The hours you work that are not important

I read this article from HR Grapevine with some frustration, and here is a quote from it:

“A survey has revealed that 77% of workers have said they’ve done ‘something they shouldn’t have’ during work hours, including one in ten respondents who said they have sex when they should be working.”

And? Providing the required outcomes are achieved for the employer when they are needed, what does it matter?

I fully take the point that in a lot of areas, time is critical: opening or service hours have to be maintained, there needs to be sufficient capacity available in certain hours, workflows with differing teams and locations need to be co-ordinated etc etc.

But there are lots and lots of jobs which aren’t time critical: an amount of output needs to be achieved in a particular period. If that is the case, who cares when the work is done, providing it gets done? If that gives flexibility for doing other things such as shopping, childcare, housework, errands or even having sex, then everyone is happier – and probably more loyal and productive as a result.

From a middle management and team’s point of view, this all should be agreed up front: what work needs to be done by when, what is acceptable behaviour, how much flexibility we are giving our teams and people, core hours, how processes can work in a flexible working environment etc etc.

If it hasn’t been and you are finding getting it implemented smoothly a challenge, then please contact me or take a look at for more information.

#flexibleworking #teamwork #middlemanagement #futureofwork #futureleadership

Newsletter published – conflict continues over going back to the office

Some big companies are forcing people back to the office

We are watching a battle for hearts and minds happening in real time. Some companies such as Meta (Facebook), Amazon, JP Morgan and Salesforce are mandating a return to the office for a fixed portion of the week – and incentivising their managers to achieve it. Others are taking a different path, promoting more flexibility. The jobs marketplace and the battle for talent is going to decide the best approach.

What hasn’t changed

As usual, the middle management bears the brunt in challenging times as they juggle the C suite directions and directives against the expectations of their team members to find workable solutions. Leadership and management has changed as a result of market forces and changes to work and middle management need more support than ever before. Please book a call or email us to find out how we can help you help them to be more successful.

What have we been up to?

We have taken our strapline out on the road and delivered a very well received presentation at UWE Business School – with a record attendance for a breakfast networking meeting – covering why traditional management is dead, what killed it and what organisation need to do now.

We got some great attendee feedback: “Thanks for today, I got real value out of the conversations.”

Can you help us?

Have you got anyone in your network that we could talk to who has good experience of taking teams remote and developing them after that transition? Particularly teams that struggled with the move to remote/hybrid working. Or building teams with hybrid/remote elements?

We would love to have a conversation with them to get lessons out of their experiences. Real-world information is gold dust for us. Obviously, we will be very happy to share relevant information and examples from our research with them in return.

Download your copy of our analysis of the current news about productivity and teams here.

A tale of inefficiency

Let me tell you a story.

I have a high tech Scandi log burner which is invaluable during the winter. I have raved about its economy and efficiency down in the pub for many years but this year something went wrong. It needed double the number of logs to generate the same amount of heat. It became difficult to manage, either roaring or fizzling out. In short it went from Scandi high performer to sloth like indifference that was costing me money.

I knew that something was wrong, underperformance is not hard to spot, so I poked and prodded it to no effect other than my own tedious monologue on the subject. Eventually, my wife acted and summoned the chimney sweep who arrived 2 days later and fixed the problem after 30 minutes knowledgeable tinkering. Now the stove is returned to its normal efficient glory.

So my question is, why didn’t I take action sooner? That I can’t answer except to say that I adopted a “head in the sand attitude” in the vain hope that it would fix itself or maybe the “pain” just wasn’t great enough to trigger action. Either way it cost me time and money.

The same can be said for many underperforming or inefficient organisations and businesses. You know there is something wrong but like me cant fix it so you do nothing. This costs you not only time and money but will have an effect on your reputation.

So what?

The moral of the story is that if something is slowing down your organisation, take action to sort it. Either deal with it yourself if you have the competence and capacity, or call in the “chimney sweep” to do it for you.

#tuningteams #teamwork  #teamleadership

New Year – New Focus

2023 has arrived with a bang and Felix and I are determined to do things differently this year.

More outreach, more marketing and a new-found clarity of purpose around what we actually DO. What problem do we actually solve for our customers.

We help leaders tune mis-firing teams.

The problems being experienced by the “squeezed middle” managers and leaders haven’t gone away. In fact, the challenges they face have got worse as the tug-of-war over where work gets done continues – different parts of the organisation are pulling in different directions.

Take a look at our analysis of the situation here and please feel free to share it.

We are always happy to have a conversation as relationships are key and they always add value.

What is the right model for you?

By Felix Spender

Think back to June 2007.

You would have had a perfectly good mobile phone. Most probably a Nokia 3310 or for the more up market a Blackberry. You were content. Then came the iPhone, heralding the start of the smartphone revolution, and your world was changed. You witnessed a communications revolution.

The same is now going on in the workplace. For years businesses struggled to achieve a balance between the needs of the organisation and those of the individual. Flexible working and working from home were found on the periphery but the majority commuted to a central hub for fixed hours.  

COVID-19 blew all that out of the water when businesses dispersed to survive. Remote and flexible working became the norm and a Deloitte’s survey found that 61% of desk based workers would prefer to work from home more often. The question now is, what model do you adopt for the future? Do you go backwards to how it was before the pandemic, your old comfort zone, or do you go forward to something new? Stick with the Nokia 3310 or get a smartphone.  

There are 3 basic models on the shelf which you can customise to suit your business needs.

A centralised model, with synchronised working patterns, will still exist but there will be much greater flexibility built into the system.

A remote model that is completely distributed, operating asynchronously with an output-based culture. 

Hybrid model that combines elements of the other 2 models. It provides a physical central hub for key services while allowing employees greater flexibility and autonomy as to how they manage their work.

Your current operating model is most probably the one you went to in survival mode. Now you need to create a sustainable and resilient model that will enable you to power up and out of the trough. Which model is best for you? That depends on how you want to balance the needs of the leader, the task, the team and the individuals.  

Visit our website and download our 10 Keys to Organisational Success.

Contact us through the website to arrange a free consultation.

Are you ready to run a remote business?

Well done, you have survived the Covid crisis, distributed your team to work from home and now you want to go fully remote. That is a good call but the question you have to ask yourself is “am I fit to run a remote organisation?”.

Before you answer that, let me tell you my story.

I left the Army and set up Northlight as a small boutique consultancy to help enhance collaboration within businesses and organisations. My vision was that it would be able to challenge larger consultancies on both value and quality, which meant that overheads had to be low and the pool of talent great. I needed to go remote from the start.

I had no difficulty finding the talent and things went swimmingly for a bit but then problems started. Some of the team became difficult to work with and appeared to be less than committed. Cracks appeared that split the network into core and peripheral elements, eventually leading to fragmentation. It was a disaster and I had to face up to the reality that I had alienated some remarkable people.

Many conversations and long walks later, I worked it out. I had spent my entire working life in a centralised, if at times distributed environment, and I had attempted to impose a centralised culture on remote freelancers. I was accustomed to running organisations that worked to a central system with central regulation and was unfit to run a remote, network-based organisation that needed to function in a much looser fashion.

My second attempt built on the lessons gleaned from the first. I had to change my operational style dramatically and embrace asynchronous working, something which was entirely alien to me. I engaged with the team and between us we worked out and codified how we would operate. We set up the right channels of communication to enable formal, informal and social chat. We created a culture, based on our shared values, rather than just my values, that is right for the organisation.

The result has been to produce a highly efficient organisation that delivers top quality products. Now we have set up Springboard to the future in collaboration with Glen Maxwell-Heron to help other organisations do the same.

So, if you are thinking about moving from your current organisational model to a remote or hybrid one, just ask yourself “am I fit to run a remote organisation?”. You may find that you need to change yourself before you change the organisation.

Visit our website and download our 10 Keys to Organisational Success.

Contact us through the website to arrange a free consultation.

#remoteworkforce #futureofwork #leadership #flexibleworking #springboardttf

“So, what did you do during lockdown, Daddy?”

“The new normal!”

“You mean apart from home-schooling you two, trying to keep you entertained and attempting to get some work done?”

Broadly, people had 2 options during the lockdowns: sit around and fester or do something new. Most people I know got on with the latter and I was amazed what they came up with from writing books, building boats to new business ideas. Some of this was driven by necessity as they had to earn money to support their families, but the ingenuity and energy were formidable – particularly as they had their children at home most of the time, too.

I had been working on Belmont Leisure for over 2 years: we had launched a product, spent months getting authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority to lend consumers money (become a bank!) and then worked on a complete rebrand to something that we thought had real potential for the future. Then, the month after launch, Covid arrived and pretty much destroyed the product.

So, time for a plan B.

Despite working in the leisure market, I had kept up with what was going on in the people and leadership space, so I started thinking about the impact the pandemic was going to have on work, organisations, leadership and people. I was watching real time as people close to me were grappling with the challenges of systems that were never designed for the internet age and the issues raised by family priorities, isolation, quarantine and the ever changing landscape of restrictions. I realised that life was never going to go back to the way it was, pre-Covid, and that a real revolution was happening in front of my eyes. Did this structural shift present opportunities? Could we spot a gap in the market? Could I launch something new? I called Felix Spender, who had the same thought and we started to pull together our ideas on the workplace revolution. “Place people at the heart of business, enable them to do the job and trust them to do it.” In short, a model built on output, autonomy and trust, rather than bought hours and fixed labour.

The result is our collaboration, Springboard to the Future, designed to enable your organisation to thrive in whatever the “new normal” will become by capitalising on the workplace revolution, unlocking the power of your workforce and increasing collaboration which will improve profits and make your organisation more agile and resilient. And this agility and resilience is going to be ever more important as Covid moves from being a pandemic to being endemic.

We know some organisations are hoping that once the pandemic has passed, they can return to how it was before, which is maybe how people thought during the First World War. Why not accept that there will be change and embrace it? Go forwards, not backwards.

We also know that many businesses have already got part of the way there, have got something working to keep operating. However, to continue for the longer term they will need to fine tune how it works and make it stick – things are going to be very different for a good while yet. Until now, they have been relying on the social capital that they built up before Covid arrived but teams change, circumstances change, the market changes. They need to answer the questions about how they innovate, how do they build and maintain their teams, deliver change, grow and deal with conflict whilst not being able to be together in person.

We are looking forward to working with businesses that want to go forward. If you want to find out more then please visit our new website.

For our free guide “The 10 keys to Organisational Success”, then please click here.