POSITIVE DYNAMICS - OD, HR, BUSINESS COACHING & PEAK PERFORMANCE EXPERTS

Bespoke programmes designed and delivered in partnership with you

We believe organisations thrive when people are provided with the right conditions and connections to develop.

At Positive Dynamics we excel at helping our clients create a positive, powerful and sustainable difference to their performance.

Every member of our team is curious and ambitious about people’s untapped potential, and we love generating the kind of energy that fuels organisations to grow. We enable our clients to become the very best they can be, propelling them to achieve things they never thought possible.

CULTURE CHANGE & TRANSFORMATION

Our tailored programmes will ensure your company culture benefits long term organisational growth.

EXECUTIVE & BOARD PERFORMANCE

We work with senior teams, empowering them to significantly raise their game, define strategy and direction.

TEAM & ORGANISATIONAL PERFORMANCE & IMPROVEMENT

Our creative approach supports teams to accelerate trust and develop a collective focus on results.

LEADERSHIP & TALENT DEVELOPMENT

We develop current and future leaders, helping them to confidently deliver what is expected of them.

HR STRATEGY & PROJECTS

We enable HR teams to build organisational environments that match the overall vision and purpose of the business.

BUSINESS COACHING

Our 1-1 programmes unlock and implement potential. Our team coaching harnesses the power of collective performance.

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Jennifer McCanna leadership development programme

New Leadership Development Programme with Jennifer McCanna

Like many colleagues, we are conscious our realities also include processing the grief caused by this terrible pandemic, and challenges which are likely to last for a generation or more. It’s no surprise that many of us are finding our confidence and energy levels challenged, and our balance, creativity and resilience sometimes hard to find. With that in mind, we’re delighted to announce a new exciting partnership for Positive Dynamics with Jennifer McCanna. Jen has worked with us for over a decade as a client and more recently a valued associate and we're delighted to be able to support her successful programme, From Frazzled Boss to Inspiring Leader. It's a blended management development programme which includes original online modules, practical skill sessions on Zoom and one-to-one leadership coaching. It’s perfect for early-career managers and for managers wanting to upskill and co-learn with others across different organisations.

Jen commented about the programme: “I devised From Frazzled Boss to Inspiring Leader because I see every day in my leadership coaching work the impact of offering tailored, compassionate support  to people managers. This impacts ripples through to every single person in any organisation and never has this been more important than over the last 18 months.”

“And yet so many organisations lack the resources to offer management development support in house. Enter From Frazzled Boss to Inspiring Leader! It blends bite size, practical online learning, interactive small group sessions and 1-1 leadership coaching to powerful effect. I remember 12 years ago, as the head of a fundraising team, the impact that attending management development, run by Anne Storey, had on my skills and my wellbeing. “I’ve been delighted to be part of the Positive Dynamics team over the last 5 years and am really excited they see the value in and need for a blended programme like this.” The three month programme will run from September to November, with early bird access available from mid-June. If you book ahead of July, you’ll also receive a free bonus 30 minute one-to-one coaching session with Jen to outline clear objectives ahead of the programme in the autumn. Each session will be held on either Wednesday afternoons or Thursday mornings (depending on capacity). There are only sixteen places available on this course in the autumn so if you are interested in the programme book here today to avoid disappointment!

Reflections on our new way of working

As we approach a year since the UK lockdown began, we wanted to reflect on and assess our new ways of working. In October 2020, Microsoft held a Future of Work keynote in which they shared their third party and internal research. Microsoft found that leaders had gone from wondering if employees were being productive when working from home to wondering whether they were working in a sustainable way as people are at the heart of their company. Similarly in 2020 Leesman conducted a survey of 125,000 people from 870 companies across 83 companies on remote working. They found that around three quarters of people (74.2%) had a positive experience working from home, while 82.2% stated home working had improved their productivity. Additionally, there was no differentiation by ages: all employees were happier carrying out their work at home. The findings also outlined that the boundaries between work and home life were often blurred, impacting mental health and that not everyone had a set-up conducive to work from their home.

Travel & The Environment

One of the main benefits of working from home is that there is no commute. The average daily commute before the pandemic was almost an hour (59 minutes), according to research conducted by the TUC in 2019. This is the equivalent of 221 hours a year. In our own team, some of our consultants have reported that they've been able to find a better work life balance, and find new stimulus' around the house to help them think creatively about their assignments when they aren't at their desk. We’ve found that virtual working has given more time to spend with family or on personal fitness. International and regional travel has also been cut out throughout the pandemic, which led to companies saving money and resources and reducing the impact on the environment.

Balancing Work and The Home Environment

Another benefit of home working has been the freedom and flexibility to adapt work around home life, which in some cases has benefitted mental health. However, home working hasn’t come without it’s challenges. Microsoft in third party and internal research found that 33% of remote workers said that the lack of separation between work and home life had negatively impacted their mental health. This lack of boundaries had led to working longer hours and feeling burnout. Equally, the disparity in equipment at home has made it difficult for employees to present themselves well virtually, as well as finding the space and quiet to work in a busy household.

Strengthening Relationships Virtually 

The psychological impact of being indoors and disconnected physically from a team, support network or clients has taken it’s toll on employees, especially roles that revolved around generating personable client interactions. Moreover, separation from colleagues when working from home has meant a loss of connection and a rise in feelings of isolation. As a team at Positive Dynamics, we’ve found it harder to read each other/clients to offer support as a lot of face-to-face interaction has been replaced with emails. Microsoft found in their internal and third-party research that home working had some benefits including flexibility around family life and a new found empathy for others. You can read more of our predictions on flexible working in the future here. In fact, 62% of people said they felt more empathetic towards colleagues as they can now see into each other’s lives.

Technology & Data Protection

Technology has been essential for home working as well as home schooling and personal connection and entertainment. Yet, the pandemic has highlighted a digital divide (especially in the UK) for regions with accessible high-speed broadband and those without. It’s made it difficult for colleagues to interact as technology has let them down during presentations or meetings, leading individuals to miss out on vital virtual connections. Equally, home working has led to an increase in bills, which is an additional strain for families. A major challenge has been ensuring that data is protected and software at home is GDPR compliment for sensitive data to be accessed securely and remotely.

What’s next? Is this the future way of working?

Moving forward employees and organisations will have to find a way to balance these new found benefits (flexible working, empathy, less impact on the environment and time away from family) of home working with time in the office. To ensure that everyone feels supported, connected and prioritises their individual wellbeing whilst delivering the organisational requirements in output.

We'd love to hear your experiences and hear what you're thinking about working moving forwards. Positive Dynamics has supported organisations over the past thirty years to evolve their ways of working and implement culture change. 

The Future of Work: Hybrid Working

After working from home for over a year now, it’s time to look ahead and begin preparations for the future way of working. Will work be office or home based? Or a hybrid method of working? By adopting a hybrid model of working it allows the future of work to be purpose led. Individuals will still have some autonomy based on the requirements of their role and the need to collaborate and connect. In this method, there are no strict restrictions or policies imposed on employees to how and where they work in the future. In October, Microsoft gave their annual Future of Work keynote in which they stated that due to the pandemic we are now in a new era of digitisation. Traditional objections to working remotely and flexibility have been made obsolete as the shift to remote work has shown employers that “we can trust people to do their best even when there is no one watching”. Across the globe companies have developed innovative initiatives to tackle the new ways of working from home to balance home and work life, which you can read more about here in our reflections on the new ways of working. Now we have to determine what the future of work looks like by adapting the existing concepts we have and champion the benefits (both of office and home working) to find the balance. This process begins with managing expectations in organisational policies. On an individual and personal level, it’s about ensuring employees have good wellbeing, avoid burnout, set firm boundaries between work and home life and have access to suitable professional development. There needs to be agile options for individuals to choose a way to work that works for them within the overarching organisation objectives to ensure all objectives on an individual, team and organisation level are met. Our prediction is that the future of work could be a hybrid of office and home work. In our view, the future office space would be used for:
  • Collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Thorny Decision Making
  • Team Building
  • Relationships & Cohesion
The space may not be a traditional office space, but it might be informal meeting room or renting out a public space for collaborative work to take place. In this hybrid way of working as well as time in the office, there would be time to work at home or in a local space such as a café or co-working space. Remote working would be ideal for tasks that require:
  • Email
  • Independent work
  • Phone Calls
  • One to One’s
  • ‘All employee’ comms

This balance of home and office-based work breeds a culture and adopts behaviours that address the benefits and vices of working from home full-time throughout the pandemic.

As the vaccine roll out continues, the future of work and how we return to the office is fast approaching, so it’s important to act now. The change is happening now, our ways of working are still evolving so it’s important to keep reviewing them and remain agile. Be the change you want to see and lead by example with bold strategies that ensure personal and professional wellbeing is prioritised.

Will you adopt a hybrid method of working?

What is the future of flexible working?

This is a plea to Exec teams and HRD’s not to fall into the trap of mandating the work location patterns of their organisation. Surely the pandemic has taught us that those of us with ‘office jobs’ can be flexible, communicative, productive and responsible employees when working from home?  Throughout the last 12 months workplace surveys overwhelmingly indicated >75% of employees enjoyed being able to work from home and found themselves to be equally or more productive as a result, and the organisational leaders we speak to concur. Similar surveys tell us our staff want to work in flexible ways beyond the pandemic, although nearly half are worried this will not be supported by their organisation and are considering leaving if this is true.  There is a perception some ‘office roles’ are not suitable for home working; we have to  challenge this as much as we can.  For example, we have spoken to many ‘call-centre’ and ‘support’ workers worried they will be forced to return to the office; yet the service we have received from them has been excellent and we would have had no idea they were home-working, other than a curiosity to ask them and enquire about how it is working out - so far everyone we’ve spoken to has been loving it. Naturally, when we are in a more mixed economy of working protocols it will be important for organisations to acknowledge this and find ways to ensure some kind of  two tier system does not develop. We hope employers will encourage other flexible working options alongside home working, which can be one of the many ways to ensure as level a playing field as possible, and we are sure more creative ideas will emerge. We will almost certainly need a more flexible and creative approach to our reward structures.

Some organisations are seeking to ensure both collaboration and fairness by mandating ‘2 days in the office, and 3 at home.' However this is not going to satisfy employees according to our research.

It will take away the trusted and empowered ways of working which have been so valued by many during this COVID-19 pandemic, and prior within some organisations. We need a global shift in focus to output rather than input, and a significant evolution in how we ‘manage performance'. For those organisations who have not experienced positive productivity during lockdown home-working, we would argue there is an opportunity to learn from those who have. Of course not everyone can or wants to work from home, and very few people want to work from home every single day.  There are lots of benefits of being together in one space to build relationships, collaborate, connect, innovate, and solve problems through deep dialogue.  Many people want to see and be with colleagues, have fun times together in teams in the daytime, and perhaps socially in the evening.  Physically being together can relieve us from the sometimes endless and draining screen time of online meetings, or from the unsuitability of some home environments for home working. Blending work in the office, with work at home, as well as from cafes, cars, client-sites, community-centres, gyms, parks or anywhere with Wi-Fi is what people want, to be able to be productive with their work time, and to live a balanced life.  The key to success is CHOICE, in the same way Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle) built their successful flexible 'anytime-anyplace' trust and outcomes based work culture across EMEA nearly 20 years ago.*

CHOICE is about allowing individuals to fluidly choose where it is most productive and convenient to work on different days, and indeed during different phases of their lives; and to ask them to blend this with the (genuine not control led) requirements of their role, colleagues, and organisational purpose and goals.

We believe teams can be encouraged to discuss and work out the 'office v elsewhere' patterns for themselves, in a similar way that happens now when organising the rhythm and dates for internal and external meetings. We appreciate this will be a revolution in working patterns for some organisations.  This may feel overwhelming and is triggering some ‘denial’ responses in some leaders and organisations.  However we urge those struggling with the concept to think again.  Insisting people are ‘office-based’ or mandating employees to travel into the office twice a week, is counter to the purpose lead empowerment workers now expect. There is of course a balance to be stuck – the psychological contract between the needs of the organisation and the needs of the individual must come together in a harmony which works for both. Organisations should rightly expect their employees to organise and attend important purpose-led collaborative meetings with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders. Internal communication and engagement will require a rethink, based on what we have learned from experimentation this year.  We will continue to use more social channels. We have an opportunity to pre-plan an annual calendar of ‘gatherings’ which combine  'physically present for all'  and 'virtual for all' events.   Many employees described a phenomenon of ‘hierarchical equalisation’ and feeling ‘more connected than ever’ to their senior leaders because of regular virtual briefing & Q&A sessions, in which their leaders felt more accessible and personable; let’s keep this benefit by keeping some of the virtual sessions.  Conversely some leaders felt more disengaged from the people outside their immediate teams; so how do we find creative, and some virtual, solutions to this challenge such as the ‘virtual fireside chats’ and ‘virtual birthday breakfasts’ some have experimented with?

We can be agile and encourage our teams to regularly review what is working and not working and keep adjusting accordingly. Let's make it our aspiration to learn how to create high performance cultures in this flexible world of working.

We can build and nurture team relationships from close and afar to ensure everyone stays in good relationships with one another.  New collaboration tools and technologies are coming along all the time to help us.  If we keep experimenting, listening, and talking (face-to-face and virtually) we can successfully evolve to do this. We can employ a 'pull factor' to bring people together through exciting choices about ‘office’ design.  We hope to see inclusive hub-style spaces where people can collaborate, innovate, connect, have fun; and some spaces for ‘concentration or desk-work’ too if this is what is productive for them.  We can create 'neighbourhoods' of ‘drop in tables’ and we might even keep some ‘allocated tables’ for those who might want them now, or those who might want them in the future.  Flexible meeting room structures can allow café spaces & meeting rooms to be reconfigured for lots of different sized meetings from two people to hundreds of people. It will take time to evolve our policies and collective working spaces, so let’s ask our employees to be flexible and patient and collaborate with us on this journey, and in return gain true flexibility in their working locations and patterns. Let’s get creative, embrace this flexible working pattern and unleash the innovative thinking we need for our organisations to thrive today, tomorrow and in twenty years’ time.

Will your organisation continue to evolve the  flexible working options after the pandemic?

*We played a leading role in this project and can share the learning with anyone who is interested.  We have operated as a virtual organisation for over 25 years, with the corresponding benefits including enjoyment, flexibility, and productivity.