This year in the Nordic Business Forum the following phenomena and themes were strongly present:
- Innovations as a motor to the growth
- The importance of failure
- Psychological safety and trust within a team
- Reasonable schedules and the impact of timing to our effectivity
- Questioning everything and developing one’s own work
- The authenticity, trustworthiness and vulnerability of the leader
- The significance of clarity in leading, communication and sales
- True values of businesses and people
- The importance of difficult conversations
- Harmfulness of shame as a leading method and in corporate culture
- Handling the fears and feelings
If your boss attended the Nordic Business Forum, she probably comes to work next Monday having a plethora of new ideas based on these themes. Or maybe your boss arrives to work on Monday and once again buries herself under a pile of emails, awaiting tasks and double-booked meetings.
No matter which one your boss is, now you have a remarkable chance.
It’s good to think beforehand what these themes could mean to you. How you could, or would like to, be a part of the change. And if you already have an idea how to develop things or what issue should be brought up, now’s the right time. Your boss has just fetched a great many reasons from the NBF stage of why these changes are worth making.
I’ll give you a few interesting points to back your agenda on the Monday meeting.
Reasonable schedules and the impact of timing
Do you run through your workdays and hurry is constantly present? Or have you had difficulties arguing why it is a bad idea to have meetings in the morning when it comes to effectivity? Are you afraid that your boss will find you staring at the wall and thinks that you are lazy and ineffective when, in fact, you are working relentlessly – thinking!
Nordic Business Forum offered a lot of arguments why it’s a good idea to stop the hurry and overloaded schedules and to deliberately make space for thinking. Juliet Flunt even suggested to print notes around the office that give you questions to consider regularly:
- Is there anything I can let go of?
- Where is “good enough”, good enough?
- What do I truly need to know?
- What deserves my attention?
Daniel Pink, for his part, pointed out that the best time of the day, as long as analytical thinking in concerned, is before noon, and in the afternoon we are not at our sharpest. Except for the 20 percent of people that are night owls. Their best analytical time is early evening. Even they are not at their best in the afternoon.
When is it a good time to have meetings, when should you focus on coding and when to have workshops – these are the things you should address with your boss right now.
Questioning everything and developing your own work
Do you feel like many things in your work make no sense? Would you do things a hundred times faster, more conveniently and better unless there was some ludicrous process that slows everything down? Has the organisation fallen into ”this is how we do things” coma?
Now you can remind your boss about Sara Blakely’s speech. She gave the audience two pieces of advice:
- Ask constantly why. Don’t be afraid to look like a fool, but ask with sincere curiosity why, concerning everything.
- Ask your employees often: ”If no one ever told you how to do your job, how would you do it?”
These two questions feed constant improvement and help develop the work to the right direction.
The significance of clarity and true values
Is the vision of your company a bit dim, the mission unclear and the strategy messy? Do the company values feel like superimposed glitter?
Just raise your hand. In Nordic Business Forum Carla Harris, Donald Miller, as well as Brené Brown talked about the significance of clarity. All of them had, though, a different angle.
Carla Harris highlighted, that the job of the leader is to create clarity when the situation is messy, and to show the direction. That is, not to tell what to do next, but instead, what are we solving next. How things are done is in the hands of the professionals themselves. According to Harris, the same clarity is also crucial in the sales work.
Daniel Miller, as well, stressed that there should be clarity in sales and marketing. He reminded, that human brain functions to minimize the usage of energy. If something is presented in an unclear manner or with difficult language, the brain gives up really easily and turns to the energy saving mode. That’s why in the sales and marketing one should clarify really well what the company offers and what is the meaning of it.
Brené Brown, for her part, talked about clear stories as coping mechanisms of our brain. I’ll come back to this in further writings. But, an important picking in Brown’s speech is this:
”It is better to NOT have values, than have values that have not been operationalised.”
So, it’s better that the company doesn’t have values at all than having values that have been defined or named but do not show in everyday action in any way.
The importance of difficult conversations
Do you stay silent about difficult topics? Everybody knows about the elephant in the middle of the open-plan office, but nobody has the courage to mention it? Is every critical feedback awful squirming and padding with the hamburger feedback model?
Carla Harris mentioned as the eighth requirement of a leader the ability to use voice and ”to call a thing a thing”. So, if there is an economic depression, we talk about economic depression. If there is a stuff reduction consultation, we talk about staff reduction consultation. If there occurs sexual harassment in the working place, we must talk about sexual harassment. If the leader doesn’t have the courage to look difficult things in the eye and to have an honest, straight conversation about them, she won’t be having a long future as a leader of next generations.
In her speech Brown taught that people don’t bring up difficult topics because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But when we don’t talk about things with the one that they concern, we talk about them behind their backs, which is much more destructive. That’s why especially a good leader, but also a good colleague, chooses courage over comfort. That, which is an uncomfortable conversation for a little while, is eventually a base for better work culture, cooperation and relationships.
In addition, Brown reminds that: ”clear is kind, unclear is unkind”. It is more important to say things straight and clearly than covering them with vague paddings that leave the audience in the state of uncertainty. What was actually said and meant? Should I be even more worried?
So if the boss, colleagues or yourself have a tendency to dodge the difficult conversations, now is the right time to bring it up and make a change.
Psychological safety and trust within a team
What kind of atmosphere is there within your team? Is it ok to make mistakes, ask for help, show uncertainty? Do you give feedback and how is it being received? Is there nostalgia (things used to be so much better), possessiveness (my job, project, client, title), or cynicism?
In fact, very many of the speeches stressed that innovations are essential for the survival of the company. To come up with a successful innovation takes a lot of failed experiments. And this is something that requires psychological safety. Psychological safety is, overall, an ingredient of any successful and effective team.
Anssi Rantanen told in his speech about his experiences on Google and taught that psychological safety is born from the following aspects:
- Highlighting the importance that everybody takes part
- Asking for honest feedback
- Sharing your own failures
Brené Brown said that in the center of a harmful work culture we find shame and fear of becoming useless. The fear that we’re not important makes us wrap ourselves in the armour of change resistance, which is build either out of nostalgia, possessiveness or cynicism. Shame, instead, is a poison that spoils the whole culture. If the employees are being humiliated, it’s very quickly the end of all innovations.
So, if your workplace is lacking some of the elements Rantanen mentioned or you notice something that Brown talked about, now is the time to talk about them.
Reforming the agenda for Monday meeting
Your boss has the access to the recordings of NBF speeches for 30 days. I recommend you pick the speeches that are relevant to you, watch them through together and discuss the topics. It’s easier to make the change together than alone.
Also, it is sometimes easier to make the change together with external and objective help. You can find tools in my toolbox to cope with difficult conversations, feedback, teamwork and emotions. Send me an email in: firstname.lastname@example.org
We already know why these matter. Now we are left with the hardest part, which is taking things into practice. What would you do next? Come and have a chat in Koodarikuiskaaja Slack!