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Why We All Need To Be More Human In The Age of AI

We’re never far away from another survey telling us how technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) will change how we do our jobs. Professional services firm Accenture recently published its TechVision 2019 report, which says workers are becoming “human+”, with employees empowered by a new set of technological capabilities that will be integrated alongside their own skills and expertise.

The prospect of AI in the workforce is simultaneously exciting and scary: it may well supercharge us to achieve all sorts of things that weren’t possible before but it could, of course, also wipe us out and ultimately make us extinct.

At PUSH we believe that amid all of the hype and discussion around automation and AI, there is a trick many employers are missing. Ultimately, if the vast majority of organisations adopt the same kind of technologies that do the same kinds of things, it will cease to be a disruptor or a differentiator. And, therefore, the biggest potential weapon you have to mark yourself out from the competition remains your people.

In a discussion paper by the McKinsey Global Institute entitled, Skill shift: Automation and the future of the workforce, the consulting firm says that accompanying the adoption of advanced technologies into the workplace will be an increase in the need for workers with “finely tuned social and emotional skills – skills that machines are a long way from mastering”.

It predicts that between 2016 and 2030, demand for social and emotional skills will grow across all industries by 26 per cent in the United States and by 22 per cent in Europe. The Institute says that while some of these skills, such as empathy, are innate, others, such as advanced communication, “can be honed and taught”. Its research also finds that the demand for higher cognitive skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, decision making, and complex information processing, will also grow through 2030.

We believe that such skills could be among the differentiators for organisations over the coming years along with a host of soft skills such as excellent powers of communication and judgement, interpersonal and team-working skills and the ability to empathise and see all points of view. In short, in the technological age, we need to become even more human to maintain a competitive edge.

This isn’t an argument about who is best – humans or robots – but assessing what each can do best and playing to our strengths. A computer algorithm can more efficiently identify patterns of behaviour that might indicate a consumer’s buying preference but a machine won’t have the creative powers to dream up that next killer product to sell to them. Data might detect the flight risk of a top performer, but a computer won’t be able to persuade them why they should stay.

And while AI may well be able to analyse facial and microexpressions and work out when a candidate is lying in an interview, it needs a human being to probe and find out why.

Even though science-fiction might have us believe that robots and computers are becoming sentient we know that, in reality, they still need us as much, if not more, than we need them. Which is why PUSH is working with a number of clients to develop their managers’ emotional intelligence, creativity and critical thinking through coaching or other programmes and workshops. We believe the more developed our unique human skills, the more powerful our service and product offering will be to customers and clients and the more future-proof the organisation will be.

PUSH can’t pretend it has seen the future but we believe our experience has given us a pretty clear picture of what will be required in many workplaces and it is much more human than many people currently think.

How can you encourage the development of your team’s emotional intelligence, creativity and critical thinking? We work with companies to improve employee performance to future-proof a business – find out more or get in touch, we’d love to work with you.

Could Brexit Actually Be a Time of Huge Opportunity for Your Team and Business?

Like every other business in the UK, the spectre of next March 29th and the uncertainty the decision (or lack thereof) is creating, looms heavy on our minds here at PUSH. We’ve been giving it a lot of thought…

 

It’s this uncertainty, in the economy and in the world of work, that’s got the PUSH team thinking. On the one hand it means that important decisions are get postponed, investment is delayed and a big ‘pause button’ is pressed in so many different areas. Indeed, in many cases, investment in crucial fields like skills development and equipment, is actually under consideration of being totally cut out.

 

However, what if, instead of looking at cuts, business were thinking that now might actually be the time to be investing in people, processes and equipment; to be thinking about ways to boost productivity and improve the resilience of our businesses and our economy?

 

Now is the time to think about creating innovative, inspiring cultures that create genuinely different outcomes – places of work where people can feel psychologically safe and are energized, engaged and motivated enough to think differently and produce their very best work.

 

So, what do we do? Well, whilst there is no one-size-fits-all, as a start point we wanted to share five super-simple Brexit-proof tips from PUSH and, of course, we’d love to talk to you about how we could help tailor a more bespoke programme to support your team in the run-up to and beyond March 29th:

 

Redefining Purpose and Principles

Now, more than ever, it is time to be really clear with your team on your ‘why’. Why are they working at your organisation rather than anywhere else? What does it mean to work at your organisation – what are your company values and how do they align with each of them personally? What is expected of the team and, moreover, what commitment are you making to them – in particular throughout these more challenging times?

 

Communication is King

I heard a wonderful quote the other day, that ‘gossip is the most powerful form of corporate communication’ and it’s true. Infact, in times of instability, the opportunity for gossip only accelerates. So, at times like this, it is more important than ever that the company’s internal communication comes from the top and is consistent.

 

Make it regular and make it transparent and make it authentic. Most of all, ensure that it is two-way. If more junior members of staff want to speak to leadership about their concerns, provide them with an access point so you can quickly answer their worries and provide honest answers and support.

 

Work Out What You Need to Get to Peak Performance

Use this opportunity to conduct a detailed audit of your workforce, map out current and future skills gaps, and invest in training, development and wellness.

 

The PUSH Audit is an incredibly efficient and effective process to gauge this information. This exploratory piece of work to uncover how people are feeling about the environment they are working, the changes they are facing and all the many areas of their day to day that are or aren’t being affected by it.

 

We would love to work with you to use this time to find out exactly what your team needs to ensure you can upskill and retain your competitive edge.

 

Reward Thinking Differently

We so often hear that companies want their teams to be entrepreneurial but then provide no specific means for rewarding it. Now is the time to be innovative; to create new more effective and efficient ways of working and to wow clients to get them to spend more or differently.

 

So, how will you entice your teams to do exactly that? Remunerate based on innovation – and see how your company landscape immediately changes.

 

Deal with Individual Concerns Before They Become Company-Wide Issues

When PUSH support our clients throughout periods of change, we always over-invest in 1-2-1 coaching for individuals. It is important to create confidential, non-judgmental spaces for people to talk about their worries. Firstly, because, if someone is stressed or anxious, they simply cannot perform as well as normal as they are in ‘stress-mode’. So, we need to help provide them with the tools to quickly get back into peak-performance. Secondly, it is vital that issues are nipped in the bud quickly before they become team or even company-wide problem.

 

PUSH has been doing a huge amount of work on evolving its positioning over the last 12 months – to develop into a business consultancy grounded in human behaviour. We answer business problems with people-focused solutions, one of which is, of course, supporting teams through change. Indeed, we have proven results that working with PUSH has increased profitability.

 

We’d love to talk to you about how we could help tailor a more bespoke programme to support your team in the run-up to and beyond March 29th.

 

Download an illustrated PDF version of this blog to share with your team here:

:PUSH-5 Super-Simple Brexit-Proof Tips

True to Your Values

Even if we aren’t aware of it, we all have values which govern how we live. It is a set of fundamental beliefs that act as our very own code of conduct. Having a value system enables us to tell right from wrong and guides us to behave in a certain way.

Core values can be inherent or instilled in an individual. It is important to understand what your own values are because they embody what you are known for and are integral to your identity. And, as a wise man once said, they can take away everything from you but the one thing they can never remove is your identity.

 

Companies also have core values, or principles, which represent how their leaders, managers and employees think, act and behave. A true values-led company will ensure that their values aren’t just posted on the company noticeboard, website or published in the staff handbook but are communicated and role-modelled at the very top of the company. The behaviours that reflect them are cascaded down and can be built into everyday operations.

When an employee and organisation have the same values fit, it can be extremely powerful. Individuals believe in the company and its mission and want to work hard to fulfil their goals. It can help to empower and energise them. They are happier, healthier and more comfortable at work. Misalignment between company and personal values can be the reason for stress and conflict in the workplace.

Values have never been more important in the world of business and with this in mind we will be joining our client Oath UK at this year’s Huddle event, organised by global media agency network, Mindshare. Every year Mindshare shuts down the agency for a day and brings together media brands and agencies which host a range of diverse mini interactive workshops, talks, exhibitions, and panel discussions. The event on 15 November will see 1500 staff, clients and partners attend throughout the day who can sign up to activities that appeal to them via a special Huddle app.

This year’s theme is The New Era of Influence and will focus on the changing nature of influence. Huddle will be exploring some big topics and asking some big questions. For example, has the rise of fake news and the trust deficit led to a new appreciation in the industry for media brands and context? How influential are traditional media news brands and do they still shape the national mood? And has social media enabled politicians and celebrities to influence public opinion directly without the filter of mainstream media? It will also explore what new findings in behavioural science tell us about the nature of influence in the 21st Century.

 

In this new era, we believe human beings remain the most powerful force for influencing other humans. But to influence, we must understand our own value systems as we have the greatest power when we are in a position of self-awareness and have the tools at hand to manage ourselves and consistently perform at our best.

Oath is a values-led company which works with PUSH to make coaching available to their team. This enables them to develop their self-awareness, consequently ensuring that each member of the team can have the greatest influence over both themselves and others. Now, Oath wants to extend this opportunity to its clients and are working with PUSH to deliver that at Huddle

During Huddle we are running 30-minute, one-to-one personal development coaching sessions throughout the day as well as a talk focusing on mindfulness, entitled Happiness by Design by PUSH coach Palma Michel. Palma was our mindfulness coach on the highly successful Rise Up programme which we ran with Oath.

Its basis is providing tools that will help individuals act in an authentic manner that is in line with their values. Palma will share three secrets about a person’s brain, that can radically transform their life and empower them to act according to their values even when in stressful situations.

Oath is shaping the future of media and technology and is a great example of a company which has benefited from empowering their people to live their values at work. Its values include ‘Raise the bar’, ‘Speak the truth’ , ‘Create what’s next’ and Commit to inclusion’. The sub line of the latter is ‘Be yourself, Build Together’, which perfectly sums up what Oath and PUSH want to achieve on the day.

 

Huddle takes place on Thursday 15 November from 10 am – 5 pm.

30 minute 1:1 Personal development coaching slots are available to book across the day. Happiness by Design will start at 10 am. Use the Huddle App to book your slots. We look forward to seeing you there! 

Change Is Going To Come, So Prepare Your People For It

There’s no shortage of surveys that will tell leaders how the majority of change programmes fail. At PUSH, we think the best indication of measuring the success of your own programmes is to look at your people. Are they happy? Are they healthy? Or has absenteeism increased since you implemented the change?

The digital age means that many organisations are embarking on major digital transformation programmes that in some cases are based on entirely new business models and ways of working. This brings radical change to the structure of the workforce and how people work. Employees, however, are frequently not consulted in the change and can end up feeling it has been foisted on them. They become demotivated and quickly disengage with their role.

Change is inevitable at some point during an organisation’s lifecycle, whether it be because of digital transformation or a merger or acquisition. They were wise words indeed, when David E Morrison wrote that “For leaders to help people change, they do not need to understand change – they need to understand people”. Sadly, many leaders don’t.

If implemented properly, change is not a bad thing and at the same time as making the organisation more profitable and efficient, can make working life better and more interesting for its employees. Technology in particular can help to remove the mundane and routine from a person’s job and make their work-life more interesting.

New technology can give them more space and time to be creative and offers more autonomy, which will appeal to most people. In turn this will make them more motivated and innovative.

 

PUSH supported media company Yahoo when it merged with AOL in 2017 to form the company, Oath. The brief was to provide a programme that focused on building the necessary resilience required, creating a growth mind set while employees continued to operate productively throughout a six-month period, leading up to the Verizon deal close.

The Yahoo THRIVE multi-discipline programme was tailored precisely for the Yahoo team and built entirely on the findings from it’s in-depth audit. Its aim was to give individuals the skills and energy needed to recharge and perform at the highest level.

Initially running as a six-month programme in London, it was soon extended to 12 months and rolled out in Munich, Dublin and Paris. It featured over 300 talks, workshops and one-to-one sessions.

We ensured that the whole of the Yahoo team was emotionally and mentally prepared for the forthcoming sale and that they were strong enough to continue delivering in their roles throughout this challenging period, enabling the business to outperform expectations.

One team member commented: ‘Whilst we still did not know what was coming our way, we felt prepared for it, whatever that might be’.

Yahoo THRIVE enabled the Yahoo team to maintain their energy and achieve sales targets throughout the Verizon deal close period. 

 

In Philosophies of Organizational Change, authors Smith and Graetz point out that an individual experience of change is not just a part of the change management process, but it is the most important component of it. All leaders should have this top-of-mind during any period of change.

The companies that are best able to communicate and effect change are modern thinking companies that have flatter structures, are less hierarchical and have more collaborative cultures. They are more like organisms and are adept at using adaptive and contingent systems. They also have a natural tendency to involve employees in what is happening at the organisation in the same way a start-up would. They are flexible, agile and used to change so they understand the importance of making their people central to it.

Those companies that retain traditional hierarchies and purely focus on process and systems when effecting change are most likely to fail and lose a huge amount of goodwill from the workforce which they may never get back.

The old adage claims that no-one likes change. At PUSH we challenge that notion since the right kind of change, implemented well, can benefit everyone and make the organisation and its people happier and healthier. Helping individuals to overcome limiting thoughts or behaviours removes the fear factor from change. This will ensure that they remain productive and performing well, even if they feel challenged or stressed by what’s going on around them. In short, the key is to help people become comfortable with the uncomfortable.

 

How are you supporting your employees during times of change? What effects of change are you seeing on your team? Is digital transformation affecting the wellness of your staff? Get in touch to find out how we can supprot you and your workforce during times of transition. 

 

Wellness Programmes: Does This Stuff Really Work?

5 Ways Wellness Programmes Go Way Beyond ‘Just Wellbeing’

Does this stuff really work? Don’t people just go along to one session, make a change for a fortnight and then go back to what they did in the first place? We get asked this question a lot.

In short, the answer is simply that an effective workplace wellness programmes can not only impact the individual, but they can have real impact throughout the organisation, delivering mutual benefit to people and the wider business performance.

Let us explain…

 

  1. Make every session practical, useful and engaging

 

If you ensure every session has the combination of these elements then how can it not work?

 

Practical: Of, course there should be theory, stats and science to prove a point, but all activities need to be grounded in real-life stuff so that you can make changes as soon as you leave.

 

Useful: It helps if the folks delivering the sessions come from corporate backgrounds. It means they get it and it’s relevant. Don’t mistake wellbeing for airy-fairy. This is the stuff you need.

 

Engaging: A huge part of ‘being well’ is simply bringing joy to your heart. So the experience itself has to be fun. That’s how you remember stuff and, moreover, how you create proper connections in the room.

Fortunately, practical, useful and engaging is PUSH’s mantra. So, don’t worry – we’ve got it.

 

 

  1. Develop processes and ways of working, to ensure that the company is ‘well’ too

 

PUSH create companies with productive and happy cultures. How do you do that? Well, not just with yoga in a boardroom. Nor free food or going home early on a Friday – nice as they are. Good culture recognises that the world we’re living in is changing at a relentless and demanding pace. Teamed with traditional corporate processes, it’s the employee in the middle that feels the pain. It’s why stress and exhaustion are on the rise.

 

Good culture faces this head on and doesn’t ignore it thinking it will go away. It makes a change to look after its people so that they can bring their best to work and, consequently, do their best work.

How do you make those changes? First of all, you need to understand what’s going on with the team and make changes to your culture which include vision and values setting; tackling behavioural change, ways of working and updating processes that work in this new world.

 

Understand your team’s purpose and principles and let them guide you. If you focus on your people, the product and money follow and, as a consequence, team engagement and performance improve.

 

  1. Create authentic, open communities

 

We all know it: increase engagement in the workplace and your people are more likely to stay with you. However, how do you actually do that?

 

As a start, we need to bring people together more and simply create more relationships. We were stunned when we started working with a client recently that in a smallish company, less than half the population didn’t know each other. How on earth can you foster a positive environment in that situation – let alone create good, productive business?

 

You must enable space and opportunities where people can do stuff that isn’t just grounded in business transactions. Let the team be more open – vulnerability is not a weakness. It lies at the heart of growth. When people feel genuinely comfortable, they can fail as well as succeed and that is where the learning comes from and the growth happens.

 

And that what programmes like this provide – the opportunity for people to get together when it’s not in the office or in the pub, half-cut. Be it coaching, learning, exercising or eating these are good connections which help people to talk properly and openly. And that’s when the magic happens.

 

  1. Understand the importance of taking a break

We’re in a culture of more. And a culture of busy. So, if we just do more and are busy, then we’re doing okay, yeah?

 

Well actually no. We treat ourselves like the computers that we use and just expect ourselves to plug in and keep going. But, here’s the thing, we’re not computers, we’re humans and, critically, we need to rest and re-energise. And, if we don’t, we’re going to break. Or certainly not perform as well.

Think about it – have you ever heard of an athlete not having a rest day?

 

The value of taking a break and getting involved with a session means that you can come back to the task you were working on with more energy and focus. That break can be a walk, food, a meditation or maybe even an inspiring talk or Beyonce dance class. Wellness content isn’t ‘another thing on your to-do list’ it makes every other thing on your to do list so much easier!

 

  1. ROI – measure the impact

How do you measure it or, indeed, how do you know if it’s working?

 

We believe three measures provide the perfect solution for understanding ROI:

Feedback to ensure the team is learning and enjoying the content and proving that the talent is simply world class. Shifts in engagement metrics. Using both quantitative and qualitative research, we measure how the team is delivering against a series of measures including their resilience, motivation, communication and energy before the programme begins. We also ask how they feel about their team and company culture. Then, we measure it, again, after the programme has run to understand the impact it’s had.

 

Finally, after longer periods of time, we measure the impact on more tangible business metrics – like improvements in sales or decreases in attrition rates or sickness days. Through this, we know that we have saved one client £1.5m in recruitment fees and helped another maintain sales figures throughout a merger (when the company they were merging with missed targets by 15%).

 

So, to summarise, emphatically yes, this stuff does really work. And we prove it time and again with brilliant programmes that you and your team will genuinely love and, more importantly, work.

 

Read more about our work with Oath and Sainsbury’s and get in touch to talk to us about creating a bespoke programme for your organisation.

The Ongoing Battle of Busy Vs. Productive

You know the feeling, you’ve a mile-long to-do list, mounting deadlines, incessant emails, never-ending meetings, and you can feel the stress levels beginning to rise. Whilst we sometimes feel trapped it this situation, this is exactly the time you need to stop and ask yourself whether you are being productive or just needlessly busy.

Unfortunately, busyness rarely equals productive. Sometimes endlessly crossing items of your to-do list is just another form of procrastination that takes us further away from what we really need to achieve. Being busy is easy, being productive is where the real work comes in.

Here are our top tips for turning your busy into productive.

 

Take off your busy badge

In today’s world, being busy is often worn as a badge of honour. An endless to-do list and a full calendar can sometimes make you feel important. How many times have you heard friends and co-workers say they’re “so busy” in response to you asking how they are? Let’s redefine how we determine our value in the workplace. Because constant busyness is neither productive nor sustainable.

Simplify

Leaping from task to task on your to-do list without any direction is not likely to get you closer to your goals or result in a high level of productivity. Instead, why not simplify your focus to three top goals or priorities to help you remain focused and productive. Get clear about what the most important things for you to accomplish are and then plan your day accordingly.

Focus

Don’t multitask. Countless studies show that humans are actually terrible multitaskers. When we constantly switch between different streams of information we have difficulty paying attention and recalling information, meaning it can take us twice as long as if we just focused on one task at a time. It might make you feel like you are being super-productive, but in truth multitasking decreases your efficiency and just ends up leading to more stress.

Say Yes Strategically
Busy people say yes to everything, productive people say yes strategically. Being intentional and considered in what you take on prevents overpromising and under-delivering, which ultimately is more detrimental than saying no in the first place. Trying to please everyone doesn’t please anyone. If you don’t believe me, take it from Steve Jobs who said, “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do”.

Reflect

Regularly taking time out to stop and reflect helps to break the cycle of busyness and put you back on the path to productivity. Mindfulness can be particularly helpful when you feel stuck in a busy loop. Become aware of where your attention goes and reconnect to your priorities and goals. This simple yet highly effective practice will have you moving through that to-do list in a more meaningful and efficient way.

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