December 11, 2021


The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs



In this 8020Info Water Cooler we look at leading hybrid teams, last impressions, and two checklists — for strategy clarity and aligning content with market segments. We also include some year-end shout-outs. Enjoy! 


1. Five Rules for Leading a Hybrid Team

In 2015, Laszlo Bock wrote the book Work Rules! in which he set out guidelines based on his time building Google’s culture as senior vice-president of people operations. Now CEO of the HR software company Humu, he has revisited that approach, coming up with five rules for leading a hybrid team:

  • Connect work to purpose: “Purpose matters more than ever. Our research at Humu shows that people who don’t feel their work contributes to their company’s mission are 630% more likely to quit their jobs than their peers do,” he writes in Harvard Business Review. To help employees rediscover the purpose in their work, make every task and project mission driven.
  • Trust your people more than feels comfortable: Managers should offer direction, not directions. To help hybrid teams succeed, outline the milestones you want to see accomplished but let them figure out how to get there.
  • Revive the small moments: Hybrid work means it’s easier to miss out on the small moments that make teamwork magical and spark innovation. Try electronic nudges (perhaps encouragement to “reach out to a team member today” or “it’s okay to ask a lot of questions”). Or nudge managers before they conduct one-to-ones with staff by sharing tips for discussing employee development.
  • Provide clarity: Be more decisive than feels comfortable. While you should offer your team autonomy, don’t be afraid to put a stake in the ground on important issues.
  • Include everyone: Many people don’t want to return to the office because they weren’t inclusive spaces to begin with. Change that, for both remote and in-office work.

Hybrid is becoming common. Those five ideas can help you succeed.

2. Checklist Questions for Strategy Clarity

Your employees should know your strategy and their role in achieving it. But consultant Charlene Li says that’s often not the case. She provides three questions employees need to be able to immediately answer:

  • Are you clear on who our future customer is? Here their immediate answer could be wrong, as everyone has a different definition of the customer, often influenced by the department they are in. “That’s a problem because you need to be thinking about a unified future – and that starts with getting clear on who you want to serve,” she writes on LinkedIn. She recommends using an empathy map to define the customer not on demographics but on what they think, say, feel, and do.
  • What is your strategy to meet the customer where they are at? Employees need to clearly see the path ahead and understand what the strategy involves and what it doesn’t. A helpful tool is to walk everyone through what the organization plans to accomplish in each of the next six quarters and the steps required.
  • How does each individual contribute to executing the strategy? Usually strategy is high-level but you have to connect it — make it trickle down — to each individual, in their job. “Your role as a leader is to help every member of your team be able to say, ‘This is what I can do to make our strategy successful,’” she says.

As a leader, you need to know the answer to those three questions and ensure your team does as well.

3. The Loyalty Quandary

Professional loyalty can be complicated — a double-edged sword, says retired CEO Penny Herscher.

Loyalty is a choice you make. You might admire another person, be grateful for their help, or feel demonstrating loyalty will have a payback for you.

“Similarly, the people you work with will choose whether to be loyal to you or not, primarily based on your behaviour. They will each make a decision as to whether you are worth their loyalty or not,” she notes on her blog.

And if they are loyal, you can take greater risks in a crisis.

Loyalty is different from friendship, but it also outlasts any one job. It can backfire when too strong, blinding you to an employee’s performance issues or slowing down a difficult decision. Loyalty can put you in a no-win situation, such as whether to report on a loyal colleague when they lie.

“Loyalty is tested in difficult situations, and it is tested over time,” she says. “It still surprises me to learn who of my former employees and colleagues are still loyal to me today.”

4. Make a Great Last Impression

First impressions count. But sometimes forgotten is that last impressions are also powerful. On his blog, leadership coach Scott Cochrane, gives this advice:

  • Make your last impression one of clarity.
  • Make your last impression one of respect.
  • Make your last impression one of genuine connection.
  • Make your last impression one of vision.

How can you end interactions leaving the other person with those takeaways?

5. Zingers

  • The Office as a Tool: Given the pressures of COVID-19 and an increasingly competitive labour market, Harvard Business Administration Professor Tsedal Neeley advises redefining the office as a tool rather than a destination. Using that lens, you can modernize employee relationships to enhance specific collaborative efforts, connections, flexibility or creativity. (Source: Harvard Business School Working Knowledge).
  • Learning from Criticism: When you receive tough feedback, it can wound. Mental toughness coach LaRae Quy recommends writing down the basics of a critical comment so you can go over it later, when emotions have diminished and you can better assess the facts. (Source: LaRae Quy’s Blog).
  • Great Catch! We can learn from “near misses”—  situations where failure nearly occurred but was avoided. However, we usual say, “Phew!” and move on. Bryant University Management Professor Michael Roberto says organizations need to relabel such events as “great catches,” perhaps even with awards, and study them so the learning can be shared widely.  (Source: Michael Roberto’s Blog).
  • The Immediacy Trap: We often make choices based on immediate outcomes, notes Atomic Habits author James Clear. But the course of action that could provide greater happiness, meaning or satisfaction in the long run may not make you happy in the next 30 minutes. (Source: com).
  • 22 in 2022: Author Gretchen Rubin suggests setting out 22 things you’d like to do by the end of next year — the items can be easy or ambitious, one-time undertakings or habits that stretch for years. She even shares a handy template on her site.  (Source: Gretchen Rubin.com).


6. The List:  Align Content with Market Segments

Sitecore’s Pocket Guide to the Connected Content Lifecycle notes that personalized marketing approaches build on the premise that not everyone is the same — people want experiences tailored to what they need, want or care about.

The guide offers this helpful checklist of some ways to segment your target audiences (from easy to implement to most advanced) and align your digital content for greater effect:

  • Geographic location of the visitor.
  • Whether they are a new, repeat or loyal visitor.
  • The marketing campaign(s) the visitor responded to.
  • What product or service they view the most.
  • Whether they did a product search.
  • Whether they viewed product details/looked for variants (size, colour etc).
  • The visitor’s intent, motivation and behaviour.
  • Psychographic/demographic segments.
  • Where visitors are on their customer journey of interactions and experiences with your organization.


7.  Around Our Water Cooler


Our 2021 Year-End Shout-Out

At 8020Info, it’s been a year full of meaningful opportunities to work with boards, senior management and leadership teams across many different sectors. We’d like to say thanks to all those special people we collaborate with and serve — our clients.

Best wishes of the season from our team to:

  • Brockville Area Community Living Association
  • Carebridge Community Support (Almonte)
  • Charleston Lake Association
  • City of Kingston (various projects)
  • Community Living Association Lanark
  • Community Living Quinte West
  • Community Living North Grenville
  • Downtown Kingston! BIA
  • FLA-OHT (Ontario Health Team)
  • Kingston Accommodation Partners
  • Kingston Community Health Centres
  • Kingston Frontenac Anti-Violence Coordinating Committee (KFACC)
  • Ongwanada (Developmental Services Centre)
  • Picton Terminals
  • Providence Care
  • Providence Village Inc.
  • Queen’s University HR Department
  • Resolve Counselling Services Canada
  • RTO9 Regional Tourism
  • Ryandale Transitional Housing
  • Secker Ross & Perry LLP
  • Vincent de Paul Society (Kingston)
  • Stiletto: Make A Point (New Brunswick)
  • Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning
  • University Hospitals Kingston Foundation
  • Union Park Kingston

We also salute the good works of those worthy community organizations in our hometown where we contributed this year as supporters and volunteers:

  • Community Check-In Calls (Covid) with Mayor Bryan Paterson
  • Community Foundation for Kingston & Area
  • Hospice Kingston
  • Kingston Social Value Fund
  • Queen’s Family Health Team
  • Queen’s CPCSSN Data Access Selection Committee
  • Queen’s Standing Research Committee (Family Medicine)
  • Shop with a Cop (with Cushman & Wakefield Kingston)
  • SPEAKingston (smart growth)
  • United Way Leadership Development Series (strategy workshops)

May the new year bring you a fascinating quest, great teammates for the journey and surprising new things to learn in 2022.


What We’re Reading:

  • Harvey’s Pick: The Future of the Office is a concise 70-page encapsulation of the main issues we are facing as we move towards a post-pandemic period, by noted Wharton School Management Professor Peter Cappelli.
  • Rob’s Pick: How Will You Measure Your Life? by C. Christensen, J. Allworth and K. Dillon. A decade ago, renowned innovation expert Clayton Christensen gave a powerful speech to a Harvard graduating class, sharing some guidelines for finding meaning in life. He explained how high achievers all too often fall into traps that lead them away from happiness. Taking lessons from some of the world’s greatest businesses, he provides insight and inspiration to help us forge our own fulfilling pathways.


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8020Info helps senior leadership teams and boards develop, clarify and build consensus behind strategic priorities. Our services support strategic planning and change processes, marketing communications and research / stakeholder consultations. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.

8.  Closing Thought

“I try all things; I achieve what I can.”

Herman Melville