These are stressful times we are all facing in the age of
COVID-19. This past year has taught us more than ever how important our mental
health is. Our mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social
well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.
There has been a social stigma in our society around
mental health for far too long. In 1992, the World Federation for Mental Health
declared October 10th World Mental Health Day. This day has brought
awareness to mental health education and mental health issues around the world.
The biggest benefit has been helping people connect in efforts to support mental
health. This cause has also enabled people to talk about it more and realize mental
health struggles are more common than you might think. In the US alone, 1 in 5
adults have a mental illness.
Regardless of where you work, jobs can be stressful, and
it’s normal to be overwhelmed at work from time to time. Some common causes of
feeling overwhelmed at work can be due to having numerous assignments without
the capacity, tight deadlines, staff cutbacks, and work overload. It’s the
nature of employment that every job comes with its good and bad days. How you
choose to handle those days though are up to you.
my partner and I got married in June – in the middle of a pandemic – we wanted
to bring together friends and family to join us in celebrating this special
moment in our lives. After exchanging our vows in front of a handful of family
and friends (and nearly 400 virtual guests from around the world!), we realized
we had pulled off something pretty unique.
pandemic required us to rethink how to make this milestone special for us and
our guests. The receiving line and seating charts at our reception were replaced
with Zoom breakout rooms and virtual hellos with groups of friends. Pre-mailed
celebration kits replaced a traditional cocktail hour. A virtual MC guided our
friends through a virtual reception. Different? Absolutely. But you know what?
It was fun!
share such a personal story in our blog? Because there’s a distinct parallel
between how we reimagine gathering together for a life event and how we reimagine
welcoming new team members on board. All the similarities are there – receiving
new hires into your corporate “family”, gathering teams together to celebrate a
milestone moment and new beginnings, coordinating all of the behind-the-scenes
logistics to make it happen – seamlessly. And with the “Great Resignation” upon
us, there’s never been a better time to rethink onboarding practices than right
Managing a complex merger
integration and keeping your sponsors and key stakeholders engaged is hard
enough. So what are you supposed to do when your sponsors don’t get along with
each other? How do you keep the multiple workstreams on track and deliver a successful
This is a story
about the acute challenges a project manager faces when senior leaders across a
company don’t get along. For the sake of confidentiality, actual names and
details of the effort have been changed.
The Backdrop Let’s start by acknowledging this was a virtual engagement. Our project management team worked from several sites – including numerous home offices – in multiple time zones across the US. Other than the initial in-person pre-COVID kickoff, the team never saw each other “live.” We managed the entire project via Zoom, phone calls, texts, and emails.
If you knew 60% of your workforce would quit
tomorrow, what would you do? While seemingly alarmist, this statistic reflects
what we’re seeing in study after study as we emerge from the pandemic. Sixty
percent of employees who worked from home during the pandemic indicated they
would quit immediately if their organizations do not implement some element of
This is the challenge HR and business leaders are
now facing as they look to bring their teams back to the office after nearly a
year and a half of virtual work arrangements. Yet there is a positive
opportunity in this moment that many of the alarmist headlines are overlooking.
In this new era of work, how does this need for hybrid work arrangements enable
us to reimagine the employee experience while still delivering outstanding
results for our customers and clients?
Let’s start with the end in mind. What exactly is
employee engagement? Note that we didn’t say “employee entertainment”. This
isn’t about having air hockey in the breakrooms, holding yoga classes on-site,
or splurging on top performer trips to exotic locales (remember those?!). According
to the “Best Places to Work” criteria, “Employee engagement is the strength of
the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward the work they do,
their teams, and their organization.” Simple and straightforward, right? Then
why does it feel like employee engagement is so hard to get at? Because it’s
past year has shown us what it takes to be resilient and keep your business
going. While it has been deemed an “unprecedented” time, 2020 is but one
example of a business disruption we must plan for and take swift action to address.
Whether a force of nature or man-made, we have lived through countless other
disruptions including fires, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, snowstorms, and
more. We have also survived strikes, trade wars, workplace violence, military
and police intervention, changes in government and policies, regulations, and
taxes. None of this is going to get easier going forward. In fact, life will
only get more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (“VUCA”). The
question we must answer then is, “How can we make our businesses more resilient
to survive in a VUCA world?”
continuity must be viewed not only as a risk mitigation strategy but also as a
growth strategy. In any industry, leaders must de-risk their businesses before
growing them to avoid creating a “house of cards.” De-risking the business
means planning and preparing to ensure the organization is capable of operating
critical business functions, even in the face of an emergency. With business
continuity plans in place and recovery plans stress tested on a regular basis,
businesses can focus on growth and increased profitability.
the past five years, we have witnessed a shift as business leaders directly
address societal issues, recognizing their employees and consumers are conscientious
of business and brand stances on societal events. As we approach the one-year
mark since George Floyd’s murder and the amplification of voices calling for
societal change across multiple dimensions, it’s important to pause and reflect
on what progress we have made – both individually and collectively — and how to
continue to choose the next right step.
who have invested in a foundational understanding around Diversity, Equity and
Inclusion (DEI) concepts for all employees in their organizations have
benefitted from higher levels of engagement – even in the middle of a global
pandemic. These investments have allowed leaders at all levels the opportunity
to examine their biases, engage in open dialogue, and learn new ways of working
that prioritize inclusion.
leaders, however, have not yet initiated these DEI conversations, or may have
viewed them as a “one and done” type of activity. Others lost them in the
myriad of other priorities competing for their attention. To move from
introductory awareness to thoughtful action, the most visible leaders in this
Even the pandemic-driven work-from-home arrangements
provide the ability for employees to stay connected at any hour of the day.
This environment also increases the need for team members to step away from their
constant screen time and manage blurred work/life boundaries.
Many organizations rely on their own internal communication teams, training programs, and business users to drive change within their organizations. This often leads to reinventing the wheel with every change effort rather than leveraging a consistent methodology for change. When a standardized change methodology is embedded into the DNA of an organization, teams become more agile and changes are adopted faster. Simply put, organizations can adapt to the next inevitable change when it comes.
Through a “people” lens, we have supported countless large-scale digital technology implementations over the years and recognize the need for the rigor behind the technical design and systems development activities. Unfortunately, the energy and focus to deliver a new system often takes priority over the “human element”. We’ve seen outstanding technologies fail to get the desired outcomes because a “people problem” got in the way! At a time when change fatigue and digital saturation are at all-time highs, organizations must commit to the principles of change management as a strategic imperative for their near-term stability and future growth.
you know only about 20% of all privately held companies offered for sale each
year actually sell? And only around 30% of all family businesses in the U.S.
successfully transition from their first to second generation. Maybe worse, 75%
of all business owners who do sell their companies “profoundly regret” the
decision one year after selling.
my career, I have worked around the world with organizations big and small – ranging
from multi-billion-dollar Fortune 500s to government agencies to privately held
family businesses and startups. Of all my experiences, I cherish the most those
projects that have had the greatest impact on the people I worked with. So,
when I learned these statistics on privately held businesses completing a sale,
I knew I wanted to help business owners maximize the value of their businesses
and ultimately exit on their terms. This is especially true for the countless
Baby Boomers who will transition out of their businesses over the next 10 years
– a movement that represents roughly 4.5 million businesses and $10 trillion of
wealth being transferred!
Many business exits fail because of a lack of knowledge and planning. Two-thirds of business owners are not familiar with their options for exiting. Almost 80% have no written transition plan or advisory team in place to help them. Nearly half of all business owners have not done any planning, and 93% have no formal “life after” plan. Compound that with the fact that 50% of all business exits are involuntary, forced by dramatic external factors such as death, disability, divorce, disagreement, and distress. Owners need to plan for how they will walk away from their businesses, not only in a perfect scenario but also in a worst-case situation. A properly planned and executed exit can handsomely reward the business owner for the time, effort, headaches, and heartaches that come from building a business. It also benefits the many employees who work in the business and all the customers they serve. The following, then, is a proven three-phase approach for unlocking the wealth trapped inside your business.
At the turn of the century, we couldn’t get enough data. By 2010, we had a multitude of data. Now, we’re swimming in more data than we can possibly use.
Gartner recently noted that
organizations use only a fraction of the analytic potential they possess. As
organizations further embrace this idea of business intelligence and data
analytics though, leaders are realizing that it’s more about the process of
fact-based problem solving than it is about the data itself. Data is just the
oil that helps business run smoothly. Leaders need to build engines based on powerful
critical thinking capabilities, not just big data repositories, to deliver
Traditionally, managers tracked
and reported against key performance indicators. While some lessons may have been
gleaned from this rearward-looking approach, it left companies largely blind to
what laid ahead. So, how do leaders take a more proactive forward-looking
approach to where they want to take their businesses? How do leaders better allocate
their precious resources? What are their expected outcomes, and how do they
know their actions will produce those desired results? These are critical questions
to address. Determining what data is required to provide these insights is
secondary to defining these problems and opportunities.
2020, many business leaders recognized that it wasn’t our unique products or
market niches that sustained us. It was our people. It was those leaders and
team members who, despite incredible obstacles, stepped up and delivered great
value for our companies and the clients/customers we serve. Last July, we wrote
about the importance of
supporting our employees as they do what they can to support us and our businesses.
As we look ahead to 2021 and beyond, how can we further these efforts to
support our most important resource – our human capital?
the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) – the entity that regulates
reporting requirements for all publicly-traded companies – now recognizes the critical
importance of an organization’s workforce. The SEC recently determined that key human
capital measures and objectives beyond traditional financial statements must be
disclosed in order to more accurately describe the overall health of a company.
To this end, all public companies now need to disclose the key human capital
measures and objectives that enable them to manage their businesses when they