Ensuring meaningful collaboration
An article by the University of Pennsylvania discusses what happens when the drive for increasing collaboration, both within and between organisations, results in reduced efficiencies, rather than the positive impact which collaboration is supposed to bring. Whilst the article acknowledges that today’s knowledge economy necessitates collaboration between teams and between organisations, and that there are many positive outcomes from this; the major downside can be that this way of working can mean that it takes much longer to reach decisions and get things done. One statistic cited in the article is that the average knowledge worker spends 85% or more of each week on email, in meetings or on the telephone, leaving little time for individualised tasks or learning. Too much collaborative working can also mean that talented individuals receive unrealistic demands on their time, becoming overburdened and dissatisfied with their work and role. The article suggests that ensuring efficient collaboration is essential both for organisations and individuals, and that this can be achieved through individuals taking responsibility for a more structured approach to their work and in responding to competing demands on their time; and through organisations and leaders undertaking careful planning and thought as to how collaborative working will be supported and how teams will be structured.
Further information can be found: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/much-togetherness-downside-workplace-collaboration/
The best leaders aren't afraid to ask for help
In this article from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) the author reflects that leaders must be prepared to show their weaknesses as well as their strengths, and that their leadership will be stronger for it. The author also states that, as leadership is about connection, people will only follow you, work hard for you, create and risk and sacrifice for you, if they feel connected to you, and they will only feel connected to you if they feel you are being authentic. He also suggests that leaders who don’t need help have no one to lead. People feel good when they help. They are inspired when they are needed. They don’t think less of the people they help, they feel more connected. It is therefore vital that leaders are prepared to not only show their weaknesses but to ask for help and support to address those weaknesses.
Further information can be found:https://hbr.org/2019/01/the-best-leaders-arent-afraid-to-ask-for-help
Flexible working for everyone
In this article from the Harvard Business Review (HBR), the author reflects on the approach taken at PwC with regard to flexible working, which has been made available to everyone. The author states that the move to flexible working did not happen overnight, and certainly wasn’t easy – in fact the organisation is still learning how to effectively embed flexible working. The key learning from PwC’s approach is summarised below (source: HBR):
· You need to toss out the rule book - To build a culture of flexibility, you must first reimagine what flexibility means today. To create behaviour change, you need to allow for variance and creativity and agility. In other words, be “flexible” when creating a flexibility culture. A policy guide or a formal program can work against you. At PwC, it is loosely called “everyday flexibility”. It is not something that is mandated that all teams adopt; it’s a mentality and a way of life that should be individualized for each person.
· Everyone deserves the same degree of flexibility - Flexibility is not related to a generational need. Every employee, at any age, benefits from and is looking for its availability. A culture of flexibility will not be created, adopted, or embraced unless the origination stems from an understanding and belief that every single person in the organization deserves the same consideration and flexible working policies. One person’s reasons for needing flexibility are not any more important or any less important than any another person’s.
· When it comes to flexibility, trust is not earned - If you trust an individual enough that you hired them to join your organization, you also should trust them to get the work done when and where they prefer, as long as they meet deadlines.
· Flexibility is a two-way street - A strong culture starts from the very top, but the action to embed it comes from the bottom up.
The author states that flexibility is not about working less, but it is about encouraging people to work differently; giving people the flexibility they need when they need it, and sometimes, needing them to give more when business demands require it. When done right, flexibility results in a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce. And it helps attract the best employees, and makes them want to stick around.
Further information can be found: https://hbr.org/2019/01/what-pwc-learned-from-its-policy-of-flexible-work-for-everyone
Re-imagining the leader's role
This article by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) suggests that younger generations are driving change in companies, and it’s up to leaders to embrace it. Whether it’s attitudes towards technology, perspectives on workplace structures, or approaches to work itself, the latest generation of workers is considerably different to its predecessors. They are seasoned technology users and therefore already familiar with (and keen to adopt) the tools that can make the workplace more efficient, and, rather than looking to begin their career within a large organisation, many are preferring to make their mark in small, agile start-ups, which they perceive will offer them more flexibility and better work-life balance. The article suggests that, in order to attract and retain this new generation of employees, it is time for leaders to (source: CBI):
· Embrace differences as opportunities.
· Recognise technology as a positive force to drive innovation.
· Foster a more agile, open and collaborative culture.
· Create a better work-life balance.
Further details can be found: http://: http://www.cbi.org.uk/businessvoice/latest/it-s-time-to-reimagine-the-role-of-leader/
Using AI to reduce workload
The Department for Education (DfE) has published (23 January) a press release setting out the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds’ call for the technology industry and educators to work in partnership to transform education, cut workload and improve pupil outcomes Addressing more than 800 of the world’s leading tech companies and start-ups, as well as school representatives and international education ministers, at the Bett Show in London, Mr Hinds told teachers and school leaders to make smarter use of technology, both inside and outside of the classroom, to make sure that it does not add to teachers’ responsibilities and workload. Mr Hinds said that while education technology has the power to transform education, its growth in the classroom has created both opportunities and challenges. He also outlined his plans to launch an EdTech strategy later this year to harness the power of technology in schools, strengthening the training teachers receive, reducing their workload, and unleashing young people’s potential. This will be backed by a £10 million fund to support innovative uses of tech in schools and colleges across England.
Further details can be found: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/damian-hinds-school-leaders-should-ditch-email-culture-to-cut-workload