Sally Henderson
Executive Mentor
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Blog

Sally Henderson

The world of work isn’t working 

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Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Culture2.0 leadership event created by Bruce Daisley and Sue Todd. It was a sobering opening slide highlighting that work, despite all the technology and knowledge available to us, is in fact not working. 

People are working 27% longer, are feeling 50% more exhausted, over 78% of your staff are likely to shut off with +30% experiencing greater feelings of loneliness.  

These are indeed grim statistics. Work is less fun and is harder. It is more important now than ever before to stop the rot and #MakeADifference. 

Here is where it is easy to stop reading, think "this doesn’t apply to me or my business", or "I am too busy getting on with work". My experience shows me that, actually, this does matter to every business and leader. So please, do keep reading. 

We forget that work is indeed made up by people, and that these same people have an amazing yet sometimes deadly collection of emotions. Emotion can be your biggest asset or biggest enemy when it comes to creating a great place to work, and to being a great leader. Without these components in place, you will see and experience even worse statistics than I started this article with. 

 

To join me on my mission to make work work, I want to share highlights from two of the Speakers at Culture2.0. 

Dan Cable spoke about how behaviour is influenced by emotion. That, as humans, we are programmed to seek out new ways and to be innovative, yet work is often the route barrier to this instinctive trait.   

It is vital companies ignite the right emotion, that of our Ventral Striatum, or Seeker System as it can also be known. This is a part of our brain that, when triggered, enables people to want to learn new things. A pretty key-skill in the creative economy!  

When you trigger fear in a company, you create cortisol which makes people feel threatened, anxious, and worried. They will narrow their attention to focus on the threat.  
When you trigger the Seeking System, you create dopamine which makes people more curious, excited, enthusiastic, and hungry to experiment.  You don’t need me to say which is more productive for any business that relies on innovation, original thinking, and creativity! 
 

Andre Spicer talked about calling out Bullshit at work. How work has become designed to not get stuff done. 
We are bombarded by email, other people, pointless meetings, and distraction. The language of work is filled with jargon and meaningless phrases empty of facts, logic, and meaning. A recent poll by YouGov found that 42% of men thought society would be better off if their jobs didn’t exist - hopefully they aren’t working for you!  

To rid your organisation of Bullshit, follow these three simple steps to foster a more evidence-based management approach: 

  1. What’s the evidence? 
  2. How exactly will that work? 
  3. What does that mean? 
     

Ben Waber, CEO of Humanyze, really brought home the power of data to understand human behaviour in the workplace. He shared a case study of a Bank in America who invested significantly to understand why certain branches were out-performing others. The results were incredible, from understanding the impact of a 10 seconds-staircase on splitting culture, the problems of too tightly-knit teams where new people couldn’t penetrate the “gang”, to the power of local managers introducing informal bonuses that radically improved overall sales. 

 The power of small detail was also revealing: Ben shared that the impact of where a coffee machine is in an office has a direct impact on performance and culture. Is it time to move yours? 


Oliver Curry closed the morning by sharing the importance and values of ethics and morality in the workplace. Is “Good Business” really good? Through his research into the moral codes of 60 countries, Oliver found there are 7 moral rules common across the globe: 

  1. Help your family
  2. Help your group
  3. Return favours
  4. Be brave
  5. Respect your superiors
  6. Be fair
  7. Respect other’s property 

I will leave you with a classic saying from the world of NLP and professional development:  

“If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got” 

What’s your choice as a leader and company? Will you fall victim to the downward spiral of the world of work, or will you join me on a mission to stop the rot, change the status quo in the creative sector to invest in great leadership, and inject much needed support and creativity of thinking right at the heart of the industry via its leaders? 

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To gain precious time to work on your Leadership & your Business Growth with peers in a confidential, intimate group, join me on my next #ShineBrighter Round-Table for Managing Directors on Tuesday 21st November!

Places are highly limited - BOOK NOW to secure your seat, or register your interest for future events at sally@sallyhenderson.co.uk.

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sally henderson