November 13, 2022




In this 8020Info Water Cooler we look at five types of work personalities to consider when recruiting, plus the secrets of charisma, befriending Google rankings, hybrid work challenges, a checklist for effective email design, and planning with strategic foresight. Enjoy!

1. Five Personas Behind The Great Attrition

McKinsey & Company calls the current difficulty finding and keeping employees The Great Attrition. After surveying 1,600 people in Canada, the U.S. and four other countries, consultant Bonnie Dowling has identified five types of worker personalities that, if catered to appropriately, could help fill open positions:

  • The Traditionalists: They want the same thing as employees did before the pandemic: A clear path to advancement, competitive compensation, and a workplace with enjoyable colleagues and inspirational leaders. The problem is there are not a lot of Traditionalists anymore.
  • Do-It-Yourselfers: They have started their own businesses or become contractors. They tend to be 25- to 45-years-old, valuing flexibility, meaningful work, and compensation. They are their own bosses, so you’re actually competing with them to lure them to your organization.
  • Caregivers: Predominantly women in the 18-to-44 age group, they have children at home or elderly parents. They need flexibility for their dual roles as caregiver and employee.
  • Idealists: Aged 18 to 24, many are students who want the flexibility to work around their school schedule or pursue a passion. “They want to live and have a job. So the flexibility is really important; so is development and advancement,” Dowling explains on the McKinsey site.
  • Relaxers: They have retired – perhaps early — or are just not looking for work. But there are things that could bring them back, if you could find and offer it.

Use these behavioural types to gain perspective on the job market.

2. Charisma: Lessons from RFK and Research

Charisma can be mysterious. Julian Barling, a professor at Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business, explains it through the academic research and two powerful talks by Robert F. Kennedy — his 1966 “Ripple of Hope” speech in South Africa and impromptu remarks calming an Indianapolis crowd after Martin Luther King’s assassination.

Research by leadership scholar John Antonakis and colleagues indicate charisma involves nine verbal and three non-verbal behaviours.

Verbally, charismatic leaders use metaphors and other figures of speech, tell stories and share anecdotes, are rooted in moral conviction, share sentiments of the collective, communicate confidence, heighten contrasts to draw attention to their message, use lists, and ask rhetorical questions.

At the non-verbal level, their voice is animated, and they use both bodily gestures and facial expressions that reinforce what they are saying.

“At this stage you would be forgiven for throwing up your arms, believing that there is no way anyone could accomplish all that,” Barling writes in Smith Magazine. “The good news is that leaders don’t need to do ‘all that’ — nor should they try.”

Research also shows leaders can be too charismatic for their own good.

“Foreshadowing Nelson Mandela, RFK knew that the best of leadership was not about making everyone in attendance love him, but rather drawing them closer and closer to his vision,” Barling adds.

In Indianapolis, RFK’s use of three charismatic behaviours — sentiments of the collective; the use of contrasts; and an animated voice — was enough to influence the crowd to go home and prevented violence in the aftermath of King’s assassination.

3. Befriending Google’s Page Ranking

Ideally, you want people to be able to find you in an Internet search. But most websites fail to achieve that ideal.

“More than 90% of URLs don’t get any traffic from search engines. You are definitely not alone,” consultant Andy Crestodina writes on the Orbit Media site.

You need pages that relate heavily to search terms people will use. A well-optimized website has many pages targeting many phrases.

A page must also have quality and depth. “Word count is not a search ranking factor, but word count correlates with quality. Longer, more detailed pages are more likely to satisfy the searcher’s information needs,” he says.

You want visitors to stay on your site for a while. The time on the page is called dwell time and is believed to count in search rankings.

He notes visitors like fast loading, attractive websites. Pay attention to how content is formatted. “Content that is more easily consumed is more likely to be consumed,” he says.

4. Managers are Suffering in Hybrid

Much of the commentary about remote and hybrid work planning has been focused on helping the individual contributors. But Gallup research suggests that managers in hybrid workplaces are struggling the most, feeling less connected to their company cultures than managers of purely remote or in-office situation.

“Many managers do not have experience or training for leading hybrid teams. Hybrid management requires more frequent team communication and coordination,” Gallup consultants Nikki Morin and Heather Barrett advise on the corporate site.

Bring your managers together into a community to discuss culture building and other issues. Invest in manager development programs, notably on improving employee well-being.

5. Zingers

  • Handling Employee Complaints: When an employee comes with a complaint about a colleague, consultant David Dye recommends indicating you will listen by asking, “Tell me what you want to know.” After that, you might ask: “How might I help?” or “what will serve you best right now?” (Source:  Let’sGrowLeaders).
  • Instead of Purpose Cite Impact: Consultant and former New York Times columnist Adam Bryant says many CEOs are starting to sound like politicians, throwing around lofty language about purpose that is vague and hard to pin down. They need to shift the conversation from fuzzy purpose bromides to more tangible and concrete statements – and ideally some proof – about the impact their companies are having on society. (Source:  strategy+business).
  • The Pick-Two Philosophy: In construction, it’s commonly said that for every project you can pick two of three attributes: Speed, quality or price. Marketing consultant Robert Glazer says Pick Two is a basic truth: While we can have everything we may want, we typically can’t have it all at once. Many things in life are a trade-off and when we try to make everything a priority, nothing gets our full attention. (Source:  com).
  • Regroup After Jettisoning Employee: Executive coach Liz Kislik recommends that, after firing a toxic employee, you should get your team together to review strategy, next steps, and how the team will operate without the problematic person. Remind everyone about group values, particularly in such areas as how you serve customers, treat colleagues, and deal honestly and kindly with each other. It can be an opportunity to confirm expectations about both performance and behavior.  (Source:  LizKislikAssociates).
  • Two Competing Truths: The more prepared person usually wins, observes author James Clear. At the same time, you get credit for action, not preparation. (Source:  com).

6. The List: A Litmus Test for Email Design

Litmus Software helps agencies, designers and marketers to build, test, preview and track their emails for optimal email campaign effectiveness. Hannah Tiner, an email design and production specialist at Litmus, shares 11 of their email design best practices:

  • Tip 1: Determine all the potential types of content. Ask as many questions as possible to understand the scope of the email project, especially if it involves a newsletter, video content or live polls.
  • Tip 2: Have a flexible framework that takes change and scale into account.
  • Tip 3: Think about constraints such as maximum character counts, number of topics or content modules. (The 8020Info Water Cooler aims for an 8-minute read.)
  • Tip 4: Content over design. Email design can’t just look pretty; it needs to be functional. The content needs to shine.
  • Tip 5: Follow best practices for User Experience (UX) design. Think about the type of experience the email or newsletter should be designed to create.
  • Tip 6: Respect the limitations of email design and make sure it isn’t trying to do what the web can do better.
  • Tip 7: Focus on the main call-to-action (CTA). Make sure the design is actually getting people to click or act on an offer or read the email.
  • Tip 8: Make progressive enhancements along the way. Focus first on creating a minimal viable product that looks clean, functional, and will get the job done. From there, design for “nice to haves.”
  • Tip 9: Have really clear visual hierarchy. Use designs that make sure the most important information stands out.
  • Tip 10: Reduce visual clutter.  Remember to use enough white space in your designs. Reduce visual clutter and make your email clear to read and easy to scan.
  • Tip 11: Keep overall consistency in mind.  Make sure the experience of your email is consistent with your brand. Do the elements in your email match your overall tone and style, while still respecting email constraints?

A great checklist that can help all of us improve our email communications!


7.  Around Our Water Cooler


Considering the Tools of Strategic Foresight

Over the past six months we’ve increasing noticed clients using some of the planning disciplines of Strategic Foresight, particularly to bring in more focus on the future. Many of them seem tired of using the past couple years of pandemic as the starting point for plotting strategy.

Strategic Foresight is a structured and systematic way of using ideas about the future to anticipate and better prepare for change. That includes exploring different plausible futures that could arise (like scenarios), and the opportunities and challenges they could present.

It also puts more planning focus on the end state of where you want to arrive than on “growing from where you’re planted”.

Might be an option worth considering for your strategy development process.


Quotes Can Trigger Good Decisions

We have to share this. In our last newsletter we ended with a Kierkegaard quote: “Do it or do not do it — you will regret both.” Recently it made a difference for a reader considering a new job offer. She writes:

“I was feeling unsure of what to do. I was comfortable and settled in my past role, but I wasn’t growing. That quote made me realize I needed to take the leap. So, thank you!”

The right word at the right time can always have an impact. Glad it helped.

What We’re Reading:

  • Harvey’s Pick: How to have Difficult Conversations about Race by Kwame Christian is a practical, logical, and sensitive guide to the heart of handling diversity, explaining why these conversations are essential, the behavioural mindset biases that can get in the way, and the tools needed to be more effective.
  • Rob’s Pick: If you want to write more effectively or simply seek a refresh from a master, you won’t go wrong with advice from William Zinsser:  On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction.  This volume offers you fundamental principles as well as the examples and insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. It’s also a nice complement to the Strunk & White classic, The Elements of Style.


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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

“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.”

Antonio Banderas, actor and singer