News & Updates

A page for your blog posts

Millennials now outnumber any other generation in the workforce and by 2020 they’ll comprise more than half the total workforce.  

 

This tech-savvy generation have grown up in quite a different world from older generations – many are digital natives, having grown up with PCs, smartphones, and the internet. 

Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that they are motivated more by improving the world around them than work prestige or big money jobs. According to a study by Bentley University, 84% of millennials said that making a positive difference in the world was more important than professional recognition.  

But where does that leave businesses trying to attract and retain the top talent? If monetary reward and professional recognition don’t work as incentives, what will? 

The answer: Corporate Social (and Environmental) Responsibility (CSR). 

 

Positive change 

Until the automated robot utopia of our dreams arrives, we all need to work to live. The idea that you can change the system from the inside seems to have died with the financial crash, yet millennials understand that they can use their economic power to encourage companies to make a positive contribution to the world around them. The Millennial Impact Report found that more than half of millennials have been inspired to work long-term for a company whose mission it is to change the world. 

This has already seen a sea change in the way companies present themselves and has led to a reduction of wasteful activities like excess printing. But companies need to look broader than efficiency savings – they need to demonstrate a commitment to improving the world. This will shift CSR into the foreground and make it a key issue for all businesses in the next few years. The PwC Global CEO Survey shows that 64% of companies are making CSR ‘core’ to their business. Yet only 29% of companies focus on their reputation for CSR in order to attract and retain the best talent. 

Companies that demonstrate long-term commitment, putting in place good processes and platforms for managing CSR, will outperform others in terms of talent acquisition and retention, productivity, and sales. 

 

Attracting Top Talent

According to a Project ROI Report, 76% of Americans wouldn’t take a job with a company that had a bad reputation even if they were unemployed. This emphasises the importance of a good reputation for CSR, with 45% of millennials saying they would take a pay cut to work for a company that makes a positive social or environmental impact.  

You won’t get passionate people who believe in your company by throwing more money at them. You need to demonstrate that you are committed to making that positive impact, that it’s a core part of how you operate. Be vocal about the work you do, the opportunities you offer employees, and the systems and policies you have in place that demonstrate your commitment to CSR. Include a section in recruiter profiles and make sure you talk about your CSR work during interviews. 

The same report also found that CSR reduced employee turnover by 25-50% – the same effect as a $3,700 pay rise per year. This saves recruitment costs of 90-200% of an employee’s annual salary. So, CSR not only helps attract top talent, it helps retain it too. 

 

Improved productivity

As Simon Sinek has pointed out, people are more motivated by why companies and people do what they do than what or how they do it. This is useful from a branding perspective, but it transfers into the daily running of your business, too. 

Despite fears that CSR takes time away from the actual work of a company, CSR programmes have been shown to improve productivity by around 13%, according to Project ROI. 

The challenge for employers is finding a way of effectively managing CSR. Dedicating too much time and attention to CSR can be a distraction and wipe out all the productivity gains, too little time and CSR slips from the agenda. Some larger companies are recruiting CSR Directors to manage their environmental impact, charitable giving, and employee volunteer programmes. Yet, for smaller companies, this isn’t necessary or feasible.  

Appointing someone within the business to be the key point person for your CSR programmes can provide a much-needed focus and keeps things moving. Enabling CSR with technology is usually the best and easiest way to engage all employees with minimal manual management. Employees are then given the choice of whether to get involved or not, volunteering and fundraising for causes they feel passionately about, as and when they can. 

 

Growing Sales

As we’ve seen, CSR is great at attracting, retaining, and inspiring the top talent. But customers are inspired by CSR too! 

In the US, 83% of consumers say they want more products and services they use to contribute to a social cause, with 62% saying they’d switch brands if it didn’t have a clear social purpose. 

As such, companies with a good reputation for CSR see sales revenue increase by up to 20%, according to the Project ROI Report, with every $1 in philanthropic contributions generating $6 of revenue (within limits). 

Of course, sales won’t increase if customers don’t know the work you are doing, so you need to shout about it. Add it to your packaging like Innocent do, or build it into your advertising, for example. Just make sure you are tracking the impact you make.  

This is often easier said than done, but a CSR manager or technology platform should be able to keep a running total of money donated, hours spent volunteering, paper and ink saved, etc. These facts help to benchmark your business against others and demonstrate your commitment to CSR, giving you great marketing material. 

To discover the most effective ways to make a social and environmental impact, use a survey or workshop to ask what causes your employees are interested in. If staff feel they are leading the direction of CSR then they’ll be far more committed to it themselves. Ultimately, the most effective CSR programmes are those that fit in with your brand ethos and employees’ passions. Find yours and commit to it wholeheartedly – employees, customers, and the world will thank you. 

 

About the Author

Marco Barbosa is a serial entrepreneur who has started three successful businesses and has been named in Forbes 30under30 for Social Entrepreneurship. His latest venture, eSolidar, is a tech platform connecting businesses with charities to enable better CSR and employee engagement.  

eSolidar has just launched on equity crowdfunding site Seedrs. When he’s not starting businesses, doing TEDx talks, or advocating corporate responsibility, Marco likes to travel and experience different cultures around the world.

Sources: 

http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-survey/2016/landing-page/pwc-19th-annual-global-ceo-survey.pdf 

http://projectroi.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Project-ROI-Report.pdf 

http://www.themillennialimpact.com/ 

https://www.bentley.edu/files/prepared/1.29.2013_BentleyU_Whitepaper_Shareable.pdf 

https://startwithwhy.com/ 

The number of people regularly working from home has risen to 4.2 million in the last decade.

Those working from home now account for 13.7% of the UK workforce, but there is potential for many more of us to reap the rewards of home-working. While many companies offer flexible working, or the option to work from home, employees often feel resistant to the idea, opting to stay in the office to ‘prove’ they’re working.

However more than half (53%) of workers feel they’d be more productive if they could work outside the office, being free to work without unnecessary meetings, confusing email chains, or long calls.

 

Boundless benefits

General job satisfaction and happiness increases in people who work from home, being in comfortable familiar surroundings where you can enjoy a greater degree of control over your immediate environment.

Working from home also means employees are less likely to be exposed to illnesses, due to avoiding packed public transport, or busy offices where they may be forced to be in close proximity to ill co-workers.

Furthermore, the UK is estimated to lose £300 billion by 2030 due to lost time during traffic congestion. Working from home eliminates this time wastage, helping employees, their employers, and the economy. Reductions in commuting time can help improve worker mental health, reduce tiredness, and increase overall productiveness by giving them greater flexibility.
Work From Home Week, taking place between 15 and 21 January, is back to spread the word about the benefits of working from home.

Founder Adam Cox champions worker flexibility and increased productivity:

“Technology means that most of what needed to happen in an office can happen at home. While it won’t work for certain industries such as catering or building it certainly is viable for most office based sectors. We have found that productivity can actually increase significantly as employees are no longer experiencing the same level of distractions or interruptions.”

 

SOURCE: ResponseSource

 

How creative are you?

How creative are the people you work with?

How about your friends?

 

Next time you are at a social event, ask them. You may be surprised by what they say.

I’ve worked with people and organizations all over the world. Everywhere I go, I find the same paradox. Most children think they’re creative; many adults think they are not. This is a bigger issue than it may seem.

 

Creating the future

We are living in a world that is changing faster than ever and face challenges that are unprecedented. How the complexities of the present will play out in future is all but unknowable.

Cultural change is never linear and rarely predictable. If it were, the legions of pundits and forecasters would be out of a job. It was probably with this in mind that the economist J.K. Galbraith said, “The primary purpose of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”

As the world spins faster, organizations everywhere need people who can think creatively, communicate and work in teams: people who are flexible and quick to adapt. Too often they can’t find them. Why not?

Everyone occasionally has new ideas, but how can creativity be encouraged as a regular part of everyday life? If you are running a company or an organization or a school, how do you make innovation systematic? How do you lead a culture of innovation?

 

Rethinking creativity

To answer these questions, it’s important to be clear about what creativity is and how it works. There are three related ideas, which I’ll elaborate as we go on. They are imagination, which is the process of bringing to mind things that are not present to our senses; creativity, which is the process of developing original ideas that have value; and innovation, which is the process of putting new ideas into practice. There are various misconceptions about creativity in particular.

 

Special people?

One misconception is that only special people are creative. This idea is reinforced by histories of creative icons like Martha Graham, Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Virginia Wolf, Maya Angelou and Steve Jobs. Companies seem to think this too. They often divide the workforce into two groups: the ‘creatives’ and the ‘suits’. You can normally tell who the creatives are because they don’t wear suits. They wear jeans and they come in late because they’ve been struggling with an idea. I don’t mean that the creatives are not creative. They can be highly creative, but so can anybody if the conditions are right – including the suits. Everyone has creative capacities. The challenge is to develop them. A culture of innovation has to involve everybody, not just a select few.

 

Special activities?

A second misconception is that creativity is about special activities, like the arts, or advertising, design or marketing. All of these can be creative, but so can anything, including science, mathematics, teaching, medicine, running a sports team or a restaurant. Some schools have ‘creative arts’ departments. I am an uncompromising advocate of better provision for the arts in schools but creativity is not confined to the arts. Other disciplines, including science and mathematics, can be just as creative. Creativity is possible in any activity that engages our intelligence.

Companies are creative in different areas. Apple is famously good at creating new products. Wal-Mart’s creative strength is in systems, such as supply chain management and pricing. Starbucks did not invent coffee; it created a particular service culture around coffee. Actually, it did invent the $8 cup of coffee, which was a breakthrough, I thought. A culture of innovation should embrace all areas of the organization.

 

Letting go?

Creativity is sometimes associated with free expression, which is why some people worry about encouraging too much creativity in schools. They think of children running wild and knocking the furniture over rather than getting on with serious work. Being creative often does involve playing with ideas and having fun and enjoyment. It is also about working hard on ideas and projects, crafting them into their best forms and making critical judgments along the way about which ones work best and why. In every discipline, creativity draws on skill, knowledge and control. It’s not only about letting go, it’s about holding on.

 

Learning to be creative

It is often thought that people are either born creative or not, just as they may have blue or brown eyes, and there’s not much anyone can do about it. The fact is, there is a lot you can do to help yourself, and other people, become more creative. If someone tells you they can’t read or write, you don’t assume they are not capable of it, just that they haven’t learnt how. It is the same with creativity. When people say they are not creative, I just assume they have not learnt how. I also assume that they can. Why are these issues important anyway?

 


This is an edited extract from Out of Our Minds: The Power of Being Creative, 3rd edition, by Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D. (Capstone, 2017).


About the author

Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D, is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources. He speaks to audiences throughout the world on the creative challenges facing business and education in the new global economies. Listed by Fast Company as one of the world’s elite thinkers on creativity and innovation and ranked among the Thinkers50 of the world’s top business thought leaders, he has worked with governments in the United States, Europe and Asia, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies, national and state education systems and some of the world’s leading cultural organizations.

 

For 12 years, he was professor of education at the University of Warwick in the UK and is now Professor Emeritus. He has received numerous honorary degrees and awards for his international work in education, creativity and cultural development. In 2003, he received a knighthood from H.M. Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the arts.

 

Sir Ken’s famous 2006 talk at the prestigious TED Conference is the most watched in TED history and has been seen by millions of people in more than 160 countries. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything and Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life. Born in the UK, he lives in Los Angeles California.

 

When you stand up to speak, you want to share something worth hearing with your audience.

You want them to enjoy the ride and leave with what they’re looking for.

Flip that around and sit in the audience – how do you think they feel when the speaker comes on stage and every inch of their being tells you they are petrified.

How do you feel as the listener? Uncomfortable? Worried for the speaker? Certainly not relaxed and ready to enjoy their speech.   

Over time I’ve learnt how to befriend those speaker nerves so that the real me can get on stage and share with my listeners. 

Being nervous is normal.  As Mark Twain astutely observed: 

“There are two types of speakers.  Those who get nervous and those who are liars.” 

 

No one is born with a fear of public speaking; it is something we learn, so we can equally learn to quash the debilitating nerves and harness the good nerves, those nerves that give us positive energy and presence on stage, those nerves that help us connect with our audience.  To achieve this, we need to reprogram our mindset and make friends with our nerves.  It seems to me that we need to pay attention to five key areas. 

 

1. Examine your excuses

What are the emotional barriers that you put up to convince yourself that you can’t speak in public? 

  • I’ll be under scrutiny and be caught out
  • I’ll be a lesser person if I’m not perfect
  • I’m afraid of rejection – people won’t want to know me anymore
  • I’ll be boring
  • And you can probably think of others?

 

Public speaking has nothing to do with self-worth.  You are more than your speech and your ability to speak has nothing to do with who you are as a human being.  The good news is that managing the nerves and speaking with confidence and sincerity is a skill that you can learn. 

Try making a list of all your excuses.  Once we know what our fears are, we’re in position to confront them head on.  Interrogate them.  Deconstruct them.  Render them powerless and clear our head of negative thoughts.  Think about what you would say to a friend or a child presenting you with these excuses.  What would you say to them?  Would it have something to do with self-belief, visualising successful outcomes or some other positive advice? 

 

2. Don’t expect perfection from yourself

Perfectionism is the curse of the speaker.  By striving for perfection, you set yourself up to fail.  None of us is perfect and we all make mistakes, so as a perfectionist, failure lurks around every corner. 

Be clear in your own mind that the audience is unlikely to know if you make a mistake unless you tell them.  Speakers often reprimand themselves for forgetting a chunk of their speech, but the audience does not know what you had planned to say and, therefore, won’t miss it. 

Instead of trying to be perfect, do yourself a kindness and give yourself permission to be less than perfect.  Set yourself challenging, yet achievable, standards and give yourself a pat on the back when you’ve spoken.  Focus on what you did well, savour the glory and note ways in which you can be even better next time.  Great speeches do not happen overnight.  They are an iterative process of crafting and honing content, practising delivery and seeking feedback. 

Think like a sportsman, carry a post-it note with you to remind you … “Connection, not perfection!” 

 

3. Persuade your brain to work with you

When we are really nervous, our ability to think quickly and clearly diminishes and may vanish entirely to the extent that we actually dry up.  In the words of the judge, George Jessel: 

“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public” 

 

When we are speaking in public we want our brain to be working with us, in the moment, thinking about what we are saying, responding to the needs and reactions of our audience.  The 2017 Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking Manoj Vasudevan made precisely this point about delivering his winning speech.  He said that as he took to the stage, he could see that the audience looked tired and ready to go home.  Reading the low energy level, he toned down his delivery to ensure he did not come across as overly abrasive.  He had to make a judgment call, as he spoke.  This would not have been possible if his brain had been frozen by nerves. 

According to psychiatrist Steve Peters who wrote The Chimp Paradox, we can learn to manage stress positively.  He talks about the Human part of our brain that works with logic and reason and the Chimp that makes snap judgments based on emotions and gut instinct.  They can work independently or together.  In public speaking, we need them to work together. 

As public speakers who are stressed or nervous, our Chimp will always react first.  To keep us safe it will go into fight, flight or freeze mode.  This is normal, but it is not what you need for a strong performance and quick thinking. 

One solution is to programme your brain with positive speaking associations.  This reinforces a sense of safety that does not need the intervention of the Chimp.  What does this mean in practice?  In any public-speaking environment, arrive early.  Familiarise yourself with the speaking area so that you feel comfortable.  Introduce yourself to members of the audience, so you see friendly faces from the stage.  Register the applause.  Give yourself a pat on the back for a speech well delivered.  Once you are more comfortable and your Chimp is no longer in control, your ability to reason and think on your feet will grow, while your Chimp will help bring energy and enthusiasm to your speech. 

 

4. Expect to be nervous and make it work for you

As Mark Twain said, we all get nervous when we speak.  But what is nervousness?  It is energy; it is what we experience when the adrenaline is flowing.  And adrenaline is our friend, giving us energy and presence on stage.  It helps us demonstrate our enthusiasm and passion for our subject, it helps us engage with our audience and generate a real sense of fun and excitement. 

Before the adrenaline kicks in, we need to be well prepared and focused on what will go right, not what could go wrong.  Give yourself the pre-match pep talk – I’m ready, this is going to be fun, etc.  Once the adrenaline surges, we need to make it help us.  Some people find it helpful to move, run on the spot, jump up and down.  Breathe slowly and deeply.  Take to the stage and pause.  Take a deep breath and start to connect with your audience with your attention-grabbing opening.  After your speech, enjoy the surge of wellbeing you get from your success. 

 

5. Connect

Don’t overthink audience reactions.  There will always be someone on the phone, yawning or looking distracted.  This is not personal and there is nothing you can do about it.  Don’t let it paralyse you.  Instead, focus on the majority of people in your audience who are with you, who are alert and attentive, the people who are smiling, nodding and appreciating what you have to say.  Connect with these interested people by sharing relevant stories and ideas in a way that is meaningful to them and you will feel happier and more relaxed on stage. 

Reprogramming your mindset won’t happen overnight, but continuous speaking practice and a permanent (post-it) ‘note to self’ about connection (not perfection), your new friends in the audience will set you on the road to more enjoyable speaking experiences. 

 

 

About the author

Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 352,000 in more than 16,400 clubs in 141 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. There are more than 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7,500 members. To find your local club: www.toastmasters.org  Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter. 

Blue Monday marks the day believed to be the most de-motivating and ‘depressing’ day of the entire year.

To beat the Monday blues, people are being encouraged instead to think about how the New Year can provide an opportunity to take control of their career.

 

Highs and Lows

The New Year is traditionally a time when people start considering a job-move, especially if they ended the last year feeling demotivated and disengaged.

With Blue Monday falling exactly three weeks to the day since Christmas – it’s natural for anyone struggling with back-to-work blues to start weighing up their options.

For anyone looking to improve their job satisfaction, research from Robert Half has found that the top drivers of happiness are having a sense of pride in your work (51%), bring treated with fairness and respect (51%) and feeling appreciated (50%).

 

Setting goals

For many, the New Year is an opportunity to sit down with your manager and set new objectives that provide meaning and value to your and at the same time, add value to the business. For others, the New Year will mean taking control of their own careers. While this can feel daunting, it can also be empowering.

Almost three in 10 employees (28%) in the UK have dreams of quitting the corporate world to become their own boss. This reflects that we have entered a new era where there are more opportunities than ever to use our skills and offer value.

This could mean setting-up a new business or even becoming a specialist interim or contract worker that can offer strategic advice on specific projects, business needs and challenges.

Whether it’s setting new objectives or changing career paths, it may well be time to update and perfect your CV or simply book some time with your boss to discuss next steps, there are plenty of ways to beat the Blue Monday blues.

 

About the author

Phil Sheridan is Senior Managing Director at Robert Half UK. Robert Half is a specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 325 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, creative and administrative professionals. roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.

Once we have mastered managing our tasks and time so we feel on top of things, the next logical step is to automate as much as we can.

 

We should still do those central, advanced tasks that require particular expertise and which put our core competence and skills to good use.

But as for those numerous tiny tasks and daily operations that are neither very inspiring or dependent on our expertise to be completed, these can be scheduled.

 

Help is available

There are usually several automation-functions and features that help us eliminate some of these small, distracting tasks in our emailing programs, office programs and operating systems which are fairly easy to learn, but I rarely see people using them.

With reasonably simple means we can allow these to do the small tasks and operations for us, without having to acquire any new programs or having to ask someones’ permission to do so.

It is easy to teach yourself how to use them since the internet is teeming with tutorials and instructions – both official guides as well as videos and instructional blogposts created by enthusiasts.

For example, here is the education center for the Office series, and you can do searches to find instructions to other programs. You do not have to learn everything at once. I recommend you start with one way of automating to at least make your work a tad easier.

 

Do this

Decide to learn something new about the integrated automating features and functions in the programs you already use this week. You do not have to know exactly what you want to automate beforehand, you will figure that out as you learn more about the opportunities that are available to you.

Now search for a relevant combination of ‘tutorial’, ‘guide’, ‘overview’, ‘macro’, ‘rules’, ‘script’, ‘automator’, ‘vba’, ‘office’, ‘lotus notes’, ‘outlook’, ‘os x’, ‘windows’ or something else.

Choose a video or blogpost that seems interesting and watch or read it right away, or write a to-do-task that entails you doing so.

If this inspired you, then do another search for a combination of words describing the task you first thought of as a potential automating-candidate you would want to take off your own to-do-list.

 

A little nudge at the right moment

If you learn more about the integrated automating functions that are already available to you on your computer or in the programs you use, and apply any of them (even if it is just one), you will rid yourself of a few small tasks that previously required some of your time and focus. Instead you will now get to enjoy seeing it done automatically. Getting tasks done automatically always gives me the feeling of getting unexpected help from someone that really wants to help me.

Even if we still have the more extensive, advanced tasks left to complete, it will still be worth having made the effort to learn something new in order to get these little nudges forward by being helped with the little things.

 

How have you automated smaller tasks?

What have you done to automate smaller operations and tasks recently that you are particularly happy about? Write to me and share, because this is something that really interests me at the moment. You will reach me, as always, by emailing david@stiernholm.com and I am eagerly awaiting your story or tip.

 

Source: David Stiernholm, author or Super Structured

David StiernholmDavid Stiernholm is a trainer who teaches thousands of people every year in companies, government authorities, organizations and universities how to become more structured and attain a higher degree of personal efficiency.

Super Structured

“Information overload”, “too much going on”, “full email inbox”, “too SUPER STRUCTUREDmuch on your plate”, “heavy workload”, “ASAP”, “piles that keep growing”, it has to get better soon… Yes, there are many ways to describe the chaotic life many of us lead at work. But, if we create a better structure at work, we will have more time for what matters most to us and to our business. Super Structured is based on a highly successful training program and is for anyone who wants to create a workday that runs smoother and with greater ease. In short chapters with useful advice and tips

Nearly three in 10 employees dream of quitting the corporate world to become their own boss, according to research by recruitment specialist, Robert Half UK.

 

When questioned on their ultimate dream job, 28% of people admitted they would love to run their own business instead of working for someone else.

For many it is a dream that they expect to fulfil, with 23% viewing it as a realistic career achievement they can aim for.

 

Reach for the stars

Overall, 9% see their ultimate dream role as owner of a large business, typically an organisation with more than 250 employees. Given the complexities of building and scaling a business, 6% see it as a credible aspiration.

More than three times that (19%) dream of becoming a small business owner, typically a business with less than 250 employees. In total, 17% see it as something that could become a reality offering them the freedom and fulfilment they are seeking in their careers.

“The desired working practices of today’s workforce is changing the future of work. We’re seeing employees looking for autonomy, flexibility and freedom. For many, there is an opportunity to leverage their skills and experience to set up their own business and become a specialist interim or contract worker supporting specific projects, business needs and challenges,” said Matt Weston, Director, Robert Half Management Resources.

“What’s clear is that businesses need to adapt to these changes in order to attract these more ambitious and entrepreneurial candidates. As a result, employers need to cater for a working environment that demands greater autonomy and flexibility than ever before. By considering the long-term aims of both interim as well as permanent employees, businesses can enable the entire workforce to flourish.”

 

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, creative and administrative professionals. For more than 15 years, Robert Half has been named to FORTUNE® magazine’s list of “Most Admired Companies” and offers workplace and job seeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.

 

The concept of the ‘Uncanny Valley’ was coined in the field of robotics in the 1970s.

 

Bukimi no Tani Genshō (不気味の谷現象) in Japanese, it relates to the uncanny or strangely familiar feelings evoked by humanoid objects. Those which look almost, but not exactly, like real humans.

When confronted with very robot-like robots, we see them as machines. As robots become increasingly human-like, at some point we lose the ability to see them as machines and our brain interprets them as strange, eerie human beings rather than non-humans.

This applies to humanoid objects and can also apply to software that creates output that we normally associate with humans, such as language.

 

Robotic language

You are reading this article and you assume that it was written by a person – as, in fact, it was. If you put this article through a machine translation to read it in French, for example, you would know that you are reading the results of a machine translation of a human-produced text.

But what if you were reading this text directly in its machine translation? Nowadays, many companies are adopting machine translation to communicate with speakers of other languages without paying for the services of a human translator. Machine translation is often free and near-instantaneous, and the technology is increasingly sophisticated, creating texts that are increasingly natural-sounding and correct.

This, however, has an unintended consequence. When you read a text knowing that it is a machine translation (either because you used the tool yourself, or because it’s clearly clumsy and imprecise), your mind instinctively sees through the process of translation to reveal the real text below. If the machine translation sounds normal, you start to feel like you are reading a text that was originally written in your language, and you connect emotionally to it as if it were written by a human.

Except it isn’t.

 

Maintaining trust

Just like the humanoid robot or doll that is almost human, high quality automatically generated text can create a sense of eeriness, of an emotional connection that should be there, but isn’t. It’s the kind of negative feeling that can destroy the delicate trust and connection so essential in business relationships, all the more so because neither you, nor your potential customer, may ever realise why.

That’s why I always advise companies not just to avoid automatic translation but – if they must use it – to label it clearly and, where possible, let the reader make the step of automatically translating their content, rather than pretending that it is an original.

 

About the author

Giovanni Giusti is a graduate in linguistics of the Universities of Pisa (Italy) and Dublin. He started his professional career in publishing, then moved to new media and telecoms. After the dotcom crash of 2001 he founded 101translations, a totally internet-based translation agency, in order to combine his passions for communication, languages and technology.

Leaders should think of helping as part of their jobs, new research from the
UCL School of Management suggests.

And that help often needs to go beyond the usual quick advice and favours.

According to research by Professor Colin Fisher, leaders in organisations that do complex, knowledge-intensive work often need to provide deep help – spending hours or even days assisting employees with tricky, persistent problems in their work. These findings are based on a multi-year study at a major design consultancy, recently published in Academy of Management Journal.

 

Fostering success

Along with co-authors Julianna Pillemer from The Wharton School and Teresa Amabile from Harvard Business School, Fisher suggests that deep help can play a major role in the success of projects, especially when businesses adopt flatter, more collaborative approaches to management.

“Getting genuinely valuable help can be difficult when teams are overwhelmed by the ambiguities of a project and the pressure to complete it,” says Fisher. “Addressing the most important problems often requires more than a quick conversation.

“However, many leaders still fear that deep involvement equates to micromanagement. Our findings suggest that leaders can be most effective in offering deep help if they are careful in the ways they talk about the time they spend with those they are helping, and send clear signals that they aren’t there to take over the work or to evaluate subordinates.”

 

Leading the way

The researchers found two distinct kinds of deep help. First, leaders served as ‘guides’ when they helped project teams through an especially tricky issue by working intensely in long, tightly clustered sessions. Guiding includes asking questions, listening and looking closely at people’s work before suggesting a way forward.

Second, leaders served as ‘path-clearers’ when they addressed a persistent problem in briefer, intermittent sessions. These sessions took the heat off of employees by doing whatever needed to be done – even more menial tasks like ordering lunch.

Fisher suggests that organisations should take several actions to promote deep help. These include giving senior employees flexibility in their schedules and making it clear to teams that managers want to help. The biggest change, though, may be encouraging leaders to consider helping as a critical part of managing in today’s business world.

 

SOURCE: ResponseSource

 

More than 85% of millennials feel under immense pressure.

 

Faced with Instagram and Facebook feeds of happy, successful people every time they open their phones – building a career and developing personal relationships have never been so stressful.

There’s a growing feeling of pretend-adulthood, which is manifesting as a ‘quarter-life crisis’ (QLC).

 

Quarter-life crisis

Although a modern term, research conducted by Oliver Robinson found that over a period of years the QLC goes through several key phases:

 

  • Locked-in. The feeling of being stuck within a relationship or a dissatisfying career path.
  • Separation and Time Out. Distancing and ending their physical and mental ties with either their relationships of jobs. During the ‘Time-out’ people often reflect on and reassess what their goals are.
  • Exploration. Finding new motivation through new social circles, interests and hobbies.
  • Rebuilding. Renewed positive outlook on commitments and long-term plans.

 

People can go through this several times in their twenties and, while it can be a painful process, it does give them the opportunity to put their lives on a path that will ultimately make them happier.

Recruitment specialists Forward Role Recruitment have found ways of not only spotting if you’re in the midst of a QLC but how to deal with it,

 

Four signs of a quarter-life crisis

 

  • You wake up, go to work, go to the gym, eat, sleep, repeat. The constant weekly monotony gets you down. You’re questioning your decisions: whether you did the right degree, where you’re choosing to live, who you’re spending time with, what your career should be.

 

  • You’re looking at your friends and work colleagues, contemplating why everything in your life is different from theirs. From comparing salaries to their #relationshipgoals, you scrutinise everything they do and wonder how you could ever measure up to them.

 

  • You wake up, check all of your social media profiles, see how many people liked your posts. You check them again five minutes later and again 200 times throughout the day. If you could cut yourself off from social media altogether you would, but you’re addicted to checking on the glamorous lives of your favourite bloggers.

 

  • There’s a constant stand-off between “I’m quitting my job and traveling the world”, “I’m going to climb the career ladder” and “Is this even what I want to be doing?”. Disillusion with your job is common in the early years but you need to think whether it’s the job itself getting you down or if you’re after a fresh challenge.

 

 

Four steps to overcome a quarter-life crisis

 

  • First of all, stop the comparisons. Obsessive Comparison Disorder is amplifying your anxieties and adding to the crisis. Being able to take the step back and focus on your own successes (rather than seeing everyone else as more successful than you), will help put your mind at ease.

 

  • Take some time to build support networks. Whether these be your friends, co-workers or family, you need to talk to people about how you’re feeling through these moments. The likelihood is that they’ve gone through something similar, or have the same doubts that you are. It helps to know that you aren’t alone.

 

  • Figure out your values. Remembering what makes you tick can help you stay on track when you’re feeling at your worst. If you’re not quite sure about your personal values, start with 10 that you identify with, then narrow it down to five (but ideally three).

 

  • Planning is vital. Producing a short-term plan will help you focus on what you want to achieve in the near-distant future. Whether it’s looking for a new job, buying a house or settling down with a partner, having this down in writing will give you a strong sense of direction and alleviate some of the stresses of what you want to achieve. Once you’ve got a plan in place, it’s about using your newly-decided personal values to prioritise everything you want to get done over next 12 months.

 

As quarter life crises become more common, the key is noticing the things that add to the stress and anxiety of everyday life and managing them. Sticking to your plans and not comparing your successes to everyone else’s will keep you focussed on the end goal and, most importantly, keep you happy.

 

“You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.” – David Foster Wallace

 

 

 

About the author

Steve ThompsonSteve Thompson is the Managing Director of Recruitment specialist Forward Role Recruitment.