March 6, 2022


The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs



In this 8020Info Water Cooler we look at post-pandemic rehabilitation, avoiding group think, factors that influence trust and referability, and how the times may favour talent recruitment. Enjoy!


1. Take Time to Rehabilitate from the Pandemic

The first stage of the pandemic was shock. The second stage involved psychic pain. As the two-year mark approaches, David Rock, cofounder of the Neuroleadership Institute, says we are entering the rehabilitation phase, which could be the most painful of all.

Three deep psychological needs were not met in the last phase. Our desire for certainty was ripped from us. Our desire for control and autonomy was thwarted. And the need for connectedness was wrenched away by lockdowns and remote work.

We need to rebuild, repair, and regrow. But not overly quickly.

“The closer you get to the vision of full rehabilitation, the more likely you are to rush and have another setback. This is because we tend to pick up the pace the closer we get to completing something. Seeing a finish line makes us run faster in every way,” he writes in Harvard Business Review. As an example, he cites the many plans for a full return to the office last fall.

People who have been working from home have probably seen their social skills atrophy. Also keep in mind that we’re all walking wounded. The prime skill we will need is patience.

“It’s easy in times of recovery and isolation to become so introspective that we forget others are struggling with recovery, too. Research shows that compassion doesn’t just help us be patient with ourselves; it also increases our ability to be patient with others who may also be struggling,” he says.


2. Tips for Avoiding Team Group Think

Group think in our teams can be dangerous. But too often we rely on one person to challenge ideas. And that’s far from ideal. Consultant Suzi McAlpine says you need to make challenging ideas a process, not a person.

“This isn’t fair on that person and it’s not healthy for the team either,” she writes on her blog.

Challenging ideas must be a group responsibility and the team must learn to mine for conflict — to purposefully challenge its ideas. That’s particularly important when you are moving a little too easily towards accepting and implementing a proposal.

“Maybe you’ve all fallen in love with the first idea,” she says. “Maybe there are ‘outliers’ in ideas or perspectives that are not being heard.”

Ask: What are we missing? What’s wrong with this idea we’re keen on? Whose perspective are we missing, and what would they think? What are the risks of this approach? Let’s play devil’s advocate for this proposal.

Try to find out who disagrees, giving them an opportunity to express themselves. Instead of general discussion, try a more structured approach, asking each individual to speak or tackling two sides of the issue in tandem. Or try breaking into smaller discussion groups.

“When someone has the courage to speak up, especially if their perspective is different from the rest, make a point of thanking them for bringing a different viewpoint and perspective (even if you don’t agree),” she adds. And as leader, go last so others don’t obediently follow your direction.


3. Improving your Google Ranking

Search engine optimization is the slowest form of marketing, says content marketing specialist Andy Crestodina. It can take years to build your authority and rankings.

But it can pay off. And he says there’s a shortcut:

  • Find the phrases for which you almost rank high. The data is in the Google Search Console, but you can access it from within Google Analytics (go to Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries). Sort for average position.
  • Confirm the ranking in Google search engine results. You’ll immediately notice that the “average position” really isn’t the same as rankings. Sometimes, you’ll see rankings higher than the report suggests. Other times, you won’t see your site at all.
  • Improve the page by making it more focused on one key phrase. Pay special attention to the title, header and body text.
  • Wait three days and check the rankings to see if you have made progress.

There are, of course, many complications. But the approach is simple, if methodical, and he offers a guide on the Orbit Media blog.


4. The Great Recruiting Opportunity

There is much moaning about workforce attrition these days — the Great Resignation, as it is called, is hitting managers in many fields. But recruiting specialist John Sullivan says it should be renamed The Great Recruiting Opportunity.

“Recruiting has become markedly easier because the hardest part of the process, ‘convincing them to leave,’ has already been completed!” he writes on his blog.

The quality of your recruits will be higher. Less exacting recruiting skills are required. The response rate from people currently employed will be higher. Cold calling employed prospects may actually work.


5. Zingers

  • Offer Flexibility: Now, more than ever, employees are asking for flexibility, says workplace consultant Ann Gomez. Showing that you trust your team is an effective foundation for offering that flexibility.  (Source:  Clear Concept).
  • In Times of Self-doubt: Think of someone you admire, be it a colleague or friend, an artistic genius, or a titan of industry. Psychologist Susan David says she can guarantee they have also experienced moments of self-doubt.  In tough situations, recognize the doubt you are experiencing is not an immutable fact nor, on the other hand, is it something to ignore. (Source:  LinkedIn).
  • Signs of The Peter Principle: Journalist Taylor Tobin shares these four signs somebody has been promoted past their level of competence:  The skills that resulted in their promotion don’t translate to their new position; the promotion was offered in lieu of a pay increase; the organization has been weak at performance reviews; or, in spite of their new title, the person being promoted isn’t given significant responsibility. (Source:  Fairygodboss).
  • Simple or Complicated: Some ideas and challenges are simple, others are complicated, and it’s important to recognize the difference. Blogger Seth Godin notes some ideas are simple at the core — for example, non-profits getting food immediately to people after an earthquake. Other goals, like seeking permanent change in culture or society, are more complicated. Don’t dumb down the complex. And make sure you invite the right people along for the journey. (Source:  Seth’s Blog).
  • Maintain Boundaries: As remote work continues, time management expert Laura Stack returns to advice we have heard but may no longer be following. Maintain professional standards, dressing as if you were going to work. Keep a consistent work schedule and proper boundaries between work and personal life — pick definite work hours, and save personal chores for after work. (Source:  The Productivity Pro).


6. The List:  Factors Affecting Organizational Trust

In What Makes People Trust an Organization? Ayaz Nanji (Marketing Profs) reports that keeping promises and being transparent have been rated the most important attributes an organization can exhibit to build trust.

A recent research report from Ipsos was based on data from a survey in June-July 2021, among 21,503 people aged 16 and older from 29 countries. They were asked to rate their three most important factors when deciding whether or not to trust an organization or institution. Here are the rankings of those factors:

  • 43% – If it is reliable/keeps its promises.
  • 42% – If it is open and transparent about what it does.
  • 33% – If it behaves responsibly.
  • 30% – If it is good at what it does.
  • 17% – If it does what it does with the best of intentions.
  • 16% – If it shares my values.
  • 16% – If it is environmentally sustainable.
  • 16% – If it works to prevent the spread of misinformation.
  • 15% – If it is well led.
  • 15% – If it has behaved well in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


7.  Around Our Water Cooler


Do your habits enhance referability?

Almost all of our business comes by referral. And as Dan Sullivan from the Strategic Coach says, the best marketing strategy is being referable.

He has published an interesting guide on referability habits. They encourage your existing clients and customers to believe in you so strongly they tell others about you — in other words, your best customers continually clone themselves and introduce you to others like them.

The four habits are:

  • Show Up on Time: What strategies, habits, or technologies will most improve your time management right now?  For example, he suggests scheduling time buffers between meetings or setting out clear agendas to keep meetings on track and on time.
  • Do What You Say: What commitments are your biggest priorities over the next three months? Those might be work related priorities or involve completely disconnecting for a family vacation.
  • Finish What You Start: What projects would benefit from focused energy and attention to get them across the finish line right now?
  • Say Please and Thank You: How can you expand or express your gratitude and appreciation in coming weeks? You might look at how you acknowledge your team, or send some handwritten thank-you notes, or connect socially with top clients.

To get traction, don’t forget to identity your first action in each of those areas.


What We’re Reading:

  • Harvey’s Pick: After going through five recent books on diversity, here are two standouts. Consultant Deepa Purushothaman looks at The First, The Few, The Only – women of colour, explaining their unique situation for those who work with them and also offering advice for them in handling the pressures they face. In Cultures of Belonging, diversity consultant Alida Miranda-Wolff offers 10 principles to guide your organization’s inclusion efforts.
  • Rob’s Pick: The Age of AI by Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher — a Nobel prize-winner for peace; an entrepreneur who grew Google to a global technology leader; and the dean of MIT’s new College of Computing. Every day, everywhere, AI is gaining popularity, but it is not an industry, let alone a single product. It is an enabler — of scientific research, education, manufacturing, logistics, transportation, law enforcement, defense, politics, advertising, art, culture, and more. AI’s capacity to learn, evolve, and surprise will disrupt and transform them all, altering human identity and our experience of reality at levels. It promises epoch-making transformations in society, economics, politics, and foreign policy.


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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

“Leadership, like swimming, cannot be learned by reading about it.”

Management professor Henry Mintzberg