhance – in your workplace to turn your organisation into a talent magnet? I’m not saying they are easy, but the most important things rarely are. But they are essential, because the best workplaces on Earth are doing these things. So, if you’re not doing them, you’ll fall behind.

Want to know more?

I recently conducted a webcast for my clients about the top talent trends for 2019. I covered the four trends above and shared some ideas for you to implement them in your organisation.

The recording is available here:

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