This is one of my favourite frameworks for talking about trust at work (by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss). It comes from their 2020 HBR article “Begin with Trust”. They ask:
=> Which of these points is your Anchor?
=> Which is your Wobble?
=> Are you building a stable “Trust Architecture”?
In their book “Unleashed” they define leadership as: “Empowering other people as a result of your presence, and making sure that impact continues into your absence.”
=> Presence is about e.g., empathy and connection.
=> Absence is about e.g., culture and communities.
I would put nearly all the work I do on improving employee experience under the banner of “building trust” and specifically “closing the trust gap” that exists in most organisations and that’s such a drag on performance.
If you’re like me, you probably get invited to follow a lot of newsletters. It can be a bit overwhelming. So I thought I’d share a list of those that I (very happily) follow:
– If you’re interested in psychological safety, then Tom Geraghty’s newsletter has the mission of “making the world of work a better, safer, more inclusive and equitable place.” https://psychsafety.co.uk/newsletter/
– Anyone following my posts will know that trust is a central theme. Hence, I find “Rethink” with Rachel Botsman a great read. The weekly newsletter is free and the aim is to share “an idea that will make you think differently”. https://rachelbotsman.substack.com/about
– Abhishek Mittal has a great newsletter called “HRHeadStart”. He says it’s aimed at “young HR professionals and students” but I learn an awful lot from it too. https://www.hrheadstart.xyz/
– Rita McGrath, author and professor at Columbia Business School, uses her “Thought Sparks” newsletter on Substack to share her ideas on strategy, innovation, and growth. https://thoughtsparks.substack.com/
** Of course, I also have my own newsletter!! (“EX Leadership”). It’s quarterly and I share the very best 3-4 EX articles I’ve come across in the last few months. You can sign up here: https://nicklynnphd.substack.com/
I hope you enjoy some / all of these. Which others would be on your list? I’d love to know what I’m missing out on!
Design thinking – Leadership love – Belonging – Get Stuff Done
It’s hot out there.** So I recommend grabbing a cool drink and reading these articles while you sit in the shade; they’re the ones I’ve enjoyed the most over the last few months and that have got me thinking. I hope you find them useful too.
** With apologies to friends in the UK where the weather is actually pretty rubbish.
First up is this great piece on design thinking by Hal Wuertz. I really like the way she combines design thinking with scientific approaches to solving problems.
Belonging is a topic I’m hearing more and more about (and I’m enjoying reading Geoff Cohen’s book on the science of belonging). I missed this article by Marissa Afton when it first came out, but I really like its focus on “the four pillars of belonging” all of which resonate with me.
That’s it. The promise I made when I started this newsletter was that I would only share 3-4 great articles each time and I’ve noticed myself struggling to keep to that limit recently. Not this time though!
It’s Spring in the UK, which means the bluebells are out and that 2023 is flying by. Here’s my latest newsletter. As always, it contains the best EX articles I’ve come across over the last few months. Let me know if you find them interesting too.
First up, I found this report by Marc Effron very useful. It’s full of detail about trends in performance management, which is such a key topic. I worked with Marc when I was in New York. He’s a great person to follow on LinkedIn for all things talent and performance.
This is a thoughtful paper by Jared Peterson on the importance of understanding context. In essence, he argues that when behaviour change solutions don’t create an impact, it’s really because we haven’t understood the context in which people operate (so don’t rush to blame the “solution” itself). There’s a lot to think about here. Save this one for when you have a big mug of tea to hand.
I enjoyed this article by Hanadi El Sayyed on sustainability and employee experience. She looks at the link to purpose, wellbeing, and innovation. It’s an area I’m really interested in, as are lots of my clients, and it’s only going to increase in importance over time. Tapping into the energy of your workforce is really key for climate action.
Another person I recommend you follow on LinkedIn is Sarah McLellan. Her series on “culture cracks” is a brilliant read as is this short article on what you need to measure in the new world of work. She highlights things like employee vitality, culture health, and purpose & impact. It’s a terrific list.
I thought this was an interesting analysis of what CEOs talk about on LinkedIn. I’ve not really come across this information before. UK CEOs – and their social media teams – apparently take a relatively personal approach in their posts, including one-to-one interactions with employees and sharing personal career stories.
This is an interesting paper looking at the manager behaviours that keep people from speaking up and testing some potential (simple and low-cost) interventions. It’s based on work done by Novartis. What it really highlights is the importance of team and individual dialogue.
I also did a video to mark the 4th anniversary of my book being published. I briefly talk about what’s changed in the world of EX since then. The main thing is that it was a very windy day in London when I did the video.
Welcome to 2023 and my January newsletter (a short collection of the most interesting EX articles I’ve come across over the last months). As always, let me know what you make of them!
Actually, there’s a bit of a theme to this edition. That’s because the first two articles are both about systems thinking (something I’m very interested in):
In this HBR article Ludmila Praslova identifies the problem of trying to fix issues like burnout or bullying by focusing on individual behaviours and not context. I like the discussion of super-biases and mental shortcuts.
Alec Levenson has written a two-part series on systems diagnosis tools and techniques. I like his coaching guidelines such as: “Focus on perennial problems”; “Check for unintended consequences”; and “Look for root causes.”
Next up, I just really like this article by Zach Mercurio on “mattering”. His definition is “the belief that we’re significant to the world around us.” Zach explains why it’s important for your experience at work and how you can foster it. Here’s the link.
Shopify made a big noise when it announced it was going meeting-less. I really don’t like meetings (this will surprise no-one), so I was interested to learn what’s involved. The truth is more interesting and complex than the headline suggests. Click here for a great write up by Becky Kane.
I thought this was a good article by Ben Zweig, analysing the attrition risk at 3- and 12-months. Getting to your first anniversary really matters. I’m working with several companies at the moment to understand why that sometimes doesn’t happen often enough.
In December and January my LI feed is full of long lists of “new year trends and priorities”. I appreciated the simplicity of this list by Lynda Gratton as she identifies only two: 1) Check your assumptions about different generations in the workplace so you can bring people together; 2) Improve your understanding of how human skills and new technologies intersect.
The final article is a WTW one, summarising our new research into change leadership in high-performance companies. It answers the question: “What sets these Change Masters apart when it comes to employee experience?” The link is to a download form; if that’s too much faff, let me know and I will email you the report. 🙂
I assume you’re grateful that I haven’t mentioned Chat GPT even once. 🙂 (Of course, this edition could have been written by a bot; how would you tell?)
Here’s the autumn edition of my newsletter. The days shorten, the temperature drops, the heating bills go up, and I’m a bit worried the content here won’t cheer you up. 🙁
Two excellent articles have analysed data from social networks to measure employee experience. First up, Don and Charles Sull have mined Glassdoor to identify what leads to toxic work cultures. Their answer: bad leadership and poor work design. Second, a bunch of folks from MIT, Harvard and Stanford have explored LinkedIn connections to understand the effects of strong and weak ties on job mobility. Both are examples of analysing “passive data” in order to understand behaviour through networks (an area of growing interest).
Talking of social connections, when I started doing research into engagement (all those years ago!) I never expected that isolation and loneliness would emerge as a key theme. But it is. In the UK, one-in-five employees feel lonely at work. Importantly, only one-in-ten would ever tell their manager about it. This article by Rachel Botsman (one of my favourite writers) is to the point.
Maybe what’s needed is more compassionate leadership. To that end, this paper by Mark Mortensen and Heidi Gardner looks at how leaders can show compassion without compromising on performance; in their words “being kind and high-performing”.
When it comes to changing culture, I found this article by Roger Martin very insightful. “Culture change depends on micro-interventions: small adjustments to the structure, dynamics, or framing of interpersonal interactions, applied consistently over time.” That’s something I agree with – lots of incremental changes that can add up to something big, even transformative.
I’ve been out and about presenting at conferences recently. It’s great to meet people in person. I’ve been talking about using analytics to better support employees in a cost of living crisis. I’ve also discussed wellbeing and the need to focus on organisational health and resilience. (Someone called this “the state of the world according to Nick” presentation, which I think is fair as I cover a lot of ground, from geopolitics to neuroscience!) Links to my slides from both these presentations are below.
I’ve been out and about presenting at conferences recently. It’s great to meet people in person. I’ve been talking about using analytics to better support employees in a cost of living crisis. I’ve also discussed wellbeing and the need to focus on organisational health and resilience. (Someone called this “the state of the world according to Nick” presentation, which I think is fair as I cover a lot of ground, from geopolitics to neuroscience!)
Links to my slides from both these presentations are below.
I’m moving my informal newsletter online as the number of recipients has grown. It’s the same format – a short selection of very best EX articles I’ve come across over the last months. Hopefully, this saves you from spending time scrolling through LinkedIn and Twitter.
Here you go:
The Four Levers of Employee Experience
Stacia Garr, who runs Red Thread Research, has written a great review of EX approaches. The four levers are: 1) A clear philosophy; 2) A supportive culture; 3) Clear accountability; and 4) An aligned measurement approach.
“Sense of connection” is a very big topic, especially as people plan for the future of hybrid working. This article by Gianni Giacomelli is interesting because it looks at the importance of networks: “Good people who fail to create a strong network in their company can end up leaving.”
Gustavo Razzetti’s new book (“Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace”) is a blinder. It’s full of practical steps and templates, beginning with “understanding mindsets” and moving through to “releasing agility”. A highly recommended addition to your summer reading list.
HPEX and Hybrid
I’ve also written about employee experience and flex work in this article in People Matters. I summarise quite a bit of our recent research into high performance EX.
Here’s the latest version of my informal newsletter, containing a short selection of the very best EX articles I’ve come across over the last few months (so you don’t have to slog through LI or Twitter).
First up is a terrific HBR article by Diane Gherson and Lynda Gratton on how overwhelmed many managers are and what to do about it. In our data we’re seeing more and more evidence of manager burnout. It’s often a systemic problem that’s fixed by rethinking the role of people leader. There is some great advice in this piece: building people leadership skills, simplifying work, and job redesign. Related to this, I am working on a number of “Manager 180s” for clients at the moment that provide tailored developmental feedback to people leaders at all levels. It’s a great use of our listening platform (and often not part of a traditional “listening strategy”).
I’m a long-time fan of Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore, the authors of The Experience Economy, one of my favourite books. I really like their latest article on transforming jobs to create more compelling employee experiences. Too much of the discussion about the Future of Work focuses on automation, cost-saving, and efficiency (the transactional side of work). It’s good to be reminded of the opportunity to invest in people, engagement, and trust (by transforming jobs).
This is an interesting article by Ayelet Fishbach on how moderate emotional discomfort can be a signal that you’re developing as a person. It often happens before you can actually detect the benefits of self-growth. In other words, short-term discomfort can be a sign you’re making progress towards long-term gains. Ayelet is author of the book “Get It Done: Surprising Lessons from the Science of Motivation”.
The final pair of articles are both reflections on what has happened over the last 2-3 years:
Here, Eric McNulty focuses on leadership. He sets out a simple process of “sensing-responding-adapting” in order to be agile enough to respond to uncertainty and shocks. I think it’s a very powerful (and simple) framework: